Bureau bedstead - Byrampaut

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

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Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl, 'Bureau bedstead - Byrampaut', Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007), British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/traded-goods-dictionary/1550-1820/bureau-bedstead-byrampaut [accessed 12 June 2024].

Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl. "Bureau bedstead - Byrampaut", in Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007) . British History Online, accessed June 12, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/traded-goods-dictionary/1550-1820/bureau-bedstead-byrampaut.

Cox, Nancy. Dannehl, Karin. "Bureau bedstead - Byrampaut", Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007). . British History Online. Web. 12 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/traded-goods-dictionary/1550-1820/bureau-bedstead-byrampaut.

In this section

Bureau bedstead

According to the OED, this is an alternative name for a box-bed, but they give no quotation to support this. Gloag describes it as 'A folding bed concealed in a carcase that outwardly resembled a bureau', though with dummy drawers [Gloag (1952, revised 1991)]. In the Dictionary Archive, there are two examples. The first of these is a house sale of 'genteel furniture' in which all the deceased gentlewoman's beds were defined as 'bureau bedsteads' [Newspapers (1790)]. The second is a trade card issued by a London upholsterer, who offered for sale FURNITURE, NEW and OLD, including settee and bureau bedsteads [Tradecards (18c.)]. These examples suggest that BUREAU bedsteads might well have been found in genteel households and that they had resale value.

No quotation with date found in the OED online

Sources: Newspapers, Tradecards.
References: Gloag (1952, revised 1991).

Bureau dressing table

[bureau dressing-tables; beaureau dressing table]

A dual-purpose article of FURNITURE, first made in the early eighteenth century, consisting of a BUREAU with two or three shallow drawers beneath the writing desk and topped with a fixed LOOKING GLASS [Gloag (1952, revised 1991)].

Not found in the OED

Found made of MAHOGANY, WALNUT

Sources: Inventories (late), Newspapers.
References: Gloag (1952, revised 1991).

Burgundy pitch

[pitch burgundy; burgundy pytch; burgony pitch; burghany piche; burgery pitch; burgemur pitch; burgany piche; burgandy pitch; burgandie pitch; borgin pitch]

The resinous juice of the spruce FIR, Abies excelsa, sometimes (though not in the Dictionary Archive) called WHITE pitch, though its colour is reddish brown or whitish yellow.

OED earliest date of use: 1678

Found in units of LB, OZ Found imported by C

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

Burgundy vinegar

Either VINEGAR imported from the French region of Burgundy, or more likely vinegar made from WINE of the BURGUNDY type. See FRENCH VINEGAR for the probable method of manufacture. An alternative suggestion is that it was a flavoured vinegar of some sort that has been given the descriptor 'Burgundy' for reasons now obscure. The thinking behind this hypothesis is that the only example in the Dictionary Archive is found in a list of spiced and fancy vinegars, some of which, like RASPBERRY VINEGAR, were intended for drinking rather than for flavouring food [Tradecards (19c.)].

Not found in the OED online

Found in units of BOTTLE, CASE

Sources: Tradecards.


[boreslap; borelapp]

A TEXTILE and according to [Acts (1696)] it was a COARSE - HOLLAND 'useful to the poorer sort of people' and so long as it was less than 1s per ELL in value, it was exempted from the duties imposed on other types of holland. It was defined by this act as not more than 28½ INCH wide, although in [Anon (1696)] it was said to be of 'three sorts, one Ell wide, the other yard wide, and another three quarters wide'. He also wrote that 'they were made up crested or double in the middle, and have strings sewed on', though for what purpose was not made clear. The quality seems to have been variable, some being 'thick and even threded', others 'thin and even', but in neither case did burlap wear white, nor did it compare in strength with ALKMAAR HOLLAND.

OED earliest date of use: 1695-6

Sources: Acts, Inventories (late).
References: Anon (1696).

Burling plank

A term found only in the inventory of a Devon 'tucker', (that is a fuller or cloth finisher) [Inventories (1626)]. Presumably it was the PLANK on which the tucker laid the piece of cloth so that it could be inspected carefully and the burls or knots removed, a time-consuming process until a machine was invented to do the job mechanically. Randle Holme did not refer to a burling plank but he did to the 'burling iron', with which the 'Knots and over large threads are picked form the Cloth by the Shearman before he do any other kind of work at it' [Holme (2000)].

Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Holme (1688).

Burnt almond

[burnts alman]

OED suggests an ALMOND enclosed in burnt sugar; hence, a fashion shade of brown. It is possible, however, that it was rather the roasted kernel of the SWEET ALMOND, used to make COMFITs and to colour and flavour various drinks [Simmonds (1906)]. Burnt almonds were possibly used in what was described as BROWN - ALMOND POWDER and brown almond WASHBALLs [Tradecards (1794)], whereas those defined as WHITE would have been made either from the BLANCHED ALMOND or from kernels where the dark brown skin had been removed in some other way.

OED online earliest date of use: 1850 under Burnt

Found in units of LB

Sources: Tradecards.
References: Simmonds (1904).

Burnt amber

Calcined AMBER. It has been noted only once in the Dictionary Archive as an ingredient used in making a DRYING OIL [Recipes (Smith)].

Not found in the OED online

Found in units of POUND

Sources: Recipes.

Burnt hartshorn

[hartes horne burnt; cornu-cervi calcinatum; burnt hartshorne; burnt harts-horn; burn hartshorn]

The usual form in which HARTSHORN was prepared for medicinal use. When heated in a FURNACE the pieces of HARTSHORN became white, and could easily be reduced to POWDER.

OED earliest date of use: 1578 under Hartshorn

Found in units of LB, OUNCE Found in the 1784 Rate Book, rated by the POUND

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

Burton ale

ALE produced on a commercial scale at Burton on Trent, Staffordshire, and described in one quotation in the OED as 'Genuine Burton Ale, Brew'd to the Greatest Perfection for Keeping by Sea and Land'. Burton was just one of several towns that produced ale on a commercial scale and of a good keeping quality. Although not located in the Dictionary Archive it has been noted going down the River Severn 1729-1730 [Gloucester Coastal Port Books (1988)].

OED earliest date of use: 1738

References: Gloucester Coastal Port Books (1998).

Busk cloth

A TEXTILE; some kind of LINEN CLOTH, apparently imported during the sixteenth century.

OED earliest date of use: 1458

Found described as BROAD, of HOLLAND PLOY
Found rated by ELL

See also BUCK CLOTH.
Sources: Rates.


Only one instance has been noted in the Dictionary Archive [Inventories (1553)], where it was probably an idiosyncratic spelling of BISCUIT, though it is not a variant noted by the OED.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (early).


The OED suggests it was an imported COTTON - TEXTILE, though in their quotations it could just as well have been a LINEN. In other documents not cited by the OED, including 'Allegations prepared by the NORWICH worsted weavers' in the early seventeenth century, and quoted at length by James, bustian was a WORSTED cloth, a form of SINGLE - CAMLET, virtually indistinguishable from some other NEW DRAPERIES such as CANTALOON or PEARL OF BEAUTY except in breadth. However, it is possible that James misquoted the Allegations, as Kerridge, using the same source and quotation substitutes BUFFIN for bustian. Kerridge suggests that bustian was being manufactured before 1503 and assumes that it was a worsted. The OED's quotations reach back to the fifteenth century and show that bustian was used to make WAISTCOATs and certain church vestments. Some of the quotations suggest it was similar to FUSTIAN. The contradictions in meaning suggest that the Norwich weavers may have taken over a name previously in use for a different fabric, or simply that there have been mistranscriptions. The Dictionary Archive does little to clarify the situation, since in two inventories bustians were listed respectively with STUFFS and with MOCKADO, but in several others with fustian and other coarse linens. Valuations of either type are at less than 12d per yard. It has not been noted after 1700.

OED earliest date of use: 1463

Found described as WHITE
Found for sale in the shops measured by END, PIECE, YARD Found rated by the PIECE, SINGLE - PIECE

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Rates.
References: James (1857), 144, Kerridge (1984), 42, Montgomery (1985), 182.

But comb

Only one example has been noted in the Dictionary Archive, in which the context suggest it is not an abbreviated entry for 'Buttons, combs' [Inventories (1704)], but otherwise the context is not helpful.

Not found in the OED online

Sources: Inventories (late).

Butter box

[butter boxe]

OED suggests it was a BOX for holding BUTTER, with its citation for 1756 stating it was for carrying butter in the pocket. The much later nineteenth-century citation suggests it was a larger vessel used by the Dutch for exporting butter. The context of the single example found in the Dictionary Archive suggests something between the two; holding butter, but not necessarily on a large scale [Inventories (1603)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1756

Sources: Inventories (early).

Butter tub

[tubs of butter; tubs for butter; butter tubb]

A TUB and an alternative receptacle to a BUTTER POT for storing BUTTER. The sale of any semi-solid commodity sold with its container was very vulnerable to fraud, since the contents were being sold in such a way that the quantity inside could not be measured just by external evidence. An act dated 1796 set out how a butter tub was to be made by the cooper, what it should weigh, and what its capacity should be. The butter tub was more substantial that the butter pot, containing 84 LB according to the act, rather than the latter's 14 LB. Although this has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive elsewhere, the act makes it clear that the butter tub was to have a HEAD, which would have sealed the butter in until opened [Acts (1796)]. Although the act set out in detail how the tubs were to be made, it probably did no more than regularize current good practice. Butter tubs would have been used for SALT BUTTER, which was made in the summer but used in the winter or in ships on long sea voyages.

OED online earliest date of use: 1741 under Butter

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

Buttered ale

A beverage composed of SUGAR, CINNAMON, BUTTER and BEER brewed without HOPS according to Jorevin's Description of England in the 17th century [Antiquarian Repertory, iv/572 quoted in a footnote to Diaries (Pepys)]. Pepys took one of his acquaintances to 'a house thereabouts, and gave him a morning draught of buttered ale' [Diaries (Pepys)]. From these it suggests that buttered ale was a compound beverage, presumably drunk hot and to be bought in a coffee house or ale house, or made for home consumption. It has not been noted in the shops.

OED earliest date of use: 1547

Sources: Diaries.

Button paper

A sheet of PAPER or CARD on which BUTTONs were sewn ready for sale. It was probably similar in form and function to BUTTON BOARD. Both were exempted from certain duties on paper in [Acts (1794)], which may be an indication of the importance of the button trade to the British economy at that time.

Not located in the OED

Sources: Acts.



In other sources it is known as byrampants, beiramee, byramee, bairam, bairami. Although the origin of the first part of this term is obscure, the second part is presumably derived from the Hindi 'Pat' meaning piece.

Byrampaut was a COTTON - TEXTILE, according to Milburn imported from Surat in India and included by him among INDIAN - PIECE GOODS [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)]. Yule added that it was the name of a kind of cotton stuff that appeared frequently during the period when there was a flourishing export trade of cotton goods from India, but the exact character of which he had been unable to ascertain [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)]. However, quotations given there show that byrampauts were already known to some Europeans by the fourteenth century and that by the sixteenth they were famous as a fine white CALICO imported by the Portuguese [Montgomery (1984)]. One source quoted by Yule suggested it was similar to HOLLAND CLOTH. Subsequently there were also cheap and dyed varieties. The anonymous author of the 'Merchant Warehouse laid open' described 'Birompots', which are almost certainly the same fabric, as similar to CALICO and used in the same way, as well as for 'Linings of Britches, it being strong' [Anon (1696)]. Its importation was seen as a threat to British manufacture and was thus banned for home use, though it continued for re-export to Africa [Acts (1766)]. Like many imports from India, byrampaut seems to have been a name deemed unacceptable to the buying public in this country, so that if and when it was offered for sale in the shops during the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, it must have been under the name of CALICO.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Acts, Rates.
References: Anon (1696), Montgomery (1984), Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996).