Britain’s First Census and Extinct Professions

A fascinating look at the past from Nicholas Rossis with a list of extinct professions… I think the lifespan of an electric bath attendant might have been as short as the sampler of drugs! Brilliant.. thanks Nicholas.

Nicholas C. Rossis

Odor Judge | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Photograph: Nancy Rica Schiff. Image: Daily Mail (click for more photos)

In 1801, Britain’s first census was begun. A subsequent survey, conducted in 1881, asked residents to declare their “rank, profession or occupation.” Here are some of the more puzzling responses, as preserved by the London Genealogical Society and Jeff Kacirk of Sellers Publishing, Inc:

  • Colorist of artificial fish
  • Knight of the Thimble
  • Disinfector of railways
  • Examiner of underclothing
  • Invisible net maker
  • Electric bath attendant
  • Proprietor of midgets
  • Fifty-two years an imbecile
  • Knocker-up of workpeople
  • Maker of sand views
  • Gymnast to house painter
  • Turnip shepherd
  • Emasculator
  • Sampler of drugs
  • Fatuous pauper
  • Drowner
  • Fish-bender
  • Goldfish-catcher
  • Cow-banger
  • Running about
  • Grape-dryer
  • Beef twister
  • Random waller

If you’re on the lookout for some more obscure modern-day equivalents, check out this Daily Mail post on Nancy Rica Schiff’s photographs of people with odd jobs.

Now, where is a good turnip shepherd when you need…

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2 thoughts on “Britain’s First Census and Extinct Professions

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