AtoZChallenge Occupation – The Danger of Not Thinking

#genealogyphotoaday Occupation

For the #genealogyphotoaday Occupation prompt, I shared two images from the 1851 England Census. If you check out the images posted, you can see many Kitto’s were “Miner Lead”. There are two Kitto families on each image. The first head of household is Richard Kitto, my 3 x great grandfather. The other households are headed up by three of his sons, Joseph, Sampson and Richard, my 2 x great grandfather.

Most of my male Cornish family were miners, as I wrote in an earlier post. However, what I need to say is how easily we can misinterpret what we extract from sources. Sometimes we read what we would like to find out about our ancestors and not simply, the facts.

AtoZChallenge Occupation: Lead Miner

AtoZChallenge Occupation: Lead Miner

What did I initially read “Miner Lead” to mean?

In this case, I saw “Miner Lead” and read lead not as a metal being mined but that Richard Kitto was a lead miner, a “leader”  – see the top image. This thought happened even though many others on the page are listed as “Miner Lead” too. Gosh, even his sons, Richard and Sampson both had “Miner Lead” as their occupation on another census page – see the second image. It was illogical that they would all be the “leader”. After this bit of vanity thinking that my ancestors were more than hard-working miners, I came to my senses.

I should have also noted that the neighbour’s occupations are listed in the same format. That is, the occupation followed by the type of ore they mined – “Miner Tin”. I took little notice of this until I started thinking with more clarity and saw my misinterpretation.

Fortunately, I sourced the detail as written on the census so did not have to correct it.

Sources for the 1851 England Census images:
Class: HO107; Piece: 1909; Folio: 442; Page: 10; GSU roll: 221061-221062
Class: HO107; Piece: 1909; Folio: 440; Page: 6; GSU roll: 221061-221062

Do you ever let vanity bias your analysis? Please leave a comment.

AtoZChallenge Occupation

That is the end of Letter O for Occupation in this days A to Z blogging challenge. Here are more AtoZChallenge posts for 2019 or view this #GenealogyPhotoADay and follow along with others on Instagram.

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AtoZChallenge Occupation


4 thoughts on “AtoZChallenge Occupation – The Danger of Not Thinking”

  1. Ha, this is rather amusing. I misinterpreted the use of the word “scabs” from a letter written by my grandaunt to her sister. I thought she was being condescending toward some guys living nearby. My readers called me on it, pointing out that the word was often used to mean people who cross the picket line to take the jobs away from people who were protesting working conditions. When I did the research, I found they were right. I then had to post an update on that blog and tell the story about the railroad strike going on at the time.

    1. Good on your readers helping hunt the story out. So we both found another reason to blog because we get the readers giving us feedback that could, perhaps, save hours of non-profitable work.

  2. So easy to make a mistake like this. It would have helped if they’d written miner – lead. Context is all but our brains sometimes have different ideas.

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