Uncommon abbreviation for a common occupation

In my work with the 1841 census, I have written before about the abbreviations used to record occupations. Today I found another unknown one, ‘F.C.’ which, from what I can glean looking at the original record, was unknown to the people who totaled up the census returns.

The census was operated in two phases (at least). The enumerator went round all the houses and recorded the names and occupations of the people who resided there on the night of the 6th June. In Unst in 1841, the enumerator for district 1 was George Robertson, who was also the registrar. We know this because he signs the last page of the enumeration booklet (there were 9 enumeration districts and thus 9 booklets to cover Unst in 1841, each with a different enumerator, picked from the upstanding gentlemen of the community).

I CERTIFY and declare that the Account of the Population of the District for which I am Enumerator, contained in this Schedule, has been truly and faithfully taken by me, and that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the same is correct, so far as may be known.
Witness my hand this seventh day of June 1841.
Geo Robertson Enumerator.

Then in the next phase, the enumeration booklets were counted up, including occupations being totaled up. You can see the ‘workings’ of these counters as they go through the booklets, because they cross off the occupations as they count them. As genealogists this can sometimes be rather annoying if it obscures what was originally written by the enumerator! The occupations were normalised to aid in this counting, which is where, in later census years, the occupation codes come from.

On this particular page of the Unst 1841 census, John Harper who is residing in Humron, is recorded by the enumerator as having an occupation of F.C. The counter clearly didn’t know what this was because it is not crossed out, suggesting it was not counted, and in the left hand side margin against this entry there is a cross and something scribbled in a different hand from the writing done by the enumerator. I cannot make out the writing, but I suspect the jist of it is to indicate an unknown occupation.

Island SunsetThe thing is, having spent quite some time now looking at the complete Unst Family Tree, I have grown very familiar with the occupations of the area. The most common male occupations recorded are ‘Fisherman’ and ‘Fisherman & Crofter’. I suspect that F.C. stands for ‘Fisherman & Crofter’. In 1841, this should have been recorded by the enumerator as ‘Fa & Fm’ – short for ‘Farmer & Fisherman’ – just as several others were recorded on the same page.

Perhaps it had been a long night!


2 thoughts on “Uncommon abbreviation for a common occupation

  1. Thanks for this latest gem Morag. Best wishes for 2015. I’m determined to get to Unst but it might have to wait one more year.

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