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Not Brentford

Brentford Occupations A-Z

This page includes notes about occupations you may come across, for example in censuses, parish records, trade directories and wills. The final column, "Resources", includes links to external sites, books, articles as well as pages this site.

Thanks to numerous contributors this site has a lot of material, try a search on the home page for any occupation you are interested in.

Please get in touch if you can contribute any information about a particular occupation.

Actor Life of an actor who lived in Brentford around the end of WW1; describes sources used and some of the challenges in tracing actors and actresses
AlmswomanFerry Lane and Salutation or St George's AlmshousesOccupants of the Salutation or St George's Almshouses from 1841 to 1939
A closer look at the people who lived in the Salutation almshouses
ApprenticeApprentices learned a trade or craft with a master, usually over a period of five to seven yearsThere are several sources of apprenticeship records
ArtistMaybe the river, canal boats or proximity to London attracted artists?J M W Turner

J T Fairs

Laurence Perugini

Auguste Ballin

External link - Tate Gallery - painting by Brentford-born Frederick Cayley Robinson 1862-1927

The Croxford family had several artists

BargemanSee LightermanAs Waterman
Basket makerMade baskets for transporting fruit & veg (& other goods?) to market; Brentford had osier beds which provided the raw materialsRiverside Crafts & Industries, James Wisdom, Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 1985

Photos of the Dawes family basket making business, 306 High St from Andy Dawes

Basket and pottle makers in Brentford, 1851

The Willow Business, Val Bott, includes details of local willow growers and basket makers, surnames Bowden, Dawes, Goodwin, Scoggins

Beer sellerThe Beer House Act of 1830 allowed a householder who paid the local poor rate to obtain a licence, costing 2 guineas, to sell beer or cider but not wine or spiritsSee Landlord
Boat builder E C Jones, Brentford boat & barge builder

E C Jones, Brentford boatbuilder Pam Vernon-Roberts, Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 2007

Much more information / photos about the E C Jones business prepared by Pam Vernon-Roberts is available at the Local Studies room, Chiswick Library

Riverside Crafts & Industries James Wisdom, Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 1985

BrewerBrentford Breweries included the Beehive Brewery & Royal BreweryRoyal Brewery Brentford Neil Chippendale: Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 2005

Brentford & Chiswick Pubs, Gillian Clegg, published by Tempus, 2005

Brick maker Brentford brick-makers and potters, Val Bott, from the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 2011

British History online - Heston and Isleworth, Middlesex - has information about the location of brick fields locally (thanks to Sally Douglas for spotting this)

Bricklayer Notes about this work dating from 1811; includes links to further information about some of Brentford's bricklayers.
Butcher Lockyer family notes

Warden family letters 1874

Carpenter or joinerAlthough the same person often performed both trades, the tasks were distinct, and carpentry was the lesser skilled of the two (LondonLives, see link to right)

A random selection of Brentford carpenters & joiners: William Buckland, John Robert Foord, Henry Hayward, Edison Whitaker Hood, Charles Jackman, John Sims, William Collins Taylor, John Ward, Robert Winkworth

Records of the Worshipful Company of Carpenters, Volume 1; Apprentices' Entry Books 1654-1694 has records of nearly 3,000 apprentices, their families and places of origin and the member of the Company to whom they were bound. Available free British History Online; includes index of names.

Court/Committee Minute Books for the Carpenters' Company searchable at LondonLives website; 1680s to 1800s. The same website has a useful introduction to carpentry and joinery plus links to other material.

Clockmaker3 watch / clockmakers living at High Street addresses in 1851; in 1901: 2 watchmakers and a watch repairerPhotos: Gaydon clock and Gaydon family history
Upjohn clock
Family details Honeybone & Pearce at 231 High Street
Parsons at 282 High Street
CollarmakerMay be a maker of horse collars rather than anything to do with men's shirts Joseph Quinion's occupation was collarmaker when he baptised his son in 1817; he described himself as a saddler in his will of 1837
Commercial TravellerLinked manufacturers and wholesalers to retailersTravelling salesmen in Britain 1890s-1930s is a useful resource (thanks to Val Bott for sending link)
CouncillorBrentford Local Board formed in 1874Local councillors from 1874, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1896 and 1908; includes links to biographies researched by Janet McNamara
CurrierCurriers took hides from tanners and processed them for shoemakers, saddlers etc. Notes from 1811 and some local curriers
Doctor British Medical Journal Archive can be searched on-line, 1840-2009; registration is free; includes obituaries and biographical snippets

List of Brentford medical men from 1793 to 1940

Baptisms of those involved in health, Peter Stuart's index 1814-1906

Excise man Excise Service details
Excise Service in Brentford

Baptisms of those involved in the law, Peter Stuart's index 1829-1906

FellmongerDealer in hides or skins, particularly sheepskins, who might also prepare skins for tanning. The name is derived from the Old English 'fell' meaning skins and 'monger' meaning dealer (wikipedia)Brentford fellmongers include John Smith (1826, 1836); M. Band (1877). Related occupations:

Fireman  "Fire! 300 years fire fighting in Brentford", Diana Willment, Dandelion Publications, 2003
Brentford Fire Station at 53 High Street
List of Brentford firemen, 1879
Photo of ten members of the Brentford Volunteer Fire Brigade, 1890, also appears in 'Brentford As It Was', page 30
Photo of firemen, 1894
Photo of firemen, 1944
Funeral cortege of Frank Davis, 1948
Funeral cortege of Frank Davis, 1948 (2)
Clarnico Fire Brigade, London E15

FishermanIn 1845 Faulkner wrote about the decline of the Brentford fishery, borne out by the occupations recorded in the 1851 censusRiverside Crafts & Industries James Wisdom, Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 1985
An inveterate poacher - William Armitage - news report from the mid 19th century
Fishmonger List of Brentford fishmongers - mainly 19th century - includes many newspaper articles and links to fishmongering families such as Bates, Dobson etc
GardenerLikely to have worked in a Market Garden rather than a private propertyBeach's jam article by Janet McNamara includes notes on 19th century fruit growing

Growth of Brentford Market by Janet McNamara

Garden womanTerm used in the 1851 census and until WW1In 1851 Brentford typically an Irish woman who worked in a market garden
News articles from the 19th century describe women's work in the strawberrry trade
Gas workerBrentford Gas Light and Coke Co. had extensive premises at the east end of BrentfordThe Brentford Gas Company, Eric Kenward, Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 1981

Photo of Emily Rebecca Carr, Brentford Gaslight & Coke Company worker, early 1900s

JoinerSee Carpenter
Landlord (Pub) George & Florence Diggins ran the Rising Sun during WW2

Reeve family memories from WW2 of the Bull and Barge Aground

Brentford pubs poem

Brentford beer sellers and publicans

List of Brentford pubs

Baptisms , Peter Stuart's index 1813-1905

The Pub Hub, Vic Rosewarne and Jim Storrar's research into pub histories, licence transfers, maps and more

Laundress Crown & Jersey Laundry staff, 1933
Leather dresserFinishes leather by colouring and polishing skins after they have been tanned.George Band was a leather dresser, part of the family of parchment makers
LightermanWorked on barges, carrying goods or wares (but not people) up and down the river and from cargo ships to shoreSee Waterman
Licensed Victualler See Landlord
MaltsterBrentford had several malthousesBanks, Cracknell, Gomm, Harrington, Harvest, Jupp, Sadler, Thorogood, Trimmer, Underwood are all mentioned on the site as being maltsters
Brief notes from Victoria County History about Brentford maltsters
Market traderBrentford market operated at various sites before moving into a purpose built building in 1893Knight family, including links

Growth of Brentford Market by Janet McNamara

Non-local traders at Brentford Market, 1922, Claire Noble

Photos of traders at the market, late 1960s - flickr

Master at school See Schoolmaster
Merchant NavyMerchant Navy apprenticeship records are available online
Milk carrierThe site has photos showing milk carriers and milk menMilk cart outside 315 High Street, around 1905, Osborne family
Milk cart in South Ealing, probably pre 1914, Bovingdon family
Amos Cox, milkman, date 1930s/50s?
MillerBrentford may have had two windmills, hence Windmill RoadWindmill gazetteer by Guy Blythman; scroll down or search for Brentford
Sketch of Brentford's smock mill
Robert Wallace Johnson was recorded as a miller in 1795
Nurse, WW1 Family Tree, April/May 2005 Red Cross database, search by name or location (over 100 Brentford volunteers)

Three probationery nurses were dismissed in 1921 from West Middlesex Hospital

Nursery gardenerSeedsmen, growers and sellers of plants, trees etc rather than sellers of produceSome Brentford Nursery Gardeners, Val Bott Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 2008

Nursery Gardeners gardening in Thames-side parishes 1650-1850 Val Bott's blog

Parchment MakerJames Band and Sons were parchment makers and leather dressers in Plough Yard from 1859, the last parchment and vellum works in Europe

Ted Sumner's Ryall family included parchment makers

The life of councillor George Band, parchment maker, researched by Janet McNamara

Harry Langley remembers his working life at Band's

PawnbrokerBrentford had several pawnbrokers during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: addresses include 121/2, 131/2, 288/9 and 364/5 High Street; surnames include Brooks, Burford, Finch, Folkard, Fuller, Gentry, Potter, Raper, Rattenbury, Seabrook and Taverner288,289 High Street: Rattenbury's, 1960s
The Folkard family operated from 288, 289 High Street in the 1820s and 1830s
'The Pawnbrokers Shop' by Charles Dickens is a good read
Police Charles Cox was a Brentford PC

Family Tree, August 2005

Brentford Police Station was at no. 60 then no. 42 until the 1960s

John Oman Mumford was Sub-divisional Inspector at the old Brentford Police Station in the 1890s

Baptisms of those involved in the law, Peter Stuart's index 1829-1906

Postal worker Archive Photo Series Brentford includes 1904 photo of staff at the Brentford Post Office (p61)

Postcard 1908+ showing PO and boy workers, at new St Paul's Road site

Photos with a possible PO connection: please can you help with names?

Potter Brentford brick-makers and potters, Val Bott, from the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 2011
Printer Brentford printers include Bohee, Coulton, Jackson, Norbury and Pearce

Photos taken at Bohee's, 1920s - can you identify the young man working there?

Publican See Landlord
Pupil See Schoolmaster
Railwayman Family Tree, February 2005
Sales Rep As Commercial Traveller
Scholar SeeSchoolmaster
SchoolmasterList of Brentford schools in 1866See Rothschild School links

findmypast includes Teacher's Registration Council Registers 1914-1948 (subscription required)

Baptisms of those involved in education, Peter Stuart's index 1813-1904

The site has several school photos dating 1910 to 1950s

Photo of Boys' National School, The Ham, 1880s and list of its schoolmasters

Redevelopment of Sarah Trimmer School, 2016 - London Historians' Blog

SeedsmanA developer and seller of varieties of fruit, vegetable and flowering plantsSee also Nursery gardener
SlopsellerA dealer in cheap working men's clothesMatthew Collet and Thomas Hopkins were local slopsellers in 1841
Soap workerThames Soap Works, Ferry LaneThe Thames Soapworks of Brentford, Ted Crouchman, Brentford and Chiswick Local History Journal 1996

Photo of Crimean War soldier, mid-1850s

Includes photo of 3rd Regiment Dragoon Guard, early 1860s?

WW1 Soldier

WW1 Sergeant

WW1 Army Major

WW1 records

1925 photo includes men in the Middlesex Regiment

Sportsman or woman Name index, sporty people
Surgeon See Doctor
TannerConverted animal skin into leather by soaking it in a liquid containing tannic acid or other chemicals Brentford tanners include Richard Saunders (ca 1650), Samuel Perkins (1793), George Norris (1841) and Charles Evershed (1861). There was a Tan Yard in New Brentford: see the tithe map from 1838.
Related occupations:
Teacher See Schoolmaster
Timber MerchantBrentford had several timberyards Brentford Timber Company at 38-39 Kew Bridge Road (link to follow)

The Dorey family was involved in the building trade, one reference found to Dorey timberyard behind 22-25 High Street in 1901 and the sale of timber from Distillery Road in the 1940s

Montgomrey's timberyard behind 72-76 High Street

Spanton's timberyard at 135 and 136 High Street

Riverside Crafts & Industries James Wisdom, Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 1985

Umbrella MakerOften combined with other occupationsLocal examples include Goddard, Longinotto and Purches - all operating in the Victorian era
UndertakerOften also a carpenter or builderFamily Tree, December 2005
Local undertakers include Barratt, Healey, Heath and Sims
VADVoluntary Aid Detachment, during WW1Red Cross VAD database can be searched by name or location / hospital name (over 100 Brentford volunteers)
Veterinary SurgeonThere appears to be a crossover between farriers and veterinary surgeons in the 19th and 20th centuriesBaptisms , Peter Stuart's 1814-1906 index contains a few references to vets

Brentford's veterinary surgeons include Hinge

230a High Street was described as a 'veterinary infirmary, forge and house' in the early twentieth century

Vicar Reverend T Selby Henrey, of St George's church 1895-1930
Names from 1971 & 1980 parish magazines
Search on the home page for vicar will bring up other references
Victualler See Landlord
Wardrobe dealersSellers of second hand clothes, not wooden furnitureSee "Nellie's Book": The Early Life of Victoria Wood's Mother by her son Chris Foote Wood (elder bro to Victoria Wood)
Watchmaker See Clockmaker
WatermanLicensed to navigate and pilot passenger vessels on the River Thames Is there a Thames Lighterman in your family? by John Kite

Docklands Ancestor: includes lists, history, images...

"My Ancestors were ... Thames Watermen" by James W. Legon pub. 2008 (Society of Genealogists Enterprises Ltd, Second Edition; £7.50

The bargemen of Brentford, David Blomfield: Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 2007; focuses on seven families: Banyon, Clark, Dale, Harris, Layton, Sims, Winter

Riverside Crafts & Industries James Wisdom,Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 1985

Brentford Barge Owners, Elizabeth Wood, Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 1981

The Past of Brentford's Waterways, Elizabeth Wood, Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 1980

findmypast includes records of Thames watermen and lightermen 1688-2010 (subscription required): 869 entries for Brentford including James Clements, bound to Henry Hall Humphreys 13 Sep 1892 - 12 Dec 1899

Over 1600 baptisms of those that worked on the waterways, 1813-1906 transcribed by Peter Stuart

Canal boat registration, 1894

Postcard of the Boatmen's Institute which opened in 1904

Memories, eg Harry Langley's, may be helpful; also try searching the site for 'barge -aground' (to exclude the pub The Barge Aground or 'canal' to see photos from the 1890s onwards

Spellweaver, a website 'for anyone interested in their canal boat ancestors'; includes newspaper articles, help for family historians and much more

Willow growerBrentford had osier beds which provided the raw materials for basket makingRiverside Crafts & Industries James Wisdom, Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal 1985

The Willow Business, Val Bott, Brentford & Chiswick Local History Journal 2017, includes details of local willow growers and basket makers, surnames Bowden, Dawes, Goodwin, Scoggins

The Willow Business, Val Bott, 2019; from her


Published 2008; last updated April 2023