Occupations glossary

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Agent of Christ Church

The advowson of Great Budworth which gave the right to appoint the rector and receive the tithes was given by the Warburtons to Norton Priory. At the Dissolution it passed to Christ Church, Oxford. This college appointed an agent to collect their tithes in Cheshire. He in turn sold a part to the Warburtons.

Boon works

Boon works were a medieval survival. Tenants had to do a few days work each year, as well as pay their money rents. On the Arley estate these works were converted to a monetary payment around 1690. This is the third column in the Rentals section. Digging turf (peat) in Warburton was the only surviving 'work'. See Seven Households, p 144 for an example of original boon works.

Brawn makers

Brawn was meat of any kind with all the bones removed, tied uptight and boiled with herbs. Served cold and sliced. A delicacy (See Mrs Raffald's Experienced English Housekeeper, 1782 ed. p 300-301).


A specialised metal working business making iron chains. Each link was forge welded to its neighbour.

Cock fight

Cockfights between specially trained cocks were a popular spectacle in the 18th century. Betting took place.


Paints were not usually sold ready mixed at this period. Shops sold dry mineral colour powder e.g. ochre, chocolate, blue. They often also sold oil for making paint.


A skilled worker making and repairing vessels formed of staves and hoops e.g. barrels, tubs, buckets.

Cork cutter

The bark of cork trees grown in Iberia was imported to England and firms cut cylindrical corks from it to fit the glass wine bottles made in England.

Flat (ship)

The sailing ships that carried goods on the Mersey and Weaver and Sankey estuaries and canals were called flats because of their shallow draught. Narrow boats on the later canals were drawn by horses.

Fustian & dimity

Fustians were usually coarse linen warp/cotton weft cloth dyed olive or dark blue for working clothes like denims and jeans. Dimity was similar cloth but woven with striped or patterns and not dyed but often bleached. These were the typical Lancashire cottons before calico printing was developed.


A skilled man who applied gold leaf. The most skilled painter/decorators also applied gold leaf to plasterwork.


A skilled man with a grinding wheel powered by water, or a boy, capable of sharpening hardened steel picks - particularly those used to dress millstones in corn mills.

Grip-yarding contractor

Repaired river banks with stakes and other small timbers and branches.


Hemp (cannabis sativa) was normally grown beside every cottage and farmhouse in the North-West in the 17th centuries and cottagers continued to grow it in the 18th century and harvest it for the fibres - similar to coarse flax. The fibres could then be spun into yarn and made into twine, nets, rope or woven into cloth.


The word originally used to describe the male occupier of a holding of land. He and his family supported themselves on this land. Still used at Arley in 1750 as the job title of the man who managed the farmland.

Iron caster

A firm usually doing four processes. A pattern-maker made a pattern of the item in wood slightly larger than the finished casting to allow for shrinkage in cooling. This pattern was used to make moulds in sand with pouring gates and vent holes. Either new pig iron or old scrap was melted in a ladle and poured into the moulds. When cold the castings were taken out and fettled i.e. cleaned up and the surplus at vents and gates removed.


Limestones were burnt in a kiln fired by coal to produce lime. The type produced varied with the type of limestone.

Lord of the Fee of Halton

The Baron of Halton (castle near Runcorn) originally owned this land. Through marriages it became part of the Duchy of Lancaster (owned by the Crown). Some king had granted the ancient rents to a courtier who claimed them as Lord of the Fee of Halton.


A man who dealt in or made malt from barley in a kiln. Much malt was brought to Cheshire from Midland counties where barley grew better.


One who has provided a mortgage on property :- the creditor.


A skilled man who paved roads or courtyards with stones. In Cheshire the stones used were usually the cobbles that came from the clay fields.

Piling contractor

A skilled man who cut down trees and drove the trunks into the river bed to form a wall or the foundation for a wall.

Riverbank contractor

A skilled man who cut small trees and laced them together to hold up riverbanks.

Rock salt mine owner

Rock salt was mined extensively around Northwich from 1690 See my Capital and Innovation p193 & p 229 for a list of the 10 mine owners 1732-41.


A woman who sewed clothes etc.

Servants of Admiral Hore

Daniel Hore was a Royal Navy Captain and friend of Sir Peter Warburton before he inherited Arley in 1743. Hore captured a Spanish treasure ship and became rich on the Prize money. He bought a large farm in Appleton and Sir Peter sold him a life lease on another so he had a small estate. Hore left money and property to his servants in his will.

Slitting and rolling mill

This was a substantial business in which a water mill drove a variety of wheels, rollers and cutters. These were capable, for example, of reducing a standard 4" square iron bar into a big range of smaller round or square bars or sheet iron. See Capital and Innovation, p 256.

Smoke jack

The apparatus which was set in the chimney to drive a roasting spit for cooking. Usually made by clockmakers.

Spirit merchant

A dealer in spirits such as gin, brandy and whisky.


A tailor who specialized in making corsets, often including whalebones which women used before bras were invented.


Those who leased land and houses for 1-21 years or for 3 lives were all tenants on the Estate.

Timber valuer

A skilled man who could accurately value growing trees or those which had been cut down but not yet "planked".


Pewter and other alloys with a high tin content were much used for dishes, pots and sheet metal requirements before ceramics and tin coated iron sheets became available. These were the skilled workers who made these.


A skilled man who could value fields and whole farms.

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