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Dictionary of Ancient Occupations and Trades,
Ranks, Offices, and Titles

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new = Recent changes
as of 2014-10-04
bachelor
a journeyman
a craftsman who has not yet achieved master status
junior members of guilds or fraternities without their own business
badger
one who buys commodities and carries them elsewhere to sell; an itinerant dealer who acts as middleman between producer and consumer; a cadger, hawker, huckster.
cf kiddier
bailiff, bailie
civ. an officer of the court
Brit. a sheriff's officer who executed writs and processes
Brit. the agent or steward of a landlord
Brit. hist. the sovereign's representative in a district, esp. the chief officer of a hundred (=a subdivision of a county or shire, with its own court).
baker
one who bakes and sells breads, cakes, etc., esp. professionally. (bake=To cook by dry heat in an oven or on a hot surface without direct exposure to a flame.)
banneret
a knightly rank, often granted in the field for conspicuous valour
a knight fielding vassals under his own banner [BL]
barber-surgeon
one who shaves faces or heads and performs light surgery
bard
a minstrel or poet who glorifies the virtues of the people and chieftains [BL]
barker
obs A tanner. (=from the use of tree bark in the process). One that removes bark from trees or logs or prepares such for use in tanning.
An employee who stands before the entrance to a show, as at a carnival, and solicits customers with a loud, colorful sales spiel. [TFD]
barmaid (male~man)
one who sells food and drink at the bar of a tavern or hotel.
barman 
obs a pleader at the bar; a barrister.
one who prepares bars, esp of metal for the manufacture of wire.
barmaster Also: barge~, bergh~, bargh~
a local judge among miners.
barnard Also: bern~
a member of a gang of swindlers who acts as a decoy.
a lurking scoundrel; a sharper. (=a variant of berner)
baron
Brit a member of the lowest order of the British nobility; a similar member of another nationality.
an important businessman or other powerful or influential person (e.g. lumber ~, newspaper ~)
hist A person who held lands or property from the sovereign or other powerful overlord.
Baron of the Exchequer
Brit Title of the judges of the Court of the Exchequer, the president being Chief Baron. (=Barons of the Exchequer were so called because Barons of the Realm used to be employed in that office.) (Exchequer=That office or department of state managed by the Treasurer, the Justiciary and other judges of the King's Court and certain Barons apppointed by the King. Collection and administration of royal revenues with judicial determination of all causes relating to revenue. Later split into 2 branches, judicial and administrative.) [YG]
barons of the cinq ports
the civic officers of the jurisdictional liberty known as the Cinq Ports, who provided ships for the king's service in return for their privileges. (cinq ports=Sandwich, Dover, Hythe, Winchelsea and Hastings)
barrister
Brit one called to the bar and entitled to practice as an advocate in the higher courts (=barristers were gentlemen who did not accept pay (but received honoria by courtesy))
cf solicitor
bawd
a woman who runs a brothel.
baxter
a baker
bayman
a boatman of a particular locale or bay, as Chesapeake Bay, or Cape Cod Bay.
beach bum
informal a person who habitually loafs or idles on beaches
beach comber
a vagrant who lives by searching beaches for jetsam (=articles of value that wash up)
a seaside vacationer
beadle
Brit hist a minor parish officer who dealt with petty offenses.
Brit a ceremonial officer of a church, college, etc.
Sc a church office attending on the minister
beadsman pl: ~men
hist a pensioner provided for by a benefactor in return for prayers.
an inmate of an almshouse.
beatitude
eccl a title given patriarchs of the Orthodox Church.
bedel Also: bedell
Brit a university official with chiefly ceremonial duties. (=beadle)
bedellus
see beadle
BEEs
BEE
A bee was a social gathering where people would combine work, competition, and amusement. There were several variations:
  • apple- or apple-cut, a social gathering for the cutting up of apples for drying.
  • husking- for husking corn
  • quilting- a gathering to make quilts
  • raising- also historically called a "barn raising" or "rearing" in the U.K., describes a collective action of a community, in which a barn for one of the members is built or rebuilt collectively by members of the community. Barn raising was particularly common in 18th- and 19th-century rural North America.
  • sewing- a social event centered around sewing. Participants either work on a project together (such as a large quilt, or blocks of knitting for a blanket) or individual projects.
  • spelling- a contest in which competitors are eliminated as they fail to spell a given word correctly. Also called spelldown.
  • spinning- a communal gathering, typically of women, to spin wool.

Refreshments were traditionally served and the atmosphere party-like. These after-parties were considered execellent opportunity to scout available prospects for a spouse.

While participation in a communal bee was strictly voluntary, reciprocity was a powerful force. Absent valid cause, such as serious illness, non-participation in neighbor Jones's barn-raising would have reprocussions come autumn w/r/t your own corn harvest.

The need for such communal efforts petered out by the beginning of the 20th century -- except in special circumstances or traditions. The Amish and Mennonite cultures still hold bees, for example.

beefeater
a warder of the Tower of London; a Yeoman of the Guard
beekeeper
see apiarist
beggar
a person who begs, especially one who lives by begging. Beggars commonly employed different, well-defined tactics toward ensuring success, and were called by different names as with more legitimate pursuits: abram, dummerer, palliard, ruffler.
bellhop Also: bellboy Also: bellman
a hotel (usually liveried) porter who helps patrons with their luggage during check-in or check-out, but may also provide concierge-like services.
bencher
Brit. law a senior member of any of the Inns of Court.
Brit. Parl an occupant of a specified bench (e.g. backbencher).
Benedictines
monastic order founded by St. Benedictine. Monks take vows of personal poverty, chastity and obedience to their abbot and the Benedictine Rule.
benefactor
one who gives support, esp financial, to another or to a cause.
beneficiary
one who receives benefits, esp under the terms of a will, insurance policy, etc.
the holder of a benefice (=an income from a church office.)
berner
one who waited with a relay of hounds to intercept a hunted animal.
billy piecer
a clothier, (esp woollen) mill worker who collects broken yarn and joins it. [DOT]
bishop
eccl. a senior member of the Christian clergy, empowered to confer holy orders and usually in charge of a diocese. See table at Ecclesiastical hierarchy.
cf coadjutor bishop
black canons
common name for Augustinian Canons, derived from the color of their robes. [BL]
black monks
common name for members of the Benedictine Order derived from the color of the habits. [BL]
blacksmith
a smith who works in black metal. (=iron)
blender
a cloth-worker who blends various lots of raw wool together as a stage in cloth-making.
blessed
eccl worthy of worship; holy.
held in veneration; revered.
Blessed 
RCC used as a title before the name of one who has been beatified. (=Formally declared worthy of public veneration. A step (usually) leading to canonization (sainthood).)
block maker
a maker of pulley blocks (=a wooden holder of a set of one or more pulleys which, when threaded with a rope, make a block and tackle used to lift heavy loads, esp. aboard ship.)
bluejacket
nav. US & Brit. an enlisted seaman
a member of the West Yorkshire Yeomanry Cavalry
bluestocking
a female writer
boatman
one who works on, deals with or operates boats.
boatswain Also: bo's'n, bos'n, bosun
nav a warrant officer or petty officer in charge of a ship's rigging, anchors, cables and deck crew.
body snatcher
one who secretly disinters corpses from graveyards. (a/k/a "resurrectionist" or "resurrection-man".
bombardier
mil. an air crew member of a bomber, responsible for sighting and releasing bombs.
Brit. a non-commissioned officer in the artillary.
bon vivant, ~viveur
a person indulging in good living, a gourmand.
bondman (female~woman, bondservant)
a person obligated to service without wages
Related terms:
a serf bound to the land
servant
slave
a servile tenant to the lord of the manor
a person in thrall to another
vassal
bondsman 
a person who provides bond or surety for another
a male bondservant
bones
naut. a informal form of address for a ship's doctor. cf sawbones
bonesetter
med. a person who sets broken or dislocated bones, esp without being a certified physician.
boniface
an innkeeper
bookkeeper
one who keeps the accounts of a mercantile concern, public office, etc.
rare a hoarder of books; a book-miser [OED]
boor
a person with rude, clumsy manners with little refinement.
a peasant.
bootblack
a person who polishes boots and shoes.
bordar Also: bordarius, bordarii
a bondman
Brit Hist an unfree peasant with less land than villans. [DOME]
bowman1 /bōmən/
an archer
bowman2 /boumən/
naut a seaman who oars, rows or paddles at the bow of a boat.
bowyer
one who makes or sells bows for archery.
archaic an archer
boxer
sports one who fights with the fists as a sport.
boyar
Rus. nob. a member of the old Russian nobility. (=grandee)
brakeman
one who operates, inspects, or repairs brakes, esp a railroad employee who assists the conductor and checks on the operation of a train's brakes (=stopping mechanism).
brazier
one who works with brass
brever chg
a book-keeper, ledger-clerk
brewster (malebrewer)
a beer manufacturer; in medieval times, often a woman
bright
Norse "brýti"; see steward
brightsmith
a metal worker cf Whitesmith
brogger
a wool trader
brownsmith
see greensmith
buccaneer
naut a pirate, esp one who preyed upon Spanish shipping in the West Indies in the 17° century.
bureaucrat
civ an official of a bureaucracy.
an official inordinately fixated on procedure.
burgess
a (esp. vested) citizen of a town or borough.
Brit Hist an urban dweller, usually from the upper section of townsmen, whose tenure was based on a financial payment.
a holder either of land or a house in a borough, with special judicial privileges and a part to play in running the borough. [DOME]
burglar
one who commits burglary. (=the act of entering (e.g. a premises) with the intent to commit a theft.)
burgonmaster (burgomaster (Du.), burgomeister (G.))
civ a mayor of a city
burler
a worker who picks knots and other defects from cloth
burn-crust
joc. a baker
bursar
an official in charge of funds, as aboard ship, at a college, etc.; a treasurer.
bus boy
a restaurant employee who clears away dirty dishes, sets tables, and acts as assistant to a waiter or waitress.
busker
a street musician or public entertainer, esp. one who solicits money during the performance.
butcher
a person whose trade is dealing in meats
one who slaughters animals for food, in former times often itinterantly
a person who kills or has people killed indiscriminately or brutally
butler
dom a domestic servant with widely diverse duties commensurate with the size of the household, such as house steward, head waiter, or personal assistant to the householder. [DOT]
See also the International Guild of Professional Butlers.
buttier
Chief of the buttery (for wine, ale and beer). (=Because they were held in butts or casks.)
buzzard
an avaricious (=greedy) or otherwise unpleasant person
bwana
Swahile polite form of address in parts of Africa.
cf sahib
by-bidder
a person who bids at an auction to raise the price, usually for the owner of the item up for bid.

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