A discussion I had actually via some friends recently around names made me think of…well…names. But particularly, the beginnings and meanings of what are called ‘work-related surnames’. That is, the surnames that are acquired from miscellaneous historic occupations. The adhering to posting is a list of some of the even more common occupational surnames that have sprouted up over the centuries, and the origins of the names and the professions which they spring from. Maybe your surname’s in below somewhere?


As in: Thomas Bowyer (witness in the ‘Jack the Ripper’ murders of 1888).

You are watching: Were all occupational names given literally the occupation of the person given the name?

If your surname is Bowyer, possibilities are that centuries back, among your ancestors was energetic in the manufacture of the high-powered weapon of the Middle Ages. The longbow. When the longbow was in its prime, it was a lot of often made of the lumber of the Yew tree. Bowstrings would’ve been made from linen or in also older times, pet sibrand-new. Not for nopoint was it referred to as the longbow, but. For maximum range, speed and penetrating pressure, longbows were made as significant as feasible, regularly being the same size as the perchild that swarm it. So a bow could be anywhere from five to six feet in elevation.


As in: Rhett Butler (Character in ‘Gone with the Wind‘; of ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t offer a damn!’ fame).

The surname ‘Butler’ comes from the French word ‘Butuiller’, or ‘bottler’. The ‘Butler’ was therefore the guy who looked after bottles…of wine! It’s from the very same root and also the very same word that we gain the occupation of ‘Butler’ as a residential servant. Although in well-known culture, the Butler is the all-seeing, all-knowing, discreet and also conniving head of the household servanattempt, the article actually started out as being the official custodian of the home’s wine-cellar wbelow the bottles that gave him his title were stored.


As in: Raymond Chandler (Famous Amerideserve to crime-fiction writer).

If your name’s Chandler or if your last name’s chandler, then when upon a time, fairly perhaps, a lengthy time back, your ancestors operated in the lighting market. A ‘chandler’ was the name given to a maker of candles. From which we likewise gain the word ‘Chandelier’. The chandler’s project was to manufacture candles using wicks and also wax (either herbal beeswax or cheaper tpermit, a kind of waxy substance obtained from…animal fat!). Candles were made in a range of ways. Longer stick-candles were usually made by tying the wicks to wooden frames and suspending the frames over vats of molten wax. Dipping the candle-wicks into the warm wax over and also over and raising them out after each dipping caused the wicks to be coated in wax. The wax then dried and the candles were dipped again…and also again…and also aacquire.

This was a long, sluggish procedure but it produced nice, slender candles. The other method for candlemaking wregarding reduced the wicks right into the middle of a mold and also to just pour the candle-wax right into the mold approximately the wick. This was used to make larger candles, yet putting boiling hot liquid wax can be extremely dangerous. Anyone who’s ever before had wax get onto their hands while trying to blow out those huge fat ornapsychological pillar-candles will understand how painful a wax-burn have the right to be!


As in: Peter F. Collier (of ‘Collier’s Weekly‘ fame)

The title ‘Collier’ was offered to any perchild who had actually anything to do through coal. Whether he mined it, offered it, dug it out of the ground or even made charcoal (by burning wood). The collier had an important task. Coal, in its various develops and varities, was necessary for the majority of things. Blacksmiths forced coal to fire their forges, manufacturers of gunpowder required specially-made ‘charcoal’ (cruburned to a powder) to mix with potassium nitrate and also sulphur to create old-fashioned gunpowder, and plain residences compelled tons of coal to fire stoves and also fireplaces.


As in: Merian Caldwell Cooper (Amerihave the right to filmmaker that developed the 1933 timeless ‘King Kong’).

‘Cooper’ is another job-related name. In older times, the ‘cooper’ was the male who made barrels…you know, the stuff that wine’s stored in? The area he functioned in was called the cooperage. Words ‘Cooper’ comes from the Dutch word ‘Kup‘, definition ‘tub’.

Any negotiation, village, city or town of substantial dimension was likely to have at leastern one cooperage and also at leastern one cooper. Barrels were compelled for a lot of things, and also not simply wine. In 1605, the Gunpowder Plotters stored eighteenager hundredweight (practically a ton!) of black gunpowder in barrels in the undercroft of the Housage of Lords in London, in their epic (but failed) assassination-attempt of James I of England also. Two hundred years later on in 1805, the cooper’s craft was provided to store something else. When Lord Hoproportion Nelson was eliminated by a sniper’s bullet in the time of the Battle of Trafalgar, his corpse was stuffed into a barrel and also was kept in the time of the voyage residence to England also for his funeral, by being subunified in brandy!


As in: William Faulkner (American writer).

If your surname is ‘Falconer’ or it’s variation, ‘Faulkner’, then it might be possible, once upon a time, a long time ago, that among your ancestors could, simply can, have had actually an extremely distinct task. Not a really comfortable job. But absolutely one that was incredibly distinct.

A falconer is a man who trains, looks after and also handles a falcon. One of these things:


Isn’t he simply the most adorable, cuddly, snuggly bit birdie?

This is a falcon. The falcon is a bird of prey that strikes tiny game. Due to the fact that of their speed (grvery own Falcons can dive at a speed of approximately 2 hundred miles an hour!), stamina and also predatory nature, they were prized as hunting-birds by medieval aristocracy. Falcons were captured, trained and then trained to hunt little game such as smaller birds and rabbits for their masters. The perchild that looked after the falcons was referred to as the falconer. His project involved a huge variety of duties all regarded this extremely prized bird. Duties which contained real estate the birds, feeding them, exercising them, delivering them around (such prized birds would certainly never before dare sully their imperial wings by flapping through widespread air!) and also of course, recovering any type of prey or quarry that the falcon had managed to capture. Given that only majesties and also monarchs were enabled to hunt via falcons, being a falconer supposed that you were a servant of someone wealthy and powerful. Of course, failing to look after your master’s falcons might lead to some nasty punishments. If the falcon went missing, you, as the falconer, had actually to seek it. And even if you found it, the falcon was then enabled to remove 6oz. (about a 3rd of a pound) of flesh from your body as punishment! Ouch!


As in: Dustin Fletcher (Australian footround player).

A fletcher is an arrowmaker. The name comes from the ‘fletching’ that the arrowmaker attaches to the ends of the arrow-shafts. Fletching being the nice, colourful bits of bird-feather which he sticks on the ends, to provide the arrows the required aerodynamic properties to spin in the air and be as exact as feasible. Before the rise of guns in the Early Modern duration, the fletcher had the crucial job of developing the the majority of advanced and lethal form of ammunition then in visibility. Bowmales had actually to train every single weekend for hrs at a time to ready themselves for fight. An arrowhead tipped with a steel suggest can be fired via sufficient pressure to pierce plate-armour, chainmail and pass through flesh. In the Battle of Hastings, King Harold of the Anglo-Saxons was eliminated by an arrow to the eye. That is the fletcher’s craft at occupational.


As in: Kurt Fuller (Amerideserve to actor).

‘Fuller’ is among the less obvious job-related names that has endured through the centuries. A fuller was a cloth-worker. A worker who was inhabited in the job of ‘fulling’. Fulling is the act of cleansing freshly-wstove (yet dirty) towel, of impurities such as aminal-oils, dirt, grit or various other gunk, and also binding the fibres of the fabric together to make it thicker and also stronger. Traditionally, the fabric was wstove wool. And traditionally, people employed as fullers were provided the privilege (probably) of being enabled as many type of urinary bathroom breaks as ever they might wish!


Because fulling offered to be done by dumping the towel into an open tub and then drenching it in gallons of stale piss! The chemicals in huguy urine (especially, the ammonia, which gives it that delightful scent) help flush out the impurities in the fabric and binds the fibres of the fabric together to make it more powerful. Fortunately, a cleaner technique of fulling including a form of earth (called ‘Fuller’s Clay’), reput urinal fulling, which in turn, was replaced by a a lot, much cleaner fulling tool – soap!


As in: Anita Page (Amerideserve to actress).

A ‘page’ is a knight in training. In medieval times, armies had actually footsoldiers, mounties, archers and also knights. Knights were the elite, specially-trained soldiers that battled on horseago. The training was gruelling to say the least. To come to be a knight, you went with 3 steras of training. Starting at age 7, you became a web page, apprenticed to a complete knight. You would be sent out to live through the knight and also with the regional noble household. Obviously, to carry out this, your household had actually to be pretty affluent, as well.

Because you (or your family) phelp for everything. That ‘everything’ contained the chainmail, the sword, the shield, the steed and of course, the shining armour. For seven years, a web page learnt analysis, creating, music, languages, how to behave in a imperial or noble court, and then he entered his formal training at the age of 14. From 14 to 21, he was a squire. As a squire, he learnt exactly how to clean, repair, take off, put on, wear and also relocate approximately in armour. He learnt exactly how to fight on horseearlier and also on foot. He would certainly wear his armour as often as feasible to acquire provided to the weight. A suit of armour might weigh upwards of 100 pounds…not including the sword…scabbard…woolen undershirt…chainmail…and also shield. If you had actually prrange that you were brave, solid and also intelligent sufficient, or had actually rendered a suitably courageous organization, you would be knighted at some time after your 21st birthday.


As in: Adam Sandler (Amerihave the right to actor).

Derived from the Hebrew word “Sandlar” – “Sandal-maker” or “Shoemaker”. In times past, a shoemaker was a experienced and valued perchild. The manufacture of top quality footwear was important in times as soon as roads were bit more than dirt tracks and the majority of highways were rivers of filth and muck. Then, as currently, the majority of shoes were made of leather.


As in: Tom Sawyer (Fictional character created by Mark Twain).

In older times, a ‘sawyer’ was a woodworker. More exactly, he was a…sawyer. A man that functioned via a wood-saw to reduced lengthy slats of wood (planks!) for civilization to use in structure and the manufacture of furniture and also various other essential items made of wood (such as carts, gateways, fences and also so-on). The sawyer profession still exists today, yet with the Industrial Rdevelopment and also the arrival of vapor and also water-powered sawmills with enormous automatic saws, it’s not as prevalent as what it once was. Sawyers regularly operated in pairs bereason the logs they reduced were so large and the huge saws that they offered, so incredibly lengthy and also hefty.

To observed a plank, a all set log was placed over a pit and was hosted in location by wooden beams referred to as ‘dogs’. It’s from right here that we get the expressions “height dog” and “underdog”. The ‘height dog’ was the sawyer who was ‘atop the dogs’ or external the pit, holding the peak finish of the saw. The ‘underdog’ was the man dvery own in the pit, holding the bottom half of the saw, fairly literally ‘under the dogs’. It was the top dog’s job to overview the sawteeth. It was the underdog’s task to apply push on the downwards strokes, and to lift the witnessed on the upwards strokes. He was the underdog in more methods than one, though. All the sawdust that came from the constant abrasion of the sawteeth would fall into the pit and also get everywhere the underdog. Not a pleasant project.


As in: Christian Slater (American actor).

Related to the thatcher and also the tyler (or ’tiler’), the slater on was the guy who worked especially through a kind of rock…Slate…to tile the rooves of buildings. The qualities of slate implies that it deserve to be split right into thin sheets or plates. These plates or ‘shingles’ can then be hammered onto the roof in overlapping layers to create a leakproof roof.


As in: Dame Maggie Smith (British Actress).

Smith is among the most common surnames in the civilization. But what is a ‘Smith’?

A smith was a metalworker. Tright here are many type of kinds of smiths. Blacksmiths (that worked with iron and steel). Brownsmiths (who functioned via copper). Tinsmiths. Silversmiths. Goldsmiths. Locksmiths. The list is virtually endless. But practically without exception, a smith was a perchild who functioned in some means with metal. The location where a smith functioned, officially referred to as a ‘forge’ was regularly nickcalled just the ‘Smithy’, as in ‘the village smithy’. The blacksmith is frequently considered the king of the Smiths…and also the king of all artisans and also workers. The blacksmith was the guy who made the stuff that everyone else offered to make stuff with! He made the axes, the swords, the saws, hammers, nails, horseshoes, door-knockers, candleholders, knives, shovels…anypoint made of metal had to go through his hands first prior to someone else can usage it!

A tinsmith (one of the varieties of smiths) was additionally referred to as a ‘tinker’: Someone that fiddled about via small, metal family objects (such as pots, pans, ladles and also other prevalent household utensils).

But how does something choose ‘Smith’ have actually anything to execute with metal? The surname ‘Smith’ originates from the Old English word ‘Smite’. As in to ‘Smite them down!’. To ‘Smite’ someone or something literally intended to hit them. Since fifty percent a metalworker’s time is invested in beating the red warm metal to the correct shape before it cools (and becomes also difficult to work), the word ‘Smite’ was applied to their professions, which ultimately evolved to ‘Smith’, which is still supplied this day.

A lot of our expressions this particular day come from the humble village blacksmith. To ‘Strike while the Iron is Hot’. To go at somepoint ‘Hammer and Tongs’.


As in: Lady Diana Spencer (Princess Diana).

The surname ‘Spencer’ is originally of French beginning. It comes from the occupation of the ‘Dispencier‘, or the dispenser of provisions. The surname ‘Spencer’ is distinct in that it’s most likely among the few surnames that can be traced back to ONE person. That person being Robert d’Abbetot. d’Abbetot complied with King William (William the Conquerer) to England also throughout his occupation of the British Isles. His occupation was the imperial dispenser (of provisions and also materials for William’s armies). As such, his name was provided as “Robert le Dispencier’ (“Robert the Dispenser”). Robert inevitably adjusted his name to that of Robert le Dispensier as opposed to Robert d’Abbetot. Over the following generations, le Dispensier ended up being ‘Dispensier’, then ‘Spensier’ and eventually…’Spencer’.


As in: Bill Tanner (Character in the James Bond universe).

A tanner was a processor of leather, the product created from pet hides. The location in which he would certainly have operated was the tannery. Being a tanner was a damaging and also revolting job. For one, it associated stewing the cow-hides in vats of water and dog-droppings! The full tanning process went prefer this:

1. Stick cow-hides in vats of water and lime (the stuff you make old-style concrete out of, not the stuff that goes in your drink!) Let it soak. This loosens up all the hair on the hide.

2. Rerelocate the hide after two weeks’ soaking. Place the hide on a sloped board while you shave off all the hair and hair via a substantial knife.

3. Flip the hide over. Using an additional significant, scary knife, slice and also shave actually ameans all the fat on the inner-side of the hide.

4. Dunk the whole hide, totally free of hair, fur and fat, right into a substantial bath full of dog-doodies and water. Stew and simmer (literally. Tright here would certainly be a fire under the water-and-dog-poo pit to store things nice and hot) for a couple of weeks. Let old Fido’s bowel-motions and the bacteria that they included, occupational with the water to rerelocate the lime (from Tip 1) from the hide and soften up the skin until it’s nice and also floppy. Then, rerelocate the hide, hang it and leave it to dry.

All this made the leather nice and also soft and also pliable. And once you consider all the points that leather was supplied for back in the old days, this was a horrible, yet extremely necessary job. You essential leather for…shoes, aprons, belts, book-covers, desktops, razor-strops, gloves, bags, boxes…all manner of things!


As in: John Tyler (10th President of the United States of America).

The surname ‘Tyler’ comes from the occupation ‘tyler’. Or to be more precise…’Tiler’. As in the guy who installs tiles. In older times, the tyler was the man that repaired or mounted rooves (roof-tiles) in villages or communities where rooves were more typically made of slate shingles, clay tiles or wooden slats. In London, rooves used to be all made of dried grass which was stacked and also bundled onto the roof creating a thatched roof. In 1666, the Great Fire melted damn close to the entire center of tvery own to ashes. When the city was being rebuilt, Charles II decreed that no buildings were to be built of flammable materials, and definitely not with thatched rooves. Tylers around London must’ve made sacks of gold fulfilling all their orders; over 13,000 buildings were burnt to the ground throughout the 4 days the fire lasted.


As in: John Webster (17th century English playwright).

A webster, webber or weaver was a person that functioned via threads or towel, weaving the strands and also threads together to bond them and also make cloth. The strips of cloth or towel stretched across the frames of couches and chairs (which support the pincluded seat above) is still dubbed ‘webbing’ this day.


As in: Wilbur and also Orville Wbest (pioneer aviators).

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A ‘wright’ was an Old English word for a woodworker. Words ‘wright’ was therefore applied to occupations that traditionally made points out of timber, such as a ‘shipwright’ or a ‘wheelwright’. A builder of watercrafts and a manufacturer of cart and carriage-wheels.