Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Some of the more bizarre occupations in 1881

My bathroom calendar points out to me that, on this date in 1801, Britain carried out its first nationwide census (the Domesday Book notwithstanding). It was only in 1881, though, that the census included information on "rank, profession, or occupation", and some of the responses to this question - courtesy of the London Genealogical Society - are fascinating, puzzling, even sometimes a mite alarming:
  • Colourist of artificial fish
  • Knight of the Thimble
  • Disinfector of railways
  • Examiner of underclothing
  • Invisible net maker
  • Electric bath attendant
  • Proprietor of midgets
  • Fifty-two years an imbecile
  • Knocker-up of workpeople
  • Maker of sand views
  • Gymnast to house painter
  • Turnip shepherd
  • Emasculator
  • Sampler of drugs
  • Fatuous pauper
  • Drowner
  • Count as female
  • Fish-bender
  • Goldfish-catcher
  • Cow-banger
  • Running about
  • Grape-dryer
  • Beef twister
  • Random waller
Some of these make some of the more unusual modern jobs (professional cuddler, snake milker, professional bridesmaid, iceberg mover, professional mourner, dog surfing instructor, face feeler, ash portrait artist, dog food taster, chicken sexer, professional line-stander, fortune cookie writer, etc) seem downright normal!

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