The five WORST jobs in history Blog Career Advice Life at work The five WORST jobs in history

The five WORST jobs in history

Doris Benitez
Reading time: 3 min

Doesn’t it always make you feel better when you can make fun at someone else’s job and realise that your horrible job really isn’t so bad after all? Well, yes. That’s why we’re here! We can promise to brighten up your working day with this list of the very worst jobs in history, which thankfully are no longer minimum wage jobs of the present. These horrific historic daily tasks are far worse than the “degrading” call centre job you’re made to do. Seriously.

So, if you want to feel better about your job here are the absolute worst jobs in history:


Yes, this is was a real job. Also known as a body snatcher, the job involved tunnelling into a grave from a distance (trying not to imagine the maggots and other bodyeaters down there), then dragging a freshly dead body out using a rope. But this wasn’t a lowly paid job, if you managed to pull out a set of teeth you could get £1 (that’s the same as £50 today). Maybe it’s not so bad afterall, sign me up!

Groom of the Stool

You’ve seen how fat Henry VII got, right? Now imagine wiping his enormous behind every day to earn a living wage! The Groom of the Stool was a bit like being voted employee of the month in the royal household, it was an honour to wipe the king’s bottom on a daily basis. I’m sure it was…

Petardier’s Assistant

You may have assisted your boss in a number of self-depreciating tasks, menial jobs that make you feel like you’ve lost your freedom. But I bet you’ve never assisted your boss in a life-threatening job that near enough ensured your death and could be the very worst job in history? During the Civil War, the Petardier’s Assistant job was to attach petards (very simple explosive devices) to enemy targets and they would usually die in an early detonation. Health and safety, come on!

Whipping Boy

Have you ever been told off at work for something you didn’t do? Took the blame for someone else when it wasn’t your fault because you didn’t want to rat them out? Well that was a permanent job in early modern England. The Whipping Boy was the prince’s best friend, they would grow up together and go to school together, but it wasn’t to build a lifelong friendship. No! People believed that only the king could punish the prince, and so the Whipping Boy was there to take all of the violent punishment for the prince’s bad behaviour. Now, that’s a tough job.

Leech Collector

Health and safety laws may be a bore when you start a new job, but be grateful that someone cares about your wellbeing. If you have an “accident at work” today you might be able to get some compensation and be entitled to return. But up until the 19th century, leech collecting was a job. Mostly done by women, workers would catch dozens of leeches a day by allowing them to suck their own blood in leech-filled marshes and often suffered from infections and severe blood loss. There’s definitely an accident at work claim in this.

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