Occupations in Hereforshire

Learn about a specific occupation here:  (I must apologise for the upside down alphabetic order – I am trying to find out how to recitify it!)

  • Whitesmith

    A Whitesmith is a tin worker (sometimes known as tinsmith), but the term also referred to a finisher of any metal goods, but usually iron, or pewter.

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  • Wheelwright

    Not only a maker of wheels, but also of the whole wagon.

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  • Washerwoman

    A washerwoman usually had her own recipe for making soap – often including wood ash and lard as well as water.

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  • Thatcher

    Thatch was not only used for cottages and farmhouses in Herefordshire, but also for many churches and castles.

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  • Tanner

    A curer of animal hides. As Herefordshire was, and still is, predominantly rural and industry free, the large numbers of cattle and sheep provided endless raw material for the tanners.

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  • Stone Picker

    Someone employed to remove stones from a field before ploughing

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  • Shoemaker

    Also known as a Cordwainer, Cobbler or Snob.

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  • Scullery Maid

    The poor little Scullery Maid was at the bottom of the heap in the household, and was given all the worst jobs in the kitchen.

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  • Sawyer's Mate

    Newly felled trees had to be cut into useable pieces for furniture making, and this job was carried out by the Sawyer and his Mate.

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  • Poets

    All about poets!

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  • Lady's Maid

    The Lady’s Maid was one of the most important servants in the household, at least as far as the Lady herself was concerned! It seems that some ladies were incapable of dressing or undressing themselves without help – but that might be a rather unfair comment given the complicated nature of some of the gowns.

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  • Horsebreaker

    This is something of a grey area – research has thrown up little of concrete value.

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  • Gunmaker

    British gunmakers thrived in the 1800s.

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  • Flax Dresser

    The flax dresser used a hackle to separate the coarse bit of flax in preparation for the spinner.

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  • Fellmonger

    A fellmonger is basically a dealer in hides and skins

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  • Farm Bailiff

    The Farm Bailiff was employed by an estate owner, and his main task was to oversee the tenant farmers making sure that rent was paid and farms were well looked after – so basically a farm manager, and he did have the power to evict any tenants that were not up to the mark.

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  • Drover

    Before the onset of motorised transport, livestock had no option but to walk from their farm to their destination – be it a market in a nearby town or long distance to London to help feed the ever growing population.

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  • Dressmaker

    Dressmakers, also known as Seamstresses, along with Milliners, were considered to be at the top end of women’s employment and most Herefordshire villages had one or more.

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  • Domestic Servants

    Domestic Servants were vital for the efficient running of large households

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  • Currier

    Men involved in the treatment of leather to make it soft, waterproof and durable.

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  • Coppicer

    Wood in the nineteenth century was a valuable and important commodity, and Coppicers helped to provide continuous and renewable supplies.

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  • Cooper

    Also known as a Backmaker, These skilled craftsmen were to be found all over Herefordshire

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  • Coachman

    The larger and wealthier households employed a Coachman, probably along with a groom.

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  • Coachbuilders

    Maker of all manner of carriages, ranging from small light pony traps to large and ornate affairs requiring four or six horses to pull them. Ledbury had a very successful coach building firm in the shape of Hopkins Coachbuilders.

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  • Charwoman

    The “Char” in Charwoman originated from the word chore.

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  • Cabinet Maker

    The rural Cabinet Maker was probably rather different to their City counterparts, and rather than producing the fine furniture much sought after by the well off,  their products tended to be functional more than aesthetically pleasing.

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  • Butler

    The name of Butler comes from the French bouteillier – one who was in charge of wines etc. in the household.

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  • Butcher

    One who slaughtered, prepared and sold meat. A Caddy Butcher dealt in horse meat.

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  • Bridgeman

    Toll taker at bridges, sometimes called “Bridger”

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  • Brickmaker

    From the early 17th century bricks began to be used in house building and Herefordshire had a great many brickworks.

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  • Brewer

    Each of the largest towns in Herefordshire had more than one brewery, and many of the villages had small brewing operations going in in the cottages.

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  • Blacksmiths

    Sometimes shortened to “Smith”, Blacksmiths were extremely important in rural Herefordshire, and at least one forge was to be found in most villages but sometimes two or three as there was ample work for all

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  • Beadle

    The Beadle was a minor parish official.

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  • Basket Weavers

    Basket making has changed little over the years.

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  • Agricultural Labourers

    Farm labourers came under a general umbrella, but the range of talent and skills from man to man varied considerably.

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  • Accoucheur

    Male midwife – See the section on Croft Castle, Herefordshire for an example; albeit an ultimately tragic one.

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As a postscript,  the following list of occupations in Britain in the 19th century are somewhat amusing:

Colourist of artificial fish


Knight of the Thimble

Sampler of drugs

Disinfector of railways

Fatuous pauper

Examiner of underclothing


Invisible net maker

Count as female

Electric bath attendant

Fish bender

Proprietor of midgets

Goldfish catcher

Fifty two years an imbecile

Cow banger

Knocker up of work people

Running about

Maker of sand views

Grape dryer

Gymnast to house painter

Beef twister

Turnip shepherd

Random waller





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