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, the topic of our Shared Endeavour where our members are encouraged to research employment within their one-place study. Today's entry is from Pam Smith.

After first observing this previously unknown occupation in the Rillington 1841-1911 census two occupations sprang to mind: could it be associated with pig iron which was used as a raw material in steel-making or was pig-jobbing a means of fertilizing pigs? There was no evidence of a blast furnace nearby so the latter was pursued.

The term ‘jobbing’ was a general and mainly British reference meaning "working occasionally in separate short jobs" and its first known use was in 1705[1]. Pig- jobbing extends the description a little further and simply means a livestock merchant who dealt with pigs. He acted as a broker between the farmers and the market to buy the best pigs for slaughter or bought carcasses from the meat market to sell to the butchers[2].

The one and only entry in the Rillington census relating to a pig-jobber was that of William Allanson, age 29 who was born in Scagglethorpe, the next village west of Rillington. In 1851 he was lodging at the home of Elizabeth Kendell age 55 on the west side of Ratten Row with his wife Hannah also aged 29. Within the household were several of Elizabeth’s grandchildren plus a nurse child although it is unclear whether the family were related[3].

early 20th century postcard showing the High Street of Rillington
High Street, Rillington. Formerly Ratten Row and location of the former home of William Allanson, Pig-Jobber c.1937 ~ Original Old Postcard owned by Pam Smith.

Curiously there were not many people employed in this occupation, despite the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds being a predominantly rural landscape, as the following census shows:

  • 1851 Rillington, Ebberston and Scagglethorpe
  • 1861 Norton
  • 1871 None
  • 1881 Malton (2)
  • 1891 Malton
  • 1901 Acklam

There is no evidence that William Allanson was related to the other Pig-Jobber in Scagglethorpe in 1851 or whether there was a pig farm in either of the villages. As the occupation was traced through the census, it migrated west towards Malton where there were several livestock markets including one for pigs on Swine Street.

One description[4] conjures up an air of convivial brinkmanship in business:

The typical pig-jobber or dealer is usually a man of wit and substance, physically and financially with a keen head for business and bargaining at the fair. He is a big, fine fellow with a tendency to corpulency. He has a laughing face, ruddy face, merry eyes and the inevitable double chin. The long-established dealer wears a claw-hammer coat as a guarantee of respectability and prefers a bowler hat.

It can easily be imagined such a fellow fitting in nicely with the rest of the smartly dressed trades and craftsmen of rural Rillington.

1 “Jobbing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Mar. 2020.
2 Rootschat Accessed 20 Mar 2020.
3 1851 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005. Class: HO107; Piece: 2369; Folio: 89; Page: 21; GSU roll: 87650-87652 Accessed 20 Mar 2020.
4 Liverpool Echo 03 May 1930 p. 4 Accessed 26 Mar 2016

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