1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Scavenger
SCAVENGER, now one who cleans the streets, removes refuse, generally a workman employed by the local public health authority (see Public Health). The name is properly “scavager” or “scaveger” (the n being intrusive as in “passenger” and “messenger”), an official who was concerned with the receipt of custom duties and the inspection (scavage) of imported goods. The “scavagers” are found with such officials of the City of London as aleconners, beadles, &c., in the Liber Albus (Munimenta Gildhallae Londoniensis, ed. Riley). These officials seem to have been charged also with the cleaning of the streets, and the name superseded the older rakyer for those who performed this duty. Skeat takes “scavage” to be a Low French corruption of “showage," spelled variously as schewage, scevage, &c., and, therefore, to be derived from “show,” to exhibit for inspection.