Victorian Careers

DATED: 07.05.15

It’s common knowledge that the Victorians had their own, slightly absurd, way of doing things. From hobbies to everyday working life, there are a fair few vices that fall into both of these categories, but would seem more than questionable today. In this article though, we will be looking at Victorian careers and a few strange practices their job roles entailed, according to Listverse.


During the Victorian era, strangely, there was a rise in demand for corpses, primarily for anatomical purposes i.e. scientific study. Yet, it is said that for a corpse to ‘qualify’, if you will, it had to be that of a criminal, making it extremely hard to come across a cadaver that can be used in broad daylight. That is where the role of the ressurectionists came into play.

Predominately defined as ‘grave robbers’, they differed from those that sought only to steal valuables. Instead, they would leave behind any possessions in the deceased’s caskets, and were known to be hired by those who needed the bodies i.e. doctors.

Oddly enough, if any valuables were taken, their ‘crime’ became a punishable offence, which is why those within this job role were careful only to steal and deliver corpses.

In 1832, however, a law was passed that made it far easier to obtain corpses legally, providing it was for anatomical purposes only.

Leech Collector

Whilst most of us squirm at the mere thought of a leech attaching itself and sucking our blood, these creatures were heavily relied upon during this era for medical purposes. Unfortunately, someone had to go out and collect these creatures in the first place, and that was the role of a leech collector.

Wading into open lakes and ponds where they knew leeches populated, these workers would wait for hours on end for leeches to bite. Of course, this was not the most pleasant job in the world, and many would endure leech-related injuries for a number of months.

This practice would not last forever though, and it was soon thought that the leech they relied so heavily upon was extinct, forcing doctors to turn to other means of medicine. In 1970, however, this particular species of leech was rediscovered, and it is said that the population has started to grow once more.


Often cast out by society due to the nature of this role, sin-eaters, we guess, may have led a lonely life for a ghastly role, to say the least. The reasoning behind this role though was strongly believed in, so let us explain.

The practice involved a person, known as a sin-eater, tucking into a meal… on the chest of someone who had recently passed away. The theory was that this would allow the living to take away the sins of the dead, enabling them to take a place in heaven. However, those who pursued this career were thought to become progressively more evil, due to the reason and nature behind their job role.

It was also thought that this method would save the dead from becoming lost ghosts, and though many thought it to be a religious practice, it was never, in any way, supported by churches.

These are just three bizarre Victorian careers. However, they are by no means the strangest or scariest practices during this time. A serial killer haunted the streets, let’s not forget, nicknamed Jack the Ripper.

To find out more about life in Victorian times and this infamous character, feel free to join us on one of our Jack the Ripper tours! We will take you to the spots where they carried out their heinous crimes and talk you through the case, grisly detail by grisly detail.


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