Ten interesting occupations from the past

Personal Finance

We have come a long way since the advent of civilization, and looking back at it will give us a sense on all great things we achieved thus far in the ever-changing world. While some of these changes were certain, others were embraced due to the need and demands of society. Among all, occupations kept evolving overtime in newer forms. Here we are listing down some of the occupations that were prevalent during our past.  Take a look at them and see what could have been your dream job during that era.

Barber Surgeon

 [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most common medical practitioners of medieval Europe. In that era, surgery was not generally conducted by physicians but by barbers. Along with providing services like bathing, cutting hair, shaving or trimming facial hair, these barbers would be expected to  perform minor surgical procedures like amputating limbs, surgical procedures such as bloodletting, cupping therapy or pulling teeth.

Crossing Sweeper

William Powell Frith, via Wikimedia Commons

Popular around 19th century, a crossing sweeper was a person who would sweep a path ahead of people crossing dirty urban streets in exchange for some money. The predominance of horse-drawn vehicles—and the general uncleanliness of urban streets—entailed certain difficulties in crossing intersections. Crossing sweepers, by sweeping the pavement ahead of a person crossing the street and creating a path that was referred to as a “broom walk,” thus offered a service, particularly to the more affluent.



Joshua Reynolds, via Wikimedia Commons

Link boy was a boy who carried a flaming torch to light the way for pedestrians at night. Link Boys were common in London in the days before street lighting. Link-boys and their torches also accompanied litter vehicles, known as sedan chairs, that were operated by chairmen. Where possible, the link boys escorted the fares to the chairmen, the passengers then being delivered to the door of their lodgings

Leech Collector

By Simon Speed , via Wikimedia Commons

Leech collector was a person occupied with procuring medicinal leeches, which were in growing demand in 19th-Century Europe. Leeches were used in bloodletting but were not easy for medical practitioners to obtain. The collector would sometimes gather the leeches by attracting them to the legs of animals, often old horses. More commonplace was for the collector to use their own legs, gathering the leech after it had finished sucking enough blood.

Whipping Boy

By Walter S. Stacey , via Wikimedia Commons

The purpose of a whipping boy was to receive the punishment that was assigned to the young prince for general misbehavior. Whipping boys were created to satisfy the idea of the Divine Right of Kings, which states that God appoints the monarchy and that the prince would be an extension upon that lineage, thus no one but the king would be worthy of punishing the prince. In order to have the whipping boy be an effective tool for disciplining the prince, the prince must feel empathy for the whipping boy so they must form an emotional bond.

Human Alarm Clock( Knocker-Up)

Source – Hostpic

A knocker-up, was a profession in Britain and Ireland that started during and lasted well into the Industrial Revolution, when alarm clocks were neither cheap nor reliable, and to as late as the beginning of the 1950s. A knocker-up’s job was to rouse sleeping people so they could get to work on time. The knocker-up used a baton or short, heavy stick to knock on the clients’ doors or a long and light stick, often made of bamboo, to reach windows on higher floors. At least one of them used a pea-shooter. In return, the knocker-up would be paid a few pence a week. The knocker-up would not leave a client’s window until they were sure that the client had been awoken.


[CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Resurrectionists were employed by anatomists in the United Kingdom during the 18th and 19th centuries to exhume the bodies of the recently dead. Several major hospitals and teaching centers were established in Britain during the 18th century, but with only a very few corpses legally available for anatomical research, these institutions suffered from severe shortages, and would depend on them to fill up the supply gap.  Resurrectionists usually found corpses through a network of informers and mostly worked at night.

Rat Catcher

CC BY-SA 3.0 au], via Wikimedia Commons

A rat-catcher is person who practices rat-catching, the occupation of catching rats as a form of pest control. Keeping the rat population under control was practiced to prevent the spread of diseases to man, most notoriously the Black Plague, and to prevent damage to food supplies. Anecdotal reports suggest that some rat-catchers in Europe would raise rats instead of catching them in order to increase their eventual payment from the town or city they were employed by. This, and the practice of rat-fights, could have led to rat-breeding and the adoption of the rat as a pet—the fancy rat.

Groom of the Stool

Lobsterthermidor, via Wikimedia Commons

Possibly one of the grossest job of old times, the Groom of the Stool was the most intimate of an English monarch’s courtiers, responsible for assisting the king in the performance of the bodily functions of excretion and ablution, whilst maintaining an aura of royal decorum over the proceedings. Due to the physical intimacy of the role, they often became a very loyal confidant of the royal master, with whom  much confidence was placed by his royal master, and many royal secrets were shared as a matter of course. They were considered Kings trusted official.

Lector (The Reader)

By Burgert Brothers., via Wikimedia Commons

The Lector sat perched on an elevated platform and used to read stories, news , novels and other readings to Factory workers, while they work. As  the job of rolling cigar after cigar was very monotonous for the factory workers, Lectors were common in cigar factories and they helped workers occupy and stimulate their mind. These readers, elected by their peers, were actually marvelous speakers and would not simply read the book but literally act out the scenes in a dramatic fashion upon a podium set up in the middle of the factory. Each worker contributed to the lector’s pay, and the readings were selected by Lector committee.

So, after a couple of centuries our future generations might as well be surprised to know this is how we worked in 21st century.