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Scavenger or scavengar

I Have recently got a copy of my grandparents marriage cert.The occupation of my gg grandfather says he was a Scavenger does anyone know what was?
 

maggieuk

The Fairybrain of Brum
Yes Topsy my great grandfather was one ..it means they worked emptying rubbish or the taking away the sewerage from the outside privvies
 

JohnO

master brummie
Ah! Hold your horses here! I came across this term quite recently in respect of a family member. 'Scavenger' can have several meanings, as I subsequently discovered. It all depends upon context. It was a term used 'locally' as in someone employed by the local Parish, or similar. I came across two examples, from different areas, as Scavenger-Constable'. One referred to an appointee responsible for the apprehension and arrest of the 'non-contributing' fathers of children born to un-married mothers. This particular job required the writing of reports for presentation to the Magisterial authorities; therefore a job for a literate and educated man. The other example referred to the policing of church-yards (combating resurrectionists/grave-robbers perhaps?).

So, 'scavenger' seems to mean 'a finder' of things, be they people or whatever, for some later purpose. Perhaps a 'scavenger' of rubbish was someone who 'sorted' through waste, to extract stuff of potential value, rather than someone who just collected, and dumped, the waste? A bit like the ‘Toshers’ who worked the sewers for lost valuables.

However, I have never come across the word in connection to 'night-soil' collectors, or those who collected urine (‘Piss Willies’) for the wool/serge 'fulling' trade ... although these too, collected for some eventual 'other' use/product/purpose etc. Perhaps this term became debased, and narrowed, to lesser duties, as we gradually became a more 'modern' society ? As has happened to the term 'Night-Watchman' etc.
 
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