Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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The calcined ASHES of KELP used in commerce for the carbonate of soda, iodine and other substances that they contain. Large quantities were formerly used in the manufacture of SOAP and GLASS. The ashes may also be used as a fertiliser, but were almost certainly too valuable for that.
Also called DOG house, the term refers to a shelter for a DOG, usually a guard or house dog, but also a more substantial structure in which hounds or hunting dogs are kept. The latter would not have appeared in probate inventories, and consequently these have not been noted in the Dictionary Archive. Even dog kennels are rare, possibly because they tended to be subsumed under LUMBER. The term 'Dog house' may be a synonym, but in one household both a dog house and a dog kennel were listed [Inventories (1783)].
An act of 1541-2 described it as 'a certain Kind and sort of' WELSH CLOTH, 'made ... in North Wales and Orcester Hundred, adjoining to North Wales' [Acts (1541)], but subsequently cottoned in MANCHESTER [Kerridge (1985)]. Leif Wilhemsen suggests it was of a GREY colour [Wilhelmsen (1943)], but that may merely indicate well only have meant that it was an unbleached WOOLLEN CLOTH.
ALKERMES or 'kermes' was generally found found in one of two forms, the SCARLET POWDER described by Bacon in 1626 [OED] and kermes juice, that is the juice extracted from the kermes insect. According to Quincy, kermes juice was 'wonderfully grateful to the Palate' [Quincy (1718)]. Since it was mainly used in medicine, particularly for the manufacture of CONFECTIO ALKERMES, it was sometimes given in its Latin form, as in 'succus kermes 1 ½ li att 3s' [Inventories (1690)].
A TEXTILE named after its place of origin (Kersey or Carsey in Suffolk). This was a twilled NARROW CLOTH, made from inferior grades of CARDED WOOL spun into thick YARN, and hence the occasional reference to Kersey yarn as in [Inventories (1602)]. Weavers using these yarns developed innovative techniques, which amply justified the skill and trouble involved. Once woven the cloths were fulled and shorn. Kersies were thick and handled smoothly lengthways. They were in much demand for tailored (as opposed to KNITted) STOCKINGS, and for garments that needed to be warm and flexible. Along with the superior BROADCLOTH, kersies were one of the most important of the so-called 'old draperies' (see OLD DRAPERY). Their production spread to most parts of the country as is shown in the number of place descriptors noted in the Dictionary Archive, the most common being the Counties of Devonshire, Hampshire and YORKSHIRE.
In most parts of the country, Kersies were commonly woven in lengths of about 12 YARD, hence the alternative name of DOZENS. [Acts (1572)] repeated the requirements laid down in a statute of 1465 that the maximal length of a Kersey was to be 18 YARD, although this was further shortened in [Acts (1593)], so far as 'Devonshire Kersies or Dozens', were concerned to 15-16 YARD in which the weight of each cloth was set down as 15 LB. Named varieties given in the 1552 rates were: ORDINARY, SORTING, Devonshire (also called DEVONSHIRE DOZENS), and CHECK. WHITE Kerseys were included by [Acts (1738)] among the NARROW WOOLLEN CLOTH produced in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Prices, as opposed to valuations, are so rarely found in the Dictionary Archive that they provide no meaningful data. One outside source, a plea by the London drapers, suggests that the price of kersies rose sharply during the sixteenth century, although as a case of special pleading its figures must be treated with caution. The London Drapers estimated in 1551 that northern kersies had formerly been 'solde by the clothmen' for £24 the PACK, the price was now £40, whereas those from Hampshire were then £29 the PACK, but were now £50-£52. For what it is worth, these figures suggest that the kersies produced in Hampshire were probably of better quality than those from the north. Margaret Spufford's data on prices found in probate accounts gives a huge range of figures: from 18d to nearly 12s per yard in the period up to 1610, 2s to 6s 8d from 1610 to 1660, and just over 14d to just over 9s from 1660 to 1700. These prices are higher than the valuations in probate inventories, as one would expect, but not by so great margin that the valuations ought to be considered untrustworthy. Those in one of the earliest inventories in the Dictionary Archive had nearly twenty varieties ranging from 8d to 12d the yard [Inventories (1538)] but by the first few decades of the seventeenth century valuations had risen markedly; for example in [Inventories (1619)] with nearly fifty varieties the range was from 20d to 4s 8d. By the eighteenth century, kersies were still being produced to suit most pockets. In [Inventories (1713)]C more than twenty varieties were listed valued from 16d to 4s 6d the yard.
Found described as ASH COLOUR, BLACK, BLUE, BROWN, CHECK, COARSE, DAMSON, DARK, DRAB, DYED, FINE, GREEN, GREY, HALF THICK, IRISH, MARBLE, MEDLEY, MIXED, NARROW, OLD, ORDINARY, PUKE, RED, RUSSET, SINGLE, SKY COLOURED, SNUFF, SORTING, STRIPED, VIOLET, WESTERN, WHITE, WILLOW Found described as from Burton, Hampshire, Maxfield (Sussex), Newbury, STAFFORD, Watchet, Wiveliscombe (Devon), YORKSHIRE Found describing CLOTH Found used to make BREECHES, COAT, CURTAIN, DOUBLET, HANGING, HORSE - CLOTH, HOSE, PILLION - GIRTH, SIEVE, STOCKINGS, SUIT, TILT, WAISTCOAT
Found for sale measured by ELL (very occasionally), PIECE, YARD
See also BLACK KERSEY, DEVONSHIRE KERSEY, DEVONSHIRE DOZENS, DOZENS, NORTHERN DOZENS.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates.
References: Spufford and Stearn (2002), Tawney and Power (1924a), 192.
This term has two possible derivations: either the Chinese word ke-tsiap meaning a fish brine, or alternatively the Indonesian word kecap (formerly spelled ketjap), which referred to a SOY sauce. When first introduced to British cuisine in the mid-eighteenth century, ketchup was an eastern condiment made only from the juice exuding from salted and spiced MUSHROOM. It had already before this period been extended to cover many keeping sauces made from the juice of OYSTER, WALNUT, etc., and used as a condiment with MEAT, FISH, or the like, often with a qualification, as mushroom ketchup, etc. In one entry of his diary, for example, Gilbert White wrote baldly 'Mushrooms abound. Made catchup' [Diaries (White)]. Tomatoes are, of course, a modern introduction and were not used in the early-modern period for Ketchups, or indeed in cooking at all. According to Lockyer (1711, Acc. Trade India 128) quoted in the OED, most ketchups were imported from Japan or China, although in the Dictionary Archive there are also references to a MOSCOW KETCHUP and a SIBERIAN KETCHUP. Ketchup was one of many early-modern commodities that acquired what amounted to BRAND names. Another aspect of the history of ketchup that will appear exceptional to modern readers of early modern cookery books is the length of time it was expected to keep. There are recipes, for example, 'To make Ketchup to keep twenty years', using ingredients such as strong BEER, ANCHOVY, PEPPER and mushroom [Recipes (Ketilby)]; [Glasse (1747, facs. 1983)]. Ketchups were apparently popular among crews making long journeys by sea, as one recipe was addressed to 'Captains of Ships' [Mason and Brown (1999)].
A Kidderminster cloth industry began in the late sixteenth century. At first clothiers made what they called 'apernes', then 'Kiddermynster lynsey-woolseys' and finally Kidderminster stuffs. The use of the town's name with these fabrics suggests that they were from the start readily distinguishable from the types made elsewhere. Some were of wool only; others had a warp of linen, apparently specially spun. Early references suggest that two-toned fabrics were common, a variety which continued into the nineteenth century when a special Kidderminster loom was used to produce 'two-ply cloth'. In addition some fabrics were printed. Production was regulated by a system of search and seal set up under [Acts (1670)]. Probably the success of Kidderminster fabrics owed much to this policy of search and seal rigorously enforced, although a readiness to adopt new technology and a sensitivity to the market undoubtedly also played a part [Kerridge (1985)].
Kidderminsters were traded on the River Severn through the port of Bewdley during the first half of the eighteenth century, and are found in many probate inventories of retailers, particularly in the Severn valley, but also elsewhere. Values recorded range from 7d to 23d per yard, rather less than those for NORWICH STUFF.
By the nineteenth century Kidderminster was mainly noted for the production of carpets (in the modern sense). This probably accounts for the wide spread confusion about the meaning of this term, not helped by a change of meaning in the word carpet.
A variety of EEL that the Customs officials wanted to include in the Rates. They were linked with DOLE EEL and SHAFT EEL. This may be because the names are synonymous or because all three were rated together below the rate for SPRUCE EEL and STUB EEL but above that for PIMPER EEL [Rates (1582); Rates (1660)]. They were not rated in 1784, perhaps because the importation of all but QUICK EEL had been prohibited in 1666 [Acts (1666)]. This suggests that kine eels were already processed to some extent, perhaps DRIED or SMOKED or packed in BRINE.
A new name for an old PIGMENT, ORPIMENT or YELLOW - ARSENIC, though what improvement, if any, had been made to justify the new name is not clear, unless it was the addition of SULPHUR, which was certainly known by the mid-eighteenth century. Kings yellow had two major defects; it was highly toxic, and it was incompatible with colours containing COPPER or LEAD [Harley (1970)].
The OED suggests, somewhat doubtfully, that kirtle may be a corruption of QUINTAL, although that term has not been noted as being used for flax or other, similar commodities. More likely, kirtle flax was FLAX imported in units of a kirtle, which according to Randle Holme, consisted of twelve HEADs weighing in all about one hundred pounds, or the short CWT. In this sense, usage was similar to FADGE FLAX, which also employs a unit of measure as the descriptor. Kirtle flax has been noted as valued at more than FLANDERS FLAX, though there may be no significance in this, valuation depending at least as much on the quality as the type.
This was the waste fat from the kitchen and apparently synonymous with KITCHEN STUFF. It was an important perk for the cook, since it could be sold for processing into TALLOW. The making of tallow was regulated, so even this apparently insignificant by-product of the household found its was into the Statute book, where it was laid down for 'the purposes of calculation 8 lb of ' ... rough Fat or rough Kitchen grease' shall be deemed equal to 7 lb of Tallow, and 5 lb of ' ... rough Kitchen Grease', equal to 4 lb of clean Kitchen Grease' [Acts (1784)].
This consisted of the refuse or waste products of the kitchen; specifically fat. It was saved by the cook or the housewife, either to be used in RUSH LIGHTs and LAMPs or for rendering into TALLOW. It was regarded as a perquisite of the cook and hence was also termed 'kitchen fee'. The collection of kitchen stuff from domestic houses and it transference to the makers of tallow is an early-modern activity about which little is known. Probably it was collected by the same people who dealt with all kinds of domestic rubbish. For example in 'Pills to Purge Melancholy', Durfey summoned 'Maids' to bring out their 'Kitchen-stuff, Old Rags or Women's Hair' [Durfey (1719, 1872 ed.)] and it was recorded in 1720 as part of a cargo in the Gloucester Coastal Port Books going down river. In the nineteenth century one London factory was apparently making 'the commoner sort' of SOAP out of kitchen stuff with no further refining, but whether that was also a practice in the eighteenth century or earlier is not known [Dodd (1843)].
Randle Holme wrote scornfully of CANDLEs made of kitchen stuff as it allowed what he called 'Drop', that is 'the running away of a Candle, when it is made of Kitchin stuff, and not of good Tallow [Holme (2000)].