Old Occupations

When reading historical information, we often find strange names for occupations of our ancestors, it is hoped this page will help you identify your ancestors occupation.

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
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

Medieval And Obsolete English Trade and Professional Terms

Aquarius (Ewer) ~~ Waterman
Aurifaber ~~ Goldsmith.
Avenator (Plantifene) ~~ Hay and Forage Merchant.
Barker ~~ Tanner.
Baxter ~~ Baker
Belhoste ~~ Tavern keeper.
Belleyetere ~~ Bellfounder.
Bowyer ~~ Bowmaker.
Brasiler ~~ Dyer.
Burneman ~~ Carrier of barm or water for brewers.
Cancellarius ~~ Chancellor.
Cardmaker ~~ Maker ~~ of cards or instrumets for combing wool.
Carnifex ~~ Butcher.
Carpentarius ~~ Carpenter.
Chaloner ~~ Dealer in shalloon, a material made in ChÆ’lons.
Chapman ~~ Merchant.
Chirugion ~~ Apothecary or Surgeon.
Cissor ~~ Tailor.
Clericus ~~ Clerk
Cocus (Keu) ~~ Cook
Combere ~~ Woolcomber
Corvisor (Cordewanarius, Cordwainer) ~~ Shoemaker, originally a worker in Cordovan leather.
Cotiler ~~ Cutler
Cuhreur (Cunreur) ~~ Currier.
Cuper ~~ Cooper; a barrel maker.
Dexter ~~ Dyer.
Dubbere ~~ Cloth dubber, i.e., one who raises the nap of cloth.
Dudder ~~ Probably a maker of coarse cloaks.
Daunsel ~~ Gentleman in waiting, groom or squire.
Dysshere ~~ Probably a ditcher, or in some cases a disher.
Elymaker ~~ Oilmaker.
Faber ~~ Smith.
Ferur (Ferator) ~~ Farrier or blacksmith.
Fisher (Fishdryver) ~~ Victualler.
Flauner ~~ Confectioner.
Fleshewer ~~ Butcher.
Fletcher ~~ Arrowmaker.
Forestarius ~~ Forester.
Frereman ~~ Servant of the Friars.
Fuller ~~ One who trampled cloth. See alsoWalker.
Furber (Furbour) ~~ Furbisher of armour.
Furner ~~ Baker.
Garcifer (Garcio) ~~ Groom, attendant.
Garlekmonger ~~ Dealer in gaarlic.
Glassewryght ~~ Maker and mender of glassware.
Gynour ~~ Engineer.
Hamberghmaker (Hamberow) ~~ Horse collar maker.
Harper ~~ Musician (?).
Hetheleder ~~ Provider of heather for fuel.
Hosteler ~~ Innkeeper.
Husbandman ~~ Tenant farmer .
Kepegest ~~ Innkeeper.
Latouner ~~ Worker in latten, a metal resembling brass.
Limner ~~ Draughtsman or Artist.
Lokeer ~~ Locksmith.
Lorimer ~~ Bridlemaker.
Macun ~~ Mason.
Marescallus ~~ Marshall.
Medicus ~~ Leech, Doctor.
Mercator ~~ Merchant.
Molendinarius ~~ (Muner) ~~ Miller.
Mustarder ~~ Grower and grinder ofmustard.
Nedder ~~ Needle-maker.
Palmer ~~ A Pilgrim, one who had been, or pretended to have been, to the Holy Land.
Paneler ~~ Saddler.
Pannarius ~~ Clothier and Draper.
Pannebeter ~~ Pan-hammerer, or perhaps clothdriver.
Pardoner ~~ One licensed to sell Papal Indulgences.
Parmentor ~~ Probably a parchment maker, or tailor.
Parcheminer ~~ Parchment maker.
Pattenmaker ~~ Maker of iron-rimmed pattens for footwear.
Pelliparius (Peltarius ~~ Skinner.
Perukemaker ~~ Wigmaker.
Pictor ~~ Painter.
Pinder ~~ Keeper of the Pound or Pinfold.
Piscarius ~~ Fishmonger.
Piscator ~~ Fisherman.
Pistor ~~ Miller or Baker.
Plantifene (see Avernator).
Plomer ~~ Plumber.
Pynner ~~ Pin-maker.
Roper ~~ Ropemaker.
Rotarius ~~ Wheelwright.
Safernman ~~ Grower of Saffron.
Samitere (Samite) ~~ Maker of a kind of heavy silk suff.
Sauntere ~~ Probaby Salt maker.
Sausere ~~ Salter.
Seinter ~~ Girdlemaker.
Seler (Sellarius) ~~ Sadder.
Serviens ~~ Sergeant.
Servus ~~ Servant.
Sherman (Shearman) ~~ One who raised the surface of woolen cloth and then sheared it to a smooth surface.
Shether ~~ (See Vaginarius).
Sifker ~~ Sievemaker.
Sissor (Cissor) ~~ Tailor.
Sleymaker ~~ Maker of instruments to part threads in weaving.
Soper ~~ Soapmaker.
Spittleman ~~ Hospital Attendant.
Spicer ~~ Grocer.
Spurrier ~~ Spurmaker.
Stabler ~~ Ostler.
Stasyon (Stawsun) ~~ Probably a Stationer.
Sugarer ~~ Dealer in sugar. (Grocer ?)
Sumner ~~ Summoner or Apparitor.
Sutor ~~ Shoemaker or cobbler.
Tabernarius ~~ Taverner, Innkeeper.
Tannator ~~ Tanner.
Teinter ~~ Dyer.
Textor ~~ Weaver.
Tinctor ~~ Dyer or possibly a painter.
Upholder ~~ Upholsterer; also a cheapjack and seller of secondhand goods.
Vaginarius, Sheather ~~ Scabbard maker.
Venator (Venur) ~~ Huntsman.
Vintner ~~ Wine Merchant.
Walker (Same as Fuller) ~~ Cloth trampler or cleaner.
Webster ~~ Weaver.
Whittawer ~~ Preparer of white leather.
Yeoman ~~ Freehold farmer.

Bever ~~ Beverage maker
Blockmaker ~~ One who crafted pulleys
Castor ~~ Hat maker
Felmonger ~~ Hide dealer forges
Nailor ~~ Nail maker
Sempster ~~ Seamstress
Sil kmaker spinster ~~ Female spinner
Silkmaker throster ~~ Male spinner
Simpler ~~ Agriculturist that we would call herbalist today
Swordcutter ~~ Smith who fashioned swords
Vineroon ~~ Wine grower
Whitesmith ~~ Tinsmith; or one who finishes & polishes after the Smith

Thanks to Evelyn Cataldi for transcribing these professions from "First Settlers of South Carolina 1670-1700" by Agnes Leland Baldwin.

Colonial Occupations

ALMONER Giver of charity
ANANUENSIS Secretary or Stenographer
BLUESTOCKING Female writer
BONIFACE Keeper of an inn
CHANDLER Candlemaker
COLPORTEUR Peddler of books
COSTERMONGER Peddler of fruits and vegetables
DOCKER Stevedore
DOWSER Water finder
FLETCHER Made bows and arrows
FULLER Cleaned and finished cloth
GLAZIER Window glassman
HATCHELER Combed or carded flax
HOOPER Made hoops for casks
HOSTLER (or Ostler) Groomed horses
MINTMASTER Issued local currency
PEREGRINATOR Itinerant wanderer
PERUKER Wigmaker
PETTIFOGGER Shyster lawyer
RATTLEWATCH Town watchman
SCRUTINEER Election judge
SNOBSCAT Repaired shoes
STUFFGOWNSMAN Junior barrister
TIDE WAITER Customs inspector
TIPSTAFF Policeman
VULCAN Blacksmith
WEBSTER Operated looms
WHARFINGER Owner of a wharf
WHITEWING Streetsweeper

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