Background Information



OakumRef 1-O10
Loosely twisted hemp or jute fibres impregnated with tar which are used in packing the gaps between the planks of a wooden ship.

This was made by tearing ships' ropes into small fragments – a task known as picking oakum – by the inmates of the workhouse and prison

Oath of allegianceRef 1-O6
In 1752, an Act required all persons over 18 (in England) to swear an oath of allegiance to the Crown. This was done at the Quarter Sessions

OatsRef 1-1024
A hardy crop suited to the climate and topography of the district.

During the bad harvests of 1314-1319 and other times, oats fared better than most crops. The cereal was eaten as havercake and as a porridge, and the straw was fed cattle and horses.

Grain was also used as wall cavity insulation.

Corn was not produced locally – even though the mills which ground the oats are called corn mills.

See Climate and Corn

ObRef 1-2948
Aka Obol. A mediæval name for a small coin, such as the halfpenny. The name comes from the name for a small Greek coin obolus

Occupational SurnameRef 1-1027
A surname which was given to a person because of his/her occupation or the work which he/she did.

See Locational surnames and Patronymic surnames

OccupationsRef 1-929
The Foldout collects the entries relating to Jobs and Occupations which were found in the district

OctaveRef 1-O15
Octave: Aka Utas.

A period of 8 days which was used for recording dates.

For example, the feast of All Saints is on 1st November; the octave of All Saints is 8th November

Odd LadsRef 1-2003
A benevolent society for young men, modelled on the Oddfellows

Lord of the manorRef 1-133
The man who owned all the land and most of the property and people living in the manor.

The name comes from the Old English hlaford and hlafweard meaning loaf-warden = bread-keeper.

See Aid, Appurtenance, Avowry, Bailiff, Banalities, Bondman, Boonwork, Chancel, Chevage, Constable, Corn mill, Corvee, Cottar, Customary due, Demesne, Dower House, Escheat, Farm, Felony, Formarriage, Gallows, Right of, Geld, Go where he will, Great House, Greave, High farming, Homage, Inland, Jurisdiction, Jus primae noctis, Leyerwite, Lordship, Manor, Manor courts, Manor house, Manorial court, Merchet, Piscary, Reeve, Royalty, Sac & soc, Seneschal, Sergeant, Socage, Suit of mill, Tenant at will, Town air is free air, Villein and Warren

Lady of the NightRef 1-1146
A euphemism for a prostitute

OgeeRef 1-O14
A S-shaped curve used in moulding

Oil of VitriolRef 1-1046
An old name for sulphuric acid

Old age pensionRef 1-O9
On 1st January 1909, David Lloyd George introduced non-contributory old-age pensions for people 70 years-old and over, as provided by the Invalid & Old Age Pensions Act [1908].

In January 1928, the pension was 10/- per week

Old draperiesRef 1-2597
Traditionally produced textiles such as kerseys and pennistones in contrast to the later cloth, such as bays and shalloons.

See New draperies

Old EnglishRef 1-720
Aka Anglo-Saxon. A form of the English language which was spoken in England and southern Scotland from around AD 450.

The written languages uses the letters þ / Þ / ð / Ð and the spelling and grammar reflects the Germanic roots of the language.

King Alfred wrote in this form and translated the Bible and other works into Old English. The language is virtually unintelligible to the untrained reader today.

Old English should not be confused with the Celtic languages which were, and still are, spoken in the western fringes of Britain as Cornish, Welsh, Manx, Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic.

Around 1350, Old English gave way to Middle English

OlitoryRef 1-O7
A kitchen-garden.

The garden was managed by an olitor

OliverRef 1-143
A popular name for a forge-hammer which was worked by foot.

When the word is encountered in place names – such as Oliver Hall, Elland and Oliver Meadows - it often indicates a place where a forge or smithy once stood, or where iron-working was carried out

On Ilkley moor baht 'atRef 1-572
This song has virtually become the Yorkshire anthem. It is sung to a Methodist hymn tune – Cranbrook – which was composed by Canterbury boot and shoe-maker Thomas Clark in 1805.

The Foldout presents gives the lyric and more information about On Ilkley moor baht 'at.

See Baht and Ilkley Moor

One-up-one-down houseRef 1-20
Simple terraced housing of the 19th century in which the individual houses had one living room downstairs – often with a pantry at the back – and one bedroom upstairs. The occupants shared a communal outside toilet. These were often blind back houses or back-to-back houses.

See The Estate Worker's Cottage Shibden Hall

OpRef 1-616
A form of the Anglian (?) element hope which is used in place names – such as Widdop and Litherup – and means a shallow shelf or valley

Open-cast miningRef 1-326
The mining of coal and other minerals which involves removal of the covering topsoil and extraction of the mineral without any underground working. The hole is then back-filled

OpiumRef 1-1604
An addictive narcotic extracted from dried juice of the unripe seeds of the opium poppy. It was used as a pain-killer.

See Laudanum

OppositionRef 1-O11
The party or parties who do not belong to the governing party in Parliament

OrRef 1-902
An heraldic term referring to the metal gold – this is usually shown as yellow

OraRef 1-O13
A mediæval unit for accounting purposes. It was worth 16d or 20d

Oral historyRef 1-2538
Verbally transmitted information about past events. It may be recorded in writing, or as sound and/or video recordings. This provides information about personal and non-written events. It is subject to the fault of human perceptions and mental recall

Orders in CouncilRef 1-1532
An order issued by the sovereign with the advice of the Privy Council.

The orders of 1807 banned trade with France and were a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars. They were intended to prevent neutral powers trading with France, thus giving war a priority over the needs of the people and industry. The orders angered the Americans who passed a Non-Intercourse Act in 1811, and cut off the major markets for the woollen trade in Yorkshire, and also aggravated conditions for the Luddites.

The Orders had a frightful effect on the clothing districts, including Halifax.

The Orders were repealed on 18th June, 1812

Ordnance Survey MapsRef 1-343
A series of maps of Britain. The Ordnance Survey began between 1747/1755 to produce a military map of the Highlands of Scotland. Work on the rest of Britain began in 1791 with the first map – Kent – appearing in 1801, and Essex in 1811. The first maps were 1 inch to 1 mile.

6 inch to 1 mile maps appeared after the Ordnance Survey Act [1841].

In 1873, the first Ordnance Survey map of the whole of Britain was published

OrleansRef 1-2935
A cloth with a cotton warp and a worsted weft.

Akroyd's records show that they produced a figured Orleans in 1838

OrmuluRef 1-O3
Yellow metal – such as bronze – which was gilded

OssuaryRef 1-O4
A box, urn or other container for holding bones

OughRef 1-306
A frame at the rear of a loom which arranged the warp.

See Wough

OunceRef 1-1360
A unit of weight equal to 1/16th of a pound = 28·35 grams. Abbreviated to oz.

The ounce is still valid as a unit for trade in the UK, following legislation of 1994/5 which replaced some imperial units by metric units See Fluid ounce, Ounce apothecaries and Troy ounce

Ounce apothecariesRef 1-1708
A unit of weight equal to 480 grains = 8 drachm = ½ ounce = 14·176 grams.

See Apothecary

OuselRef 1-O2
A blackbird

Out-ReliefRef 1-1951
Assistance, such as money, provided to the poor living at home and not in the local workhouse.

See Indoor-Relief

Outdoor reliefRef 1-1589
Charity given to the poor which did not require them to go to the workhouse. This was abolished by the Poor Law Amendment Act [1834].

See Out-poor 1787

OutfieldRef 1-O12
See Infield-outfield

OutlaneRef 1-596
From the Old English utlane, this name is given to a road between townships, or between a township and the common land.

The village Outlane is in Kirklees

OutlawRef 1-1543
A person who has failed to appear at a court on 3 or more occasions. Anyone who escaped sanctuary or abjuration of the realm was also considered to be an outlaw.

An outlaw could be legally killed on sight by anyone who met him, and was said to have:

a wolf's head
which could be cut off by anyone. At one time, a fee of 5/- was paid for an outlaw's head. If formally captured, an outlaw was hanged. An outlaw could buy his pardon and be reinstated into the law

OutrakeRef 1-415
A path which allows sheep to move from enclosed pasture to open grounds or common lands.

See Rake

OutshutRef 1-3026
Also Outshot. A room or rooms added to the main body of a house, at the rear or at one end, and possibly under a lean-to or a catslide roof.

See Lacey Hey Farm, Midgley and Old Earth Farm, Elland

Oven-bottom cakeRef 1-1226
A large tea cake baked on the bottom of the oven

OverRef 1-595
Used in place names, the element often has the meaning Upper, as in Over Hazlehurst and Upper Hazlehurst

OverseaRef 1-O5
The adjective usually meant from abroad or manufactured abroad.

George Redmonds records

an oversee coverynge of a bedde [1544]
a carpet of overse work [1562]
an over-sea hanging of wrought stuff [1646]

Overseer of the PoorRef 1-1539
This was the person who was responsible for the relief of the poor in a township.

See Settlement Guardian of the Poor, Pauper and Poor apprentice

OwlRef 1-698
The owl appears on the arms of the Savile family

OwlerRef 1-592
The element is used in surnames and place names – such as Lightowler, Owler ings and Ollerenshaw - and comes from owler or alor meaning an alder

OwramRef 1-593
Used in place names – such as Southowram and Northowram – the element is an Old English word meaning edge, bank, brink, border. Compare the German ufer.

Pearson suggests that Northowram is a form of North-over-ham, indicating that it lies north of the Town, whereas Southowram lies to the south – but avoids the question ... which Town?

See Ouram

OxgangRef 1-1700
Also oxgate and oxland, an English equivalent of the bovate.

It was a unit of area, approximately 15 acres in size, although the precise area differed from place to place

OyerRef 1-1477
Originally the reading of a document in court, usually by petition of a party to a suit.

The term comes from the French oyer – meaning to hear.

In the 13th century it was used to mean an assize, or a criminal trial held under a commission of Oyer & terminer

Oyer & Terminer CommissionRef 1-1059
A commission issued by the king to a group of trusted persons, usually including judges of assize, to inquire into all treasons, felonies and misdemeanours committed in the county specified in the commission.

The inquiry to hear and determine according to the law, the bills of indictment submitted to it.

Also present was a petit jury (or trial jury) who heard the evidence presented by the petitioners and the defendants (respondents), and after instruction from the commissioners, would deliberate and arrive at a verdict.

Oyer & terminer commissions were generally issued to deal with matters that were too serious, or the people involved too powerful, to be handled by the common court

OysterRef 1-2780
In the 19th century, oysters were eaten by the poorer classes, and the railways brought supplies to inland districts.

In Charles Dickens's Pickwick Papers, Sam Weller says:

Poverty and oysters always go together ... the poorer the place is, the greater the call there seems to be for oysters

See Gibson's Oyster Saloon

© Malcolm Bull 2023
Revised 14:50 / 30th December 2023 / 29095

Page Ref: B113_O

search tips advanced search
site search by freefind