Vyger Irish Genealogy

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Old occupations and descriptions

The lists that follow are not a definitive reference work and if you can add anything to it I would be happy to hear from you. The information has been compiled here to help fellow researchers reconcile some of those old occupations all but unheard of in modern life.

Old Name New Name or Meaning
Acater Supplied food, provisions, e.g. Ship's Chandler. French - Achateur (buyer)
Accipitary Falconer
Accomptant Accountant
Accoucheur Assisted women in childbirth (midwife)
Accoutrement Maker / Accoutre Supplier or maker of Military Clothing and Accessories
Ackerman/Acreman Ploughman or Oxherd
Actuary Accountant - public business account keeper
Administrator Court appointee who settled affairs of the estate of the deceased
Advertisement Conveyancer Sandwich Board Man
Advocate Depute Scottish Law Officer - Public Prosecutor
Advowee Usually a Nobleman who had the right to present a clergyman to a benefice
Aeronaut Balloonist or Trapeze Artist in circus or Music Hall
Affeeror / Assessor Also Assessor.  Manorial Court Official - assessed monetary penalties & collected taxes & dues
Agister Official of Royal Forests. In the New Forest, In charge of the ponies
Alabasterer Worked with Alabaster!
Alblastere Crossbownam
Alchemist Medieval Chemist, claiming ability to make gold from base metal
Alderman Senior Councillor immediately below Mayor in local Councils. (Still extant today.)
Ale-Conner / Ale Founder Official who tested quality and measure served in Public Houses. (Pubs)
Ale Draper Seller of Ale
Ale Tunner Filled the Ale casks (tuns) in Breweries
Alewife Woman who kept an Alehouse or Tavern
All Spice A Grocer
Almanac Man Official of the Court of Sewers – warned of abnormally high tides in the Trent River area
Almoner 1) In charge of an Almshouse. 2) Giver of charity to the needy 3) Hospital employee who assists patients with personal matters arising from their stay in hospital
Almsman Receiver of Alms
Alnager / Aulnager Official - examined quality of woolen goods & stamped them with the town seal of approval
Amanuensis Secretary or stenographer
Amber Cutter Cut and polished Ambergris for jewellery
Ambler Officer of the Royal Stables who broke in the horses
Amen Man Parish Clerk
Anchor Smith Made Anchors
Anchoress Female hermit or religious recluse
Anchorite Male hermit or religious recluse
Anilepman Smallholder - tenant of the Manor
Ankle Beater Young person who helped to drive cattle to market
Annatto Maker Made dyes for paint or printing trades
Annuitant Receiver of an Annuity - An annuity is income paid to a beneficiary at regular intervals, for a fixed period or ascertainable period (usually the lifetime of a nominee) in return for a lump sum payment having been previously made into the scheme by a subscriber - i.e. a spouse, benefactor or employer
Antigropelos Maker Made waterproof leggings
Anvil Smith Maker of anvils and hammers for the smithy trade
Apiarian Beekeeper
Apothecary Prepared and sold medicines and drugs. Pharmacist
Apparitor Official who summoned witnesses to the ecclesiastical courts
Apprentice Trainee bound to a skilled (Master) worker or Company for a specified time to learn the Trade More Info. More Info.
Aproneer Term used in London for a Shopkeeper
Apronman Engineer or mechanic
Aquarius Ewar Waterman
Aquavita Seller Seller of Alcohol
Arbiter Arbitrated in disputes
Archiator Physician
Archil Maker Made a purple dye from lichens - used in the textile industry
Arkwright Skilled craftsman making "Arks" (wooden chests or coffers)
Armiger Squire who carried a Knight's armour. Entitled to bear heraldic arms
Armourer Made armour for wear or for buildings, ships etc. and now used to include armaments generally
Arrowsmith Forged arrowheads
Artificer A military mechanic who does repairs
Artisan One who is employed in any of the industrial arts; a mechanic, handicraftsman, artificer.
Ashman Dustman - today called a "Cleansing Operative/Engineer" !!
Assayer Determined the proportions of minerals in ore
Assay Master Determined the amount of gold or silver in coins
Auger Maker Made carpenters' augers, used for boring holes in wood
Aulnager See Alnager
Aurifaber Goldsmith
Avenator (Plantifene) Hay and forage Merchant
Avowry Lord of the Manor
Axel Tree Maker / Turner Made axles for coaches and wagons
Backmaker Made "Backs" - vats, tubs - a Cooper
Backsmann / Backster / Beck / Becker Baker
Back-Boy Kitchen servant - from Back House Boy
Back Tenter Employed at the back of the weaving looms, clearing away debris. Tenting was a term for watching items or a process. Small children were commonly employed in this dangerous job as they were small enough to work underneath the working loom machinery.
Back Washer Cleaned wool in worsted manufacture
Badger 1) Licensed pauper - wore a badge with "P" on it and was restricted to working a defined area (origin of "Badgering") 2) Corn Miller or Dealer 3) Itinerant food trader
Badgy Fiddler Military boy trumpeter
Bagman Travelling salesman
Bagniokeeper Keeper of a bathhouse or brothel. (From French, baigner, to bathe)
Bailie / Bailie / Baillee / Bailiff Bailiff - Sheriff's Officer, land steward acting for the landowner/landlord. In Scotland, a magistrate of the Burgh - also looked after fishing rights on some rivers
Bairman / Bareman Pauper or beggar
Bal Maiden Female mine worker employed on the surface (Pit Brow Lass)
Balancer Employed in coal mines to operate a system of hauling coal tubs (Balance)
Baler 1) Baled hay 2) In the mills, one who baled wool or cotton goods
Balister Archer. Most commonly, a crossbowman
Ballad Monger Street seller of printed ballad sheets
Ballard Master In charge of ballasting vessels
Ballast Heaver Loaded ballast in ships - commonly stone. Necessary when ships were not carrying cargo
Baller / Baller Up Potter's assistant - measuring out the balls of clay. Also see Cotton Baller
Balloon Blower (India) Made rubber balloons - (rubber was known as India rubber)
Band Filer Metalworker in gun making
Bandster Bound wheat sheaves after harvesting
Bang Beggar Parish Officer who controlled how long strangers could stay in the Parish
Banker 1) Dug drainage trenches/ditches, banking up the diggings along the edges. 2) General surface worker in coal mining. More Info.
Banksman / Bank Manager / Browman In charge of the cages at mine pitheads - sometimes known as a Bank Manager. More Info.
Barber, Barber/Surgeon Cut hair and also a surgeon. In the 18th Century, an Act was passed, limiting Barbers to hair cutting, shaving, dentistry and bloodletting
Bard Poet or Minstrel
Bareman Beggar or Pauper
Bargee / Bargeman Owned or worked on canal barges
Barilla Manufacturer Made Banilla, obtained from burning saltwort, the resulting sodium salt used in glass & ceramics
Barkeeper Tollkeeper - on toll roads
Barker / Barkman 1) Tanner of leather using tree bark 2) Fairground cryer
Barleyman / Bylawman Manorial Court official who enforced the court orders
Barm Brewer Made yeast
Barmaster Lead Mine arbiter. In charge of the standard measure for the lead ore
Barrel Filer Employed in gun making
Barrow Man Pushed barrows of coal from pit face to the shaft
Bartoner / Barton In charge of a monastery farm or barton
Basil Worker Worked with skins of sheep and goats
Basketman 1) Make wicker baskets & furniture 2) Emptied coal baskets into barges
Bass / Bast Dresser Dressed fibre for matting
Bathing Machine Proprietor Owned and hired out changing huts used by bathers at the seaside
Batman Army officers' servant - still current
Batt Maker Made the wadding (batts) used in quilt and mattress making
Battledore Maker Made the wicker beaters used on clothes & carpets to beat out the dust. Later made the paddles used in early washing machines
Bauer A Farmer
Baven Maker Made bavens - split and curled wood pieces used for kindling
Baxter Baker
Bayweaver Wove "Bay"(baize) a fine woollen felt like fabric
Bead Piercer Made the holes in bead making
Beadle / Bedel / Bedell Town crier and parish officer who kept order
Beadman / Beadsman / Bedesman 1) Manorial tenant employed for a specific purpose 2) Inhabitant of a Poorhouse, Almshouse or Hospital 3) Employed to pray for his employer
Beamer Drew the warp yarn through and onto the long heavy beam of a loom for weaving textiles
Bearer Carried coal to the pit shaft and placed it in containers for lifting to the surface
Beater / Fuller Cleaned and thickened cloth by treading it in water with Fuller's Earth
Beatster Made or mended drift nets used in fishing
Beaver Made felt for hat making
Bedman Sexton
Bedral Minor Scottish church official
Bedwevere Made webbing for bed frames and also wove quilts
Beer Seller Sold Beer and Cider in Beerhouses under the 1830 Beerhouse Act.  More
Beeskep Maker Made beehives
Beetler Operated the Beetling Machine, used for embossing textiles. The Beetling Machine was also used to give a Shiny effect to cloth as the pressure of the wooden rollers during the squeezing (mangling) of the Cotton Cloth added lustre
Belhoste Tavern keeper
Bell Hanger Hung bells in church towers
Belleyetere / Belter / Billiter Bellfounder - bell maker
Bellman 1) Watchman or town crier 2) Worked for the Post Office, collecting mail by walking the streets ringing a bell Coaches then transported the mail
Bellowfarmer Maintained the church organ (which was bellows operated)
Belly Builder Built and fitted piano bellies or interiors
Belly Roller Operated a machine which rolled and compacted fibres on the belly of cattle hides
Benchman In chairmaking, cut out the seat portion
Bender 1) Leather cutter 2) Bent wooden chair parts
Besom Maker Broom maker, usually of birch twigs
Besswarden Appointed by a parish to look after its animals
Biddy Female servant - usually Irish
Billier / Billyman Operated a Billy Roller, used to prepare cotton for spinning
Bill Poster As today, put up notices, signs and posters
Binder Bound books, hats etc.
Bird Boy Scared away birds from crops
Bird Catcher Caught birds for sale
Birlyman Scottish ground officer or parish arbiter
Black Borderer Made black edged funerary stationery
Black Tray Maker Made black (Japanned) trays
Blacksmith Worked (still does) iron with forge and hammer.
Blackworker Embroidered "blackwork" using black silks on, commonly, white fabric
Blacking Maker Made boot polish (usually using soot)
Bladesmith Made swords, knives etc.
Blaxter / Bleacher /Bleacherer Bleached cloth or wood pulp for paper in a "Bleachery"
Blemmere Plumber
Blentonist Water diviner
Blindsman Dealt with incorrectly addressed mail for the Post Office
Block Cutter / Blocker 1)Made wooden blocks for hat making 2)Laid the blocks for laying of a ship's keel in shipbuilding 3)Cut designs into wooden blocks for printing fabrics 4)Quarryman, whose job was to cut stone into useable blocks
Block Maker 1) Engraved or set up the blocks used in block printing 2)Made pulley blocks
Block Printer Printed paper or fabrics by the use of inked and carved or engraved wooden blocks. (Block Printing)
Bloodman / Bloodletter Used leeches to let blood, thought to be the cure for many ailments. Now being looked at again!
Bloomer / Bloom Smith Produced iron from iron ore
Blower 1) Glass blower; 2) Operated a "blowing machine" to clean and separate textile fibres 3) Operated the blacksmith's bellows
Blowfeeder Fed the fibres into a blowing machine
Blue Dyer/Maker Used/made blue dye for whitening fabrics in manufacture or washing
Bluestocking Female writer. From the Blue Stocking Society, formed in the 1750s and who wore blue stockings
Bluffer Innkeeper or pub landlord
Boarder Term used for a Lodger - usually dined with the family, whilst a Lodger did not
Boarding Officer Port official who inspects ship's papers on port entry - still exists
Boardman 1) Truant officer for checking school attendance 2) Manorial tenant who paid rent by maintaining the manor house table
Boardwright Carpenter. Made tables and chairs
Boatman 1) Worked on river and canal boats 2) Boat repairer
Boatswain Petty officer in charge of the ship's crew, also the ship's rigging and deck maintenance, responsible to the Chief Officer. Still in use today
Bobber 1) Metal polisher 2) Unloaded fishing boats
Bobbin Carrier Supplied the looms with bobbins in spinning and weaving
Bobbin Ligger Placed the spools for spinning
Bobbin Turner Made (lathe turned) the wooden bobbins used in the textile mills
Bobby Police constable - still used today. (Colloquial)
Bodeys / Body Maker Made the bodices for women's garments
Bodger A skilled craftsman who made wooden chair legs and spars using a lathe set up in home made workshops in deep woodlands. His work was often produced for chair factories
Boilermaker Industrial metalworker.  More Info.
Boiler Plater Made rolled steel/iron plate for steam engine boilers etc.
Boll Power loom attendant
Bolter Sifted meal
Bondager Bonded female farm worker
Bondman As for Apprentice - bonded to his Master to learn a skill or trade
Bondsman Stood the bond or surety for a bonded person
Bone Lace Maker Made pillow lace
Bone Mould Turner Made the moulds for button making
Bone Picker Rag & Bone Man. Collected rags and bones (originally) later any discarded articles / metals
Bonesetter Set broken bones
Boniface Innkeeper
Book Gilder Gilded book bindings with gold leaf
Bookholder Theatre prompter
Book Keeper As today, looked after business accounts
Bookman Student
Boonmaster Surveyed, maintained and repaired roads
Bootbinder Operated machines in shoemaking, binding uppers to soles
Boot Catcher Servant at an Inn who pulled off travellers' boots
Boot Closer Stitched the shoe uppers to the soles
Boothman Corn Merchant
Borler / Boreler Maker of borel - cheap coarse woollen cloth
Borsholder Kent regional name for a police constable
Botcher Tailor or cobbler
Bottiler / Bottler A person who made leather containers for holding liquids eg wine flasks or water bottles. From the turn of the 17c it would more likely refer to a worker in a bottling factory for beer, soft drinks, water etc.
Bottle Boy Pharmacist's assistant
Bottomer Adzed out the finished seat from the rough shape in wooden chair making
Bottom Knocker Sagger Maker's assistant - See Saggar Maker's Bottom Knocker.
Bottom Maker Moulded the bottoms for Saggers in the pottery industry
Boundary Setters / Layers Employed by the Board of Ordnance (Ordnance Survey) for setting out and plotting important boundaries used in map-making.
Bowdler Worked with iron ore
Bowker Bleached yarn. Also in parts of Lancashire, a butcher
Bowler 1) Maker of bowls and dishes 2) Made the bowls of spoons before casting
Bowlman/woman Crockery dealer
Bowlminder In charge of vats in which raw wool were washed before processing
Bowyer / Bower Made archery bows
Bozzler Parish constable
Brabener Weaver
Brachygrapher Shorthand writer
Braider Made cord by twisting cords or leather
Brailler Made girdles
Brakeman / Brakesman 1) Operated pithead winding gear  2) Operated brakes on trains or trams
Brasiater Brewed Ale
Brasiler Dyer
Bratman Made rough garments
Brazier Worked with brass
Breakman / Brickman Bricklayer
Breech Maker Made the breeches for guns
Brewster Brewer
Bridewell Keeper In charge of a lock-up or jail
Bridgeman / Bridger Toll bridge keeper
Brightsmith Metal worker
Brimstone Refiner Refined sulphur, one of the components of gunpowder
Broadcloth Weaver Wide(broad)loom operator
Broad Cooper Go-between for breweries and innkeepers
Brogger Wool merchant
Broker Essentially a salesman or middleman to a supplier for arranging sales.
Broom Dasher Broom dealer
Broom Squire Broom Maker
Brotherer/Broiderer/ Embroiderer
Brow Girl Female employed at the pithead
Brownsmith Worked with copper or brass
Brush Drawer Fixed the bristles into the stock or handle of a brush. More Info.
Brush Stock / Stale Maker Made the handles for brushes
Buckler / Bucklesmith Made belt buckles
Buckle Tongue Maker Made the pointed part of a belt buckle
Buckram Maker Made buckram - used for stiffening lapels, collars, cloth belts etc.
Buck Washer Laundress
Buddleboy Used and maintained ore-washing vats in lead and tin mining
Buddler Women and children employed washing ore
Bullwhacker Oxen driver
Bum Bailiff An officer of the court who went to a convicted person's home or business premises and siezed goods in lieu of payment of a fine, in default
Bumboat Man Seller of goods and foodstuffs from boats to ships at anchor (Typically Suez Canal)
Bummaree Fish market middlemen - between wholesalers and retailers
Bummer Army deserter
Bunter Female rag & bone collector
Bureler Maker of Borel, a rough woolen cloth
Burgess Represented a borough official at functions
Burgonmaster / Burgomaster Mayor
Burler Clothing quality inspector
Burleyman / Byelawman Manorial court official who enforced the court orders
Burmaiden Chambermaid or lady in waiting
Burneman Carrier of barm or water for brewers
Burye Man Grave digger - (bury man)
Bushel Maker Cooper
Busheler Tailor's helper
Busker Hair Dresser
Buss Maker Gunsmith
Butner Button maker
Butter Carver Prepared butter for sale
Butty Supplied labour to mines and negotiated contracts

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