I’m researching for my next genealogical mystery, ‘Magick’ and while looking at a census for 1851 I cam across someone who was a cordwainer. it was a word I knew but just couldn’t properly remember what it was, thinking it might be a barrel maker or a rope maker… no, a cordwainer is a shoe maker.
Cordwainers properly used a special sort of leather, cordouan leather, which originally came from goats who were found in Corsica and Sardinia and other Mediterranean islands. They were, or are the Musoli goats, and the leather from them is particualrly fine and soft and supple. The Moors in Cordoba in Spain first produced this leather, treating the animal skins with alum. The crusades brought back many exotic goods, including this cordouan or cordovan leather. Over the centuries, the shoemakers who used this had the specialist name which derived from cordovan, cordwain.
If you want to know more, then the site of the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers will be interesting to you:
… and here on WordPress there is an interesting article:
… and of course I do know that a barrel maker is a cooper, and a rope maker is a rope maker!