On the back of the A-Z April Challenge, the lovely folk at Gould Genealogy devised another challenge – Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge. Each week, we work through the letters of the alphabet sharing perhaps an elusive ancestor, a favourite or particular ancestor, or perhaps a heirloom.
A is for Agricultural Labourer.
We probably all have our fair share of those we term as “ag labs” and whilst we appreciate the contribution that they made, we often neglect to research and understand not only what they did in terms of everyday work, but where they worked and for whom.
When I am researching I often create a Mind Map of points that I want to find out about. Here is my list for Ag Labs:
- Geography of the area where they worked
- Who owned the land?
- Part of an estate? and if so what other land did that landowner hold
- Tithe Maps
- Type of farming? – arable or dairy or perhaps both
- Diaries written by landowners at the time
- Mention of the land in wills or other documents
Much of my ancestry is rooted deep in the southern Counties of Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey. Crossing into the next County is easy and often, if I am searching for something in particular to Surrey, I will search the County Records Offices for neighbouring Hampshire & Sussex too.
It is not unusual for land to be held by a landowner in a County where that landowner did not live. Understanding the reasons why are important and perhaps linked into dowry’s upon marriage or acquired through the death of a family member. Women could not usually inherit and often land went to the nearest male relative. Understanding those basic principles can therefore explain why we often loose agricultural labourers on Census records. They have perhaps been offered a position in a neighbouring farm, or a different County,and in some cases a distance away from home, but owned by the same landowner.
Sometimes, we need to research the bigger picture in order to understand the movements and lives of our ancestors. This is important when we research those who would have received a meagre wage and often left no supplementary documentation behind.
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