England Occupations Crop Husbandry (National Institute)
The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course English: Occupation Records-Professions and Trades and English: Occupations-Military & Services by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Crop Husbandry[edit | edit source]
- Fruit Growing
Commercial-scale fruit growing was initiated in Britain in the 16th century and apples and cherries from Kent, known as the Garden of England, were of excellent quality by the time of Elizabeth I when there was huge enthusiasm for planting fruit trees (Hey). Soft fruits provided seasonal picking work for women, many of whom would travel long distances for the summer season. The apprenticeships of the growers and dealers in the Fruiterers Company 1750-1815 have been indexed by Webb (London Apprentices Volume 6. Broderers’ Company 1679-1713, 1763-1800; Combmakers’ Company 1744-50; Fanmakers Company 1775-1805; Frameworkknitters’ Company 1727-30; Fruiterers’ Company 1750-1815; Gardeners’ Company 1764-1850; Horners’ Company 1731-1800. Society of Genealogists, 1997).
- Hops and Hopping
In the original English parlance the brewing of beer requires hops, whereas ale does not. [Outside Britain the terms are used differently: British beers are referred to as ale, whilst lager is called beer.] The hop growing counties are Kent, with over half the production, and Herefordshire and Worcestershire. Harvesting used to be very labour intensive and thousands of London east-enders used to take an annual August respite from the smog goin’ ‘oppin’. Good references for growing hops and hop picking are Filmer’s book Hops and Hop Picking. Shire Publications (1982), and articles by Wade (Old Occupations: Working on the Land: Harvest Home. Family Tree Magazine Vol 4 #3, page 15-16.) , Hilton (My Ancestors Went Hop Picking. Family Tree Magazine Vol 18 #11, page 27-29) and Bailey (The Industrial Heritage of Britain. Ebury Press/Book Club Associates, 1982).
The grinding of grains for corn (wheat) flour, oatmeal and animal foodstuffs, and rye flour has been practiced in England using water power for over 1,000 years. Windmills have been used since about 1180. Other foodstuffs such as peas were regularly milled, and oil was crushed from linseed and rapeseed (canola). Non-foodstuffs include tobacco ground to make snuff (Bailey 1982, Bourne) and chalk for whitening in paint, putty and cosmetics (Hey). The post, smock and tower mill types are discussed by Hey (The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History. Oxford University Press, 1996), Manners (Country Crafts Today. Gale Research Company, Detroit, Michigan., 1974) and Bailey . Martin Watts has two little books on milling and mills and an index of over 30,000 millers is run by Yoward.
Straw has a multitude of uses apart the immediately obvious one of thatching houses, haystacks, churches, and walls. It was estimated that there were still 50,000 thatched houses in England in 1980 (Staniforth). Other items crafted of straw are bee-skeps, baskets, straw plait for hats (Bailey 1982), straw rope, archery targets, straw mats, straw envelopes for bottles and other packing materials, horse collars, and decorative items such as pictures. Staniforth (Straw and Straw Craftsmen. Shire Publications, 1981) is a well-illustrated introduction to the growing, harvesting and many uses of straw. Corn dolly making from straw is an old harvest custom described by Arnold (The Shell Book of Country Crafts. John Baker, 1968 and All Made by Hand. John Baker, London, 1970), Dixon (A Heritage of Anglian Crafts. Minimax Books, Peterborough, Northamptonshire, 1981), and Manners (Country Crafts Today. Gale Research Company, Detroit, Michigan., 1974).
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