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Occupations of Pre-Modern Europe


Though far from exhaustive, this list includes most occupations available during the Dark and Middle Ages, and includes a lot of the increasing specialization of the Renaissance and later.  I have not included many magical occupations, as they are dependent on the magic system of any fantasy universe.  


Actor & Player (one who acts out plays on stage or in the marketplace)

Adjutant (assistant to a commanding officer) 

Adventurer, Explorer, Surveyor & Voyager (discovers and maps unknown regions)

Advocate & Barrister (a high-level lawyer, allowed to argue before higher courts) 

Agent & Factor (a financial deputy of a wealthy person, who manages the money and does things beneath the employer such as paying a debt)

Alchemist (a chemist trying to create a philosopher's stone, which turns base metals to gold) 

Almoner (a servant who distributes alms to the poor, usually associated with a castle, manor or monastery)

Amanuensis (one who takes dictation, i.e. private secretary) 

Annunciator (non-Heraldic announcer, usually in the employ of a nobleman or royal) 

Apothecary & Chemist, Druggist, Pharmacist (medicine-maker)

Apprentice (of anything else listed) 

Arbiter & Arbitrator (judge or referee) 

Archer & Bowman (warrior skilled with a bow)

Architect & Drawer, Planner (designer of buildings)

Archivist (keeper of the archives) 

Armorer (smith specializing in creation and repair of armor or weapons)

Arrow-smith (smith specializing in arrow- and quarrel-heads)

Artificer & Artisan (any skilled craftsman, also an inventor)

Assayer (an official, often attached to a lord or king, who determines property values, especially precious metal purity and weight) 

Astrologer (a mystical interpreter of star charts of the Zodiac)

Astronomer (cataloguer of the stars and planets)

Atilliator (a high-level carpenter specialized in making crossbows)

Attendant (a personal servant to any profession listed) 

Auctioner/Auctioneer (seller of goods at auction) 

Avener, Ostler, Stabler & Stableman (a servant in charge of a stable, usually in charge of several grooms; an Avener keeps a livery stable for a town or city, an Ostler for an inn)

Axeman (one who wields an axe, i.e. executioner)

Bailiff (feudal official who serves writs and makes arrests, usually connected with a castle) 

Baker (maker of breads and pastries)

Balancer (a tumbler who specializes in rope-walks)

Balladeer (a singer and possibly writer of ballads) 

Banker & Moneylender (a money merchant, who profits by usury and most importantly writes letters of credit and bank notes redeemable by other bankers, making the transportation of large sums of money much less dangerous than actually carrying the coin)

Barber & Leecher (a hair-cutter and surgeon who specializes in bleeding and leeches)

Bard & Skald (an entertainer and historian who memorizes and conserves oral histories, sings and tells stories, and composes poetry and sagas related to history; often attributed magical powers.  Bard is of Celtic origin, Skald is Scandinavian)

Barkeep/Bartender, Tapster (a male or female servant in an inn or tavern who serves drinks)

Barmaid[en] (a female servant in an inn or tavern who waits upon the customers)

Barker & Monger (a vendor in an open market who yells or 'barks' his wares) 

Barterer (a trader in kind rather than coin)

Bathmaster (the keeper of a public bath house)

Beamsplitter (a specialized carpenter who makes lumber from logs)

Bearer & Carrier (one who carries a palanquin or sedan chair)

Bedder (a tailor who specializes in making mattresses) 

Beefeater (an English royal guard, i.e. yeoman of the guard) 

Beekeeper/Honeyman (a husbandman of bees)

Bellifounder (a bronze- or silversmith who makes bells) 

Bellman (a reporter of the news who rings a bell as he travels through town) 

Blacksmith (a metal-worker who specializes in iron and steel)

Blade-smith & Weapon-smith (a smith who specializes in making blades and weapons)

Bleacher (a servant who specializes in cleaning clothes with bleaches)

Bloomer & Puddler (a smelter of iron into long pigs for sale to blacksmiths) 

Bonder (a slave-keeper) 

Bondmaid & Bondsmaiden (a female slave that is particularly valuable)

Bondswoman (a female slave) 

Bondman & Bondsman (a male slave) 

Bookbinder (a leather-worker who specializes in binding books)

Bookseller (a tradesman who specializes in selling books)

Bottler (a maker and seller of bottles of glass or clay; may be a specialized glass-blower who does little artistic work)

Bowyer (a bow-maker) 

Brazier (a brass- or bronze-smith) 

Breeder (a husbandman specializing in a particular kind of animal, such as cattle-breeder, goat- breeder etc)

Brewer (a maker of ales, beers and some stronger spirits)

Bricklayer (a low-level mason who builds with bricks)

Brick-maker (a very low-level mason who fashions and fires bricks from clay)

Buckler (a metal-worker who specializes in making buckles, including several metals)

Builder (a generic term for those engaged in building, may include architects, carpenters and masons)

Bully, Bully-boy, Ruffian & Street-tough (a big, strong guard without much skill or training in weapons, used to intimidate thieves and cutthroats by wealthy patrons, or used to intimidate rivals by criminal gangs)

Burgess & Burgher (a respectable middle-class city- or town-dweller, often a merchant or high-level artisan) 

Butcher (a specialist in slaughtering animals to keep the best parts separate and salable)

Butler (a servant who serves as cup-bearer to a noble or royal person, and who manages the 'butts,' i.e. the barrels of ale and wine)

Cager (a blacksmith specializing in making cages and metal traps)

Caner (a weaver of canes, reeds and rushes)

Carpenter, Woodworker & Woodwright (one who constructs things from wood, from wooden shoes to houses and cathedrals, but who has no specific specialty such as barrels or cabinets)

Carter (laborers who brought wood and stone to a construction site)

Cartwright (a carpenter who specializes in making carts and trollies) 

Cartographer& Charter (a map-maker) 

Castellan & Chatelaine (the governor of a castle, often of the gentry or even of noble birth, who manages the castle and all the servants within on behalf of a great noble or royal person; Chatelaine is the feminine, and also refers to a lady who has been given plenipotentiary authority over her husband's affairs while he is away)

Carver & Woodcarver (a carpenter who specializes in carving and embellishing)

Certifier (a feudal official who inspects and certifies weights and measures)

Chamberlain (a servant in charge of the chambers of a noble or royal person, usually also holds the privy purse)

Chandler (a dealer of household necessaries) 

Changer, Exchanger & Moneychanger (exchanges foreign coins for local, and large coins for smaller coins, receiving a percentage as a fee; also known rarely as a Cambist)

Chapman, Pedlar & Peddler (a traveling salesman who carries goods on his back, on a handcart, on a pack-horse or -mule, and most rarely, in a wagon)

Charcoal-burner or Collier (a maker or seller of charcoal; collier can also a coal miner)

Charioteer (driver of a chariot)

Chimney-sweep (a child or small person who climbs into chimneys and clears out debris)

Chirurgeon, Chirugist & Surgeon (a skilled healer who uses surgery via incision and manipulation to repair parts of the body)

Chiseler (a low-level mason who shapes ashlars and other stonework for building)

Chronicler & Chronologist (a historian who usually works for a great lord or king)

Churl (a person of low birth; a peasant, though not necessarily a serf)

Clergyman (any person who dedicates his life to a religion, such as a priest or pastor)

Clark & Clerk (originally a priestly title meaning literally 'cleric,' this is often used as for any recorder

or scribe who works in a feudal court)

Clockmaker & Lorimer (a designer and builder of clocks)

Clothier (a seller of clothes, usually a merchant who employs several tailors)

Coachman (a driver of a coach or carriage)

Cobbler & Shoemaker (a maker of shoes

Confectioner (a maker of candies)

Conjurer (a magician who specializes in conjuring and summoning) 

Constable (a deputy in charge of a castle when the owner or castellan is away, sometimes a hereditary title for a royal castle, it is in some cases interchangeable with castellan)

Cook & Chef (one who prepares food for consumption; a chef is the head cook)

Cooler & Larder (a servant in charge of the cold room, who cares for butchered meat and often helps prepare it for cooking)

Cooper (a maker of barrels and related containers, sometimes including chests and trunks) 

Coper (a horse dealer and breeder)

Coppersmith & Red-smith (a metal-worker specializing in copper)

Cordiner (a leather-worker specializing in rope-making)

Cordwainer (a leather-worker specializing in horsehide [i.e. Cordovan] leather) 

Costumer (a tailor who specializes in fancy dress, particularly for performers)

Courier (a swift messenger carrying important news; originally meaning simply 'runner,' it usually refers to a running horse instead.  The term also applies to spies who carry secret messages from other spies living secretly in enemy states)

Courtier (while not a profession exactly, many spend their entire lives at being a courtier, so it might as well be.  A courtier is a gentle- or noble-born person who attends a royal court in hope of employment or favors.  Some see a courtier as nothing but a crony and hanger-on, but others claim that a courtier's greatest endeavors should be military, hence winning royal favor by deeds of arms.  The latter are usually admired around any nation, while the former are despised and even hated, as many of them eventually gain positions they then use to enrich themselves at the expense of others)

Coxswain [pronounced 'cock-sen'] (the helmsman of a large rowing boat, usually of 4-8 oars, often used as a title as well as an occupational rank.  Considered a position of trust at sea)

Crier (a news reporter who yells out interesting tales in the town square)

Cutler (a blacksmith who specializes in making and repairing iron cutlery) 

Dairyman & Dairymaid (a servant who works on a milk farm, usually in the creamery making butter) 

Dancer (a performer who entertains by dancing to music)

Darner  (a low-level tailor specializing in repairing old clothes)

Doorward & Porter (a servant who acts as a door guard, who may protect several doors in a large building or house, and who is charged with ensuring the good intentions of anyone he lets in.  Any wealthy person will employ at least two porters, to keep watch both night and day)

Dragoman (an interpreter or guide) 

Drainer (a specialist who helps farmers drain flooded fields, also drains swamps for agriculture)

Draper & Drapier (a seller of clothes and dry goods)

Drawmaster (a specialized brewer or vintner who is particularly skilled in measuring liquids) 

Dressmaker (a mid-level tailor, usually female, who specializes in making middle-class female clothing)

Drover & Hoyer (a specialized herdsman who drives large herds of animals over long distances, such as a vaquero or cowboy)

Duelist (a skilled warrior who hires himself out to fight in duels as a champion for a wealthy but less skilled patron)

Dyer (a weaver specialized in dyes and tinctures)

Embroiderer (a high-level tailor, usually female, who specializes in embroidery for the wealthy)

Emissary (a special messenger for a noble or royal person who doubles as a spy)

Enameler (a specialized artist who uses enamels to heighten the color of paintings, pottery inlays, and even armor inlays.  Also may create jewelry of enamel for the middle and lower classes who can't afford precious stones)

Engraver (a specialized carpenter, metal-worker or mason who specializes in cutting designs or letters into wood, metal or stone)

Envoy (a special messenger of a great noble or royal person, who has plenipotentiary powers to negotiate on behalf of a patron, realm or nation)

Eunuch (a male servant who has been castrated, often placed in charge of a harem or other female area of a palace)

Ewerer (a servant who heats and carries water for the baths of noble or royal persons)

Examiner (one who inspects on behalf of a noble or royal person, but also a questioner or even torturer who 'examines' suspected criminals)

Executioner (one who carries out the sentence of death upon a criminal)

Falconer (a specialist animal trainer of falcons & hawks for hunting) 

Farmer (a general term for anyone who works a farm, which may include land for growing food or other crops as well as pastures and pens for husbanding animals)

Farrier (a blacksmith who specializes in creating and nailing on horseshoes) 

Fastener (a specialized tailor who makes buttons and other fastenings for clothing)

Featherer (a specialist tailor who fills mattresses and pillows with feathers, and works feathers into clothing and hats)

Fiddler (a musician who plays a fiddle, referring to any stringed instrument played with a bow)

Fisherman (a catcher of fish, usually with nets but also with a fishing-pole)

Fishmonger (a seller of fish, who usually buys fish from fishermen in the morning)

Fifer, Flautist or Pfeiffer (a musician who plays a fife or flute)

Fletcher (a specialized carpenter who shapes arrow-shafts and and affixes feathers to them) 

Fool, Jester & Joker (a specialized entertainer who dresses and behaves comically for the benefit of a wealthy patron) 

Footman & Lackey (a male servant who wears livery and is charged with relatively light duties, such as serving important guests; often chosen for good looks, bearing and height.  Usually called a footman because he stands on the back of the carriage when traveling around town)

Forester & Forest Warden (a keeper of enclosed forests for a great noble or royal person) 

Fortune-teller & Soothsayer (a charlatan who pretends to have a mystical ability to see the future)

Fowler (one who raises or hunts fowl for sale)

Framer (a painter who specializes in framed painting, often a priestly profession)

Fuller (a specialized weaver who shrinks and thickens woolen cloth) 

Furrier (a dealer in furs, who may raise rabbits or other fur-bearing animals to have a ready supply instead of buying them from trappers)

Gardener (a feudal or ecclesiastical office for one in charge of a pleasure-garden)

Gatekeeper (a public servant who has charge of a town or city gate, including making repairs and overseeing that the gate guards)

Gem-cutter (a specialized jeweler who cuts gems to improve clarity and to fit jewelry)

Gilder & Goldbeater (a specialized metal-worker who covers ordinary metal items with gold and silver leaf)

Girdler (a leather-worker who specializes in belts)

Gladiator (a slave who fights for sport before large audiences, usually only wounded, but sometimes killed for the spectators; literally 'swordsman')

Glassblower (a specialist who creates bottles and works of art from glass)

Glazer (a glass-maker)

Glazier (a glass-cutter and window- and stained-glass window-maker) 

Glover (a leather-worker who specializes in making gloves)

Goldsmith (a metal-worker who specializes in gold)

Gong farmer (a servant in charge of emptying the latrine pit)

Gown-maker or Mantua-maker (a highest-ranking female tailor who specializes in making the finest of gowns or 'mantuas' for the wealthy; usually wealthy herself, she tends to employ many other female tailors who specialize in different parts of gown-making, but the overall design remains with her)

Governess (a female private teacher, usually given charge of young children and older girls)

Grocer & Provisioner (a merchant who sells fresh produce and other provisions)

Groom (a servant who takes care of horses)

Groundskeeper (a servant who oversees the grounds of an estate or castle)

Guide (a forester who knows the paths and byways and leads others through for a fee)

Gypsy, Rom, Romany, Rovers (a member of a traveling people who live in wagons called vardos, who never stay anywhere long and entertain settled people.  Some are also prostitutes, thieves or beggars, but this is only rarely true though commonly reputed.  The word 'gypsy' comes from the popular belief that they originally came from Egypt, though in fact their origin is in south Asia.  Sometimes called Tinkers or Travelers)

Haberdasher (originally a seller of ordinary household items including fabrics, it also refers to a seller of needles and thread and other necessaries for sewing, and a dealer in men's clothing) 

Hangman (an executioner who kills convicted criminals by strangulation using a rope and noose, or even a garrote, while it is usually a temporary occupation there are some who are particularly skilled who travel a circuit so that locals don't have to kill their own)

Harbinger (a type of herald who goes before a nobleman or army and finds food and lodging; literally 'one who finds harborage')

Harrier (a hunter of hares, also refers to the type of hound used to hunt hares.  It may also mean a cross country runner or a raider who harries neighboring lands) 

Hatter (a maker and repairer of hats) 

Hauler (driver of a cargo wagon over long distances)

Hawker (a seller of goods via yelling or 'hawking' in the street) 

Hayward (a guard over grain-fields and the hedges that often surround them)

Headsman (an executioner that kills criminals convicted of capital crimes by beheading, usually with a word or axe)

Healer & Herbalist (a practitioner of healing via herbs and naturopathic compounds)

Herald (a messenger for a great noble or royal person who is an expert on clan, heraldic and familial symbols used on surcoats, flags and pennants.  May belong to a school of heraldry which teaches all these things and certifies expertise)

Herder & Herdsman (a servant who cares for a herd (or flock) belonging to a husbandman, usually for a specific kind of animal)  Examples: Beefer/Beefherd/Beefherder, Camel-herd, Goatherd,

Goose-girl, Horse-herder, Oxherd, Shepherd/Shepherdess, Swineherd, Yak-herd.

Hewer (a digger, who may dig ditches or mines, but who uses a mattock and shovel very well)

Horner (a specialist who works in horn, adding it to the works of other artisans and especially working with bowyers creating composite bows) 

Hosier (a mid-rank tailor specializing in hose, socks and garters)

Hosteler & Innkeeper (the manager, and usually the proprietor of an inn or hostel)

Hunter & Huntsman (a specialist who chases and kills wild animals, especially deer and boar, but who may specialize in any animal.  The more dangerous the animal, the most a hunter gets paid)

Hounds-master & Kennel-master (a specialized animal trainer who keeps and trains a pack of hounds for a great noble or royal person)

Husbandman (a man who breeds and raises animals on a farm, often of several varieties)

Iceman (a keeper and seller of ice, in areas where ice is available and desired)

Inker (a maker of inks and pigments)

Interpreter (a translator of languages)

Ironmonger (a seller of iron goods, especially iron bars or 'pigs' bought from a bloomer) 

Jailer & Gaolor (a key-keeper for a jail or dungeon, who usually has the duty of feeding the prisoners as well)

Jeweler (a specialized metal-worker who fashions precious metals and gems into jewelry)

Joiner (a carpenter who specializes in making cabinets and furniture) 

Journeyman (a proficient practitioner of any trade or art.  This level is gained by creating a 'journeyman piece' or well-done example of the art in question.  A female who gains this level is too called a 'journeyman' as most nations don't officially allow women into guilds, but of course they still manage to belong and flourish) 

Juggler (an entertainer specializing in tricks of juggling and acrobatics)

Kenneler (a servant in charge of keeping hounds fed and exercised)

Knife-grinder (a low-level metal-worker who specializes in sharpening knives and other blades for the peasantry and yeomanry)

Laborer (a free individual who works at anything that pays)

Lady-in-Waiting (a noblewoman who attends a queen or greater noblewoman as a servant, though with only light duties, such as singing, playing an instrument, reading, fine needlework helping with dress and generally just keeping the greater lady company.  Considered a position of prestige in the gentry, and respectable even among very wealthy nobles)

Launderer & Laundress (a servant who specializes in cleaning clothes)

Lictor (originally a Roman magistrate, this refers to anyone who carries out punishments upon criminal, which may include torture)

Limeburner (a specialized mason who burns limestone to extract lime)

Limner (a painter of heraldic devices, signs, and portraits, especially miniatures, and including the illumination of books)

Linkboy (a low-level metal-worker specialized in creating links for a chain or for chain-mail)

Locksmith (a high-level metal-worker who specializes in designing and building locks)

Lutemaker (a high-level carpenter specializing in making lutes and other stringed instruments)

Maid & Maidservant (a young unmarried woman who does most of the hard indoors jobs in a wealthy household, often considered prey by wealthy young heirs)

Maid-in-Waiting & Maiden-in-Waiting (a young woman who serves a wealthier but not noble woman as a general body-servant, helping with dressing, sewing, etc.  Usually chosen for beauty and intelligence, it is seen as a great step up by many lower class women, and a chance for marriage to higher ranks)

Manservant (a male servant who works indoors with all the heavy lifting and other work that requires a man's muscles.  Usually greatly outnumbered by females, a manservant is both envied and despised by serfs and freemen)

Marbler (a high-level mason who cut facades of marble for existing buildings, or fashions solid marble pillars or altars for new buildings, especially churches and cathedrals)

Mariner, Seaman & Sailor (a hand on a sailing ship, often with specialized skills pertaining to ships and the sea)

Specialist Ranks:

Captain or Master - the overseer of the ship and crew, may double as 

his own navigator and at the very least must have good knowledge of navigation

First Mate - the second-in-command, usually in charge for part of a day, often a young 

man being trained up to be master of his own ship

Second Mate - the third officer of a ship, usually in charge for part of a day, often a 

former boatswain and an older man who lacks knowledge of navigation

Navigator - a highly skilled sailor who specializes in navigating via instruments and dead reckoning by knowledge of the stars and the relative movement of the sun and earth; usually an advisor to the captain and has no supervisory role

Boatswain - the crew chief, also in charge of equipment

Able Seaman - a member of the crew competent to do all required jobs

Ship's Boy - a very young member of the crew learning to be a sailor, but also able to 

worm into places too large for a full-grown sailor

Mason (any stone-worker, but usually refers to a highly skilled master of the art)

Mercenary (any warrior who fights for pay, often joining a company of similar warriors who then can hire themselves out as a body.  Some famous mercenary companies in history were the Free Companions, the White Company, and the Landsknechts.  Swiss pikemen and Flemish crossbowmen were the most desired of all mercenaries during the late Medieval period.
Specialist types:

Condotiere - a military contractor who settles a contract (or condotta) for a fixed number of mercenaries at a fixed price, who then hires them at a profit to himself.  A good condotiere would have his own company that served him by contract as well; the most famous of these was Sir John Hawkwood

Free lance or Miles Casati: a knight who hired himself out as a mercenary, or  a squire who was armed as a knight but could not actually become a knight.  There were several companies of these noble-born mercenaries throughout the Middle Ages.

Mercer (a dealer in textile fabrics) 

Merchant (a generic term for anyone who lives by buying goods and selling them at a profit; a specialist in a particular type of goods will have it added, such as spice-merchant)

Messenger (any person who carries messages between two parties)

Midwife (a woman who is skilled in helping other women give birth, including extensive knowledge of herbs and medicine)

Miller (an owner or manager of a mill used to grind grain into flour.  Mills use two large stones for grinding, usually one flat with a bowl-like upper portion that lies on the ground, and a thick wheel for the other, which rotates around the lower stone crushing the grain.  A mill may be powered by muscle, as with oxen or sometimes slaves, by a water-wheel or by wind, hence the term windmill)

Milliner (a high-level tailor who specializes in women's hats) 

Miner (a specialist in digging mines, including knowledge of how to shore up mine-shafts and how to find and follow the material being mined, whether gold or coal)

Minister (a government functionary of high rank, usually given charge of an important area of government, such as minister of the mints)

Minstrel & Troubadour (a skilled entertainer who combines singing, playing a lute, harp or lyre, and story-telling, and may compose poetry or tales, including improvising them)

Minter (a designer and caster of coins, usually working for a government)

Mourner (a performer who is paid to pretend to be wracked with grief at a funeral, which may include things like tearing open clothes and scratching the face and neck)

Musician (any performer who sings or plays a musical instrument to entertain others)

Nailsmith (a low-level blacksmith who makes simple household items, including but not exclusively nails)

Oiler  & Oilman (a seller and maker of oils, usually derived from animal fats or vegetables especially olives, but including natural oil from the ground)

Page (any personal servant of a very young age, but also refers to a boy in training to become a knight)

Painter (a specialist in paints; in a pre-industrial society a painter will usually do both large single-color works, such as painting or whitewashing a house or several walls, and skilled if not excellent artistic works, such as a portrait or a hobby-horse.  A painter specialized in a particular area will usually have that area added to the job title, such as portrait-painter)

Parchment-maker (a tanner who specializes in making parchment from goat skin)

Pawnbroker & Pawner (a form of banker who lends money against items of value, which he keeps until they are redeemed by the borrower.  The amount is usually less than the actual value of each item, and not redeemed within a specified time, he may sell them)

Perfumer (a maker and seller of perfumes)

Pewterer (a skilled metal-worker specializing in a polished alloy of tin and lead, usually forming them into candelabras, dishes, bowls and cups that may be highly ornamental)

Philosopher (a scholar specializing in the study of knowledge, nature and reality, from the Greek philosophia, 'lover of wisdom.')

Plasterer (a specialized painter who uses plaster, usually to cover walls, statues, or buildings.  Often repairs damaged stone- or wood-work with plaster, matching colors and textures) 

Ploughman & Plowman (a farm-worker who specializes in driving an ox- or horse-drawn plough to prepare fields for planting.  Also refers to a peasant who plows a small field using only a simple plough powered with human muscles)

Poet (an entertainer who composes and recites poetry, often improvising)

Porter (a laborer who specializes in carrying burdens for a fee, usually in a town or city carrying purchases, or in wilderness areas carrying provisions across country for an explorer)

Potter (a worker in clay, who may create simple cups and bowls, large pots and amphorae, or colored and polished works of art)

Poulterer (a seller of poultry, particularly game hens and other fowl, usually purchased from a fowler in the country then carried into a town or city for sale)

Prostitute (a person, typically a woman, who sells sexual favors; also Harlot, Trull, Whore)

Specialist types: Bawd - a high-ranking prostitute in charge of a house of ill-repute; often 

given the title 'madame'

Camp follower - a low-ranking prostitute who travels with an army for the enjoyment of 

the troops.

Courtesan - a high-ranking prostitute who is employed by the very wealthy, especially 

noblemen while at court; usually highly educated

Doxy - a woman who though not precisely a prostitute, is kept as a mistress by a wealthy 

man who pays for her upkeep

Provisioner (a specialized dealer in large scale provisions, such as supplying a ship for a voyage, or a company of soldiers for an upcoming campaign.  May be an agent who works for the ship's captain or company leader, or a specialized merchant who is expert in arranging such large deals)

Publican & Taverner (the licensed proprietor of a public house or tavern) 

Pursemaker (a leather-worker who specializes in pokes, bags, and purses)

Purveyor (a merchant of a particular type of product, such as a purveyor of fine wines; this term is customarily used to avoid using the term merchant)

Quarrier (the lowest-level among masons, who cuts raw stone from a quarry to be sent on and shaped by chiselers or sculptors; a good master quarrier is however highly paid and respected, because knowing how to quarry good stone is a very important skill)

Quartermaster (an officer or functionary in charge of provisioning a ship, expedition, or military campaign.  Usually oversees a provisioner, or works with several to procure the necessary goods, and has charge of large sums of money, sometimes including the pay-chest)

Rancher (a specialized farmer who owns a large area of land [a ranch] for grazing animals)

Ranger (a specialized form of forester who keeps watch over a territory stealthily for a great noble or royal person, or who for the same kind of master patrols on horseback [ranges] an area frequently, learning it very well)

Rapscallion & Rascal (a clever, usually mischievous person who excels in tricking others into giving him the better end of a bargain, often though dishonest means.  Originally referring to anyone of the middle or lower classes, it's current meaning was included from the beginning, as many of the nobility considered paying for anything at all the result of unfair cunning on the part of the artisan or laborer)

Rat-catcher (a hunter who specializes in catching and killing rats, usually in the employ of a town or city)

Reeve (overseer of the fields and peasants of a state, subordinate to a steward but otherwise answers to nobody but the noble who holds the estate.  Also a title for the royal deputy in charge of law enforcement in a shire, i.e. the Shire-reeve from which comes Sheriff)

Roadwarden (a guard who patrols a particular piece of road)

Runner (a messenger who carries his messages on foot, often a scout at an outpost who then runs into town with warning, or soldier charged with carrying orders to different units of an army) 

Saddler (a leather-worker specializing in harnesses and saddles)

Sage & Sophist (a highly educated scholar who often acts as a semi-independent court functionary, often including a reputation for magical powers)

Salter (a producer and seller of salt)

Sauce-maker & Saucier (a cook who specializes in making sauces)

Sawyer (a woodworker who specializes in sawing timber, both to cut it down and to saw logs into boards; also the proprietor of a saw-mill)

Scholar (generic term for anyone in a school, but more often refers to one who has completed many years of school and is considered highly educated)

Schoolmaster & Schoolmistress (a teacher of children in a school)

Scout (a person or soldier sent ahead of an expedition or campaign to observe the route and report any problems, and perhaps fight enemy scouts; scouts are often former foresters, hunters or rangers who know the area well and are skilled at moving stealthily)

Scrivener (a scribe who makes his living by writing things for other people, but may also double as an author) 

Scullion (a servant who washes the dishes in a large kitchen) 

Scully (an oarsman on a small ferry boat which he often own himself, or an oarsman on a larger ferry or wherry which carries multiple passengers)

Sculptor (a mason who specializes in creating statues from stone, or ornamental pieces of art for large buildings)

Seamstress & Shepster (a female tailor who specializes in female clothing)

Serf (a farm-worker attached to a noble or royal estate and who owes part of his labor to his master.  A typical serf owns no land, but is allowed a kitchen garden and a small parcel to feed himself and his family, and owes at least three or four days of labor to his master each week.  It is possible, though difficult, for a serf to eventually buy his own land, and as his holdings grow, his labor becomes more and more his own.  There is no female equivalent, though a woman married to a serf or daughter of a serf is considered of equal rank)

Specialized Ranks

Socman or Sokeman (an overseer of other serfs, a deputy of the lord 

with powers granted to catch runaways and deal in low justice

Peasant - a serf who owes two days or less to his master, and may own a many acres of 

land; also a free farmer who rents land from a landowner

Villein - a serf who owes four days or less to his master, and may own a few acres of land

Cottar - a serf who owes more than four days, and may own his own cottage, but no land

Sexton (a servant, usually not a priest, charged with maintaining and repairing a church property, may ring the bell and may also be the churchyard grave-digger) 

Shearer (a sheep shearer who is so skilled that he is hired for shearing season by sheep owners, and who has his own shears and other instruments)

Shearman (a weaver in charge of trimming the fabric as it is being made)

Sheather (a leatherworker who specializes in making sword-sheaths, straps and other accoutrements of an armor, usually in the employ of an armorer)

Shipwright (a high-level carpenter skilled in designing and building ships)

Silversmith or Whitesmith (a metal-worker specializing in silver)

Skinner (a leather-worker specialized in skinning animals without damaging the pelts; usually works with or or is employed by a tanner)

Slater (a mason who specializes in slate, especially making equal sized slate tiles for use on rooftops)

Smelter (a metal-worker who specializes in purifying metals, such as refining gold or silver, or making iron into steel.  Usually works with or employs a bloomer or puddler)

Smoker (a cook who specializes in smoking meats for storage)

Soapmaker (a cook who specializes in making soap)

Soldier (a paid warrior who has no other profession, and works for a town, city or nation)

Spicer (a seller and refiner of spices, who also may specialize in spicing or packing meat for storage)

Spinner or Spinster (a female weaver who spins wool into yarn or cotton or linen into thread with a spinning wheel; also refers to an unmarried woman past the usual age for marriage)

Sponger (a hunter of sponges in the sea, diving for them and then selling them)

Spurrier (a blacksmith, silversmith or goldsmith who specializes in making spurs)

Spy (a person who secretly collects and reports information gathered about an enemy, often living a 'normal' life in the enemy state and sending reports via courier)

Squire (though this usually refers to a knight-in-training, a squire may also be the son of a knight who did not have either money or aptitude to become a knight, but who has a freehold farm and is considered a cut above his middle-class neighbors)

Steward & Stewardess (a deputy or lieutenant of a noble or royal person who manages a large house or estate on behalf of his or her patron, often of the gentry or even of noble birth)

Storyteller (an entertainer who tells stories in the marketplace, usually for donated coins, but in some rare instances may be employed by a wealthy household)

Tailor (a sewer and maker of clothing, with skill in measuring and expertise in fabrics and dyes)

Tanner (a leather-worker who uses several chemical process to transform raw cow and other animal hides into leathers, usually including dying and cutting leather into shape for specific uses  and may include additional cosmetic enhancements, just as adding beads or studs to the leather)

Taster (a servant of a noble or royal household, but usually employed by a king, to taste all food and drink before it is eaten by the king or noble.  This is to find out if the food is poisoned before the more important person eats it, but it is a very easy job generally despite the risk of poisoning)

Teamster (the driver of a large cargo wagon drawn by a team of horses, mules or oxen)

Thatcher (a worker who specializes in thatching houses with reeds and straw, making thick waterproof roofs that are less expensive than shingles or slates)

Tilemaker (a mason specializing in carving tiles out of flat stones; also refers to potters who make roof- tiles out of baked clay)

Tiler (a mason who specializes in installing tiles on floors, walls or ceilings, may include the making of artistic mosaics)

Tinker (a low-level metal-worker who travels from village to village fixing pots and pans and sharpening knives; also refers to Gypsies or Travelers)

Tinner, Tinsmith & Whitesmith (a metal-worker specializing in smelting and working in tin and pewter)

Toolmaker (a blacksmith who specializes in making farm tools, but also tools for other metal-workers)

Torch-bearer (a laborer who carries a torch for wealthy patrons as they walk or ride home through city streets) 

Torturer (a skilled specialist who excels at inflicting pain without killing a victim.  Torturers are often used to extract confessions from criminals or spies, but are also utilized to carry out punishments on convicted felons, which often include torture before death)

Tracker (a forester skilled in tracking animals and people through wilderness areas)

Trader & Tradesman (a generic term for anyone who buys and sells goods)

Trainer (a generic term for one who trains animals, whether dogs, horses, or falcons)

Transcriber (an unskilled scribe who simply copies pages exactly as they are; often illiterate)

Trapper (a forester or hunter specialized in using traps to catch prey, usually focussing on fur-bearing animals, but also including fish and birds)

Traveler (a generic term for anyone on a journey, but may also refer to the Roma or Gypsies)

Treasurer (an officer of any organization charged with keeping and accounting for money)

Trumpeter (one who plays a trumpet; this is rarely a permanent occupation outside an army or royal court)

Tumbler (an entertainer who uses acrobatics and pratfalls to amuse an audience)

Tutor (a private teacher, who instructs the children of the wealthy)

Twiner (a rope-maker who braids or 'twines' strands of hemp, silk or cotton together to make cord, rope and string)

Valet (a male personal body-servant for a man of wealth, who is a constant companion and is especially charged with maintaining his master's clothing and appearance)

Verger (one who carries an emblem of power before a bishop; usually a priestly office) 

Vicar (generic term for a deputy or substitute, but often used for priestly offices)

Vintner (a maker of wines)

Wainwright (a carpenter who makes and repairs coaches and wagons [i.e. wains])

Washer & Washerwoman (a launderer who makes house-calls, usually employed by but not a member of a wealthy household)

Watchman (a guard who watches a house, village, town, castle or city, usually by night)

Water-carrier (a seller of water, who carries around a small barrel of water and a cup and sells it by the cup in the marketplace)

Waxer (an associate of a beekeeper who fashions beeswax into candles and other items)

Weaver (a generic term for those who make fabric from cotton, linen, silk, and wool)

Wetnurse (a woman paid to breastfeed the baby of a wealthy patroness)

Whaler (a hunter of whales)

Wheelwright (a carpenter specializing in making and repairing wheels, usually an associate of a Cartwright or Wainwright) 

Whipper (a lictor who specializes in whipping without causing permanent physical damage)

Wiredrawer (a specialized metal-worker who draws wire out of iron)

Witch-finder & Witch-hunter (a hunter who specializes in discovering and accusing witches; usually a charlatan, there have been several who were very sincere and successful, though it's doubtful any of them ever caught and actual witch)

Woodcutter & Woodsman (a forester who chops down trees and hauls them, usually with a mule, out of the forest for use as firewood or building materials)

Wood-seller (a seller of firewood, usually buying wood from a woodcutter and taking it into the town or city via cart)

Woodturner (a specialized carpenter who uses a lathe to make straight arrow- and spear-shafts, and sometimes more difficult pieces)

Wrangler (a horse-herder, often in charge of breaking and training horses)

Wringer (a laundry servant who specializes in wringing the water out of clothes and hanging them out to dry)

Wrestler (a traveling entertainer who challenges others to wrestling matches for a donated purse; also anyone skilled in wrestling)

Wringer (one who wrings out cloth to dry them) 



List of Illegal Occupations


There are of course many more illegal or extra-legal occupations, but these are commonly found in every part of the world.


Assassin (hired murderer, from hashishan, i.e. drugged killer)

Bandit, Brigand, Outlaw, Marauder, Plunderer, Robber & Wolfs-head (one who ambushes and robs travelers in wild areas between cities, usually living off the land and their stolen coin and having no permanent abode.  A known bandit can be killed by anyone, will be hanged immediately if caught, and has no rights according to the law [hence 'outlaw'].  Bandits are also known to raid villages, especially those without defenses and may also practice extortion.)

Beggar & mendicant (one who begs for alms from passers-by)

Coiner (a maker of false coinage, especially gilding or silvering lead or tin coins)

Cutpurse, Cutthroat & Footpad (a robber in the town or city, who works by bashing a victim on the head or cutting his throat, and then stealing whatever the victim has on him; most cutpurses have a day job as well, usually as hired muscle for a more powerful criminal)

Fence (one who trades in stolen goods)

Forger (a scribe who writes false documents for a fee)

Grave robber (one who robs either burial goods or the corpse itself for magical or medical experiments)

Highwayman (a robber of commerce, usually solitary and secret)

Pirate; also Buccaneer, Corsair, Freebooter, Reaver & Viking (a bandit of the sea, who captures ships and kills or enslaves the crews, sometimes holding wealthy captives for ransom.  Pirates also raid coastal villages and towns, preferring those with poor defenses.  Pirates may be hanged on capture, though some polities prefer to capture them for trial instead)

Pickpocket (a thief who specializes in lifting things from the pocket or purse of people in a crowd)

Poacher (an illegal hunter, who hunts out of season or on enclosed lands set aside for the nobility and royalty)

Slaver (a kidnapper who takes people, especially children or women, and sells them as slaves; also refers to any dealer in slaves)

Swindler (a thief by fraud, who uses deceit to trick money or goods from others)

Thief; also Burglar, Sneak, Sneak-thief (one who steals the possessions of others, usually from those of his own community; most thieves only act on the spur of the moment for a particularly coveted prize, but some make a living by selling their ill-gotten goods in other towns or cities.  Properly speaking a thief is non-violent, and steals by stealth rather than brutality, but violence is always a possibility)

Witch (a man or woman thought to have evil magical powers via agreements with Satan; witches are mostly thought to be female, and the few male witches are sometimes called Warlocks.  Whatever the origins of these legends, they are common to all humanity.)