17 Jobs You Won't Believe Ever Existed

If you think your job in the local pub, student bar or high street shop is bad - think again! Here is a list of probably some of the worst jobs to have ever existed and I guarantee they don't even compare to yours!

1. Knocker-Up

Ok so it's not what you're thinking. A Knocker-up was actually a profession in England and Ireland that lasted well into the Industrial Revolution. Before alarm clocks were affordable and or reliable. A knocker-up’s job was to rouse sleeping people so they could get to work on time. They used a long and light stick (often bamboo) to reach windows on higher floors. Hang on, who knocks up the knocker-up?! 

2. Tosher

Now, just read that again. Good. In order for to make a living in Victorian London, Toshers scavenged in the sewers. Nice. They forced their entry into London’s sewers at low tide and wandered through them, sometimes for miles, searching out and collecting the miscellaneous scraps washed down from the streets above: bones, fragments of rope, miscellaneous bits of metal, silver cutlery and,if they were lucky, coins! Winner!

3. Jester


We have all heard of the court Jester – the fool who was permitted to insult the king without losing his head (so long as he made the king laugh). It was a job that came with accolades and with fear. It was also a job unlike any existent today. How many families do you know that employ a private “comedian” so to speak?! Apart from a Kingdom in Tonga of course that had one up until 1999...

4. Toad Doctor

Toad doctors were practitioners of a specific tradition of medicinal folk magic, operating in western England until the end of the 19th century. Their main concern was healing a skin disease (then called “the King’s Evil,”), though they were also believed to cure other ailments including those resulting from witchcraft. They cured the sick by placing a live toad, or the leg of one, in a muslin bag and hanging it around the sick person’s neck. Yeh... that'll sort you right out.

5. Dog Whipper

A dog whipper was a church official charged with removing unruly dogs from a church or church grounds during services in some areas of Europe during the 16th to 19th centuries.

6. Resurrectionist

In Britain, the crime of snatching a body was only a misdemeanor and so was punishable by a small fine only (no biggy). This led to a huge industry in body snatching in order to provide corpses for the blossoming medical schools of Europe. They were often careful not to steal anything such as jewellery or clothes as this would cause them to be liable to a felony charge - thoughtful.

7. Fuller

Fulling is a step in clothmaking which involves the cleansing of cloth (particularly wool) to eliminate oils, dirt, and other impurities, and making it thicker. In Roman times, fulling was conducted by slaves standing ankle deep in tubs of human urine and cloth; sorry whaaaaat? Urine was so important to the fulling business that it was taxed! Urine, known as ‘wash’, was a source of ammonium salts and assisted in cleansing and whitening the cloth. Who knew?!

8. Whipping Boy

So apparently a lot of whipping went on back in the day (refer back to Dog Whipper); so it was that during the 1600s and 1700s a boy was assigned to a young prince and was punished when the prince misbehaved or fell behind in his schooling. Due to the fact that the prince and whipping boy had usually grown up together since birth, they usually formed an emotional bond- increasing the effectiveness of the punishment. Seems legit.

9. Groom of the Stool

The Groom of the Stool was a male servant in the household of an English monarch who, amongst other duties, “preside[d] over the office of royal excretion,”. (Ohhh right, that kind of stool... obviously). Even more weirdly the position was an especially prized one, as it allowed one unobstructed access to the King’s attention and came with a very high social standing!

10. Gong Farmer

A Gong farmer or Gongfermor was the term used in Tudor England for a person who removed human excrement from privies and cesspits, gong being another word for dung. Gong farmers were only allowed to work at night and the waste they collected, known as night soil, had to be taken outside the city or town boundaries. As flushing water closets became more widely used, the profession of gong farming disappeared. Shame.

11. Silver Miner

This is not so much strange as it is downright dangerous and dirty. Not having tools strong enough to do the job without labor, the ancients had to mine everything by hand; and those hands were usually the small hands of children. Life expectancy in the silver mines was just 3 months! – but that didn’t bother the Romans because it was slaves that did the work.

12. Urinatore 

Urinatore actually means “diver” in Latin, (that can't be right?!). These Romans were practically the first diving squad. They had a kettle shaped diving bell filled with air for breathing and weighed down with lead weights, these remarkable Romans would have been able to withstand dives 30 metres deep, and sabotage enemy ships from the beneath! When war wasn’t around, they would get contracted for deep sea dives, like salvaging or construction work. The salvaging part was particularly enticing for them since in that tumultuous period it was very common for galleons to wreck with treasure. It was not unheard of for some Urinatores to become very affluent members of the Roman society!

13. Litter Carrier

This was a slave's job to cart women (and later men) around in little carriages. It was a hard, tedious job and could be dangerous. The litter carriers were usually dressed in fine garments and the litters became more and more extravagant over the years. In fact, in later years many wealthy Romans had windows of glass in their litters instead of the traditional curtains. Documents from the Roman times tell us that it was very uncomfortable to travel by litter as it could make one sea sick. Oh gosh how terrible for one.

15. Curse Tablet Maker

Curse tablets were thin sheets of soft lead that had curses written on them. The curses were then affixed by nails to the altars or walls of temples.

Fortunately, many of these curse tablets have survived to modern times so we can get a glimpse into the way thinking of the Romans. Here is one example: “bind every limb and sinew of Victorius, the charioteer for the Blue team.. the horses he is about to race… blind their eyes so they cannot see and twist their soul and heart so they cannot breathe.” Wow, someone took his sport pretty seriously...

14. Gymnasiarch 

The gymnasiarch had a busy job in ancient Greece due to the popularity of athletics. Despite being a dirty job – the gymnasiarch had to oil and scrape the athletes as well as tidy up after wrestling matches- the position was highly sought after by the rich as it was considered the epitome of philanthropic occupations!

16. Orgy Planner

The orgy planner had a very unusual but very exciting job – he got to plan debaucherous festivities for the rich of society and, in some cases, got perk of an invitation to said party!. The orgy planner had to organize food, women, music, and accommodation. The downside to the job is that the orgy planner was intensely disliked by those members of society who were never invited to the orgies!

17. Funeral Clown

The funeral clown was paid to dress up as the dead person, wear a mask of his face, and dance about acting like him. The Romans believed that this would placate the spirits of the dead and bring joy to the living.

Not creepy at all...  
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