We’ve all moaned about our job. Something seems unfair, there’s a task we really hate, but this list of the top 5 worst jobs in history might make you feel a bit better!

  1. Leech Collector

Leeches were in high demand until the late 19th Century for medicinal bloodletting. This was seen as a form of patient therapy, that would help rid them of the bad blood cells that had gathered in their body to make them ill.

Despite their importance, leech collectors were really badly paid and they also had to collect them by letting them latch on to their own legs, which meant they very often lost huge amounts of blood themselves!

  1. Body Snatcher

During Victorian times, medical research became hugely important and there was an expansion of medical schools. As a result, medical students needed a constant supply of cadavers on which to learn.

With the number of crimes that were punishable by death decreasing, the demand couldn’t keep up with the supply, as a result it was the age of the body snatcher or the resurrectionist if you want to give them their proper title.

They would dig up freshly buried bodies and sell them to medical schools. Some families became so worried about the body of their recently deceased relative being stolen that they’d watch over the grave for a few days.

You might have heard the names Burke and Hare, between 1827 -1828, they began murdering people in order to supply fresh corpses to doctors. Hare turned King’s evidence on Burke. Burke hung in 1829 and Hare escaped.

  1. Whipping Boy

During the 16th and 17th Centuries, because monarchs were appointed to rule by God, it was generally accepted that no-one, but the King could punish his son. Since Kings were very often busy doing other stuff, that made teaching princes right from wrong a bit tricky. The naughty step just didn’t cut it!

So, a whipping boy was appointed, this was usually a friend of the prince, who was of noble birth. Whenever the prince was naughty, this boy would receive a whipping in his place. The logic being that the prince would feel bad that his mate had been punished!

  1. Executioner

This has to be one of the grizzliest jobs in history and could have seen the executioner being asked to oversee death by boiling alive, hanging, drawing and quartering or burning people at the stake.

In London, traitors’ heads had to be chopped off and then stuck on a pike as a warning to others.

The profession of executioner sometimes ran through a family and many were professional specialists who travelled a region performing the duty, although there may be someone else who would administer non-lethal physical punishments or apply torture.

  1. Gong Farmer

Funny job title…. Unfunny job and quite possibly one of the worst jobs you could be lumbered with during Tudor times.

A gong farmer would work during the hours of darkness and empty human excrement from privies and cesspits. The “night soil” would then be taken beyond the city limits and dumped.

Gong farmers very often lived at the edge of the town and kept to themselves because of odour issues.

The work was backbreaking and some died from the toxic fumes they were forced to inhale.


Bet your boss asking you to work the weekend doesn’t look so bad now?


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