Old English Occupations

So many of us do have some English heritage in our family tree. Besides finding English ancestors, we need to learn about their occupations. The terms for certain occupations has changed over the years. So when you look an records of the United Kingdom – census- marriage- death certificates from England and there is an occupation listed for a parent, the groom, bride or other relative, it is great to know what does that job actually entails.

The Hall Genealogy Website has a special section of ‘old occupational names’ with it meaning and / or more modern name. Just looking over this massive listing, all in alphabetical form for easy researching, is amazing.

Some occupational names have remained the same for centuries. Once you see the term, you know what the job is. Yet, many are as if you are reading a foreign language.

There is a ‘verge maker’ which was a person who made spindles for watches and clocks. Then there is the traditional; occupation of blacksmith. Even through they are not many people who are full-time blacksmiths anymore, like there once was, the traditional English term for a blacksmith was ‘vulcan’.

If someone was a ‘ganneker’ they were an innkeeper. If they were an ‘out crier’ they were really an auctioneer. Then there was a ‘nimgimmer’ who was actually an early medical doctor.

To make it even a bit confusing, there were some terms that had a couple different meanings as to an occupation. The term ‘clicker’ could be an expert leather cutter using a knife for the making of shoes and boots. Or there was a ‘clicker’ who could set up type in a print shop, be the head person in the shop and handle all the bookkeeping activities. Lastly a ‘clicker’ could also be a salesperson who greeted the customer at the shop door to see what they needed. If you had an ancestor who was a ‘clicker’ you do have more research to do.

Another interesting item to check is a surname. Many family names came from the occupation done by the head of the household. The following are a few surnames that are occupations: Pinder, Wakeman, Barker, Parker, Joyner, Wheeler, Peterman, Tubman, Botcher and Kilner. So that is another reason to look up any surnames on the index.

Interesting listing on an U. K. census form:

The phrase of ‘On the club’ was an out of work person getting money benefits from “the Club”, which was an appropriate insurance scheme.

You might find some other interesting discoveries.

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