Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820. Originally published by University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 2007.
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Not to be confused with WEED ASH, these are the residues of ASHES from burning WOOD. This crude form of POTASH had to be processed to concentrate the content of potassium and to turn the raw product into POTASHES and PEARL ASH. It was less useful in its crude form, as one diarist found to his cost when mixed in PLASTER [Diaries (White)].
Cox, following Randle Holme, described it as a COMB made of close, light WOOD such as blackthorn [Holme (2000)]; [Cox (1966, pb 1969)] and probably never confused with BOX COMB made with BOXWOOD. The term was probably often synonymous with what was given elsewhere in the Dictionary Archive as a LIGHTWOOD COMB, though other woods would have served. Wooden combs were the cheapest available, valued at as little as 6½d DOZEN.
SCREWs, commonly made of IRON, specially designed to fix pieces of wood together or metal to wood. Usually they are tapered screws with a deep cut thread so that they hold fast. Screw making was a difficult job and far more complex than making NAILS. Although wood screws was introduced into FURNITURE making in the late seventeenth century, their use was confined largely to fixing HINGEs, and rather later for securing the corner blocks in the seat frames of CHAIRs [Gloag (1952, revised 1991)]. Until improvements in the LATHE during the late eighteenth century and the early nineteenth, and then the standardizations introduced by Joseph Whitworth fifty years later, most screws were made for a specific job and there were few in the shops. The earliest examples noted in the Dictionary Archive are dated 1747 [Inventories (1747)]; [Inventories (1747)]. By the second half of the eighteenth century skill shortages are apparent, expressed in advertisements like the one for an 'Apprentice ... wood-screw filer' [Newspapers (1760)], and entrepreneurs were turning their attention to improved methods [Patents (1760)]; [Patents (1800)].
A SIMPLE WATER in which the active ingredient was woodbine or honeysuckle. It was apparently used as a MOUTH WATER In some editions Nicholas Culpeper wrote nothing more than it was put into GARGARISMs for a sore throat [Culpeper (new ed.)]. However, he seems to have changed his mind, or later editors did so in his name: 'Doctor Tradition, that grand Introducer of errors, that hater of truth, that lover of folly, and that mortal foe to Dr Reason, hath taught the common people to use the leaves and flowers of this plant in mouth water, and by long continuance of time, hath so grounded it in the brains of the vulgar, that you cannot beat it out with a beatle' [Culpeper (1792)]. This water, has only been noted once in the Dictionary Archive, perhaps for the reason Culpeper gives, that it is 'likelier to cause a sore mouth than to cure it'.
The phrase might apply to any number of wooden structures providing a frame or support, the context sometimes indicating how it was used as in '2 Wooden-Horses for beere' [Inventories (1685)] and 'A Wooden Horse for Barrells' [Inventories (1727)].
A plaything for CHILDREN in the shape of a TRUMPET, though not producing the trumpet sound. Given the importance of the trumpet in military ceremonial, it is not surprising that a version was available as a TOY. They were very cheap, being valued at less than 1d each [Inventories (1682)].
Sometimes abbreviated to COMB as in 'one pare of combes' [Inventories (1608)], the term refers to a COMB, sometimes called a JERSEY COMB, designed to comb the long fibres out of the fleece of COMBING WOOL. Once prepared, this was called COMBED WOOL, and was used to make JERSEY and WORSTED.
The process of wool combing entailed oiling the wool, heating the combs 'to put a gentle heat into the teeth' before the combing itself. According to Randle Holme, it was 'a stinking imploy, the workmen are fit Companions for Devils, for with them it is heat, smoak, and stink, enough to stifle a body while seeing of them' [Holme (2000)].
FELL - WOOL as it was more commonly known was, according to an OED citation of 1888, 'the wool pulled from a SHEEPSKIN in distinction from the FLEECE wool shorn from the living animal' and probably by extension to the skins from which it was taken. This would explain why wool fells were invariably associated with other skins as in 'all Sheep-skins, Wolfels, Shorlings, Morelings' [Acts (1562)], rather than with other types of wool.
The term was sometimes used to cover any TEXTILE made from WOOL, but more correctly to WOOLLEN fabrics made with short staple CARDED WOOL as opposed to WORSTED. There were many varieties, including COTTON, DOZENS, FLANNEL, KERSEY and STRAITS, but the most important and prestigious was BROADCLOTH. The patents that claim new methods of water proofing, for example [Patents (1678)] suggest that good quality woollen cloths were used for making tough, warm outer garments.
The woollen industry was regarded traditionally as the most important of all British industries, and as such was the most highly scrutinised by the authorities, with the manufacture of many, if not all, types regulated. For example, [Acts (1514)] was intended to prevent 'deceits' in manufacture, [Acts (1532)] was concerned the dyeing of woollen cloth while [Acts (1707)] was an attempt to discourage the export of WHITE woollen cloth in order to encourage processes like dyeing and dressing at home.
Found described as BLUE - GREY, BROAD, BROWN, COARSE, DRAB, FRENCH, GREEN, NARROW, NEW, RED - GREY, SHORT, WHITE, YARD WIDE Found used to make COAT
In the Rate Books often equated with STUFFS Found in units of PIECE, YARD Found rated by the PIECE containing 12 yards, YARD
The GEAR used in a LOOM to weave WOOLLEN CLOTH. Woolen gears may have been valued more highly than other types. For example, one weaver had '12 Linin geares' at 3s each, while his '3 woolin geares' were valued at 4s [Inventories (1684)].
Old objects like CLOTH and APPAREL made of WOOL to be shredded for recycling, particularly to make FLOCKS. A different use is found in one diary entry. White recorded that 'John Hale brings home a waggon-load of woollen-rags, which are to be strewed on his hop-grounds in the spring, and dug in as manure. These rags weighed at ton weight & cost brought home near six pounds. They came from Gosport.' [Diaries (White)].
WOOLLEN is a curious descriptor here, as RUG was almost by definition made of WOOL, being a useful way of using up the hairy coarse wools like IRISH WOOL and some WELSH WOOL. Although there were plenty of rugs on English beds and some of rug as a TEXTILE in the shops, no woollen rugs as such have been located in the Dictionary Archive.
A work box is usually described as a BOX to contain instruments and materials for NEEDLEWORK. However, some early examples in the Dictionary Archive suggest a box containing the working tools of a craftsman, such as the BUTTON maker, who had in his Parlour 'j working boxe, & in it a litle boxe w'th partitions, & golde & silver some cutt & some wrought in it, & also other golde & silver in papers & on quills, j pap' of silk buttons ij paire of sisers, & v working bodkins' all valued at 40s [Inventories (1594)]. Another one of this type is the 'workeing box & nailes pulleyes & wheeles' [Inventories (1668)] belonging to an ironmonger. In both cases, the box was given as a 'working box', but when found as a 'Worke box with tooles' [Inventories (1674)], it also belonged to a craftsman and not a needle woman.
Although the term may well have applied in other situations, since it could be used as a generic term with many applications, in the Dictionary Archive it has only been noted as applied to the equipment of SHOEmakers. However, some tools like the HAMMER were consistently named separately. Others like the PINCERS, the RASPs and the LASTs were also listed at times, so it is not clear what was invariably included.
A QUACK MEDICINE, alternatively named the 'Tea of Health' was one of the many preparations that claimed to rid the body of worms, for example ROTULA ANTHELMINTHICA in [Newspapers (1750)]. The advertisement for worm tea added a piece of puffery declaring that it would as well purge 'away all those ropy and slimy humours which are the very nest of these pernicious Vermin' [Newspapers (1798)]. Typically for this type of promotion, the proprietor does not reveal the secrets of the ingredients [Porter (1989)], though in this case they seem all to have been of vegetative origin.
This is not the only medicinal preparation that called itself a TEA; see for example SWEDES TEA advertised in [Newspapers (1770)]. Instead of playing on the supposed evils of drinking tea proper, Stoughton and other operators played on its supposed health-giving properties, by suggesting that 'Ladies' should drink his Elixir in tea, thus reinforcing the curative effect of his own nostrum, as for example in [Newspapers (1742)].
A worm tea, possibly the same one, was still on sale in the U.S.A. during the1850s. It had its own entry in an American Materia Medica in which it was described as 'a preparation kept in the shops of the United States, and much prescribed by physicians, under the name of Worm Tea ... [It] consists of spigella root, SENNA, MANNA and SAVINE mixed together' [OED].
This was the name given to the seeds of various plants considered to have anthelmintic properties, that is they were considered effective against intestinal worms. Culpeper, in a rather involved sentence, seems to suggest that two varieties of WORMWOOD were most commonly used; that is, SEA WORMWOOD for children and 'people of ripe age', and 'common wormwood' for those that are 'strong', by which he probably meant the plant now usually called Artemesia absinthe [Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.)].
Other seeds, which presumably had the bitter taste that was regarded as the effective agent, may also have been used, either on their own or in mixture. Some of these were: Artemisia santonica, Erysimum cheiranthoides (TREACLE or English wormseed), Chenopodium anthelminticum and Ambrina anthelmintica (American wormseed) and Halogeton tamariscifolium (Spanish wormseed). Accum, writing in 1820, claimed that wormseed, which he considered was solely the seed of Artemisia santonica, was sometimes adulterated and cheapened by the addition of the seeds of TANSY, which had a suitably bitter taste [Accum (1820)].
Some tradesmen, particularly those in LONDON, had huge stocks; for example one soi-disant Merchant tailor had nearly 2,000 LB, mostly imported [Inventories (1716)]. It was occasionally valued for as much as 8s LB but usually for about half that.
The term was used to cover several plants in the genus Artemisia, but particularly Artemisia absinthium, proverbial for its bitter taste. Other species used in much the same way include ROMAN WORMWOOD, SEA WORMWOOD and MUGWORT. The leaves and tops were used in medicine as a tonic and vermifuge, and for making vermouth and ABSINTHE; formerly it was also used to protect clothes and BEDDING from moths and fleas, and in brewing ALE, though this last was prohibited by [Acts (1710)]. The OED's quotations suggest that it was regarded as particularly effective against fleas. It was believed to prevent scurvy and was a constituent of 'Plague water', for example [Recipes (Smith)]. In 1673, Ralph Josselyn recommended to emigrants that they included wormwood both as part of the 'private fresh provision, you may carry with you (in case you, or any of yours should be sick at Sea)' and as a CONSERVE [Diaries (Josselyn)]. Wormwood yields the dark green OIL OF WORMWOOD. Wormwood drops were made from this CHEMICAL OIL, mixed with the whites of EGGs and COCHINEAL [Recipes (Berington)]. Pechey recommended wormwood prepared in a great variety of ways; 'the juice, the distilled water, the syrup, the fixed salt, and the oil', though he considered the wine or beer to be the best [Pechey (1694a)].
See also ABSINTHE, MUGWORT, OIL OF WORMWOOD, SALT OF WORMWOOD, ROMAN WORMWOOD, SEA WORMWOOD, WORMWOOD WATER.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Inventories (mid-period), Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Anon (1695), 23, Pechey (1694a).
The term was sometimes abbreviated to wormwood. One of the COMPOUND WATERS prepared (like ABSINTHE or vermouth) from WORMWOOD; it was not included in Randle Holme's list of 'Drinks' (not all of them alcoholic) that were in the province of the 'Compounder of Liquors'. On the other hand, wormwood-ale was. This is confusing as one would not expect an ale to come within the province of a distiller or compounder [Holme (2000)]. Whether the two were the same or not, recipes for wormwood water as in the one given by Nott [Recipes (Nott)] show that it was a compound water distilled from a WINE in which WORMWOOD had been steeped along with flavours such as ANISEED and LIQUORICE designed to make the product more palatable. Martha Bradley also included a recipe in her section on CORDIAL WATERs, which she claimed was taken from the Edinburgh Dispensatory. It was a complicated recipe and more typical of even earlier times, with several ingredients of which the leaves of ROMAN WORMWOOD was only one. SEVILLE ORANGE, SUGAR and spices were presumably intended to make it more palatable [Bradley (1756 facs.1996-8)]. John Pechey considered wormwood water to have 'less virtue' than other preparations of wormwood, though he did consider it beneficial for those suffering from ague [Pechey (1694a)].
It is believed that the name derived from the Norfolk village of Worstead (near NORWICH) that was the centre for weaving this type of cloth from the Middle Ages onwards. This association was promoted by worsted weavers who frequently marketed their cloths by claiming that the wool used was from Norfolk, although most wool was supplied by the Midlands and later Ireland [Kerridge (1985)].
Worsted was a well twisted YARN made of long stapled WOOL, spun in various grades, such as small woof, middle woof, warp, mantle ('mentil') warp, and headle, heddle or 'hevel' yarn [Montgomery (1984)]. This yarn was distinctive because of the way it was COMBed rather than CARDed to make the fibres lie parallel. As they were smooth and shiny they could be loosely twisted to make WORSTED YARN or CREWEL, which was used for EMBROIDERY and to make into various articles of HABERDASHERY such as BINDING and TAPE. Much of this yarn was made into a KNITting wool and extensively made into HOSIERY such as STOCKINGS. The yarn was, however, principally used to make a whole group of TEXTILES commonly gathered under the generic name of worsteds or STUFFs. These were used to make various articles of APPAREL such as BREECHES, DOUBLETs, HATs, JACKETs and WAISTCOATs. Trinder notes that most SUITINGs and in particular wool fabrics, including SERGE, CREPE and GABERDINE are worsteds [Trinder (1992)]. Hybrids, made by mixing different types of yarn with worsted during weaving were developed during the early modern period, such as HALF WORSTEDs made with linen wefts or with SILK.
Worsted cloth clearly appealed to foreign markets, and the manufacture of imitations was established abroad during the sixteenth century. Anxieties about competition from abroad and the introduction of inferior cloth is reflected in government legislation that attempted to control the processes of manufacture. A particular focus hereby was the dressing of this imported cloth by dry CALENDARing supposedly to improve its appearance and delude consumers into thinking that it was of higher standard. This practice was outlawed in 1512 in an act that claimed formerly worsteds had 'ben truly made, shorn and calendared ... now of late divers Strangers beyond the Seas have taken upon them to dry-calendar Worsteds with GUMs, OILs, and Presses so that a coarse Piece of Worsted, not being past the Value of Twenty Six shillings and Eight pence ... is made to shew like to the Value of Forty Shillings or better.' Such DRESSED worsted would soon lose its expensive finish when wet, it was claimed, as 'it will shew spotty and shew foul.' [Acts (1512)]. The measure was ineffective, judging by the fact that was repeated in 1541. Other acts attempted to protect the control of NORWICH over the industry [Acts (1523)] to prohibited the export of worsted yarn [Acts (1541)], and to form a company in Norwich with powers to enforce standards through a process of searching and sealing [Acts (1660)].
Since the term was used elliptically in place of WORSTED YARN, there is a plethora of contradictory units of use and of valuations. However, since fabrics were generally measured by the YARD or the PIECE, and worsted yarn by weight, there should be no difficulty in distinguishing them the one from the other. Valuations varied considerably. The fabric was valued from as little as 8d the YARD up to 6s 8d the ELL, worsted yarn from 20d the POUND to 6s.
Found described by BLACK, BROAD, CREWEL, CRIMSON, DOUBLE, ENGLISH, Exeter, IN GRAIN, GREY, ITALIANO, KNOTTED, LINE, LIVERY LACE, MANX, NARROW, POINT, ready spun, RUSSEL, SINGLE, St Omers, STRIPED, WELSH, WHITE, YARN Found describing CALAMANCO, CAMLET, CRAPE, DAMASK, DRUGGET, FARANDINE, GIRTH WEB, GROGRAM, LUTESTRING, MOHAIR, NEEDLE, PLOD, PLUSH, PRUNELLA, RUG, SATIN, SERGE, SHAG, SHAGREEN, STUFF, THICKSET, TOY Found used to make BED STRING, BINDING, BOOTHOSE, BUTTONS AND LOOPS, CADDIS, CAP, CORDING, DOUBLET, FRINGE, GARTER, GARTERING, GIRDLE, GIRTH, GLOVE.HAT, HOSE, INKLE, JACKET, KIRTLE, LACE, MITT, NIGHT CAP, PETTICOAT, (KNIT), QUALITY, REIN, RIBBON, SASH, SHROUD, SLEEVE, STIRRUP, STOCKINGS (and to mend them), TAPE, WAISTCOAT
Found in units of CLEW, LB, OUNCE, OZ, POUND, YARD Found rated by the PIECE, YARD
See also HALF WORSTED, NORWICH STUFF, RUSSEL.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates, Tradecards.
References: Montgomery (1984), Kerridge (1985), Trinder (1992).
An infusion of MALT or other grain, which has previously been ground and sprinkled with hot water to encourage the release of sugars. At this stage it is called the 'Mash', hence MASH TUB. The liquor drained off is called the wort, which is well boiled with the HOPS before straining with a WORT STRAINER and cooling. YEAST is then added to start the process of fermentation. The result is ALE or BEER., though the wort is also the first stage in the distillation of SPIRITS [Acts (1795)]. John Houghton described the process once the wort had been made. It must 'boil an hour and half or two hours before it be laded into the cooler, and when it is cold enough, YEAST must be put to it', adding that good wort 'well boiled, ... will have an oil upon it, which you may perceive by rubbing it between your fore-finger and thumb' [Houghton].
The increasing industrialization of brewing encouraged innovation and mechanization, for instance the MASHING MACHINE and the use of steam, for example [Patents (1784)], as well as more elaborate instrumentation such as an improved HYDROMETER [Patents (1780)].
Nevertheless, much brewing continued to be done domestically and home made wort was so widely available that it was used for other purposes than making beer when its characteristics were deemed appropriate; for example, Ralph Josselin used it in his recipe for INK [Diaries (Josselin)], while Thomas Turner utilized its sweetness to feed his BEES [Diaries (Blundell)].
Wort was also a term used for a VEGETABLE, POT HERB or PHYSICAL HERB, particularly a member of the CABBAGE family. It was not used much after the seventeenth century, and has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive, but it survived in the name of many plants, including COLEWORT, LUNGWORT and ST JOHNS WORT.
A KIVER or TUB used in brewing. It may have been similar in use to a MASH TUB or to a COOLER, but the entry in one text of 'Eleven very small wort Kivers' [Inventories (1729)] suggests they may have been used to catch the WORT as it drained from the mash tub in order to transfer it to the WORT LEAD. If this interpretation is correct, it was used in a similar way to an UNDERBACK. The two examples in the Dictionary Archive both come from southern England.
WORT lead is a term that only appears in the Dictionary Archive before 1600. Although the OED does not give a definition as such, a quotation there dated 1550 mentioned '6 wort leeds callyd coolars', which suggests they were used after the wort had been boiled and before the YEAST was added. Brewers seem each to have owned several wort leads; for example, vj worte leedds xs' [Inventories (1541)], and 'vj worte leads xxxiijs iiijd' [Inventories (1551)]. The considerable difference in valuations is disturbing and unexplained. In respect of the number owned, the wort lead seems to have been similar to the WORT KIVER, the main difference being that the lead has been noted only in the Midlands, the kiver only in southern England.
A vessel used in brewing, the exact function of which is unclear. One brewer had 'vj worte leedds xs; viij worte pannys xxvjs viijd' [Inventories (1541)], which suggests they were like the WORT LEAD small in size, but nevertheless sufficiently distinct to be listed separately. One possibility is their function was the same, but the pan was made of metal, and the lead was a coopered vessel of wood. This hypothesis is supported by the difference in value between the two.
A form of SIEVE used in brewing, probably no more than a different name for a WORT STRAINER. Wort sieves have been noted for sale [Inventories (1700)], and in use [Inventories (1783)]. It seems to have been a term used in eastern England.
A STRAINER for straining the HOPS from the WORT after it has been boiled up, and before the fermentation process is begun by which BEER is made. The only wort strainer noted in the Dictionary Archive was in a brewhouse [Inventories (1729)]. Pamela Sambrook shows that there were other utensils used for similar purposes but with different names as 'Hopback', Huckmuck', 'Strom', 'Tapwad' and 'Temse' [Sambrook (1996)].
A vessel, often made of STONE, used in brewing. Although the entry listing 'a wort trough, a Masfatt' as well as an 'old wort trough' [Inventories (1648)] suggests that it differed from a MASH VAT in some way, the distinction may have been only in the material with which it was made. Both examples in the Dictionary Archive come from northern England, as do the examples cited in the OED. These last include a 'Wort stone'.