L .
LACE DRAWER Person employed in lace making, drawing out threads, usually a child
LACE MASTER OR MISTRESS Person who employed lace makers either in the home or in a factory
LACE RUNNER A young person who embroidered patterns onto lace
LACEING OR LACER Huge, Southwest England
LACEMAN Lace dealer. Bought lace from lace makers, to whom he has sold the thread, and took it to the lace markets
LACEWOMAN Lady's maid
LADY DAY 25th March, when contracts were made or terminated
LAETARE 4th Sunday in Lent
LAGRAETMAN A local constable [Lawrightman]
LAIR A grave, burial plot in a graveyard [Scotland]
LAIRY Weary, tired, Wales
LAKE Play, mid North England
LAMMAS 1st August
LANARY Wool store
LANCER Cavalryman
LAND WAITER Customs officer who inspected landed goods
LANDSMAN Seaman on his maiden voyage
LANKY Lancashire or person from that county, Northwest England
LAPIDARY Person who cuts, polishes and engraves precious stones
LARDNER Person who maintained a pantry/cupboard
LAST Twelve sacks
LASTER Cobbler, maker of shoes with a last [a wooden foot-shaped block]
LATH RENDER[ER] Plasterer's assistant who made the first coat of plaster onto laths on a floor or ceiling
LATTENER Skilled metal worker who worked with latten, an alloy similar to brass
LAUDANUM Tincture of opium
LAUNDRESS Washerwoman, washer of linen
LAVENDER Washerwoman, from French `laver,' to wash
LAYER Paper-maker in a papermill
LAYLAND Pasture land
LEAVELOOKER Food inspector at a market
LEDERER Leathermaker
LEECH Physician
LEGGER Canal boatman who `walked' a canalboat through a tunnel [lying on his back pushing with his feet on the tunnel roof.] Also a horse marine.
LEIGHTONWARD Gardener [Leighton = Garden]
LETTER CARRIER Early postman, 18th century. The Post Office appointed many letter carriers in 1722 to deliver mail house to house
LEVELLERS Political group, mainly soldiers, during the Civil Wars, who pressed for reforms under the leadership of John Lilburne
LICENCED VICTUALLER Person who sold alcohol
LIEF As soon as, Midlands
LIGHTBOB Light infantry soldier
LIGHTERMAN Boatman on a lighter, a large open flat-bottomed boat which loaded and unloaded sea-going vessels in a harbour
LIMNER Illuminator of books. A painter or drawer.
LINENER Linen draper or shirtmaker
LINER OR LYNER Flax dresser
LINK Eight inches
LINKBOY, LINKERBOY OR LINKERMAN Person who carried a link [torch] to lead people through city streets at night for a fee. Held a licence from the early 19th century
LINKERMAN General manservant, late 19th century
LIPPY Half a gallon, Scotland
LISH Agile or fit, Northwest England
LITTERMAN Horse groom
LOADSMAN Ships's pilot
LOBBY GOBBLER Native of Leigh, from a stew called Lobscouse, Northwest England
LOBLOLLY BOY Errand boy or surgeon's assistant on a ship
LOCK KEEPER Inspector or supervisor of canal locks
LOCK-JAW Tetanus
LODGER Person provided with accommodation but not meals
LOG WOOD GRINDER Person who made a dye from logwood which was used in textiles
LOMBARD Banker or money lender
LONG SONG SELLER Person who sold popular songsheets on yard-long papers in the street
LONGSHOREMAN A stevedore, person who unloaded or loaded ships
LONGSHOREMAN Fisherman who caught catches from shore, or close to the shore
LORIMER, LORMER OR LORINER Also spurrier. Made spits, bridles and other metal parts of a horse harness... Bridlemaker
LORIMER, LORMER OR LORINER Person who worked in wrought iron, or made small ironware
LONK Hungry, Wales
LOON, LOONIE Boy or lad, Scotland
LOSE To miss [ie, lose the bus], Wales
LOTSELLER Street seller
LOUP Run and jump, Scotland
LOVE DAYS Days appointed in medieval times for the clergy to arbitrate and settle disputes, as they were supposedly `amicable' days
LUDDITESUnemployed workers who rioted and ransacked factories in the Midlands, fearing for their futures with the introduction of machinery 1811-1816
LUG Ear, Northwest England and mid North England
LUM A chimney, Scotland
LUM SWOOPER Chimney sweep, Scotland
LUMPER Dock labourer who unloaded timber cargoes, employed by a master lumper, not the dock company
LUMPER Person who produced fine grain salt from salt moulded into lumps
LUNGS Alchemist's servant who fanned a fire
M .
MACARONIS Dandies who belonged to a `Macaroni Club' in London about 1760, and who partook in gambling, drinking and duelling. The name originated from a trip some of them made to Italy where they gained a liking for pasta
MADERER Person who harvested and sold garlic
MAIL GUARD An armed man, often a former soldier, who guarded mail coaches. Later Post Office guards were formalised
MAISE MAKER Person who made measures for weighing herring catches
MAJOR A person of full age
MAKEM Inhabitants of Sunderland [possibly originating from shipbuilding industry: Makem ships and takem down the river], NE England
MAKER-UP Person who assembled garments to custonmer's requirements, or a chemist, or a paraffin agent
MALEMAKER OR MALER Person who made travelling bags [males]. The term was adopted by the Royal mail from the large mail bags used
MALSTER/MALTMAN Person who prepared malt for the brewing industry
MAMGU [MAMGHEE] Grandmother, Wales
MANCHESTER MAN Late 18th century, a wholesale travelling salesman trading between factories and shops with goods on packhorses. Either independent or employed by the factory
MANGLE KEEPER Woman who hired mangles for a fee
MANGO Slave dealer
MANTLE FOREWOMAN A person highly skilled in dressmaking
MANTUA MAKERDressmaker, from `Mantua,' a woman's loose gown
MARBLER Person who stained paper or other material with a marbled effect, often seen lining book covers
MARD-ARSE Soft, babyish, mid North England
MARDY Grumpy or moody, NW England
MARINE STORE DEALER Licensed broker in north England and Scotland. Bought, graded, repaired and sold waste materials of all kinds. In Scotland, denoted a ships chandler
MARINER Seaman in the merchant marine with a rank equivalent to the Royal Navy rank of able seaman
MARRER Workmate, NE England
MARSHALL Horse doctor or shoesmith
MARSHMAN Man employed by various landowners to look after marshlands and to tend animals grazing there, count stock morning and night, and to see if any animals had fallen in the dykes
MARTINMAS 11th November
MASH To brew tea, Midlands
MASHMAKER Person who made mash-vats or mashels for mixing malt
MASON Stonecutter or stone dresser
MASTER In the guild of crafts, one of three grades or skills. Also a captain of a vessel at sea
MASTER LUMPERPerson who contracted labourers at a cheap rate, often a publican
MASTER MARINER Sea captain in merchant marine
MATCHET FORGER Knifemaker [from machete]
MEALMAN Dealer in meal or flour
MELDER Corn miller
MERCER Cloth seller, mostly of silks and velvets. Also a draper
MERK/MARK 13/4 pence, Scotland
METRIST Balladmonger
MICHAELMAS 29th Septemeber
MIDDLINGS Coarse meal usually fed to cattle
MILE 1760 yards
MILE 2240 yards, Ireland
MILLERESS Miller's wife
MILLINER Seller of fancy wares, items of apparel, maker of ladies' hats
MILLPECK Person who sharpened mill stones
MILLWRIGHT Person who designed or built mills, mill machinery
MILSTONE INSPECTOR Vagrant, or `gentleman of the road'
MINOR A person under the age of 21 years
MINTMAKER OR MINTMASTER Issuer of local currency
MITCH OR MOOCH Play truant, Wales
MIXER Bartender
MIZZLE Light rain, Scotland
MOCADO WEAVER Weaver of woollen cloth used for making clothing in 16th and 17th centuries. Also called mock velvet
MOGGY A cat, except in West Lancashire, where it is a mouse, NW England
MOITHER Annoy, NW England
MOLLY MAGUIRES Male members of an Irish secret society in 1843 who dressed as women to surprise and scare off rent collectors, fighting against evictions
MONDAYMAN Also cottager. Person who worked for a landowner on Mondays in lieu of rent
MONGER A dealer in goods, whether fish, iron etc
MONTHLY NURSE Nurse who attended women in the first month after a baby's birth
MOONLIGHTERS An Irish secret society in the late 19th century, also referring to people who leave their home in the middle of the night to avoid rents, hence `Moonlight Flit.'
MOOTMAN Law Student
MORT A lot, SW England
MORT-CLOTHThe pall carried over the coffin at a funeral
MORTAL Drunk, NE England
MORTIFICATION Bequest of property, usually for charity
MOSS TROOPERS Bandits who roamed the boggy border lands between England and Scotland from the mid 17th century
MOULDER Person who makes moulds or castings, or a brickmaker
MOULDER RUNNER Assistant to a pottery moulder, a young boy who ran between master and drying oven carrying full moulds and returning with empty ones
MOUNTEBANK Person who sold ineffective patent medicines
MOVEABLE ESTATE Property which is not heritable, and which passes to the next of kin
M.S. Maiden Surname, Merchant Service or Male Servant
MUD-LARKS 19th century nickname for scavengers at low tide on the Thames. In general a sewer cleaner, or riverbank scavenger
MUFFIN MAKER A muffin baker, or a pottery worker, who made a special variety of plate known as a muffin
MUFFIN MAN Person who travelled and sold muffins
MUGSELLER Person who dealt in cups and mugs
MULETEER Muledriver
MULLER Miller, Scotland
MUMCHANCE Dejectedly or bored, Midlands
MUMMER Actor, Masquerador
MUTCHKIN About a pint, Scotland
NAIL Two and a quarter inches
NAILOR Card nailor
NAIN [NINE] Grandmother, Wales
NAPERER Royal servant in charge of table linen
NAPIER Person in charge of table linen in a manor house
NARKED, GOT A NARK ON Annoyed, Midlands
NARROW WEAVER Weaver of ribbons, tapes etc. Also ribbon weaver
NATURAL Illegitimate
NAVIGATOR OR NAVIGOR Sailor in charge of navigation. Also a labourer who cut canals, and later a worker in railway construction
NAZZY Bad-tempered, NW England
NEATHERD[ER] Cow herder
NEB Nose, mid North England
NEBBIN OR NEBBY Nosey, mid North England
NECESSARY WOMAN Servant responsible for the empting and cleaning of chamber pots
NECKER Person who fed cardboad into the machine which folds boxes
NEDELLER Needle maker
NEEDLE POINTER A person who did needlepoint work, or, in needlemaking, a filer or fettler
NEPHEW Illegitimate son of a Clergyman
NESH Cold, soft, mid North England
NETTER Person who made nets
NETTIE Toilet, NE England
NETTLE RASH Urticaria or hives
NEVOY Nephew [Scotland]
NIGHT SOILMAN OR NIGHTMAN Person who emptied cesspits, ashpits and backyard toileys
NIGHTWALKER Nightwatchman or bellman
NIP Measure of spirits, Scotland
NIPPER Lorry boy, a young person employed by the carter or wagoner to assist him in collection and delivery of goods
NOBLE Old coin 6/8 pence
NOGGIN Liquid measure equal to quarter pint, or a small cup
NOGGIN A thick slice of bread, Midlands
NOON TENDER Person who guarded goods on a quay whilst officers had lunch
NOTARY OR NOTERER Person authorised to draw up or attest to contracts, wills, deeds etc, and to protest bills of exchange
NOUSE Common sense, NW England
NOWT Nothing, mid North England
NYAFF Idiot, Scotland
OCCUPIER Tradesman
OE/OI/OY/OYE Grandson or nephew [Scotland]
OFF Hostile or angry, Wales
OILMAN Person who sold oil for lamps
OLITOR A kitchen gardener [olitory, a kitchen garden]
OLLAMH Irish doctor
ONSTEAD Farmstead, Scotland
ORCADIAN Orkney Islander
ORDERLY Soldier who served an officer
ORRERY MAKER Person who made a mechanical apparatus which displayed the movement of planets, named for the inventor, the Earl of Orrery
ORRICE WEAVER Designer of lace patterns to be woven with silk thread and silk
OSIER PEELER Person who removed bark from willow rods or osiers, which were used in basketry. Usually women or children. Also withy peelers
OSTIARY Monastery door keeper
OSTLER Hostler
OUNCE Weight measurement
OUT CRIER Auctioneer
OUTWITH Outside, beyond
OUTWORKER Person who worked at home
OVERLAIDChild accidentally smothered in parent's bed
OVERLOOKER Superintendent or overseer, particularly ion the textile mills. Could be a hereditary position
OVERMAN Supervisor in a coal mine who checked workers and the quality of the coal
OWLER Person associated with smuggling, especially sheep or wool
OWT Something, anything, mid North England
P .
PACK 240 Pounds
PACK O' SAFTNESS A load of nonsense, Midlands
PACK THREAD SPINNER Person who made machined thread or twince.
PACKER Person who packs pickles, herrings etc
PAD MAKER Person who made small baskets
PAIL To beat, Midlands
PAINTER'S PARALYSIS Lead poisoning, also called drop wrist.
PAINTESS Woman in a pottery who handpainted pieces.
PALINGMAN A fishmonger, especially of eels.
PALISTER Park keeper
PALLATIC Drunk, NE England
PALSY Paralysis
PAND/PAWN Pledge, usually a sum of money, found in old parish register marriage entries, Scotland
PANEL/PANNEL Prisoner at the bar
PANNIER MAN Fishmonger
PANNIFEX Person who worked in the clothing trade
PANSMITH Metal worker, especially maker of pans
PANTER Person who stocked a pantry
PAPERER Person in the needletrade who set needles into paper cases according to size, ready for sale
PAPER STAINER Person who coloured paper, by machine, or by hand
PARDONER Person who sold indulgences to raise funds for religious works
PARGETER Ornamental plasterer
PARKER Person responsible for a hunting or game park
PARKY Cold, Mid North England
PASSAGE KEEPER Person who kept alleyways tidy
PASTELER Pastry chef
PASTOR Shepherd
PATER Father
PATTEN MAKERPerson who made clogs, or wooden soles [pattens] to protect normal shoes from the wet
PAVER/PAVIOUR Person who laid paving stones
PAVYLER Person who erected tents or pavilions
PECH To pant or puff, Scotland
PECK Two gallons
PEDANT Schoolmaster
PEDASCULE Schoolmaster
PEDLAR/PEDLER Itinerant person who bought and sold goods
PEELER Policeman, from Sir Robert Peel, Police force founder
PEELIE-WALLY Pale, sickly looking, weak, Scotland
PEEVER Pepper seller
PEG IT To run away, Midlands
PELTERER Person who worked with pelts [skins]
PENDICLER Inferior tenant
PENNY Copper coin
PENNY WEDDING Wedding at which guests gave money towards food and drink
PERCH 5 Yards, Pole
PERCHEMEAR Parchment maker
PEREGRINATOR Itinerant worker
PESSONER Fishmonger
PETER MAN Fisherman
PETTIFOGGER Low class lawyer
PETTY Toilet, Wales
PETTY CHAPAN Pedlar, itinerant trader
PEW OPENER Person hired to open doors to private pews in church
PHILOSOPHICAL INSTRUMENT MAKER Craftsman who made scientific instruments
PHRENOLOGISTPerson who assessed another's character based on the bumps on their head: `Reading the Bumps.'
PICKER Person who cast the shuttle on a loom
PICKLE A small quantity, NE England
PIECE BROKER Person who sold material remnants
PIECE WORKER Clothing worker, oftern working from home, paid for the number of pieces completed rather than by the hours. Later also applied to mill workers who m ade only one section of a garment.
PIECEMASTER Middleman between employer and employee who handed out the piecework
PIECER OR PIECENER A person in a spinning mill, usually a child, who pieced together broken threads
PIGMAKER Person who made `pig' iron [cast iron]. Also a pottery worker
PIGMAN Crockery seller, or a pig breeder or farmer
PIKEMANA miller's assistant, person who worked a turnpike, or a soldier who carried a pike [Spear-like weapon]
PIKER Vagrant
PILL BOX BOTTOMER OR LIDDER In the pottery trade, person who made parts of a pill box
PILM Dust, Wales
PILOT Shipe steersman
PIN Half a firkin
PINDER Dog catcher, pound keeper, person in charge of the pinfold [a pound for stray animals]
PINER Labourer
PINNER Pin maker
PINNER UP Dressmaker's assistant, or a person who sold broadsheets or ballads in the street
PINT Four Gills
PIPE 126 Gallons
PIPER Innkeeper
PIT BROW LASS Female who worked on the surface in a coal mine
PITCHING Settling of snow, SW England
PITHER To potter about, Midlands
PITMAN Coal miner
PITMATIC A coalminers' dialect NE England
PLAIN WORKER Person who produced sewing without embroidery
PLAITER Person who made straw plaits in hat-making
PLANKER Person who `planks' or kneads the body of a hat during felting
PLAYDERER Plaid maker
PLEADER Barrister
PLEDGEE Pawnbroker
PLEDGER Pawnbroker's customer
PLOWWRIGHT Person who makes or repairs ploughs
PLUFF Unwell, SW England
PLUMASSIER OR PLUMER Person who made or sold ornamental feathers [plumes]
PLUMBER Lead worker, but came to be the term for a person who maintains pipes or drains
PO FAGGED Exhausted, NW England
POINTER Person who sharpened needles or pins
POINTMAKER/POINTMAN Person who made the tips of laces
POINTSMAN Railway worker who operated the points
POKE Bag, NE England
POLDAVE WORKER Maker of poldave, a coarse fabric
POLE 16 Feet
POLEMAN Surveyor's assistant
POLICIES Grounds of a house [Scotland]
PONDERATOR Inspector of weights and measures
PONY DRIVER Young person in charge of a coalpit pony used to pull coal tubs
PORTIONER Proprietor of a small feu [Scotland]
PORTMANTEAU MAKER Person who made large leather trunks to store clothing in
POSTER Person who worked in quarries breaking rocks
POSTILLION Person who attached extra horses to coaches or wagons for hill climbing, or who changed horses on long distance coach journeys
POT BURNER Person who fired pots in a furnace
POTATO BADGER Potato seller
POTCH To foretstall, Midlands
POTBOY/POTMAN Person in a tavern who washed up and did menial tasks, barman
POTTER CARRIER Chemist or Pharmacist
POTTER PRESSER A potter who used a mould
POTTER THROWER Potter who used a wheel
POTTLE Four Pints
POUCH MAKER Person who made pouches or purses
POUND Twenty shillings
POWER A lot, SW England
POWER LOOM TUNER Person who maintained mill looms
POWND Stresses, NW England
POYNTER Lace maker
PRECEPT OF SASINE A written order for the delivery of land or property [Scotland]
PRECEPTRESS School mistress
PRENTIS An apprentice
PRICKER A patternmaker, horseman or witch hunter
PRIG NAPPER Horse thief
PROCTOR University official
PROP BOBBY Mine worker who checked pit props
PUDDLER Person who worked clay into puddle for making canal walls or dykes watertight, or a person who worked in puddling iron
PUGGER Person in a brick factory who produced clay paste by treading mud
PUNCHEON A large cask, France
PUNKY Chimney sweep
PUPILA child up to age of 12 for a girl, 14 for a boy
PURE GATHERER OR PICKER Someone, usually an old woman or child, who went round streets picking up dog turds which were used in the tanning industry for processing hides
PURSER Ship's officer in charge of provisions and accounts, paymaster, or a plaintiff, Scotland
PUTTER Person who hauled coal mine tubs
PUTTER IN Person who entered things into a mechanical process
Q .
QUARRIER Quarryman
QUARTER 28 Pounds
QUARTERN A Gill, Four Pounds
QUHA Who [Scotland]
QUHILK Which [Scotland]
QUILLER Person who wound yarn onto spools
QUILTER OR QUILTRESS Person who made quilts
QUINCY Tonsilitis
QUIRE 24 Sheets
QUISTER Person who bleached materials
R .
RACK MAIDEN Girl who dressed ore in Cornish tin mines
RADGESlightly deranged person, Scotland
RAFF MERCHANT Person who dealt in fibre to make raffia bags and other items
RAFFMAN Person who dealt in raff [junk]
RAG AND BONE MAN Street collector of any unwanted goods, furniture, old clothes, kit etc, usually in exchange for some trifle.
RAG CUTTER Person who cut down rags for use in paper-making G
RAG GATHERERS Person, usually a child, who cleared rags from mill machinery
RAG MAN Street collector of old clothes and bags
RAG PICKER Sorter and recycler of rags
RAKER Person who cleaned streets
RARE Great, good, Scotland
RATONER Rat catcher
RATTLEWATCH Town watchman
REAM Twenty Quires
REDAR Person who interpreted dreams
REDSMITH Goldsmith
REEDER Person who worked reeds for hedges or thatch
REEDMAKER Person who made the pipe for wind instruments, or who made a weaver's implement called a reed, or reed-cloth, or the comb used in tapestry
REEK Smoke, Scotland
REELER Person who used a machine to wind yarn on to a bobbin
REESTY Rancid, Midlands
REEVE A royal or manor official appointed by the Lord or elected by peasants, also a church warden
REEVER Shriever
REGISTRAR Official who kept records such as land purchases, births, deaths and marriages etc
RELIEVING OFFICER Official who took care of the poor or insane
RENOVATOR Person who repaired clothing
REVENUER Person who enforced liquor taxes
RICKMASTER A Captain of Horse
RIDDLER Wool stapler
RIDING County sub division
RIGGER Hoist tackle worker, ship's rigging worker
RIGHT Very, mid North England
RIPPER/RIPPIER Dealer in fresh water fish at markets, or a maker and seller of baskets
RIVERMAN Riverboat worker
ROBIN DOGS Cheated, ripped off, Midlands
ROCKGETTER Rocksalt miner
ROCKMAN Person who placed charges on a rockface in a quarry
ROD 5 yards
RODMAN Surveyor's assistant, poleman
ROLL TURNER Carder of wool or cotton into rolls prior to spinning
ROLLER COVERER Person who covered the rollers for the spinning process
ROLLEYWAY MAN Person who maintained the underground road in a mine
ROOD Quarter acre or forty square rods
ROPER Person who made nets and ropes
ROUP Auction
ROVER Archer
ROVER Person in a Lancashire cotton mill who machined carded fibre into rolls
RUB Piece of sandstone used by a reaper to sharpen his scythe
RUB-BAG Small leather pouch hanging from a reaper's belt to hold his rub
RUBBLER/RUBBISHER Employee of a quarry who sorted small stones
RUGMAN Rug dealer
RUNNER As in Bow Street Runner, someone who worked for a magistrate. A messenger. Also a smuggler
RUSTLER Cattle thief
RYAL Gold coin, Rose Noble

Definitions Index:


Definitions: A-B

Definitions: C-E

Definitions: F-K

Definitions: S-Z

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Updated February 12th 2004