Scottish occupations- the original Scot Roots list Occupations in Scotland - the original Scot Roots list.

Scottish occupations

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Old Occupations in Scotland 

What exactly did you say your ancestor did?

Love your website, it is extremely useful and informative. Can you tell me what occupation a boxmaster was ?                Frances MacRae

The occupations and daily work of our Scottish ancestors have changed as trades, industries and professions have come and gone over hundreds of years. 

Below is a list and description of about 500 unusual occupations, jobs and work  found on 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th century records, Census returns, and gravestone inscriptions in Scotland.

For permission to copy this list contact Scots Family  Copyright 2000-2010 [Scots Family]. All rights reserved


Advocate..............A barrister, a lawyer acting in a Law Court
Ag. Lab.
................Agricultural labourer
Alewife..................Woman who ran an alehouse
Annealer............ . Processed metal or glass by furnace-heating and immersion in chemical baths
Annuitant              Non-working person receiving an annual income or pension
Apprentice...........Trainee bound to learn a craft or trade
Argentier   ...........Controller of finances, a treasurer
Army H.P ..........   Soldier on half pay
Assizor................. A juror
Bailie.......   . ....  . Magistrate in a Scottish burgh
Bailiff..........  ....  . Guard of fishing rights on a river
Baler        ....... . .  Factory or mill worker who made up cloth into bales
Banksman....... . .  Mine worker at pithead unloading coal from the cages
Bard......................Poet or story-teller
Baron Officer         Also known as Barony officer, employed to uphold the law within the Barony (District)
Bath moulder        Iron foundry worker making moulds for cast iron baths
Bathsmaster          Manager at a town swimming pool or "baths"
Baxter                   Baker
Beadle                  Parish official employed in church to usher and keep order.
Beadman               Licensed beggar
Beamer                 A weaver's beamer drew yarn through and onto the long heavy beam of a loom.
Bedeswoman        An alms woman, licensed beggar
Beetler                  Cloth mill worker operating a beetling machine to emboss fabric
Beildsman             Licensed beggar
Benchman             A shoemaker benchman cut the leather for boots and shoes. Also leather cutter for chairs.
Berlin blacker       Applied a dull black varnish as a coating for ironware products
Black borderer      Person who made black-edged stationery for funeral intimations
Blaxter                  Bleacher of cloth
Bleacher               Factory worker who bleached textiles, or paper 
Bleachfield Worker   Cloth bleachwork factories were known as bleachfields from their early origin outdoors
Blockcutter           Person who hand-carves wooden blocks used for printing
Blockmaker          A trader or broker
Blockprinter          Person who prints on paper or cloth with carved wooden blocks
Boatman               Boat operator providing river or loch crossings.
Boilermaker          Fabricated boilers for ships, or factories, by riveting or welding metal sheets.
Bobbin turner       Maker of wooden bobbins and spools for textile mills
Bookmaker           The "bookie" accepts gambling bets, traditionally on racing horses, dogs
Boots                     Employed by a hotel for general portering duties, assisting waiters etc.
Boot Clicker          Worked a machine that made lace holes in boot uppers 
Boot Clipper          Person using scissors cut the threads connecting rubber boot parts
Boot Closer   
       Person who stitched the leather uppers of boots and shoes
Boot Laster           Person who shaped the uppers of boots on a metal "last"
Boot Sprigger
       Person who nailed the soles and uppers of boots together with 'sprigs' - small headless nails
           Filler of bottles, often in a distillery
Bower                   A maker of bows (for arrows)
Bowman               Sub-tenant who farmed on a "steelbow",  requiring to divide annual produce with main tenant or tacksman
Boxmaster             Treasurer or deacon of a trade guild or association- eg Weavers Guild
Brasiator                Brewer
Brass Finisher        Removed burs and marks from brass foundry products by sanding, buffing and polishing.
Brass Founder       The founder poured molten metal into moulds to make brass buckles, handles, fittings.
Brazier                  Metal worker in brass, a brass smith
Brewster                Maker of beer, a brewer. (also broustor)
Brusher                  Coal miner who repaired mine passage roofs and sides
Burgess                 Man listed as merchant or craftsman in a town burgh
Byreman                Farm worker who looked after cows in the byre (cattle-shed)
Cabinetmaker        Maker of wooden furniture
Cadger                  Travelling pedlar
Cal. Prin.               Calico printer. Calico was a cotton cloth imported from India, then patterned with dyes
Callenderer           Smoothed cloth or paper by passing through rollers
Camb Builder        A camb or comb builder made and fitted devices to thread the yarn on weaving looms. See also reedmaker .
Candler                 Maker or seller of candles
Carbonarius          Charcoal maker
Carder                   Prepared wool for spinning by brushing with wire pads
Carman                 Driver of horse-drawn tramcars in late 19th Century
Carter                    Worked with horse and cart on farms or in towns
Cartwright             Maker and repairer of horse-drawn carts 
   Instructor in religious doctrine
Caulker                 Filling cracks usually in ships by sealing with tar
Causewaymaker   Built town roads (causeways) with stone setts
Cautioner              Person who stands surety for another, for example for the arrival of a groom on his marriage day
         Keeper of wine and spirits
Chairbearer          One of two porters who carried a sedan chair with passenger in 18th century Edinburgh and Glasgow
Chairman              Another name for chairbearer (q.v)
Chaisemaker        Carriage maker
Chandler               Dealer in goods, often a ship's supplier
Change-keeper     An inn-keeper
Chapman              Dealer of goods from a stall, or by travelling from village to village
Chapper                Employed to knock on doors of early risers. eg bakers, jute workers etc.
Charwoman          Cleaning woman
Check Weighman  He checked how much a miner was due to be paid on the coal he produced.
Chirurgeon            A surgeon
Chowder               Seller of fish, a fishmonger
Clagger                 Person removing clags or dirty clots from a wool fleece
Clark                      Clerk
Clicker                  Worked machine that made lace holes in boot and shoe uppers ~
Clipper                   They trimmed cloth in the dyeing and bleaching process for textiles 
Clogger                  Maker of clogs - wooden shoes
Clothier                  Stocked and sold clothes which the tailor made
Cloth Drawer         Same as "cloth finisher"
Cloth Dresser         Cloth mill worker who cut the sheets of cloth with shears
Cloth Finisher        Inspected and repaired small holes or blemishes in the final product
Cloth Lapper         Cleaned cotton fibres before sheets fed into carding machines
Cloth Tearer          Assisted a cloth printer in a print mill . Usually a youngster. 
Coachman             Driver of coach and horses
Coachsmith            Maker and repairer of horse-drawn coaches.
Coalmaster            Owner and operator of a coal mine
Coal Trimmer        Person who stabilised coal-carrying barges/ships
Cobbler                  Maker or repairer of shoes
Collier                    Coal miner, at the coal face
Colourman             Mixer of dyes in textile trade
Colporteur             Travelling book seller
Combmaker           A maker of combs for textiles, or hair. See also Vulcanite Comb Maker
Comb presser        Made combs by boiling imported buffalo horn, pressing flat, and shaping when cool
Compositor            Person who sets up type for printing
Conservator           Guardian or custodian
Contractor              Someone contracted to perform a trade or service, often by the owner eg a coal mining contractor.
Cooper                   Maker of barrels and casks, often for distillers
Copyright breaker Someone who prints or publishes this list without permission of Scots Family.
Cordiner                 Maker of leather shoes and boots. From the French "cordonnier"
Cordwainer            see Cordiner
Cork Cutter            Worked in cutting and preparing imported raw cork bark from Portugal
Costermonger        Street seller of apples, other fruit and vegetables
Cottar                     Tenant with only a cottage and little land
Cotton piecer         Piecers in cotton mills, often children, had to lean over spinning-machines to repair broken threads
Cotton warper        Cotton mill loom operator who set the warp thread (yarn) on the looms before weaving
Cotton winder         Cotton mill
worker who wound the thread on weaving looms
             Stockman who raised cattle in and around towns selling them on for slaughter
Cowan                    Old name for a builder of dry stone walls - a dry stone dyker
Cowper                   Maker of cups
Creeler                   Mill worker who arranged the  cones or spools on the creels for warping.
Creelman               Carried goods to market in a creel (basket)
Crofter                    Tenant of farm and cottage (croft), usually in Highlands and Islands.
Curator                   Person appointed by law as guardian
Currier                    Person curing or tanning hides
Customer                Custom-house collection officer (also custumer)
Cutler                      Maker of steel implements especially knives, and sometimes surgical instruments
Cutter                      Cutter of cloth for the tailor
Dagmaker              Maker of pistols
Dairymaid               Woman or girl employed to milk cows, make butter in dairy
Dapifer                   Steward in a royal or noble house
Darner                    Repaired holes or gaps in textile garments, typically stockings.
Dempster                One who pronounces judgement - a doomster (judge)
Dexter                     Dyer
Distributor of Stamps   Appointee in charge of a county Stamp Office, collecting stamp duties (taxes) on land, registrations, etc
Diker/ Dyker            Builder of dry stone walls
Docker                    Worker at docks who loads and unloads ships cargo
Doffer                     Removed and replaced bobbins of yarn from weaving loom spindles
Dom. Serv.              Domestic servant, household worker
Dominie                  School teacher
Drainer                    Laid and buried clay tile drains in farm fields to drain them. Sometimes drains in towns.

Draper                     Dealer in fabrics and sewing materials
Drawer                    Mine worker pushing or dragging coal carts
Dresser                  1. Surgeon's assistant
                              2. Worker in quarry cutting rocks to shape eg slates or setts.
                              3. Foundry worker cleaning metal after moulding
Drover                     Cattle dealer who bought cattle from landlords and tenants and drove them to market
             Cart driver of a long cart without sides
Drugget weaver      Weaver of drugget - a plain and coarse open-sett woollen cloth
Drysalter                 Dealer in salted or dried meats, pickles and sauces
Dustman                 Uplifted street litter and domestic rubbish ( see 'scavenger' )
Dyker                      Builder of dry stone walls
Electrotyper            Printing plate maker of electrotype metal plants, including lead preparation. (See also stereotyper)
Embosser                Person who moulded or pressed designs that were raised above the surface of the material .
Engine Keeper       Operated and maintained an industrial steam-driven engine.
Engraver                 Cuts or engraves fine designs and patterns on metal, wood or glass.
             Collector of taxes
F.S.                         Female Servant
Factor                     Estate agent for landowner, collector of rents
Farm servant          Farm worker under contracted period to work for farmer
Farrier                    Blacksmith who shoes horses (also ferrier)
Feeder                    Millworker who kept the mill machines supplied with material
Fencible                 Soldier recruited at times of war, a militiaman 
Fethelar                  A fiddler
Fireman                  1. Person in charge of a furnace, eg. on a train or ship
                               2.  A fire fighter
Fishcurer                Dried and salted fish for onward transport in barrels
Fishwife                  Woman who carried and sold fresh fish from door to door.
Fitter                       Assembled wooden or metal parts, or machinery 
Ferry-louper            Orkney name for an incomer from mainland
Feuar                      Landholder under feudal system paid a feu (fee) to the overlord
Flax doffer              Women who doffed (tied up) full bobbins of thread, and replaced with empty ones.
Flax dresser            Prepared the flax fibres ready for spinning. See also flax heckler and scutcher.
Flax heckler           Flax dresser who separated the coarse flax with a toothed hackle
Flax scutcher          Beat flax fibres by hand or through a machine as part of the flax dressing process.
Flaxman                 Dealer in flax
Flesher                   Butcher
Fletcher                  Maker of arrows, an arrowsmith
Flitman                   Porter who unloaded goods from ships (Shetland Isles)
Floater                    Man seasonally employed to guide and steer timber logs downstream
Flockmaster            Person in charge of managing a flock of sheep
Flower Lasher         Interlaced cotton threads as part of the intricate weaving process in making Paisley shawls
Forrester                 Employed to guard the forest and its game against poachers and trespassers.
Founder                  Maker of items from molten metal  eg in a iron or brass foundry.
Freeman                 Medieval freemen were not owned by a feudal lord, but had privileges granted to own land and trade in a burgh
French Polisher      Brought wood cabinets to a fine finish with sandpaper and oils.
Fruictman               Man who sells fruit
Fuller                      Fuller of cloth thickened wool (same as waulker q.v.)
Furnaceman           Attended to furnace, often in metal works
Gaberlunzie           A beggar
Gamekeeper          Guard and breeder of wild game (pheasants etc) on an estate
Ganger                   Gangsman leading a gang or squad of men
Gangrel                  Vagrant or tramp
Gasfitter                  Fitted pipes to carry a gas supply, usually coal gas , to domestic or industrial premises.
Gas Retortman       In gas works, operated large oven in which coal was baked to manufacture coal gas.
Gaoler                    Jailer
Gauger                   Excise officer
Gudger                   A grandfather. Corruption of gudsyr
Gen. Lab                General labourer
Ghillie                     Highland guard of wild game, especially deer
Gilder                     Person who impressed gold leaf or gilt to overlay an item, such as furniture or an art frame
Girnalman              Man in charge of meal store or granary
Glover                     Maker of gloves
Goldbeater             Artisan who hammered gold into gold leaf, thin plates of gold for gilding.
           A grandfather
G.P.                        General Practitioner, a medical doctor
Granger                  Keeper of grain store (granary)
Grasskeeper           Herdsman who watched unfenced marches of a farm to prevent trespass from adjacent grazings
Gratefitter              Fitted metal grates to hold fires in domestic fireplaces.
Grieve                    Responsible for a group of farm workers
Groom                    Responsible for horses on an estate 
Ground Officer        Employed by large landed estate to supervise the activities of tenants 
        Worker in a printfield factory, who perhaps ground the dyes used for printing the calico cloth
H.L.W.                    Hand loom weaver- weaver of cloth on a home-based loom
Haberdasher          Seller of small clothing wares and sewing materials
Hackler                   Lint dresser who separated the coarse flax with a toothed hackle
Hammerman          Metal worker, a smith
Hatter                     Maker of hats, a milliner
Hawker                   Pedlar, seller of small goods from door to door
Heatherer                Thatched roofs of houses and crofts with heather divots or stems (esp. in  Highlands and Islands)
        see hackler
Hecklemaker          Maker of flax combs for use by heckler/hackler
Heddler                   Weaving loom operator in textile mill 
Hedger                    Laid and repaired hedges enclosing fields making them stock-proof
Herd                        Shepherd
Heritor                    Landholder in a parish
Hetheleder             Person who cut and sold heather as a source of fuel.
Hewer                     Miner underground working the coal face
Hind                        Farm servant
Hirer                       Arranged to provide servants, vehicles, or animals in return for money.
Holder-on               Assisted a skilled rivetter, usually in the ship-building industry
Hollow-ware turner  Metal turner who made receptacles, bowls, urns, often from cast-iron
Horse Setter            Owned horses and hired them out
Hosier                     Seller of long wool or silk stockings
Hostler                    Person looking after horses at an inn
Houghman              A farm worker  ( but doing what exactly - anyone know ?)
Hooper                    Maker of hoops for barrels
Howdywife              Midwife
Husbandman           A cultivator of soil, a farmer. Later including animal husbandry
Indweller                 Inhabitant of a particular town or place
Iron Baller               Iron worker who separated the hot metal from the puddling furnace into balls or puddle-rolls before handing over to the shingler (qv)
Iron Dresser             Foundry worker who cleaned sand and impurities from cast metal from the mould.
Iron Miner               Miner of ironstone rock used in the production of pig iron
Iron Moulder           Iron foundry worker who poured molten iron from furnace into moulds
Iron Planer              Used a machine to put flat surfaces (planing) onto cast iron structures
Iron Roller               Iron worker who used machinery to roll and shape iron into plates, rails, etc
Iron Shingler           Iron worker who operated a steam hammer on wrought iron from the furnace
Iron Weigher           Weighed iron products from foundry for selling by the ton.
Jackman                 Attendant or man-at-arms, for a nobleman or landowner
Japanner                Applied black gloss lacquer to furniture
J.P.                         Justice of the Peace
Jobbing man          Employed for a variety of small jobs or tasks
Joiner                     A wood worker, a carpenter
Journeyman           Qualified tradesman, apprenticeship served
Jute winder            Jute mill worker who wound the thread on weaving looms .
Kirk-master             Deacon in a church
Kish maker             Maker of woven willow baskets
Lademan                A lademan or loadman carried and carted loads, for example at a mill
Laird                       Rural estate landowner, usually in the Highlands
Lampman               The lampman or lamp trimmer maintained the paraffin oil lamps in a colliery, and checked the miners' safety lamps.
Lamplighter            Employed to light the gas street lamps in Victorian cities
Lappit Weaver       Lappit or lappet is a light muslin cloths with figuring woven in a zigzag pattern on a special loom. Also lappit clipper, and ripper.
Lathsplitter             Prepared thins strips of wood (laths) for nailing to walls and ceilings as a base to spread plaster over
Laundress              Washerwoman for clothes
Laxfisher               Salmon fisherman (from Norwegian laks)
Lawman                 Officer with magisterial powers
Lawrightman         Determined local weights & measures, and land tax
Leerie                    A popular name for a lamplighter (qv)
Lengthsman           Railway worker responsible for maintaining a length of rail track
Letter Carrier         Carried and delivered letters by hand . Later known as postman.
Liferenter              One who has a tenancy for life
Lime-burner          Rock lime was burned in stone kilns, then crushed and spread on farm fields.
Limmer                 1. Thief or scoundrel
                             2. Artist who decorates manuscripts 
Lineator                  Surveyor or measurer
Lint dresser            Prepared  flax (lint) fibres ready for spinning.
Lithographer          Makes printing press plates from type-set paper or film
Litster                     Dyer of cloth
Loadman               A loadman or lademan carried and carted loads, for example at a mill
Lock Keeper          Operated the locks across canals  allowing boats to pass through
Looper                   Fitted yarn onto knitting machine, for example in hosiery making
Lorimer                  Maker of metal horse harnesses
Lorryman               Driver of a lorry (heavy goods vehicle) . Term used also in the time of horse-drawn vans.
                  A corn thresher who was paid an allowance of corn as part of his fee
Lotter                    1. Made up odd lots of wool and batched them for sale
                             2. Croft or small farm divided into lots, usually worked by sons of the crofter
Loun                       A boy
Lozenge Cutter       Cut and prepared sweets (candy) or preserve. Lozenge piner ?

I think the list of old occupations is a wonderful reference    Beverley Hicks, New Jersey, USA 

M.S.                        Male servant
"                           Merchant Service (Seaman)
Madras maker         Madras is a form of fine lace made in a lace mill
Mailler                    A mailler, or mealler, paid farm rent in money or kind, not in labour.
Maltster                   Maltster, or maltman ,  prepared malt from  fermented barley for brewing or distilling
Manf.                       Manufacturer
Mangler                   Washerwoman who passed clothes through the rollers of a mangle
Mantle Maker          1. Cut and prepared the mantles for incandescent gas lamps
                                2. Maker of ladies cloaks worn over a dress
Mantua Maker         Ladies dressmaker or bonnet maker. ( Mantua was a woman's loose gown in 17th-18th century)
Mariken                   Dressed goatskin from Morocco, often used for shoes
Mariner                   Seaman, usually in merchant navy
Mason                     Stone cutter and layer
Master                     Head school teacher
    "     ....                 Skilled and self-employed craftsman or tradesman
Master Mariner       Ship's captain
Mealler                   A mealler, or mailler, paid farm rent in money or kind, not in labour provided.
Measurer                A surveyor
Mendicant              One who made a living by begging, or living on alms. eg mendicant friars
Messenger-at-arms   A law-enforcement officer of the Scottish Court of Session, responsible for serving documents and enforcing court orders.
                    In charge of a corn mill usually powered by a water wheel, grinding grain such as oats and wheat into meal or flour. 
Millies                     Nick-name for textile mill workers
Milliner                   Maker of hats and female headgear
Milner                    Old spelling of miller (qv)
Millwright               Installed and maintained heavy machinery in mills. A mechanic.
Min.                        Minister (or miner)
Miner                      Worker at mineral mines, usually coal, ironstone or shale in central Scotland
Mintmaster              Maker of coin money
Molecatcher           Trapped and killed moles on farms - the molehills thrown up from their underground tunnelling caused crop losses.
               Mintmaster, maker of coin money
Monger                   Seller of goods, eg fish-monger, iron-monger
Moulder                  Poured molten metal into moulds. See iron moulder
Mouterer                 Miller receiving a fee for grinding corn
Mugger                   Someone who sold chinaware and pottery ( mugs, cups, plates)  around a district, often a gypsy
Muslin Flowerer     Sewed and embroidered muslin cloth for domestic use
Nailer                     Blacksmith who made nails by cutting and shaping metal 
Navvie                    A" navigator", a worker digging out canal beds, later roads.
Needle straightener Aligned and spaced the points in the needle bars of knitting machines.
Nester                     A thread nester worked in a threadmill (but exact task of the nester as yet unknown)
Night Soil Carrier   Person employed to remove and dispose of toilet waste
Notary                    Solicitor, lawyer
Oakum Worker       Took old ropes apart for the hemp fibre (oakum ) to be used for caulking (qv)
Orraman                 Spare man or odd-job man around the farm
Ostler                     Hostler, person looking after horses at an inn
Ourman                  Overseer
Outworker              Worker, usually female, who carried on their occupation at home, such as weaving or sewing .
Oval Turner            Lathe operator who produced oval shaped wooden legs of tables, chairs, stair balusters. etc.
Overman                Supervisor in colliery checking mine and coal quality
Palingwright           Maker of wooden fencing (paling) for use on rural estates
Paper Ruler            Operator of a printing machine who set up inking pens to draw on paper
Pattern Maker         Metal pattern makers made forms and moulds for casting iron products
Pauper                    Person without money and means of earning a livelihood
Pavior                     Layer of masonry slabs and flag-stones, eg making a pavement
Pedlar                     Seller of small goods from door to door
Pendicler                Sub-tenant with some grass and arable land
Pensioner               Originally meant someone receiving an Army pension after active service 
Periwig-maker        Maker of wigs for gentlemen
Peuterer                  Worker in pewter
Instrument Maker 
   Maker of scientific, mathematical and astronomical instruments
Piecer                     Piecers in mills, often children, had to lean over spinning-machines to repair broken threads
Pickermaker            Mill worker who made the "pickers" - leather attachments which drove a shuttle across a weaving loom
Pikar                       A petty thief
Pinner                     Associated with cotton weaving (but exact task of the pinner as yet unknown)
Pirn Winder             Mill worker who threaded yarn on weaving looms
Pitheadman            Over-ground worker at a coal mine (pit)
Pit Brusher              Coal miner who repaired mine passage roofs and sides
Pit Roadman           Mine worker preparing and repairing underground passageways
Pit Sinker                Man contracted to sink new mine shafts
Platelayer               Railway worker laying and repairing rails
Plewman                Ploughman
Ploughman             Farm servant with working horse, or team of horses, ploughing the fields
Plumber                  Worked with lead on roofs and stained glass windows, as well as with lead water pipes . Later copper pipes 
Pointsman               Railway worker who operates rail points
Police Weigher
      At the docks he weighed goods and cargo as it came ashore
Polentarius             Malt maker
Pony Driver             Leading pony underground pulling coal hutches
Porter                      Baggage carrier; or gate keeper
Portioner                 Owner of land, previously divided amongst co-heirs
Portmanteau Maker  Maker of leather trunk bags which opened into two equal parts
Post Boy                  Guard travelling on a mail coach
Postman                  Delivers mail letters and parcels to residential and business addresses.
PLW                        Power-loom weaver-- weaver working a powered loom in a textile mill
Preventive officer   Customs officer on boat in coastal waters
Print compositor     Person who sets up type for printing
Print cutter              a) Person who made the blocks for printing 
                               b) Cutter of prepared cloth eg. calico
Printfield worker     Factory  worker who dyed and printed calico cloth .
Procurator               Lawyer or advocate
Procurator-Fiscal    Principal public prosecutor in district
Provost                    Elected head of town burgh council
Publican                  Keeper of a public house or "pub" offering ales and spirits to the public.
                   Iron worker operating a puddling or ball furnace where cast iron turned into wrought iron
Quarrier                  Worker in stone quarry
Quine                      A young woman (queen) - Aberdeenshire
Rafter                      Assembled floating logs into rafts for towing to timber mill
Railway Brakesman Railway worker who operated the wheel brakes, controlling the speed of locomotives
Railway Lengthsman Railway worker responsible for maintaining a length of rail track
Railway Waggoner   Railway worker responsible for coupling and decoupling railway wagons
Ranselman              Was empowered by court to search houses for stolen property
R.C.C                       Roman Catholic Clergyman
Reidare                   Minor clergyman in early Church, a reader
Reader                    A student in law, medicine, or other classical subject
Red Leader             Painted a red lead oxide paint onto metal surfaces to protect them from rust eg on ship metal
Reedmaker             A reed was a crafted comb-like device crafted used on weaving looms to thread the yarn.
             Mill worker who put the yarns onto reels before weaving
Relict                       Widow
Resetter                   Receiver or concealer of stolen goods
Retortman               In gas works, operated large oven in which coal was baked to manufacture coal gas.
        Maker or user of coarse sieves (riddles) for grain, soil, etc.
Riever                     Robber, originally of cattle
Rivetter                   Shipyard worker joining metal plates with hammered rivets
Rope Spinner          Maker of rope by braiding yarns of cotton or flax
Rove Carrier           Moved fibres of heckled flax (rove) before spinning as linen thread.
Rover                     Operator of mill machine which prepared the carded fibres of wool, cotton, flax, etc.
Saddler                   Maker and repairer of horse saddles and leathers
Salinator                 One who added salt as a preservative
Sandpaperer           see French Polisher
Sawbones               Surgeon or physician
Sawyer                   Worker in sawmill or timber pit
Scallag                   Poor male or female farm servant of a tacksman
Scavenger              1. The 'scaffie' was a dustman or street sweeper
                               2. Worker in a jute mill picking up loose bits of material from the floor
Scholar                   A child attending school
Schoolmaster          Principal school teacher
Sclater                    Slater, a roof tiler with slates
Scourer                   Washed raw wool by hand with soap or urine before processing,
Scrivener                 Scribe employed to draft contracts, prepare accounts, etc
Scullery Maid          Girl employed to scour pots, scrub stairs, empty and clean chamber pots etc
Seafarer                  One who found employment on ships - a seaman.
Seamstress              Woman who sewed, made and mended clothes
Seceder                   Member of Secession Church which broke away in 1733.
Seriand                   A constable or bailiff
Servitor                   Household servant (male) ; or a lawyer's clerk or secretary
Servitrix                  Household servant (female)
               Cutter of stones, often granite, to make cobbled streets.
Sewer                     Women who sewed cloth into garments - clothes, gloves, etc.
Sexton                    Layman guarding church building and vestments
Sheriff                     Chief officer of Crown in county
Shingler                  Roof tiler with wooden shingles (cf slater) (but see also Iron Shingler) 
Shipwright              Constructor and repairer of ships. A ship carpenter.
Ship Master            Owner or captain of a ship
Ship Plater             Shipyard worker building and repairing hulls of ships with metal sheets (plates)
Ship Stager            Stagers in a shipyard erected wooden scaffolding and platforms around a ship being built.
Sho.                        Shopman, person employed in retail trade
Skinner                   Flayer of animal hides for leather
Solicitor                  Lawyer
Souter                    Shoemaker
Slater                      Roof tiler with slates
Smith                      Metal worker, usually a blacksmith
Spectioner              Third mate on a whaling ship, who checked all was correctly stowed in the hold.
Spinster                  Woman who spins textiles (also term for an unmarried woman)
Spirit Merchant       Dealer in spirits, wines and ale
Sprigger                  Embroiderer of fine lace and muslin; see also Boot Sprigger
Squarewright          Worker in fine furniture
Stair Railer             Carpenter who carved the support rails and banisters for stairs in houses, offices and ships.
Stampmaster          Official inspector who had powers to impose fines or penalties on faulty or fraudulent manufacturing.
Starcher                  Laundry worker stiffening shirts and other garments with hot starch in a tumbling machine. Also clear starcher.
Seller of paper, books and writing implements (i.e. stationery).
Station Master         Railway employee in charge of station
Staymaker               Made the stays or stiffening strips in ladies' corsets. The stays were typically made from whalebone
Stereotyper             Printing plate maker of stereotype metal plates. (See also electrotyper)
Stevedore               Dock worker loading and unloading ships cargo
Steward                  Chief servant of household of royal or noble family
Stillman                  Worker in whisky distillery in charge of operating the copper still
Stillroom Maid        Female servant who worked in the still room, preparing wines, jams, pickles.
Stoker                     Stoked fuel into a furnace or boiler, eg on a ship 
Stone Hewer           1. A miner who drilled holes in the coal face prior to dynamiting.
                                2. A sculptor or mason in stone.
            A wanderer, a vagrant
Sugar Baker            One who owned or worked in a sugar factory, refining raw sugar from the West Indies
Surfaceman            Laid and repaired surface of road or railway, or mine passage
Surveyor of taxes   Responsible for calculating and levying taxes on property and possessions
Sword slipper         Maker of sword sheaths 
Tacksman               Superior farm tenant with a lease or tack on one or more farms.
Tailzeor                  Tailor
Tambourer              Embroiderer using hoops to hold the cloth
Tanner                    Curer of animal hides to make leather
Tapsman                 Head servant in charge 
Tearer                     Assisted a cloth printer in a print mill . Usually a youngster.
Tenementer            Tenant of dwelling in large town building (tenement)
Tenter                     Mechanic who tended and repaired apparatus, for example weaving power looms.
              Roofer working with natural cut reeds or heather thatch
Thong Maker          (No not those thongs!). A maker of leather whips and thongs.
Tick maker             Upholsterer
Tick manufacturer  A weaver of various fabrics
Tidewaiter              Customhouse officer who secured payment of duty from merchant vessels coming in to port 
Tinker                     Travelling repairman, or tinsmith , seller of pots and pans
Todman                  Man employed to kill foxes (tods) on an estate
Topper                    A seamstress, for example, of shirts
Towsman                Man in charge of the halyards on a fishing boat
Trace-boy                Removed the tack, harness and traces from working horse
Trencherman          Cook
Turkey Red Dyer     Turkey Red from madder root was used to dye cotton cloth ( United Turkey Red Co.Ltd. Alexandria )
Turner                     A lathe operator, shaping wood or metal
Type-founder          Printer who set out individual letters on printing blocks
Undertaker             1. An undertaker of works, or clerk of works, for example for a turnpike road
                               2. Someone who undertakes to arrange a funeral service 
Vabster                   A weaver 
Vanman                  Driver of a light commercial or delivery vehicle, such as a bread van
Vermin Trapper      Employed to trap and kill rats, mice, foxes, moles, as pests.
Vestiarus                 Keeper of the wardrobe
Victualler                Supplier of food and provisions
Vintner                    Wine merchant
Vulcanite Comb Maker    Rubber worker making hard (vulcanite) combs for the textile industry, for combing wool etc.
Wadsetter               Creditor or holder of land or property under mortgage
Wainwright             Wagon maker
Waulker                  Thickened wool cloth and felted by soaking, beating, and shrinking (in a "waulk mill"). Also waulkster.
Warehouseman      Man who worked in a building storing finished products eg food or textiles.
Warper                   Mill loom operator who set the warp thread (yarn) on the looms before weaving.
Weaver                   Maker of cloth from yarns of wool, cotton, silk etc. Operator of hand loom or textile mill power loom .
Weigher                  Weighed goods prior to sale or approval . See Iron Weigher and Police Weigher .
Wheelwright           Maker or repairer of wheels
Whipper-in               Looked after a pack of hounds used for fox hunting
White Seam Sewer     Seamstress who sewed white material such as sheets, pillows cases, etc
Whitesmith             Worker in tin and light metals (cf. blacksmith)
Wincey Weaver      Weaver using string cotton thread
Winder                   Textile mill worker who wound the thread on weaving looms. See Cotton Winder 
Wire Weaver          Operated power loom to weave wire into industrial cloths, sieves, etc.
A weaver 
Worsted weaver     Weaver of fine cloth from long straightened fibres of wool. 
Wrecker                  Plunderer of a shipwreck, sometimes luring ships to destruction.
Wright                    Joiner or carpenter
Writer                     Old term for a solicitor
W.S.                       Solictor who is a member of Society of the Writers to Her Majesty's Signet
Yankee man           Man who operated the Yankee cloth-cropping machine introduced from America, used in wool manufacture in the Borders.
Yarn bleacher        Bleacher of textile fibres, such as flax
Yarn dresser           Preparer of  fibres . See also flax dresser
Yarn twister            Twisted fibres, such as silk, into thread or yarn
Yarn warper           Set up the warp (thread) on looms ready for weaving
Yauger                   Pedlar who traded in local fish and produce (Shetland Islands).


If there are other interesting or puzzling occupations you have found  on Scottish records, then we would be glad to hear from you at 

 What a brilliant list of occupations   G E Werner

This is an excellent website, and I hope the list of old occupations continues to grow. Allan McMurchie 

Your  site is a fine addition to the study of Scottish history. Thomas G. Paterson , Professor Emeritus of History, University of Connecticut

Copyright 2000-2011 [Scots Family]. All rights reserved

The Roll of Edinburgh Burgesses and Guild Brethren 1406-1700 contains a glossary of even older names of occupations
eg capillicarius (wigmaker); sartor (tailor); fosser (grave digger); faber ferrarius (blacksmith) etc, etc.
Publ. 1929, Edinburgh , Scottish Record Society. (
For individual queries on the Roll contact Scots Family).

There are about 100  illustrations of occupations in Netherlands from around 1690, including several on the above list .,
 This collection of etchings by Jan and Casper Luykens can be viewed at Het Verlede in Beeld

.There are  good descriptions and pictures of early trades of settlers in North America in Colonial Williamsburg

You can make a graphic link to Scots Family - to this page if you wish

      Scot Family for all your Scottish genealogy needs



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