Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: Tracing Ancestors by Occupation, Part II

There are two more sets of records that can help you understand your ancestor’s trade. In the mid-1500s, it became illegal to practice in a field without an apprenticeship so much information about masters and their apprentices was created. Documents from some businesses were deposited in archives throughout the UK, and a directory of where these records are held is maintained by the National Archives.

Apprenticeship records at the National Archives are being digitized. Check them at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk. The Society of Genealogists Library in London (the largest genealogical library in the UK) also has some transcriptions: www.sog.org . You must be a member to view the online apprentice records, but you can join easily on the website.
Society of Genealogists
14 Charterhouse Buildings
Goswell Road
London EC1M 7BA

If you have a lot of tradesmen in your family, you might want to get a copy of this book:
          Raymond, Stuart. My Ancestor was an Apprentice. London: Society of Genealogists, 2010.

If you would like to research your ancestor’s company, the National Archives has an index of material held in all archives in the country at their National Register of Archives: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra. One of the tabs allows you to search by company name. When I inserted the word ‘Colman,’ I found that the Norfolk Record Office holds documents from the venerable mustard manufacturer. The other tabs let you search by:

personal name
family name
place name

This is an interesting site because when looking under personal or family names, you may find diaries which could be invaluable. In larger communities, there may be more than one brewery, for example. A place search might supply all the names of these businesses for you As would a historical directory (See the last post.).  According to the website, a place name “search will not retrieve all the records relating to a place. It will only find the archives of families, businesses and organizations based there, as well as diaries of residents and visitors who have on it in detail.” (I added the emphasis.) That seems like a lot of info to me!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: Tracing Ancestors by Occupation, Part I

Genealogists quickly find that British research has distinct differences from U.S. research. One example is that the paid websites for UK research are usually ‘pay per view’ versus a subscription. Another is an emphasis on searching for an ancestor using occupational records.

What resources are available about jobs and trades? Since 1841, the British Census has asked about occupation so find your ancestor in all the censuses you can. If you do not understand the term used for his occupation or you are not sure what that job entailed, you can google it or consult one of these references:

Culling, Joyce. An Introduction to Occupations: A Preliminary List 2nd Edition. Federation of     Family History Societies, 1999. ISBN 9781860061035
Stuart, Raymond. Trades and Professions: The Family Historian’s Guide. Family History Partnership, 2011. ISBN 9781906280253

Waters, Colin. A Dictionary of Old Trades, Titles and Occupations. Countryside Books, ISBN 9781853066016

The first two are sold at the National Archives Online Bookshop, but the high cost of postage may be prohibitive. (www.nationalarchives.gov.uk)  Try www.amazon.com instead.

The Society of Genealogists publishes a series of books, each title beginning with the phrase, “My Ancestor was a ___________” A private company, Pen and Sword Books, have a series  whose title all begin with “Tracing Your _______Ancestors.” I would consult either the National Archives or Amazon as listed above or directly at www.sog.org.uk or www.pen-and-sword.co.uk.

Here are examples from both series:
            “My Ancestors Were Watermen”
            “My Ancestor Was a Merchant Seaman”
            “Tracing Your Railway Ancestors”
You will probably wonder whether your ancestor was the only person in his trade in the parish where he lived. You can consult historical directories of the era which are the equivalent of a U.S. city directory.  Read more about them in my blog post on 9 Jan 2013. The website www.historicaldirectores.org  is changing and was having technical difficulties in mid-November, as I write this post. Generally, the entry for the parish describes it and lists the gentry, professionals and tradesmen living there.

 Next post:
            Finding and using apprenticeship records
            The National Archives – National Register of Archives