Soap ashes - Soy

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

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Soap ashes

[sope ashes; soap-ashes; ashes to make soape]

A term that seems usually to have been a synonym of WOOD ASH, that is ASHES made from burning wood. This material was then processed into the more purified form of POTASHES or PEARL ASH. Soap ashes, as the name suggests were used to provide POTASH, a form of ALKALI necessary for making most types of SOAP. Once the lye had been extracted, the residue could be and was used as a MANURE. At this stage, the residue may sometimes have been called 'Soapers ashes'.

OED earliest date of use: c1515

Found rated by the HUNDREDWEIGHT of 112 LB, LAST of 12 BARREL

See also WOOD ASH.
Sources: Inventories (late), Patents, Rates.

Soap box

[sope boxe; soap-boxes; soap-box; soap ditto; soap boxes]

Either a decorative BOX for holding a piece of SOAP or what Houghton described, but did not name, as 'box, that lets down all its sides with hinges' in which the SOAP could be colourd and allowed to harden [Houghton]. The 'Wash Ball and Soap Boxes' found advertised by an 'Ivory & Hardwood Turner' [Tradecards (1771)] is an example of the first type, and the 'Soape Boxes one Twelve pounds two Eight pounds Two ffoure pounds' [Inventories (1692)] of the other.

OED earliest date of use: 1660

Found rated by the SHOCK of three SCORE boxes

Sources: Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Rates, Tradecards.

Soap tub

[sope tub; sope casting tubb]

A TUB used in SOAP making. Whether this tub had a specific function or was used in the process where convenient is not clear as the contexts of examples in the Dicionary Archive are not helpful. Randle Holme included a tub among the soap makers instruments [Holme (2000)], and described it in full as 'made of boards or Rung staves and hoops, with opposit holes in the two higher staves, to put a Rung staffe through whereby it is transported from place to place by 2 men with much ease.' He added that a 'Reliever or Releivevers [sic] are tubs set vnder Tubbs, to receiue what runs out of them' [Holme (2000)]. This seems to be a description of tubs in general terms and not specific to soap making, apart from the last sentence. One soap tub among the equipment of a tallow chandler was described as a 'sope Casting tubb' [Inventories (1729)] and another as 'an half Boyl Tubb with Soap' [Inventories (1759)].

Not found in the OED

Found described as EMPTY

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Holme (2000).

Socket chisel

[sockett chiswell]

Rather than being fitted with a tang that may be driven home into the handle, the socket CHISEL has a socket in the blade, into which the tapered end of the handle can be forced. This enables the chisel to withstand more robust hammering [Strefford and McUrdo (1978)]. Such a chisel was mainly used by carpenters, and they were usually wider and thicker. As Randle Holme wrote, 'of these Socket Chissles they use several sorts, yet not severally distinguished by names more than to call them an half inch, three quarter inch Chissels; inch, and inch and half, two inch, to three inch Chissels' [Holme (2000)].

OED earliest date of use: 1679 under Chisel

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

Soda water

Water containing a solution of sodium bicarbonate, generally one that is artificially produced and being for the most part effervescent. Many were made to imitate existing SPA WATERS [Tomlinson (1854)]. Although not noted in the Dictionary Archive, the earliest quotation in the OED is dated 1802 and stated that 'The gaseous alkaline water commonly called soda water has long been used in this country'. Frederick Accum claimed that much artificially made soda water was contaminated with either copper or lead from the apparatus used in the water's manufacture. The danger had been pointed out by one of the manufacturers who claimed always to use either earthenware or glass [Accum (1820)]. It is doubtful whether all manufacturers were so careful.

References: Accum (1820), Tomlinson (1854).

Soft corn

[soft corne]

Spring sown GRAIN like BARLEY and OATS, contrasted in the only example in the Dictionary Archive with HARD CORN that had been sown in the autumn. In some sources, but not noted thus in the Dictionary Archive, it was known as spring corn.

Found in the OED under Soft, only in a secondary meaning of plausible speech or language; flattery

See also LENT CORN.
Sources: Diaries.

Sole leather

[sole lether; soale leather; soale & other leather; leather for soales]

The term refers to a LEATHER suitable for making the SOLE of a BOOT or SHOE. It was typically thicker and less pliable than UPPER LEATHER. Much sole leather was made from BEND LEATHER, the two terms being virtually synonymous, though whole HIDEs were apparently prepared for the purpose; hence entries like 'In the tann pitts 400 Soale hydes' [Inventories (1720)]. Sole leather was sometimes contrasted with upper leather as in 'the upper leather & sole leather' [Inventories (1612)], or with another leather such as WHITE LEATHER used for that purpose, as in 'In white leather and sole ___ leather' [Inventories (1684)].

Not found in the OED

Found in units of BACK, PIECE

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).


[susi; susee]

For this term very variable spellings such as soosies, sousae, susoes, susi and susae have all been noted. It is a type of Indian TEXTILE included among PIECE GOODS and listed in Hobson Jobson [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)]. These authors also give an extensive discussion of the derivation of the term [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)] which was imported from Bengal. When the anonymous author of 'The Plain Dealing Linen-draper' came to the letter S, he wrote 'Susis shall be the first, it being of most general use of any under this letter; Susis is a sort of Stuff, made of half Silk, half Cotton, and is adorned with very delightful colours, and wears, if not damaged, much beyond your belief, and the more Silk is in it, the better it wears; it is proper for a great many things, as Gowns and Petty-Coats in our Nation, but the greatest and most general use in this Kingdom are for Linnen of Beds and Window Curtains, for which they are extraordinary pretty, because they are usually light colours, and are cheap' [Anon (1696)]. Despite the prohibitions on INDIAN fabrics, three varieties of soosies were for sale by a London draper in 1720 [Inventories (1720)]. Although this is the only shopkeeper in the Dictionary Archive who was selling soosies as such, they may well have been more widely available, but under a generic name. Thomas Turner, the Sussex shopkeeper, gave 'a susi handkerchief, value 2s.' as a gift in 1756 [Diaries (Turner)]. Florence Montgomery gives more detail of soosies in trade, probably largely for the export market to America, and she comments that stripes in BLACK and WHITE were the most common [Montgomery (1984)].

OED earliest date of use: 1621

Found described as SILVER, STRIPED, half YARD, YARD WIDE Found describing HANDKERCHIEF
Found imported by PARCEL

Sources: Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (late).
References: Anon (1696), Milburn (1813), Montgomery (1984), Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996).

Sorrel water

[sorrell water]

One of the SIMPLE WATERS, and probably widely made but rarely stocked in the shops, for example [Inventories (1625)]. According to Nicholas Culpeper, the 'distilled water of the herb is of much good use for all purposes aforesaid', so it was probably used mainly to 'quench thirst, and procure an appetite' and to 'cool any inflammation and heat of blood in agues ... or sickness' [Culpeper (1792)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1558

Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Culpeper (1792).

Souchong tea

[susan tea]

One of the finer varieties of BLACK TEA. Like other teas, Souchong was sometimes stocked in variety. For example, one London dealer was advertising GOOD, FINE, very fine, and 'Superfine best imported' at prices ranging from 5s to 8s per LB [Newspapers (1791)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1760

Found in units of LB

Sources: Acts, Inventories (late), Newspapers.

Soup strainer

Like gruel, many soups needed careful straining, as the frequent directions of Hannah Glasse show [Glasse (1747, facs. 1983)]. Although it was a favourite charitable act to provide soup for the poor, soup was also a fashionable dish when it may well have been carefully strained. One strained through TAMMY would have given a very smooth soup indeed [Tradecards (19c.)]. Why two advertisers chose to promote 'French Soup Strainers' [Newspapers (1760)]; [Tradecards (18c.)] is not clear.

Not found in the OED except as a term for the Moustache

Found described as FRENCH, right Found made of TAMMY

Sources: Newspapers, Tradecards.
References: Glasse (1747, facs. 1983).

Sowing and stitching silk

[stiching silk; stiching and sowing silke; stiching and soweing silke; stiching & soing silke; sowing & stiching silk; soweing & stiching silke; sow & stich; soing & stiching silke; silk stiching & sewing; silk soweing and stiching]

In the shops stitching silk was almost invariably found in an entry like 'stiching and sowing silke' [Inventories (1665)], or 'Sowing & Stiching Silk' [Inventories (1708)]. The frequency of appearance of these phrases suggests that the two products were not distinct. Instead, the two terms were combined to make a label for a single product. However, although treated here together, the label may have represented two different types of silk thread, and the occasional entry like '3 p'd stiching silk' [Inventories (1713)] would support this. Whatever was the case, SILK - THREAD came in great variety, as attested by such terms as 'silke of all sorts sticking and soing' [Inventories (1672)].

OED earliest date of use: 1552

Found described as ARDASS, BLACK, COLOURED
Found in units of LB, OUNCE, OZ, POUND, SKEIN

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


Two meanings of the term are recognised here. In the one sense, 'soy' is an obsolete term for SILK, appearing in compounds like PADUASOY and SERGEDUSOY.

In the other sense, the term refers to a sauce prepared chiefly in INDIA, CHINA and JAPAN, whence the best sorts came. It is made from soy or soja beans, which were boiled until soft and allowed to ferment for several weeks. The liquid is eventually drained off and allowed to settle and clarify, giving a syrupy, dark-brown liquid [Simmonds (1906)]. Inferior sorts were probably adulterated by the addition of other ingredients such as WHEAT FLOUR or BARLEY FLOUR, as they are today. Various sauces called soy and based on molasses, possibly with the addition of MUSHROOMs may already have been available in the eighteenth century, hence the emphasis by some up-market retailers that they were selling the genuine product, as in 'Real Japanese Soy at 3s per pint or 5s per quart' [Newspapers (1790)], and 'Bottles of the best Indian Soy' [Newspapers (1770)]. Martha Bradley included soy among the six most prominent foreign PICKLEs [Bradley (1756 facs.1996)], though even then it probably fitted more closely into the category of 'Rich SAUCE For Fish, Hashes, Gravies, and all made Dishes', under which heading Jasper Taylor placed it [Tradecards (19c.)]. The phrase 'Lock Soy for rich Soups' [Newspapers (1760)], suggests the same type of use, but it is not known what 'Lock' means in this context.

OED earliest date of use: 1696

Simone Clarke

Found in units of BOTTLE, PINT, QUART

See also KETCHUP.
Sources: Newspapers, Tradecards.
References: Bradley (1756, facs. 1996), Simmonds (1906).