Jun 122020

Here is our second round-up of updates to our members’ websites – with a reminder about our Members’ Websites Competition and a full list of all of our members’ online offerings.

Alpha – Jericho in Queensland, Australia (Janice Cooper)

In Private School Teachers, posted on 3 June, Janice looks at the Glanville sisters, some of whom were the first teachers at a private school in Jericho.

Antrobus in Cheshire, England (Clare Olver)

Clare looked at Evacuees at Arley School in a blog post added on 9 May, using the school register as her primary source.

Badingham and Cransford in Suffolk (Elizabeth Walne)

Elizabeth has extended the website which previously covered Badingham to include her second OPS of Cransford, and it has a brand new web address: badingham-and-cransford.co.uk. It also has a brand new blog post, posted on 22 May: Badingham Men’s Club.

Badsey, Aldington and Wickhamford in Worcestershire, England (Maureen Spinks for the Badsey Society)

The stream of new articles contributed to their website by Badsey Society members has continued unabated, with a further 12 in May and six so far in June. These include pieces on VE Day in Badsey in 1945, and the VE Day commemoration this year in Badsey, Aldington and Wickhamford, plus a look at the Spanish flu epidemic in Badsey in 1918-19.

Buckland Brewer in Devon, England (Janet Few / Buckland Brewer History Group)

Items added to the Buckland Brewer History Group’s Latest News page look back at the Group’s meeting in May, and forward to the next one in June – all virtual of course!

Cairneyhill in Fife, Scotland (Jacqueline Hunter)

Cairneyhill People and History is one of two OPS websites which Jacqueline has recently relaunched. The site’s blog features two posts so far, and we look forward to seeing more.

Chislet in Kent, England (Paul Carter)

Chislet One-Place Study is one of three new Name & Place websites which Paul has recently launched for his one-place studies in Kent.

Dayton, LaSalle County, in Illinois, USA (Candace Wilmot)

Historic editions of the Ottawa Free Trader have provided Candace with inspiration for most – but not all – of the six posts which she has recently added to her website’s blog.

Feniton in Devon, England  (Christine Gibbins / Feniton History Group)

In VE Day 8 May 1945 to 8 May 2020 --- 75 Years, Christine looks at VE day celebrations in Feniton in 1945, the losses suffered by the village during the war, and the situation 75 years later with Covid-19 restrictions in place.

Great Ellingham in Norfolk, England (Heather Etteridge)

With 18 new posts to her website since my last round-up of members’ websites, Heather has continued to be a busy blogger! One of Heather’s posts, Emigration to Australia, was referenced in Peter Calver’s Lost Cousins newsletter of 11 June – check out When a One-Place Study can help to find out more.

Melrose in Roxburghshire, Scotland (Viv Dunstan)

Congratulations to Viv on the publication of her OPS-inspired article, based on her postgraduate Masters research, in the Journal of Scottish Historical Studies. A link to the article, which is currently free to view and download, can be found in Viv’s blog post New academic article about Melrose’s 17th century court.

North Walls and Brims in Orkney, Scotland (Jane Harris)

Two new OPS blog posts have been added to Jane’s website. Call up for three sons – WW2 features photos of Jane’s father and uncles, along with a note written by their mother listing the dates when each of them went away to war. Changing occupations, 1861-1911, North Walls and Brims makes a great contribution to the Society’s Shared Endeavour for 2020.

Parham in Suffolk, England (Simon Last)

Simon has continued to post pictures and snippets of information on the Parham Suffolk Facebook page, featuring people and places in the parish.

Rillington in North Yorkshire, England (Pam Smith)

Pam has recently launched a new Rillington One-Place Study website at Name & Place, in addition to adding numerous posts (most with photos) to the OPS Facebook page since my last round-up.

St Nicholas at Wade in Kent, England (Paul Carter)

St Nicholas at Wade One-Place Study is another of three new Name & Place websites which Paul has recently launched for his one-place studies in Kent.

Shandon in Dunbartonshire, Scotland (Jacqueline Hunter)

Shandon People and History is the second of Jacqueline’s two OPS websites, both of which have recently been relaunched. There are already three posts on this site’s blog.

Springhill in Lancashire, England (Janet Barrie)

Updates to Janet’s website over the last month or so include a page on Covid-19 in Springhill, and more 52 residents blog posts.

Stretton in Cheshire, England (Clare Olver)

On 6 May, Clare added a post to her blog highlighting her article on The back story to the History of Stretton, which was published in the March 2020 issue of our journal Destinations. Clare also made a copy of the journal available for download from her website.

Waters Upton in Shropshire, England (Steve Jackson)

Following my two-part post on blacksmiths, on 9 May I added A fatal tricycle accident at Waters Upton (also in two parts) to my blog. This focusses on the inquest that followed an unusual and tragic death, and features several of my place’s residents. I have also updated my Links page, added further entries to my Crime and Land pages, and created two three pages: Electoral registers; Death notices etc.; and In other news.

Wickhambreaux in Kent, England (Paul Carter)

Wickhambreaux One-Place Study is the third of three new Name & Placebrou websites which Paul has recently launched for his one-place studies in Kent.

Whitley in Cheshire, England (Clare Olver)

Inspired by the Old Railway Accidents project, on 8 May Clare blogged about the shocking death of one of her place’s residents at Huddersfield Railway Station in 1886.

Wonersh in Surrey, England (Jan Cooper)

The Recent Updates page on Jan’s website shows that profiles for many people in the site’s online family tree have been updated during May and June.

Woodnorth in Manitoba, Canada (Pamela Forsyth)

On 4 June, Pamela updated her blog to announce that she has completed and posted the transcription of the Woodnorth Consolidated School Board Minutes for meetings held from the opening of the Consolidated School in 1918 to the end of 1951. The Society for One-Place Studies is also mentioned and our website linked to – many thanks Pamela!

Don’t forget that nominations for our first Members’ Website Competition must be received by 30 September 2020. With that in mind, in addition to the summary of recent updates to our members’ websites, I have appended below a full list of all of our members’ sites. Many, even if they haven’t been added to recently, provide a wealth of information about the places they are dedicated to – take a look, be inspired, and submit a nomination or two!

Steve Jackson
Social Media Coordinator

Australia » Queensland » Alpha – Jericho (Janice Cooper) – see main article above.
Australia » Queensland » Murphys Creek (Pauleen Cass) http://cassmob.wordpress.com/

Canada » Manitoba » Newdale (M. Diane Rogers) http://newdalembgenealogy.wordpress.com/
Canada » Manitoba » St. François Xavier (Lianne Lavoie) http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~liannelavoie/stfrancoisxavier.html
Canada » Manitoba » Woodnorth (Pamela Forsyth) – see main article above.
Canada » Ontario » Columbus (W. Wesley Johnston) http://www.wwjohnston.net/famhist/english-corners.htm
Canada » Ontario » Dummer (Fraser Dunford) http://www.earlydummersettlers.ca/
Canada » Quebec » Valcartier (Patricia Balkcom) http://valcartiergenealogy.com/

England » Bristol » Gloucester Road, Bishopton (Chris Wallace) http://thegloucesterroadstory.org/
England » Bristol » Morley Square, Bishopton (Chris Wallace) http://morleysq.org.uk/
England » Buckinghamshire » Bourne End (Dave Foster) http://bourneendbucksops.org.uk/
England » Buckinghamshire » Great Kimble and Little Kimble (Stephen Daglish) http://www.kimble.info/
England » Buckinghamshire » Wing (Alex Coles) http://www.wing-ops.org.uk/
England » Cambridgeshire » Fletton (Sadie McMullon) http://www.flettonparish.co.uk/
England » Cambridgeshire » Holywell-cum-Needingworth, Huntingdonshire (Peter Cooper) http://www.hcnhistory.org.uk/
England » Cambridgeshire » Trumpington (Howard Slatter) http://www.trumpingtonlocalhistorygroup.org/resources_Trumpingtonpeople.html
England » Cheshire » Antrobus (Clare Olver) – see main article above.
England » Cheshire » Comberbach (Lyn McCulloch) http://www.comberbach.com/
England » Cheshire » Stretton (Clare Olver) – see main article above.
England » Cheshire » Whitley (Clare Olver) – see main article above.
England » Cornwall » St Blazey (W. Wesley Johnston) http://www.wwjohnston.net/famhist/st-blazey-families.htm
England » Derbyshire » The Handleys – Middle, Nether & West (The Handleys) http://the-handleys-derbyshire.com/
England » Devon » Bratton Clovelly (Kim Baldacchino) http://www.brattonclovellyops.com/
England » Devon » Buckland Brewer (Janet Few / Buckland Brewer History Group) – see main article above and also http://thehistoryinterpreter.wordpress.com/community-history/buckland-brewer-history/
England » Devon » Bucks Mills (Janet Few) http://thehistoryinterpreter.wordpress.com/community-history/the-history-of-bucks-mills/
England » Devon » Bulkworthy (Janet Few) http://thehistoryinterpreter.wordpress.com/community-history/the-history-of-bulkworthy/
England » Devon » Feniton (Christine Gibbins) – see main article above.
England » Devon » Revelstoke (Michelle Wood) https://www.iresearchdeadpeople.com/
England » Devon » South Pool (Ros Haywood) http://www.southpool-ops.org.uk/
England » Devon » Thornbury Hamlets (Magdalen (Meg) Galley-Taylor) http://www.thornburyhamlets.com/hamlets/
England » Devon » Torquay (Terry Leaman) http://www.terry-leaman.co.uk/
England » Essex » Great Hallingbury (Michelle Watson) http://greathallingbury.blogspot.co.uk/
England » Hampshire » Millbrook (Ivan Hurst) http://ivanhurst.me.uk/Genealogy/index.php/places/24-millbrook-parish-one-place-study
England » Hampshire » Sopley (Ivan Hurst) http://ivanhurst.me.uk/Genealogy/index.php/places/29-sopley
England » Kent » Chislet (Paul Carter) – see main article above.
England » Kent » St Nicholas at Wade (Paul Carter) – see main article above.
England » Kent » Wickhambreaux (Paul Carter) – see main article above.
England » Lancashire » Springhill, Higher Cloughfold (Janet Barrie) – see main article above.
England » Norfolk » Great Ellingham (Heather Etteridge) – see main article above.
England » Northamptonshire » Nassington (Clive Reedman) https://www.reedman.one-name.net/
England » Northumberland » Thockrington (Janet Few) https://thehistoryinterpreter.wordpress.com/community-history/thockrington-one-place-study/
England » North Yorkshire » Hardcastle Garth (Michael Hardcastle) http://www.hardcastle.de/
England » North Yorkshire » Malton (John Blanchard) http://www.maltonhistory.info/
England » North Yorkshire » Rillington (Pam Smith) – see main article above.
England » North Yorkshire » Thoralby (Penny Ellis) http://www.thoralbythroughtime.net/
England » Shropshire » Edgmond (Andrew Coles) http://edgmondops.co.uk/
England » Shropshire » Waters Upton (Steve Jackson) – see main article above.
England » Somerset » Combe Down (Richard Hill) https://www.combedown.org/
England » Somerset » Winsham (John Sullivan) http://www.winshamwebmuseum.co.uk/
England » Suffolk » Aspall / Debenham / Kenton / Mickfield / Winston (Suzie Morley) http://debenham-ops.org.uk/
England » Suffolk » Badingham (Elizabeth Walne) – see main article above.
England » Suffolk » Cransford (Elizabeth Walne) – see main article above.
England » Suffolk » Parham (Simon Last) – see main article above.
England » Surrey » Woking (Pete Smee) http://wokingfamily.com/
England » Surrey » Wonersh (Jan Cooper) – see main article above and http://www.wonershhistory.co.uk/
England » West Midlands » Meriden (Doreen Agutter) http://www.aguttersquick.com/
England » Worcestershire » Badsey, Aldington and Wickhamford (Maureen Spinks / Badsey Society) – see main article above.

Ireland » Clare » Broadford and East Clare (Pauleen Cass) http://eastclareoz.wordpress.com/

Northern Ireland » Tyrone » County Tyrone (Teena Troock) https://cotyrone.com/

Scotland » Argyll » Ardchattan (Jill Bowis) http://ardchattan.org.uk/archive
Scotland » Argyll » Glenaray (Jill Bowis) http://glenaray.wikidot.com/
Scotland » Berwickshire » Coldingham (Viv Dunstan) https://coldinghamoneplacestudy.org/
Scotland » Dunbartonshire » Shandon (Jacqueline Hunter) – see main article above.
Scotland » East Lothian » Ballencrieff (Lorna Kinnaird) https://www.dunedinlinks.scot/studies
Scotland » Fife » Cairneyhill (Jacqueline Hunter) – see main article above.
Scotland » Midlothian » Loanhead (Lorna Kinnaird) https://www.dunedinlinks.scot/studies
Scotland » Orkney » North Walls and Brims (Jane Harris) – see main article above.
Scotland » Roxburghshire » Melrose (Viv Dunstan) – see main article above.

United States » Illinois » Chicago Grand Crossing Czech Community (W. Wesley Johnston) http://www.wwjohnston.net/famhist/grand-crossing-czechs/grand-crossing-czechs.htm
United States » Illinois » Dayton (Candace Wilmot) – see main article above.
United States » New Jersey » Snow Hill (S. Jordon) http://www.snowhillgenealogy.com/
United States » New York » Gravesend, Brooklyn (Joseph Ditta) http://gravesendgazette.com/
United States » New York » Homer (Sue A. Clark) http://www.homer-ny.com/
United States » Virginia » Princess Anne County (Donald W. Moore) http://www.princessannefamilies.com/

Wales » Glamorgan » Llangiwg (Darris Williams) https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Llan-giwg,_Glamorgan,_Wales_Genealogy

Have I missed your website from the above list, or a recent update to it in the main article? If so, (1) sorry! and (2) let me know.

May 052020

Using the #OnePlaceWednesday hashtag over on Twitter last week, with our Members’ Website Competition in mind (see below), I highlighted several Society members’ websites featuring recently-added content. I have started doing something similar on our Facebook page too (if you use either of these platforms, you do follow us, don’t you?). I thought it would be helpful to gather these updates together in a blog post, and the rest of the Society’s Committee agreed, so here goes!

Alpha – Jericho in Queensland , Australia (Janice Cooper)

Janice has been ‘keeping it Real’ in the latest addition to the blog on her OPS website, with William Real, a life of contrasts added on 23 April. It combines family history and local history, features an historic document, and is fully referenced. What's not to like?

Antrobus in Cheshire, England (Clare Olver)

In Have you ever wondered who lived in your house? (posted on 12 April), Clare explains how people can find out more about their Antrobus home or ancestors through her website. In a follow-up posted on 3 May, Have you ever wondered who lived in your house? Part 2, Clare describes some research carried out by, and with, a visitor to her website, and tells “the story of how over the space of a few hours on a Saturday in May, it is possible to harness your inner Poirot and find out the backstory to who lived in your house.”

Badsey, Aldington and Wickhamford in Worcestershire, England (Maureen Spinks for the Badsey Society)

Badsey Society members have been very busy adding new content to their website this year, with four new articles in April and another five already in May! These posts cover both people and places within the Society’s study area: village of Badsey, the hamlet of Aldington and the neighbouring parish of Wickhamford.

Buckland Brewer in Devon, England (Janet Few / Buckland Brewer History Group)

Covid-19 has not prevented the Buckland Brewer History Group from meeting – like so many during lockdown, they have moved online. As Janet reported on 16 April: Buckland Brewer History Group Goes Virtual.

Combe Downe in Somerset, England (Richard Hill)

After spending many months working on a Combe Down family tree, on 5 April Richard added a post to his one-place study blog with a title which he believes gives a more accurate description of the results: Combe Down family maze. It looks like Richard has had an a-maze-ing time! This has been followed by a post introducing a story provided to Richard by another researcher, The Miner family on Combe Down.

Dayton, LaSalle County, in Illinois, USA (Candace Wilmot)

People and traditions in her Place have been the subjects of Candace’s five blog posts in April. April Fool’s Day, members of the Trumbo family, basket picnics and May baskets all feature in the most recent additions to Dayton and the Greens.

Gravesend, Brooklyn in New York, USA (Joseph Ditta)

Joseph has recently added an amazing recipe-sharing post to his OPS blog: Wyckoff-Bennett Wafers. Featuring Gertrude Ryder Bennett (1901-1982), a wafer iron so heavy as to suggest that “a crane would have held it over the fire”, and a lost-and-then-found historic recipe, it’s a fascinating read!

Great Ellingham in Norfolk, England (Heather Etteridge)

Heather has been incredibly busy of late, posting a wide range of articles many of which are based on newspaper reports featuring her Place. 12 additions were made in April (culminating with Fowl Dealer down on his Luck) and ten on 1 May (the latest being Mary Ann Scent, daughter of James Matthews). To view them all (along with earlier posts) visit Heather’s website.

Murphys Creek in Queensland , Australia (Pauleen Cass)

Murphys Creek, in words or pictures, makes guest appearances in several of Pauleen’s A-Z Challenge blog posts during April including: Bravery in Family History, Love and the Law, Nature’s Glory and Drama, Of Reading and Religion, and Yearning for “Home”.

North Walls and Brims in Orkney, Scotland (Jane Harris)

Jane blogged about the gamekeepers of her place for the Society’s A – Z Challenge in April, and has very sensibly adapted that post for her own website’s blog (something I have done myself, as you will soon see!). Check out G for gamekeeper.

Parham in Suffolk, England (Simon Last)

Pictorial posts to the Parham Suffolk Facebook Page are regularly added by Simon, along with occasional requests for information on people from Parham’s past, and April has been no exception!

Rillington in North Yorkshire, England (Pam Smith)

Many updates, featuring some fab photos and marvellous maps, have been posted by Pam to the Rillington OPS Facebook page. As with the Parham page above, this is well worth a ‘Like’ if you are on Facebook and would benefit from seeing some extra one-place studies goodness showing up on your timeline.

Springhill in Lancashire, England (Janet Barrie)

In a one-place studies twist on the 52 Ancestors blogging prompts issued by Amy Johnson Crow, Janet has been adding ‘52 Residents’ posts to her OPS blog. Posts in April have covered prompts 14 to 17: water, fire, air, and land.

Thockrington in Northumberland, England (Janet Few)

Thockrington is the latest addition to Janet’s clutch of one-place studies. In Burials in Thockrington, Janet presents the results of an analysis using Bishop’s Transcripts and entries in the National Burial Index for the parish, with some groovy graphs.

Waters Upton in Shropshire, England (Steve Jackson)

I have expanded one of the blog posts I wrote for the Society’s A – Z Challenge in April, and on 5 May added Blacksmiths in Waters Upton – Part 1 to my (recently upgraded) WordPress-based OPS website.

Wonersh in Surrey, England (Jan Cooper)

Jan has been updating the online family tree for her OPS regularly during April, and has a page which shows the Recent Updates. The linked Wonersh Past and Present Facebook Group also looks to be very active.

Woodnorth in Manitoba, Canada (Pamela Forsyth)

The addition of new transcriptions and photos for her OPS during April is announced in two posts from Pamela in her website’s blog.

That’s it for this round-up - I hope I haven't missed anything! Feel free to notify me of any updates to your OPS websites or pages, so that I can share the love of one-place studies via social media and in further blog posts like this one.

If you have a website which you haven’t updated recently, why not have a look to see if there’s anything you can add based on additions to genealogy websites such as Ancestry and Findmypast (or historic newspaper sites like British Newspaper Archive, Chronicling America, Papers Past, Trove, and Welsh Newspapers Online)?

Finally, whether you have a website or not, please consider nominating at least one of your fellow members’ sites in our first Members’ Website Competition, announced on page 15 of the March edition of our journal Destinations. We will be judging entries based on design (the visual appearance of the website; presentation and layout of pages), Usability (the organisation of the website; ease of navigation; readability of content), Content (the information on the website; good synthesis of data; range of data sources used), and Updates (regularity of updates and additional content, for example blog posts). Please submit your nominations by 30 June 2020 – the winner will be announced at our Annual Conference and AGM on 14 November.

Steve Jackson
Social Media Coordinator

Apr 302020


It's April so it's time for our members to help us blog through the 2020 A-Z Blogging Challenge. Our chosen theme this year is Employment, also the topic of our Shared Endeavour where our members are encouraged to research employment within their one-place study. Today's entry is from Steve Pickthall.

There don't seem to be very many occupations that start with the letter "Z" - despite checking a number of on-line sources, I found only Zigarius, Zinc Worker, Zincographer, Zitherist, Zoetrope Maker, Zincographer, Zoographer, Zumologist and Zythepsarist. You may not be surprised to hear that I have not found any people with these occupations in my place which is New Fishbourne a small village in Sussex. We have not been offered any blogs for this letter from members which suggests that other places don't have people with these type of occupations (if there are, we would love to know in the comments).

It is thought that surnames (or last names) come from a number of origins:

  • Patronymic or Matronymic - handed down from or inherited from the father or mother (or sometimes the mother's parents) or names that are a contraction of "son of x" such as Johnson or Evans
  • Personal attributes - descriptive names such as Short, Brown, Young, Long, White.
  • Locational - where a person lived or came from for example York, London, Field, Hill, Fleming
  • Adoptive - on marriage or taking the surname of a rich relative or powerful local lord (maybe in an attempt to win favour or reject one's existing family?)
  • Using second personal name as a surname - for example John Jacob (although these may be patronymic instead)
  • Occupational - Archer, Thatcher, Gardener, Smith or Cook

Looking through the A-Z blog for this year there are so many occupational terms that have become surnames - Salt, Farmer, Judge, Clerk, Master, Porter, Nurse are just a few of them, there are many, many more. Some are easy to identify such as Baker, but a number refer to occupations that are generally obsolete such as Fletcher (a maker of arrows in case you wondered).

So as we come to the end of this year's A-Z challenge I would like you to think about how the names of occupation have influenced and contributed to the surnames we come across in real life and more importantly in the places we study. I would also like to thank all those who have contributed to the success of this year's challenge.

Apr 292020


It's April so it's time for our members to help us blog through the 2020 A-Z Blogging Challenge. Our chosen theme this year is Employment, also the topic of our Shared Endeavour where our members are encouraged to research employment within their one-place study. Today's entry is from Steve Pickthall.

What is a yeoman? Before I became interested in family and local history (and embarrassing to admit also for a long time after) I thought that a yeoman was something to do with the military - probably a mixture of being influenced by a combination of the Gilbert and Sulivan operetta; the yeoman of the Guard at the Tower of London (The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard are a bodyguard of the British Monarch.); references in literary works for example from William Shakespeare - "Fight, gentlemen of England! fight, bold yeomen! Draw, archers, draw your arrows to the head! Spur your proud horses hard, and ride in blood; Amaze the welkin with your broken staves!"; and some half-remembered image similar to that below.


How a yeoman might dress

Eventually the light dawned (it doesn't happen often - I should really make a note in my diary when these rare events happen...). The word is used in two different ways - the one is used in the context of a fighting man (and often one who would be part of a landowner's private army in earlier times); the other to distinguish someone cultivating their own estate, effectively a freeholder.

According to Old Occupation Names on the Hall Genealogy Website the word originally (in the 16th and 17th century) had a more particular meaning in that it meant someone that held (and inherited) his land by "custom rather than will" so that the land passed automatically from father to son and the lord could not prevent it. The lord did retain rights over things such as cutting wood, hunting and mineral rights, but being a yeoman had other benefits - being able to graze your animals on common land and gaining some protection from the lord's control by local bylaws. It was therefore desirable to retain a small piece of your "own" land - however small.

By the 19th century after the progressive change in the way the country and in particular the countryside was governed, the term came to just be accepted as someone who farmed their own land - a useful distinction from the pervasive "ag. lab" that we find so many of.

In my own place of New Fishbourne, Sussex, I have not come across many mentions of  a "yeoman" - this may be because so far I have concentrated on 19th century research or a reflection of the pattern of land ownership (a question to be added to the ever-growing todo list of things to research). I have however come across one entry in the Births, Marriages and Deaths column for the Sussex Advertiser for the 24th May 1841 - "Died - On Wednesday, 19th inst. the wife of Mr. Willis Hardham, yeoman, Fishbourne, near Chichester." - not just a yeoman, but the wife of one.

When I next have the satisfaction of planting my potatoes on my own (very) small patch of land, I will remember that this is what being a yeoman is all about....

Apr 282020


It's April so it's time for our members to help us blog through the 2020 A-Z Blogging Challenge. Our chosen theme this year is Employment, also the topic of our Shared Endeavour where our members are encouraged to research employment within their one-place study. Today's entry is from Janet Barrie.

Xylophone. Unfortunately we have no xylophone manufacturers to my knowledge in Springhill. No xylophone players either, though one resident was a semi-professional kit drummer. I know, that would be ‘P is for percussionist’ or ‘D is for drummer'.

Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

x-ray. i’m not aware of any X-ray operatives either, thought that would be ‘R is for radiographer’.

xenon administrator. Well, nearly. I am an anaesthetist and Springhill resident, and xenon is an anaesthetic. The only problem is that I’ve never actually used it…

x for the unknown. Now I have plenty of those:

Firstly there are people whose occupations are known, but I don’t know what they actually involved. One example is Harry Taylor, who worked all his working life in Gaghills footwear mill as a ‘clicker’. It was quite a while before I found out that a clicker was the man (and it was usually a man) who cut the leather to the required pattern to be sewn into shoes. Apparently it was one of the most sought after (and best paid) jobs in the factory. The name ‘clicker’ came from the sound the cutter made as it clicked over the corrugated support over which the leather was stretched. 

There are other examples. The 1841 census includes one Thomas Walsh, age 30, ‘chair bottomer’. Now that sounds obvious, but did they really employ someone just to put the bottoms on chairs? A ‘mule piecer’ spent his days joining the ends of broken spinning threads, not assembling beasts of burden. And if you are not familiar with the textile industry you may wonder what the census enumerator meant by ‘PLWC’ - power loom weaver of cotton.

Secondly there are people who I know lived in the area but have no idea what they actually did. The census of course helpfully lists names and occupations. Unfortunately other sources aren’t so kind: rates books, voters’ lists, lists of tenants in deeds… It’s relatively easy to know who lived where, sometimes much harder to know how they earned a living if they didn’t happen to be on the census. Some sources help of course. Newspapers may state the occupation and the council minutes helpfully document that one Eileen Taylor had recently been appointed as librarian.

But that’s all part of the fun. And it wouldn’t be fun if it was easy.