Bang Beggars, Vulcans and other old Irish Occupations

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Old Irish Occupations
Old Irish Occupations

Old Irish Occupations

When looking at historical family records and documents like the census or marriage certificates you sometimes come across a profession or trade that is not familiar or is even completely unknown to us today.

Here is a list of the some old Irish occupations that are sometimes seen on old documents. Some you may be familiar with, others you can maybe guess but many sound very strange to modern ears.

In any case, knowledge of these may help in your family research when reading old documents.

Ewarts Linen Factory Belfast
Ewarts Linen Factory Belfast

Table of Old Irish Occupations – How many do you know?

Modern Job Description
Accomptant    Accountant
Apothecary Someone who prepares and sells medicine
Bang Beggar A parish official who determines how long a stranger/ vagrant can stay in the parish
Beetler Beetling machine operator to produce high lustre cloth
Bloodletter         Applies leeches to a patient for medicinal reasons
Bobber             A metal polisher
Boot closer Stitches shoe uppers to the soles
Cab driver       Driver of a horse-drawn vehicle for hire
Cainer             Walking stick maker
Carder                 Carding wool or cotton to clean and untangle fibres
Chaisemaker Carriage manufacturer
Chandler Candle maker or grocer, a ships chandler sold item for boats
Cobbler     Shoemaker or repairer
Conveyor    Someone who sells goods
Cooper           Makes wooden casks, barrels and other staved containers from timber that was usually heated or steamed so it could be fashioned and made metal staves or hoops for barrels . It could take 7 years for an apprentice to master the craft.
Costermonger   Sells fruit and vegetables
Currier              Employed in tanning leather
Dealer          Sells used goods, usually clothes
Doffer                   Removes the full bobbins and spindles from weaving machines
Draper                  Sells cloth
Exciseman Tax collector
Fireman               Stoker attending to the furnace on a train of ship
Flax dresser        Removes coarse flax fibres in preparation for spinning
Flesher                Butcher
Freemason         Stonemason
Funambulist       Tightrope walker
Gaoler           Jailer
Glover                Glove maker
Haberdasher      Dealer in sewing item, hats and small wares
Hacker               Hoe maker
Half-timer        Child who goes to school for half a day and works the rest in the mills
Hawker                         Peddler
Hillier          Roof tiler
Huckster Seller of small articles or wares
Husbandman     Farmer
Jobber                  Someone employed and paid for a specific job, not in full time employment
Journeyman       Craftsman who has completed his full apprenticeship
Keeler                  Bargeman
Kneller              Chimneysweep
Someone employed to wake people up for shift work by rapping their doors (or tapping windows if on upper floor)
Millwright            Designer and builder of mills
Monger                               Seller of goods, usually fish or ale
Nailor                    Someone who makes nails
Osler                  Bird catcher
Packman              Itinerant peddler
Pensioner        Soldier who had completed his service or was invalided out of the army
Ploughwright     Maker of ploughs
Philosophical  instrument maker  Maker of scientific instruments
Poundmaster    Responsible for the care of stray animals in the pound
Query                   Groom 
Saddler                Maker of saddles and bridles
Sawbones           Doctor
Scrivener             Clerk
Scutcher         Beats flax to extract linen fibres
Sewer                   Tailor
Taper                 Candle wick maker
Thatcher              Thatches roofs
Traveller              Travelling salesman
Turner                 Wood turner
Victualler              Innkeeper
Vintner               Wine merchant
Vulcan               Blacksmith
Wainwright         Wagon maker
Whitesmith        Tinsmith
Winder                 Adds yarn onto bobbins for industrial spinning machines

Old Irish Occupations in Census Records and Marriage Records etc

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Jim · 12 August 2021 at 6:18 pm

Actually, the definition given here of a Cooper does not describe the true skills he possessed. Coopers were the guys who made the barrels and casks. Making the hoops that secured the staves in the barrel was not the hard part of the coopers job. There were wet and dry barrels that required different skill levels, with wet barrels more demanding as they must hold liquid as opposed the dry barrels used for crackers, nails or other dry material. For many years the Cooper was responsible for crafting wet barrels very precisely as they were used to measure volume.

    P&P · 12 August 2021 at 6:46 pm

    Thanks for the additional information Jim. Appreciated. We have updated the description to reflect the wider range of skills.

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