Old-Timey Family Occupations

People in my family have liked to transport goods for a really long time.

Thanks to Ancestry I know that in 1901 my great grandfather Charles Edmund Hill was listed as a “Carter.” He and his new bride lived in Moon’s Cottage in “Long Ditton, Surrey.” I had always believed that Charles was an “ag lab” or agricultural labourer, as that was what he had done when he came to Canada but the census shows differently.

The 1901 Census from County Surrey, Civil Parish Long Ditton, has 21-year-old Charles E Hill listed as occupation Carter.

What is a “carter” you ask?

Carter is of Irish, Scottish and English origin and is an occupational name given to one who transports goods by cart or wagon originally believed to be of Gaelic and Celtic origins. (per Wikipedia)

I know from pictures that my great-grandfather Charles really loved his horses. Could this have tied from his past working as a carter?

When I dug a little deeper, I was able to find the marriage record for Charles’ parents – George Hill and Jane Wattingham. At the time of their marriage, George and Jane were both living in “Ham”, a little over an hours walk away from where Charles and Ada would end up living in 1901. It was a wonderful document to find because it listed another occupation you may not be familiar with.

Jane’s father is listed as William Wattingham – occupation Drayman.

The marriage record for George Hill and Jane Wattingham in 1874 has Jane’s father William Wattingham listed as a “Drayman.”

What is a “drayman” you ask?

A drayman was historically the driver of a dray, a low, flat-bed wagon without sides, pulled generally by horses or mules that were used for transport of all kinds of goods. Now the term is really only used for brewery delivery men, even though routine horse-drawn deliveries are almost entirely extinct. Some breweries do still maintain teams of horses and a dray, but these are used only for special occasions such as festivals or opening new premises. There are some breweries still delivering daily/weekly using horses, Hook Norton in Oxfordshire being one of them. (per Wikipedia)

Is it any wonder that many members of my Hill family ended up driving trucks or running trucking companies and are still involved to this day? My uncle ran a very successful trucking company until he retired and passed the reigns to his daughter. Several of my dad’s brothers ended up as drivers for local and long haul deliveries as well. My father took a slightly different route and decided to do repairs to vehicles to keep them moving and has enjoyed “turning wrenches” for the last 30 years.

What are some interesting occupations you have come across in your family tree? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

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