This is a wide subject, so will be updated with more occupations as and when time allows. I decided to add bankrupts too – sometimes on census returns we discover that an ancestor changed occupations for no apparent reason, and the names provided here might just give an explanation for that for someone!

Male midwife – See Croft Castle, Herefordshire for an example; albeit an ultimately tragic one.

Female Midwife

ANNUITANT (Not an occupation as such!)
A pensioner, or person with income not associated with working

Self explanatory, but may have specialised in biscuits, or bread, in which case the appropriate term would be put before “baker”.

Sometimes shortened to “Smith”, Blacksmiths were extremely important in rural Herefordshire, and at least one forge was to be found in most villages but sometimes two or three as there was ample work for all Many cottages still bear the name “Old Forge” or “The Smithy” although few still have working equipment. Most of the business came from farriery and unlike in modern times, horses would be walked to the forge and line up awaiting their turn…….sometimes it would be a very long day indeed for the farrier, who frequently worked from dawn until dark. Blacksmiths also made all manner of things ranging from nails to ploughshares and axes, wheel rims to chains and garden implements, and they were a vital part of the community. Very often the craft was passed down from father to son.

September 1848
Joseph Green, Blacksmith, of Hunsdon Green, Herefordshire
August 1862
Thomas Knowles, Blacksmith, of Collington near Bromyard, Herefordshire
March 1864
James Lane, Blacksmith, Upper Sapey, Herefordshire
February 1866
James Fletcher, Blacksmith, Eardisley Herefordshire,
April 1867
J.W. Magness, Blacksmith, Ashperton, Herefordshire,
November 1867
W. Duggan, Blacksmith, Brilley, Herefordshire
August 1882
Charles Buck, Blacksmith, Garway Common, Herefordshire
October 1883
William James Thompson, Blacksmith, Leinthall Starks, Herefordshire,
November 1886
William Henry Hodges, Blacksmith, Rushall nr Much Marcle, Herefordshire
August 1893
James Barker Parish, Blacksmith, Weobley, Herefordshire
May 1899
Thomas Robins, Blacksmith, Madley, Herefordshire

Each of the largest towns in Herefordshire had more than one brewery, and many of the villages had small brewing operations going in in the cottages.

September 1847
John Jones, Brewer. Ledbury

Toll taker at bridges.
At Whitney on Wye in Herefordshire a toll is still taken, and it is one of the few remaining tax-free toll bridges in Britain.


One who slaughtered, prepared and sold meat. A Caddy Butcher dealt in horse meat.
Until relatively recent times, when new slaughtering regulations came into force, in villages and towns all over Herefordshire the sight of farm animals being quietly herded through to the back of butcher shops was part of day to day life.


November 1813
John Lane the younger, Butcher, dealer. Bodenham, Herefordshire
May 1815
S. Redding, Butcher. Colwall, Herefordshire
April 1818
T. Powell, Butcher. Leominster, Herefordshire
November 1828
J. Morgan, Butcher, Bromyard, Herefordshire
May 1840
J. Wellington, Butcher, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
March 1848
Robert Pye, Butcher. Weston Under Penyard, Herefordshire
August 1851
E. Smith, Butcher. Eaton Bishop, Herefordshire
March 1853
R. Little, Butcher. Lea, Herefordshire
November 1857
Elijah Savory, Butcher. Ledbury, Herefordshire
February 1859
E. Yapp, Butcher. Leominster, Herefordshire
January 1862
John Griffiths, Butcher. Kington, Herefordshire
January 1863
William Thorne, Butcher. Coddington, Herefordshire
February 1863
Thomas Phillips, Butcher. Byton, Herefordshire
July 1863
Charles Edwards, Butcher, Kington, Herefordshire
April 1864
Adam Clarke, Butcher, Ledbury, Herefordshire
December 1864
Henry Harvey, Butcher. Hentland, Herefordshire
December 1865
William Spencer, Butcher. Sutton, Herefordshire
May 1867
William Kedward, Butcher, Kington, Herefordshire
May 1869
William Harding, Butcher. Much Marcle, Herefordshire
May 1976
G. Lloyd, Butcher. Goodrich, Herefordshire
August 1876
Charles Henry Smith, Butcher. Bromyard, Herefordshire
October 1877
J. Baskerville, Butcher. Wellington, Herefordshire


April 1844
A Herefordshire Butcher, one of the lieges of Ledbury, had the carcass of a calf mangled by a Lawyer’s dog. The “injured individual” called upon the owner of the offending animal to ask his advice. The Lawyer, on hearing the facts told him that he was entitled to compensation. “Then – you must pay me 4s 6d” said the Butcher exultantly “for it was YOUR dog”. “Very Well” replied the attorney, at the same time laying down the money, which his client pocketed in great glee and was then taking his leave. “Stay” commanded his advisor, your have to pay me 6s 8d for my advice!” The countenance of the knight of the cleaver fell instantaneously. The sunshine of his face was overcast by a thundercloud, but he was fairly caught and there was no escape. He paid the fee and left the house 2s 2d poorer that when he crossed it’s threshold.

Man skilled in wood work

June 1841
Samuel Anthony, Carpenter. Whitchurch, Herefordshire. Bankrupt

Sort of one up from a farm labourer, he specialised in looking after the cattle.


The “Char” in Charwoman originated from the word chore.
Charwomen were known as the invisible servants of nineteenth century country house communities, who were hired to perform part time or casual labour – they were invisible to both the family and their guests. However, far from being insignificant, Charwomen were essential components of the country house community, and were indispensable.

Maker of all manner of carriages, ranging from small light pony traps to large and ornate affairs requiring four or six horses to pull them. Ledbury had a very successful coach building firm in the shape of Hopkins Coachbuilders.


August 1862
James Maddy Price, Coachbuilder, late of Weobley, Herefordshire
February 1865
William Lewis, Coachbuilder, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
October 1870
Mary Hill, Coachbuilder, Leominster, Herefordshire
January 1894
Herbert Little, Coachbuilder, Over Ross St. , Ross on Wye, Herefordshire

These skilled craftsmen were to be found all over Herefordshire – at least one in each village and more in the larger towns – making wooden barrels for the storage of food and drink. The expertise and sheer physical strength required to make casks well and completely watertight meant that the apprenticeship was necessarily long…….about 7 years in fact – but this produced a man who was able to work without drawings or instructions, and who could fashion a wooden container for any purpose purely by eye and skill.

Wood in the nineteenth century was a valuable and important commodity, and Coppicers helped to provide continuous and renewable supplies. By careful cultivation of certain trees, and regular harvesting of “poles” that grew from coppice stools (basically, stumps that kept sending out new shoots) a plentiful supply of wood was ensured. These coppices, or copse, can still be seen around Herefordshire today although few are still worked; some still sport their protective hedges and ditches, or walls, which were placed to help prevent damage by livestock or wild animals.


Men involved in the treatment of leather to make it soft, waterproof and durable. They would often have a workshop attached to a Tannery, or very close by and sometimes would be the local shoemaker or saddler.

October 1894
W. Shryle, Currier, Ledbury Herefordshire
April 1812
John Coates, Currier, Bromyard, Herefordshire
December 1822
T. Matthews, Currier, Ross, Herefordshire
January 1827
Edward Cox, Currier, Ledbury, Herefordshire
May 1838
Richard Maskell, Currier, Weobley, Herefordshire
May 1866
R. Thomas, Currier, Leominster, Herefordshire


Scullery Maid

Dressmakers, along with Milliners, were considered to be at the top end of women’s employment and most Herefordshire villages had one or more. A good dressmaker would prosper and eventually take on young girls as apprentices or just to assist, however in order to reach this level she would have to show exceptional ability as virtually every woman and girl knew how to sew and it was the first thing they thought of turning to as a means to making money. As a result, competition was high and remuneration low for the less than excellent seamstress. Still, it was respectable work for the middle classes who would not have contemplated rough labour or work as a domestic servant.
Before the onset of motorised transport, livestock had no option but to walk from their farm to their destination – be it a market in a nearby town or long distance to London to help feed the ever growing population. It was the job of the Drover to ensure that his charges not only survived the journey, but also arrived in good condition. On top of this responsibility was the safekeeping of large amounts of money – cash collected on the sale of the animals – and it was by no means unheard of for a returning Drover to be attacked and robbed. (In fact this happened so regularly that eventually droving banks were set up along the routes – one of which was called The Black Ox after the Welsh cattle, and which later was taken over by Lloyds) No wonder then that one required a licence to become a Drover, with qualifications including being over 30 and “settled” in marriage.

Twice a year, in Autumn and Spring, the Drovers gathered herds of cattle together from various farms, often consisting of several hundred animals, and those that were being taken on the long journey to the South East would be shod to prevent them becoming footsore. A farrier would sometimes accompany the herd on horseback to supply, fit and replace the strange shoes (cues) which were basically two half moons shaped to fit the curved cloven hooves. There were also special shoeing stations, at Kington and Hay on Wye for those animals crossing the border from Wales into Herefordshire. The animals were not driven hard and were allowed to graze along the way to minimise loss of condition, and overnight stops were carefully chosen, – for example at Bromyard there were large ponds for watering the animals and a rather nice hostelry! Mind you, only the head Drover slept in comparative luxury and his men with their attendant cattle dogs slept in the open with their charges. Drovers would pick out tall landmarks, such as distinctive trees in a cluster, near to good overnight stopping places so that on future drives they could make a bee line for them, and very often there would be secure fields in which to park the cattle for the night, at a charge of one ha’penny per head.

Self Explanatory

June 1841
John Hood, Farmer, Kington Herefordshire.

A dealer in skins and hides

Glove making was a popular way of making extra money for the womenfolk of Herefordshire, and children as young as seven would be instructed in the art of sewing fine gloves for gentlemen.

This is something of a grey area – research has thrown up little of concrete value. Of course we know what a horsebreaker does, but it was the methods employed during the 18th and 19th centuries in Herefordshire that I wished to discover and this has proved surprisingly difficult. There is no doubt that the rather cruel methods which included starvation; tying up of one leg; sleep depravation, and rough riding to the point of exhaustion, would still have been used by some horsebreakers, but maybe not all. Some were aware of the ancient Greeks view of the subject which was that horses are more successfully tamed not by cruelty but by gentleness and patience, but would people who were in need of a horsebreaker be prepared to pay a gentle man for weeks and weeks of work, when perhaps they could get it done by someone else in a fraction of the time.


May 1862
Richard Huxley of Kinnersley, Herefordshire


Self explanatory!


August 1813
W. Howells, Innkeeper.  Leominster, Herefordshire
March 1826
R. Kings, Innkeeper, Ledbury, Herefordshire
March 1827
J. Barnes, Innkeeper. Ledbury, Herefordshire
May 1827
R. Cooper, Innkeeper. Ledbury, Herefordshire
December 1827
Frederick Archer, Innkeeper. Baldock, Herefordshire
January 1834
Edward William Levet, Innkeeper. Ledbury, Herefordshire
May 1838
Thomas Rogers, Innkeeper. Kington, Herefordshire
January 1839
Edward Mason, Innkeeper. Kington, Herefordshire
March 1839
J. Morris, Innkeeper. Leominster, Herefordshire
July 1841
John Williams, Innkeeper. Ledbury, Herefordshire
March 1844
I. Gwinnett, Innkeeper. Ledbury, Herefordshire
May 1848
George Deacon Deveroux, Innkeeper. Leominster, Herefordshire
June 1848
Joseph Pritchard, Innkeeper. Harewood, Herefordshire
April 1850
J. Price, Innkeeper. Kington, Herefordshire
February 1854
J. Baker, Innkeeper. Eardisley, Herefordshire
August 1854
Henry Brewer, Innkeeper. Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
January 1858
Edward Bryan, Innkeeper. Lower Mowley, Herefordshire
November 1858
J.C. Morgan, Innkeeper. Hereford
March 1860
C. Marson Sen. Innkeeper. Leominster, Herefordshire
December 1861
William Baggott, Innkeeper. Bromyard, Herefordshire
September 1862
Joseph Harris, Innkeeper. Bromyard, Herefordshire
February 1863
Thomas Phillips, Innkeeper. Byton, Herefordshire
May 1863
David Norris, Innkeeper. Colwall
December 1863
George Tipton, Innkeeper. Grafton, Herefordshire
August 1864
Frederick Insole, Innkeeper. Ledbury, Herefordshire
August 1864
Maria Wagstaff, Innkeeper. Bishops Frome, Herefordshire
November 1864
James Crump, Innkeeper. Leominster, Herefordshire
February 1865
William Prosser, Innkeeper. Mordiford, Herefordshire
November 1865
J.J. Hill, Innkeeper. Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
January 1867
Francis Hill, Innkeeper. Much Cowarne, Herefordshire

Farm labourers came under a general umbrella, but the range of talent and skills from man to man varied considerably. Good labourers were able to do most jobs on the farm – ploughing and sowing, harvesting and threshing during the Spring and Summer, and maintenance work such as fencing and hedging during the Winter. These men were valuable and were retained from year to year, however others with few skills would find themselves frequently looking for work

In the nineteenth century many women and children were also employed by farmers to do such work as weeding and stone picking, harvesting vegetables and dairy work. However, in spite of the whole family working from dawn until dusk, the combined wages were simply not enough and very often they had to turn to the Parish for help. One commodity that was freely given in large quantities was cider!

The exceptions were perhaps Waggoners and Cattlemen who generally earned rather more.

Hiring time was generally in May, and it was at the Mop Fairs were labourers were looked over by the farmers……skilled labourers would hold whatever item best told the farmer what they were good at – hoe; bridle etc. etc., but if the chap had no skill worth broadcasting then he held up a mop……hence Mop Fair.

17th June 1878
A man named Stringer, described as a Farm Labourer from Herefordshire, has been arrested at Kidderminster on the charge of being concerned with the murder of Miss Jane Hannah Jay aged 32, whose body was found some weeks ago in Dinmore Wood, about seven miles from Hereford, in a state of advanced decomposition. The cause of arrests was certain statements which Stringer made in a public house. At the inquest, Miss Jay’s brother, Edward (a farmer) said that Miss Jay was rational if a little flighty, and that she had had an affair with a farmer. She had been staying at the Kerry Arms Hotel for some months, and it was said that she sometimes stayed out all night and was “strange in her habits”; she also owed the proprieter a large amount of money. On the night of her disappearance, she was seen walking towards the wood.

October 1889
At Weobley police court, Robert George Galliers was charged with personating a policeman and entering premises without lawful authority. Mr. Pritchard, a farmer, deposed that the defendant came to him after dark stating that the local policeman being away, he had been telegraphed for to search for a person who had stolen some eggs and dripping fat from the shop of Mrs. Watkins, Bush Bank, and that he was on the scent of a hop-picking woman. He said that he was a policeman, and asked for the witness to accompany him with a light…which he did. They went into a building where some hop pickers employed by a neighbouring farmer, Mr. H. Parry, were sleeping. The defendant assumed a gruff and imperious air, and proceeded to question the women, then removing the headwear from one of them saying that she must be the one. He then said she was not the woman he wanted and left, dispensing with the services of the farmer and his light. The Bench imposed a fine of 28s.

March 1864
William Frederick Roberts Cooke, Farm Labourer, Bosbury, Herefordshire
November 1868
John Nicholls, Longtown, Herefordshire

Millers, of course, ground grain into flour for bread, and most of the Millers in Herefordshire used Waterwheels, but surprisingly (to me anyway) there were also quite a large number of windmills.

One who builds and maintains mills and associated machinery.

June 1841
Peter Watkins, Millwright. Hereford.

A maker of hats. An apprenticeship of anything up to seven years was normal, and during this time a girl would receive no payment – quite the contrary, she would have to pay a fee – but once qualified she could command good prices for her work and it was a highly respectable trade for the more well to do ladies.

November 1867
Susannah Morgan, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire

Made and repaired saddles, harness and all tack related to riding and driving.


March 1837
John Fox, Saddler. Bromyard, Herefordshire
January 1863
William Baker, Saddler. Ledbury, Herefordshire
March 1863
Joseph Griffiths, Saddler, Leintwardine, Herefordshire
August 1866
J. Rogers, Saddler, Ross on Wye Herefordshire,
March 1899
William Brown, Saddler, Fownhope, Herefordshire.

Made the trees, or frames, for the saddler to use.

Basically a carpenter, he would also prepare the raw wood


Roofer who used wooden tiles

Product was probably not the most stylish in the world, but village shoemakers certainly made tough and practical footwear.

September 20th 1838
Mr. Robert Jones, Shoemaker, of the Post Office Much Marcle, Herefordshire made a plea for help in finding his runaway children:
“A boy aged 15 of thin make, dark brown hair and dark grey eyes, dressed in a smock frock, moleskin trousers and a hairy cap, left his home on 19th August taking with him a little sister named Mary aged 7 years, dressed in a red spotted frock, a blue spotted pinafore, a cambric bonnet, and quarter boots and has not since been heard of.”


August 1817
J. Taylor, Shoemaker, Credenhill, Herefordshire,
June 1841
John Prosser Davies, Shoemaker, Huntington, Herefordshire,
John Lewis, Shoemaker, Kingsland, Herefordshire

Man in charge of stables

Skilled worker in stone cutting

June 1841
Henry Moythan, Stonemason. Weobley, Herefordshire.

Someone employed to remove stones from a field before ploughing – often women or children who would take any work that they could to bring in just a few more pennies.

Someone who made ploughshares

Someone qualified to carry out operations

A Doctor

July 1816
John Stanway, Surgeon, Leominster Herefordshire
December 1819
Thomas Hill, Surgeon, Ledbury Herefordshire
November 1829
Henry Rudge, Surgeon, Leominster Herefordshire



June 1841
William Woolley, Tailor. Ross on Wye, Herefordshire


W.G. Wilde, Tanner, RossA curer of animal hides. As Herefordshire was, and still is, predominantly rural and industry free, the large numbers of cattle and sheep provided endless raw material for the tanners. The process was decidedly smelly, so tanneries were situated some way away from habitation.

The raw skins had to be cleaned in order to remove all traces of blood and this was often done in running streams which also carried away the waste from the further treatment of the hides….this must have polluted the water to some pan handle, and those downstream who had other uses for the water must have suffered greatly! A lime and water mix was then used to help soften fat and hair before the hides were scraped thoroughly – much of what was removed was recycled to be used for glue making, or in the case of hair, felt for clothing. Following this process, the hide would once again be thoroughly washed in the running stream to remove the lime etc. Next a preparation of oak bark and water was made in large pits and the skins would be immersed for several weeks, after which yet another washing process was carried out in the poor old stream. Then came the drying, which was quite critical because it could go badly wrong and a ruined hide was a waste of weeks of work……..dry it too slowly and mould might develop which would ruin the skin, too fast and the skin was unworkable and brittle.

I pity the wives of these Tanners…….every night they would have had to deal with dreadfully stinky men and their clothes when they came home from work! No washing machines or power showers for them of course.

May 1821
F. Jenks, Tanner, Bromyard Herefordshire
November 1826
J. Coates, Tanner, Weobley Herefordshire
June 1831
James Jenks, Tanner, Bromyard Herefordshire

December 1840 on Wye, Herefordshire
September 1872
William Watkins, Tanner, Ross on Wye Herefordshire



June 1841
John Hood, Tea Dealer, Kington, Herefordshire, bankrupt

Thatch was not only used for cottages and farmhouses in Herefordshire, but also for many churches and castles. The art of the thatcher very nearly died out when cheaper and easier roofing became available, such as slate or tiles, but enough buildings remained with their thatch to ensure that the craft survived.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century there were no real “vets”, and most treatments of animals was carried out by the farrier; farmer or so called wise men, who all used methods akin to witchcraft to heal the sick or injured although the farrier was actually frequently very successful with his horse remedies . It wasn’t until later in the century that college trained vets came onto the scene and initially they had to compete with the above mentioned – many country people were suspicious of the new vets and preferred to trust in the frankly, medieval, methods.

A cart or wagon driver; he was paid a little more than most of the other farm workers


A washerwoman usually had her own recipe for making soap – often including wood ash and lard as well as water.
A tub was used, and the washing was sorted much as we do today – also, very dirty clothes, or very heavy ones were soaked in lye first, then boiled, whilst lighter garments were washed in cold water by hand. Only the dirtiest items were scrubbed on a washboard contrary to popular belief, and there were various remedies for different stains; for example chalk was used on grease and oil, and lemon or onion juice were favourites for lightening stains. Alcohol and kerosene were good for grass and blood stains. For wax, hot coals wrapped in a clean rag were held against the garment. Milk removed both urine stains and smell. Human urine was widely favoured as a bleaching agent and was still used in the mid 1900s – it probably did work because of the ammonia!! (Presumably after using this, you had to go to the milk remedy?!)

Different things were used to prevent dyes from fading in the wash, – borax for reds; vinegar for pinks and greens; Lye for keeping blacks black, and wheat bran for all other colours, and for bleaching all colour from a faded garment it was boiled in cream of tartar water. Silks were washed in kerosene.
Wrinkles were a sign of a slovenly laundress, so starch was widely used and was made by the laundress from wheat, potato gratings or rice. Sugar was used on lace, which would then be sandwiched between two heavy books until dry.
The clothes would then be laid on clean grass or bushes or hung on a line, after having as much water as possible removed by passing them through a wringer.
Ironing required muscles……the flat, or “sad” iron of the 19th century was extremely heavy and several would be put to heat on the kitchen range so that they could be rotated as they cooled.

Not only a maker of wheels, but also of the whole wagon. He was of course a craftsman of the highest standard, after all, nobody wanted a cart or wagon that shook itself apart within weeks nor did they want the wheels warping or breaking. He had a vast knowledge of how best to season and to use different woods and it could take many months to make a wagon. Up until the late 1800s the Wheelwright was never short of work….however along came the factories, and suddenly people could buy cheaper wagons with a much quicker delivery date. The craft of the Wheelwright went into something of a decline, but some survived and prospered by diversifying into carpentry.


September 1822
R. Percival Jun. Wheelwright, Eye, Herefordshire,
December 1861
William Barr, Wheelwright. Eyton, Herefordshire
October 1863
J. Powell, Wheelwright. Brookfield, Herefordshire. Declared bankrupt
July 1864
C. Webb, Wheelwright. Garway, Herefordshire. Declared bankrupt
May 1866
George Maund, Wheelwright. Pembridge, Herefordshire. Declared bankrupt.