Tear of flax - Thousand notable things

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

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Tear of flax

According to Randle Holme, tear of flax is 'fine flax, or dressed flax, haueing all the course Hourds taken from it' [Holme (2000)]. In other words, it is DRESSED FLAX heckled to remove the FLAX HARDS and other coarser grades.

Found in units of DOZEN

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (late).
References: Holme (2000).

Tear of hemp

[teer of hemp; teare of hempe; hemtere]

According to the OED, tear denoted fine, delicate, of the best quality; said especially of FLOUR and HEMP. The definition is supported by a quotation saying that most comes from the summer hemp (the FIMBLE). On the other hand, Randle Holme defined 'Teer of Hemp' as the 'long and strong Hemp', the same definition he gave for STEEL HEMP [Holme (2000)] and Nicholas Blundell used it for making SAILCLOTH, again suggesting a meaning similar to the one Randle Holme had given it several decades earlier [Diaries (Blundell)]. To add to the confusion, an early eighteenth century dictionary defined it as the 'finest dress'd part made ready for the spinner' [Phillips (1706)], which suggests a stage in the preparation, rather than an absolute quality.

The term was used elliptically both for HEMPEN YARN and for a high quality of HEMPEN CLOTH, and it has also been found used to describe a CLOTH to be used to make SHIRTs.

OED earliest date of use: 1532 as Hemp tear

Found as the cloth to make SHEET, SHIFT, SHIRT
Found for sale measured by DOZEN, ELL, HANK, LEA

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Holme (2000), Phillips (1706).

Teeth water

[water for the teeth]

Products for the care of the teeth abounded and were widely advertised, both because good teeth add so much to appearance and because tooth ache caused such torment. The two advertisements noted in the Dictionary Archive for teeth water, a less common product than TOOTH POWDER, for example, show some of the results hoped for. The one claimed it 'cleanses, whitens, & fastens then to admiration' [Newspapers (1706)] while the other was said to be 'the best Cure for Scurvy of the Gums that ever was invented' [Newspapers (1760)]. Neither give any indication of ingredients, but Nicholas Culpeper deemed the bark of black ALDER 'singularly good to wash the teeth, to take away the paine, to fasten those that are loose, to cleanse them and keep them sound' [Culpeper (1792)].

Not found in the OED

Found described as Excellent
Found in units of BOTTLE

Sources: Newspapers.
References: Culpeper (1792).



A teetotum or TOTUM was TOY, in the form of a small four-sided disk or DIE, having a letter inscribed on each of its sides, and a spindle passing down through it by which it could be twirled or spun with the fingers like a small top. The letter that lay uppermost when it fell decided the fortune of the player. Originally the letters each stood for a Latin word but were used to represent English ones later; T from the Latin 'totum' (take-all), A (accept), D (give up), and N from the Latin 'Nihil' (nothing). It was also the name of a game of chance played with a teetotum. In the Dictionary Archive it has only been noted once in association with BILBOQUET, another toy [Tradecards (1771)].

OED earliest date of use: 1500-20 as Totum; 1720 as Teetotum

Sources: Tradecards.



Usually found in the plural in this sense. The term denotes a contrivance for keeping CLOTH stretched to its proper width in the LOOM during weaving. Temples usually consisted of a pair of flat rods with teeth at either end that caught the selvage on each side of the fabric. In the Dictionary Archive they were found associated with other weaving equipment as in 'ij narrow loomes iij geares & ij paire of tempells' [Inventories (1578)].

OED online earliest date of use in this sense: 1483

Although not found in the Dictionary Archive as such, temples were also ORNAMENTs of JEWELLERY or NEEDLEWORK formerly worn by women on the sides of the forehead. The term was becoming obsolete by 1660.

OED online earliest date of use in this sense: c1430

Most commonly, a temple is a place of worship, in the early modern period not often applied to the English for whom 'church' and 'chapel' were more common terms. However, temple in this sense appears once in the Dictionary Archive as 'Temples, Vases and Flower-pots to cover' with Shells' [Tradecards (1765)]; that is a small stylised model to be turned into an ornament by the application of shells, a common pastime for ladies in the eighteenth century.

OED earliest date of use: 1483

Found in units of PAIR

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

Temple wire

Temples were ornaments of JEWELLERY or NEEDLEWORK worn by women on the side of the forehead. Since the term was not used in this sense after the Restoration in 1660 and the only examples in the Dictionary Archive are later than that, it is unlikely that temple wires were intended to be used in making temples. More probably they were needed for the fashionable FRENCH HOOD, though it, too, was going out of fashion after the Restoration. Temple wires have been noted for sale among HABERDASHERY, for example [Inventories (1683)]. Margaret Justice, who appears to have been a milliner, had both temple wires and French hoods in her stock [Inventories (1687)].

Not found in the OED online

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Tenon saw

[tenent sawe; tenants-saw; tenant sawe; bowe saw]

A fine SAW for making tenons etc., having a thin blade and a thick back, and small teeth very slightly set. Randle Holme described 'a Tennant Saw' as 'a thin Saw, and therefore hath a Back of Iron to keep it from bending; it is for one hand use, and cuts forward, as all other Saws do. Some term this sort of Saw a Faneering or Inlaying Saw, being so small and thin that the Plate of the Saw is only a flatted Wyer cut with Teeth, which is termed also a Bow Saw [Holme (2000)]. The alternative name of a VENEERing or inlaying saw does not appear in the Dictionary Archive, but one example has been noted of a 'Bowe sawe' [Inventories (1589)].

OED earliest date of use: 1549

Found rated by the DOZEN

Sources: Inventories (early), Rates.
References: Holme (2000).



OED suggests it was a SURGICAL INSTRUMENT similar to the TREPAN. This fits with the description by Randle Holme who wrote that the 'Terebellum, which in English may be termed the Chyrurgions little Piercer' is 'an Instrument to take up broken or bruised Skulls' [Holme (2000)]. The only example in the Dictionary Archive, 'a tarabelli' & head saw' also makes clear its use [Inventories (1701)].

OED earliest date of use: 1678

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

Terra germanica

Harley notes a TERRA Goltbergensis in a late eighteenth-century source that was a a form of CHALK imported from GERMANY [Harley (1970)]. The single example of TERRA Germanica noted in the Dictionary Archive [Inventories (1624)] is probably the same or a similar product. However, whereas Harley notes it as a PIGMENT, the context of the example in the Dictionary Archive suggests that it was used in APOTHECARY.

Not found in the OED

Found in units of OUNCE

Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Harley (1970).

Terra lemnia

[terra lemnia; terra lemna; lemnian earth]

In English Lemnian EARTH, this is a medicinal astringent reddish coloured EARTH, named from the island of Lemnos where it was found. Popular from ancient time, the earth was manufactured into small stamped and sealed TROCHES, hence its alternative name of TERRA SIGILLATA or 'Sealed earth' [Inventories (1634)]. Terra lemnia was reputedly good for healing ulcers, diarrhoea, the bites of snakes [Malleus (online)], mad dogs and other animals, provoking vomiting and treating the plague. Doubts about the purity and authenticity of what was sold as terra lemnia arose in the Renaissance. By the sixteenth century a number of different colours of earth were available and the troches varied in size, weight, odour and smoothness.

It was also used occasionally as a PIGMENT as a substitute for BOLE ARMENIAC [Harley (1970)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1613 under Terra lemnia; 1611 as Lemnian earth under Lemnian

Found as an ingredient in VENICE TREACLE
Found in units of DRACHM, LB, OZ Found among the DRUGS rated by the POUND

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Rates, Recipes.
References: Harley (1970), Malleus (online).



The form 'Terindams' is found in other sources, which is a term said by the native weavers to be derived from the Arabic word 'turuh', meaning 'a kind', and the Persian word 'undan', meaning 'the body', and combined to denoting 'a kind of cloth for the body'. Terrindam was a TEXTILE in the form of a plain MUSLIN, usually of a superior quality, chiefly woven in Dacca [Montgomery (1984)], and imported from Bengal according to Milburn, who included it on his lists of INDIAN - PIECE GOODS [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)]. It was defined as muslin by an act of 1700 [Acts (1700)].

Not found in the OED

Sources: Acts.
References: Montgomery (1984), Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996).

Tester head

That part of the TESTER at the head of a BED. A tester head has not been noted in the dictionaries and appears only once in the Dictionary Archive as 'One blew Suite of Curtaines and vallions with Callico tester head' [Inventories (1704)]. It was possibly singled out as it was made of a different fabric from the rest of the BED FURNITURE.

Not found as such in the OED online though the quotation dated 1776 'Green Curtains, Vallens and Head and Tester Cloths etc.' suggests something similar

Found made of CALICO

Sources: Inventories (late).

Theriaca andromachi

[therica andromach]

The Latin name for VENICE TREACLE, so called after Andromachus, a physician to Nero. A recipe was still included in the Pharmacopoeia into the eighteenth century [Pemberton (1746)]; [Recipes (Pemberton)]. Andromachus also gave his name to a 'cerate' or WAX-like medicinal preparation as in 'cerotu' andromachia' [Inventories (1573)].

OED earliest date of use: 1562 under Theriac

Found in units of OZ

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).
References: Pemberton (1746).

Thick head


A descriptor used of a NAIL, or the NAIL itself. Thick heads were included neither by Randle Holme [Holme (2000)], nor by Charles Tomlinson [Tomlinson (1854)] among their lists of nail types. The only examples of thick heads appear in the probate inventory of a SHOVEL maker, who in fact seems to have specialized in making the metallic parts of a shovel and more especially nails [Inventories (1711)]. 'Thick head' was a descriptor applied to the HOB NAIL, which suggests a short nail with a very substantial head.

Not found in this sense in the OED online

Found describing HOB NAIL
Found in units of HUNDRED, THOUSAND

Sources: Inventories (late).
References: Holme (2000), Tomlinson (1854).

Thill harness

[thill harnesse]

According to the OED, a thill was the pole or shaft by which a wagon, cart, or other vehicle is attached to the animal drawing it, especially one of the pair of shafts between which a single draught animal is placed. On the other hand, Randle Holme wrote that 'the two side shafts make one Thill' [Holme (2000)], though he was discussing the equipment used with a GUN carriage, rather than a CART. If it were not for an entry reading '4 paire of cart harnesse, a thill harnesse' [Inventories (1631)], one might assume that CART HARNESS and thill harness were roughly the same, but this appears not to be the case, at least in some circumstances.

OED earliest date of use: 1549 under Thill

Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Holme (2000).


[thymnell; thymbulle; thymble; thim-ble; thimbell; thimbel]

Usually a bell-shaped sheath of metal, formerly of leather, worn on the end of the finger to push the NEEDLE when sewing, though some designed for special work were open ended like the DOUBLE THIMBLE and the TAILORS THIMBLE. By contrast some were described a 'topped', that is they had one closed end. For the most part, thimbles were made in two sizes, those for MEN and those for WOMEN. Although thimbles were functional, they could be decorative like the 'bath mettle thimbles guilt' valued at 2s piece in the stock of one TOY maker [Inventories (1733)]. It was fancy ones such as these that were most likely to have a matching THIMBLE CASE.

OED earliest date of use: c1412

Found in units of BOX, DOZEN, GROSS, LB Found rated by M, THOUSAND

Sources: Acts, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.

Thimble case

[thimble and needle cases]

A case for holding a THIMBLE. Thimble cases were often decorative, both in their material and in their design. One late-eighteenth century retailer had in his stock thimble cases made of BONE, IVORY and WOOD [Tradecards (1794)], but others were made of metal.

OED online earliest date of use: 1715 under Thimble

Sources: Tradecards.

Thousand notable things

In full, 'A Thousand Notable Things of Sundry Sortes' by Thomas Lupton. This popular work consisted of a collection of curious facts and even odder fancies. It was first published in 1579 and was still in print over two hundred years later, though it had by then undergone many corrections and additions.

The only example in the Dictionary Archive is to be found among the stock of books belonging to a Wigan petty CHAPMAN in the 1730s [Inventories (1737)]. Sale by itinerant chapmen was probably the means by which such books were most often made available to the public. However, Lupton's work is not referred to in 'Small Books' by Margaret Spufford, nor did it appear in the trade list of William Thackeray (1689), printed by her [Spufford (1981, pb 1985)].

Sources: Inventories (late).
References: Spufford (1981, pb 1985).