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Professions from the past.

Although many Scottish traditions have been around for generations the same often cannot be said of jobs, with many trades disappearing altogether and others changing their names over the centuries.

If the besom maker had a bit too much to drink after the alewife plied her fares and found himself in a furious row with the costermonger that resulted in him getting a bloody nose, then it is quite possible the caddie would be sent for the sawbones to set his nose straight again.

Confused? It's easy to be overwhelmed by the sometimes weird and wonderful words used to describe occupations in Scotland over the past centuries with the ever changing language and the changing face of the economy from pre-industrialisation to the present day.

To make things a little clearer the above paragraph could be translated in modern day language as; If the broom maker had a bit too much to drink after the barmaid plied her fares and found himself in a furious row with the fruit and vegetable seller that resulted in him getting a bloody nose then it is quite possible the messenger would be sent for the physician to set his nose straight again.

Following the disturbance it is likely the birlayman would be called for as he acted as an arbiter in parish disputes, although the situation would probably not require the presence of the lockman as he was the hangman of days gone by.

Colourful characters

Some of the more colourful sounding careers include that of a charwoman, an orraman, a laxfisher or a stravaiger which belie their actual roles of cleaner, farm odd job man, salmon fisher and vagrant respectively!

Drovers of sheep and cattle have all but disappeared nowadays with modern transport and the old drove roads that criss-cross Scotland are more commonly used by walkers. Dykers, however, are still around today as their skills of building dry stane dykes are much valued.

There were different names for people who travelled around plying their trade with a cadger being a travelling dealer or carrier and a hawker one who went from house to house selling his/her wares.

Those of more reputable backgrounds also had their own titles with Bonnet Lairds being common in the South West of Scotland. These were small landowners who were distinct from the nobles as they wore a bonnet and worked the land alongside their servants.

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