Occupation: Agent

+1 vote
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I have a man in 1861, Enfield, Essex, whose occupation is "Agent". Would that mean he was letting property? Or does it have a wider meaning perhaps?
WikiTree profile: William Knewstubb
in Genealogy Help by Kathy Viney G2G3 (3.4k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
He may have been a factor (one acting on behalf of another).  Agent then most likely did not refer to real estate.
The census statistics combine “agent,” “broker,” and “factor,” suggesting someone working on behalf of another person.
I had a discussion with someone a while ago, because their ancestor was a "coal  agent" at one stage and they didn't understand what it meant.  I had to explain that it was actually quite a prestigious job, as the coal agent was just one step below the owner.

1 Answer

+1 vote

Perhaps an agent for the post office?

England and Wales Census, 1851," database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:SG1F-SBZ : 12 September 2019), William Knewstub, Minster, Kent, England; citing Minster, Kent, England, p. 28, from "1851 England, Scotland and Wales census," database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing PRO HO 107, The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey.

by Kay Knight G2G6 Pilot (419k points)
1841 has no occupation.  1871 he is a widower, and retired.
Yep. In 1851 a postmaster and in 1861 an agent, maybe a postal agent.

In the US census I've seen quite a few agent but they tend to be found with others employed by the railroad or are found in earlier/later census working for the railroad. I've also seen postmaster and earlier/later agent.
Indeed. In fact I have my suspicions, based on his address in 1841, that he might have been in a poor house. No proof though. So, I'm suspecting "agent" wasn't a high earning profession!

1841 census stationer, High St Minster. (ignore transcript of name) Isle of Sheppey. He is well enough off to have a live in servant.

He was indeed a  sub post master when in Kent.

Here he is in  various directories postmaster, stationer/bookseller/printer

1826 https://www.ancestry.co.uk/sharing/21377821?h=a9b7c5&utm_campaign=bandido-webparts&utm_source=post-share-modal&utm_medium=copy-url

in 1840 Blue Town Sheerness(Isle of Sheppey)

in 1851 

Heres his appointment by the post office in 1817

The problem is that I can't see that he would still be a postal agent in Sheerness whilst living in Enfield (Middlesex not Essex.) Just as today, its a job with personal liability and he's nearly 70 miles away. Maybe he's really retired by then but maybe he's become a local agent for an insurance company or a friendly society.

Wow! Thank you Helen, and others, for thinking about/looking into this. Nice to know he had some kind of "real" job - and just goes to show how easy it is to head down a "fake news" path in my mind... Much appreciated!
Note that the usage of the word "institution" does not necessarily mean he was in a poorhouse, or similar.

Oftentimes such a designation simply meant that the homes were all part of one "block", such as in a mews, where there was only the one actual address, but multiple dwellings.  A school might also be designated "institution".
Thanks for that. Jumping to conclusions is hazardous!
I recently had a person living in a mews address, and at least one census it was designated as "institution", so I had the knowledge already.  I looked it up, as well, because he was stated as living at Greater (blah) Mews one time, and I was trying to trace him across different census returns.  Finding there was a difference between the mews addresses helped.

(Side note: those same addresses in more modern times - the Mews ones - became quite the thing and rather expensive!)

Workhouses were separately enumerated on an institution schedule. Institutions included barracks, gaols, hospitals, asylums.

Here's a record  from Sturminster Newton workhouse on Family search https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MQYH-CD4

There are three images for this schedule,  p1 is headed 'schedule for a public institution.'

on the FS record its recorded as: ' institution, union workhouse' but lower down is written 'affiliate record type, institution'. That is  also on  the  1841  record for William Knewstub and I would think on every record for that census. It might be to do with Family Search's licence for the images  which they have available to browse (but not online for non LDS members). This presumably stems from an affiliation with the Public Record office at Kew.(an institution).

Yeah .. the 1841 census for Knewstub has him living at High Street in Sheppey, with the only mention of institution being the record type.  The one for William Foot clearly states he was in the workhouse.

With the numerous multiple-dwelling places also being labelled as "type institution", even though they were not workhouses, or hospitals, makes it difficult for us to figure it out.

I have to say I dislike the 'transcript' used by FS for this census. They miss some things from other censuses but in this case they miss the occupation as well . William Knewtubbs occupation wasn't there. The index for Foot in the Sturminster workhouse includes all the residents. No roles are included.You woudn't know who was employed at the workhouse and who was an inmate. You could easily assume William Foot was an inmate. Compare: https://www.opcdorset.org/Sturminster/SturminsterNewton/1841SturNewton-workhouse.htm

The 1841 census on fs never has the occupation, which can sometimes make matching the person to the family more difficult.  Doesn't usually do much in the way of the residential address, either --and not just for1841.  I often get that from FreeCen.

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