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  1. #1

    Default are boatsmen the same as shipwrights

    i am hoping someone could help me please

    Elizabeth Thomas married Samuel Hodgkinson in newport 1862

    Elizabeth father was William Thomas boatman

    only william thomas i can find in wales is William Thomas shipwright

    so my question is ...

    is boatman the same as shipwright?

  2. #2


    According to the Index of Old Occupations:

    Boatman: 1) Worked on river and canal boats 2) Boat repairer

    Shipright: Builder and repairer of ships

  3. #3
    Famous for offering help & advice
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Monkton, Kent


    According to a boatman worked on boats on canals and rivers or was a boat repairer.

    A shipwright would, presumably, be dealing with sea-going vessels.

    SNAP, Jan!

  4. #4

    Default thomas

    so i am still stuck .....

    and getting a headache

    i cant find him any ideas for knocking down my brick wall ?

  5. #5


    Snap, Davran!

    Supermum - one of the definitions of a boatman is a repairer of boats, and a shipright does the same for ships.

    I know that the purists will probably say that a ship is not a boat (and vice versa) but we are going by people's 19th century interpretation of an occupation. It may also be that William was trying to make his occupation sound more important.

    I certainly would not dismiss the William Thomas that you have found.

  6. #6


    He could have changed or varied his job. One reference is for 1862; when is the reference to a shipwright dated?

  7. #7

    Default thomas

    the william i found is a ships master by 1871

    the father on the groom side was a labourer ...was he playing down his role?

    thanks for your help

  8. #8
    Guy Etchells


    I would suggest the compiler of the online occupations was perhaps not quite as thorough as he/she should have been.

    According to The Dictionary of Occupational Terms published by the Ministry of Labour (the official listing).

    A boat man (boatman)
    (i) rows a boat (belonging to Customs service) from point to point in port or harbour, conveying Customs officers engaged in boarding ships for Customs examination; or is a member of crew of larger boat... (for same purpose)

    (ii) Owning a boat in which he conveys Customs officers about harbour in the way described.

    There are various other categories of boatmen but all own or row a boat servicing larger ships, or hiring boats out for pleasure.
    The entry concerning shipbuilding has the boatman paying out ropes, gathering or selecting logs, securing floating timber after a launch etc. etc.
    In other words even when used in the shipbuilding industry the job involved rowing a boat fetching and carrying, not building.


  9. #9

    Default thomas family

    i am still none the wiser

    i am glad of all your responcies

    but i just want to find elizabeth thomas with her family ....father occupation boatsman

    & the one that comes close is shipwright

    maybe when she got married the registar decided to write boats man for shipwright ?

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by supermum2005
    maybe when she got married the registar decided to write boats man for shipwright ?
    I don't think so, they were clearly defined and different occupations.

    Your problem in tracking a boatman is that the nature of his work meant that in many cases he would not stay in one place for very long.

    Any hints at all as to whether this was someone who worked in either a harbour - or a river, or canal? Where according to census returns was Elizabeth born?

    only william thomas i can find in wales
    The problem is the opposite, the very large number of people called William Thomas in Wales and elsewhere. Although your lass may have been married in Newport - there is nothing in that to say that dad lived there - or nearby.

    Do any later census returns show your lass with any family members - siblings, aunts, uncles, parents?

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