Old Words

Obsolete and unfamiliar words
from Wills, Probate Inventories, etc.

ALMARY – a safe
ANDIRONS – iron supports, one placed at either side of a hearth to support the ends of burning logs.
BACKSIDE – the rear of a property; the back yard or farm yard, perhaps with outbuildings
BANKER – cloth or covering of tapestry for a bench or seat
BED BORDES – probably the carved ends of the bedstead
BEDE ROLL – manuscript roll listing deceased people whose souls were to be prayed for, using rosary-beads to count each name
BERYS or PELOW BERYS – pillow-cases
BEVWDEKYN – rich stuff of silk interwoven with threads of gold
BORD-ALYSAUNDER – cloth of Alexandria
BREGANDYRS – body-armour of small plates, covered with cloth or leather
BULTYNG-PIPE – strainer
CARTBOTE– the right to use wood taken from common ground to make or repair a cart
CHAFER – a small, closed, transportable brazier containing burning charcoal or hot ash
CHAFING DISH – a dish placed on a chafer to keep food warm
CITTLE / KETTLE – an open cooking pot with semi-circular handles on both sides to suspend it over the fire; sometimes covered
COCKLOFT – space between the ceiling and the roof, reached by ladder; an attic or garret
COW-WHITE TITHE – a tithe paid on the milk of each cow
CRABBE / CRAB – stick, staff or cudgel made from the wood of a crab-apple tree. A town bailiff would carry a crab “by reason of his office”
CROCK – cooking pot, generally of iron or brass, with three short legs and a handle by which it could be hung over a fire; sometimes an earthenware pan
COBYRONS – iron posts supporting a spit for roasting over a hearth
CODROUND – quadrant, in squares
COPE – a covering
CORPORAS – the cloth placed under the consecrated elements in the Mass
COSTERS – pieces of tapestry for the sides of tables, altars, beds, etc
COSTRYNG / COSTERING – carpet or wall hanging
COUNTERPOYNT – counterpane
COLVCHER – covering for a couch
DOLE – piece of arable land:
   – an indefinite part of a field
   – long narrow slip of green turf in a field, having ploughed ground on either side
   – strip of meadow land the use of which is rotated annually
DAGSWAYNE  – rough coverlet for beds, tobies, or floors
DOUBLET –  military jacket
FIRE DOG – bar supporting the end of a log, or on which a spit is turned in the fire-place.
FLITCH – the side of an animal, usually bacon, sometimes beef, salted and cured, and frequently ‘hung from the roof’
FORSER – cabinet or casket
FOYNES – fur of polecat
FRETOR CHAFYR – a dry (or frying) chafing-dish, as opposed to a water-chafer
FRONTELLES – hangings for the front of the altar
GARNISH – a quantity of pewter ware
GUARDIAN IN SOCAGE –  the guardian of an infant who inherited lands held in socage under feudal tenure
GARDNAPYS – table-napkins
GRAYLE – gradual, or music-book for the Mass
HANGLES – chains in a chimney from which pots and pans were hung on “pot crooks”
HARDEN – coarse cloth made from hemp
HAYBOTE – the right to use wood taken from common ground to mend fences
HERIOT – debts due to the lord of the manor on the death of a freehold or copyhold tenant
HORSE – a frame or stand on which to place barrels, vats etc
HUVVER – a ridge separating one tenant’s land from another in the medieval open farm system
HACHEMENTES –  hangings with armorial bearings
HANGLE – hook fixed in a chimney, for hanging pots
KINE, KYNE – cows, cattle – usually the milking cows in a herd
JACK – mechanical device for turning a spit over a fire
a JHESUS / JESUS – the letters i.h.s. embroidered
JOBMASTER – one who rents out horses and carriages by the job
KIVER – shallow wooden vessel or tub
LANDER – one who emptied tubs at the top of a pit or mine shaft
LAMMAS LANDS – common land on which tenants of the manor could pasture animals from Lammas Day until sowing time
LUMBER – odds and ends of wood; disused objects, superfluous furniture
LATON – mixed metal, resembling brass
LAVOUR – washing-trough
lLAY METAL – mixed metal, e.g. tin or pewter
LAYER – vessel for holding water
LECHYNG-KNIFE – slicing-knife
LEY STOW – burial
MATE / MAT – plaited rush or straw mat placed over the cords of a bed; a mattress
MARTRONS – fur of a marten
MASER – large bowl
MYLYGNES – edgings
MYNHES – fur of a weasel
NONAGE – The period during which one is under legal age
NUTTE – coconut cup
KNOCKNOBBLER – a person appointed to drive dogs out of church
PARCEL-GILT – partial-gilt  –  silverware that is gilded on only a part of its surface – This term often indicated that only the interior surface of a cup, chalice or other vessel was gilded, but it could also be used to describe patterns or images made using a combination of both gilt and ungilt areas
PLOUGHBOTE – the right to use wood taken from common ground to mend or make ploughs
PORRINGER – bowl-shaped dish in pewter or earthenware (perhaps silver in wealthier households), often with ear-shaped handles and a cover, used for soup, porridge, potage etc.
PAGEAUNT – hanging or coverlet with scenes
PAINTED CLOTH – a substitute for tapestry (as a wall hanging)
PANE–  hide of fur
PAVYSE – large shield
PAXBREDE – small tablet on which is a representation of the crucifixion, presented at Mass to be kissed by the faithful
PELE – shovel
PLOMTY – feathery
PORTEIOS – a breviary
POSSENET – a little pot
PRYKET – a taper
QUERNE – a hand-mill
QUY – Heifer or female calf up to three years old, or before it has calved
RAY – striped
RENNYNG BED – moveable bed
RYDELL – a curtain
SACRING-BELL – small bell rung during Mass
SELOR / SELURE / CELOR – fine serge or woollen cloth
SENGYLL – cloth canopy of a four-poster bed
SHANKES – fur from the legs of animals
SKELLET – saucepan with a long handle
SPERAT DETTES – good (or hopeful) debts
SPERVYOUR / SPARVER – canopy or wooden frame above a bed
STANDART CHEST – large press for plate or linen
SUPERALTURE – a consecrated slab for covering an altar, or used as a portable altar
SAWCER / SAUCER – sauceboat, usually metal, for holding sauces and condiments; these were not used to hold cups until the 18th century
SOCAGE – one of the feudal duties and hence land tenure forms in the feudal system- a farmer or other landholder who held his land in exchange for a clearly defined fixed payment to be made at specified intervals to his feudal lord, who in turn had his own feudal obligations, both to the farmer and to the Crown
TITHE – a charge equal to 1/10th of annual produce or earnings, taken as a tax for the support of the church and clergy
TRENTAL – a series of masses said for a deceased person, usually on 30 successive days but occasionally on a single day
TAPET – a hanging cloth of any kind
TARTRON – a type of silk or cashmere
TESTER – rectangular wooden panel forming the top a four-poster bed
WAIN – wagon used for agricultural purposes
WHICH / WHITCH – a bin or tub made of split planks of oak, wedged and pegged together; a chest, coffer or hutch. Used for storing meal, flour, etc
WITHDR AUGHT – a closet
WRETHYN – twisted
WONG – an enclosed meadow or low-lying land