Monday, 20 June 2011

Occupations of the past

Our language is changing almost every day and what means one thing today meant something completely different to our ancestors. Occupations are a great example of that , for example take a look at this list of 10:

Carrier – I always think this conjures up an image of Typhoid Mary when I see it but it is in fact a person who had some sort of transport (normally horse drawn) that enabled them to move goods from one place to another. As transport became heavier and it was hauled from place to place – this eventually became what we know today as ‘Haulier’
Cottager – is an interesting one because it is mostly used to mean an agricultural worker living in property provided by his employer but it also has another application, and was often used to describe a coal merchant who had reached a certain level of success and bought his own property , usually a cottage – hence the phrase.
Currier - sounds like a modern day version of Carrier or someone who works with spices but it is in fact a groomer of animals, one who pays particular attention to the coat – normally of a horse but was also applied to the preparation of animal skins and hides in the manufacturing of goods.
Fell Monger – today we use the phrase monger to express an occupation involved in sales or promotion; Fish , Scare or War Monger for example. Fell is an old Norse word that broadly means ‘of the mountain’ and a Fell Monger was typically a dealer in animal hides and skins (of wild animals).
Hawker – Simply a Peddler or street seller, who carried his wares with him. Often used as a term of abuse.
Husbandman - One of the logical ones I think, and today it is applied to animals mostly; animal Husbandry  for example- animal care. In days gone by this would have been in area of great open space,  a farm  -  husbandman is a word used to describe a farmer and since this was largely the domain of a man – the name ‘Husband’  has the same origins and it is another word deriving from the Norse language. Husbandman the name applied to a farmer, often dealing with animals.
Journeyman – there is a certain irony in this word, especially given that today’s training institutes measure the achievements of trainees in distance travelled. A journeyman was someone experienced in a certain occupation and who had served his time, and his apprenticeship – a Journeyman.
Wagonette Proprietor – at the turn of the 20th century as opportunities were presented to people and ownership of certain things and buildings was acquired– the word proprietor was applied to that ownership. In this case it meant the owner of a Wagonette,   a small horse drawn carriage with seats facing sideways behind the driver – similar to the layout of a Tube Train – though clearly more hygienic !!!. These were mostly used to transport family mourners to a funeral.
Victualler – today we associate this phrase with the licensee of an establishment that sells alcoholic beverages. The term Victualler was used to describe a person who sold food and other items, even a grocer. Later in the Victorian era the name became synonymous with the provision of products to the Royal Navy.
Yeoman – is used to describe a farmer with a small landed estate, a minor land owner, one step down from ‘Gentry’  and one who is entitled to serve on Juries and vote on county issues.

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