Olde Fabrickes.................

Here are a few terms used to describe fabric and cloth over the centuries.

These come to you courtesy of Judith Werner administrator of the Old English List at  http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~oel/ for which grateful acknowledgements are herewith advanced.

In 1806 Isaac Sandford of Gloucester and Stephen Price of Stroud; both Civil Engineers, found out, invented, and had patented

A new improvement of method to raise the Nap or Pile on Woollen, Cotton and all other cloth.

The descriptions are followed from the same source by some terms used for Fur and Leather during the 16th & 17th centuries

Then some rather strange Wildfowl & Fish servings that appear in the household accounts of Sir Thomas Petrie at Ingatestone, Essex, 1548-1552.

You won't need a fishing rod, traps or gun here!


Please click the eye for the letters identification as shown in the source column.

Name Description Source
AlnageAulnage-Aulnage-Ulnage the official inspection and measurement of woolen cloth by the ell and attestation of its value by affixing a leaden seal OEL
ArrasTapestries which hid rough walls and lessened draughts and were valuable possessions B
BaftCourse fabric usually of cotton A
BaizeCoarse, usually green wool with a long nap A
Bartree or Barr-TreeA rectangluar wooden frame with pins on the vertical sides around whcih warp yarn is wound from side to side to the required length (about 10 feet) and width to form the web or warp OEL
Baudekin/Baudkins/BawdekynsOf Silk. A rich cloth now called Brocade H
BeaupersLinen cloth similar to bunting [loosely woven] F
BombazineTwilled dress fabric of various blends-Silk & Worsted-Cotton & Wool-Silk & Cotton C-F
BoratoThin, light blend of silk & wool F
Bord Alexander {Alizandre etc} A rich striped silk originally from Alexandria H
Branched VelvetAny figured velvet F
BreidingThe process of stretching and fixing woolen material at its proper width on the tenders (tenters) while wet from the fulling stocks OEL
BroadclothPlain woven fine woollen cloth, two yards wide and produced in England from 12th Century F
BuckramOriginally a fine linen or cotton used in hose or gowns, later a coarse fabric sometimes stiffened with paste. A-F-H
BuffinBlend used in doublets and other garments F
BuskA coarse linen used for lining and stiffening H
CaffaA rich silk cloth, apparently similar to damask and much used in the 16th century B
CalicoCostly cotton or cotton & linen fabric imported from the East. Not the figured cloth called so today  
Cambric Fine White LinenF
Camlet/ChamletOriginally were beautiful and costly eastern fabrics, afterwards their imitations and substitutes. Made from silk, wool or cotton and long hair, perhaps camel's hair, but in the 16th & 17th century made from the hair of the angora Goat. B-F
CarseyA ribbed cloth - also Kersey G
CarzieA type of plain, homespun fabric  
Cloth A particular quantity or length of fabric, such as a Coat Cloth being enough fabric to make a Coat or a Gown Cloth being sufficient to make a Gown B
Cloth ColouredUn-dyed C
Cloth of GoldCloth woven with Gold Wire, gold strips or both. May come in colours, especially crimson or violet, depending on the colour of the warp thread. F
Comstock/CombstockA rough wooden bench on which raw wool was 'made up' or prepared for the combs OEL
Cotton ClothA woollen cloth of Northern manufacture of which the nap had been raised, such of frieze. F
Cotton RussetCheap woollen cloth normally a yard wide, same as Welsh Straits. H
CrapeA thin transparent silk or silk & linen used in mourning veils; A kind of thin worsted used for clerical dress. F-A
CypressA fine sheer fabric made of chine silk, and used for chemises.  
DamaskRich silk woven with light and shade effects forming designs and figures. True damasks were silks but the term came to any fabric with an elaborate design woven into it. B-F
DiaperLinen fabric woven with a small simple pattern, formed by the different direction of the threads. B
DicedChequered B
Dighting/Dighted WoolPrepared wool OEL
Dornech/Dornicks/Darinx1. Originally fabric made at Doornik, Belgium (Now Tournai) especially a silk or wool for hangings, carpets and vestments etc; 2. Linen fabric used in Scotland for tablecloths and napkins etc; 3. Linen made in Norfolk for servants clothes. A-F
DowlasA coarse lumpy kind of linen, much used in the 16th-17th centuries. Now applied to a strong calico made in imitation of this. EM
DruggetA coarse fabric used as a protective floor covering J
DuffleA hard wearing cloth originating from a town of that name in Belgium. Used during WW2 for producing the Duffle Coat for the Royal Navy Radio 4 Program 8 Feb 2003
FolderFabric was sold by the folder rather than by the bolt  
Flaskyt/Flasket A shollow, oval washtub or clothes basket or a clothes basket used by clothiers formed from a half cask or barrel, about 2ft in diameter, used to hold sizing for the warps but principally to hold water in which weft bobbins were wetted. OEL
FriezeA coarse woollen cloth with a nap, usually on one side only, of Welsh origin. A
FrizadoA fine worsted with a nap, similar to Baize A
FustianA napped fabric made of a mixture of flax and cotton or wool. Used as a substitute for velvet, Also a blanket of such material. A-F
GalloonA narrow band of cord, embroidery, silver or gold braid, used on clothes or furniture  
Garne Coarse worsted yarnOEL
Gavelocke/GavlockAn iron lever with attached fulcrum for effecting the breiding of wet cloth OEL
GeeresIn weaving, when the full quantity of warp threads required for the looms are stretched on frames or shafts, the whole are termed gears, a set of gears or pair of gears. OEL
Grograine/GrograinA fine ribbed fabric  
HollandAny fine linen used for Veiling, Smocks, Coifs and Ruffs F
JarnseyA fine Jersey Yarn  
KendalA kind of green woollen cloth named after the town Kendal in Westmoreland where it was manufactured. B
KerseyA coarse, ribbed, narrow woollen cloth named after the town Kersey in Suffolk, also a piece of Kersey of a definite size. Also Carsey A-D
Lace1. A general term for all kinds of trims and braids as well as cords. 2. Points to fasten a garment at  
Lawn/Lawny 1. A fine linen or cotton, the word probably from Laon, France which was noted for linen manufacture. 2. This fabric as used for sleeves worn by a bishop (hence, the dignity or office of a bishop). 3. Also described as very fine, semitransparent linen cloth. F
Lea or Lay of YarnA applied to wool, a measure of yarn or worsted of varying amount, say 300 yards; also, the seventh part of a hank of worsted, containing 80 threads would on a reel, a yard in circumference. OEL
Lindsey-WoolseyOriginally a textile material, woven from a mixture of wool and flax (as in linen); now, a dress material of coarse inferior wool, woven on a cotton warp. A mix of wool seconds & linen thread, cheap sheeting or shirting and servants' clothing. EM
Lockram Apron/Lockeraine Aperna A coarse linen for dirty work, strong & serviceable.  [Please see the OED for various other spellings] EM - OEL
LyreA designation for cloth, generally woollen, indicating high quality as "Black of Lyre" or "Black Allyre" from the town in Brabant now known as "Liere" B
Medley/MerdleyA rough woollen cloth of mixed colouring or quality. E
MinstersA linen cloth originating from Munster. H
Mocado/MockadoMock Velvet - Deep-piled velvet. The best quality was made of silk, otherwise wool or silk mixed with wool or flax. Also defined solely as a wool velvet, usually of inferior quality. A-F
MotleyCloth of mixed colours B
MusterdevillersMixed gery woollen cloth much used in the 14th & 15th century. Name derives from a town in Normandy now called Montvilliers B
Myllnings or Unmilned clothMaterial before being beaten with heavy wooden hammers to make it thicker OEL
Northern ClothCheap woollen cloth produced in the West Riding of Yorkshire. H
OrphreyGold or any rich embroidery. B
PaneA piece of cloth made of several cloths joined side-by-side. B
PanedMade of different coloured strips of cloth jointed together. B
Painted ClothsTapestries that hid rough walls and lessened draughts and were valuable possessions B
Pariswork(Towel of ...... ?) Fine linen used for napery. B
PattensClogs over-shoes for muddy weather G
Penistone/PenystoneA coarse woollen. E
PinnesBobbins of weft OEL
PointsTagged Laces G
PrintedWhen a fabric is as printed when the design has been stamped with hot irons; NOT produced by dyeing.  
Puke 1. An imported woollen cloth or textile dyed before weaving. 2. A fine woollen cloth. 3. A dye for woollen cloth, apparently a bluish-black or inky colour. A
RaddleIn weaving, a piece of wood full of pegs having a top part which fits on it to hold the warp while it is being wound on the beam, also (Ruddle or Reddle) meaning Red Earth used to colour bricks or colour-washing walls. OEL
Raines/ReynesA kind of fine linen or lawn made at Rennes in Brittany. B
RashA smooth textile of silk or worsted. A
RussetCoarse homespun wool of red-brown, grey or neutral colour. Worn by farm workers - normally substantially serge-like. BE
SackclothCoarse fabric for making sacks, bales etc., but also worn as a sign of penitence or mourning. A
Sarsenet/Saecenet1. Very fine, soft silk (later cotton) made both plain and twilled in various colours. 2. Often used for puffs in doublets & gowns. B
SayFine textured cloth resembling serge. In the 16th century sometimes partly made with silk but later entirely of wool. B
ScarletA common, plain Elizabeth fabric and NOT scarlet in colour.  
Seed Pearls Bought in bulk for use on gowns costing a penny apiece.  
Sendal/Syndale A fine silk clothH
SergeA durable woollen fabric made from combed long-staple wool which was not fulled. A-F
Shot SilkChangeable taffeta  
Size Stand A stand for holding the liquid used for keeping the warp or weft from fraying in the process of weaving OEL
SoultwichLine - probably from Saltzwedel, Germany. H
SpruceLinen from Prussia H
SussapineA costly silk textile F
Syes'SizeA weak glue liquid, made chiefly from animal bones to strength the warps from fraying or wearing during the weaving OEL
Taffeta/TaphetaRich thin silk often used for doublets. F
Tinsel A metallic fabric. less expensive than cloth of gold or silver.  
Treillis/Terlyson Stout or coarse cloth similar to Buckram H
TripeImitation velvet. Velveteen or Fustian A
TukeCanvas or linen cloth H
Venice Gold/Venice or Venetian Pearls Silver-gilt thread/glass pearls of poorer quality than true gold.  
Walker ShearsThe fuller's scissors OEL
Warping Wouke-Wouthe-WooseThe machine in which threads are arranged into warps and thus made ready for weaving OEL
Welsh StraitsA cheap woollen cloth of single width (one yard) also known as cottone russet. H
WorstedWoollen fabric made from closely twisted yarn from long-staple wool. A

Around the turn of the 18th - 19th centuries a petition for patent for an invention to improve the raising of the nap or pile on woollen and all other cloth was applied for.

Furs & Leather

AgnorumLamb skins
AmiceGrey squirrel or marten. Originally used by religious orders for lining a hood or later, a cape.
Buk PellesBuck skins
Budge/BogyNorth African or Southern European lamb
CalaberSquirrel skins, originally from Calabria
Cordwain/CordewynSpanish Leather
FellHide or skin, usually before the hair is removed.
Grey SkinsThe backs of winter squirrels
LaschFine red leather, perhaps Moroccan
Lizard/LezardLynx (the supporters and dexter supporter to the arms of the London Skinner's Company)
Lettice/LetewisSnow-weasel. Whitish-grey fur similar to ermine
MiniverIn use since c.1300, the term has applied to grey squirrel fur and from c.1600 the white winter fur of the ermine, also as decorated or "Powdered" with bars or spots of darker fur such as black ermine. Used extensively for ceremonial dress.
PaneA number of furs sewn together to form a lining.
Pelles CuniculoriumRabbit skins
Pelles LanuteWoolfells
Pelles MureligorumCat skins
Pelles OviumSheep skins
Pelles Rubra or RossaRed squirrel skins
Pelles VulpiumFox skins
Roan/Rone/RoyneSuperior quality sheepskin tanned in sumac
Red SkinsSummer squirrel skins, also red leather.
Schonwerk/SkonewarkFine, highly priced squirrel skins, presumably taken in winter from the far north.
ShanksFurs from the legs of budge
SprucePrussian leather, popular for jerkins
TavelonBundle of four skins of black budge or sometimes the individual skins.
TawWhite leather
TicksA thick material used for bedding also know as 'ticking'
White SkinsWhite squirrel skins
WombysFur from the belly

Wildfowl and Fish

On the various menus at Sir Thomas Petrie's residence at Ingatestone in Essex, the household accounts during the years 1548-1552 recorded several types of food which deserve further description. These are brought to you with acknowledgements to the OLD-ENGLISH List at ROOTSWEB. See also source 'E'

Bret/BerteA term in use c.1460 and in 1670 described a Turbot
ButtIn use from c.1300 although there is no specific definition known but is akin to the Turbot, Sole or Flounder.
Choyt/CheytDefinition unknown, but the accounts show about a dozen being bought weekly in June and in Autumn. The author believes it may be a Shad or Chad.
Goodwin1. In the 1500s know as the Godwit and the 1800s as the Godwyn. 2. Probably the black-tailed or marshland Godwit which resembled the Curlew.
MarleThe Knot, a variety of Snipe. The accounts show both Snipe & Snite which the author suggest the latter as being the smaller of the species.
OxbirdA term from before 1547 but surviving locally as the name for the Dunlin or Sanderling. [SOED = Sandpipers]
Prane/PraineA Curlew of the Essex marshes, a bar-tailed Godwit, also Preen or Prine.
ShelfowlThe Sheldrake (Shieldrake) now called the Shelduck [SOED]
ShovelardThe wading bird now known as the spoonbill. The term was in use in 1440.


A        New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

B        Bedfordshire Historical Record Society Vol 58; Bedfordshire Wills proved in the PCC 1383-1548

C        Richard Lederer Jr. Colonial American English [1608-1783]   

       David N. Durant: "Where Queen Elizabeth Slept and What the Butler Saw"

E        F.G. Emmison [Essex County Archivist] Tudor Secretary: "Sir William Petre at Court and Home" - Harvard Press 1961.

EM    Eve McLaughlin - Author of "McLaughlin Guides for Family Historians" - Secretary of Bucks Genealogical Society

F        Kathy Lynn Emerson: "Everyday Life in Renaissance England" [1485-1649]

G        Vanessa Harding and Laura Wright, London Bridge: "Selected Accounts & Rentals 1381-1538"

H        H.S. Cobb, ed., "The Overseas Trade of London, Exchequer Customs Accounts 1480-1481"

 I            "The Medieval Scene"  Book 1 by RJ Unstead

        Collins Concise English Dictionary

OEL   http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~oel/




Page Last Updated: - 06/04/2016