Monday, 18 April 2016

A to Z Challenge - O

The Blogging from A to Z Challenge is to post everyday (except Sunday) in the month of April 2016 starting with the letter A and going all the way to Z. The theme I chose is Genealogy Tips. At the end I will give a related post from my blog Genealogy: Beyond the BMD.

O is for Occupations

I figure a few of us are using Occuptaions for the Letter O.

The censuses and city directories tell us our ancestors' occupation - but what does that mean? What does the work entail?  What wages do they earn? Maybe your ancestor is a farm labourer - who owns the farm he works on? Is it crops, animals or both?  Who owns the iron company or the calico printing factory my ancestors worked for?

My great grandfather was a brass finisher. What is that job? Find the answer in the post Occupations & Wages mentioned below.

Sometimes an ancestor will have other jobs.  My 3x great grandfather in Ellon, Scotland was a farm labourer and also a railway labourer.  My 2x great grandfather in Canada was a farmer with 100 acres and a carpenter, but also a wheelwright and the local coffin maker.

O is for Optician -  Het Menselyk Bedryf
(Book of Trades) by Dutch Artist Jan Luyken

It is important to have the right meaning of the trade. I have discovered that just because it is on a list on the internet, and other people copy that to their tree, doesn't make it right. I have 2 ancestors with old occupations that I had to dig deep to find the right definition because what was said did not ring true with what I knew of my ancestors.
Can you guess what they are? (no googling hehehe)

A Fermorer (in Scotland) and an Armurier (New France) - both from about 1666.

Related Posts: Heigh-ho, heigh-ho  
                      Occupations & Wages 
                      Trade Directories 
                      Tricks of the Trade 
                      Guilds & Apprenticeships 


  1. I have no idea what they are so I will be googling them. I like it when trades are carried down the lines or even son-in-laws have the same trade as the family they are marrying into.

    1. My Dad loved carpentry and knew nothing about his family, so didn't know he came from a long line of carpenters. Now my daughter is a Carpenter Journeyman.

  2. Another comment - I found the Fermorer one in this ebook on google books. It might be useful for future Scottish words.

  3. I had an ancestor who was a leather dresser -- one of those occupations you have to look up to be clear on what was involved. Occupations are also helpful is separating ancestors from others with the same name, but different callings. And finding the firm an ancestor worked for is always a bonus!
    Molly of Molly's Canopy

    1. Yes, good point about knowing which ancestor is which by their occupation.

  4. Finding out an occupation for an ancestor is fun especially it is was something that is no longer done. My 3th great grandfather Harrison was a plumber and Glazier which had me looking up what that could be as there was not much plumbing in houses in the late 1700's in England. Much of his work would have been on roofing and windows. Through his occupation (found on a marriage license)and his wife's first name I found their children in baptismal records:D Another find on my mother's side of the tree was a a cousin far removed that married a Pelican Girl:D Now that one for sure is a story for our family history

    1. That is one you haven't told me haha. Would love to hear the story that goes with that.

  5. I have not found any really interesting occupations in my line. I know of a miller, a wheelwright, teachers, FARMERS of course. In more modern times there were plenty of men working the railroad as engineers, conductors, brakemen, and signal men. Women had jobs in factories sewing heels on stockings and sewing on buttons. How many days could you stand sewing on buttons for 8 hours at a time? The definition of monotony!
    Visiting from AtoZ
    Jollett Etc.

  6. I can't imagine such a boring job day in day out! I hate sewing on even one button !

  7. Do tell - I haven't resorted to Google and I'm clueless.

    1. Fermorer: Chaucer’s “The Summoner’s Tale” (written in the late 1300’s) - this line and its meaning given by those at Oxford:
      “So dede our sextein and oure fermorer “ translated to...
      “So did our sexton and our infirmerer” (one who tends the church and one who tends the sick)
      Then I found this apprenticeship record:
      “Tait, John, son to John T gardener, 'prentice to James Hopkirk chirurgiane”

      Armurier is one who made weapons - in this case my husbands ancestor was brought to Quebec in 1665 to make arms for the regiment of Ncholas Juchereau.

  8. Well I have a Dictionary of Old Trades & Occupations by Andrew & Sandra Twining but can't find Fermorer. I'm going to guess that it is equivalent to Feroner - a person dealing in iron or an Ironmonger. Armurier once again isn't in this dictionary but I'm guessing it's like Armourer - a maker of armour suits...let me check your answer. not correct on the first guess but okay on the second.

  9. Had no idea about the occupations so glad you could give us the explanations.


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