Occupational Surnames

Name Nerds main

Surnames used as first names have been popular for generations--it began as a way to incorporate a mother's family name into a child's name, since he would usually get his father's surname. A subset of the current surname trend is to use occupational surnames that have no connection to the family using them. These names were originally descriptive names based on the job a person did. Some occupations are still around today (think Farmer, Barber, and Baker). Others give a glimpse into a world that no longer exists, a world of wagon makers, basket weavers, and flax pounders. Names like Taylor, Tyler and Paige have been so popular for the past 20+ years, we don't even think of them as occupational surnames anymore, they are just regular old names! For boys in 2016, the most popular occupational surname names were: Mason, Carter, Hunter, Chase, Cooper, and Parker. For girls: Harper, Bailey, Skylar, Piper, and Taylor.

Here are some more of these type names. Some of them (like Sawyer and Rider) are already climbing the charts. Some of these names might be ripe for discovery (for example, Faulkner and Thatcher seem nice)! However, some names (like Lush and Graves) probably should stay well out of the naming pools!

Name job description
Ader barber-surgeon; blood-letter
Archer archer
Bacchus worked in a bake house
Bader Attendant at a public bath. Bath attendants did things like blood-letting, hair cutting, tooth extraction etc.
Bailey bailiff
Bannister basket maker
Barber cut hair; surgeon
Barker worked with bark for the leather trade, shepherd
Bauer farmer; peasant
Baxter female baker
Baylor Probably a variant of Bailer, a sealer or inspector of barrels.
Becker baker
Bekker made wooden vessels
Bender made casks and barrels
Berger shepherd
Bleeker/Bleecker linen bleacher
Boatwright made boats
Bowman bow-maker, or worker who untangles wool
Brazier brass worker
Brewer brewed ale
Brewster female brewer
Butler wine steward
Campion pro fighter; champion
Cantrell singer in a chatry
Carder person who carded wool
Carpenter carpenter
Carrin made carts
Carter made or sold carts, transported goods
Cartwright made carts
Carver sculptor
Cater supplied goods to a large household
Century belt maker
Chafer lime kiln worker
Chaffer merchant
Chalker white washer
Challender sold blankets
Chamberlain in charge of private chambers.
Chambers in charge of private chambers.
Champion a representative who was sent to fight in a trial-by-combat
Chancellor administrator
Chandler candle maker
Chaplin chaplain
Chapman merchant/peddler
Cheeseman made and sold cheese
Cheesewright made and sold cheese
Cherrier worked in a cherry orchard
Chessman made and sold cheese
Clark clerk
Cleaver either worked in a butcher shop or split wood
Coldren made large cooking pots
Coleman gathered charcoal
Collier sold charcoal
Conner inspected for weights and measures
Cook cook
Cooper made barrels
Coster either English: a seller of certain apples, or Dutch: sexton or church warden
Cotter tenant farmer
Crowther played the "crowd," a medieval stringed instrument
Currier leather dresser
Custer sexton or church warden
Day worker in a dairy
Decker, Dekker a thatcher
Dexter female dyer
Drage confectioner
Draper maker/seller of woolen cloth
lathe operator
either a cart or plough driver, or a cattle herd
Dyer dyed cloth
Dyster female dyer
Faber smith
Falconer kept and trained falcons
Farrar smith, ferrier
Faulkner kept and trained falcons
Fearson ironmonger/smith
Fehler, Feiler maker of files
Fisher fisherman
Fiske sold fish
Flax sold or grew flax
Fletcher made arrows
Foal fool; jester
Forester guardian of lord's forest
Foster guardian of lord's forest
Fowler keeper/catcher of birds
Frobisher polished swords and armor
Fuller thickened cloth by trampling
Gage inspected for weights and measures
Garber harvester or reaper
Gardner, Gardiner tended gardens
Garner someone who tended a granary
Glazer, Glazier glass cutter
Glover made gloves
Granger farm bailiff; granary manager
Graves steward
Grover someone who worked in tree groves
Hader rag-seller
Hager woodcutter
Haler porter or carrier
Hammer made stone hammers
Harper played or made harps
Hatler one who raised goats
Haver seller or grower of oats
Hawking, Hawkins a falconer-- one who trained and/or kept hunting hawks
Hayer warden
Hayward guarded fences or enclosures
Heard shepherd or cow herd
Heger forest warden
Hinman keeper of deer on an estate
Hogg swine herd
Hooper fitted metal hoops to barrels and casks
Hunter hunter
Inman Innkeeper
Jaeger hunter
Jagger peddler, carrier, or carter
Kader potter
Kammer chamberlain; treasurer
Kantor singer in a chantry
Kastner/Costner bursary officer
Keller overseer of the stores in a castle or monastary
Kellner worker in a cellar; a steward, overseer, or wine-seller
Kellogg slaughterer
Kelner cook
Kessler copper smith
Key made keys
Killer lime kiln worker
Kimmer barrel-maker
King servant to a king
Kisser armor maker
Knight knight; any military servant; young servant to a knight
Kohler maker or seller of charcoal
Kruger tavern-keeper
Lader cargo handler
Lander laundry worker
Leadbetter lead worker
Lister cloth dyer
Lorimer made spurs
Lush usher
Machin mason; stoneworker
Mader/Madder dye seller
Mahler painter
Mailer enameler
Maller a miller
Marler someone who quarried clay (marl)
Marner Mariner; seaman; sailor
Marshall in charge of horses
Maser/Macer either a wood-turner or a mace-bearer
Mason mason; stoneworker
Mayer mayor
Mehler miller or flour seller
Mercer merchant, esp. of fine cloths (silk, velvet etc.)
Meyer Steward; bailiff; overseer. Later came to mean tenat farmer
Miller, Milner a miller
Mulder a miller
Mulliner, Mills a miller
Nader tailor
Naylor made and sold nails
Page, Paige, Paget minor male servant
Palmer a pilgrim
Parker game keeper
Parson parson; rector
Pfeiffer, Fifer pipe player (as in fife; whistle)
Piper played or made whistles; pipes; fifes
Plummer plumber; lead worker
Potter potter
Proctor tax collector; solicitor; steward
Provost supervisor on a lord's manor
Purcell swine herd
Rader flour-sifter; mill hand
Ranger gamekeeper; warden
Redman roof thatcher
Reeve/Reeves a sheriff
Ritter either a messenger or a horse-mounted soldier
Rock spun wool; made distaffs
Rocker spun wool; made distaffs
Roper maker or seller of rope
Ryder delivered messages on horseback
Sadler made saddles
Saeger a sawyer; someone who made saws or sawed wood
Sailor mariner; seaman
Salter salt worker or salt seller
Sandler cobbler; shoemaker
Sargent military servant
Sawyer sawed wood
Schneider tailor (German)
Schrader tailor
Schreiber clerk
Scully town crier
Seal/Seales maker of seals or saddles
Sexton maintained churches; dug graves
Shepard Shepherd; one who herds sheep
Shields armorer
Shriver writer; scribe
Singer singer
Skinner tanned hides
Skipper ship master
Skylar scholar
Smith, Smythe smith
Smoker made smocks
Snyder tailor (Dutch)
Soppner roofing shingle maker
Spencer dispensed lord's provisions
Spicer sold spices
Spittle hospital worker
Stanier, Stonier stone cutter
Steele steel worker
Stewart steward
Stringer made strings for bows
Tabor played the tabor (small drum)
Tanner tanned hides
Tanzer dancer
Tasker did piece work
Taverner tavern keeper
Taylor tailor
Thatcher thatched roofs
Tiller farmer
Tillman farmer or tile maker
Todd fox hunter
Toller toll collector
Topper either English: flax spinner or German: potter
Trainer trapper
Trapp trapper
Travers tollbridge keeper
Trinder wheel maker
Trotter messenger
Trump/Trumper trumpet maker or drummer
Tucker cloth worker
Tuller sold wares at fairs or festivals
Turner made small objects by turning them on a lathe
Tyler made tiles
Tyrer wardrobe master
Voss servant
Walker shrunk woolen cloth
Waller built walls
Ward watchman; guard
Warf dock worker
Warner, Warrer in charge of wildlife at a park
Wayne wheel maker
Webb weaver
Webster female weaver
Woodward forester
Wright general guy who made stuff
Zaiger Sower or coin assayer
Zehler tallyman; clerk; inventory keeper
Ziegler, Zigler brick-maker
Zotter wool-seller; shepherd