Monday, 20 August 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge : O is for...

For this week's Alphabet Challenge I chose a topic which I especially love about genealogy. When you find an ancestor in the census return or a GRO certificate, are you like me? Do you feverishly avert your gaze to the occupation column? Finding out what my ancestors "did for a crust" is an all important aspect to finding out so much more about what sort of life they really led.

This is a personal A-Z of my ancestors' occupations (I was quite surprised to find that most of my ancestors had occupations which started with the letter 'P'). There are a wealth of books in local libraries, genealogy societies, and online shops which can help you piece together what your ancestors working life would have been like. Costume books, meticulously researched and written by C.W & P.E Cunnington, Catherine Lucas, and Christabel William-Mitchell also help to put the "meat on the bones" of your ancestors social and occupational history.

Coachman c. 19th Century
I am so proud of my ancestors for their chosen occupations. It conjures up images of hard graft, inner pride, community satisfaction, and physical endurance in all weather conditions.

Agricultural Labourer (or 'Ag Lab' as we genealogists like to call them)
Blacksmith         Bricklayer       Bookseller          Baker
Coachman/Cabman        Carpenter      Clothier        Charwoman
Draper              Domestic Servant       Dairyman       Dustman
Enumerator (Census)      Errand Boy
Fishmonger      Fisherman    French Polisher      Farmer         Factory Hand
Gardener         Glazier          Groom
Horse Hair Curler/Weaver      Harness Maker      Hawker      Hay Carter        Housekeeper
Innkeeper         Ironmonger         Instrument (Musical) Seller
Letter Carrier     Labourer       Laundress
Mattress Maker     Music Hall Attendent       Music Teacher
Nurse          Newsagent
Omnibus Conductor       Ostler       Organist       Overseer
Photographer     Painter     Plumber     Police Constable     Printer    Picture Frame Maker
Projectionist       Professor of Music (Teacher)         Paper-hanging Dealer
Railway Gate Keeper      Railway Plate Layer       Rate Collector
Steward     Shepherd      Saddler       Solicitor       Soldier       Stationer       Seamstress
Tallow Chandler (Candle Maker)      Timber Merchant
Upholsterer     Upholder
Verger       Victualler
Waterman (Thames)     Wheelwright       Weaver

Thames Waterman

Footnote: This blog post marks twelve months since I started blogging here at "A Pocket Full of Family Memories" and I would like to give special thanks to Gould Genealogy and all of my regular readers for coming back again and again to read, leave comments and give me positive encouragement and continuing enthusiasm for my posts.


  1. How wonderful to have so many diverse occupations in your ancestral family:) One day I must make a list of my own..absolutely fascinating Debra.

    1. Thank you Ann, it really is a highly fascinating thing to research. Good luck making your list! xx

  2. What a cool list! I am intrigued with your ancestor who worked as a horse hair curler/ weaver! Maybe soon you will have a zoologist in your family.

  3. Blogiversary Greetings. Congratulations on a fab first year and best wishes for the next year.

  4. Congratulations on your one year anniversary! And what a great idea to list the occupations. I think I will do that today.

  5. Congratulations on your blogiversary! I'm so impressed, being a newby blogger. I love your list of occupations and will definitely start doing that now - absolutely fascinating! Mine had relatively low-level occupations - or so I think - but I need to be certain before I make generalizations, don't I?! Thanks for your great post!

  6. Happy Blogiversary! Great list too. I'm delighted to see 'ag lab' because haven't we all got one of those? Pity you haven't found a Knight, X-ray technician, or Zoo Keeper...yet ;)

  7. Happy blogiversary, Deb - time flies when you're having fun. I wouldn't fancy being a tallow chandler much - we had a candle factory nearby until it closed recently. Most of my family were farmers :-)

  8. Thank you everyone for your lovely blogiversary wishes, I am truly blessed. Now then, I must find that X-ray technician and Zoologist! ;-) xx

  9. What a totally fabulous list of occupations you've found that you're ancestors had, and congrats on all the research that you've done to discover them.

    Super Duper Happy Blogiversary to you ... don't forget to have celebratory cake, you deserve it!!