Dictionary of Old Occupations - Occupations That Begin with W

A wheelwright is someone who builds and/or repairs wagon wheels, carriages, etc. for a living.
A wheelwright is someone who builds and/or repairs wagon wheels, carriages, etc. for a living. Getty / Latitudestock

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 W are generally now considered old or obsolete, although some of these occupational terms are still in use today.

Wabster - weaver

Wadding maker - maker of wadding (usually made of old rags or cotton) for stuffing upholstered furniture

Wafer maker - maker of church communion wafers

Wagoner / Waggoner - teamster not for hire; see also the WAGNER surname

Wailer - Mine worker who removed impure rocks in a coal mine

Wain house proprietor - owner of a building where wagons could be parked for a fee

Wainius - ploughman

Wainwright - wagon maker

Waiter - customs officer or tide waiter; one who waited on the tide to collect duty on goods brought in

Waitman - Night watchman who guarded the gates of a city, usually marking the hours with the ringing of a small bell

Waker - A person whose job was to wake workers in time for early morning work

Walker / Waulker - fuller; cloth trampler or cleaner; see also the WALKER surname

Waller - 1) Specialist in building walls; 2) salt maker; see also the WALLER surname

Wardcorn - Watchman armed with a horn for sounding the alarm on the event of intruders or trouble. Common during medieval times.

Warker - Specialist at building walls, embattlements, and embankments

Warper / Warp Beamer - a textile worker who arranged the individual yarns which created the "warp" of the fabric upon a large cylinder called a beam.

Water bailiff - 1) A custom's officer who searched ships as they came into port; 2) one employed to protect fisheries from poachers

Water carter / Water carrier - Someone who sold fresh water from a traveling cart

Waterguard - customs officer

Wattle hurdle maker - one who made a special type of fence from wattle to contain sheep

Weatherspy - astrologer

Webber / Webster - weaver; operator of looms; see also the WEBER surname

Wet nurse -  A women who feeds the children of others with her own breast milk (usually for a fee)

Wetter - either one who dampened paper during the printing process, or one in the glass industry who detached glass by wetting

Wharfinger - a person who owned or was in charge of a wharf

Wheel tapper -  a railway worker who checked for cracked wheels by striking them with a long handled hammer and listening to their ring

Wheelwright - builder and repairer of wagon wheels, carriages etc.

Wheeryman - one in charge of a wheery (light row boat)

Whey cutter - a worker in the cheese industry

Whiffler - an officer who went before an army or procession to clear the way by blowing a horn or trumpet

Whipcorder - a maker of whips

Whipperin - in charge of managing the hounds in a hunt

Whisket weaver - basket maker

White cooper - one who makes barrels from tin or other light metals

White limer - one who painted walls and fences with white lime

Whitesmith - tinsmith; worker of tin who finishes or polishes the work

Whitewing - street sweeper

Whitster - bleacher of cloth

Willow plaiter - one who made baskets

Wing coverer - a worker who covered airplane wings with linen fabric

Wonkey scooper - person who operated a scoop-type contraption from a horse

Woolcomber - one who operated machines that separate fibers for spinning in the woolen industry

Woolen billy piercer - worked in a woolen mill to piece together broken yarns

Wool man / Wool sorter - one who sorted wool into different grades

Wright - a skilled worker in various trades; see also the WRIGHT surname


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