Sunday, 22 January 2012

Family Occupations

Yesterday I said I'd make a comment on the occupations of my own line. This is the other half of what I said at our Family History meeting yesterday morning. I think the last five or six generations illustrate what is an interesting sociological phenomenon, a not uncommon progression through the 19th and 20th Centuries, creeping up the social scale.

My GG grandfather was variously described as a Weaver, a Labourer and a Farmer, I suppose the old category of Ag(ricultural) Lab(ourer). I visited Ireland last October and found evidence, on a map, of the cottage he lived in, in about 1840, by searching the land records for the townland of Ballycloghan. I imagine he had a loom in one room, something I've seen in the Scottish Highlands, and he was a tenant of a modest 22 acres from the local landlord, Lord Masereene.

My Great grandfather, his son, emigrated first to Greenock in Scotland then down to Liverpool, Lancashire, where in both places he was a Sugar Baker, the job that was done in such heat that often men worked naked and produced the largest percentage of alcoholics in any industry of the day. Beer was a safer drink than water. Basically labouring , though if family tradition is right, he was said to have won a prize for being part of a team which discovered how to crystalize sugar.

My grandfather started as an Office Boy in the same Sugar Refinary, I think of Tate and Lyle, but moved into Fish and Poultry. He became a traveller on what was known as the Oyster Track. I take it this means he was a Wholesaler in this trade, at times quite (fish) smelly if I remember the comments made by my mother. I guess you might call him Lower Middle Class, 'in trade'.

My father started as a Clerk in a Jute firm which had moved down to Liverpool from Dundee. Soon after he joined up and served in the First World War as a Sergeant Signaller with the Liverpool Scottish Regiment. He wore a kilt right through the war, though I never saw him in one later in life, perhaps part of the fact that he never talked about the experience. He went back into the Jute firm and by the time of the Second World War was its Managing Director. I guess you might call him 'aspiring Upper Middle Class'.

I was the first generation to go to University and ended up in what is called a 'profession'. So you have a family which is quite an interesting example of 'pulling yourselves up by your boot laces', gradually rising from labouring, through trading to 'professing'. I suppose the really interesting question is 'what is the next generation doing?' Answer: I have three sons who are all self-employed, running their own businesses, and all of whom I would put in the category of 'entrepreneur'! And I'm watching my grandsons with interest!

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