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Old Occupations Explained


  • Accomptant -- Accountant
  • Almoner -- Giver of charity to the needy
  • Amanuensis -- Secretary or stenographer
  • Artificer -- A soldier mechanic who does repairs
  • Bailie -- Bailiff
  • Baxter -- Baker
  • Bluestocking -- Female writer
  • Boniface -- Keeper of an inn
  • Brazier -- One who works with brass
  • Brewster -- Beer manufacturer
  • Brightsmith -- Metal Worker
  • Burgonmaster -- Mayor
  • Caulker -- One who filled up cracks (in ships or windows or seems to them watertight by using tar or oakum-hemp fiber produced by taking old ropes apart
  • Chaisemaker -- Carriage maker
  • Chandler -- Dealer or trader; one who makes or sells candles; retailer of groceries
  • Chiffonnier -- Wig maker
  • Clark -- Clerk
  • Clerk -- Clergyman, cleric
  • Clicker -- The servant of a salesman who stood at the door to invite customers; one who received the matter in the galley from the compositors and arranged it in due form ready for printing; one who makes eyelet holes in boots using a machine which clicked.
  • Cohen -- Priest (descendant of Levi)
  • Collier -- Coal miner
  • Colporteur -- Peddler of books
  • Cooper -- One who makes or repairs vessels made of staves and hoops, such as casks, barrels, tubs, etc.
  • Cordwainer -- Shoemaker, originally any leather worker using leather from Cordova/Cordoba in Spain
  • Costermonger -- Peddler of fruits and vegetables
  • Crocker -- Potter
  • Crowner -- Coroner
  • Currier -- One who dresses the coat of a horse with a currycomb; one who tanned leather by incorporating oil or grease
  • Docker Stevedore, dock worker who loads and unloads cargo
  • Dowser -- One who finds water using a rod or witching stick
  • Draper -- A dealer in dry goods
  • Drayman -- One who drives a long strong cart without fixed sides for carrying heavy loads
  • Dresser -- A surgeon's assistant in a hospital
  • Drover -- One who drives cattle, sheep, etc. to market; a dealer in cattle
  • Duffer -- Peddler
  • Factor -- Agent, commission merchant; one who acts or transacts business for another; Scottish steward or bailiff of an estate Farrier A blacksmith, one who shoes horses
  • Faulkner -- Falconer
  • Fell monger -- One who removes hair or wool from hides in preparation for leather making
  • Fletcher -- One who made bows and arrows
  • Fuller -- One who fulls cloth;one who shrinks and thickens woolen cloth by moistening, heating, and pressing; one who cleans and finishes cloth
  • Gaoler -- A keeper of the goal, a jailer
  • Glazier -- Window glassman
  • Hacker -- Maker of hoes
  • Hatcheler -- One who combed out or carded flax
  • Haymonger -- Dealer in hay
  • Hayward -- Keeper of fences
  • Higgler -- Itinerant peddler
  • Hillier -- Roof tiler
  • Hind -- A farm laborer
  • Hostler -- A groom who took care of horses, often at an inn
  • Hooker -- Reaper
  • Hooper -- One who made hoops for casks and barrels
  • Huckster -- Sells small wares
  • Husbandman -- A farmer who cultivated the land
  • Jagger -- Fish peddler
  • Journeyman -- One who had served his apprenticeship and mastered his craft, not bound to serve a master, but hired by the day
  • Joyner / Joiner A skilled carpenter
  • Keeler -- Bargeman
  • Kempster -- Wool comber
  • Lardner -- Keeper of the cupboard
  • Lavender -- Washer woman
  • Lederer -- Leather maker
  • Leech -- Physician
  • Longshoreman -- Stevedore
  • Lormer -- Maker of horse gear
  • Malender -- Farmer
  • Maltster -- Brewer
  • Manciple -- A steward
  • Mason -- Bricklayer
  • Mintmaster -- One who issued local currency
  • Monger -- Seller of goods (ale, fish)
  • Muleskinner -- Teamster
  • Neatherder -- Herds cows
  • Ordinary Keeper -- Innkeeper with fixed prices
  • Pattern Maker -- A maker of a clog shod with an iron ring. A clog was a wooden pole with a pattern cut into the end
  • Peregrinator Itinerant wanderer
  • Peruker -- A wig maker
  • Pettifogger -- A shyster lawyer
  • Pigman -- Crockery dealer
  • Plumber -- One who applied sheet lead for roofing and set lead frames for plain or stained glass windows.
  • Porter -- Door keeper
  • Puddler -- Wrought iron worker
  • Quarrier -- Quarry worker
  • Rigger -- Hoist tackle worker
  • Ripper -- Seller of fish
  • Roper -- Maker of rope or nets
  • Saddler -- One who makes, repairs or sells saddles or other furnishings for horses
  • Sawbones -- Physician
  • Sawyer -- One who saws; carpenter
  • Schumacker -- Shoemaker
  • Scribler -- A minor or worthless author
  • Scrivener -- Professional or public copyist or writer; notary public
  • Scrutiner -- Election judge
  • Shrieve -- Sheriff
  • Slater -- Roofer
  • Slopseller -- Seller of ready-made clothes in a slop shop
  • Snobscat/Snob -- One who repaired shoes
  • Sorter -- Tailor
  • Spinster -- A woman who spins or an unmarried woman
  • Spurrer -- Maker of spurs
  • Squire -- Country gentleman; farm owner; justice of peace
  • Stuff gown -- Junior barrister
  • Stuff gownsman -- Junior barrister
  • Supercargo -- Officer on merchant ship who is in charge of cargo and the commercial concerns of the ship
  • Tanner -- One who tans (cures) animal hides into leather
  • Tapley -- One who puts the tap in an ale cask
  • Tasker -- Reaper
  • Teamster -- One who drives a team for hauling
  • Thatcher -- Roofer
  • Tide waiter -- Customs inspector
  • Tinker -- An itinerant tin pot and pan seller and repairman
  • Tipstaff -- Policeman
  • Travers -- Toll bridge collection
  • Tucker -- Cleaner of cloth goods
  • Turner -- A person who turns wood on a lathe into spindles
  • Victualer -- A tavern keeper, or one who provides an army, navy, or ship with food
  • Vulcan -- Blacksmith
  • Wagoner -- Teamster not for hire
  • Wainwright -- Wagon maker
  • Waiter -- Customs officer or tide waiter; one who waited on the tide to collect duty on goods brought in
  • Waterman -- Boatman who plies for hire
  • Webster -- Operator of looms
  • Wharfinger -- Owner of a wharf
  • Wheelwright -- One who made or repaired wheels; wheeled carriages, etc.
  • Whitesmith -- Tinsmith; worker of iron who finishes or polishes the work
  • Whitewing -- Street sweeper
  • Whitster -- Bleach of cloth
  • Wright -- Workman, especially a construction worker
  • Yeoman -- Farmer who owns his own land

From: Dan Burrows


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