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Thursday, 16 August 2012

O is for Occasions and Occupations - A Z Family History Challenge

I am enjoying participating in this series from Aona athttp://www.gouldgenealogy.com/2012/05/take-the-family-history-through-the-alphabet-challenge/.

I adopted the theme of what we experience on  our family history journey and must admit as we have reached O,  it is becoming more of a challenge without becoming repetitive. So this week with the Letter O, I am highlighting two sidelines which family historians come across with their research - Occasions and Occupations  

O is for:

Obsessed, Organisd and Overjoyed are all part and parcel of being a family historian.


We are very familiar with such milestones as Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals - but a lesser known occasion is Confirmation and here are two photographs from my family  collection.

Above -  Dorothy Chisholm on her confirmation. she was engaged to my great uncle John Dnason who sadly died in 1915 before they were married. The Danson family continued to maintain contact with her throughout her life.  She never married and I remember as a child visiting her with my mother and aunt.  
Ivy White of South Shields at her confirmation  - my husband''s mother

Occupations - if you are lucky, you may find records relating to an ancestor's working life in your local archive centre, though a lot does depend on the particular type of employment.

Farmers - I live in a rural area and my local archive centre has a large collection of agricultural records, that includes membership lists and minute books of local Farmers' Clubs, Pastoral Societies and Auction Marts that date back to the late 18th century, along with papers from indiviudal farms. My particular interest was in the Pringle Family of Kelso, members of the Border Union Agricultural Society. At the annual show in 1876, Adam Pringle won three prizes in the "Implements of Husbandry" Category for a self acting horse rake, a corn grinding mill, and a turnip topping and tailing machine - recorded in the minute books. (See below)

Courtesy of Heritage Hub, Hawick - www.heartofhawick.co.uk/heritagehub
Policemen and Prisoners - if your ancestor was a constable or even on the other side of the law, police records are a great source and include mug shot photos of criminals, lists of prisoners, plus constable registers with personal details including descriptions.

Being a Councillor might seem rather dull, but the Burgh Minute Books, which go back to the mid 17th century give a full description of burgh affairs and discussions and can reveal interesting sidelines such as the councillor in the 1880's who was petitioning in support of woman's suffrage, long before it was close to becoming a reality.

If your ancestor was a Teacher, then the School Records are the place to look - with Log Books recording daily school life, and School Board Minute Books and Education Committee Minute Books recording appointments - and dismissals! For example:

1873 - At Glenholm, Peeblesshire, a school inspector reported "This small school was taught by Mr Grieve in an intelligent, painstaking and efficient manner". We would all love to find such a testimonial on an ancestor. [See below]
Courtesy of Hertiage Hub, Hawick - www.heartofhawick.co.uk/heritagehub

With three of my Danson ancestors working as Postmen, I upgraded my Ancestry subscription recently, so I could access their Post Office Records. All I got was a name, date of appointment and place, so I can't really say it added anything to my family story. Also if you are looking for a popular local name, it will be difficult to confirm which is "your" entry. Still we all consult records in hope of finding something worthwhile!

The ancestors of my third cousin, Stuart ranged from Carters and Coal Merchants, to Hairdresser Elise and Lancashire poet John Critchley Prince (1808-1866).

The first road vehicle, replacing horses (above),   
bought in 1921.for the carter & coal merchant business


  1. Occurrences is a great word, and I love that your family kept in contact with Dorothy Chisholm, even after John died.

    And the document you included that shows Adam Pringle won prices at an Agricultural Show, is just amazing (and so readable). You're lucky to have that kind of record. :-)

  2. Fascinating post Susan and such wonderful photos!!! Oh dear, did John die in "the war"? ...
    I LOVE "Overjoyed" ... probably because that's what I'm feeling, right now, having just made such unexpect & unbelievable contact with members of my Grandfather's other family. Thanks for the "tips" and fabulous info.

  3. Thank you both for such encouraging comments. Yes John died during the war, but the exact details are for another posting. My mother's cousin told me a story that he had committed suicide as a prisoner of war, and "Granny had to fight to get his name on the war memorial". But I could find no records to support this. However a local history contact said John died in training camp and never went abroad so was not entitled to any service medals. Buying his death certificate may help clarify the facts. This is what makes family history so fascinating!

  4. Love the confirmation photo -it is very unusual to find one. Logically there should be more confirmation records around but they seem to vanish. Seems like you've been following some good trails.


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