When doing research for ancestors one of the most common records to check first, depending on the country, can be the census taken by that country.
Usually a census was taken for reasons in no way connected with genealogical research. Some of the reasons may be:
1) The growth of a nation
2) How many eligible males are available for possible miliary service
3) Property ownership to determine taxes
4) Type of defenses owned in their land
5) Types of trades in the nation
Of course there are additional reasons but the information provided has helped ancestral researchers for years. The ability to view these records online makes them even more helpful in putting families together.
One of the problems with census records is that often the occupation of the head of household was something that couldn't be understood. Often the reason is that the occupation may still exist but it is known by another name or that particular trade no longer exists.
A few examples are:
Baxter - Baker
Chaisemaker - Carriage maker
Hillier - Roof tiler
Tapley - one who puts the tap in an ale cast
Tipstaff - Policeman
Yeoman - Farmer who owns his own land
There are many different types of old occupations which are also by country. Here are some:
- Rootsweb has a site with a list of "Old Occupations Explained"
- Ancestral Roots provides a list of "Old Occupations in Scotland"
- Genuki has a section entitled "United Kingdome and Ireland Occupations"
- BYU has put together a French Occupation List in PDF format.
- JewishGen provides a "German Occupation Definitions - English Translations" list
- ScotlandsPeople have a large list of Occupations available online
Learning about these occupations helps to understand one's ancestor and perhaps explains why some tendencies may have been handed down through the generations. A mother or father who enjoy gardening today may have had ancestors who were dedicated farmers or nursery men in an earlier century. Someone who enjoys sailing and the oceans may have had an ancestor who was a 'Ship Master' or a 'Shipwright' or even in the Navy defending their country again in an earlier century.
Discovering additional information about one's ancestors helps to make their life's history that much more interesting.
Comments and Suggestions are always welcomed!
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