Before there were Alarm Clocks

There were “Knocker Uppers”

Sometimes I go searching and researching for interesting stories to share on my blog site.  And, sometimes, the stories just come to me.  Most times, my posts are personal, about hardships or successes of my ancestors or relatives despite their challenges, and almost always lack humor.  But today’s post is factual, telling of the times during the Industrial Revolution (a 200 year period from 1700’s and 1900’s about  progress of people and their politics), and still humorous to me.  Humorous because the term “Knocker Upper” originally was an  occupational title.

My how times have changed . . .

In today’s world “Knocker Upper” has an entirely different meaning.  In Great Britain throughout most of the Industrial Revolution period “Knocker Uppers” were mostly elderly men and women who got paid to awaken or arouse people from their sleep so they wouldn’t be late for work.  But, in today’s America, it is a vulgar slang used to describe a male who has impregnated a female.

Meet Dead Fred’s Genealogy Photo Archive – March 18, 2016

Dead Fred's Genealogy Photo Archive's photo.
Photograph from Philip Davies’ Lost London: 1870 – 1945.

Meet Mary Smith my favorite knocker upper

Mary Smith earned sixpence a week shooting dried peas at sleeping workers windows. . . .

The knocker-up used a truncheon or short, heavy stick to knock on the clients’ doors or a long and light stick, often made of bamboo, to reach windows on higher floors. Some of them used pea-shooters. In return, the knocker-up would be paid a few pence a week. The knocker-up would not leave a client’s window until sure that the client had been awoken.

There were large numbers of people carrying out the job, especially in larger industrial towns such as Manchester. Generally the job was carried out by elderly men and women but sometimes police constables supplemented their pay by performing the task during early morning patrols.


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