Yard - Yew

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University of Wolverhampton

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Nancy Cox and Karin Dannehl

Year published

2007

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'Yard - Yew', Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550-1820 (2007). URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=58918 Date accessed: 29 July 2014.


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Yard

[y'rd; yrd; yerde; yerd; yer; yearde; yeard; y'd; yd; yarde; eard]

A term with several meanings, the most important in the Dictionary Archive being a unit of linear measure that largely replaced the ELL. This old measure had been the standard before Edward III and was still in use into the early-modern period. The yard or VIRGA (the Latin equivalent) was 36 INCH or 3 FOOT long, though sometimes by custom for some TEXTILEs of 37 inches. The term appears in all sections of the Dictionary Archive, often in abbreviated forms such as 'yd'. Although not noted in the Dictionary Archive, the much older unit of linear measure, also called a yard, was the equivalent of the rod, perch or pole and consisted of 16½ FOOT.

OED earliest date of use: 1377 for the yard of t3 FOOT, 900 for the yard of 16½ FOOT

Only loosely connected with the idea of a unit of measure was the nautical term for a comparatively long and slender WOODEN - SPAR hung at its centre in front of a mast and serving to support and extend the square SAIL attached to it. Yards were often associated with other nautical items in such phrases as 'yards and MASTs'. They were an important component of NAVAL STORES and were included in among SHIPS STORES [Acts (1781)].

OED earliest date of use: c725-1440

Found used with BOMBASINE, DAMASK, DRAPERY, FILLETING, MOHAIR, SATIN, SCOTCH LINEN, TICK, VELURE

See also BOOM, ELL, FOOT, INCH, NAVAL STORES, YARD WIDE.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Recipes, Tradecards.

Yard wide

[y'd wide; yd wide; yard-wide]

A term applied to the width of a piece of cloth. Until the invention of the 'Flying Shuttle' by John Kay [Patents (1733)], it required more than one weaver to operate a broad loom, so that TEXTILES defined as yard-wide or yard-broad were relatively unusual. Other inventions, such as the 'Machine for glazing ... linens and cottons up to two yards wide' [Patents (1788)] must also have facilitated the production of wider textiles. It is noticeable from the Dictionary's Archive that broader fabrics become more common during the eighteenth century, as did the choice of widths offered to customers. The term was applied to such a large variety of textiles, woollen and linen, that the descriptor probably adds little significance of to those textiles that happen to carry it.

The OED offers no specific definition for the term, but the first quotation dated 1766, refers to '1 piece yard wide quilt'. However, the second quote, dated 1832, draws attention to 'the practice in retail linen-drapers' shops of calling certain articles 'yard wide', when the real width is, perhaps, only seven eighths or three quarters.' This seems to have been a practice with a long history as the act 10 ANNE C18 required all CALICO to be within 7/8 and 9/8 of a yard wide. (The act is not included in the Dictionary Archive.) Occasionally, the expression is used in the Dictionary Archive with reference to particular objects, for example 'a yard-wide GOWN' where a length of fabric suitable for making a gown was being described. An earlier equivalent is 'yard broad', which is first noted by the OED in the seventeenth century. The term was also used occasionally as a substantive as in 'yardwides', but it is unclear what type of fabric is intended [Inventories (1766)].

OED earliest date of use: 1766

See also BROAD CLOTH, ELL WIDE.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Rates, Tradecards.

Yarn

[yorne; yearne; yearn; yarne; yare']

Fibres of WOOL, LINEN, COTTON and the like spun into a continuous filament and prepared for weaving, knitting or the manufacture of sewing THREAD. Although the labels of wool, linen or cotton were used to denote yarn made from these raw materials, [Acts (1788)] suggests that the term unqualified did not apply to SILK, although it might apply to any of the others.

While yarn was produced at home, much was also imported: for example, FLAXEN, HEMP and linen yarn from (among others) the Low Countries, MUSCOVY, and Prussia (defined as SPRUCE), and WOOLLEN yarns from Ireland. Kerridge notes that the chief stimulus in this import market was cost: 'Although combing and weaving were no cheaper in Ireland than on the mainland, wool and spinning were, so western parts of England could obtain wool and yarn relatively cheaply, and Route wool [in Ulster] was keenly sought by users of JERSEY' [Kerridge (1985)]. Imported yarns were then used in the manufacture of TEXTILES and finished goods. For example, BAY YARN or NOIL YARN was used, not only in the manufacture of BAYS, but also of JERSEYs at NORWICH, PLUSH, CAMLET and SHALLOON at COVENTRY, and FLANNEL at Salisbury.

Some yarns were defined by the stage of manufacture that the fibres had reached; hence phrases like 'upon the bobbins', 'at whitening', or 'upon poles' (that is, hung outside to bleach), 'in the oil', etc. Much yarn was spun at home, hence 'home-spun', so typical entries put together the raw material and the yarn in such phrases as 'all the wool and yarn in the house'. The made up yarn was then sent out to the weaver, indicated by phrases like 'at weaving' or 'put forth to work', 'WARP yarn', 'weft yarn', etc. Some of the entries in DIARIES give useful detail about the whole process and the costs of producing ones own raw materials, spinning them into yarn, and sending that out to be processed by experts [Caulfeild and Saward (1885, facs.1989)]; [Kerridge (1985)]; [Trinder (1992)].

A large number of yarns were described by the purpose for which they were intended, such as CANVAS yarn, HOSE yarn, COVERLET yarn, or as 'for BLANKETs', 'Grogram yarn for making TAPESTRY', for KNITting, and 'COARSE for SACKs'. It seems that even at home the spinning process was geared to produce a yarn fit for a particular purpose. From the long list of terms found in the Dictionary Archive only a selection has been included here.

OED earliest date of use: c1000

Found described by Brunswick, BROWN, CABLE, COLOURED, CORDAGE, DIAPER, DUTCH, DYED, Ermland, FLAXEN, FRENCH, greasey, GREY, Hamburgh, HEMP, HEMPEN, HOLLAND, HOSE, IRISH, KERSEY, Riga, ROPE, SAIL CLOTH, SPUN, TURKEY, WOOLLEN, WORSTED Found describing HOSE, PIN, POLE, STOCKING

See also BAY YARN, CAMLET, GROGRAM YARN, IRISH YARN, JERSEY, NOIL YARN, PLUSH, SHALLOON, SPRUCE YARN, WHITE YARN, WICK YARN.
Sources: Acts, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Houghton, Newspapers, Patents, Rates, Tradecards.
References: Caulfield & Saward (1885, facs. 1989), Kerridge (1985), Trinder (1992).

Yarn made wool

The meaning is obscure. It is found only in a single act [Acts (1682)], which prohibited the export of various types of WOOL. Presumably what is intended here is 'yarn made from wool', perhaps as opposed to 'from WORSTED'.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Acts.

Yavonte water

Judging from the context of the only example in the Dictionary Archive, this was a fashionable, eighteenth-century SCENTED WATER [Tradecards (1790s)]. Nothing is known about its principal ingredients.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Tradecards.

Yearling

[yerlyng; yerelyng; yearlinge]

An animal a year old, or in its second year, and used especially of CATTLE, SHEEP or HORSES. In connection with cattle it refers to an animal coming between the CALF and the HEIFER and/or TWINTER.

OED earliest date of use: 1465

See also CALF, HEIFER, TWINTER.
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).

Yeast

[east]

Yellowish living organisms that will multiply in temperatures between 48°F and 95°F. Three main ones are useful; Saccharomyces cerevisiae for BEER and BREAD, Saccharomyces ellipsoideus for Wine, and Saccharomyces pasteurianus for CIDER. All yeasts are produced as a froth, also known as BARM, or as a sediment during alcoholic fermentation. It is best to use the froth in the making of beer, but the sediment is satisfactory for making bread [Seymour (1973)]. Yeast can be dried and pressed into cakes, in which form it will keep for some time, as was advised by Hannah Glasse [Recipes (Glasse)].

OED earliest date of use: c1000

See also BALM, BEER, BREAD.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Patents, Recipes.
References: Seymour (1973).

Yelling vat

[yeeting fate; oyleing tubb]

According to the OED, yelling is a variant of 'Yiling' or 'Gyling'. Yelling vat is an alternative name for a yelling COMB, or perhaps a slightly different vessel used for the same purpose. Randle Holme wrote that it was also called a 'Brewers Working Comb'. What ever its name, it was 'that Vessel into the which the Wort is put to Work with the Yeast, or Bearm' [Holme (2000)]. The 'oyleing tubb' found along with 'coolers A churn & Masheing Tub' in a brew house is a variant of the yelling vat [Inventories (1724)].

OED earliest date of use: 1440 as Yiling vat; 1420 as Gyling tub

See also BARM, BREWING COOMB, YEAST.
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (late).
References: Holme (2000).

Yellow

[yellowe; yallowe; yallow; yallo]

One of the primary colours occurring in the spectrum between green and orange; the colour of BUTTER or that of the yoke of an egg. It was used in particular to describe those alloys of COPPER and zinc (BRASS or LATTEN) in which the proportion of copper was low, giving a yellowish rather than a golden-reddish tinge to objects such as NAILs and PINs. TEXTILEs of low value were often dyed yellow since a satisfactory and reasonably fast colour could be obtained with either YOUNG FUSTIC (not very satisfactory), OLD FUSTIC, WELD or QUERCITRON. In the eighteenth century in particular yellow seems to have been a popular colour for FURNISHINGS. Recipes describing culinary colours, suggested the use of either wallflowers or GAMBOGE. Yellow PIGMENTs much advertised in the eighteenth century included NAPLES YELLOW, KINGS YELLOW and PRINCES YELLOW [Bristow (1996)]; [Harley (1970)].

OED earliest date of use: c700

Found describing AMBER, ARSENIC, BATH METAL, BAYS, BEAD, BED, BED LACE, BENGAL, BIRDS EYE, BLANKET, BOWL, BROADCLOTH, BUCKLE, buckle ring, BUCKRAM, CADDOW, CALICO, CANDLESTICK, CHECK, CHENEY, CLOTH {probably of linen], COAT, COAT BUTTON, COIF, COTTON, COUNTER, COUNTERPANE, CREWEL, CURTAIN, DAMASK, DEAL, DISH.DORNICK, DORNICK - YARN, DRAM, DRUGGET, DUTCH METAL, EBONY, EDGING LACE, FIDDLE, FLANNEL, FRINGE, FURNITURE, GALLIPOT, GARDEN POT, GIMP, GIRDLE, GUM, HAFT, HANGINGS, HARRATEEN, KERSEY, LACE, LATTEN, LEATHER - GIRDLE, LINE, LINK, LINSEY, MANGOE, MOREEN, NAIL, NECKLACE, NUREMBURG METAL, OINTMENT, ORPIMENT, PARAGON, PENISTONE, PIN, PLAIN, PLATE, PLUME, POT [for apothecaries], RATSBANE, RIBBON, RUGs, SACKCLOTH, SARSNET, SAY, SERGE, SHALLOON, SHAWL, SHOE BUCKLE, SHOES, STOCKINGS, STRIPED STUFF, STUFF, TAG, TAMMY, TEA SET, THREAD, TRIMMING, USQUEBAUGH, VALANCE, VARNISH, WAFER, WAISTCOAT

See also NANKEEN, YELLOW CANVAS.
Sources: Acts, Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers, Patents, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Bristow (1996), Harley (1970).

Yellow brass

A term that came into use during the seventeenth century for a BRASS in which, presumably, the COPPER component was lower than in other types. It may therefore refer to what is otherwise called POT BRASS.

Not found in the OED

See also BRASS, COPPER, POT BRASS, YELLOW METAL.
Sources: Acts, Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).

Yellow canvas

[yellow canvasse]

Apparently nothing more than a CANVAS dyed yellow. However, it seems to have been distinctive enough to warrant itemizing it in this way, although most canvas was not given a colour descriptor. There is only a single instance of yellow canvas in the early inventories, so that the sudden increase in its popularity in the eighteenth century, particularly in the second half, raises the suspicion that it could have been a synonym for NANKEEN. Against this interpretation speaks the finding that one inventory [Inventories (1750)] listed both.

Not found in the OED

See also CANVAS, NANKEEN.
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Tradecards.

Yellow earth

This is a generic term for a mineral or EARTH of a YELLOW colour, of which the most common was YELLOW OCHRE; or a YELLOWish CLAY. In either case the yellow colour occurs through the presence of an iron oxide. It was used as a PIGMENT.

OED earliest date of use: 1552 under Yellow

Found described as Sealed

See also TERRA SIGILLATA.
Sources: Inventories (early).

Yellow ebony

Probably the sapwood of Diospyros ebenum, the original EBONY of commerce. This sapwood, in contrast with the dark heartwood, varies from white or yellow to brown or reddish [Windsor Plywood (online)]. Its use to adulterate SNUFF was banned in 1715 [Acts (1715)]. The same act may indicate that yellow ebony was a synonym of FUSTIC, but the phrase used is ambiguous.

Not located in the OED online

See also EBONY, FUSTIC.
Sources: Acts, Houghton.
References: Windsor Plywood (online).

Yellow metal

A term that came into use during the seventeenth century apparently for a type of BRASS. An OED quotation dated 1647 suggests that it was not the worst grade of brass, but certainly not the best. In the following century yellow metal BUTTONs were popular with the poor, judging by the descriptions of runaway apprentices and the like published in local newspapers. A 1673 patent proclaimed a method of gilding with yellow metal leaf, presumably as a cheap substitute for GOLD LEAF or SILVER LEAF.

OED earliest date of use: 1647

Found describing BUCKLE, BUTTON

See also DUTCH LEAF, YELLOW BRASS.
Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Newspapers.

Yellow ochre

[yello-oker; oker, yellow]

This is an OCHRE of a yellowish colour, in the nineteenth century found near Oxford and therefore sometimes termed Oxford OCHRE. However, it is also found in many places in the world. As an iron oxide, its colour varies widely. In the eighteenth century, most writers who distinguished between the essential and the merely useful colours, placed yellow ochre in the former. It does not appear often to have been adulterated, probably because it was so cheap and readily available [Harley (1970)].

OED earliest date of use: 1481

Found rated by the HUNDREDWEIGHT

See also OCHRE, RED OCHRE, YELLOW EARTH.
Sources: Acts, Inventories (early), Newspapers, Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Harley (1970).

Yellow rosin

Yellow rosin is a bye-product of the distilled TURPENTINE OIL, and is the substance left at the bottom of the still when well washed [Illustrated Herbal (online)]. Where prices or valuations were given, yellow rosin appears to have been of marginally greater value than BLACK ROSIN.

OED earliest date of use: 1839

See also ROSIN.
Sources: Acts, Newspapers, Recipes.
References: Illustrated Herbal (online).

Yellow sanders

[saunders yellow]

A variety of sweetly-scented SANDALWOOD obtained from Santalum freycinetianum. It was largely used medicinally and in TOILETRY.

OED earliest date of use: 1598

See also RED SANDERS, WHITE SANDERS.
Sources: Acts, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Rates, Recipes.

Yellow soap

[yellow brown or rosin soap; soap yellow do]

A common SOAP made of TALLOW, ROSIN and SODA, perhaps with the addition of PALM OIL, hence probably at this period either synonymous with BROWN SOAP and ROSIN SOAP, or very similar to them.

OED earliest date of use: 1794

Sources: Acts, Tradecards.

Yellow starch

STARCH coloured with SAFFRON, fashionable in the sixteenth century and the early seventeenth to give a yellowish tinge to those clothing accessories that were frequently laundered and stiffened, such as the BAND and the COIF.

OED earliest date of use: 1614

Sources: Houghton.

Yellow usqubaugh

A single reference to yellow USQUEBAUGH has been noted, in an newspaper advertisement in 1751 along with GREEN USQUEBAUGH [Newspapers (1751)]. It is probable that it was of the type that came from Ireland and similar to the one for which both Richard Bradley and Eliza Smith gave recipes. Their recipes contained SAFFRON which would almost certainly have given a yellow tinge [Bradley (1736, facs. 1980)]; [Smith (1758, facs. 1994)]. It is at least probably that the descriptor 'yellow' was added in the instance noted only to distinguish it from the green, and that usquebaugh normally had a yellowish tinge.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Newspapers.
References: Bradley (1736, facs. 1980), Smith (1758, facs. 1994).

Yellow ware

A term that came into use during the seventeenth century for a type of EARTHENWARE or STONEWARE, hence YELLOW - GALLIPOT. It had a buff to dark yellow fabric, sometimes vitrified, with a clear lead glaze giving the vessel a yellow appearance. In general, yellow ware was used primarily for kitchenware and storage vessels [SMU Archeology (online)].

OED earliest date of use: 1827

Found describing GALLIPOT

Sources: Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: SMU Archeology (online).

Yellow wax

BEES WAX in its natural state as obtained from the hive, it was widely available in shops during the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, but thereafter it became rare and most wax seems to have been sold in the purified form of WHITE BEES WAX. A 1631 patent claimed a method of 'making yellow-wax white' [Patents (1631)].

OED earliest date of use: 1601

See also WHITE BEES WAX.
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Patents, Recipes.

Yellow wire

Presumably a form of BRASS WIRE, and possible one that was more yellow than the norm

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Yew

[ewe]

It is an evergreen, long-lived tree of the genus Taxus, but especially the common Yew, Taxus baccata, which is widely distributed throughout Europe. Its leaves and seeds are poisonous, which may account for why it was often grown in churchyards where cattle and other domestic animals were to some extent prevented and therefore protected from grazing on it. It was deemed to have magical properties, and was also a symbol of sadness. It affords a heavy, elastic HARD WOOD, used especially in the making of the BOW, hence 'a bowe of Ewe att viijd' [Inventories (1602)], but also for such items as cogs, AXLE TREEs, WHEELs and TANKARDs. Attempts by Parliament to encourage the use of alternative WOODs, like ASH, ELM or WITCH HAZEL for making the bow appear to have had little success.

OED earliest date of use: c725

Found used to make BOWs

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



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