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Alan Welsford
24-02-2008, 3:35 PM
By coincidence two threads running at the moment both feature families where a wedding certificate states a father's occupation as 'Coal Merchant'.

I've been trying, in both cases, to find the father as a Coal Merchant in the preceding census, (and failing).

Now perhaps I've not thought too hard about my own family, where my great grandfather Alfred FINCHER of Tring, Herts was a Coal Merchant.

But he wasn't always a Coal Merchant, as the 1871 census shows him in Kennington, as a Bricklayer, (his deceased father's trade). Indeed, even as late as 1877 after he has fathered several children, and moved back to Tring, a birth certificate for his son Alfred, (who only survived 3 years), still show him as bricklayer.

But by the 1881 census he is "Wood, coal & coke merchant, employing 5 men".

I don't know the circumstances of him being able to start and run such a business, but clearly he switched from worker to employer in around 4 years.

This is a similar gap to the distance between previous census, and birth of a son in at least one of the recently posted examples, so perhaps we should not after all be surprised to find "Coal Merchant' as a father's occupation on a marriage, but no trace of someone with that occupation a few years earlier ?

I guess there are many examples of people switching from employee, to employer, although clearly it's more likely to be in a closely related trade. Alfred's uncle, for example was also a bricklayer, but he turned his trade into a builders business.

Alan

samgibbons56
24-02-2008, 3:47 PM
Hi Alan,
I see what you mean.
I have found in other parts of my research that changing trades etc can be quite common, but I too got hung up on William being a Coal Dealer.
Just goes to show, must take them blinkers off from time to time...........
Posting on the forums has at least given me the impetus to look at Harry with fresh eyes.
Sam|book2|

Jan1954
24-02-2008, 3:53 PM
I don't know the circumstances of him being able to start and run such a business, but clearly he switched from worker to employer in around 4 years.
Alan

Have you looked into the possibility that someone left him enough money in a will to enable him to do this?

Alan Welsford
24-02-2008, 6:03 PM
Have you looked into the possibility that someone left him enough money in a will to enable him to do this?

It's possible, I suppose, although I can't identify any likely donor.

The 1861 has him, aged 12, with just his father, John, who only survives about 4 years longer. I have never been able to find his mother Charlotte, nee BIGGIN, in the 1861 census, and for quite a while thought she too might have died young, which could have explained why Alfred was an only child.

Only sometime later did I discover that she married a "toy boy", Henry PINK, (also a bricklayer), some 16 years her junior in 1868. It's his step-father and mother that Alfred and his new wife Jane (nee RODWELL) are lodging with in London in 1871, (thereby solving the mystery as to why the first 2 daughters were born there).

His mum, Charlotte, only died just before the 1901 census, survived by Henry PINK, so presumably he inherited from her.

So nobody on Alfred's side dies around the time he starts to prosper, and there is little evidence of wealth in his wife Jane's family, with again nobody dying at these times.

I can only assume he had an eye for business. When he died a widower in 1927, his estate was valued at 5,617. It doesn't sound much to me, but I've no idea how much that is in today's money,

Alan

Jan1954
24-02-2008, 6:13 PM
When he died a widower in 1927, his estate was valued at 5,617. It doesn't sound much to me, but I've no idea how much that is in today's money,

It's Sunday evening and my brain is not up to speed but, according to one website, 5.00 in 1927 was worth the same as 206.00 today.

So, by my reckoning (Sunday evening etc...) it works out to about 231,338

suedent
24-02-2008, 6:14 PM
This is a good site for calculating what his nest egg would be worth now

http://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/?redirurl=calculators/ppoweruk/

5,617 in 1927 was worth 240,359.88 in 2007!

Alan Welsford
24-02-2008, 6:21 PM
This is a good site for calculating what his nest egg would be worth now

http://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/?redirurl=calculators/ppoweruk/

5,617 in 1927 was worth 240,359.88 in 2007!

Thanks Sue,

Well I guess it's only a guideline, as 240K would not buy you much more than a 2 bedroom terrace in Tring, whereas the large property they occupied alongside the coal yard still stands, and could possibly be worth twice that. And then there's the value of his business.

I guess it's possible his assets could have got marked down if he also had a lot of debt though :D

Whatever the will said, my grandfather didn't seem to come out of it a wealthy man

Alan

Colin Moretti
24-02-2008, 7:43 PM
Thanks Sue,

Well I guess it's only a guideline, as 240K would not buy you much more than a 2 bedroom terrace in Tring, whereas the large property they occupied alongside the coal yard still stands, and could possibly be worth twice that. And then there's the value of his business.
...

AlanI think that house price inflation has been much greater than general inflation in that period. I remember my parents telling me that when they married early 1930s they couldn't afford the deposit for a 500 house in Hatfield; similar houses today are selling for well over 200k.

Colin

Geoffers
24-02-2008, 8:03 PM
Comparing money between times can be misleading. What scael do you use - The cost of weekly shopping?, Average weekly income? The cost of a house? Cost of fuel? Whichever scale used, you get different results.

As an example, a 2xgt grandfather married twice, the second wife Mary Ellen Lowe (nee Cunnington) left a will valued at 3,389 1s 4d. Much less than the will referred to by Alan, who also pointed out that the supposed value of 5,600 being equivalent to 240,000 would not buy much of a house now.

And yet......in 1929 (when Mary Ellen Lowe died), she left in her will.....

7 cottages situated in Anguish Street and Whapload Road, Lowestoft
4 cottages No. 1. 2. 4 + 5 situate at Meadow Hill, Oulton, Lowestoft.
4 cottages, Nos. 2. 3. 4 + 5 cottages, Blackheath Road, Lowestoft
1 cottage No. 6 Blackheath Road, Lowestoft
3 cottages No. 1. 2 + 3 Salters Street, Whapload Road, Lowestoft
2 cottages situated in Frosts Alley, Nelson Street, Lowestoft.
5 cottages The Street, Lound
1 cottage Witney Road, Carlton Road, Pakefield, Lowestoft.
Ebenezer Villa, Somerleyton
2 cottages No. 2 + 4 Anguish Street, Lowestoft
2 cottages No. 22 + 23 Spurgeon Street, Lowestoft.

Using the same scale as for Alan, the value of 3,389 translates as about 147,000 now.

32 dwellings for 147,000? Even tiny two-up two-down back-back terraces would cost more than 4,500 each these days.