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The occupations found recorded in documents from prior centuries often appear unusual or foreign when compared to the occupations of today. The following occupations are generally now considered old or obsolete.
Packman - a peddler; a person who traveled around carrying goods for sale in his pack
Page - a young mail servant
Palmer - a pilgrim; one who had been, or pretended to have been, to the Holy Land. See also the surname PALMER.
Paneler - saddler; one who makes, repairs or sells saddles, harnesses, horse collars, bridles, etc. for horses. A panel or pannel was a short saddle raised on both ends for small burdens carried on horseback.
Pannarius - A Latin name for a clothier or draper, also known as a haberdasher, or a merchant who sells clothing.
Pannifex - seller of woolen cloth, or sometimes a generic occupational term for someone who worked in the cloth trade
Pantographer - someone who operated a pantograph, a device used in the engraving process to draw a replica of an image by tracing.
Pardoner - originally someone who collected money on behalf of a religious foundation, a pardoner came to be synonymous with an individual who sold pardons, or "indulgences," which implied that time in purgatory would be "pardoned" if one prayed for the souls there and made a donation to the church through the "pardoner."
Parochus - rector, pastor
Patten maker, Pattener - one who made "pattens" to fit under normal shoes for use in wet or muddy conditions.
Pavyler - someone who erected tents and pavilions.
Peever - a seller of pepper
Pelterer - skinner; one who worked with animal skins
Perambulator - a surveyor or someone who made inspection of property on foot.
Peregrinator - an itinerant wanderer, from the Latin peregrīnātus, meaning "to travel abroad."
Peruker or peruke maker - a maker of gentlemans' wigs in the 18th and 19th century
Pessoner - a fishmonger, or seller of fish; from the French poisson, meaning "fish."
Petardier - A person in charge of a petard, a 16th century bomb used to breach fortifications during sieges.
Pettifogger - a shyster lawyer; especially one who deals with petty cases and raised petty, annoying objections
Pictor - painter
Pigmaker - someone who poured molten metal to make "pigs" for distribution of raw metals. Alternatively, a pigmaker could be a crockery or pottery maker.
Pigman - crockery dealer or a pig herder
Pilcher - a maker of pilches, a type of outer garment made of skin or fur, and later of leather or wool. See also the surname PILCH.
Pinder - An officer appointed by a parish to impound stray beasts, or a keeper of the pound
Piscarius - fishmonger
Pistor - miller or baker
Pitman / Pit man - a coal miner
Plaitor - someone who makes straw plaits for hat making
Plowman - a farmer
Ploughwright - one who makes or repairs plows
Plumber - one who worked with lead; eventually came to apply to a tradesman who installed or repaired (lead) pipes and drains
Porcher - pig-keeper
Porter - gate-keeper or door-keeper
Potato Badger - merchant who peddled potatoes
Pot Man - a street merchant selling pots of stout and porter
Poulterer - dealer in poultry; poultry merchant
Prothonotary - principal clerk of a court
Puddler - wrought iron worker
Pynner/Pinner - a maker of pins and needles; sometimes other wire articles such as baskets and bird cages
Explore more old and obsolete occupations and trades in our free Dictionary of Old Occupations and Trades!