Leather Trade Names

by Dashion


Growing-up in Long Lane, Bermondsey, on the borders of the leather district and daily on my way to school, l would pass through Tanner, Skinner or Leathermarket Streets. I became familiar with the sights and smells of the trade. To see the little old man who earned himself a few coppers by collecting white dog's-dung—dog's pure—from eating cooked bones, sell it to the tan-yard for use in "chroming" fashionable ladies white kid gloves.

The Basics

To make leather there must be beasts and their attendants: Shepherds, Shephards, Cowherds, Cowards, Goater, Goatcher. A Drover would drive the beasts to market. Also horsehide, dog's skin and doeskin. Oak bark was for the tannin acid and Fullers earth for removing grease in the dressing. Deer antler shavings to make ammonia.

Most uses were for the person, but Sadler obviously was not. A leather belt made by a Girdler supported a pouch, Poucher, a purse, Purser, Burser, (but not an official), Bracegirdle, Bracer, Brailer, Braider. The Glover and Ganter, from gauntlet, covered the hands.

Our footwear was fashioned by Souter, Sowter, Sutor, Suitor. Also by Cordwainer, Cordiner, Corvester — the name is derived from the goatskin leather supposedly from Cordova in Spain. We have as well Cosier, Clouter and Cloutman. Cobbler does not feature as a family name.

Footwear not made of leather were Pattens. A Patten was a wooden sole on an iron rim above the filth of the city streets. There are Patteners and Pattenmakers. The church of St Margaret Pattens in Leadenhall Street in the City of London has a pair on show.

Back to Earth

We have Shoemaker and Showmaker. You will need a pair of hose from the Hosier or Hozier to cushion your feet. Chaucer, that illustrious name, is rarely seen today. A chaucer made leather breeches for knights to wear over their tin trousers.

List of names used
Leather Leathers Tanner Girdler Poucher
Purser Burser Bracer Brailer Bracegirdle
Braider Glover Ganter Souter Sowter
Sutor Suitor Cordwainer Cordiner Corvesor
Cosier Clouter Cloutman Patten Pattenmaker
Pattens Pattener Shoemaker Showmaker Hosier
Hozier Fuller Drover Cowherd Coward
Shepherd Shephard


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