Tuesday, 21 March 2017

OCCUPATIONS IN GENEALOGY - HORSE COOK

One of the more unusual occupations I have come across while researching my family history has to be that of ‘horse cook’ (see below).


Birth certificate details - Joseph SEAMAN (1903)

When I first saw this occupation written on the birth certificate of my grandfather Joseph SEAMAN, I must say that I was a bit surprised, and at first drew the wrong conclusions as to what the job could possibly be. After all, I’m well aware that in certain countries it is perfectly acceptable for horse meat to be cooked and eaten, and I was not really surprised to find it is considered a delicacy in countries like Italy, China and Iceland. However, as far as I knew, even back in 1903 this notion had not as yet extended to these shores - the recent furore in the U.K. about unscrupulous meat processor’s adding horsemeat to burgers, being a prime example of this. With this in mind I took a breath, settled down with a mug of tea, and began to consider what the job could actually consist of.

Joseph Frederick SEAMAN


The description ‘horse cook’ was reportedly the occupation of my great-grandfather Joseph Frederick SEAMAN in Liverpool, England in 1903. He was 25 years old at the time of his son’s birth, and I had discovered evidence that he had been working previously as a carter on several occasions since the year 1900. At the time, the carting profession was one of the most important jobs in Liverpool to have.



Landing Stage, Pier Head, Liverpool

In this modern age where the car rules the roadways, it is perhaps difficult to imagine that this was a period prior to petrol driven transport being commonly available, and at its peak there were around 250,000 horses working in the city, shifting everything from freight to people around the cobbled streets. This might seem a staggering number when considered today, but in 1903 Liverpool was still acknowledged to be the second city of the British Isles next to London, and the amount of passengers and freight which passed through its many docks was huge indeed. Each of these items needed to be moved as quickly as possible either into the city, or away from it onto the ships. With this in mind it is certainly not so difficult to understand just why so much horsepower was needed to help shift these goods from site to site. 


Stables - Cains Brewery, Grafton Street, Liverpool - (c. PolkaDot Pink)

In the early twentieth century therefore, almost every neighbourhood in Liverpool would have had stable buildings situated within it. Such buildings would be used by private companies - breweries, coal merchants, and also individual horse owners - to house their animals between their periods of work. Stable-masters, and the men and women who worked with them, tended to the needs of the horses twenty-four hours a day. 
There is no doubt in my mind that it was in one of these stable blocks that my great-grandfather Joseph worked to help prepare the food for the horses, making sure that the animals received the sustenance they would need to help them through a long day’s work on the roads of this great city.

And so, after completing my research and considering all the evidence I’ve found, I think we can safely assume that Joseph was not cooking horses for a living. Indeed the occupation of ‘horse cook’ does not now seem so unusual at all!


#seamanfamilyhistory #josephfrederickseaman #familyhistory #cainsbrewery   


Text Sources:

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/nostalgia/look-back-memories-liverpools-carters-9167182


http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/incoming/gallery/carters-9168102


http://www.scottiepress.org/sr2003/carters.htm

Cains Stable's photo: 


Donna @ PolkaDot Pink.com (http://polkadot-pink.com/2014/07/07/mark-it-liverpool-street-art-festival/)