Ancestry Jobs – What Did My Ancestor Do?

By | January 21, 2017

When tracing your family tree you will find and record details such as their names, important dates, where they lived and what they did for a living. But what about Ancestry jobs? All of these pieces of information will help you piece together their lives. But from all of this do you really have an understanding of their daily life. Here I will show you resources that will help you help discover your family’s ancestry jobs and what it was like for them.

My Ancestor Was An Agricultural Labourer

When I first started to trace my family history I was interested in the usual tidbits of information that I could find out about my ancestors. I would collect names and dates which would help me build up my family tree. I would also discover what they would do for a living.

But I didn’t really understand what was involved in their line of work. To be honest I wasn’t even sure how to even find their work records. And even if they were available.

Credit:   Ancestry

As my ancestors came from many different backgrounds then obviously there were many different trades and jobs to be found in my family. I was interested to not only discover what it was like for my ancestors but also how to find out how to get these records as well.

Only from these resources was I able to comprehend and appreciate what they went through to get through their daily life. To understand what they went through to put bread on the table and how they provided for their family. It really opens your eyes to what it was like for them when you discover this part of your family’s history.

Five Books That Will Help You Trace Your Ancestors Working Lives:

My Ancestor Was An Agricultural Labourer     My Ancestor Was An Apprentice     My Ancestor Was In The British Army

My Ancestor Was A Coalminer     My Ancestor Was A Leather Worker

 

Here in this article I want to show you five books that will help you explore the work that your ancestor may have done. I will be following up this with a follow-up article exploring more jobs and resources.

Please note:

Although these books are available in the US and the UK, they discuss what life was like in the UK for your ancestors. These books will also discuss resources that you can find to get your ancestors work records.

Also, these books are available in the Kindle format. So once you have purchased them then you can immediately start to trace your ancestors. There is no waiting for a book to arrive in the mail. If you do wish to purchase a paperback then there are links available when you go through the Amazon links.

If you do wish to purchase a paperback then there are links available when you go through to the Amazon product.


My Ancestor Was An Agricultural LabourerMy Ancestor Was An Agricultural Labourer

  • Product: My Ancestor Was An Agricultural Labourer
  • Book Type: Kindle
  • File Size: 1304KB
  • Pages: 150 pages
  • Author: Ian H Waller
  • Publisher: Society of Genealogists Enterprises Ltd
  • Published: July 24, 2014
  • Place to Buy in US: Amazon US
  • Place to Buy in UK: Amazon UK

It is most probable that one, if not many, of your ancestors worked the land. After all this was the most common way for our ancestors to provide for their family. This book will detail what it was like to grow up and work in such an environment.

          

There were many different types of work to be found on the farm and your ancestor may have had to become an expert in all of them. Also, there were different types of work for the different times of the year. There would be chores such as ploughing, sowing and harvesting to be done throughout the year.

I must point out here that the term agricultural labourer, or ag lab, was the same as farm laborer. So if you see either of these in Census records, parish registers, or official documents then your ancestor would have worked on the land.

While the first part of the book looks at what life was like as a farmer, the second part helps you find these records. The book will discuss Quarter Sessions, tithe schedules, manorial records, estate records and discuss trade union records.

A bibliography is also to be found in the book as well as a list of Parliamentary Bills. These bills would have affected the life of your ancestor in some way.


My Ancestor Was An ApprenticeMy Ancestor Was An Apprentice

  • Product: My Ancestor Was An Apprentice
  • Book Type: Kindle
  • File Size: 9633KB
  • Pages: 121 pages
  • Author: Stuart A Raymond
  • Publisher: Society of Genealogists Enterprises Ltd
  • Published: August 21, 2014
  • Place to Buy in US: Amazon US
  • Place to Buy in UK: Amazon UK

If your ancestor was not working on the land then he could have quite probably have been learning a trade. This is what occurred in my family.

My ancestors were originally farm laborers, working the land for an estate. Eventually one of my relatives would learn a new trade, that being a cordwainer. In other words this was a shoemaker. He would have learned this trade from someone who had experience. He would therefore have been an apprentice to a master shoemaker.

          

It is quite likely that not only would you have had farm laborers in your family tree but also apprentices as well.

In this book you will find a description of the different types of apprenticeship. The history of apprenticeships in the United Kingdom will also be explored. It will also show the importance that the role of apprenticeships had to society and how the Industrial Age grew from the middle ages to the 19th Century.

Not only will the term and the history of being an apprentice be explored but also there is a comprehensive guide to sources and records. It will suggest ways in which you may investigate your ancestral records.

Your ancestor’s apprenticeship may have been recorded in indentures. There would also have been other types of records, such as freedom registration, inland revenue, charity records, court examinations and proceedings.

You could also explore the work that your ancestor did through records such as wills, poll records and parliamentary papers. By exploring these records you can also discover the status or grade that your ancestor had reached in their trade.

The final part of the book contains useful indexes and references that will help you track down your ancestor. There are many sources to be found in this section of the book, and most probably it will help you find your ancestor.


My Ancestor Was In The British ArmyMy Ancestor Was In The British Army

  • Product: My Ancestor Was In The British Army
  • Book Type: Kindle
  • File Size: 105534KB
  • Pages: 150 pages
  • Author: Michael J & Christopher T Watts
  • Publisher: Society of Genealogists Enterprises Ltd
  • Published: July 25, 2014
  • Place to Buy in US: Amazon US
  • Place to Buy in UK: Amazon UK

Not only were my ancestors both farm laborers or learning a new trade, but also a few of them were in the British Army. To find out about your ancestors you will learn about the War Office (WO) records. These are available from the National Archive in the United Kingdom.

You will also discover that a lot of these records have been uploaded online for you to explore. So chances are that you will find your ancestor’s war records from this resource.

          

This book will explore the history of the British Army from 1660 to the First World War and Second World War as well. So there is nearly 300 years of war history to be found in this book.

Learning about where your ancestors were employed and where they served can give you an eye opener into their life. I have not only found out about these records but also as to the history of the destinations that they served. This book helped me start to trace their life as a British soldier.

My ancestors joined the British Army prior to the First World War. I was intrigued to not only find out where they served but also what regiment and rank that they achieved. As well as what medals they were awarded.

The book also explores ways for you to discover pension records of your war relatives. There is also appendices that will give you references to Regimental Records and War Office records that are found at the National Archive. There is such a wealth of information here that will help you discover the life of your war time relative.


My Ancestor Was A CoalminerMy Ancestor Was A Coalminer

  • Product: My Ancestor Was A Coalminer
  • Book Type: Kindle
  • File Size: 28358KB
  • Pages: 199 pages
  • Author: David Tonks
  • Publisher: Society of Genealogists Enterprises Ltd
  • Published: September 1, 2014
  • Place to Buy in US: Amazon US
  • Place to Buy in UK: Amazon UK

It has quite surprised me that I have reached this part of the article and I still find relatives of mine attached to all of these job descriptions. But maybe it should not as I have discussed at the start of this article.

As our family trees are quite vast and today we can explore so much of our rich family history we can find so many different types of work. So whether they worked the land, learned a trade or joined the army we can find their records, to some extent of course.

          

The Different Types Of Coalmine Work!

As my family originated in the United Kingdom a significant branch of my family worked in coal mines. There were many different types of work to be found at the mines, such as a coal hewer which was another term for a coal miner.

There would also be people who worked the shafts, i.e. pulled people up and down the shafts to the coal seams. One of my ancestors was involved in the distribution of coal, in other words he sold the coal.

One of my ancestor’s was even a fireman. This term though was different to what we know as a fireman today. In this role my ancestor was responsible for expelling the dangerous gases that were found in the coal mines. A very dangerous job to have in those days.

By 1850 there were about 3000 coal mines to be found in the United Kingdom. So there is a good chance that maybe one of your relatives worked in the coal mines of Britain. It was an important industry as it quite literally helped to ‘fuel’ the Industrial Age.

So if you want to know about what it was like to be a coalminer or to be a part of this industry then this book will help you immensely. It will help you explore your coalmining ancestors by showing you what resources that you can find and use. It will show you the many sources of information that are available to you.


My Ancestor Was A Leather Workermy-ancestor-was-a-leather-worker

  • Product: My Ancestor Was A Leather Worker
  • Book Type: Kindle
  • File Size: 14016KB
  • Pages: 259 pages
  • Author: Ian H Waller
  • Publisher: Society of Genealogists Enterprises Ltd
  • Published: May 6, 2015
  • Place to Buy in US: Amazon US
  • Place to Buy in UK: Amazon UK

Well, I have reached the end of this article and I have still found a trade or job that my ancestor worked in. As I mentioned near the start of this article one of my ancestors was a shoemaker. And so he worked in the leather industry. My ancestors would also work in this industry for a number of generations.

So this book was a great asset to me learning about the many different types of work that were found within the leather industry.

          

The leather trade had reached its height during the early to mid 1800s. And so there were different types of work to be found within the industry. To be honest though it is not surprising to find my ancestors within this industry as there were thousands of works in this trade by the 1850s.

Some of the different types of leather work to be found in the UK included:

  • Leather Tanners
  • Curriers
  • Merchants
  • Shoemakers
  • Saddle and Harness Makers

There were even cricket ball and sporran makers as well. So if your ancestor worked in the leather industry then they could have worked in any one of these different jobs. All of these and many other trades are covered in this book.

The book will discuss the processes that were used to create leather and also what the working conditions were like for your ancestors. Knowing how your ancestor carried out their role really gives you a deep appreciation and understanding of their working life. And also how hard it actually was for them.

So not only will this book list and discuss these different types of work but it will help you find your ancestors’ work records as well. There is a comprehensive list of the different types of record and how you can find them. The attached appendices details what can be found in the records held all over the UK.


Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this review about ancestry jobs and how you can research them. If you think that this post will be helpful to others then please share it with friends and family using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Author: Owain

Hello, Owain here. After researching my family history for a number of years I wanted to give back to the genealogy world. So here you will find guides, tips and product reviews that will help you on your genealogy journey.

12 thoughts on “Ancestry Jobs – What Did My Ancestor Do?

  1. Arief

    Very interesting. What about people in Asia? I am thinking about exploring the possibilities.

    I think my ancestors are agricultural laborers back in ancient China. But my family surname derived from one of Emperors. Maybe I am a noble?

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Hi Arief,

      Although this article covers several jobs within the UK you can find useful information within these books. So if your ancestors had similar jobs then these books can give you an insight into what their daily working life was like.

      Please stay tuned as I do intend to cover tracing your Asian ancestors on this website.

      Kind regards,
      Owain

      Reply
  2. matts mom

    These all look very interesting and I would love to find out about my families past life and what they did. Problem is they are all from Germany. Will these books sill work and cover areas in Europe as well? Or are there other resources I can use? I was really excited when your website came up with my search. I will bookmark, and hope to start soon tracing my ancestry.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Although these jobs are based within Britain they would have been similar to jobs within Germany. So your ancestors would have worked the land, learned a trade and may have worked within the leather industry.

      My German Genealogy Mega Collection review will be of use to you. It will help you trace your German ancestry, discover where your ancestors lived and decipher the many Place Names in their homeland.

      Reply
  3. sandra

    That’s interesting you found books that address the common types of work our ancestors may have done. I don’t know much about my family history, but it would be interesting to find out what type of work they did!

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Not only finding out what they did can be interesting but also what it actually was like for them. I wanted to help fellow researchers discuss this rich history. And to also add to their own family history.

      Stay tuned as I will be adding a further article exploring more jobs.

      Reply
  4. Furkan

    These books look incredible however I think My Ancestor Was An Apprentice book is right for me because I know that my grandfather’s father worked in shoe trade.

    I think that book would be beneficial me to learn about it and I always wanted to know what kind of works they do.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      That’s a coincidence, so did my mine, for at least three generations. The Leather Worker will also be of interest to you as it discusses the shoe trade as well.

      Reply
  5. Francis Donaghy

    Hey Owain. Another interesting article. Well written and researched, as usual. Easy to follow for us dyslexics. Congratulations again.
    Francis.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Thanks Francis.

      I have tried to make a site that is simple to follow and the posts easy to read. My goal is to help fellow family historians to trace their ancestry. So I want to give good guides, tips and reviews, all while I give my own personal story.

      Reply
  6. Craig | UK TV Services Abroad

    Hi Owain,

    Fascinating stuff indeed. These books really kind of hit home how tough it must’ve been back in the day. Some of my ancestors were in the British Army too and some were coal miners. None of these books will portray an easy life but they would be a brilliant read all the same. These will be really important for the future generations to understand how their ancestors lived.

    I am interesting in the Coal Miner book, do you have a particular favorite?

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Thanks Craig for your comments. These do give you an insight into your ancestors lives. We really don’t know how they lived and worked until we start to look.

      To be honest I cannot pick down a favorite. All of these jobs shaped the lives of my ancestors, so all of them are of interest to me.

      Reply

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