Dictionary of Old Occupations - Occupations That Begin with A

An ale draper is an old occupational term meaning alehouse keeper.
An ale draper is an old occupational term meaning alehouse keeper. Getty / Future Light

The occupations found recorded in documents from prior centuries often appear unusual or foreign when compared to the occupations of today. The following occupations beginning with A are generally now considered old or obsolete, although some of these occupational terms are still in use today.

Acater - ship's chandler, one who supplies food provisions to a ship

Accipitrary - falconer

Accomptant - accountant

Accoucheur - one who assists women in childbirth; midwife

Accoutre / Accoutrement maker - one who outfitted or supplied military clothing or equipment

Ackerman, Acreman - ploughman, ox herder

Actuary - accountant

Aeronaut - balloonist or trapeze artist

Affeeror - official in the manorial courts responsible for assessing the monetary penalty and collecting taxes and dues, assessor

Alblastere - old Scottish term for a crossbow man

Albergatore - inn keeper (Italian)

Alchemist - medieval chemist who claimed to be able to turn metal into gold

Alderman - an elected member of a municipal council; a noble serving the king as chief officer of a district

Ale conner - official who tested the quality and measure of ale served in public houses

Ale-draper, Ale draper - a tapster or seller of ale

Ale-tunner, Ale tunner - one who worked among or was employed to fill "tuns," great hogshead barrels or casks used to store ale in medieval times

All spice - grocer

Ale-wife, Alewife - landlady of an ale house, or ale stand

Almoner - one who distributes alms, provides for the needy; in Britain may also refer to a hospital social worker

Amanuensis - stenographer, one who takes dictation

Ambler - one who worked in a stable to help break in horses

Amen man - parish clerk

Anchor smith - one who made anchors

Ankle beater - young person who helped drive cattle to market

Annatto maker - one who made annatto dye for paint and printing trades, derived from the seeds of the achiote tree

Annealer - one who processed metal or glass by heating it in a furnace and then slowly cooling it via chemicals or other means

Antigropelos maker - one who made waterproof leg coverings meant to protect trousers from splashing and dirt

Apiarian - beekeeper

Apiculteur - beekeeper (French)

Apparitor - official who summoned witnesses for the ecclesiastical courts

Apothecary - One that prepares and sells drugs and medicines, a pharmacist

Aquarius - waterman

Aratore - plowman

Arbalist - a crossbow man

Arbiter - a person who judged disputes

Archiator - doctor, physician

Archil maker - one who made a reddish-purple dye called archil for use in dying textiles; the dye was made by bruising lichens and then moistening it with urine or spirits mixed with lime

Argenter - silver plater

Arkwright - A skilled craftsman who produced wooden chests or coffers (arks)

Armiger - squire who carried the armor of a knight

Armourer - one who made suits of armor, or plates of armor for ships

Arpenteur - land surveyor (French)

Arrimeur - stevedore, one who is employed in the loading and unloading of ships (French)

Artificer - a skilled craftsman or artisan; an enlisted military man responsible for upkeep of weapons and small arms; or an inventor

Ashman - one who collected ashes and garbage 

Aubergiste - inn keeper (French)

Augermaker - one who made augers for boring holes in wood

Aurifaber - a goldsmith, or one who works with gold

Avenator - merchant of hay and forage

Avvocato - lawyer or soliciter

Axel tree turner - one who made axles for coaches and wagons


Explore more old and obsolete occupations in our free Dictionary of Old Occupations and Trades.