John Algar had many occupations in his life. This is unusual during the 1800s. John’s father was a shoemaker and he likely learned that trade as a very young child. However, he also worked in the weaving mills in Norwich and was a journeyman worsted woolcomber. In his 30s, he left that occupation and worked as a shoe/boot maker. However, on the 1881 census, just after his wife died, he is listed as a musician. As Norwich, during that time, was transitioning from a hub of the weaving industry to be best known for shoe and boot making, the changes are perhaps not all that surprising.
Except the musician. Did he love music and always want to be a musician? Or was he joining his son, who was a musician for two censuses before he became a shoe maker also? Was he in such grief that he didn’t answer the question correctly? Or was the census taker in error in their recording? We can only imagine what is the right answer as we have no personal writings from that time that will tell us.