Horse ball - Horsemans hammer

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

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Horse ball


A VETINARY preparation, which in pharmacy would have been known as a BOLUS, made in the form of a ball for administering to a HORSE. In the nineteenth century the ball was generally in the form of a cylinder about 2-3 INCH long, which was thrust down the horses throat until it was unable to do anything but swallow.

OED earliest date of use: 1826

Found described as Cleansing

Sources: Tradecards.
References: Ogilvie (1865).

Horse chain


An alternative name for PLOUGH CHAIN or TRACE CHAIN.

Not found in the OED

Found in units of LB

Sources: Inventories (mid-period).

Horse chestnut


A large ornamental TREE, Æsculus hippocastanum, of which the fruit somewhat resembles the edible SWEET CHESTNUT, consisting of a thick green prickly husk containing two or three large shiny-brown seeds of bitter taste. It was introduced to this country from Greece in the mid-sixteenth century, but was slow to become established. John Houghton 'wish'd we did more universally propagate the horse chestnut, which being easily increased from layers, grows into a goodly standard, and bears a most glorious flower' [Houghton]. It became a popular tree for parks - Sir Christopher Wren used them for the mile long Chestnut Avenue at Bushy Park north of Hampton Court, planted in 1699 [Mabey (1996)]. During the early-modern period, little commercial use was made of the tree, though there was a patent to extract starch from the nuts [Patents (1796)], a use revived during the two World Wars of the twentieth century. Its wood, though attractive and with a close even grain, is too soft. It was used for turned work and occasionally for carving or inlaying [Gloag (1952, revised 1991)].

OED earliest date of use: 1597

Sources: Houghton, Patents, Tradecards.
References: Gloag (1952, revised 1991), Mabey (1996).

Horse gears

[horsegeare; horsegaires; horse geyre; horse geere; horse geer; horse geare; hors gearing; geares for horses]

OED defines horse gears as HARNESS or trappings for the HORSE. The contexts of the examples found in the Dictionary Archive suggests that the term was not used consistently, but was rather more specific than OED suggests. Horse gears were most often referred to as being a PAIR, as in 'two payre of horse geares' [Inventories (1660)] with the BRIDLE listed separately. Although it was rarely made explicit, horse gears seem to have been associated with the CART HORSE as in '5 cart horses & there Geares' [Inventories (1684)]. Several other examples implied as much; for example in one probate inventory the PACK SADDLEs, the HACKNEY SADDLEs and bridles were listed first, followed by 'a parcell of horse geeres' [Inventories (1694)]. In these contexts, the horse gears probably mainly included the traces and other parts of the harness specifically involved in traction.

Not found in the OED

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

Horse harness

[horse-harness; horse'harness; horse-collars and harness; horse harnes; harnesses for horses; harness for two horses; harness for the horse; harness for one horse]

Trappings or accoutrements of a HORSE; formerly including those used in riding such as BRIDLES and SADDLES, but later confined to the tackle or GEARS (in this period the usual term) of the draught horse such as CART SADDLE and HORSE COLLAR, but probably not the BRIDLE [Seymour (1973)]. The importation of horse harness was forbidden in the 1560s in order to protect home manufacture [Acts (1562)].

OED earliest date of use: 1483

Found described as OLD

Sources: Acts, Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Inventories (late).
References: Seymour (1973).

Horse leech


This LEECH, Hæmopsis sanguisorba, was rather larger than some of the other varieties used, but in other respects little different. It may be that its vernacular name indicates that it was more popular in veterinary than human medicine. Randle Holme called 'horse-leechery' as 'the Art of Curing Horses of Diseases' [Holme (1688)].

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

Horse nail

[horse-shoe nail; horse nayle; horse naile]

According to Randle Holme, 'Horse-shooe Nails' were 'Nails with foursquare heads' [Holme (2000)]. They were made of a soft IRON and used for attaching a HORSE SHOE to a horse's hoof, and hammered in at an angle so as to emerge through the side of the hoof and there be turned down or broken off. Given the importance of the HORSE in the early-modern period, it is hardly surprising that attempts were made to cheapen and simplify the process of making the nails; hence a patent for a 'Machine for making horse-shoe nails' [Patents (1797)].

OED earliest date of use: 1415-6 as Horseshoe nail under Horse shoe; 1598 as Horse nail under Horse nail

Found in units of BOX, M

Sources: Inventories (early), Inventories (mid-period), Patents.
References: Holme (2000).

Horse nail stub

[stubs horsenail; horsnay stub; hornailor stub]

A HORSE NAIL extracted from a HORSESHOE when the HORSE was reshod; a fine quality of IRON desirable for reprocessing. John Houghton recorded small quantities exported in the 1680s [Houghton].

Not found in the OED

Sources: Houghton.

Horse radish


Horse radish, or Cochlearia amoracia (the botanic name it is most often known by today), is a cruciferous plant related to SCURVY GRASS, and native to central Europe and western Asia. It has long been cultivated in this country for its roots. These were crushed, minced or powdered and mixed with VINEGAR for use as a condiment. Its use in a sauce in the modern sense has not been noted until the 1840s when Eliza Acton gave a recipe for 'an Excellent Horseradish Sauce', compounded mostly of grated horseradish and cream [Mason and Brown (1999)]. Acton also included a recipe for horseradish vinegar [Acton (n.d. 35th edition), 150, 165].

Horse radish was included in the Materia Medica, where it was given the botanic name of Raphanus rusticanus. It was one of the main ingredients of one of the medicinal COMPOUND WATERS - AQUA RAPHANI [Pemberton (1746)].

OED earliest date of use: 1597

Simone Clarke

Sources: Diaries.
References: Acton (n.d. 35th edition), Mason and Brown (1999), Pemberton (1746).

Horse radish ale

[horse-radish ale]

Probably ALE flavoured with HORSE RADISH dried and powdered. Samuel Pepys was offered it by someone who had used it when suffering from the stone - as Pepys himself had done [Diaries (Pepys)].

OED earliest date of use: 1664

Sources: Diaries.

Horse turpentine

[horse turpetine; hors tirpintine]

The OED does not know the term, but it is found in several of the eighteenth-century inventories in the Dictionary Archive and it appeared in the Gloucester Coastal Port Books in 1577. Presumably, the term referred to TURPENTINE made up into a large pill or a drench to dose horses deemed to be in need of a laxative.

See also HORSE BALL.
Sources: Inventories (late).

Horsemans hammer

[horsemens hammers]

Originally a medieval weapon, in the form of a hammer-shaped MACE. However, by the seventeenth century the word may have come to be applied to a particular shape of HAMMER. It has only been noted once in the Dictionary Archive, where the context is not helpful [Rates (1660)].

OED no date of first use

Found described as 'with wooden handles or without'
Found rated by the DOZEN

Sources: Rates.