Aqua - Aqua mirabilis

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University of Wolverhampton

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Nancy Cox and Karin Dannehl

Year published

2007

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'Aqua - Aqua mirabilis', Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820 (2007). URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=58687 Date accessed: 24 October 2014.


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Aqua

[aqu; aq]

Aqua is the Latin term for water, and it was used in the early-modern period almost entirely as a label for medicinal preparation made either with water or with some form of alcohol. The former, called in the Pharmacopoeia 'Aquae stillatitiae simplices' or in English SIMPLE WATERs, were distilled with only sufficient water to prevent the product burning, and did not keep well. The latter, called 'Aquae stillatitiae spiritosae' or AQUA COMPOSITA, in English DISTILLED WATER or COMPOUND WATERs, were distilled using PROOF SPIRIT. Most medicinal waters noted in the shops were probably in this form. For reasons not explained, these medicinal waters with Latin names were usually measured by weight in units of LB and OZ, and so they are readily identifiable. By contrast, the waters drunk mainly for pleasure, like AQUA COELESTIS and AQUA MIRABILIS, were measured in units of capacity such as the GALLON or PINT.

Some apothecaries and other medicinal practicioners had medicinal waters in variety. For example Richard Hancock of Newcastle had thirteen different versions of aqua in twenty one entries [Inventories (1690)], while Joseph Bossley of Bakewell had eight [Inventories (1730)]. There are considerable similarities between the two lists suggesting that there was a recognized set stocked by many, even if it is not clear today what some of them are.

OED earliest date of use: 1398

Found in units of BARREL, BOTTLE, FERKIN, GALLON, HOGSHEAD, LB, OZ, PINT, POT, POTTLE, QUART, RUNLET Found imported by CASK, PIECE, TUN Found rated by the BARREL, GALLON, HOGSHEAD

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

Aqua aurantiorum

[aurant]

A Latin name for ORANGE WATER, though it may be that ORANGE FLOWER WATER was intended. This term appears only once in the Dictionary Archive among the stock of an APOTHECARY [Inventories (1671)]. Presumably it had some relatively unimportant medicinal use; it was not included in the Pharmacopoeia.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Aqua bezoar

[aq. bezoardica; aq bezoar]

A medicinal WATER in which the principal ingredient was BEZOAR; in English BEZOAR WATER. This suggests that it may have been intended as a preparation specifically against the Plague, and it may therefore be an uncommon name for a version of PLAGUE WATER.

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Aqua biconiae

[aq. biconiae]

The Latin name indicates a medicinal WATER, as does the unit of measure, OZ. The principal ingredient labelled 'biconiae' has not been identified. In the two examples found in the Dictionary Archive, both in the same document, the reading is clear [Inventories (1690)], but the context does not provide further information.

Nothing helpful found in the OED online

Found described as COMPOUND
Found in units of OZ

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Aqua bryony

[aq bryon]

The Latin name indicates a medicinal WATER, with the principal ingredient BRYONY. Since this is a highly poisonous plant in all its parts, to use it in the form of a water was probably the safest way. Culpeper suggesteed that it 'cleanseth the skin wonderfully from all black and blue spots, freckles, morphew, leprosy, foul scars, and other deformity whatsoever' [Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.)].

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).
References: Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.).

Aqua capraporum

The Latin name indicates a medicinal WATER, but the unit of measure, PINT, was not commonly used for medicinal waters. The principal ingredient labelled 'capraporum' has not been identified. In the only example found in the Dictionary Archive, the reading is clear [Inventories (1634)] but the context does not provide any further information.

Found in units of PINT

Sources: Inventories (early).

Aqua cerasorum nigrorum

[cerasor nigror; aq. cerasoru' nigr; aq. cerasoru' niger]

The Latin form suggests a medicinal preparation, translated into English a WATER in which black CHERRY was the principal ingredient. Various cherries, either native or cultivated like the MORELLO, have black, bitter fruits. Culpeper believed that the WATER made from black cherries 'bruised with the stones and dissolved', cured the stone and expelled wind [Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.)]. Black cherries were not included in the Pharmacopoeia.

Not found in the OED

Found in units of LB, OZ

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.).

Aqua cinamonis

[aq. cinamon]

A medicinal preparation made either as a SIMPLE WATER or a COMPOUND WATER in which the principal ingredient was CINNAMON. Both were in Pemberton's Pharmacopoeia [Pemberton (1746)]. The former was made using water, the latter PROOF SPIRIT. It was also a popular alcoholic drink, in which form it was more commonly known as CINNAMON WATER.

Not found in the OED

Found described by tenuis (that is either FINE or weak, probably the latter)
Found in units of LB

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

Aqua coelestis

[aqua-coelestis; aqua celestis; aq caelestis]

A Latin term, which translates as 'heavenly water'. The Latin would suggest a medicinal water, but this does not seem to have been the case. It was included in Randle Holme's list of 'Drinks' that, he wrote, were in the province of the 'Compounder of Liquors' [Holme (2000)].

Coles described it as 'Chymical rectify'd wine' [Coles (1676, facs. 1973)]. It was the only 'Aqua' included in Blount's Glosographia, where he gave a similar definition to Coles, but added it was 'in some sort made like the heaven for subtilty and pureness' [Blount (1656)].

The term was also applied to a solution of COPPER sulphate so called because of its blue colour. It was used to treat the eyes. In this sense it has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive.

Not found in the OED, although Celestial Water (in the second sense) has an earliest date of 1758

Found in units of BOTTLE, GALLON, KEG, PINT

See also AQUA STYPTICA.
Sources: Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period).
References: Blount (1656), Coles (1676), Holme (2000).

Aqua composita

[aquacomposita; aqua co'poista]

The Latin commonly suggests a medicinal preparation. In English it translates as COMPOUND WATER. Aquae compositae were usually formed in a similar way to SIMPLE WATERs except that the active or flavouring ingredients were distilled from alcohol rather than from water. For example, Aqua calcis simplex was made from water and QUICK LIME, to which SASAFRAS bark and LIQUORICE were added to make Aqua calcis minus composita. Other examples of Aquae compositae found in the Pharmacopoeia are Aqua JUNIPERi composita, AQUA FORTIS composita, and AQUA SEMINUM ANISI COMPOSITA (ANISEED WATER) [Pemberton (1746)].

Not found in this form in the OED

Found in units of GALLON, GLASS, PINT, POTTLE, RUNLET

Sources: Inventories (early), Recipes.
References: Pemberton (1746).

Aqua cordialis

[aq. cordialis]

A medicinal preparation more commonly found under its English name of CORDIAL WATER. 'Cordial' suggests that it was designed to act upon the heart, but it may have been intended more as a pleasant-tasting, general pick-me-up.

Found described by Saxon
Found in units of LB

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Aqua epidemica

[epidemiae]

The Latin name for PLAGUE WATER. According to Chambers Cyclopedia as cited in the OED, it was prepared from the roots of MASTERWORT, ANGELICA, PEONY, and BUTTERBUR, viper-grass, VIRGINIA SNAKEROOT, RUE, ROSEMARY, BALM, [etc.]. The whole was infused in SPIRIT OF WINE, and distilled.

OED online earliest date of use: 1727-41 under Plague

Sources: Inventories (late).

Aqua hordeata

A medicinal preparation indicated by its Latin name, but more commonly known as BARLEY WATER. Although it found a place in the Pharmacopoeia, a comment was added to the formulation explaining the reason for its inclusion. Since aqua hordeata was 'used by sick persons in great quantities' and yet 'oftnest prepared by servants, who attend on the sick', rather than by the apothecary, it was included with the intention to encourage ordinary people to make it in the best manner [Recipes (Pemberton)].

Sources: Recipes.

Aqua hysterica

[histerici; aq. histerica]

A medicinal preparation, as indicated by its Latin name, that when rendered in English becomes 'hysteric water'. It was almost certainly intended for treating problems associated with the womb. A common conception of the early-modern period was to regard hysteria as an affliction peculiar to women, and one that was associated with the malfunctioning of the womb.

OED earliest date of use: 1694 as Hysteric water under Hysteric

Found in units of LB

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Aqua imperialis

[aq. imperialis]

Despite the Latin name, it was probably not a medicinal preparation, but a refreshing drink made by adding CREAM OF TARTAR and LEMON to boiling water and sweetening to taste. Elizabeth Raffald has a recipe for what is probably the same drink under the English label 'Imperial water' [Raffald (1769, new ed. 1977)].

OED earliest date of use: 1589 as Imperial water, under Imperial

Found in units of LB

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).
References: Raffald (1769, modern ed. 1977).

Aqua langue de boeuf

[aqua langis; aq. lang]

Both the Latin name and the unit of measure, LB, denote a medicinal WATER.

The abbreviation 'lang' found in the Dictionary Archive is taken to be a shortening of Langue de boeuf, a name for various boragineous plants. The most likely intended here would be the officinal BORAGE, Borago officinalis, though others were also employed in medicine. Culpeper lumped them together in use, declaring that the distilled water of the flowers could be used as a CORDIAL 'to comfort the heart and spirits of those that are in consumption' and also to help 'the redness and inflammations of the eyes being washed therewith' [Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.)].

OED earliest date of use: c1400 in a quotation for Langue de boeuf referring to a water made from the root

Found listed among COMPOUND WATERS
Found in units of LB

See also BORAGE WATER.
Sources: Inventories (mid-period).
References: Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.).

Aqua limonis

A Latin name for LEMON WATER. This term appears only once in the Dictionary Archive among the stock of an APOTHECARY [Inventories (1671)]. Presumably it had some relatively unimportant medicinal use; it was not included in the Pharmacopoeia.

Not found in the OED; earliest date of use for Lemon water: a1625

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Aqua lumbricorum

[lumbricon; aq. lumbricoru']

A medicinal WATER associated with worms, from the Latin 'lumbricus' for worm. The term was applied both to the earthworm, in which case aqua lumbricorum was most probably a COMPOUND WATER in which worms were the principal active ingredient, as well as to the intestinal round worm, in which case it may have been intended to treat worms. The form of the Latin in the genitive plural suggests that the former is the more likely.

Not found in the OED

Found described by magistralis or major
Found in units of OZ

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

Aqua lunacum

[linacu'; aq. lunacuu'; aq. lunacu']

The Latin name AQUA and the units of measure, LB and OZ, denote a medicinal water, while the descriptor 'magistrale ( by the master) suggests a well-established recipe. The term may have indicated a preparation for the treatment of lunacy, in which case it may have been an alternative name for AQUA HYSTERICA.

Found described by magistrale
Found in units of LB, OZ

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

Aqua melissa

[aqua mellissa]

The Latin name for the medicinal BALM WATER. It should not be confused with AQUA MELLIS. Although Balm (or Melissa) was included in the Materia Medica, this WATER was not in Pemberton's Pharmacopoeia [Pemberton (1746)].

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

Aqua mellis

Unlike most products given a Latin name, aqua mellis was not a medicinal, but a PERFUMED - WATER, in which presumably HONEY, MEL in Latin, was the principal ingredient. It was given the alternative name of 'The King's Honey-Water'.

See also HONEY WATER.
Sources: Tradecards.

Aqua mirabilis

[mirabil; aquamirabilis; aq. mirabilis]

In English, the miracle WATER. According to Samuel Johnson as cited in the OED, it was produced from CARDAMOM, CLOVES, CUBEB GALINGAL, GINGER, MACE and NUTMEG soaked in SPIRIT OF WINE, which was then redistilled. Aqua mirabilis was included in Randle Holme's list of 'Drinks' that were in the province of the compounder of liquors [Holme (2000)]. This suggests that he also considered aqua mirabilis to be a COMPOUND WATER.

OED earliest date of use: 1673 as Mirabilis

Found in units of GALLON

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