Old Occupations

Past and Present

    by Janet McNeilly  2002


21 October 2003

Old Occupations



An officer of the sheriff, a land steward acting on behalf of the Landowner or Landlord.


A fellmonger was a remover of hair or wool from hides in leather making.



A person who worked on an estate and protected the game and livestock from poachers.



Bailiff, foreman, sheriff.



1 Street seller who cried his wares in town.

2 Often applied to country peddlars as a term of abuse.

3 Itinerant dealer who carried his wares on his back.



1 A household or domestic servant.

2 In Scotland a skilled farm labourer. 


HOSTLER / OSTLER - cares for horses, stableman, groom. 



A tenant farmer who cultivated the land.



A craftsman who had served an apprenticeship and was no longer bound to serve a master.



A person who attended a woman for a month after giving birth.



1 A person who worked clay into puddles.

2 A person who worked with puddle to make things water tight e.g. canal walls.

3 A person who worked in puddling iron.



A wool stapler.


WOOLCOMBER ( Taken from Family Tree magazine November 1996 Vol 13 no 1)

Woolcombing was part of the process of worsted manufacture. In the manufacture of woollen textiles the raw wool was carded to lay the tangled fibres into roughly parallel strands so that they could be more easily drawn out for spinning. Wool used for worsted cloth required more thorough treatment for not only had the fibres to be laid parallel to each other but unwanted short staple wool also had to be removed. This process was called combing. It was an apprenticed trade, a seven year apprenticeship being the norm in the mid 18th century with apprenticeship starting at about the age of 12 or 13. 

 The comb, which was like a short handled rake, had several rows of long teeth, or broitches - originally made of wood, later of metal. The broitches were heated in a charcoal fuelled comb-pot as heated combs softened the lanolin and the extra oil used which made the process easier. The wool comber would take a tress of wool, sprinkle it with oil and massage this well into the wool. He then attached a heated comb to a post or wooden framework, threw the wool over the teeth and drew it through them repeatedly, leaving a few straight strands of wool upon the comb each time. When the comb had collected all the wool the comber would place it back into the comb-pot with the wool hanging down outside to keep warm. A second hank of wool was heated in the same way. When both combs were full of the heated wool (about four ounces) the comber would sit on a low stool with a comb in each hand and comb one tress of wool into the other by inserting the teeth of one comb into the wool stuck in the other, repeating the process until the fibres were laid parallel. To complete the process the combed wool was formed into slivers, several slivers making a top, which weighed exactly a pound.  The noils or noyles ( short fibres left after combing) were unsuitable for the worsted trade so were sold to manufacturers of baize or coarse cloth.



1 A freeholder, the next class down from the gentry.

2 An assistant to an official.

3 A ships officer in charge of stores.



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