Friday, 19 January 2018

Who's the Boss?



Do you take an interest in the people your ancestors worked for? I like to look into the lives of their employers and try to get a sense of what kind of people they were. 

Conversely, if my ancestor IS the boss, I like to see about the people that worked in their household or in their business. 

Jane Mavor was my 2x great grandfather's sister.  According to the 1891 and 1901 census Jane worked as a cook for the Crombie family in Aberdeen. She must have been a good cook, as she seemed to be in their employ a long time. Theodore Crombie, his wife Margaret and their children lived at 18 Albyn Place, Aberdeen, next door to the female orphan asylum. Theodore was head of J & J Crombie and manufactured woollens at the Grandholm Mill in Aberdeen. The company supplied gray cloth for the confederate army during the American Civil War, and supplied officers uniforms for the British forces in World Wars One and Two. The Crombie brand is famous for its luxury coats.


As a young man my 2x great grandfather Alexander Mavor and his brother Francis worked as labourers on the farm of Jonathan Whitehead Esq. of Little Methlic, just a short 10 miles from his home in Ellon.  Johnathan Whitehead had his animals listed on 14 pages of the 1855 Coate's Herd Book as a breeder of fine shorthorned cattle.   




When Alexander Mavor immigrated to Canada he worked as a farm servant on Île-aux-Reaux for Doctor George Mellis Douglas, who owned the Island at the time.  Douglas was a doctor at Grosse Île quarantine station in Quebec. When the good doctor committed suicide in June of 1864 Alexander still worked on the island farm until sometime between 1871 and 1874, when he got land in Compton, Quebec.


On the boss side....

Thomas Prowse was born in 1844 in Charleton, Devon.  In 1861 he was 17 years old and was living in the household of my ancestor George King, working as a carter at the mill in Woodleigh. George died in 1864 and in 1871 Thomas was a gunner with the Royal marine Artillery aboard the Penelope at Harwick. In 1881 Thomas is a Leading Seaman aboard the Achilles, moored off neutral ground in Gibralter.


In 1884 Thomas married Margaret Edgecombe from Loddissell, and they had at least four children. On the 1891 UK census they lived in Marlborough and Thomas is a labourer.  Thomas died in 1893.


Usually my farmer ancestors had family living with them, and on censuses were listed as servants. Some were farm labourers working outside and some were domestics working inside. As example we look at John Singleton's family in Preesall, Lancashire. In 1861 in his household are listed Rachel Myerscough, George Hodgson and Thomas Cumpsty. There are too many George Hodgson but I did find who the other two were.


Rachel Myerscough b.1837 was the sister of John's son William's wife, Margaret Myerscough. John Singleton died in 1863 and Rachel went to live with William's family, with her brother John and her sister Elizabeth's illegitimate child William. The three of them were in the Singleton household on the 1871 census. Rachel had two illegitimate children, Mary Ellen b.1856 and Joseph b.1878.  Rachel married Robert Blackburn in 1883. 

Thomas Cumpsty was the son of William and Martha Cumpsty, who lived next door to William and Margaret Myerscough, the parents of Margaret and Rachel. Thomas married Mary Kirkman in 1869. In 1911 Thomas was living with his family in Fleetwood, Lancashire and working as a dock worker for a railroad company.


Who is the boss and who is the employee on your family tree?