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June 29, 2018

What Was Your Ancestor's Unusual Occupation?


Wooden rattles such as this one produced
a loud clacking sound by holding the handle
and twisting the top section around and around
in a circular pattern.
Recently on Twitter, David Allen Lambert (@DLGenealogist) tweeted an interesting question. David asked what was the most unusual Colonial occupation of one of your ancestors.

My response was about my ancestor Lambert Van Valkenburg. He was appointed to the rattle watch of Fort Orange (present day Albany) in July 1659.

The Ratttle Watch was a combination of police officer, firefighter & hourly time caller.

Here's the actual 1659 Fort Orange court record about the Rattle Watch:

First, the said rattle watch shall be held to appear at the burghers' guard house after the ringing of the nine o'clock bell and together at ten o'clock shall begin making their rounds, giving notice of their presence in all the streets of the village of Beverwyck by sounding their rattle and calling [out the hour], and this every hour of the night, until 4 o'clock in the morning.
 
"Secondly, they shall pay especial attention to fire and upon the first sign of smoke, extraordinary light or otherwise warn the people by knocking at their houses. And if they see any liklihood of fire, they shall give warning by rattling and calling, and run to the church, of which they are to have a key, and ring the bell.

"Thirdly, in case they find any thieves breaking into any houses or gardens, they shall to the best of their ability try to prevent it, arrest the thieves and bring them into the fort. And in case they are not strong enough to do so, they are to call the burghers of the vicinity to thier aid, who are in duty bound to lend the helping hand, as this is tending to the common welfare.

"Fourthly, in case of opposition, they are hereby authorized to offer resistance, the honorable commissary and magistrates declaring that they release them from all liability for any accident which may happen or result from such resistance if offered in the rightful performance of their official duties.

What is the most interesting Colonial occupation of one of your ancestors?

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