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FAMILY TIES: Tracing your ancestry
by Dan Burrows

          The occupations of our ancestors and other relatives can tell a lot about our families.  For example, the first Burrows ancestor on my father's side of the family was sent from Coventry, England to London to become an apprentice butcher. He came to America just before the revolution, joined the American Army, and afterward changed his occupation to ship rigging in New York City, having been affiliated an iron monger.  After Thomas Burrows died, his wife and children came upstate again to Orange County and then onto Tioga County where Thomas Jr. and Daniel Burrows became farmers.  Thomas Jr.'s youngest son Josiah, my great great grandfather, farmed in Steuben County and was also a finish carpenter and justice of the peace.  Josiah's son Daniel decided to further his education and ended up an executive and large stock holder in the Borden's company traveling through upstate New York, northwestern Pennsylvania, and northern New Jersey before retiring and settling in Chester, New York.  Daniel's son Gail was a farmer first and then a butcher for many years with carpenter's ability on the side.  His son Daniel, my father, also took up the butcher's trade and did carpentry on the side.

          As in the repetition of occupations in my family shown above, similar trends seem to prevail in many family lines.  Trades were passed down from father to son or grandfather to grandson and these occupations all seem to play a part in what we do today.  Below is a list of occupations often referred to in death and marriage certificates, old documents, and family papers.  Some are self-explanatory while others could easily fool you.

Accomptant -- Accountant
Almoner -- Giver of charity to the needy
Amanuensis  -- Secretary or stenographer
Artificer -- A soldier mechanic who does repairs
Bailie -- Bailiff
Baxter -- Baker
Bluestocking -- Female writer
Boniface -- Keeper of an inn
Brazier -- One who works with brass
Brewster -- Beer manufacturer
Brightsmith -- Metal Worker
Burgonmaster -- Mayor
Caulker -- One who filled up cracks (in ships or windows) or  seams to make them watertight by using tar or  oakum-hemp fiber produced by taking old ropes apart
Chaisemaker -- Carriage maker
Chandler -- Dealer or trader; one who makes or sells candles;  retailer of groceries
XIV. Chiffonier -- Wig maker
Clark -- Clerk
Clerk -- Clergyman, cleric
Clicker -- The servant of a salesman who stood at the door to invite customers; one who received the matter in the  galley from the compositors and arranged it in due form ready for printing; one who makes eyelet holes in boots using a machine which clicked. 
Cohen -- Priest
Collier -- Coal miner
Colporteur -- Peddler of books
Cooper -- One who makes or repairs vessels made of staves & hoops,  such as casks, barrels, tubs, etc.
Cordwainer -- Shoemaker, originally any leather worker using leather from  Cordova/Cordoba in Spain
Costermonger -- Peddler of fruits and vegetables
Crocker -- Potter
Crowner -- Coroner
Currier -- One who dresses the coat of a horse with a curry comb; one who tanned leather by incorporating oil or grease
Docker -- Stevedore, dock worker who loads and unloads cargo
Dowser -- One who finds water using a rod or witching stick
Draper -- A dealer in dry goods
Drayman -- One who drives a long strong cart without fixed sides for  carrying heavy loads
Dresser -- A surgeon's assistant in a hospital
Drover -- One who drives cattle, sheep, etc. to market;  a dealer in cattle
Duffer -- Peddler
Factor -- Agent, commission merchant;  one who acts or transacts business for another; Scottish steward or bailiff of an estate
Farrier -- A blacksmith, one who shoes horses
Faulkner -- Falconer
Fell monger -- One who removes hair or wool from hides in preparation for leather making
Fletcher -- One who made bows and arrows
Fuller -- One who fulls cloth; one who shrinks and thickens woolen cloth by  moistening, heating, and pressing; one who cleans and finishes cloth
Goaler -- A keeper of the goal, a jailer
Glazier -- Window glass man
Hacker -- Maker of hoes
Hatcheler -- One who combed out or carded flax
Haymonger -- Dealer in hay
Hayward -- Keeper of fences
Higgler -- Itinerant peddler
Hillier -- Roof tiler
Hind -- A farm laborer
Hostler -- A groom who took care of horses, often at an inn
Hooker -- Reaper
Hooper -- One who made hoops for casks and barrels
Huckster -- Sells small wares
XV. Husbandman -- A farmer who cultivated the land
Jagger -- Fish peddler
Journeyman -- One who had served his apprenticeship and mastered his craft,  not bound to serve a master, but hired by the day
Joyner / Joiner -- A skilled carpenter
Keeler -- Bargeman
Kempster -- Wool comber
Lardner -- Keeper of the cupboard
Lavender -- Washer woman
Lederer -- Leather maker
Leech -- Physician
Longshoreman -- Stevedore
Lormer -- Maker of horse gear
Malender -- Farmer
Maltster -- Brewer
Manciple -- A steward
Mason -- Bricklayer
Mintmaster -- One who issued local currency
Monger -- Seller of goods (ale, fish)
Muleskinner -- Teamster
Neatherder -- Herds cows
Ordinary Keeper -- Innkeeper with fixed prices
XVI. Pattern Maker -- A maker of a clog shod with an iron ring. A clog was a wooden pole with a pattern cut into the end
Peregrinator -- Itinerant wanderer
Peruker -- A wig maker
Pettifogger -- A shyster lawyer
Pigman -- Crockery dealer
Plumber -- One who applied sheet lead for roofing and set lead frames for plain or stained glass windows.
Porter -- Door keeper
Puddler -- Wrought iron worker
Quarrier -- Quarry worker
Rigger -- Hoist tackle worker
Ripper -- Seller of fish
Roper -- Maker of rope or nets
Saddler -- One who makes, repairs or sells saddles or other furnishings for horses
Sawbones -- Physician
Sawyer -- One who saws; carpenter
Schumacker -- Shoemaker
Scribler -- A minor or worthless author
Scrivener -- Professional or public copyist or writer; notary public
XVII. Scrutiner -- Election judge
Shrieve -- Sheriff
Slater -- Roofer
Slopseller -- Seller of ready-made clothes in a slop shop
Snobscat / Snob -- One who repaired shoes
Sorter -- Tailor
Spinster -- A woman who spins or an unmarried woman
Spurrer -- Maker of spurs
Squire -- Country gentleman;  farm owner;  justice of peace
Stuff gown or stuff gownsman -- Junior barrister
Supercargo -- Officer on merchant ship who is in charge of cargo and the commercial concerns of the ship
Tanner -- One who tans (cures) animal hides into leather
Tapley -- One who puts the tap in an ale cask
Tasker -- Reaper
Teamster -- One who drives a team for hauling
Thatcher -- Roofer
Tide waiter -- Customs inspector
Tinker -- An itinerant tin pot and pan seller and repairman
Tipstaff -- Policeman
Travers -- Toll bridge collection
Tucker -- Cleaner of cloth goods
Turner -- A person who turns wood on a lathe into spindles
Victualer -- A tavern keeper, or one who provides an army, navy, or ship with food supplies
Vulcan -- Blacksmith
Wagoner -- Teamster not for hire
Wainwright -- Wagon maker
Waiter -- Customs officer or tide waiter; one who waited on the tide to collect duty on goods brought in
Waterman -- Boatman who plies for hire
Webster -- Operator of looms
Wharfinger -- Owner of a wharf
Wheelwright -- One who made or repaired wheels; wheeled carriages, etc.
Whitesmith -- Tinsmith; worker of iron who finishes or polishes the work
Whitewing -- Street sweeper 
Whitster -- Bleach of cloth
Wright -- Workman, especially a construction worker
Yeoman -- Farmer who owns his own land 


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