View Full Version : Living on own means.
28-07-2005, 10:20 AM
Would some kind person please explain what this means exactly. On a marriage certificate for 1903 my father in laws father's occupation is given as "of independent means". I suppose it has the same meaning. I am trying to find him on the 1881 or 1901 census but am not sure whether to look for someone running their own business, or maybe he came into money. I have noticed that this is quite a common term used on the census. I would appreciate some advice thanks. Maureen
28-07-2005, 10:46 AM
"Own means" or "independent means" is really defining what someone wasn't rather than what he was. He had an unspecified source of income but not from a current occupation whether as employer, employee or self-employed. Nor was he a pauper. Someone with an formal pension or annuity might be described as "pensioner" (eg Chelsea Pensioner etc) or "annuitant".
So it's most likely to imply income from an inheritance, investments or an allowance from some benefactor.
As you know, you can't place too much reliance on a single census entry. Further reaearch may make things clearer.
28-07-2005, 10:51 AM
Thanks Peter for your quick response to my query. Your explanation has helped me and now I can broaden my search, I think!
28-07-2005, 11:04 AM
But I've also found elderly widows who I'm pretty sure wouldn't have had two ha'pennies to rub together being described as "own means" and apparently simply being looked after by a son's family. Probably should have been "son's means" rather than "own means"!
28-07-2005, 11:07 AM
And I've got a vague memory of stumbling across someone living on own means - in the workhouse.
I get the feeling that a couple of mine stated they were of 'independent means' simply because they weren't receiving any form of parish relief. They certainly didn't have much money but they were independent.
On the other hand, I have got some who had got money and stated they were of 'own means' :)
28-07-2005, 1:31 PM
I was on the wrong track then because I thought it meant he was probably wealthy. This makes finding him on the 1881 or 1901 census rather difficult not knowing what his occupation might have been. This line is going to be very difficult to follow because although I have a marriage certificate, the groom appears to have changed his middle name at some time and the surname is Brown! Having a birth certificate and a marriage certificate has not helped me at all. Thanks everyone for your comments.
28-07-2005, 3:44 PM
Another *occupation* to watch out for is the one which says Gentleman. I have two examples in my files, the first one meaning exactly what it implied to me ..... a wealthy Gentleman, with pots of money.
The second one was off work at the Coal Mines, due to an accident, so no wages coming in, but his wife taking in washing and his daughters running errands for people, kept the wolf from the door!
28-07-2005, 5:50 PM
My gggrandfather regularly described himself as a gentleman – except on the birth certificate of his last child, Leila, when he described his occupation as “independent”.
In fact, Leila was born just a few months after his bigamous marriage to his landlady.
Maybe he did have a little bit of a conscience :)
28-07-2005, 5:57 PM
Beware also of things like a marriage record on which one party says that their father is a "Sergeant" or whatever in the army. If they're silly enough to name the regiment, so that even if there's no service record you can track them down in the musters, you will probably find that the fellow never rose above the rank of Private.
Just as today, people tended to tell porkies or just exaggerate the truth a little so that it looked "better" - some of mine need to be taken with the entire annual output of a Siberian salt mine.
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