Glossary
in Towns in medieval England

Glossary

affer horse
alum aluminium sulphate, metallic salt mordant used to fix dyes in cloth
amerced fined
anchoress female hermit living in a walled enclosure
approver one who gave king’s evidence (in return for clemency)
assize law or ordinance, commonly concerned with prices of food and drink
attach in law, to seize the property of an accused person in order to bring them to court
bast fibrous tree bark used for plaiting into screens and matting
bedehouse almshouse where the inmates offered prayers (bedes) for their benefactors and others
bedel officer who walks in front of dignitaries, bearing a mace or staff
bedeman of the town town crier
bloodwite fine imposed for drawing blood
brokage fee for haulage of goods, the rate being dependent on the distance involved
burgage rental property in a town
bushel measure used for corn and other dry goods, equivalent to four pecks
butt large cask of wine (or other goods)
card comb with metal teeth for combing wool
cardmaker one who makes cards*
carnival annual festival in the period before Lent
carriage toll on carts
chapman merchant or trader
charnel chapel mortuary chapel, for the bones of the dead
chirograph indenture* on which a legal document is written in duplicate and the word ‘chirographum’ is written and cut through to demonstrate the authenticity of each part
comb measure used for dry goods, equivalent to four bushels*
cordwainer leather-worker
coroner official representing the legal interest of the crown
corveser cobbler
cucking-stool chair to which a woman guilty of certain offences was bound for public humiliation
currier tanner of leather
custumal written collection of the customs of a city (or other body such as a village)
Cytherea classical Greek goddess of love (also known as Aphrodite)
Danegeld a tax for security of the realm
dauber one who plasters walls with mud and straw
demesne land attached to a manor
deraign to maintain one’s right by battle
distrain constrain by sequestration of belongings
enthymeme argument consisting of a single premise and conclusion as opposed to a syllogism made up of major and minor premises and conclusions
farm rate of tax paid in lieu of diverse obligations
fealty duty owed by a tenant
fell the skin or hide of an animal
feoffor one who transfers real property to another
fletcher maker of arrows
folk-moot periodic meeting of freemen of a town
forestaller one who intercepts and buys goods before they come to market
franchise liberty or privilege, attached in medieval towns to property of the Church and some secular lords
frankpledge system of joint security to which all males over 12 years were required to be enrolled
fripperer dealer in second-hand clothing
fuller one who shrinks and thickens woollen cloth by dampening, heating and pressing it (originally by walking on it, hence walker*)
furbisher one who removes rust from and burnishes armour and weapons
gersum fine
girdler maker of belts
guild merchant association of leading traders of a town
haberdasher seller of miscellaneous household goods and items of clothing
hairer maker of hair cloth or hair shirts
Hansard member of one of the international companies (Hanse) of German merchants
heriot tribute paid to a lord out of the goods of a tenant who died
hide area of land, usually about 120 acres
horner worker of horn
huckster normally female pedlar or hawker of petty goods
hundred subdivision of a county (originally understood to comprise 100 hides*)
Husting court premier judicial court and court of record in medieval London
implead to sue (in court)
indenture duplicate document separated by a zig-zag cut, so that the two parts can be matched
indulgence partial remission of the penalty in purgatory due for sin
infangthief the right to judge a thief caught red-handed
journeyman qualified master of a trade working for hire (without a shop of his/her own)
kilderkin cask containing approximately 16 gallons (half a barrel)
landgable land tax or ground rent
lastage toll on goods brought to fairs and markets
lattener maker of articles in latten, a mixed metal like brass
litster dyer
Lombard a person (often a merchant or banker) from north Italy
lorimer maker of horse’s bridles and small ironware
madder red plant dye
mark sum of money: 6s 8d
marshal horse-shoeing smith
marten animal similar to a ferret, hunted in the Middle Ages for its skin
mazer wooden drinking vessel
mercer dealer in fine textile fabrics
merchet payment for obtaining a lord’s permission for a marriage
messuage urban property
miskenning fine for procedural irregularity in court
moneyer minter of the king’s coin
murder-fine levy on a community where a Norman had been murdered
mystery association of a craft
ora money of account introduced in Anglo-Saxon England; equivalent to about 2s
osculatory pax, a tablet with an image of Christ, passed around and kissed in the mass
osmund bar of (usually Swedish) iron
palmer pilgrim
parmenter furrier
passage toll on travellers
pattens overshoes or clogs
pavage toll levied to defray the cost of maintaining roads
pentice a sloping rainwater roof projecting from the side of a building over a door or window; also, a structure like a veranda connecting two buildings
perch measure of length, about 10 feet
phial small container with a stopper
pipe large cask of wine (or other goods)
plead submit or respond to a legal suit
pledge pawn
pontage bridge toll
potash aluminium potassium sulphate, used in dyeing; see alum
potter maker of brass pots and other brassware
reeve sheriff
regrater one who buys goods (especially food) before they come to market, in order to sell them on at a profit
scold malicious gossip
scot a land tax
scotale collective drinking to raise funds, sometimes with pressure to attend
sea-coal originally so-called because found washed up on the sea-shore, notably in the north-east of England; from c.1300 so designated, whether washed-up or mined in origin, because it was transported by sea
seised having legal possession or seisin*
seisin legal ownership
shearer one who finished newly woven, washed and brushed cloth by cutting off loose threads
soke area of independent jurisdiction
souter cobbler
stallage rental for keeping a stall in a market
staple body of merchants holding by royal licence the exclusive right to handle the export of certain goods
stengesdint fine imposed for striking another
sumpter pack or baggage horse
tallage tax on royal lands and towns
tawyer one who prepares leather for working
thewe cucking-stool*
timber quantity (forty skins) of animal furs
train-oil oil from the blubber of a whale, seal or walrus
tranter hawker or trader of petty goods with a horse and cart
trencher flat piece of wood for putting food on when eating
ulnage levy imposed for the inspection of cloth
unwin loss
vill territorial unit, township
walker fuller*
water-leader one who carts water for sale
whitawyer tanner of sheep and goat hides
woad blue plant dye

Towns in medieval England

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