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?

Occupation
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
Knocker-up/
Knocker-upper   
    
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
Knocker-Upper
Knocker-Upper

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2 Comments

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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