Double girth - Doubles

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

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Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl, 'Double girth - Doubles', Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007), British History Online [accessed 22 June 2024].

Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl. "Double girth - Doubles", in Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007) . British History Online, accessed June 22, 2024,

Cox, Nancy. Dannehl, Karin. "Double girth - Doubles", Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007). . British History Online. Web. 22 June 2024,

In this section

Double girth

[double ditto]

A double GIRTH was probably one that consisted of two straps, or one that was extra wide, perhaps with two BUCKLEs.

Not found in the OED online

Sources: Inventories (late).

Double Gloucester

[double glo'cester]

A form of CHEESE made in the Vale of Gloucester and in the Berkeley Vale, just east of the River Severn. According to John Arlott, it was a close, firm cheese, inclined to crumble. It was made between May and September, but at its best from an August making, from the milk of the Gloucester cattle. The skimmed milk from an evening and the next morning milking were mixed, then the skimmed off cream added. The final product was 15 INCH across, 6 inch thick and weighed 28-30 LB. It was a keeping cheese at its best after several months. Tradition has it that the cheeses were daubed with red paint on the outside before dispatching by barge at Lechlade to be carried down the River Thames for the London market. It is there, in the shop of a purveyor of luxury foodstuffs, that they have been noted in the Dictionary Archive [Tradecards (1800)].

Single Gloucester was a lighter cheese, less good for keeping, but of excellent quality. It is now rarely made and has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive [Arlott (n.d.)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1816 under Gloucester

Sources: Tradecards.
References: Arlott (n.d.).

Double gross

[double groce]

A term not found in the dictionaries and only occasionally in the Dictionary Archive, where it is found used for small items of HABERDASHERY. It was possibly no more than two GROSS, that is 288, but it may have been an alternative term for the GREAT GROSS.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (late), Newspapers.

Double horse

[doble horse]

A HORSE that carries two people. In the only example noted in the Dictionary Archive, the context suggests that it was in the form of a TOY, but what it would have looked like is not clear, particularly as it was associated with 'birds' [Inventories (1682)].

OED earliest date of use: 1469 under Double

Found in units of DOZEN

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Double mockado

[duble mockadowe]

MOCKADO came in a variety of forms, principally as CHANGEABLE or PLAIN mockado or as TUFT MOCKADO. Each of these could also be double. The distinction seems to have lain in a doubling up of the ground, usually using both LINEN and JERSEY yarns. Most were dyed in the yarn and made in colours in the loom [Kerridge (1985)].

Not found in the OED online

Found described as RED
Found in units of PIECE

Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Kerridge (1995).

Double piece

[dubble peece; double peece; double peace]

Double piece was a TEXTILE term, and was for the most part applied to a PIECE that was double the length of a single piece, as in 'bridges or Leaden rashes the double piece, containing two single pieces' [Rates (1660)]. However, although all double pieces were longer than single ones of the same fabric, they were by no means invariably twice as long. For example, in the Book of Rates of 1660 English made SPANISH SATIN came in single lengths of fifteen YARD, but double lengths of only twenty yards [Rates (1660)], and while the single piece for English VELURE contained seven YARD, the double contained but fifteen [Rates (1660)]. For most fabrics the difference is not so easily decided, though it seems mostly to have been used for lightweight fabrics such as SILKs and STUFFs, and not for LINENs or WOOLLENs. One exception, however, suggests an entirely different meaning. The double piece of Scottish 'Dornick for Naprie or Towelling' was apparently both the same length and the same width as the single piece, as was that for TABLING [Acts (1713)].

Not usefully found in the OED online


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

Double ploy

A method of folding fabrics for transport distinct from PLOY and HOLLAND PLOY, though how it differed is not clear. It was used for textiles imported from GERMANY such as ELBING and DANSK CLOTH.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Rates.

Double proof

In later times double proof meant literally what it said; a strength of ALCOHOL double that of standard PROOF. It is not certain that this was so in the eighteenth century, when it may have meant nothing more than stronger than proof, that is OVER PROOF, although an act of 1696 proposed double the rate on double proof BRANDY compared with the single, suggesting there was a considerable difference [Acts (1696)].

Not found usefully in the OED online

Sources: Acts.

Double psalter

[dubble psalt'r]

The term is not found in the dictionaries, and only twice in the Dictionary Archive, both examples appearing before 1700. It was possibly a PSALTER so arranged that the text appeared in Latin on one page, and that in English on the facing one.

Not found in the OED online

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

Double refined sugar

[suger double refin'd; refined double; duble refined suger; duble refine loave; duble refind sug'r; dubble refined sugar; double-refin'd sugar; double refined sug'r; double refined suger; double refined shugar; double refine; double refin'd sug'r; double refin'd sugar; double refind; double or single refined loafe sugar; double loaf sugar; double loaf; double ditto; doble reffine suger]

Sugar that had been refined a second time to increase the level of purity and the whiteness. Despite this, refining did not solve fully the problem of uneven crystallization so that even after it had been double refined, cooks were instructed to sieve their sugar, for example [Recipes (Brookes)]. Double refined sugar, in Latin Saccharum purissimum, was in the eighteenth-century Materia Medica [Pemberton (1746)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1694 under Punch

Found described as BEST, HARD, LOAF, LUMP
Found in units of CWT, DOZEN, LB, POUND, QU Found in the LOAF, rated by the HUNDREDWEIGHT of 112 LB

Sources: Acts, Diaries, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates, Recipes.
References: Pemberton (1746).

Double salt

[saltte being dubel; duble salte; dubble silver salt; double salt cellar]

In chemical terms a double salt is a salt that is composed of two simple salts and which, when crystallized, has physical properties different from its components but which in aqueous solution behaves as a mixture of them. The term itself was not in use in the early modern period, though some double salts, such as ALUM, were known.

The label in the Dictionary Archive was applied to something quite different, and should more accurately have been called a double SALT CELLAR. SALTs or salt cellars were frequently sold as matching PAIRs. Two nineteenth-century double salts sold recently had the two cellars con-joined with an upright carrying handle between them [Bexfield (1997-2000)]. They were probably similar to those of an earlier age.

Not in the OED online in the sense found in the Dictionary Archive

Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Bexfield (1997-2000).

Double spike

[double spyking; double spicke]

Randle Holme listed the double spike among the types of NAIL [Holme (2000)], but he did not describe it. However, his description of the SPIKE itself [Holme (2000)] suggests that the double spike was a very big nail with a flat head, perhaps as long as two FOOT. This would explain why double spikes were measured by the HUNDRED, rather than by the thousand or by weight as most nails were.

Not found in the OED online

Found in units of HUNDRED

Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Holme (2000).

Double ten

[dubble tenn; dubbell tenn; double 10d]

A kind of large NAIL made of IRON, probably double the weight of a TEN or 10d nail.

OED earliest date of use: 1611 under Double

Found in units of LB

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

Double thimble

[duble ones]

The context of one entry in the Dictionary Archive of 'ij dozen & a halfe of single Thimbles w'th endes' followed by 'j dozen & a halfe of duble ones' [Inventories (1634)], suggests strongly that a double thimble was open at both ends like a TAILORS THIMBLE.

Not found in the OED online

Found in units of DOZEN

Sources: Inventories (early).

Double vessel

A VESSEL composed of two parts that fit within each other. By filling the lower section with water and bringing it to the boil, ingredients placed in the upper section may be gently heated. Today the term used would be 'double saucepan' or 'bain marie'.

OED earliest date of use: c1400

Sources: Recipes.

Double worsted


A new process in WORSTED weaving developed in the late fourteenth century. The new cloths called double worsteds or worsteds duplex were characterized by double the number of threads in the weft. The cloths were also narrower but longer than the SINGLE WORSTED [Kerridge (1985)].The export of double worsteds was banned by Parliament in the late fourteenth century [Acts (1393)].

OED online earliest date of use: c1386 under Worsted

Sources: Acts.
References: Kerridge (1985).



A large PLATE or DISH, but a doubler was also a person who worked with a throwster, who twined or doubled two threads together for the purpose of sewing [Rolt (1761)].

OED online earliest date of use: 13--

Found described as PEWTER, WOODEN

Sources: Inventories (late).
References: Rolt (1761).


The OED suggests that 'double' was the name of a size of PLATE IRON or sheet IRON, based on the Rates of Custom for 1545, 'Plate white or blacke double or syngle'. In this sense, it probably referred to plates double the size of single ones. However, examples in the later Books of Rates suggest that the term was used also as an alternative for HARNESS PLATE [Rates (1660)].

OED earliest date of use: 1545

Found described as IRON
Found imported by the DOZEN Found rated by the BUNDLE, DOZEN, PIECE, SHOCK

Sources: Houghton, Rates.