Worst Jobs to Have in the 1800s



The following are some of the possible jobs your ancestors may have had sometime during the 1800s if they lived during those times. Most people were farmers, an honorable occupation, still a hard job. Yet, in the 19th century was the need of people to handle other types of work.

A Tosher – was a sewer worker with an unusual twist. They sifted through raw sewage looking for anything valuable that may have accidentally gone down a drain. It was a bit illegal to do this work, but it was done because the worker did keep anything they found (silver, coins, jewelry etc).

A Chimney Sweeper – chimneys needed to be kept clean so fires would not start. To clean them was not easy and a dangerous job climbing roofs.  

Leech Collectors – individuals collected leeches, small blood-sucking creatures, that were sold to doctors and medical personnel to treat a number of ailments, ranging from headaches to “hysteria.” To get the leeches, a person became a human trap, going through ponds with their bare legs as the bite. The leeches were pulled off and stored in a box until sold.  

Animal Poop Collectors – poop was used by leather tanners in the process of preparing leather. But other people collected the animal poop to then sell to the tanner.

So just a sampling of strange and unusual jobs.

Photos: Sewer workers, chimney sweepers, and leech collectors.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Types of Early Occupations

Occupations of 1891

Grand Dad’s Job

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