52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

52 Ancestors #36 Working for a living

Amy Johnson Crow introduced the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge on her No Story Too Small blog in 2014. This year she continued the challenge, but also added a weekly theme.  This week, the theme is Working for a Living: September 7 is Labor Day in the United States. Write about an ancestor and his or her occupation.

Rather than focusing on one ancestor, I’ve decided to look at all my ancestors, to see what occupations they have had

Dad (Ivon Walter Whimpey 1923-2009) started his working life in a prestige lingerie store.  He then worked as a fitter and turner, and then a welder/boilermaker.

Mum (Edith Jean Marr 1922-1990) worked in the family dressmaking business as a machinist before marrying dad, and then performed home duties

For my female ancestors, their occupations have all been listed as “home duties”, or “married woman” (where listed at all), so for the rest, I’m just looking at my male ancestors.

My dad’s father John Ernest Whimpey (1884-1960) was a grocer’s assistant and then a grocer

My mum’s father Wilfred Palmer Marr (1892-1955) was a fitter, farmer, and labourer


Joseph Whimpey (1848-1919) was a contractor (mail contractor)

Alexander Alexander Harley (1866-1939) was a French polisher, and then a dairy farmer

Henry Palmer Marr (1859-1944) was a railway ganger

Harry Docwra (1866-1934) was a farmer.


Joseph Whimpey (1819-1902) was a bootmaker/shoemaker

Henry Sharp (1826-1892) was a dyer’s labourer when in England, and became a farmer after coming to Australia

Robert Harley (1817-1891) was listed as a carpenter on the 1851 Scotland census, but an agricultural labourer on his immigration record in 1852.  He was listed as a carpenter at Emerald Hill on the 1856 Electoral roll, and from 1868 to 1875 he worked as a farmer at Hesket/Rochford.  He then moved back to Melbourne by 1880, and worked as a produce dealer.  His death certificate listed him as a farmer.

Thomas Henry Russell (1844-1892) was a teacher, and then a journalist

James Marr (1827-1899) was a heckle maker on the 1841 Scotland census.  At the time of his marriage he was listed as a flax dresser, and on his daughter’s burial entry he was listed as a heckler.  On his immigration record in 1849, he was listed as a gardener.  After arriving in Australia, he worked as a farmer.

William John Reeves (1829-1888) was listed as a plasterer on his immigration record.  His death certificate shows he was a miner.

Alfred Docwra (1824-1903) was listed as an agricultural labourer on his immigration record.  After arriving in Australia he worked as a gardener and farmer.

George Oliver (1846-1930) was listed as a farmer on his daughter’s birth certificate in 1877, and his death certificate listed him as a gentleman.  The directories from 1891 to 1900 show he was a hop grower.


William Whimpey (1789-1870) served in the military during the Napoleonic Wars, and then worked as a day labourer.  He was listed as a miner on his son Isaac’s marriage certificate

John Price.  According to his daughter’s marriage certificate, he was a farmer.

William Sharp (1795-1866) was a tailor.

Mark Oldroyd (1791-1868) was listed on the 1841 census as a linen weaver.  He was listed as a retired cloth weaver on the 1861 census, and as a farmer and gardener on his death certificate

John Harley (1797-1864) was a labourer and farmer.

John Dandie (1800-1841) was a carpenter

Garrett Joh Russell (1817-1877) was a Clerk in Holy Orders (Episcopalian).

Thomas Doyle (1815-1886) was a teacher (school teacher/school master)

John Marr (1790-1851) was a shoemaker

David Richardson (1806-?) was a baker

William Reeves (1803-1877) was a labourer

William Gill (1790-1847?) was a miner

Tempest Sell (1787-1861) was listed on his children’s baptism records and the 1851 census record as a veterinary surgeon.  The 1841 census lists him as a publican.

Joseph Scott (1797-1846) was a labourer and waggoner.

Frederick Oliver (1824-1855) was a shoemaker

William Edward Ball (1825-1893) was listed as a storeman on his daughter Elizabeth’s birth certificate (1856).  Her marriage certificate listed him as a mariner.  At the time of his death, his occupation was carter.

I then set up a spreadsheet that listed the occupation(s) of each ancestor, and then grouped together similar occupations.

Ancestor Occupation Occupation group
Dad Lingerie cloth making
Dad Fitter & turner Fitter & turner
Dad Welder/boilermaker Welder/boilermaker
Mum Machinist cloth making
John Grocer’s assistant, grocer Shop keeping
Wilfred Fitter & turner Fitter & turner
Wilfred Farmer Farmer, gardener, agricultural labourer
Wilfred Labourer Labourer/contracting
Joseph Contractor, mail contractor Labourer/contracting
Alexander French polisher French polisher
Alexander Dairy farmer Farmer, gardener, agricultural labourer
Henry railway ganger Railway employee
Harry farmer Farmer, gardener, agricultural labourer
Joseph bootmaker/shoemaker Bootmaker/shoemaker
Henry dyer’s labourer cloth making
Henry farmer Farmer, gardener, agricultural labourer
Robert carpenter carpenter
Robert agricultural labourer Farmer, gardener, agricultural labourer
Robert Produce dealer Shop keeping
Henry teacher teacher
Henry journalist journalist
James heckle maker/heckler/flax dresser cloth making
James Gardener, farmer Farmer, gardener, agricultural labourer
William plasterer plasterer
William miner miner
Alfred agricultural labourer, gardener, farmer Farmer, gardener, agricultural labourer
George farmer, hop grower Farmer, gardener, agricultural labourer
William military military
William day labourer Labourer/contracting
William miner miner
John farmer Farmer, gardener, agricultural labourer
William tailor cloth making
Mark linen weaver, cloth weaver cloth making
Mark farmer, gardener Farmer, gardener, agricultural labourer
John Labourer Labourer/contracting
John farmer Farmer, gardener, agricultural labourer
John carpenter carpenter
Garrett Clerk in holy orders Minister
Thomas teacher teacher
John shoemaker Bootmaker/shoemaker
David baker Baker
William Labourer Labourer/contracting
William miner miner
Tempest veterinary surgeon veterinary surgeon
Tempest publican Shop keeping
Joseph Labourer Labourer/contracting
Joseph waggoner waggoner/carter
Frederick shoemaker Bootmaker/shoemaker
William storeman Shop keeping
William mariner mariner
William carter waggoner/carter


From this, I found the most common types of occupations:

Farmer, gardener, agricultural labourer 11
Cloth making 6
Labourer/contracting 6
Shop keeping (grocer, publican, storeman) 4
Bootmaker/shoemaker 3
Miner 3
Carpenter 2
Fitter & turner 2
Teacher 2
waggoner/carter 2
Baker 1
French polisher 1
Journalist 1
Mariner 1
Military 1
Minister 1
plasterer 1
Railway employee 1
veterinary surgeon 1
Welder/boilermaker 1