Jobs In The Victorian Era: A to Z

Jobs In The Victorian Era: A to Z

If you find jobs from days gone by fascinating, you’ll enjoy exploring this list of jobs in the Victorian era many of disappeared long ago. From Fakers to Hoggards, and Icemen, these jobs were commonplace in an era that was very different to today. 

In 1876, renowned British photographer John Thompson recorded hundreds of thousands of captivating images depicting everyday life amidst the dawning of the industrial age.

The Daily Mail describes how Thompson, accompanied by writer Adolphe Smith, trawled the streets of London interviewing and photographing people for Street Life in London magazine. “The pictures, now stored at the Bishopsgate Institute, capture the lives of street beggars, chimney sweeps, street doctors and market sellers among many others.”

In genealogy, it’s common to discover obscure occupations. Those from the Victorian era are especially interesting. I thought I’d share with you some favourites courtesy of The 1891 ‘London Census’ Transcription

Ashman

Dustman, or Refuse Collector. Also someone who cleans the ashes from a boiler.

Beadsman

A person employed to pray for his employer, or the inhabitant of an almshouse, poorhouse or hospital

Claker

A magician or astrologer

Dog Whipper

When foxes were hunted for bounty the tail of the fox was nailed to the church door as proof of capture. The Dog Whipper was employed to deal with the dogs which disrupted the church service, attracted by the tails.

Expressman

One who delivered mail

Faker

Photographic assistant who added colour to photographs by hand before colour film was available

Groundsel & Chickweed Seller

A street seller of common weeds, used to feed pet song-birds

Hoggard

A pig drover

Iceman

A seller or deliverer of ice

Jouster

A fish monger, usually a female hawker of fish, travelling from town to town.

Knocker-Up

A person employed to wake up workers in northern mills and factories on early shifts, going from house to house using a long pole to knock on bedroom windows.

Linkerboy or Linkerman

Someone who carried a link or torch to guide people through the streets at night for a small fee, or a general manservant

Marshall

A horse doctor or shoesmith. Alternative definition, a horse servant or groom

Night Soilman

one who emptied cesspits, ashpits and backyard toilets

Oilman

One who sold oil for lamps

Phrenologist

Someone who claimed to be able to assess a person’s character based on the bumps on their head

Quister

Someone who bleached things

Rag Cutter 

cut up rags into small pieces to be used for making paper etc

Soper

A soap maker

Town Husband

Someone employed by the parish to collect money from the fathers of illegitimate children for their upkeep.

Upright Worker

A chimney sweep

Venator

A huntsman

Wainwright

A builder or repairer of wagons

Xylographer

Someone who used and made wooden blocks used in printing illustrations

Yeoman

A farmer who owns his own land; a freeholder, the next class down from gentry, or an assistant to an official, or a ships officer in charge of stores

Zitherist

A player of a simple, flat many-stringed instrument

Do you have an interesting Victorian era occupation you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments below.

Lisa LaRue, RCDP, MCDI, MAC

Lisa LaRue, RCDP, MCDI, MAC

Master Practitioner and Registered Career Coach with more than 20 years’ experience helping people plan, manage and find happiness in their careers.

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