View Full Version : What is a 'carman'

19-07-2006, 6:54 AM
Seeking information for a friend whose ancestor worked at Buckingham Palace in the late 1800s early 1900s. His occupation was described as a 'carman'. He was associated with horses.
Does anybody know what a 'carman' was?


Chasing Caseys
19-07-2006, 7:06 AM
Hello June

Carmen were often employed by railway companies for local deliveries and collections of goods and parcels. Modern day van driver. Also sometimes someone who drove horse-drawn trams was called a Carman.
rmhh.co.uk/occup/c.html - might come in useful


Frank W
19-07-2006, 12:02 PM
My Grandfather and his elder brother were both Carmen working for Railway Companies in London (at Marylebone and Paddington) and drove horsedrawn carts.
The horses were stabled in Mews houses with living accommodation above the stables, and you can see many streets named as Mews in the Paddington and nearby areas.
Grandad must have made a very successful delivery when he met my Grandmother, who was in domestic service at a Doctors household in Marylebone.

Frank W
19-07-2006, 12:03 PM
There was an annual Cart horse parade held in Regents Park which was quite a social event for the Carmen and their families, with all the carts cleaned and burnished, and lots of highly polished horse brasses and harnesses. This was in the pre-WW2 era.
Probably many of the London Carmen were attracted by the job opportunities there, and had come from the Counties adjacent to London.
The Highway Code used to contain instructions for horse drawn vehicles on the use of riding whips as signals to other vehicles.
Regards......Frank W

Julie Tyrell
19-07-2006, 7:27 PM
My G. Grandfather was a 'Carman' in the 1910 (a bit later than you chaps) but he was working for a removals company - progress I suppose!

19-07-2006, 7:31 PM
It's been suggested to me that the annotation 'Carm' after an occupation of carter on the census returns is an abbreviation of carman, but I don't buy it. An abbreviation of a word by two letters is barely an abbreviation at all!

Peter Goodey
19-07-2006, 7:44 PM
What else could it possibly mean?

19-07-2006, 7:54 PM
If you recall, Peter, that is what I asked you!:)

20-07-2006, 4:05 AM
May I thank all those people who responded to my question about 'carman' I have sent the information to my friend.
I am glad I was able to help as he is a volunteer driver who gives his time to transporting disabled and frail elderly people.


Who admits to being pleasantly surprised....<grin>

Peter Goodey
20-07-2006, 8:00 AM
"If you recall, Peter, that is what I asked you!"

Well, I don't think you actually asked anything ;) . I just poked my nose in :D.

I don't have a problem with the explanation you were offered. "Carm" meaning "Carman" (or more probably "Carmen...") sounds perfectly plausible to me.

These notes were purely for the benefit of the statistical clerk extracting the necessary figures and refer to whatever classifications were in use at the time.

Hammerman (Blacks) referred to a category called "Blacksmiths etc";
Pier Master (Harb) = "Harbour etc Officials";
Shunter (Points) = "Pointsmen etc"
Poulterer (Fishm) = "Fishmongers and Poulterers"

Those classifications are guesses because I don't know what they actually used.

But by the same token, it seems reasonable to assume that Carter (Carm) refers to a classification along the lines of "Carmen, Carters etc".

20-07-2006, 9:26 AM
It's been suggested to me that the annotation 'Carm' after an occupation of carter on the census returns is an abbreviation of carman, but I don't buy it. An abbreviation of a word by two letters is barely an abbreviation at all!
Hi Sharron,
Though I agree it does seem stupid to abbreviate a word by only 2 letters I think in this case that 'carm' will mean carman.
Cheers Jeremy

30-10-2006, 6:35 PM

Just to add to this thread, what is a Tar Paviors Carman? This was the occupation of one of my ancestors in 1923.



Peter Goodey
30-10-2006, 7:19 PM
what is a Tar Paviors Carman?
This is a straightforward dictionary job.

A pavior laid paving stones hence by extension any 'pavement' which might just be an asphalt (tar) surface.

30-10-2006, 7:29 PM
What has this got to do with the carman part of it? Or did they deliver the paviors maybe?

Peter Goodey
30-10-2006, 9:44 PM
You needed a cart to carry the materials.

Barbara Tidy
12-08-2008, 3:19 PM
I have these occupations in my family tree must have paid well as they had a servant:-)

I cannot find any reference to these on the site you kindly sent a link to any ideas?????????????


Peter Goodey
12-08-2008, 4:33 PM
Sorry, I'm not too clear about the question, are you saying that he was also a carman?

Or are you asking what a general dealer and a commercial traveller was?

A general dealer bought and sold unspecified things.

A commercial traveller was a travelling salesman.

23-04-2009, 7:49 PM
Someone is listed as "Carmen day and martins" any ideas please?

24-04-2009, 10:31 PM
A carman is a goods vehicle carrier. The Old Occupations website says this:

"Driver of (horse-drawn) vehicles for transporting goods. Carmen were often employed by railway companies for local deliveries and collections of goods and parcels. Modern day van driver. A Carter typically drove a light two wheeled carriage. Also sometimes someone who drove horse-drawn trams was called a Carman."

I can only think that "day and martins" could be a company name. Are the first letters of the words in upper case, as if they are that might indicate that my suspicion is correct for once?

25-04-2009, 9:03 PM
Sorry but I should have been able to resist ...

What's a carman?

What you drive around in Barbados, man!

02-04-2010, 11:38 AM
As a real old fogey, I remember , on the way to school, jumping up on the back of the horse drawn cart going to deliver to Woolworth's and then helping the carman to unload. We were always late to school because of this and duly got the cane. We always looked for a piece of orange peel to rub on our hands as it was supposed to reduce the sting of the cane.

Sandra Parker
02-04-2010, 8:54 PM
There has to be one in every family, DBcoup! I'm impressed! :biggrinjester:

There was a cafe called "Good Stop for Carmen" in London early last century. My grandfather, a carman, used to go there. When I first read it, I thought it referred to a local lady, so I'm not far off being 'the one' in my family.

Sandra with the unspectacled aura

John Gourlay
03-04-2010, 3:10 AM
Ah, this topic back on the agenda. A good change for me to tell everybody, that not only was my maternal great grandfather a London carman for many years, he ended up in the 1881 census as a librarian at the Carmans' Club. So there.

John Gourlay

13-08-2010, 7:45 PM
My grandfather was a carman aged 15 when he joined the Army in 1899. That seemed to me to be very young for such a job. But he was clearly an excellent horseman - or at least, knew a lot about horses - as he was accepted into the 17th Lancers, the 'Death & Glory Boys' and was soon involved in the Boer War. He had run away from his home in North Kensington, from an address not far from an omnibus depot where I like to think he drifted a lot when he had time off.

We have a fine equestrian photograph of him taken around 1917 during the Great War (sergeant by this time). And after the War? He worked as a motorman for the London trams - just the next technological step on from being a carman!

13-08-2010, 9:00 PM
[the Carmans' Club. QUOTE]

What's the Carmans' club?! have several carmen on my tree - is it a gentleman's club or a professional association? ;-)

John Gourlay
14-08-2010, 4:19 AM
I can't give you an informed answer on this. Having been shown as a carman in the 1851, 1861 and 1871 censuses, my great grandfather, George Woodcock aka Smith is shown as a librarian at ther carmans' club in 1881. I can only assume that it is a professional association and his body needed a less strenuous job. He would have been 62 in 1881.
John Gourlay

14-08-2010, 5:13 PM
There is a worshipful company of carmen.


14-08-2010, 5:27 PM
This looks interesting - surely a good bet for John's great-grandfather librarian. I wonder if you can search their records?

John Gourlay
15-08-2010, 5:24 AM
Thanks Mutley and Nataliew.
Interesting site. When time permits I'll see if I can get a look at the book. Great grandfather George has long left the library. I'll have to do my own research.
John Gourlay

Jane Elderfield
22-08-2010, 8:41 AM
An ancestor of mine was a "Driver" while in the Royal Artillery regiment. Some years after discharge, his occupation is given as "Carman". I suppose his skill with horses in the Army paid off in his later civvy job.

--Jane E