Common English Surnames Derived from Professions

Contents
Introduction

A large number of surnames common in the English-speaking world derive from professions. The following is a listing of many that are common in the United States. Not all are originally English; for example, many derive from German. Definitions follow those words whose contemporary meaning may not be obvious to all readers.

This listing is by no means exhaustive; if you have additions or corrections, please write me at email address.



General Listing

Ackerman (plows fields)
Bailey (Middle English - bailiff)
Baker
Ban[n]ister (basket maker)
Barber/Barbour
Barker (leather tanner)
Bauer (German - farmer)
Baumgardner/Baumgartner (German - orchard worker)
Baxter (baker)
Beck/Becker (German - baker)
Berger (shepherd)
Bernstein (German - amber craftsman)
Binder (ties bundles)
Blecher (tinsmith)
Bond (peasant farmer)
Bookbinder
Booker (/Bucher?) (book-maker?)
Brenner (distiller)
Brewer/Brewster (ale-maker)
Butcher
Butler
Calker/Caulker
Carpenter
Carter (wagon driver)
Cartwright (makes/repairs carts/wagons)
Carver
Chamberlain (one who looked after the master bedroom)
Chandler (candle-maker/seller)
Chapman (merchant)
Clark[e] (cleric/clerk)
Clothier
Coker (cook)
Collier (coal miner)
Conner/Connor (inspector)
Cook[e]
Cooper (barrel-maker)
Cooperman (coppersmith)
Cottar/Cotter/Kotter (tenant farmer)
Crocker (potter)
Cropper (picks fruit or reaps crops)
Currier (cures hides)
Cutler (knife maker/sharpener)
Cutter
Dean
Decker
Dexter (cloth dyer)
Doctor
Draper (makes/sells cloth)
Dresser (surgeon's assistant)
Dressler/Drexler (lathe worker)
Drucker (printer)
Dyer
Eggler (egg seller)
Eisenhauer/Eisenhower (German - iron miner)
Eisner (German - iron dealer)
Faber (German - blacksmith)
Farber (German - dyer)
Farmer
Faulkner (falconer)
Feldman (German - farmer)
Felter (maker of felt)
Ferrari/Ferraro/Ferrero (Italian - metalworker)
Fiedler (German - fiddler)
Fisher/Fischer/Fishman
Fleisher/Fleischer/Fleischmann (German - butcher)
Fletcher (maker of bows & arrows)
Forman (foreman)
Forester/Forster/Foster (scissors-maker)
Fowler (bird hunter)
Fuller (person who walked on damp raw cloth in order to thicken it)
Gage (assayer/moneylender)
Garber/Gerber (German - tanner)
Gardner/Gardener/Gardiner/Gartner
Garnett (maker of hinges, or seller of pomegranates)
Geiger (German - fiddler)
Glazer/Glazier (glass-worker)
Glover (glove-maker, esp. for falconry)
Goldsmith/Goldschmidt (worker in gold)
Graves (steward)
Harper (maker or player of harps)
Hayward (fence-keeper)
Head (headmaster)
Hoffman[n]/Huffman[n] (German - property manager)
Holtzman[n]/Holzman[n] (German - lumberjack or timber dealer)
Hooker (reaps grain)
Hooper (hoop-maker for barrels & casks)
Horner (maker of items from horn, such as cups, spoons, etc.)
Howard (ewe-herder)
Hunter
Jagger (fish-peddler)
Judge
Kauf[f]man (German - merchant)
Keeler (barge operator)
Keller (German - estate manager)
Kellogg (hog butcher)
Kitchen[er] (kitchen-worker)
Koch/Kocher (German - cook)
Kohler (German - maker or seller of charcoal)
Kovacs (hungarian - blacksmith)
Kowalski (Polish - blacksmith)
Kramer (shopkeeper)
Kravitz (Polish - tailor)
Kuiper (barrel-maker; English "Cooper")
Kunstler (German/Yiddish - artist)
Kupfer (German - coppersmith)
Lamplighter
Leclerk (French - clerk)
Lehrer (teacher)
Mahler (medieval - maker of stained-glass windows)
Mailer (chain-mail worker)
Marshall (cares for horses)
Mason (brick-layer/stone-worker)
Mathers (mows fields)
Mercer (trader)
Metzger (German - butcher)
Miller (mill-worker)
Milliner (hat-maker)
Miner
Molnar (Hungarian - miller)
Mueller/Muller (German - miller)
Norris (wetnurse)
Packer
Page/Paige (young servant)
Painter
Parker (game-keeper)
Pearlman (pearl-dealer)
Peltier (processor of animal furs)
Pfeiffer (German - piper)
Piper (flute player)
Pitman/Pittman (miner, or one who worked in a pit with a pitsaw)
Planter
Porter (door-keeper)
Potter
Pressman (clothing presser)
Reeve (sheriff)
Reznik (Czech/Slovak - butcher)
Richter (German - judge)
Roper (rope-maker)
Sad[d]ler (makes/repairs/sells saddles)
Sailer
Salzman/Saltzman (salt merchant)
Saylor (acrobat/dancer)
Sandler (maker of sandles)
Sanger (singer)
Sawyer (carpenter)
Scha[e]fer (German - shepherd)
Schindler (German - shingle-maker)
Schlosser (German - locksmith)
Schmidt (German - smith)
Schneider/Snyder (German - tailor)
Schochet (Yiddish - ritual slaughterer of animals)
Schubert/Schumann/Schumacher/Schuster (German - cobbler)
Schultes/Schultz )(German - judge)
Schumacher (German - shoemaker)
Scribner/Scriven/Scriv[e]ner (cleric)
Seneschal (estate agent)
Seward (German - swine herder)
Shearer (of sheeps)
Shepard/Shepherd
Sherman (Yiddish - tailor)
Shoemaker
Shriver (cleric)
Siegel (maker of seals/signets)
Singer
Skinner
Slater (roofer)
Smith (metalworker)
Spencer (dispenser of provisions)
Spooner (shingle-maker)
Spielmann (musician)
Spinner (spins wool)
Steele (steel-worker)
Steinmetz (stonemason)
Steward/Stewart (estate administrator)
Stiller (from Distiller)
Stoddard[t] (horse-keeper) Stoker (furnace worker)
Stringer (bow/string maker)
Summers (summoner; calls people to court)
Sutter (shoemaker)
Tailor/Taylor
Tanner (animal hide processor)
Thatcher (thatches rooves)
Tinker (repairs pots & pans)
Travers (toll collector)
Tucker (cloth cleaner/fuller)
Turner (lathe-worker)
Tyler (one who tiles roofs)
Vo[i]gt (German - legal advisor)
Wachsman/Waxman (wax merchant)
Wagner/Waggoner (teamster)
Wainwright (makes/repairs wagons)
Waldman (lumberjack)
Walker (waulker - one who finishes newly-woven tweed)
Waller (one who builds walls)
Ward (guard)
Wasserman (water carrier)
Waterman (boatman)
Wayne (wagon-maker)
Weaver
Weber (German - weaver)
Webb (weaver)
Webster (weaver; later loom operator)
Wechsler (money-changer)
Weiner (wine-maker)
Wheeler (wagon wheel maker)
Woodward (guardian of the woods)
Wright (manufacturer)
Ziegler (German - brickmaker)
Zimmer[man] (German - carpenter)
Zuckerman (sugar merchant)

Surnames derived from military titles
Archer
Bowman
Ensign
Hauptmann (German - captain)
Herman[n] (German - soldier)
Knight
Krieger (warrior)
Laguardia (Italian - sentinel)
Major
Rider/Ryder (mounted officer)
Ritter (German - knight)
Sargent/Sergeant
Yeoman

Surnames derived from religious titles
Abbot
Bishop
Cantor (temple/church singer)
Chaplin
Cohen (Hebrew - priest)
Deacon
Kirchner (German - sexton)
Monk
Parson
Sexton (bell ringer/grave digger)


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