Archaic Jobs

Archaic Occupations

In my research into family history, I often encounter bizarre terms (besides the crazy Latin phrases), especially those referring to occupations which made sense centuries ago but which have become obsolete. Here are a few I found interesting:

  1. ACCIPITRARY—a falconer, one who trained falcons to hunt for small game. Falconry was a favorite sport of Medieval noblemen and women.

  2. ALBLASTERE—a crossbowman (he shot them but didn’t make them).

  3. ALE TUNNER—a brewery employee who filled the casks (tuns) with ale.

  4. ALL SPICE—a grocer.

  5. ALMANAC MAN—an official appointed by the Court of Sewers who warned the inhabitants of the River area of higher-than-normal tides (talk about a misnomer!).

  6. AMBLER—official who broke horses at the Royal stables (I suppose he had to teach horses to ‘amble’).

  7. ANKLE BEATER—a small child who helped drive cattle to market (not to be confused with ‘ankle biter’).

  8. ANTIGROPELOS MAKER—one who made waterproof leggings (sounds like a device to prevent groping).

  9. APRONEER—a London term for a shopkeeper, but an APRONMAN was a mechanic.

  10. AVENATOR—a hay or forage merchant (the hay is understandable, but forage is crap from the fields & forest–talk about bad jobs).

  11. BACKMAKER—a type of cooper who made ‘backs’ (vats or tubs).

  12. BACK WASHER—an employee who cleaned the wool in fabric manufacture (I was sure this was someone in the bath house business…).

  13. BADGER—a licensed pauper who wore a badge with a “P” to show s/he had a legal right to beg in designated areas.

  14. BALLER—an assistant who rolled balls of clay for a potter (so, I guess a ‘footballer’ would be one who did it with his feet!).

  15. BALMAIDEN—a female mine worker who worked on the surface or ‘brow’ of the mine.

  16. BANG BEGGAR—a parish officer who controlled how long a stranger could remain in the parish (sounds like he had a lot of power).

  17. BARKER, BAUER, BAXTER—a tanner, a farmer, and a baker.

  18. BIRDS NEST SELLER—sold wild birds’ nests complete with eggs which were hatched by domestic fowl and sold as pets.

  19. BELLMAN—a town crier or watchman; also a postman who walked through town ringing a bell as he collected letters for the mail coach.

  20. BRAILLER—one who made girdles (that was unexpected).


© Copyright 2015 Linda L Labin, PhD