Ancestry Jobs Continued – What Did My Ancestor Do?

By | January 22, 2017

Finding out what our ancestors did for a living can be an interesting discovery. These ancestry Jobs can also be fascinating to learn. You can learn about tools they would have used, what their routine was and also how it may have impacted their lives. This article will help you explore your family’s ancestry jobs by detailing five useful books that you can purchase.

My Ancestor Was A Railway Worker

In my previous post I detailed five books that could help with discovering your ancestors occupations. These jobs included agricultural labourer, apprentice, being in the British Army, a coalminer and also a leather worker.

For me it was not only interesting to learn what my ancestors did for a living but also learning all about their job. By doing so you get a feel of what their life was like and get an appreciation for what they had to endure.

Credit:   Ancestry

As I had discussed in my earlier post your ancestors came from many different backgrounds. Therefore while tracing your family history you will have found many different kinds of work that your ancestors did.

In this article I wanted to help you further by exploring five more books that will help you in this area of genealogy research. And like the previous post I am sure that you will find a book here  that will help you with your research.

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

My Ancestor Was A Railway Worker     my-ancestor-was-in-the-royal-navy     My Ancestor Was In Service

My Ancestor Was A Studio Photographer     My Ancestors Were Thomas Watermen

Please note:

Although these books are available to you 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 to the Amazon product.

==> Check Out The First Part of Ancestry Jobs <==

My Ancestor Was A Railway WorkerMy Ancestor Was A Railway Worker

  • Product: My Ancestor Was A Railway Worker
  • Book Type: Kindle
  • File Size: 5062KB
  • Pages: 106 pages
  • Author: Frank Hardy
  • Publisher: Society of Genealogists Enterprises Ltd
  • Published: July 28, 2014
  • Place to Buy in US: Amazon US
  • Place to Buy in UK: Amazon UK

There are many jobs that your ancestors did as you trace out your family history. One of them was working on the railway. During the Industrial Revolution there were 2 million people working on the railway.


Many of these were working for the four big companies at the time:

  • Great Western Railway
  • Midland and Scottish Railway
  • London and North Eastern Railway
  • Southern Railway

If you are like me then you will discover many different jobs that your ancestor performed while working in this area.

So while you may have discovered that your ancestor did work on the railway you may also wonder what exactly they did as well. Your ancestor may have worked on passenger trains, freight or maybe even both. They may have had other jobs such as maintaining all trains or the track itself.

This book will give you a brief history of the railways in Britain, as well as cover terms and phrases that were used in both the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

The author Frank Hardy discusses what your ancestor did on the railway and how you may find records to trace your ancestors. What is also good to hear is that many of these records are now available online.

These records can be found through The National Archives, who have digitized and uploaded many historic railway records. With the help of these records they describe the live of the employees, (our ancestors).

You can find these records by either visiting The National Archives or through Ancestry.

  • Product: My Ancestor Was In The Royal Navy
  • Book Type: Kindle
  • File Size: 5561KB
  • Pages:  pages
  • Author: Ian Waller
  • Publisher: Society of Genealogists Enterprises Ltd
  • Published: February 1, 2014
  • Place to Buy in US: Amazon US
  • Place to Buy in UK: Amazon UK

Your ancestor may have wanted to sail the seas and discover the world.    One of the ways that they could have done this is by enlisting with the Royal Navy. A couple of my ancestors went to sea although they joined the merchant navy instead.

If you do have ancestors in your family tree that were in the Royal Navy then you are probably wondering what life was like for them. You probably want to know what all the insignias and ranks mean, as well as try to find records relating to their seafaring life.


This book will give you a brief history of the service. It will explore the terms, insignias, and the divisions and branches of the Royal Navy. It will also look at pensions, dockyards around Britain, casualties as a result of war.

Through this book you may discover whether your ancestor was even punished for any misdemeanors. These can be found by checking court martial and tribunal records. There is also much more besides all this.

This book will help guide through all the different Navy records that date from before the 1700s that still exist today. It will help show you what to look for as we’ll a site explain all the terminology that you will need to know about.

My Ancestor Was In ServiceMy Ancestor Was In Service

  • Product: My Ancestor Was In Service
  • Book Type: Kindle
  • File Size: 8198KB
  • Pages: 152 pages
  • Author: Pamela Horn
  • Publisher: Society of Genealogists Enterprises Ltd
  • Published: October 21, 2014
  • Place to Buy in US: Amazon US
  • Place to Buy in UK: Amazon UK

We have all seen the British show Downton Abbey. Watching this show we have been mesmerized not only by the costumes but also the relationship between the family of the house and the servants.


If you’re lucky enough you may claim a lord or a duke, or even a notable member of society within your family tree. However, most likely you will find a relative working as a member of staff within the walls of these large houses or the estate that they would have owned.

In fact by the end of the Victorian era, (the late 1800s), there was nearly a third of all women in Britain working in service. This book will introduce you to what it was like being in service during the late 19th Century and early 20th Century.

There were a range of different roles that your ancestor may have performed. This could range from a chambermaid, who would make the beds, etc, to the cooks that made the meals for the lords and ladies.

This book will help you find these service women and men in your family tree. It will also help you to research the people in your family’s that may have even employed domestic staff.

There are plenty of resources included in this book as well. It looks at the addresses of vital record offices. It will also suggest to you areas of research, trade directories, newspapers, wage books, and a lot more resources.

My Ancestor Was A Studio PhotographerMy Ancestor Was A Studio Photographer

  • Product: My Ancestor Was A Studio Photographer
  • Book Type: Kindle
  • File Size: 6727KB
  • Pages: 177 pages
  • Author: Robert Pols
  • Publisher: Society of Genealogists Enterprises Ltd
  • Published: September 2, 2015
  • Place to Buy in US: Amazon US
  • Place to Buy in UK: Amazon UK

This book is quite different to what I have covered thus far. As of yet I have not discovered any ancestor or distant relative who was a studio photographer. Despite this though many photos in my photo album comprise studio photos.


As a side note one of my ancestors did dabble in trick photography. In one photograph he took a photo of him cutting his own hair. There was another one where his sister was reading her own palm. Both of these involved the practice of double exposure.

Anyway, unlike me your ancestor may have been a studio photographer. So if you are reading this then you are interested in what this job was like. You may also want to find surviving examples of your ancestor’s work.

Photography was a growing industry during the Victorian era. Incredibly there was a staggering 6000 photographers registered within the London area.

So not only helping you to find examples of your ancestor’s work this book will also help you find resources relating to their work.

My Ancestors Were Thames WatermenMy Ancestors Were Thomas Watermen

  • Product: My Ancestors Were Thames Watermen
  • Book Type: Kindle
  • File Size: 7398KB
  • Pages: 225 pages
  • Author: James W Legon
  • Publisher: Society of Genealogists Enterprises Ltd
  • Published: January 1, 2008
  • Place to Buy in US: Amazon US
  • Place to Buy in UK: Amazon UK

River Thames is the well-known river that runs through London, England. You maybe surprised to know that it is infact 215 miles long.

The author of this book, James Legon, is a descendant of eight generations who worked on the River Thames. He gives you an insight into the roles that your ancestor may have had, such as a lighterman or a waterman.


The job of a lighterman was to operate a lighter, which was a flat-bottomed barge. This could have either have been powered or unpowered. If it wasn’t powered then it would be pulled by a tug. He would be responsible for carrying goods.

A waterman on the other hand would transfer passengers across and along city centres. They would be in charge of row boats, sailing boats, steam boats, and any kind of vessel that worked on the waterways.

This book gives an insightful look the two job roles of lighterman and waterman. It will also guide you to trace such records as well.

Finding out that your ancestor worked on the Thames can be interesting enough. But with this book you get an understanding of what working life was for them. And with help from this book you will find your ancestors within the records.

Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this review about five more 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.

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

  1. Francis Donaghy

    Owain, yet another comprehensive and detailed article. I would never have thought about occupations in the past, and our relationship with them. You definitely are on a roll. Keep it going.

    1. Owain Post author

      Knowing how your ancestors really does open your eyes to how the lived. These books really give you an appreciation as to what was involved. I have learned so much about my ancestors with books like these. Not only about their jobs but them as a person as well.

  2. Linda Watson

    Very interesting information! I took brief geneology quiz a few weeks back and it said my ancestors were mostly farmers. This was based just on my last name. I found that so interesting, but your article has made me aware of how much more information is available! I would love to get more information in this area, especially for my kids sake too.

    1. Owain Post author

      As our ancestors came from all over, far and wide it is inevitable that they had a range of different occupations. It is interesting for me to get an understanding of what their job entailed. I like not only knowing about my ancestors but also how they lived their lives. Research like this really opens your eyes.

  3. Mark

    Hey Owain,

    Considering what my ancestors did for a living has always been a question in the back of my mind. You provide extensive guidance and information for those ready to ‘take the plunge’. I believe that the more you can learn about your own roots, the better you will come to know yourself. Thanks for that post Owain, it was extremely thorough and well put together.


  4. Briana

    Hi Owain,
    Very interesting article. I haven’t given much thought to my ancestors’ professions. I know that my lineage is extremely diverse and a bit difficult to track past a certain point but it would be fascinating to find out all about it. Thanks for this thorough post and books to help those interested in the details!

    1. Owain Post author

      I have found that once who you discover who your ancestors were then you will become more intrigued as to what their live was like. This is a great way to find out more about the,, by discovering what they did for a living. After all it would have shaped and affected their lives immensely.

  5. Furkan

    I actually worked in railway industry for a year and it was really interesting and dangerous experience. I can’t even imagine what they faced back then. I can’t even imagine and I will definitely have a look at Railway Worker.

    1. Owain Post author

      I haven’t worked in the railway industry myself but my father has. I have found a few distant relatives who have worked on the railway in some capacity.

      As a side note it is interesting as I write these just how many different occupations that my family worked in, and the number of resources that are available for these.


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