Feather band - Fernambuck

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

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Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl, 'Feather band - Fernambuck', 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/feather-band-fernambuck [accessed 12 June 2024].

Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl. "Feather band - Fernambuck", 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/feather-band-fernambuck.

Cox, Nancy. Dannehl, Karin. "Feather band - Fernambuck", 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/feather-band-fernambuck.

In this section

Feather band

A sort of HATBAND, presumably one designed to hold decorative FEATHERs, and fashionable in the seventeenth century as shown, for example, in the picture of the Gunpowder Plot Conspirators painted in 1605 by an unknown artist, and that of the Squire of Alsatia painted in1688 by Laroon [Cumming (1984, reprint 1987)]. The one example found in the Dictionary Archive is dated the same year as the Gunpowder Plot [Inventories (1605)].

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Cumming (1984, reprinted 1987).

Feather bolster

[fither bolster; ffether boulster; ffether bolster; ffeather boulster; ffeather bolster; fetherbolster; fether bolster; feather boulster; feath bolster]

A BOLSTER stuffed with FEATHERS rather than with FLOCKS, or any of the stuffings occasionally - and illegally - used. The contents of feather bolsters for sale were restricted by Parliament in 1495 to 'Dry pulled FEATHERS', with FEN DOWN and 'scalded Feathers' specifically excluded, but by implication also DEER HAIR, GOAT HAIR, HORSE HAIR and NEAT HAIR which had been 'wrought in Lime-vats'. Feather bolsters were more common than a mere count would indicate, as it seems often to have been assumed that the bolster would have the same stuffing as the bed with which it was associated as in 'One feather bed bolster and appertenances' [Inventories (1743)].

OED earliest date of use: 1533

Found described as SMALL

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

Feather tub

[tub with feathers; tub & feathers; ffether tub]

Most households where FOWL were kept must have had need of a receptacle in which to keep the FEATHERS plucked from slaughtered birds. Presumably the feather TUB was used for this purpose, and presumably, though the examples do not mention it, the tub had some sort of cover to keep its contents safe. Entries like 'one Tubb and ffethers in it' suggest that there was nothing specific in the design of feather tubs, but that they were merely distinguished from other tubs by their contents [Inventories (1707)].

Not found in the OED online

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



The root meaning of 'fell' is a SKIN with its hair or fur still on. Later it was applied to a FLEECE. Since the descriptor 'sheepes' was used in the only example in the Dictionary Archive, 'fell' seems likely to have had the latter meaning there. On the other hand, it may be a shortened version of WOOL FELL.

OED online earliest date of use: c1000 as a skin; 1600 as a fleece

Found described by SHEEP

Sources: Acts, Inventories (early).

Felling axe

An AXE with a long handle suitable for felling trees. A list drawn up in the 1670s of equipment needed by a group of emigrants to America included five felling axes [Diaries (Josselyn)], which gives some indication of their importance as a wood-working TOOL.

OED online earliest date of use: 1486

Sources: Diaries, Inventories (late).


[ffellow; ffellie; felowe; fellie; fellee]

The term refers to the curved piece of WOOD that, when joined together in a GANG, formed the rim of a WHEEL. Four or five were needed to make up a four-foot front wheel of a WAGON. Felloes were made from ASH, ELM or BEECH cut and roughly shaped when still green, then left to season and harden for several years before the final shaping and fitting [Sturt (1923, reprint 1980)]. They were attached to the SPOKEs, which radiated out from the NAVE. Each of these components of a wheel was made of a different wood.

OED online earliest date of use: c888

Found described as CART, COACH

Sources: Acts, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Sturt (1923, reprint 1980).


[ffelt; felte]

A TEXTILE made from WOOL or mixed fibres compressed, rolled or fulled to bind them together. Either FELT WOOL, of which there were many types, was used, or the fur from the BEAVER SKIN, CONY SKIN or RABBIT SKIN.

Felt was used mainly to make FELT HATs, and by association the term indicated both hats made of felt and, on occasion, hats in general. Many of the terms that might be expected as descriptors for felt hat are found in association with felts. Some of these denote the WOOL from which the hat was made, hence 'estridge womens felts' made from ESTRIDGE WOOL [Inventories (1604)], 'Spanish or Portingale felts' made from SPANISH FELT WOOL [Rates (1582)], or 'pollonian feltes' made of POLONIA WOOL [Inventories (1604)].

OED earliest date of use c1000 as a fabric; c1450 as a hat

Found described as with BANDs, without bands, brayed, COARSE, COLOURED, DUTCH, DYED, FINE, FRENCH, NEW, pollonian, PORTUGAL, SMALL, SPANISH, lined with TAFFETA, undyed, unlined, untrimmed, lined with VELVET, WHITE, WOOL Found made in sizes or styles suitable for BOY, CHILDREN, GIRL, MEN, WOMEN, YOUTH
Found in units of DOZEN Found rated by the DOZEN

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

Felt cloak

[felt cloke; cloakes of felt]

In the late-sixteenth century and the early seventeenth, CLOAKs made of FELT became fashionable. Both the cloaks themselves and pieces of felt of the appropriate size were apparently imported from FRANCE, where the making of FELT HATs had first been established. The entry in the Book of Rates of 1660 went into some detail, describing such felt pieces as 'for Cloaks, French-making, three yards and an half long, one yard and an half broad the felt' [Rates (1660)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1599

Found in units of PIECE

Sources: Rates.

Felt hat

[ffelt hatt; felte hatte; felte hatt; felte hat; felt or wool stuff or beaver hat; felt or beaver stuff hats; felt hatt]

The term was often abbreviated to FELT. HATs made of FELT seem to have been developed as a manufacture in Normandy in the mid-fifteenth century from whence they were introduced into London. Their manufacture spread rapidly throughout England with an important centre just north of Bristol. Making felt hats required special short-fibred carding wool, sometimes called FELT WOOL. Much of this was imported from Spain and Portugal (SPANISH FELT WOOL), and later from Austria (ESTRIDGE WOOL) and Poland (POLONIA WOOL). Their manufacture involved several processes: carding, basining, felting, dressing, pouncing or pounding, blocking and dyeing. By 1609 the BEAVER HAT or CASTOR had been introduced using BEAVER WOOL. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, the Huguenots of Wandsworth (SW London) introduced yet another type called the Caudebac hat after the place they came from near Rouen. These hats were made of a fine, waterproof felt using a mixture of fine vicuna wool and rabbit wool [Kerridge (1985)]. Often all types were lumped together regardless of origin as 'Felt or Wool, Stuff or Beaver Hats' [Acts (1784)].

Once the basic shape had been made, a felt hat could be LINED with fashionable SILK fabrics like SARSENET, TAFFETA or VELVET [Inventories (1598)], or left UNLINED, and decorated with a HATBAND.

OED earliest date of use: 1457

Found described by NEW
Found in units of DOZEN, PIECE

Sources: Acts, Inventories (early), Newspapers, Patents.
References: Kerridge (1985).

Felt wool

A type of short-staple WOOL, often imported, for making FELT, particularly for HATs, felt wool is not to be confused with WOOL FELL, which was often known as 'Fell wool'. Topsell (1607), cited by the OED, gave it as an alternative name for Feltriolana, which would seem to be a term with much the same meaning. Felt wools were imported from Spain and Portugal, hence SPANISH FELT WOOL, and later from Austria as ESTRIDGE WOOL and from POLAND as POLONIA WOOL [Kerridge (1985)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1609

Found imported and rated by the POCKET

Sources: Houghton, Rates.
References: Kerridge (1985).


[fell-wort; fell wort]

The vernacular name of Gentian amarella and other native species of GENTIAN, sometimes used even of the officinal Gentiana lutea. Nicholas Culpeper began his article on Gentian, 'called also felwort and baldmony', by distinguishing between the 'gentian ... imported from beyond the sea', by which he presumably meant Gentiana lutea, and the GENTIAN ROOT of the pharmacopoeias, and the two native sorts. These, he claimed, 'have been proved by the experience of the most able physicians, to be rather of superior excellence to that of the foreign herb'. Certainly the natives gave roots that could be used in the same way as the officinal ones. Along with the usual extensive claims of virtue for the plant, Culpeper noted that there is no 'more excellent herb for strengthening the stomach, and helping the digestion'. Steeped in WINE, it 'refresheth such as are weary with travelling' [Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.) under Gentian]. John Houghton, quoting 'Mr Ray' commended it for 'divers physical uses' suggesting that it was equal to JESUITS BARK 'for the cure of agues' [Houghton].

OED earliest date of use: c1000

Sources: Houghton.
References: Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.).


[ffenylsyd; fennel-seed; fennell-seed; fennell; feniculi; fenelseed; fenell]

A group of fragrant umbellifers, the most important being Foeniculum vulgare. It is a short-lived perennial, but in cultivation is usually treated as a biennial or an annual, so that only the seeds have been noted in the Dictionary Archive. It was probably brought over by the Romans, but is now widely naturalised; so much so that it is one of the chief herbs mentioned in an ancient 'Nine herbs charm' quoted by Leyel. This reads: 'Thyme and Fennel, two exceeding mighty ones. These herbs the wise Lord made. Holy in Heavens; he let them down, Placed them into the seven worlds As a cure for all, the poor and the rich ...' [Leyel (1937, pb 1987)].

Two species of fennel have been widely cultivated for their medicinal and culinary virtues. The result is that several garden varieties have been developed and their nomenclature is confused; the descriptor 'COMMON' may refer to the wild or bitter variety (by Vilmorin-Andrieux labelled Foeniculum vulgare), or to the so-called garden one (called by him Foeniculum officinale) [Vilmorin-Andrieux (1885 Eng. ed.)]. Both are in fact garden plants. Foeniculum vulgare has given rise to a variant, Foeniculum vulgare var dulce, (called by Vilmorin-Andrieux Foeniculum dulce). It is now usually known as FINOCHIO or FLORENCE fennel. Culpeper adds to the confusion by stating that 'Every garden affordeth this [i.e. fennel] so plentifully, that it needeth no description' adding that 'The sweet fennel is much weaker in physical uses than the common fennel, and the wild is stronger than the tame ...', with no further help on varietal names [Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.)]. In the previous century Gerard had also distinguished the common from the sweet commenting that the latter 'doth not prosper well in this Countrey: for ... in the second yeare after his sowing, it will degenerate from the right kinde, and become common Fennell' [Gerard (1597, 1985 ed.)]. This suggests sweet fennel was but a superior sort of common fennel that never became truly fixed. In the Dictionary Archive it is almost impossible with any certainty to assign any entry concerning fennel to its proper headword, although sometimes the context seems straightforward. For example common fennel has been noted under 'Seeds in the Kitchen Garden' in the same document as sweet fennel was placed among 'Physical Herb Seeds' [Tradecards (n.d.)]. Both SPANISH and ENGLISH fennel seed have been noted in the same document, where the former was valued at 13d LB and the latter at 2d. Whether this is a true reflection of difference in quality it is impossible to say [Inventories (1665)]. Fennel seed had only appeared for the first time in the Rates a few years previously in 1657, suggesting that English seed had satisfied the market up to then. Maybe the introduction of imported seed initially gave it undue prestige.

According to Evelyn, fennel 'expels wind, sharpens the sight, and recreates the brain'. He recommended the young stalks be 'dressed like sellery [CELERY], while the young leaves could be minced and dressed with OIL and VINEGAR to 'correct the cold materialls' [Evelyn (1699, new ed. 1996)]. The seeds of Foeniculum vulgare were used to flavour liqueurs and to make sauces to accompany oily FISH like MACKEREL with which it was said to have an affinity [Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.)]. Recipes for pickling the young shoots (or possibly FINOCHIO) appear in some eighteenth-century recipe books [for example Nott (1726, 1980 facs.)]. The seeds of any of these fennels were regarded as a remedy for flatulence, but they had many other uses, such as 'to help the shortness of breath' and 'to ease the pains of as well as break the stone' [Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.)].

OED earliest date of use: c.700

Found described as COMMON, ENGLISH, 'Fennel Seed the lesser', SPANISH Found describing SEED, WATER Found as an ingredient of DAFFYS ELIXIR Found in units of LB, OZ
As seed: Found rated amongst the DRUGS Found rated by the POUND

Sources: Diaries, Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates, Recipes, Tradecards.
References: Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.), Evelyn (1699, new ed. 1996), Gerard (1597, 1985 ed.), Leyel (1937, pb 1987), Nott (1726, 1980 facs.), Vilmorin-Andrieux (1885 Eng. ed.).

Fennel water

[fenell and damask rose water]

A form of EYE WATER made from FENNEL, of which Nicholas Culpeper wrote 'The distilled water of the whole herb or the condensate juice dissolved, but especially the natural juice, that in some counties issueth out hereof of its own accord, dropped into the eyes, cleanseth them from mists and films that hinder the sight' [Culpeper (1792)].

Not found in the OED online

Sources: Inventories (early).
References: Culpeper (1792).


[vynycrick; vynnicreek; vynicricke; vynicrick; venitricke; venicricke; venecricke; venecreke; finnickrike; ffenukrike; ffenukricke; ffenugreek; ffenuegreeke; ffenny crick; ffennugrick; ffenngricke; ffenigrig; ffenigrick; ffenicricke; ffenicrick; ffenerick; ffenegreg; ffenecreke; fernicricke; fenygrige; fenugreeke; fenugreck; fenucrik; fennecricke; fennecrick; fenigrige; fenigrig; fenigrecke; fenicricke; fenicrei; fenicreck; fenegrik; fenegricke; fenegrick; fenegirg; fenecricke; fenecrick]

A leguminous herb, Trigonella foencumgraecum, of the PEA family, known also as Foenum-graecum or Greek hay. It is native to the Mediterranean region and cultivated for its SEED, which are small and very hard, with virtually no aroma until heated [David (1970)]. Although Fenugreek is now used as an aromatic addition to eastern dishes, pickles and chutneys, in the early modern period it was generally used medicinally, not least because it was believed to have diuretic and cleansing qualities. Nicholas Culpeper defined Fenugreek as 'hot in the second degree, and dry in the first', and gave a long list of what it might cure [Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.)].

OED earliest date: c1000

Found listed under PHYSICAL HERB seeds
Found in units of BOX, LB, OZ Found in the Rate Books among the DRUGS, rated by the 112 LB, HUNDREDWEIGHT

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late), Rates, Tradecards.
References: Culpeper (1653, new ed. n.d.), David (1970).

Fern ash

[fern-ashe; fern and wood-ashes]

ASHES made from burning BRAKES, FERN, HEATH or LING, etc. and a useful source of POTASH. John Houghton claimed that this was the most important ingredient in BALL SOAP [Houghton]. He claimed also that was used in some CASTILE SOAP [Houghton], a claim supported by an early patent for making SOAP [Patents (1624)]. Production seems to have been on quite a big scale, as an act in 1706 attempted to regulate the burning in Sherwood Forest due to damage caused to the Forest and the Game therein [Acts (1706)].

The 'Bracken ash' noted in one probate inventory as '27 Bushels of Bracken Ass at 4 shillings p. bushel', was presumably much the same [Inventories (1762)].

OED online earliest date of use: c1386 under Fern

Sources: Acts, Houghton, Inventories (late), Patents.


[furnamback; ffarnandobucke; fernambuco; farnambuck; buckbrassill]

A corrupt variant of Pernambuco, the name of a port in Brazil. It was an alternative name for the DYE WOOD otherwise called BRAZIL imported from the New World; hence entries like 'Brazil or Furnamback Wood' [Acts (1720)] and the confusing entry that combines the two names; 'buckbrassill iij qr'trs C at xvjs' [Inventories (1583)]. The wood was hard and reddish in colour and came from the South-American tree, Caesalpinia echinata.

OED earliest date of use: 1595

Found described as for dyers use
Found in units of C Found rated by the HUNDREDWEIGHT of 112 LB

See also BRAZIL.
Sources: Acts, Inventories (early), Rates.