View Full Version : Gardener = Laborer?

16-02-2008, 7:00 PM
My gr grandfather characterized himself as a gardener in late 1800 censuses in Cornwall and in his 1908 immigration declarations in the US. He became quite a famous landscaper in California in the 1915-1930s.

I have seen Agr Laborer [sorry I am typing in American], General Laborer, etc in various occupation fields but not gardener.

Can anyone tell me when this occupation became a separate entity?


16-02-2008, 7:22 PM
Hello David,

I have a few gardeners in my tree, as well as many, many Ag Labs and General Labs :)

I think that the earliest gardener that I have was mentioned in 1861. Where I have these early gardeners, once enumerated as such they generally remained so.

I only have one where he became just a labourer in subsequent censuses. I always took that to be that he didn't make it as a "proper" gardener. (Probably thought that weeds were flowers that hadn't been appreciated...) http://www.parishchest.com/english_farming_past_and_present__P87542

I also have a gardener on a private estate who then became a market gardener (so he grew veggies) and then became a grocer (selling the veggies) so all within the same trade.

Alan Welsford
16-02-2008, 7:37 PM
The 1881 UK census appears to have well in excess of 100,000 people with "Gardener" as part of their occupation.

So it's not that unusual, but relatively rare compared to "Labourer", (750,000 in 1881, without even considering the abbreviated "Lab." form).

As Jan says, it's often something like "Estate Gardener", which one of my great grandfather's eventually aspired to after many years as just "Labourer". They would typically be working for one of the large landowners - probably the Rothschilds in his case.

Another great grandfather eventually rose to "Market Gardener", which would generally imply owning and running your own business.

I was intrigued to find him in a Norfolk trades directory as "Market Gardener, Farmer, Fruit Grower and Coal and Coke Merchant". From what I know "Farmer" might have been pushing it a bit, but finding a Market Gardener who was also the local Coal outlet is not at all unusual.

Peter Goodey
16-02-2008, 7:44 PM
Can anyone tell me when this occupation became a separate entity?

14th century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary ;).

You'll find plenty in all the censuses.