Author Topic: Agricultural labourer and other terms  (Read 4463 times)

Offline sp1jpe

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Agricultural labourer and other terms
« on: Wednesday 09 March 11 14:26 GMT (UK) »
I was recently helped in my search for Moxon ancestors in Lincolnshire (for which many thanks), and would like to ask about terms used in the censuses for occupations, and whether anyone knows how precise they were. I have come across: 'agricultural labourer', 'ordinary agricultural labourer', 'farm servant', 'farm servant indoors', and 'farm labourer'. I can tell that my ancestors were not wealthy! But I wondered whether any of these categories carried specific meanings.
Many thanks
JohnE

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Offline Geoff-E

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Re: Agricultural labourer and other terms
« Reply #1 on: Wednesday 09 March 11 14:57 GMT (UK) »
The 1841 instructions to enumerators directs,
"Time may be saved by writing the following words, shortly thus ... “Ag. Lab.” for Agricultural labourer, which may include all farming servants and labourers in husbandry." 

1851 "Farm Labourer" seems to appear quite a bit in the images that I've saved ... but the enumerator in Wellingore just used the term "Labourer".  Remembering that many at that time were illiterate, presumably they were at the mercy of the whim of the enumerator.

An ancestor of mine appears on censuses as
Farmer
AgLab
Farmer 2 acres
Cottager
When his daughter married (after these censuses) she said he had been a Labourer.
Today I broke my personal record for most consecutive days alive.

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Offline Redroger

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Re: Agricultural labourer and other terms
« Reply #2 on: Thursday 10 March 11 17:00 GMT (UK) »
Until he left to join in WWI my late father was a farm servant, in effect he was an apprentice farm worker, learning the trade for £5 a year and his keep, but as he said the £5 was paid in gold!
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Offline Alexander.

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Re: Agricultural labourer and other terms
« Reply #3 on: Sunday 13 March 11 20:27 GMT (UK) »
I had a similar question and found a helpful answer in The Oxford Companion to Family and Local History:

"The usual distinction between a farm servant and a farm labourer was that a servant was an adolescent boy or an unmarried man who was hired for a year and who lived on the farm, whereas an agricultural labourer was usually a married man who lived elsewhere (often in a tied cottage) and who was paid a daily or weekly wage for the job that he performed."

However I think Geoff is right to note that the terms were probably used quite loosely on censuses and other records.

Offline Redroger

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Re: Agricultural labourer and other terms
« Reply #4 on: Monday 14 March 11 16:43 GMT (UK) »
That fits my father precisely, he was 16 when he joined the army in 1915, they weren't that bothered so long as he said he was 18, the main criterion was to be big enough to shoot and be shot at!
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Offline sp1jpe

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Re: Agricultural labourer and other terms
« Reply #5 on: Thursday 17 March 11 10:39 GMT (UK) »
Thanks for the answers so far, which have clarified several points for me. Does anyone know the significance (if any) of the 'indoors' in 'farm servant indoors' - does it mean domestic? And of the 'ordinary' in 'ordinary agricultural labourer'?  Perhaps it is no more than a reflection of the fact that 'Ag Lab' was so common?
Many thanks
JohnE

Offline Redroger

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Re: Agricultural labourer and other terms
« Reply #6 on: Thursday 17 March 11 18:12 GMT (UK) »
No answers, but suggestions; farm servant in doors domestic. Ordinary Ag.lab. to distinguish him from a specialist like dairyman etc.
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Offline Alexander.

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Re: Agricultural labourer and other terms
« Reply #7 on: Thursday 17 March 11 18:21 GMT (UK) »
A quick google found this book online...it looks interesting and might hold some of the answers you were looking for.

http://www.archive.org/stream/historyofenglish00greeuoft#page/n5/mode/2up

Offline Redroger

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Re: Agricultural labourer and other terms
« Reply #8 on: Thursday 17 March 11 18:24 GMT (UK) »
The History of Boston by Pishey Thompson (1856) and 1996 reprint has a large glossary of agricultural and othe dialect terms, which I have found is useful beyond Lincolnshire.
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