These terms were probably used well before the 18th century, but I’ve labeled them as such since the primary sources I took them from were published in the early 18th century. They were used in both the New World and the old.
The baker’s work and prices were set by law allowing him a fair profit but preventing his taking advantage of his customers. “Poor are more at his mercy than the rich; small families more than great; for in Rolls, Two-penny and Three-penny Loaves, there is no Check upon him; in the Quartern and Peck Loaves, and such Families as take in the small bread are the chief support of the Baker.” Customers could run a tally with him rather than paying in ready-money unlike many others.
Bakers were generally strong, robust Men, and a lad could be bound at fourteen or fifteen when deemed strong enough to knead the masses of dough.
Butchers required more skill to learn their trade than any of the other victualling branches. They had to know how to kill, cut up, and dress their meat to advantage, and how to buy a bullock, sheep, or calf, standing. They knew how to judge its weight and fatness by eye, and without long experience were often liable to be deceived in both. Butchers were necessary, requiring great strength and a disposition no ways inclinable to the coward. A lad of fourteen or fifteen could be bound to a butcher.
In London, specific rules governed what a butcher could legally do within his trade. He was not allowed to kill any animal within his scalding-house or within the walls of the city. Selling meat at unapproved prices carried stiff penalties: ten pounds or twenty days imprisonment for the first offense, twenty pounds or to be set in the pillory for the second; and a third offense carried a penalty of forty pounds or to be set in the pillory, and lose one of his ears.
A butcher was not allowed to buy oxen, steers, heifers, or calves in a market or fair and then re-sell them while yet living. “No Butcher shall gash, or cut the hide of any ox, bull, steer, or cow, in flaying thereof, or otherwise, whereby the same shall be impaired or hurt, on pain of twenty-pence for every hide. No butcher shall water any hide, except in the months of June, July, and August, or shall offer to sale any putrified, or rotten hide…”.
“If any Butcher in London or Westminster, or within ten miles thereof, shall buy any fat cattle, and sell the same again, either alive or dead, to another butcher, he shall forfeit the value of such cattle”.
A cheesemonger was a retailer of cheese, butter, eggs, bacon, and sometimes hams. His skill consisted of knowing the prices and properties of the goods he sold. “It is pretty precarious, and liable to a great many accidents; their cheese lose in their weight, their hams stink, and their bacon rusts, notwithstanding all the care they are able to take; were it not for such accidents as these, their trade would be very profitable.”
His trade was often wholesale, he employing factors to buy and transport them to London. “He requires from twenty to fifty pound with an apprentice; and it will require several hundred pounds to set him up”.
Every kilderkin of butter had to contain 112 lb., neat, every pound to be sixteen ounces, besides the tare of the cask; every firkin fifty-six lb., neat, and every pot fourteen lb., neat of good and merchantable butter. No butter, old or corrupt, could be mixed or packed with new or any whey butter packed with that of cream.
Cheesemongers and tallow-chandlers were permitted to sell any quantity of butter or cheese for victualling ships, or for other purposes.
“In the Days of good Queen Elizabeth, when mighty Roast Beef was the Englishman’s Food; our Cookery was plain and simple as our manners; it was not then a science or mistery, and required no conjuration to please the palates of our greatest men. But we have of late Years refined ourselves out of that simple Taste, and conformed our Palates to Meats and Drinks dressed after the French Fashion: The natural taste of fish or flesh is become nauseous to our fashionable stomach; we abhor that any thing should appear at our tables in its native properties; all the Earth, from both the Poles the most defiant and different climates, must be ransacked for spices, pickles and sauces not to relish but to disguise our food. Fish when it has passed the hands of a French cook is no more fish; it has neither the taste, smell, nor appearance of fish. It, and every Thing else, is dressed in Masquerade, seasoned with slow poisons and every dish pregnant with nothing”.
The writer went on to say rich and poor lived as if they were of a different species of beings from their ancestors, and observe a regimen of diet, calculated not to supply the wants of nature. “But it is to no purpose to preach against Luxury and French cookery; they have too powerful a party in the nation: we must take the Cooks as they are, not as they ought to be; they are not to blame, but those that employ them.”
Cooks were of three sorts: the roasting and boiling cooks; the pastry-cooks; and those that kept chop-houses and confined themselves to dressing a beef-steak, a veal-cutlet, or a mutton-chop.
Boys at about age thirteen or fourteen could be bound, first learning to tend the fires. Salaries ranged from “a hundred a year” to five to fifty pounds a year depending on skill.
Coffee-houses were often taverns as well as coffee-houses that sold all manner of wine and punch and dressing dinners for gentlemen. Those found adulterating coffee or tea incurred a substantial penalty.
A fruiterer chiefly bought large quantities of fruit and retailed it out. Some bought whole orchards of fruit while yet on the tree. They were incorporated by James I in 1605.
A grocer imported himself, or purchased by wholesale of an importer, raisins, sugar, figs, and all manner of foreign fruit (except oranges and lemons) and frequently sells tea, coffee, and chocolate as well as soap, starch, blue, and other small articles.
“The pastry-cook is a very profitable business, requires a good palate and a disguising genius. He is nice at making all manner of Pyes, Pasties, Tarts, Custards, &c. is skilled in the architecture of paste and judicious at charging his pyes with all manner of sculpture and statuary. He deals in jellies and preserves, and in some few confections. A lad may be bound about fourteen years of age and generally sets up for himself, or enters into the service of some gentleman, in quality of Superintendant of his pastry work”.
“The confectioner is a sweet-tooth’d tradesman: He makes all manner of Sweet-Meats, preserves all manner of fruits, and is the architect of a desert. He builds walls, castles, and pyramids of sweet-meats and sugar-plumbs. ..He makes sour things sweet and sweet things sour; he covers the products of summer, and the hottest season of the year with artificial frost and snow, and delights the eye as much with the arrangement of his pyramids as the taste of the delicious flavor of his wet and dry Sweet-Meats. It requires no small knowledge to compleat a confectioner; though I never esteem him one of the most useful members of society. The trade is profitable to the Master, and the Journeymen have from fifteen to twenty shillings a week”.
The poulterer furnished tables with fowl and game of all sorts. “He has the secret of making them pay very dear for what they have of him…If they pay their bills, the nobleman is bit; but if they do not, as frequently happens, the poulterer is bit. The whole mystery of this trade lies in buying cheap and selling dear; a secret which may be learned in less than seven years”.
The fishmonger’s profits were without bounds, and bore no proportion to his out-layings. His knowledge consisted of finding the cheapest market and selling at the greatest price. His trade could be learned in less than seven years, “without any notable genius”. The fisherman is a laborious useful trade, perfectly well understood. It is fit only for robust lads.
The vinegar-maker made vinegar from white wine that had spoiled, or brewed it from raisins. The latter was the cheapest and most common.
“Chocolate is made of cocoa, the product of the West-Indies. It is stripped of its shell, or rather husk, and wrought upon a stone over a charcoal fire till it is equally mellow, and then put into moulds, which shapes it into cakes. To perfume it they mix it with Venello. It is a hot laborious business, but does not require much ingenuity. Journeymen’s Wages are from twelve to fifteen shillings a week, but are not employed much in summer. They require heat to work with, but cold weather is necessary to dry it.”
Those who ran an oil-shop sold oils, pickles, anchovies, soap, salt, hams, and, “several other family necessaries; he is a mere retailer, has enough profits, but is worth no lad’s while to slave seven years in this dirty shop for any knowledge he can reap from his Master or his Practice”. The author advised young men that going into an apprenticeship or indenture with any sort of retail shop keeper was not a way to gather wealth.
“Sugar is made of the liquor of the Sugar-cane, boil’d and made to granulate by mixing it with lime. The sugar-baker dilutes the raw sugars with water, boiling them and mixing them again with lime, till they are put into earthen molds of the form we see the Sugar-loaf; after which they are bak’d in an oven and clay’d. The boyler, who is the principal workman, earns 40 or 50 l. a year; the rest of the people employed in it are common labourers”.
Spelling left as found.
See: Baily, Nathan. An Universal Etymological Dictionary. 1737. London. Campbell, R. The London Tradesman. 1747. London. The General Shop Book. 1753. London.