Hearing horn - Hellebore

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

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Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl, 'Hearing horn - Hellebore', in Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007) pp. . British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/traded-goods-dictionary/1550-1820/hearing-horn-hellebore [accessed 26 May 2024].

Nancy Cox. Karin Dannehl. "Hearing horn - Hellebore", in Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007) . British History Online, accessed May 26, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/traded-goods-dictionary/1550-1820/hearing-horn-hellebore.

Cox, Nancy. Dannehl, Karin. "Hearing horn - Hellebore", Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820, (Wolverhampton, 2007). . British History Online. Web. 26 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/traded-goods-dictionary/1550-1820/hearing-horn-hellebore.

In this section

Hearing horn

[hearing hornes for deafe people; hearing horne]

A INSTRUMENT shaped like a TRUMPET intended to magnify sound and thus to help those with hearing difficulties.

Found described as for deaf people

Sources: Tradecards.

Heart lath

[heart lat'; hartlathe; hart lath]

LATH made from heart WOOD, judging by comments by both John Houghton and Joseph Moxon, the heartwood of OAK. John Houghton went into some detail of the types of lath available. He did not mention heart lath by name, calling it instead 'heart oak', which he said was 'fittest to be under tyling' [Houghton]. Moxon gave a bit more detail, saying laths made of' 'heart of Oak, for out side Work such as Tiling and Plastering' [Moxon (1703, facs. 1989)].

OED earliest date of use: 1727

Found in units of BUNCH, BUNDLE, HUNDRED

Sources: Houghton, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Moxon (1703, facs. 1989).

Heart lock

[heart lock; hart lock]

A LOCK, possibly a PADLOCK in the shape of a heart

Not found in the OED

Found in units of DOZEN

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

Hearth brush

[hearth brushe; hearth broom; hearth and bottle brushes; arth brush]

A small hand BRUSH for sweeping the HEARTH. They have not been noted before 1700, but thereafter they became common, a sign, perhaps of higher standards of cleanliness expected in many homes in the eighteenth century. They were also made with a long handle, when they were called hearth BROOMs [Inventories (1748)].

OED online earliest date of use: 1752 under Hearth

Found described as COMMON, LITTLE, 'patent non-constant', PLAIN
Found in units of DOZEN, PIECE

Sources: Inventories (late), Tradecards.

Hearth grate

A term not found in the dictionaries, and uncommon in the Dictionary Archive. The contexts of the three examples make clear it was a form of FIRE GRATE.

Not found in the OED

Found in units of CWT, LB, QUARTER

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

Hearth ladle


Possibly a LADLE used for dealing with molten metal and therefore for casting. However the only example of a 'Hearth ladle' in the Dictionary Archive was included among an otherwise conventional list of smith's tools [Inventories (1590)], and smiths did not normally include casting among their skills. Randle Holme did not include such an IMPLEMENT among his list of smith's tools [Holme (2000)]. The term therefore remains unexplained.

Not found in the OED

Sources: Inventories (early).

Hearth rug

A RUG placed before the fireplace to protect the CARPET or floor.

OED earliest date of use: 1824

Sources: Tradecards.

Hearth staff

[harthe staff; harth staves]

'Hearth staff' is a term that has not been found in the dictionaries, and it appears only twice in the Dictionary Archive. One blacksmith had 'iij payre of toungs a harthe staff a fyre shovel' and other equipment round his working hearth [Inventories (1577)], while another had 'ij harth staves and ij slyces' in his 'shop' [Inventories (1592)]. The other blacksmiths dying roughly at the same time have nothing identifiable as equivalent. Randle Holme, described it as a 'smith's tool'. It was 'a long round piece of Iron with a round head, and something sharp at the further end; it is to open and stir up the Fire, and cast out Cinders that come from the Iron, that the Fire may Burn the better' [Holme (2000)].

Not found in the OED

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

Hearth stone


A flat STONE, forming the hearth in a fireplace, or any type of stone used for this purpose.

OED earliest date of use: c1325

Sources: Inventories (late), Tradecards.



A name given by early herbalists to both the wallflower and the pansy, VIOLA tricolor. In the only example in the Dictionary Archive, heartsease, presumably the flowers, were used to make a medicinal WINE [Inventories (1682)].

OED earliest date of use: 1530

As a WINE found in units of GALLON

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).


[hevell; hevel; heavill; heavell]

Normally found in the plural, and with a 'v' in the middle as in 'hevels', rather than a 'd'. The accepted modern form of spelling 'heddle' has not been noted in the Dictionary Archive.

The small cords (or in recent use, wires) through which the WARP is passed in a LOOM after going through the REED, and by means of which the warp threads are separated into two or more sets so as to allow the passage of the shuttle bearing the WEFT. A LEAF of heddles consists of a set of parallel cords of the width of the webs stretched vertically between two horizontal shafts of wood, and forming in their centre loops or eyes through which the warp-threads pass. In texts concerned with weaving the heddle was often listed with its SLAY as in 'the heavill & the sla att iijs iiijd [Inventories (1602)].

OED earliest date of use: 1513

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

Hedge cow

[hedge cowe]

A term not found in any of the dictionaries and only once in the Dictionary Archive [Diaries (Josselin)]. It was probably a COW tethered to feed on the hedge or verge. As such it is not a term likely to appear in documents concerning trade.

Found described as BLACK

Sources: Diaries.

Hedge shears

SHEARS suitable for cutting a hedge

OED earliest date of use:1833 under Hedge

Sources: Inventories (late).

Hedge wood

[hedge-wood; hedg wood]

WOOD either for repairing hedges, or TIMBER grown in hedgerows, or FIREWOOD gathered from hedges. The last seems the most likely in the examples found in the Dictionary Archive, though in other documents the context may suggest otherwise. Taking any sort of wood illegally was a problem for the poor, hence the act of 1663 'to prevent the unlawful taking of 'any Kind of Wood, Underwood, Poles, or young Trees, or Bark or Bast of any Trees, or any Gates, Stiles, Posts, Poles, Pales, Rails, or Hedge wood, Broom or Furze' [Acts (1663)].

OED earliest date of use: 1602

Sources: Acts, Inventories (late).



A hardy-annual flowering garden plant, the seeds of which were for sale by at least two nurserymen [Tradecards (n.d.)]; [Galpine (1983)]. The OED suggests it was a name for the prickly seed-vessels or burs borne by some plants, and for the plants that bear them, such as Ranunculus arvensis, Medicago echinus (otherwise known as Medicago intertexta), and Echinaria capitata. None of these are garden plants, though each belongs to a genus that includes some species that are. Which plant in eighteenth-century gardens was given this name remains a mystery.

OED online earliest date of use: 1711

Sources: Tradecards.
References: Galpine (1983).

Hedging bill

[heginge bill; hege bill; hedginge bille; hedginge bill; hedge byll; hedge bill]

The name of one of the common IMPLEMENTS OF HUSBANDRY, also known as a BILL-hook. It was a thick, heavy knife or chopper with a hooked end, used for laying a hedge, pruning, cutting brushwood and the like. An OED quotation dated 1611 suggests that this TOOL had a number of different names: 'a Welsh hooke, or hedging bill made with a hooke at the end ... we call it a Bill-hooke'.

OED earliest date of use: 1497

See also BLACK BILL.
Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).

Hedging mittens

[hedging gloves; hedge mittings]

Tough MITTENS or GLOVES made of thick leather suitable for such jobs as hedging.

OED earliest date of use: 1827 for Hedgin mittens; 1521 for Hedging gloves, both under Hedging

Found in units of DOZEN, PAIR

Sources: Inventories (late).


[hellibor; heliberus; elleborus; elleberas; eleborus; elebor; eleaberis]

A herbaceous plant of the buttercup family, of which there are around 20 species, though only two appear in the Dictionary Archive: BLACK HELLEBORE (Helleborus officinalis) and WHITE HELLEBORE (Veratrum album) were named according to the colour of their roots. Both species are low-growing plants with dark, shiny leaves. Black hellebore has white flowers, whilst the white hellebore has yellowish-white flowers. Both types were highly poisonous and purgative. During Medieval times black hellebore was an important ingredient of abortion wine, as well as being used to treat hysteric women. The continued popularity of Galenic medicine throughout the early modern period meant that purgatives, such as hellebore (hot and dry in the third degree), were routinely used to balance bodily humours (which were based on the four elements of hot, cold, dry wet) in the treatment of nervous disorders and hysteria [Culpeper (new ed.)]. It is understandable why early-modern physicians would have trusted hellebores as the behaviour of patients would indeed have been transformed, due to the weakness caused by vomiting and diarrhoea, and because the hellebores are severe narcotics.

OED earliest date of use: 1390

Simone Clarke

Found in units of LB, OZ Found among the DRUGS, rated by the POUND

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Rates.
References: Culpeper (new ed.).