Occupation of the Day Christmas Quiz 2023

Another year draws to a close: where does the time go?

But have YOU been paying attention to the weird and wonderful historical occupations which have featured in my #OccupationOfTheDay posts on social media? And would you like to turn that knowledge into a chance to win one of this year’s most highly-rated history books?

If you know your huilebalks from your egg candlers, aren’t foxed by whammellers or meresmen, and can distinguish an eager from a bottom polisher, then I have just the quiz for you…

Nine questions. One scrambled answer. One winner.

Image of the prize book, a copy of Oskar Jensen's 'Vagabonds: Life on the Streets of Nineteenth Century London'

This year’s Quiz comes with the opportunity to enter a Prize Draw!

If you’ve kept up with the jobs of bygone times which I’ve sent your way, then you could be in with a chance of winning a copy of Oskar Jensen’s ‘Vagabonds’, an absolute feast of social history which takes you into the heart of Georgian and Victorian London, detailing the lives of many who eked out a living within the confines of its streets. Shortlisted for this year’s Wolfson History Prize for outstanding history writing, this terrific read will get your new year off to a brilliant start.

How does the giveaway work?

This year’s quiz has nine questions. You’ll need to take the first letter of each of the nine answers and rearrange them to form a two-word, nine-letter phrase associated with Christmas. If you can identify that phrase and email it to me before the closing date (11:59pm GMT/UTC on Friday 5th January 2024), then you could be in with a chance of winning a copy of Oskar Jensen’s wonderful book.

After the closing date, all valid, correct entries will be collated and a winner chosen at random by an independent third-party. I’ve provided full details of how to enter, along with a copy of the Terms and Conditions, further down this page.

Array of historical occupations including lacemaking, agriculture, baking and basket weaving

Looking to learn more about historical occupations?

If you’d like to learn more about the occupations of yesteryear or brush up on your knowledge for the quiz, then:

My Bringing Home the Bacon series of articles, previously published on this blog, also take you through a range of techniques and resources to help you puzzle out unfamiliar historical occupations. Read them here: Part 1 (general resources), Part 2 (urban and 19th-century employment), and Part 3 (rural and pre-19th-century jobs).

Now that you’re armed with resources and knowledge to puzzle out unfamiliar employment descriptions, it’s time for you to tackle this year’s #OccupationOfTheDay Quiz!

The Quiz

Nine questions. One scrambled Christmas phrase. One winner. You may now turn over your paper and start…

Q1: Which of the following would you NOT find working in a church?

  • Organ erector
  • Pulpit man
  • Sluggard-waker
Two images of historical settings. The first image is an artist's sketch of people in a crowded church building and there is a lot of interaction between the people, and a sense of movement and noise. The second image is a medieval drawing showing four men operating a pipe organ using levers at the right and left, whilst two men stand at the top where the organ reeds are

Q2: Which of these workers sorts a specific item in a factory, based on holding it up against an electric light?

  • Bright finisher
  • Overlooker
  • Egg candler
Three images of people at work indoors. One woman is in a factory sorting eggs; the middle scene is of a room in a cotton factory; and the final image is a photo of men working to make hats.

Q3: There’s a dispute blowing up about the boundaries of the 17th century parish where you live. Who should deal with this?

  • Meresman
  • Absorber man
  • Huilebalk
Historical map of Lancashire, showing Blackburn, Bowland Forest and Garstang.

Q4: What would a WHAMMELLER be most likely to catch?

  • Salmon
  • Cricket balls
  • The bus
Two heritage photos of people at work. The first if of a female conductor on a bus, using a ticket machine to process a payment for a male passenger who is sitting down. The second photo shows fishermen casting a net, with their catch heaped up on the shore.

Q5: Your troublesome 19th-century neighbours have dumped an animal carcass in the street. Who needs to talk to them about this?

  • Public-health agitator
  • Miasma detective
  • Inspector of nuisances
Engraving of a busy street scene teeming with people.

Q6: Which of the following might you find in a coal mine?

  • Eager
  • Roper
  • Upholder
Three photos of mining workers. One image shows three men with hammers and picks in a mine area, assessing the roof above their heads. Another shows men sitting near mine tracks, apparently pausing for a refreshment break. The final image is of a group of miners gathered together for a group portrait.

Q7: Which of the following might – quite literally – provoke you to swear?

  • Berman
  • Coyduck
  • Gongfarmer
Three images of historical scenes. The first shows men moving barrels around in a storage room; the second is an advert for John Hunt the Nightman and Rubbish Carter, and the final image shows a scene outside a tavern.

Q8: Which of these people frequently makes a tapping noise in the course of their work?

  • Bottom polisher
  • Night caller
  • One-handed man
Three historical occupations from various eras. The first is a photo or a man standing outside a house in the morning, he carries a long stick extended upwards towards the upper floor of the property; the second is an engraving of agricultural workers; and the thrid shows a group of shoemakers in their workshop, with shoe lasts ranged on shelves along one side of the room.

Q9: All but one of the following is involved in some way in the production or sale of beer or spirits. Which is the odd one out?

  • Index maker
  • Allowance man
  • Off-licence shop assistant
  • Brewer
Montage of three historical images: Hogarth's engraving of Beer Street; a worker standing at the side of a series of enormous barrels; and a street vendor selling drinks from a barrow.

How to Enter

Take the first letter of each of your nine answers (where an answer has more than one word, just take the first letter of the first word). Rearrange these nine letters to form a two-word phrase associated with Christmas.

PLEASE NOTE: This Prize Draw closed to entrants on 5th January 2024, so it’s not possible to submit an entry to this Giveaway now. The entry instructions have therefore been removed from this page. I usually run a Quiz-related competition every December, so sign up to updates from The Parchment Rustler (see the sidebar on the right) to keep updated on new articles and you’ll be poised and ready for next time!

By submitting an answer to the Quiz you agree to be bound by the Terms and Conditions. The lucky winner will be notified by email by 31st January 2024.

Happy New Year to all

Good luck to all of you who give the Quiz a go and decide to enter the Prize Draw, and thank you for your continued support of the #OccupationOfTheDay and indeed of The Parchment Rustler throughout the year. I feel incredibly fortunate to be working in such a lively and supporting community where we have so many opportunities for discussion, collaboration and sharing of ideas.

Here’s wishing you all a fruitful festive season of family history endeavours. 2023 has been a very busy year here professionally and it’s prevented me from blogging as much as I would have liked, but I’ll look forward to sharing more genealogy content with you in 2024!

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