I have a man aged 65 in the Scottish 1841 census and his occupation is Mer, Ner or Her. I have looked online and cannot find the answer. He was a Carter Pauper in the 1851 census.

  • 2
    Hi Alison, do you have a scan of the image that you can edit into your question?
    – shoover
    Nov 2, 2023 at 15:38
  • Hi, Alison, welcome to G&FH.SE! It helps to tell us more about your prior research effort than simply saying "I have looked online". If we know how and where you looked, we can write better answers. You can find out more about how the site works by looking in our help center including How do I ask a good question?
    – Jan Murphy
    Nov 2, 2023 at 23:40

1 Answer 1


Rather than beating your head over deciphering one line of the census, or searching for a specific possible abbreviation, try broadening your outlook. Some strategies:

  • Read published accounts of the census to see what occupations were common in the parish
  • Look for the parish in the Statistical Accounts of Scotland
  • Read more of the census to see if you can find younger people with a smiliar occupation abbreviation, then correlate with other records such as trade directories

I realize that it is not as easy to browse an entire census for Scotland than it is in other countries. However, if you can find transcriptions made by others, it gives you another opinion on what the writing said. It is easier to puzzle out a difficult piece of writing if you have published works as a guide when you are puzzling out the letter shapes.

In one US Census, I had a street name that looked like an S followed by a long squiggle. It was difficult even to say how many letters were in the name. Checking against a city directory made it easy to see that the name was "Summer" street; anyone who lived in that area would have recognized the name instantly.


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