Old Occupations Their Meanings and How To Find Them

Wondered about what your ancestors did for a living? You may however know their job title of these old occupations but you are perplexed.

Old Occupations Their Meanings

Just what do they exactly mean and what does the job entailed?

Your ancestors job may in fact not even exist today. So, finding out what they did can be a glimpse into the past for you.

This article will look at old occupations their meanings.

I will also help you to discover how you can find the definitions for these jobs as well.

Discussed in this post:

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Where To Find Your Ancestors Job?

Whenever we are researching our ancestors we will come across job titles in censuses, trade directories, or even official documents such as marriage and death certificates.

You may though be wondering what these jobs actually were as their names may seem quite foreign to you.

Do you even know what an ‘acater’ or an ‘alblastere’ did?

Or, how about a ‘hoggard’ or a  ‘lotter’?

Personally, after I had found my ancestors I then wanted to know more about them.

So, I would then check to see what their job was.

If it was a job title that I hadn’t even heard before then this naturally made me more curious.

It’s human nature after all isn’t it to know more about our ancestors?

Understand more about your ancestors!

And by doing this type of genealogy research we get to know more about their lives.

Also, to some extent we get a better appreciation for them and what they went through to put bread on the table and feed their family.

By knowing our ancestor’s job title we can therefore try to find even more records about him or her.

This maybe trade records or even historic newspaper articles. From all these records we will know more about them.

Credit:   Ancestry

We may even be able to find the training or certificates that our ancestors won while they tried to get promoted within their chosen field.

My own family story!

One of my ancestors was a coalminer. He worked his way up to become a supplier or rather distributor of coal.

So, in essence you could say that he worked from the ground up, (slight joke there, lol).

If your ancestor was part of a guild or a union then there may possibly be records out there about your ancestor.

Your ancestor may have needed qualifications to reach a certain level in his trade, so these records still may exist as well.

Guidebooks That Can Help You!

Within my family tree there are the usual trades such as agricultural laborer, coalminer, railway worker and even some were in the British Army.

All of these job titles are quite self-explanatory. We all know what these jobs are about and to some extent what was involved in their daily duties.

My Ancestor Was An Agricultural Labourer

As a side note there are resources available to you where you can find your working ancestors’ records.

I have written reviews on available books that can help you to track down these records. They cover the four jobs I have listed above and more besides.

Guidebooks to help trace your ancestors jobs

(Agricultural Laborer, Apprentice, The British Army, Coalminer, and Leather Worker

Railway Worker, The Royal Navy, In Service, Studio Photographer, and Thames Waterman

Lawyer, Royal Marine, Woman at War, and Worked In The Theatre)

This collection of books gives a brief introduction into the work of your ancestors. That’s great because you learn what their profession was all about.

This is then followed by showing what resources are available and also how you can actually find these work records of your ancestors.

Find Your Ancestors With The My Ancestor Was Series

Find Your Ancestors Now!

Why Find Out About Your Ancestor’s Job?

Finding these work records really helps to bring your family history to life. If you are writing your family history like I did then you can add a little extract into your book about your ancestor’s job.

Shoemaker Cordwainer

Then you can show your readers, (your family), the records that you have found.

Writing my own family history book!

I added a little bit to the start of my ancestor’s chapter where I looked at their job and described to the readers, (my family), what they actually did for a living.

I wanted my family to not only know where they came from, how many brothers and sisters they had, where they lived and worked, but also a little bit about their job.

By doing this it made me feel more connected to my ancestors, and I hope my family and siblings too.

They can then cherish what I have created and pass it onto their children.

My ancestors were cordwainers!

For example, I knew from my father that the family trade was a cordwainer.

What’s that you maybe wondering?

Well that was another word for a shoemaker, but no ordinary shoemaker. They worked with leather and actually made the shoes from start to finish.

They were a maker of shoes rather than a repairer, (cobbler).

By researching this job I learned so much about my ancestors and as a result appreciated them more.

Who knows, maybe those old family heirlooms laying around the house were once used by your ancestor for his or her work.

You won’t know though unless you start researching. By digging a little deeper you can put a story to each of those objects you have around your home.

Websites That Can Help You!

My main aim with this article was to show you where you can easily find definitions for these types of jobs. There are plenty more jobs out there that our ancestors could have done.

Google Search


And some of them I can imagine are quite obscure.

So, where do you find these I bet you are wondering?

Obviously you can do a Google search. This approach may be a bit hit and miss though.

You may find the more common jobs but other less-common jobs you may still be scratching your head with.

We therefore need a comprehensive source that will help us on our search.

Online Resources Available To You:

  • RootsWeb – This is a comprehensive A to Z guide on job definitions, all of which are conveniently listed on the one page.
  • Hall Genealogy Website – Old Occupation Names – This site is UK based so it will help you with definitions for the jobs of your British ancestors. You can find the job that you are looking for by using the A to Z menu at the top of the page.
  • Genealogy Quest – This is not as comprehensive as the last two options, but it does list some jobs that are missing from the first two sites. So if you cannot find what you are looking for in the first two sites then check this third one out.

My Final Thoughts

We can learn so much about our ancestors if we chose to dig a little deeper. By just exploring a little more we can truly tell our ancestor’s story.

We can also pass on these stories to our children, and they can pass on to their children.

How best to understand what our ancestors went through than to look at what they did for a living?

Have you researched what your ancestor did for a living?

If you then I would love to hear from you and learn what you have learned and how you discovered it.

I hope I have opened your eyes not only as to how to find these definitions, but also the benefits in doing so.

We all want to know who our ancestors were. And this type of work can further our genealogy research and understand our ancestors better.

Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this article about our ancestors old occupations their meanings and how to find them. If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below.

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