Occupations of Yesteryear


Do you know what type of work individuals in the following occupations preformed???

Artificer, Bluestocking, Hayward, Monger, Peruker

Do you know what people that herded cows, or performed the duties of customs inspector or street sweeper were called????

If not, investigate what occupations of yesterday were called in the listing below.

This List will help you in determining what the meaning of various occupations were that appeared in older (especially pre-1900) records.

The majority of the occupations were compiled by Daniel H. Burrows for the Orange County, New York, Genealogical Society, and is included here with his permission. Other items noted by "*" were submitted by Fred Smoot.

Thanks Dan and Fred!


* AlienistA physician who treats mental disorders
AlmonerGiver of Charity to the Needy
Amanuensis Secretary or Stenographer
* ArrowsmithMaker of arrows - Old English
ArtificerA Soldier Mechanic Who Does Repairs
Bailie Bailiff
Baxter Scottish for Baker
Bluestocking Female Writer
Boniface Keeper of an Inn
* BookmongerSeller of books -
* BottgerGerman, barrel maker - Used in early Pennsylvania.
Today, we see it as the surnamd "Betcher"
Brazier One Who Works With Brass
Brewster Beer Manufacturer
Brightsmith Metal Worker
Burgonmaster Mayor
* CarverWood carver
Caulker One Who Filled Up Cracks (in Ships or Windows or Seems to make 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; retailerof 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
* CoachmakerMaker of coaches
* CoalerMaker of charcoal - Used in early Pennsylvania
* CobblerShoemaker
Cohen Priest
Collier Coal Miner
ColporteurPeddler of Books
CooperOne who makes or repairs vessels made of staves & hoops, such as casks, barrels, tubs, etc.
CordwainerShoemaker, originally any leather worker using leather from Cordova/Cordoba in Spain
Costermonger Peddler of Fruits and Vegetables
Crowner Coroner
Currier One who dresses the coat of a horse with a currycomb; one who tanned leather by incorporating oil or grease
DockerStevedore, dock worker who loads and unloads cargo
Dowser One who finds water using a rod or witching stick
Draper A dealer in dry goods
DraymanOne who drives a long strong cart without fixed sides for carrying heavy loads
Dresser A surgeon's assistant in a hospital
* DriverCoachman, one who drives a coach or one who drives a "waggon" - In England, also used to indicate a locomotive engineer
Drover One who drives cattle, sheep, etc. to market; a dealer in cattle
* DrummerWhiskey salesman
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
Fell mongerOne who removes hair or wool from hides in preparation for leather making
* FerrymanOperator of a ferry crossing a river
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
GaolerA keeper of the goal, a jailer
GlazierWindow glassman
* Granny WomanMidwife - Used in Appalachia
* GrowerPlantation Owner
Hacker Maker of hoes
* HandwomanMidwife - Used in Appalachia
Hatcheler One who combed out or carded flax
HawkerWhiskey salesman
Haymonger Dealer in hay
Hayward Keeper of fences
Higgler Itinerant peddler
Hillier Roof tiler
HindA farm laborer
HolsterA groom who took care of horses, often at an in
Hooker Reaper
HooperOne 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
* KeelboatmanCrewman on a keelboat
Kempster Wool comber
* Lamp LighterOne who lights street lamps
* LandsmanFarmer or neighbor
LardnerKeeper of the cupboard
Lavender Washer woman
Lederer Leather maker
Leech Physician
Longshoreman Stevedore
LormerMaker of horse gear
Malender Farmer
Maltster Brewer
Manciple A steward
Mason Bricklayer
* MathematicianEarly surveyor, usually the best schooled ones
Mintmaster One who issued local currency
Monger Seller of goods (ale, fish)
NeatherderHerds cows
* Neighbor LadyMidwife - Used in Appalachia
Ordinary KeeperInnkeeper 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
* PeddlerWhiskey salesman
PeregrinatorItinerant wanderer
PerukerA wig maker
Pettifogger A shyster lawyer
Pigman Crockery dealer
* PlanterSouthern plantation owner
Plumber One who applied sheet lead for roofing and set lead frames for plain or stained glass windows.
Porter Door keeper
* Post RiderCarries mail by horseback
* P'troon (Parton)Skipper of a large keelboat
Puddler Wrought iron worker
Quarrier Quarry worker
* RaggiesCharcoal makers - used in early Connecticut
Rigger Hoist tackle worker
Ripper Seller of fish
* River LumbermanA riverman who navigates a log float down river. Used on the Mississippi. - On the Pend Oreille River in Idaho, the river lumberman were known as "river pigs"
* RivermenRiver boat men
RoperMaker 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
ScriblerA minor or worthless author
Scrivener Professional or public copyist or writer; notary public
Scrutiner Election judge
* ShipwrightBuilder of wooden ships
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.
TannerOne who tans (cures) animal hides into leather
TapleyOne who puts the tap in an ale cask
Tasker Reaper
* TaylorTailor
Teamster One who drives a team for hauling
Thatcher Roofer
Tide waiter Customs inspector
Tinker Am 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 or
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.
* Whisky DrummerWhiskey salesman - early spelling
Whitesmith Tinsmith; worker of iron who finishes or polishes the work
WhitewingStreet sweeper
Whitster Bleach of cloth
Wright Workman, especially a construction worker
* Yager (Jager)German for hunter - Used in early Pennsylvania
Yeoman Farmer who owns his own land

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This page updated October 15, 2002.