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When people first took surnames, many used the name of their occupation. Thus Tom the miller, John the baker, and William the smith might become known as Tom Miller, John Baker, and William Smith. When we see those surnames today, we recognize them as occupational names.

Many names come similarly from occupations that have long since been forgotten. This week we'll recall some now-forgotten occupations, in Merrie Olde England, that survive as familiar surnames. We'll start with one which, though previously presented here, allows us to present one of last week's words.

chandler – (orig.) a candle-maker or candle-seller; also, a retailer of specified goods or lines [typ. nautical]; also (chiefly Brit.), a small shopkeeper selling provisions, groceries, etc.
    Beneath canvas shades, a blacksmith pounded metal into hooks; a chandler dipped string into molten beeswax; a woodcarver explained the symbolism of a spoon he had been working on for years.
    – Charlotte Sun-Herald, FL, Mar. 4, 2007

    Steve, who revels in his enfant terrible persona of the chandlery world, is never happier than when he is making waves - in one of the many dinghy classes he sails or when challenging the big boys of the chandlery business.
    – Sail World, Australia, Feb. 28, 2007
 
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cooper – a barrel-maker or barrel-repairer
    He saw Adair, the cooper, flirting with a woman who was not his wife, saw young Muggins slip quietly into the shadows with the blacksmith's daughter.
    – Amanda Ashley, in Midnight Pleasures
 
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A cooper in German is a Fassbinder. This is also a surname.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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When I was young, our family's next-door neighbours were Mr and Mrs Cooper. Mr Cooper had been a cooper. He was retired at the time I knew him, but he'd worked for Courage's brewery in London.

It wasn't until several years afterwards that I realised how apposite was his last name, and I wonder if it had any bearing on his choice of a trade.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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webster – a weaver
[the root means "web", a nice image. I quote the Scottish version of the word]
    What drew artisans to New York was the ood pay they could expect after they had served their terms [of indenture]. In "York city," James Murray wrote home in 1737, "a Wabster gets 12 Pence a Yeard, a Labourer gets 4 Shillings and 5 Pence a Day …
    – Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898
 
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I have met people with the names of "Bledsoe," "Slaughter" and "Hippkiss." I shudder to think what the origins of their names might be.
 
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wainwright – a wagon-maker
    "Maupoissat?" one of the assassins … piped in.
    "You know the name?"
    "Nearly a decade ago, we killed a wainwright by that name," the man admitted, "a wagon maker and his wife. And we were paid handsomely for the task, I must say."
    – R. A. Salvatore, The Cleric Quintet

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granger – a farmer
    Mr. and Mrs. Thompson tried to engage Mr. Helton in conversation, but it was a failure. They tried first the weather, and then the crops, and then the cows, but Mr. Helton simply did not reply. Mr. Thompson then told … about some of the other old grangers at the hotel, friends of his, giving beer to a goat, and the goat's subsequent behavior. Mr. Helton did not seem to hear.
    – Katherine Anne Porter, Pale Horse, Pale Rider

    We're already part granger now with all the hay we cut and stack.
    – Janet Dailey, Stands A Calder Man
 
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mercer – cloth merchant
    Fawkener was ten years older than he and came from the same class; his father was a mercer, as Voltaire's grandfather had been, and his grandfather a druggist.
    – Nancy Mitford, Voltaire in Love
 
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fletcher – one who makes arrows
    Kingmaker is a similar set-up at the castle, where children can watch the fletcher construct traditional bows and arrows.
    – The Independent, Dec. 15, 2001
 
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