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  1. #1

    Default Winter 2013 competition - And the winner is..

    Back by popular request, competition time is here again.

    Have you all managed to store your family history information so that you know where to find everything or is it scribbled on scraps of paper that are littering the dining table? The prize for this competition is a CD of Family History Research Record Forms supplied by Maxbal Genealogy. Not only are there colour forms for you to print off, but also GRAMPS Family Tree Software Program, a relationship chart and a 2,500 year perpetual calendar! All of this would make your research so much easier.

    What do you have to do to secure this marvellous CD? Occupations of some of our ancestors can be fascinating – even that of an Agricultural Labourer! So, as very kindly suggested by Lizzy9, we would like to read about…. A day in the life of a ?????? in the nineteenth century. Please replace the ????? with an occupational title of your choice.

    Post your entries on this thread and we will have a poll at the end of the competition time so that you can vote for the winner. The closing date and time for this competition will be 3:30pm GMT on Sunday 10th February, which is when the poll will open.

    Good luck everybody and I will certainly look forward to reading all about those 19th century occupations.

    also added....
    I think all the entries are outstanding so with that in mind, I have decided that rather than just have one winner, we will have a winner and two runners up. The three prizes will be:-

    Family History Research Record Forms (CD)
    The Journal of a Georgian Gentleman
    Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs

    The winner will have the first choice, the first runner up the second, and the remaining prize will go to the person in third place.

  2. #2
    Knowledgeable and helpful stepives's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Ireland, but born Buckinghamshire.

    Default A day in the life of an agriculural labourer.

    My 3xGt.Gramps, woke up, went out and worked in the fields. In the 'quiet' moments of his life, he and his wife, produced 8 children. The sons, in turn, did the same except for one, who had 11 children.

    So whatever they touched in there mundane lives, at least it grew.


  3. #3
    Famous for offering help & advice
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    St Austell, Cornwall

    Default Mount Edgcumbe Training Ship Inmate

    A Day In The Life Of An Inmate on Mount Edgcumbe Industrial Training Ship for Homeless and Destitute Boys 1878

    Hello, I'm Billy Baines. I'm 11 years old, although people think I'm 12 'cos that's what my mum told the Magistrates. She told them she couldn't control me, but I think she wants rid of me - she got married again and has a new family now. (My older sister has gone to work as a servant. My younger brother is living with my gran.)

    So here I am on the 'Mount Edgcumbe', moored off Saltash (Devon). There are 250 of us. This morning (like every other) we were woken at 0550h, dressed and stowed our hammocks, got the tables and benches onto the main deck and had half an hour for breakfast. By 0700h the tables were stowed away and the school desks put in their place.

    I was on "Port Watch", so from 0700h to 1000h I was on the Upper Deck with Instructor Farlow - Gunnery. We practised cleaning and dismantling the carbines. I like learning about the guns - it's more fun than learning how to splice ropes and tie all the different knots. (My fingers are raw after handling wet rope for 3 hours!)

    From 1000h to 1300h our watch had Cookery Instruction with Seaman Sullivan. We prepared the ship's lunch. I hate peeling potatoes! But at least it was warm in the galley. And I saw Miss Nellie, Captain Price Knevitt's eldest daughter. (I got birched for staring, but she's worth it!)

    "Starboard Watch" set up the main deck for lunch after their school lessons, so we served the food and ate. By 1400h we ("Port Watch") had the school desks set up again and spent until 1700h learning to read and write with Mr Gitsham and I even did a bit of arithmetic. And I only had the birch once! ('cos I got a spelling wrong).

    Tea-time was a disaster. I forgot about the "invisible lines" dividing the "messes"! I went to ask Seaman Tesdale about tomorrow's Seamanship practice in the 'Goshawk' and forgot to ask permission to move. Another lashing with the birch! OW!

    From 1730h I practised with the band (I like the drum, but I want to learn the bugle). At 2000h everyone came back below decks to the dormitory, slung up the hammocks and now I'm ready for sleep. I'll stay here on the 'Mount Edgcumbe' until I'm 16, then they'll sling me off. I think I'll join the Royal Marines. That's what my Dad was, and Mum's new bloke is a Marine, too. (Mum likes the uniform)

    (Names are accurate; detail is poetic licence. I don't know what happened to William Baines after 1881. His mother married my ancestor and seems to have abandoned her first 3 children)

  4. #4


    My name is Elizabeth Chriswick I am ten years old.
    Today is my birthday but no one knows. It is 1899 and I am living in Welsh Wales you know the part on the end of England.
    I get up at six sharp and light the fire downstairs so that the girls (my masters daughters) can be warm while they eat their breakfast before going to school.
    I do not go to school because I have to work here in this family business to pay for my board and keep.
    Last year my dad died whilst overseas, he died when he was in Poland, now that seems so far away.I never got to kiss him before he left.
    My mother said that I had to go into service because she could not feed me. This was just after my baby brother died, I miss him so much.
    She was right really to put me into service at least I get fed here.
    This blackened stove takes a lot of black leading, my nails and hands are black by the end of my time getting it to look spick and span.
    I don't mind really because I get to warm myself for a while at least for a little while.
    Once the fire is done I wash myself and prepare the breakfast for everyone.
    Mr. Batten loves his bacon and eggs with that thick fried bread no wonder his stomach protrudes from his belly.
    Like a big egg he is, yes thats it, too many eggs…..
    Well now that breakfast is done time to clear away the dishes and wash them up, my hands are red raw what with cinders and this harsh soap suds.
    Sweep the floor and tidy away the pots and pans then up stairs to sort the girls rooms out.
    Mrs. Batten loves her bed, I can hear her snore when I go back up to begin the bedrooms.
    She is quite kind but not like my mam.
    My mam used to spoil me, come to think of it I miss her too.
    Must get on with my work make three beds pick up clothes and then sweep all the little bits of fluff onto some newspaper and take it down stairs to the rubbish bins.
    While I'm up here I'll just go and tidy my little room right at the top of the house. Well when I say room I mean cupboard and when I lean to look out the tiny window I can see the sea well just a little bit over the roof tops.
    Time goes so quick it won't be long before Mr. Batten is calling me to work in the shop.
    Usually I go down and he makes me peel potatoes for hours on end and then I get to serve in the shop.
    I eat a chip now and then just to make sure they are cooked see, well that's my excuse, I'll be as fat as Mr. Batten if I carry on like this.
    Tea time I get to go and fetch the girls when they come out of school they love to dawdle on the way home.
    Prepare tea and help bath the girls ready for bed.
    Thinking of bed I'm very tired myself.
    Not long now I think to myself.
    Just then Mrs. Batten calls me and gives me a small box with a card tied to it.
    I am so surprised she can be so kind.
    I thank her for my gift of scented soap and make my way to my room to hide my sophisticated soap.
    Once the girls are fast asleep Mrs. Batten tells me to get off to bed and be up early next day so that we can all go to church together.
    Sundays are like a day off but then it is not a day off. I still have my chores and have to fit church in too.
    Sleep, glorious sleep, hope I can see my mam soon.
    I'm so tired…………

  5. #5
    Super Moderator Sue Mackay's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Rhoose Point, South Wales


    My name is Thomas and I am 40 years of age or thereabouts – never did have much time for birthdays. I come from Deal, in Kent, so the sound of the sea ain’t nothing new to me, but little did I think I’d ever see my name on a ship’s muster roll. I’m on board the Weymouth, a store ship in His Majesty’s Navy, and a fine ship she be, but she don’t half heave about. I’m not supposed to be part of the crew, see, as I am bound for a better life, God willing, at the Cape of Good Hope, along with my good Jane and our three littl’uns, James, Hannah and Ruth. They say we’ll have our own ground when we gets there – well a few acres at least – but times are hard and I don’t have much saved, so when the Captain said we was light a few crew I jumped at the chance to sign on. I am a wheelwright by trade and so they’ve signed me on as a cooper. I did mend a few barrels this morning, but mainly I just hauls them up from the hold. There be hundreds of emigrants on board, so we gets through lots of barrels of water, flour and salt. Still, I’m glad I don’t have to climb the rigging!

    We left Portsmouth on 7th January in the year of our Lord 1820 and perishing cold it was – there was a fierce blizzard and I thought we’d lose little Ruthie before we even got on board, what with having to travel in an open cart from Kent. Fortunately I was able to sign on as crew straight away, so it’s a bit easier to slip the kids some extra rations, seeing as I help haul them up to the galley. We’ve been at sea a month now, and the weather is getting warmer. Today we all had fresh meat as we slaughtered one of the live bullocks we brung with us, and we came in sight of Cape Verde, so the kids were running around by the rail trying to see land and getting under everyone’s feet. There was quite a lifting of the spirits to see some land, but then little Sarah Hobbs passed away with the measles and we had to assemble on deck for another funeral. The way the fever is spreading we’ll commit a few more little bodies to the deep before the week is out, but God be praised my family has been spared to date. The captain got us all to help bring the bedding up on deck to air it and I think that’ll help. I’m glad I have a hammock, even if it do mean I’m separated from Janey. Still, even with big Will snoring fit to bust I gets a better night’s sleep with the crew than down there with the emigrants and all those kids wailing. Tonight if we get a calm sea I plan to sit on deck and whittle a toy for James and listen to the Wiltshire settlers – they’ve got lots of Chapel folk and their singing gives us all hope that God will be kind to us in Africa.
    Sue Mackay
    Insanity is hereditary - you get it from your kids

  6. #6
    Starting to feel at home
    Join Date
    Aug 2012


    I'm Mary, yesterday I was Mary Corneilius, today I am Mary Morrison,aged 39 - it is 1839 and I have just married my new husband one day after burying my old one. I still have to work for our 8 children so I will sit at my embroidery until the candle blows eyes ache but I have to work. When it is the fishing season I will be at the quayside gutting the fish that my husband has trawled overnight. This Ayrshire coast is cold, and very dangerous for the men and women so I consider myself fortunate that I can sit indoors sometimes and take up the skill I have learned-that of the beautiful Ayrshire embroidery, worked on pristine white linen. I do this for the rich people.I will sew the very best I can then wrap the work in white cotton sheeting..which we often also use as shrouds.

    I have a pot hanging over the fire and I can smell the fish bones cooking for us all - I have to be careful it doesn't taint the work I am doing or the rich people will refuse to take it into their homes. I must work, I must keep my eyesight and I have to be able to buy candles to see at night when the children are in their beds. The Parish Board will be harsh if I have to apply for relief.

    One day my great great great granddaughter in England will treasure a piece of my embroidery. It will be old, it will be thin but she will say with pride-Great Great Great Gran Mary embroidered this and it is beautiful.
    Last edited by ellyjane70; 30-01-2013 at 8:26 PM. Reason: incorrect

  7. #7
    Settled in very nicely!
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Oakville, Ontario, Canada

    Default A Day in the Life

    The saddest day of my life was today, 2 October 1849.

    My name is Robert Rowledge, a Tailor by trade, and my wife and family have a home and business in Rickmansworth. I am from Rickmansworth and after our marriage, Catherine and I moved back to Rickmansworth. I was always busy with my tailoring and Catherine sewed and made shirts, blouses and dresses that we sold. Life was good and we started a family

    By 1849, we had 9 children ranging in age from 17 down to 3 years old. All were healthy,and the 2 eldest boys were learning my trade while their older sister was working as a Domestic Servant. The others were in school and the baby was in a nursery run by the Vicar and his wife in the afternoon. As a family we were very happy.

    During the summer, an outbreak of Cholera hit the area.Many families suffered and as a result Catherine and I along with our 2 sons were kept very busy making clothes for funerals of their deceased loved ones. For these good folks, money was tight and so we didn't make a charge.

    Then the illness hit our home!! Over a 3 day period 3 of our children died of the illness. They all suffered greatly, but didn't complain.

    Today, 2 October, we had the burial service for David age 6. At the same time we had the burial and dedication service for William age 16 and Emma age 13. Our eldest daughter couldn't attend, the baby was cared for by the Vicar's wife and the others were with us at the service.

    As night fell Catherine and I said our Prayers, thanked God for giving us such wonderful children and the opportunity to provide for them. Later, in bed, I comforted Catherine, told her that their time had come and that God was taking care of them. She cried herself to sleep. As I lie here with her tear-stained face upon my pillow, I realize how lucky and blessed I am.

    Tomorrow is another day!!!

  8. #8
    Famous for offering help & advice
    Join Date
    May 2009


    I 'av never been on a train before, and I don't want to be on this one. It is cold, the bench is hard and the bloke looking over us boys has an evil look in 'is eye. We know we 'ad better do 'as he says or he is likely to give us one wiv that big stick 'e is 'olding. There are 10 of us, some from the East End and uvvers from sarf of the river. We 'ave not spoken, I fink they is as frit as I am. We dare not even look at each uvver in case the big guy catches us. As I look out of the winder I can see lots of grass and fields, I don't like grass and fields I like noise and smoke and brick buildings and big ships in the dock.

    I am not really a bad boy. I know I have done a bit of nicking and begging, but I 'ad me reasons. Me Pa 'as been 'aving a tough time these past couple of years. Ma ran orf with anuvver bloke, he 'as a good job and she is 'aving all the nice things that she wanted from Pa, but he could not afford to buy 'er, since he got ill and could not work. Pa has 'ad to bury me brother George who got sick and died last year, he was 5 year older than me and kept me in line. 'E used to give me a fick ear when I got into trouble and I really miss 'im. Pa and I could not even give 'im a propper send orf, Ma did not bother to come to say goodbye eiver. I do not know 'ow Pa will cope now I have been taken away too, I'll not forget the look in his eyes when the coppers came and took me off. They said I was on the road to rack and ruin and that if I stayed with Pa I would end up in the gaol. So here I am on me way to a place called Macclesfield. I do not know where that is, all I know is it is a long long way from me 'ome in Deptford. They say they will teach me to read and write and that when they are done with me I will be a man who will be able to work. Well I 'ave been working down the docks, that is proper man's work and the pickings is good too. They say I could go in the army and fight for me Country, I am good at fighting I learned that down the docks too.

    I 'ope we get there soon, I can feel me eyes closing with the rocking of the train and I do not want to sleep, I need to keep me wits about me as it aint going to be a party once we get there. The train is slowing down and the bloke with us is telling us we is 'ere. I pick up me belongings, I tied them in a bit of strong sack so they would be safe. It feels good to stand again but even colder on the platform. I pull my coat around me and tie the string tight to hold it there. We march off down the road, at least there are buildings here and roads and noise. We finally get to the gates of a big building and make our way up the path to the huge front door, it looks a pretty grim place. We go inside and I can hear the sound of lot of voices, a shout rings out - then silence. We are taken into a long room lined wiv beds, I am pointed to one and a box to put my sack in, I push it right under the bed out of sight. The man that bringed us 'ere leads us into anuvver room where there are lines of tables and lots of boys all eating. I am told to sit on a bench and a bowl of steamin' thin soup is put infront of me with a doorstop of bread. I am so 'ungry that I do not care about what it tastes like I just wolf it down. Soon the food is finished, a voice bawls out “to your beds” I follow the others back to the room where my bed is, the boys are staring at me, but I am not going to show 'ow frit I am. I climb into my bed, (my very own bed I do not have to share it with anyone) and pull up the rough blanket over me. I know I should stay alert but I am just so tired and I can feel the sleep shutting me eyes. This is going to be me life for the next few years. I just 'ope I can survive it.

    This is a part fictional tribute to William Henry Downard b1866, my grandad's cousin who vanishes after the 1881 census where he can be found at the Macclesfield Industrial School. Whether he did get the education and a trade is the mystery I have yet to crack. Whatever he did, I hope the rest of his life was better than the first 15 years.
    If a picture paints a thousand words, a memory paints a thousand pictures.

  9. #9
    Newcomer to Brit-Gen
    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Default An IDLE Farmer

    Can you believe a farmer with NO chores in 1926! Hard to do from a jail cell! I was out in the barn hitching up the horses when it all began this morning. Two men appeared and hauled me off to jail. They say I entered the USA illegally in 1906. I told him how I came to Canada as a Barnardo boy in 1898 and worked hard in Manitoba for another tyrant. I saw my chance and ran away to seek my fortune in the US. After getting to Washington state I worked hard as a farm labourer for James Turner my wife's father. He's a hard man, and abusive as well. I thought I had done a good thing by rescuing my wife, Sara, from her horrid father but am finding out he is also vindictive. So after marrying my sweet girl, she was only 15, I provided her with a home and children. I did my best to win her father over, even confiding my past to him. He thinks I stole her from him but we are properly married . I'm a simple farmer , trying to scratch out a living here in Washington, just like him. But now he gets his revenge - after all these years he called the Immigration people and turned me in as illegal alien! So now I sit here waiting for deportation, they say, to ENGLAND. What will happen to wife and family? The're gonna send me- not Sara and the children. And all my neighbors will think I am a criminal since my story is being written in the local newspaper. He will probably claim all my animals and sell them off. How can I eat this meal they just shoved at me when I might never see my family again? So tomorrow will I be right back where I started?

  10. #10

    Default The Inquest 11th May 1878

    Last Saturday must ’ave been one of the worst day of our lives. We’ll remember Thursday right enough, but Saturday was worse. It started off fine, with me and George doing our usual, me getting the littluns ready for the day and George going off to Farmer Elliott’s, his master. The master had said George could finish early so as us could go into Barnstaple to see George’s mother, us having been obliged to take her into the House on Thursday. He even offered us the use of his cart again, for he lent us it to take her in – he is a very good man and George has done well to be working for him. To tell the tale as short as I can, Mother had been living with us for a few weeks, her not being able to look after herself no more. She was a very great age – 80 I believe - and was almost stone deaf. ‘Cause of that, she’d to rely on me and my maid Rosa to look after her, which was very hard, as she didn’t get out of her bed after she moved in. Rosa is only 9, but she is a big help, she do ‘er best to help me. Anyhows, afore we could set out on Saturday afternoon, Mr Vickery the relieving gentleman, rode up to tell us that Mother had gone. He was a bit short with us and told us we ‘ad to get to the House to attend an inquest on Mother that very afternoon as we could be in a lot of trouble. We were so flummoxed and upset, but as we ‘ad the Master’s cart we set off almost at once in a right state. We left the maids and little Henry with Alice next door and we managed the journey in less than two hours. When we got to the House we were that scared, to tell the truth of it, I cannot remember very much of what happened next.

    The Coroner was a kindly man but firm, as us heard tell from others, but I was still afeard. Mr Vickery told him that Mother wanted to go into the House, as she had said so in front of him when he called a week ago after we applied for some extra relief. He told us there could be no more money and so we should take Mother into the House as soon as possible, her being so frail and old. Mother knew that George’s brother’s maid was helping out the nurses in the House, she said she would be quite happy to go in until she got her strength back, she’d been in once before and so wasn’t bothered. The Coroner wanted to know how much Mother was getting in relief and I told him it was 2s 6d a week but us hoped us might get a few extra pence as I couldn’t go out to do any work being as I had to look after her.

    At the time, George’s master was away for a few days and we knew no-one else with a horse and cart that we could borrow, so we waited till Farmer Elliott came home. He was willing to lend us the cart, but he said it would have to wait till Thursday, as he needed it till then. The Coroner said that it was waiting till Thursday what us done wrong and why us was here being asked questions, we should have made more effort to get Mother in to Barnstaple workhouse sooner. I explained that as soon as us had use of the cart, us filled it with straw, put in a feather pillow and some blankets and took Mother to the House. She was very weak and so George carried her in when we arrived and she was put to bed. Betty was on duty and came along to see her settled in, so us went home knowing she was being looked after.

    The Coroner asked if I had been able to keep Mother clean and fed and I answered that I had, but that I had been run off my legs trying to cope as I had to do everything for her. Having three small children as well (our other seven children were either married or in service) it made life very difficult, but she was George’s mother and that was all there was to it. After some more questions, the Coroner spoke to Dr Lane who had seen Mother about two weeks ago. He said that Mother was really too poorly to have been kept at home and that she should have been sent to the House sooner, but he did not think it would have made any difference to her living any longer. He said us should have asked him to see Mother again when we couldn’t take her in at the beginning of the week.

    The Coroner said it was a pity Mother hadn’t been sent to the House sooner but there was no reason to blame us for anything – the Guardians of the Union had to report the death to him, it was the law. He then had a private talk with the gentlemen who made up the jury and told us that they had decided that Mother had died of extreme old age and that us could go home. I should have felt relieved but all I wanted to do was cry – us never got to say goodbye to Mother and that will always stay with me.


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