Author Topic: "... just an AgLab". JUST an AgLab ??  (Read 26463 times)

Offline Berlin-Bob

  • Caretaker
  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • ********
  • Posts: 7,430
    • View Profile
"... just an AgLab". JUST an AgLab ??
« on: Wednesday 12 January 05 14:00 GMT (UK) »
Ag Labs. Salt of the Earth!
Found in Liverpool Family Historian June 02

Food For Thought- He must have been an Ag Lab

"Ask yourselves whether you know the gestation period for a sheep or a cow, and you can't read or write to make a note of it. The ag lab knew when the animal would calve by observing the position of the stars and work it out from that, or from the particular religious festivals being celebrated in church at the appropriate times. Reading and writing is one thing, but it wasn't necessary, numeracy however or a limited knowledge of it was essential so as to count his or his masters livestock and his own money and to tell the time. It was no good thinking that 7 o'clock came immediately after three bells had just struck on the church clock!

There was no electricity, the lanes were bad and there was no health service. The Ag lab knew how to make his own rush lights to light his home, the shortest and driest route between 2 places and which herbs to pick as remedies for his families ailments. He knew his neighbours far better than we know ours. We isolate ourselves in our cars and in front of our television sets. He relied on neighbours with different skills from his, to help him out when the need arose. He was thrifty where we borrow on bits of plastic he and his family had to make ends meet regardless or with great shame go on the parish.

Yes he could even forecast his local weatherby watching the reactions of wildlife and plants to changing conditions. He was far better at it than any of us from our centrally heated homes and offices. He knew how to thatch and how to get straight straw for thatching whereas we send for experts to fix a cracked slate.

He was tough. He could walk for days behind a plough, pulled by a team of horses, and still walkmiles to church each sunday. A 20 mile walk laden with produce or purchases to and from market each week was also the norm for some. No fancily equipped gymnasium for him, yet he was fitter than today's health freaks who maybe should take a lesson or two from his ancestors.

Can you use a sickle or scythe from dawn to dusk, in all weathers? Can you snare a rabbit for dinner or cut beanpoles from a hedge in a manner that will promote further growth? Can you mix your own whitewash, or train a dog to hunt or round up sheep for you? Come to that can you milk a cow or slaughter and butcher a sheep or pig?

So-called ag labs were no fools. they survived and very few of us would be here to read this if they hadn't !
Leave your car at home and walk to work tomorrow, even if it is five miles, your ancestor did!"
Any UK Census Data included in this post is Crown Copyright (see:

My research interests (and data found) can be seen on my website:

Offline Hackstaple

  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 3,858
  • Family researcher
    • View Profile
Re: "... just an AgLab". JUST an AgLab ??
« Reply #1 on: Wednesday 12 January 05 14:21 GMT (UK) »
An aglab was travelling by train and someone in the carriage said they wondered how many sheep there were in the field they were passing. after a minute or so he said "849". Astonished, his companion asked how he did that and he replied "I counted the legs and divided by four". ;D
Southern or Southan [Hereford , Monmouthshire & Glos], Jenkins, Meredith and Morgan [Monmouthshire and Glos.], Murrill, Damary, Damry, Ray, Lawrence [all Middx. & London], Nethway from Kenn or Yatton. Also Riley and Lyons in South Africa and Riley from St. Helena.
Any census information included in this post is Crown Copyright, from

Offline Sueh2

  • RootsChat Veteran
  • *****
  • Posts: 546
  • Violet Ward 1902-1996
    • View Profile
Re: "... just an AgLab". JUST an AgLab ??
« Reply #2 on: Wednesday 12 January 05 14:26 GMT (UK) »
Well Bob that certainly gives food for thought. When we talk with people about our ancestors we often glibly say "Oh they were just ag labs" but I don't think that we really consider what a tough life it was and the skills that were involved.

I live in a cottage that once was home to ag labs and I have researched some of their family histories. I often wonder what they would make of this abode with its mod cons were they able to return from the past for a visit.

Regards Sue

Census Information is Crown Copyright, from
Norfolk: TUCK

Offline kmo

  • RootsChat Senior
  • ****
  • Posts: 434
    • View Profile
Re: "... just an AgLab". JUST an AgLab ??
« Reply #3 on: Wednesday 12 January 05 16:40 GMT (UK) »
The old skills haven't been lost, there are just less of us around to practise them.

I don't need to know the position of the stars to tell how far a cow is off calving. I just look at her a**e.

nnnnth generation ag lab

Offline Boongie Pam

  • RootsChat Honorary
  • RootsChat Aristocrat
  • *******
  • Posts: 2,506
  • Pa is Scottish, Ma is Welsh, Nose is Roamin'
    • View Profile
Re: "... just an AgLab". JUST an AgLab ??
« Reply #4 on: Wednesday 12 January 05 18:03 GMT (UK) »
One thing to note is that "Ag Lab" as a category hid a number of very skilled jobs.

One of my ancestors Thomas Cork of Clayhidon was an Ag Lab on a number of census but he was actually a wheelwright.

UK Census info. Crown Copyright, from

Dumfrieshire: Fallen, Fallon, Carruthers, Scott, Farish, Aitchison, Green, Ryecroft, Thomson, Stewart
Midlothian: Linn/d, Aitken, Martin
North Wales: Robins(on), Hughes, Parry, Jones
Cumberland: Lowther, Young, Steward, Miller
Somerset: Palmer, Cork, Greedy, Clothier

Online intermittently!

Offline teddybear1843

  • RootsChat Veteran
  • *****
  • Posts: 709
    • View Profile
Re: "... just an AgLab". JUST an AgLab ??
« Reply #5 on: Wednesday 12 January 05 21:37 GMT (UK) »
This post just endorses my plea to people to look into their family HISTORY, not just their family TREE.

Find out how your ancestors lived, how much they were paid, how many they slept to a room (often no bed), how they travelled, what they ate, what furniture they had, what their most prized posession was, how they wiped their bottom (before newspapers), how their toilets worked, what did women use, ............................the list is endless

Bear, Burrows, Burroughs, Goll, Mayes, Yull, Bacon, Harvey, Fenn, Youngman, Jary, Lake, Chesney, Yaxley, Freestone, Briggs, Carrington, Frarey, Blaxter, Bennefer, Gosman, Howard, Wildman, Woodbine, Jessop, Taylor, Walpole, etc etc  all in Norfolk.
Weasenham village history and families connected to the villages of Weasenham All Saints & Saint Peter in Norfolk.  Happy to carry out research in Norfolk.  Please PM for details.

Offline Biker

  • RootsChat Honorary
  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 4,621
    • View Profile
Re: "... just an AgLab". JUST an AgLab ??
« Reply #6 on: Wednesday 12 January 05 21:50 GMT (UK) »
Bob, thanks for posting that, puts things in perspective a bit.

teddybear I agree, the people and history are important.  When I first started 'doing' my family, my goal was to find as many as possible but now it's more to do with trying to understand who they were a bit, as difficult as that is.  I'm curious if other people experienced the same process.

Census information is Crown Copyright

Offline Keith Bateman

  • I am sorry but my emails are not working
  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 3,843
  • .....The Cheshire Cat
    • View Profile
Re: "... just an AgLab". JUST an AgLab ??
« Reply #7 on: Wednesday 12 January 05 22:45 GMT (UK) »
Yes I agree it's nice to be able to work out your family's lives as well as their dates.
Seeing some of your websites - I thought I would start by putting something down about my Great Grandfather.
From census, occupations and children's birth dates and places lived.
Even tho no one else will probably read it I wrote 4 pages and when I read it back to myself I felt I really knew about him, far more than just dates.

But he was never an Ag Lab !!   ;D ;D


Bateman - Ware, Herts, London.<br />Partington - Liverpool - Devon - Manchester<br />Foster - Liverpool - Manchester - Scotland<br />Gates - Cumberland - Liverpool - Manchester - Australia<br />Westwood - Ware, Herts<br /><br /><br />"Any information Crown Copyright, from"

Has Bouncing Emails

Offline slightlyfoxed

  • RootsChat Senior
  • ****
  • Posts: 424
  • the Searcher
    • View Profile
Re: "... just an AgLab". JUST an AgLab ??
« Reply #8 on: Thursday 13 January 05 10:56 GMT (UK) »
Have you ever read "Lark Rise to Candleford" by Flora Thompson .I t gives a vivid insight into the 19th C and the rural poverty and richness of the lives of the 'humble poor'  to quote'
 'on whose backs the whole of society rested and without whom the whole edifice would have come tumbling down.'

They were the back bone of the English Empire.
Pomeroy in London & Liverpool , Pomery near Launceston Cornwall, Shearer of Thurso, Moore in Colchester and Hornblow in Braintree Essex, Machin in Hackney & Stafford & Cook in Herts, Campbell, Sutherland, Mackay, Brotchie, Gunn in Thurso Caithness. Cadle in South Africa.

researching the Pomeroy Family of Collaton in Newton Ferrers and St Columb in Cornwall