Paragon - Pawpaw

Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.

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A TEXTILE; a kind of double CAMLET; a STUFF used for CLOTHING and FURNISHINGs in the seventeenth century and the early eighteenth: in the Dictionary Archive it appears most often coloured BLACK. Although relatively cheap, valued in tradesmen's probate inventories from 14d to 3s 6d per yard, it was also not infrequently dyed IN GRAIN. It was often WATERED and then printed with hot plates against a wooden block carved in intaglio with a pattern. Such PRINTED paragons were much used for HANGINGs in the seventeenth century. Montgomery suggests that it may be virtually synonymous with, another WORSTED, BARRACAN, though her reference in Thornton does not bear her out. Kerridge suggests that the name 'barracon' was changed to make the fabric more attractive to the consumer.

An alternative meaning of the term is suggested in one entry found in a probate inventory dated to 1707, as 'blue China or paragon'. It is not known what this means. The term has also been noted once for the early seventeenth century (1625) as describing BLUE, sold at 10d per LB. If in this instance it was used as a form of BRAND NAME, it is a very early example of one.

OED earliest use: c1605

Found described as ASH COLOURed, COLOURED, IN GRAIN, PINK, PLAIN, PRINTED, RED, SAD coloured, WATERED, YELLOW Found used to make an APRON, BODIES, CASSOCK, HANGING for a room and for a BED
Found in the shops measured by LB, YARD

See also CAMLET.
Sources: Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Kerridge (1985), 44-5, Montgomery (1984), 317, Thornton (1979), 114.

Paregoric lozenges

Medicinal lozenges intended to soothe or to relieve pain. A number of principal ingredients could have been used; one possibility is OPIUM.

Not found in the OED online

Found in units of small BOX

See also LOZENGE.
Sources: Tradecards.

Paring chisel

[paring chissell; pairing chiswell; paireing chissel]

Accoring to Randle Holme, 'The Paring Chissel, is a Chissel with a broad flat, which is not used to be Knockt with a Mallet, but is taken in the hand by the Shank near the top of the Flat, and to top of the Haft or Helve is placed against the right Shoulder, which being pressed hard upon the Haft causeth the edge to cut and pare away, and smooth the Irregularites of other working Chissels' [Holme (2000)]. In modern usage, it is a CHISEL with a thinner blade and much longer. It is mainly used for removing waste wood in grooves [Strefford and McUrdo (1978)].

OED earliest date of use: 1703 under Paring

Found in units of DOZEN

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Holme (2000), Strefford and McUrdo (1978).

Paris mantle

A MANTLE made in and imported from Paris, or one indicated to be made in a Parisian or FRENCH style. It was not a common term and has been noted only in the early Books of Rates and in the Scottish customs of 1612 [Halyburton (1867)].

OED earliest date of use: 1545

Found described as COLOURED, RED, UNCOLOURED, WHITE Found included under BLANKET Found rated by the MANTLE, PIECE

Sources: Rates.
References: Halyburton (1867).

Park work

[parke worke]

Probably the same as VERDURE, that is the EMBROIDERY of TEXTILE objects with IMAGEs of trees and plants.

Found describing COVERING

Sources: Inventories (early).


A commodity not found in the dictionaries, and only once in the Dictionary Archive; in the 1582 Book of Rates the unit of measure was given as the GROSS, which suggests a small item of HABERDASHERY, or possibly a type of NAIL.

Not found in the OED online

Found rated by the GROSS

Sources: Rates.


A biennial umbelliferous plant, Pastinaca sativa, a native of Europe and part of Asia, with a pale yellow root cultivated both for human and for animal consumption. The commercial cultivation of parsnips was sufficiently important by the 1770s to make it a criminal offence to steal or damage growing crops of this sort [Acts (1773)]. Although now considered a VEGETABLE appropriate for savoury dishes, parsnips were previously often used in sweet recipes as a substitute to SUGAR at the time when it was expensive. Parsnips were also an important root vegetable that substituted for SPANISH POTATO and POTATO, and which was a staple of poorer families. Thomas Cogan wrote at the end of Elizabeth's reign, 'they are common meate among the common people all the time of Autumne, and chiefly upon fish daies' [Mason and Brown (1999)]. Although the parsnip never lost this association with the poorest sections of society it was used more widely. As Houghton noted, this vegetable and CARROTs were distilled to make a drink similar to FRENCH BRANDY. Parnsips had medicinal applications, as averred by John Gerard, and thought to be 'hot and more dry than moist ... and they provoke urine, and lust ... [and] be good for the stomacke, kidnies, bladder, and lungs' [Hess (1981)].

OED earliest date of use: 1398

Simone Clarke

Sources: Acts, Houghton, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Hess (1981), Mason and Brown (1999).

Pass hemp

The third quality of RUSSIAN - HEMP and next inferior to OUTSHOT HEMP, but above CODILLA. The OED's earliest quotation (1744-50) described it as 'a very coarse, shaggy, cheap Sort, used altogether for roping'. The only example in the Dictionary Archive is found in [Inventories (1671)] in which RIGA HEMP was given as an alternative label and it was valued at 22s CWT compared with RHINE at 27s.

OED earliest date of use: 1744-50

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Paste of genoa

[paste of jene; genoa paste]

A baked SWEETMEAT made of QUINCE, SPICE and SUGAR. It cannot have been dissimilar from the rather stiff MARMALADE made from quinces in the early-modern period and eaten as a sweetmeat.

OED earliest date of use: 1615

Found rated by the POUND

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Rates.



A PIE baked without a DISH, consisting usually of VENISON, other MEAT and, at the beginning of the period, of porpoise, seasoned and enclosed in a crust of pastry. Venison pasties were usually very large, made from joints, 'wrapped in sturdy flour-and-water crusts or, by the eighteenth century, butter-enriched shortcrust and baked'. Pasties could be served hot, or eaten cold filled with BUTTER [Wilson (1973)]. Until at least the time that Samuel Pepys was writing his diary, pastries were a popular dish throughout Britain. Later this dish and its name became largely confined to the south-west [Mason and Brown (1999)].

OED earliest date of use: 1300

Simone Clarke

Found describing PAN, PLATE

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Mason and Brown (1999), Wilson (1973).

Patch box

A small BOX, usually ornamental, for holding PATCHes for decorating the face

OED earliest date of use: 1674

Found described as INLAID, PLAIN Found made of BONE, IVORY, SILVER, WOOD

Sources: Acts, Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Tradecards.

Patent mustard

Two of the big London retailers who specialized in supplying goods to those serving overseas advertised a patent MUSTARD. There is no evidence that a mustard was patented, and they were probably using the term loosely to apply to their own proprietary brands. The one claimed his mustard was 'warranted to keep good Eighteen Months' [Tradecards (18c.)], the other that his would 'keep to the East and West-Indies' [Tradecards (1800)]. In each case appropriate packaging was an important feature of the product. However, Frederick Accum wrote that this product was by no means always a genuine mustard, but a mixture of mustard and WHEAT FLOUR (or PEA flour) flavoured with CAYENNE PEPPER and a large quantity of BAY SALT, sold either as a powder, or as a paste ready for use. The result, he added, was not harmful to health, but it did tend 'to deteriorate the quality and flavour of the genuine article itself' [Accum (1820)].

Not found in the OED online

Sources: Newspapers, Tradecards.
References: Accum (1820).

Pater noster flax

Sometimes abbreviated to pater noster, this is another term like BUNDLE FLAX, FADGE FLAX, KIRTLE FLAX, etc. in which the descriptor is a unit of measure for FLAX. The pater noster, according to Randle Holme [Holme (2000)] consisted of ten handfuls in a strick (or STRIKE) and weighed two POUND. Confusingly, he elsewhere defined a strick as consisting of ten handfuls. It would seem that some particular types of flax were bundled up in this way and so became a label even when the flax was in different units of measure as in the Dictionary Archive where it has been noted in TONs.

OED earliest date of use: 1658

Found in units of CWT, LB, QUARTER, TON

Sources: Inventories (late), Newspapers.
References: Holme (2000).


No information has emerged to enlighten either the ingredients or the use of this form of LOZENGE, which has been noted only once in the Dictionary Archive [Tradecards (1800)]. The name suggests they may have included some part of the ROSE. In which case they may have been a version of what in the eighteenth-century Pharmacopoeia was called Saccharum rosaceum, or Sugar of roses. This was made by grinding dried red rose buds and DOUBLE REFINED SUGAR, and mixing the two with sufficient water to form LOZENGEs [Pemberton (1746)].

Not found in the OED online

Found described as LOZENGE
Found in units of small BOX

Sources: Tradecards.
References: Pemberton (1746).

Patten nail

[patting naile; patten naile]

A NAIL for hammering into the underside of a PATTEN, either to protect it from wear, or to provide a grip in slippery conditions.

Not found in the OED

Found rated by the SUM

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Rates.


The fruit of Carica Papaya, usually oblong and about 10 inches long, of a dull orange colour, with a thick, fleshy rind and containing numerous black seeds embedded in pulp; used in tropical countries as food either raw, preserved in SUGAR, made into a SAUCE, or in an unripe state boiled or as PICKLE.

OED earliest date of use: 1598

Simone Clarke

Found described as WEST INDIAN

Sources: Tradecards.