You've got questions about discovering, preserving and celebrating your family history; our experts have the answers.
Q. In London, England, what would a smack owner be? It's listed in the city directory.
A. Whenever an unusual phrase or word turns up, I visit my local library to use the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), second edition. Not only do I find the word I'm looking for, but also the history of its usage. In this case, according to the OED, "a smack is a single-masted sailing vessel, fore-and-aft rigged like a sloop or cutter" used for fishing. A smack owner was the owner of one of those vessels and suggests an occupation as a fisherman.