1) In the northern counties the ‘barker’ was the man who stripped the bark from oak trees for the tanner and by association the term then came to be applied to the tanner himself.

As a by-name it is on record from the twelfth century and it became a popular surname. Early examples include 1301 John le Barker of Snape and Ralph le Barker of Bedale. Independent references to the occupation are recorded from the same century: 1379 William Cook, barker, of Flockton

1501 Robert Kettlewell, barker of Ripon. An account roll for Whitby Abbey illustrates the dual role with the following entries: 1395 De Willelmo Barker, pro bark sibi vend’o in les Holmes 6s 8d

Pro pellibus animalium venditis Will. Barker. In 1538 it was ordered at the manor court of Wakefield that no barker by any heir [buy any hair] of his nebor – the reason being that clothiers were blending it with wool to make a cloth callyd pawmpillzon. The work of the tanner certainly overlapped with that of the barker but a distinction between the two is explicit in a deposition of 1691 in which a man called George Harrison said that he earned 9d a day all this barke time, for chopping of barke, besides working of the tanner traid .

dates 1301 1379 1395 1501 1538 1691

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