Social Class of Jobs and Professions

Selection of Jobs and Crafts in Victorian England

According to John Burnett’s The Annals of Labour, before the Industrial Revolution workers divided into two basic categories, skilled craftsmen, “who had learnt a specialized craft or ‘mystery’ by apprenticeship,” and unskilled laborers, “who had only muscular strength to sell,” but the arrival of the “factory system” “vastly complicated this traditional distinction by virtually creating a new category of manual worker — the machine-minder, or factory operative who, though intimately familiar with the particular, sub-divided operation of his machine, was able to exercise only limited judgement or discretion over its performance. For him — or for her, since a high proportion of such workers, especially in the textile factories, were female — a short period of training rather than a long apprenticeship was generally all that was necessary.?

According to John Burnett, Victorian craftsman, who stood at the apex of the hierarchy of labor, possessed

“certain characteristics which marked him off clearly from the rest.  Most importantly, he possessed a degree of skill — a combination of manual dexterity and acquired knowledge — which gave him command over his materials and tools and a high degree of control over the quality of the finished product. This skill almost always entitled him to higher wages and to more regular employment than the unskilled worker, and released him from the drudgery of fetching and carrying, preparatory and rough work, to concentrate on the more exacting, and more creative, tasks. Historically, the craftsman’s wage was approximately double that of the labourer, and although this differential probably narrowed somewhat during the nineteenth century the gap remained very wide: for engineering labourers in large provincial towns the weekly wage in 1867 was 15s. or 16s. while that of skilled men was 30s. Socially and culturally, the gaps were even wider. Most skilled workers, well before the days of compulsory schooling, had received some elementary education.”

Various Occupations and Social Class

Upper Class = UC              Middle Class = MC            Upper Working Class = UWC  Lower Working Class = LWC         Destitute = D

Agricultural labourer, farm servant, shepherd LWC
Domestic servant LWC
Cotton, calico, manufacture, printing&dyeing (employee) LWC
Cotton, calico, manufacture, printing&dyeing (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Labourer LWC, D
Farmer, grazier LWC
Boot and shoe maker UWC
Milliner, dressmaker UWC
Coal miner LWC
Carpenter, joiner UWC
Army and navy, enlisted & non commissioned ranks UWC
Army and navy, Junior Officers MC
Army and navy, Senior Officers UC
Tailor LWC
Washerwomen, mangler, laundry keeper LWC
Woollen cloth manufacture (employee) LWC
Woollen cloth manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Silk manufacture (employee) LWC
Silk manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Blacksmith UWC
Worsted manufacture (employee) LWC
Worsted manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Mason, paver UWC
Messenger, porter and errand boy LWC, D
Linen, flax manufacture (employee) LWC
Linen, flax manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Seaman (merchant service) on shore or in British ports UWC
Grocer LWC, UWC
Gardener LWC
Iron manufacture, moulder, founder (employee) LWC
Iron manufacture, moulder, founder (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Innkeeper, licensed victualler, beershop keeper UWC
Seamstress, shirtmaker LWC
Bricklayer LWC
Butcher, meat salesman LWC
Hose (stocking) manufacturer (employee) LWC
Hose (stocking) manufacturer (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Schoolmaster/mistress UWC
Lace manufacture (employee) LWC
Lace manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Plumber, painter, glazier UWC
Baker UWC
Carman, carrier, carter, drayman LWC
Charwoman LWC
Draper (linen and woolen) (employee) LWC
Draper (linen and woolen) (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Engine and machine maker (employee) UWC
Engine and machine maker (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Commercial clerk/book keeper UWC
Cabinet maker, upholsterer (employee) LWC
Cabinet maker, upholsterer (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Teacher (various) governess UWC
Fisherman/woman LWC
Boat, barge man/woman LWC
Miller UWC
Earthenware manufacture (employee) LWC
Earthenware manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Sawyer LWC
Railway labourer LWC
Straw-plait manufacture (employee) LWC
Straw-plait manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Brick maker, dealer (employee) LWC
Brick maker, dealer (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Government Civil Service clerk UWC/MC
Government Civil Service manager MC
Government Civil Service Senior Level UC
Hawker, peddler LWC
Wheelwright UWC
Glover UWC
Shopkeeper (branch undefined) (employee) LWC
Shopkeeper (branch undefined) (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Horsekeeper, groom (not domestic), jockey LWC
Nail manufacture (employee) LWC
Nail manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Iron miner LWC
Printer UWC
Nurse medical(not domestic servant) UWC
Orderly, medical UWC
Shipwright, shipbuilder MC
Stone quarrier (employee) LWC
Stone quarrier (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Lodging house keeper LWC
Lead miner LWC
Copper miner LWC
Straw hat and bonnet maker (employee) LWC
Straw hat and bonnet maker (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Cooper (employee) LWC
Cooper (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Watch and clock maker (employee) UWC
Watch and clock maker MC
Brewer (employee) LWC
Brewer (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Dock labourer, dock and harbour service LWC
Clergyman of the Established [Anglican] Church MC
Protestant Dissenting minister MC
Police, Patrol LWC
Police, Detective UWC
Plasterer (employee) LWC
Pasterer (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Warehouse man/woman (employee) LWC
Warehouse (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Saddler, harness maker (employee) LWC
Saddler, harness maker (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Hatter, hat manufacture (employee) LWC
Hatter, hat manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Coachman (not domestic servant) guard, postboy UWC
Law clerk UWC
Coachmaker (employee) LWC
Coachmaker (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Cowkeeper, milkseller LWC
Ropemaker (employee) LWC
Ropemaker (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Druggist UWC
Surgeon, apothecary UWC, MC
Tin miner LWC
Paper manufacture (employee) LWC
Paper manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Coalheaver, coal labourer LWC
Greengrocer, fruiterer LWC
Muslin manufacture (employee) LWC
Muslin manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Confectioner (employee) LWC
Confectioner (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Tinman, tinker, pin plate worker (employee) LWC
Tinman, tinker, pin plate (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Staymaker (employee) LWC
Staymaker (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Solicitor, attorney, writer to the Signet MC
Barrister, attorney MC, UC
Dyer, scourer, calenderer (employee) LWC
Dyer, scourer, calenderer (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Currier (employee) LWC
Currier (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Builder MC
Farm bailiff MC
Hairdresser, wig maker (employee) LWC
Hairdresser, wig maker (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Coal merchant/dealer (employee) LWC
Coal merchant/dealer (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Glass manufacture (employee) LWC
Glass manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Carpet and rug manufacture (employee) LWC
Carpet and rug manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Goldsmith, silversmith (employee) UWC
Goldsmith, silversmith (manager/owner) MC
Brass founder, moulder, manufacture (employee) LWC
Brass founder, moulder, manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Maltster (employee) LWC
Maltster (manager/owner) UWC
Railway officer, clerk, station master LWC
Book binder (employee) LWC
Book binder (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Road labourer LWC
Wine and spirit merchant MC
Fishmonger LWC
Merchant MC
Ribbon manufacture (employee) LWC, MC
Ribbon manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Land proprietor MC
Railway Company’s servant, Porter, Attendant UWC
Costermonger, General dealer, Huckster (employee) LWC
Costermonger, General dealer, Huckster (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Beerseller (employee) LWC
Beerseller (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Dockyards Artificers, Labourers LWC
Boiler maker (employee) LWC
Boiler maker (manager/owner) LWC
Gunsmith, Gun manfacturer (employee) UWC
Gunsmith, Gun manufacture (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Manufacturer, Mechanic (employee) UWC
Manufacturer, Mechanic (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Chelsea Pensioner UWC
Brush, broom maker, seller (employee) LWC
Brush, broom maker, seller (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Provision Curer,dealer (employee) LWC
Provision Curer,dealer (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Commercial traveller UWC/MC
Railway Engine Driver, Stoker UWC
Miner, Coal (branch undefined) LWC
Engine driver, stoker (branch undefined) LWC
Government messengers and workmen LWC
Machinist, machine worker (branch undefined) LWC
Agent, broker, factor UWC
Musician, Music master MC
Cutler UWC
Ironmonger, hardware dealer (employee) LWC
Ironmonger, hardware dealer (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Tobacco,cigar, snuff manufacturer (employee) LWC
Tobacco,cigar, snuff manufacturer (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Weaver (not otherwise described) (employee) LWC
Weaver (not otherwise described) (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Gasworks service UWC
Municipal, Parish, Union Officer, Postal Manager UWC/MC
Institution service, orphanage, work house, postal clerk UWC
Wood, timber merchant/dealer (employee) LWC
Wood, timber merchant/dealer (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Corn, flour, seed merchant/dealer (employee) UWC/MC
Corn, flour, seed merchant/dealer (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Gamekeeper LWC
Manufacturing chemist, labourer (employee) LWC
Manufacturing chemist, (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Stationer (not law) MC
Bank service, clerk UWC
Bank service (manager/owner) MC/UC
Box and packing case maker (employee) LWC
Box and packing case maker (manager/owner) UWC/MC
Coal mine service, supplies UWC
Street Sweeper LWC
Rag Picker LWC, D
Beggar D
Mud Lark D
Rat Catcher D
Chimney Sweep (employee) (usually small boys) LWC, D
Chimney Sweep (manager/owner) LWC

Note: Being the paid Manager of a factory, shop, warehouse or business is generally an Upper Working Class position. Being the Owner of the factory, shop, warehouse or business is often a Middle Class position.