Corrupt - Costrel

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

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Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl, 'Corrupt - Costrel', Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007), British History Online [accessed 20 June 2024].

Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl. "Corrupt - Costrel", in Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007) . British History Online, accessed June 20, 2024,

Cox, Nancy. Dannehl, Karin. "Corrupt - Costrel", Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007). . British History Online. Web. 20 June 2024,

In this section


Changed from the naturally sound condition by decomposition or putrefaction, or as in the case of SUGAR, spoiled by damp, vermin, etc. It was a popular term with legislators, by whom it was usually applied to inappropriate or cheaper materials used to dilute something more desirable, for example [Acts (1552)], or to fraudulent practices, for example [Acts (1713)].

OED earliest date of use: c1380


See also DAMAGED.
Sources: Acts, Patents.


A RIBBON or band of SILK, or other material, serving as a ground for ornamentation of metal work or EMBROIDERY, and used as a GIRDLE, GARTERS, etc. The importation of corses of SILK was temporally banned in the 1460s 'for the Encouragement of Silkwomen and Throwsters' [Acts (1463)]. This is one of the few examples of a female craft being specifically controlled or protected by statute.

OED earliest date of use: c1440

Sources: Acts.



Originally a close-fitting body-garment, especially a laced BODICE worn as an outside garment by women. In this sense it has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive. By the eighteenth century the meaning had changed somewhat to a closely-fitting inner bodice stiffened with WHALEBONE or the like, and fastened by lacing. Corsets were worn chiefly be women, with the aim of giving support and shape to the figure. Despite the fact that they were hidden, corsets were fashion items, hence advertisements like 'Ashton Jones, from London (Stay maker to her Majesty) now in the High Street, Bromsgrove, begs leave to inform the Ladies in general that he makes in the newest Fashion and on the lowest Terms, French, Italian and English Stays, also Corsets and Riding Stays' [Newspapers (1790)].

OED earliest date of use: 1299 in the first sense; 1795 in the second

Found described as ENGLISH, FRENCH, ITALIAN, on an Improved Principle

See also STAYS.
Sources: Newspapers, Patents, Tradecards.


[corselett; corselet]

A piece of defensive ARMOUR, covering the body, sometimes called more fully Corslet HARNESS [Rates (1582)].

OED earliest date of use: 1563

Found described as COMPLETE
Found rated by the PIECE

Sources: Inventories (early), Rates.

Cortex aurantiorum

[cortex limonum, vel aurantiorum; cortex limonum, vel aurantiorum]

The Latin term for ORANGE PEEL and in medicine at least, the SEVILLE ORANGE was used. Pemberton suggested that the peel be preserved as Candied orange peel, in Latin Cortex aurantiorum conditus, or as a SYRUP, Syrupus e corticibus aurantiorum [Pemberton (1746)]. It seems to have been little used in medicine, judging by the number of times the Latin form was found in the Dictionary Archive, and to have been much more common in CONFECTIONERY, where it would have been referred to by its English name.

Not found in the OED

Found among the DRUGS, rated by the POUND

Sources: Rates.
References: Pemberton (1746).

Cortex elatheriae

[cortex elatheriae; cort elateria]

The name of a medicinal BARK, apparently imported on a large scale in the eighteenth century, since it was rated by the CWT [Rates (1784)]. 'Elaterius' means 'driving away' - in medical terms this presumably indicated a febrifuge. The most obvious candidate for this would be Cinchona, the source of PERUVIAN BARK and JESUITS BARK and ultimately Quinine, but no evidence has been found to link the names.

The bark of other medicinal plants, like the squirting cucumber, Mormodica elaterium, from the juice of which a purgative was made, and the CARDAMOM, Elettaria cardamomum, was not used, even though their names may have been based on 'elaterius'.

Found in units of LB Found under DRUGS, rated by the HUNDREDWEIGHT

Sources: Inventories (late), Rates.


Possibly derived from an Arabic word meaning 'special', cossaes are a COTTON - TEXTILE, in the form of a MUSLIN imported from Bengal and included by Milburn in his lists of INDIAN -PIECE GOODS [Yule and Burnell (1886, pb 1996)]. 'Coffaes' were defined as MUSLIN by [Acts (1700)] and are presumed to be the same fabric since Montgomery quoted sources that also define 'Cossa' as a muslin [Montgomery (1984)]. The anonymous author of 'The Merchant's Warehouse Laid Open' spoke less well of 'cossees'. Although he considered it 'fine and thick', and proper for many uses, 'excepting Cravats, for which it is too thick, and will wear yellow, and look ill about the neck.' Thinner and coarser types were 'only proper for course Necks of Cravats, or to lye betwixt stitching' [Anon (1696)].

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


The term possibly derives from the late Latin 'costrellum', meaning a liquid measure, and 'costrellus', meaning a WINE - CUP. It could refer to a vessel for holding or carrying wine or other liquid; a large BOTTLE with an ear or ears, by which it could be suspended from the waist and whence comes the antiquarian designation of' pilgrim's bottle'; or a small WOODEN - KEG similarly used, in which sense it was in dialect use until recently.

One OED quotation (1572) indicates that it could contain up to 4 GALLON, which suggests it was sometimes no more than a small non-standard CASK, and certainly not designed for attaching to the waist. Another OED quotation (1709) indicates that in the north a costrel of TAR was nothing more than a BARREL of tar. In the Dictionary Archive it has been noted in a cellar along with BARRELs and a KIMNEL, again suggesting it was often no more than a small cask. Another listing as a 'wooden costrel or bottle' suggests the primary meaning found in the OED.

OED earliest use: 1380

Found described as WOODEN Found containing TAR

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