Explanatory notes for the inventories of the estates of Thomas2 Terrill and wife Mary:


I’ve oriented these notes to those people who might not know what a “churn” is, hoping to enable everyone to understand these inventories, as best I can.  Some items are simply spelled incorrectly (from our perspective—from their perspective they were spelled “purfickly fyne”).  Some require further explanation (visit the links).


anker:  a small keg (usually of 10 gallon capacity), for liquor, or sometimes wine.

bason:  basin.

bay horse:  a horse with reddish-brown body and black mane, tail and points.

bear (pillow bear):  pillow case (a container which bears the pillow (feather) within).

beattle:  beetle—a heavy wooden mallet used to drive wedges (used mostly, perhaps, in splitting firewood?).  A metal beetle ring surrounded each face of the mallet head, to keep the wood from splintering.

bedsteed, bedstoed:  bedstead, the framework of a bed.

bells:  could instead be bills (i.e., billhooks).

bole:  bowl.

bolt:  probably a fine sieve for sifting flour or meal.

bolster:  a long pillow extending the full width of a bed.

box smoothing iron:  a hollow smoothing iron, filled with hot coals, or anything hot.

caitle:  kettle.

card:  a metal comb or wire brush, used to disentangle the fibers of wool, cotton, flax, etc.

chamber pot:  a portable container kept in a bedroom and used as a toilet.

“chese fats”:  Cheese vats (“vat” was often spelled “fat” in colonial times), vats or tubs in which the curd is formed and cut or broken, in cheese-making.

churn:  a vessel used to make butter from milk or cream.

clavis:  clevis, a U-shaped metal shackle with the ends drilled to receive a pin, used to attach chains to parts.

coller irons:  collar irons, put on draft animals to pull loads.

cover-lid:  coverlet, a quilt or bedspread.

cover-lid chaine:  ?, perhaps ornamental fringe-work for a coverlet.

cubbard:  cupboard.

debts hopefull and desperate:  debts hopeful (AKA “debts sperate”) were collectable; debts desperate were uncollectable.

dutch wheale:  dutch spinning wheel, used to spin flax.

earthenware:  ware made of slightly porous opaque clay fired at low heat.

equal moiety:  equal half.

firniture:  furniture, the necessary equipment belonging to a larger item.

flax brake:  flax break—a wooden contraption to “break” retted (soaked for a week) flax straw, to free the flax fiber.

fulling mill:  where cloth was cleaned of oils, dirt and other impurities, and made thicker.

geeres:  gear—that which was required to harness an animal to a cart, for instance.

great spinning wheel:  used to spin wool.  One hand was used to spin the drive wheel.

grid iron:  a platform of iron bars with short feet and a long handle, for cooking meat over a fire.

hamer:  hammer.

hetchel:  a comb or brush (a small bed of nails, basically) bolted to a work surface, and used to comb bundles of fiber.

hogshed:  hogshead—a large cask or barrel (especially, of 63 to140 gallon capacity).

kittle:  kettle.

larntern:  lantern.

linnin:  linen—yarn, thread or cloth made of flax.

looing glass:  looking glass—a mirror.

moel(?) badgs:  ?—badgs = badges?  meal bags, possibly, which show up in other inventories (e.g., 1793 Essex County NJ inventory).

peutter:  pewter.

plater:  platter.

poltry:  poultry.

sadle:  saddle.

scails, pair of:  scales—a balance consisting of two scales (pans), on one of which you’d place what was to be weighed, and on the other, weights, enough to balance the two sides.

seive:  sieve.  (I’m not sure I read this item correctly.)

shars:  shears, large scissors.

sider mill:  cider mill—used to “scrat” (ground down) apples into “pomace” (pulp), driven by hand, water-mill or horse-power.  The juice was then squeezed out of the pomace in the cider press, and fermented to produce cider.

side-sadle:  a lady’s saddle, for riding with both legs on one side of the horse.

skilit:  skillet.

skimer:  skimmer, a perforated spoon.

“smith tools”:  all of Thomas Terrill’s old blacksmith tools are lumped into this one category!

spad:  spade.

steer:  young ox, probably.

stilyards, pair of:  steelyard—a scale consisting of a metal bar, suspended off-center, with a weight which can be moved along the longer side to balance an object hung from the shorter side.  Commonly called a “pair of Stilyards” even though no pair of anything was involved.

stubing hoe:  stubbing hoe—probably a stub-hoe, a strong rough adze for cutting up roots of bushes (picture).

swefeltree:  Swiveltree, AKA swingletree, whiffletree and whippletree—a crossbar, pivoted at the middle, to which the traces of an animal harness are fastened for pulling a cart, carriage, plow, etc.

sythe tackle:  scythe tackle—probably a snath (the wooden handle), a grass blade, perhaps a bush blade, and sharpening tools.  The “tackle” would not have been animal tackle—this was a century before the animal-drawn mechanical reaper came on the scene.

tankard:  a one-handled drinking mug with a lid.

ticken, tickon:  probably “ticking” (colloquial), a mattress case, but actually meaning a mattress.

tooe cloth:  tow cloth—tow is the coarse and broken part of flax or hemp, separated from the finer part by the hetchel.  So this was a coarse cloth.

tongus:  tongs, used to put wood on the fire, or in the stove.

trammels, tramils:  most likely, adjustable pothooks, for a fireplace crane.

trundle bedsteed:  a low bedstead, which could be slid under a higher bedstead, for storage.  The cord within it was a zigzag of cordage used to suspend a mattress.

“two knot dishe”:  ?—the term “knot dish” comes up in many colonial inventories.  I’ve read that it was a dish to hold fancy ribbons (“knots”), but I’m not sure this is right.  Matthew Patten of bedford, N.H. wrote in his diary, in 1769, “I turned a knot dish that holds about 2 quarts ...”  What a “two knot dish” might have been is a mystery.

wevers lumb:  weaver’s loom, a large contraption for weaving thread or yarn into cloth, possibly assembled and used in wintertime, and dismantled in spring.  The “wevers warping bars : boxes : & spools” were probably part of this device.  The “boxes” were probably shuttle boxes (more info, and drawings).

wheale:  wheel.

winter corn:  planted in the fall and harvested in the spring.

yard:  a piece of cloth of area one square yard, probably.

yearlin:  yearling, an animal one year old, and not yet two.

yoake:  yoke.  And “one yoake of oxen” was two oxen.