View Full Version : Tracing Ag Labs in the 1700s

09-04-2009, 6:33 PM
Hello all - is there anyone who has successfully traced ag labs back into the 1700s? I'm hoping that someone might have useful experience and be able to provide some tips on looking for ancestors who aren't well-known for leaving much paperwork behind! Thank you (with fingers crossed)

09-04-2009, 9:29 PM
Hello Ashbee,

Well the Old Bailey certainly has some naughty 'labourers' dating from 1676 and there's some early bits and pieces on the National Archives if that's any help?

09-04-2009, 10:28 PM
Thank you ... worth thinking about...

Hugh Thompson
09-04-2009, 11:32 PM
Hi Ashbee, no matter what their calling was they will all be in the relevant parish registers.

Colin Moretti
10-04-2009, 8:30 AM
Hello ashbee

I've not had to do it myself but, first of all, you might find it helpful to read a copy of My Ancestor was an Agricultural Labourer by Ian H Waller (SoG).

Depending on dates, you may also find Maps for Family and Local History by Beech & Mitchell (TNA) of use for locating information; the Tithe Commision records might well give information about the plots occupied by an individual.

If you are lucky you will find traces of Ag Labs in landowners' estate records, see this post (http://www.british-genealogy.com/forums/showpost.php?p=239414&postcount=4) for an example and a later post (http://www.british-genealogy.com/forums/showpost.php?p=260908&postcount=9) in the same thread for more details.

Good luck


10-04-2009, 10:37 AM
I've not had to do it myself but, first of all, you might find it helpful to read a copy of My Ancestor was an Agricultural Labourer by Ian H Waller (SoG).

And this - English Farming Past and Present
At Anguline Research Archives.

10-04-2009, 4:59 PM
Thank you both...can anyone confirm that this publication discusses how to trace ag labs from the early-mid 1700s as well as the later generations? I ask because I'm currently stumped with an ancestor who married in one village and then moved to a neighbouring one in a village in 1768 with his wife where the family remained for several more generations. I have no idea where he came from - my original theory involving several earlier generations has been shot down in flames recently so I want to get it right this time. There are no settlement papers or records of a baptism that can help so I'm looking for guidelines for this earlier period rather than the usual Victorian times...thanks again.

10-04-2009, 5:07 PM
Sorry, Hugh - didn't see your post until I hit the send button. My problem is that I have no idea where Daniel Green came from...I found his marriage in Haversham, Bucks in 1768 then he and Elizabeth baptised the first of several children in Milton Keynes Village later that year. The family stayed in the village until the 1860s. My understanding is that labourers didn't move very far between places and I have checked the LDS for Bucks, Northants and Beds and am now working my way through individual parish registers.

By coincidence, a Thomas Green moved with his family into MKV about the same time although we can't connect Thomas and Daniel to say they are family.

Anyway, thanks for your help.

Colin Moretti
10-04-2009, 6:15 PM
...can anyone confirm that this publication discusses how to trace ag labs from the early-mid 1700s as well as the later generations? ...The introduction to the book states
The second part is the 'how to research' section outlining the many different records from which information can be obtained as practical research is undertaken. The book cannot say "you will find information about your ancestor in these records", particularly for the dates you are interested in, but it does suggest the types of records that might yield information. For example, it discusses the old poor laws (pre 1834), settlement papers, militia records and ecclesastical and manorial courts as well as estate records and farmers' diaries.

...I have checked the LDS for Bucks, Northants and Beds...If you've only relied on the LDS (the IGI?) then you may well have missed some records as not all parishes have been transcribed.


11-04-2009, 9:01 AM
Hello Colin

Thanks for the info re the scope of the Ag Lab book ... I've been to Bucks County Record Office and searched the normal resources without luck - there are no settlement papers for Daniel or Thomas so I can only assume that they didn't require them or they have been destroyed. There were not throw away comments by the vicar or parish clerk either! Daniel isn't linked to the village he was resident in at the time of the marriage (i.e. no baptism and no other Greens resident) and there was no hint of where he'd come from prior to taking that job (I assume he came via a hiring fair). Because the villages are in that tiny corner of Bucks that is between Northants and Beds I've used the LDS as a starting point but am in the process of going through all the PRs for all the villages in Bucks - a long and laborious task!

There is a suitable match in nearby Woburn that I had taken as ours for a long, long time and had pushed the branch through another couple of generations. But a very tenacious distant cousin stumbled across a bit of information that disproves that theory - that particular Daniel had decamped to London with his family would you believe!!! - so I am doubly cautious now, not that there are many Daniel Greens to choose from, surprisingly. Ag labs aren't known for leaving documents behind, are they, so I'm looking for any hints or suggestions that have been useful for others researching this period for labouring folk...

11-04-2009, 10:41 AM
Hi Ashbee,
Bucks FHS can do look ups for a particular surname in all the parishes they have transcribed, this might give you somewhere to start, there are some parishes that were in Beds.


11-04-2009, 11:34 AM
Thanks Sam. I have checked with the Bucks FHS too but no luck... it is always possible that he wasn't baptised or the entry has been lost over time - some of the PRs are a bit moth-eaten around this time, none of which will help me but I'll keep trying...thanks again.