Malcolm Bull's Calderdale Companion : Background Information : P

Background Information



In mediæval times, a person found guilty of perjury might be branded on the cheek or the forehead with the letter P.

From 1697, anyone who received parish relief was required to wear a badge sewn to their clothes with the letter P – see Badger.

In some parish registers, a P might be written to identify a pauper

Pace Egg
Aka Paste egg. A hard-boiled – and often dyed – egg which is rolled down-hill at Easter.

The word comes from the Middle English word pase meaning Easter.

See Pace Egg Play

Pack house
Aka Spinning house. A central place in a village for the distribution of wool to spinners in the domestic system

Wool, cotton, finished cloth, salt, lime, coal and other goods were carried by trains of horses carrying the goods in panniers on their backs. There are many packhorse bridges and packhorse routes in the district. So as not to hinder the horses' packs, the bridges normally had a low parapet or no parapet at all.

From the early 19th century, the turnpikes and then the canals quickly replaced the pack horse trade; a single canal boat could carry the equivalent of 600 pack horses.

There are several entries here relating to packhorses:

Beaumont Clough Bridge, Erringden
Binns Top Lane, Southowram
Blackstone Edge
Bogden Bridge
The Buttress, Heptonstall

County Bridge, Mytholmroyd
Cragg Vale Packhorse Route

Foster Mill Bridge, Hebden Bridge


Hebden Bridge
Hirst Bridge, Wadsworth
Holme House Bridge, Booth
Horse trough
Hudson Bridge, Todmorden

Limers' Gate, Wadsworth
Long Stoop, Todmorden
Lumb Bridge, Pecket Well
Mytholm Bridge, Hebden Bridge
Mytholm Steeps, Hebden Bridge

Naze Road, Todmorden
New Bridge, Hebden Bridge

Ailsa O'Fusses
Oxygrains Bridge, Rishworth

Packhorse Bridge, Hardcastle Crags
Packhorse Bridge, Hebden Bridge
Pudsey Clough, Todmorden

Ragby Bridge, Walsden
Reddyshore Scoutgate

Stirk Bridge, Sowerby Bridge

Te Deum stone
Top Brink, Lumbutts

The Walsden Highway
Whiskam Dandy
White Slack Gate, Walsden
Willow Gate, Hebden Bridge
Woolshops, Halifax (The Street)

A unit of measure used mainly for dry goods, such as salt or corn, and sometimes for fish

The saddle of a packhorse which has been adapted for supporting packs and carrying loads

A device which is used to let water into and out of a lock by means of sluices cut into the gates or the walls of the lock. A lock has ground paddles at its top gates and gate paddles – aka fly paddles, ranters or flashers – on its bottom gates.

See Handspike

A complaint raised for decision at a tourn

When used in place names – such as Palace House – it may refer to a palisser who tended the fences of a Norman enclosure or park

Palæolithic Age
The Old Stone Age was the period of human development which began over 2 million years ago.

It was characterised by the use of the stone tools.

In Britain, the Palæolithic ended around 8000 BC when the ice began to recede, and was followed by the Mesolithic.

There is no known evidence of Palæolithic occupation in the Calderdale district

An English county in which the tenant-in-chief exercises powers which are normally reserved for the king. These included the exclusive right to appoint justices, to hold courts of chancery and exchequer, and to coin money. The king's writ was not valid in a County Palatinate

A manuscript in which the original writing has been erased so that the parchment/vellum/paper/metal plate can be re-used

Pals Battalion
Prior to World War I, Britain had no standing army, and the British Expeditionary Force was the only available resource.

Volunteers were sought and men were encouraged to enlist with people from their local area. They were promised that they would serve with the friends, families and workmates. These were known as Pals battalion.

The plan was introduced in August 1914 – the Stockbrokers' Battalion of the City of London. It spread to other large cities and towns, the battalions having names such as

The scheme ended on 27th January 1916 when Conscription was introduced

A medical condition marked by uncontrollable shaking of the body or parts of the body

Pancake Bell
Aka Shriving Bell.

Peal of bells rung at Elland Parish Church – and elsewhere – on Shrove Tuesday

Mediæval right of farmers to pasture their pigs in the forests and woods of a manor, feeding on acorns and beech nuts from the woodland floor, in autumn. It was also the name of the payment made for that right. The farmers were further allowed to gather firewood. They could not fell trees but could gather any branches which they were able to reach with a crook or cut with a billhook; hence the phrase by hook or by crook

See Estovers and Hook

The panto is a traditional British theatrical production presented around Christmas. This is essentially for children, and based on well-known fairy storiesAladdin, Babes in the Wood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Mother Goose, Sleeping Beauty, and others.

There are stock rôles, including a dame [an old woman, played by a man] a principal boy [the handsome hero, played by a girl].

The pantomime contains much additional material, such as popular songs, topical comedy, and audience participation, and nowadays features some popular figure from the sporting, pop-music, or TV world.

There have been several local pantomime societies, including Brighouse Amateur Pantomime Society and Halifax YMCA Pantomime Society

Paper-making industry
The Foldout collects the entries relating to paper-making in the district

Papist conveyance
A document recording the name and estate of all Catholics who – suspected of being Jacobites – were required to register after the 1715 rebellion. After 1717, the wills and deeds of all Catholics had to be registered

General Paralysis of the Insane
A name for syphilis when it affects the brain

In August 1946, there was an outbreak of the disease in many parts of the district, affecting about 50 people

A continuous stretch of land. These are assigned a reference number on Ordnance Survey maps

Someone who made parchment

Prepared sheepskin or calfskin cured with salt. Less frequently the skin of pig, goat, and other animals. The skin of kid was especially sought Vellum and parchment were used for manuscripts until paper was introduced around the 14th century.

See Parchemear and Roll

Parish chest
The Poor Law Act [1552] required the parish to provide a strong chest with 3 keys for holding alms for the poor

Parish council
Parish councils, for villages with more than 300 inhabitants, were introduced by the Local Government Act [1894].

There are 7 Parish Councils in Calderdale:

Each Parish Councillor is elected to serve for a period of 4 years. The Parish Council retires every fourth year

Parish Councils Act [1894]
See Local Government Act [1894] and Parish Council

Parish register
Abbr: PR.

Records of births, marriages, and deaths for a parish were introduced in England and Wales from 1538 following an order by Thomas Cromwell.

See FreeREG

Parish Register Transcripts

Parish Relief
Money – or goods such as food or clothes – which was given to the poor and needy.

It might be given to someone whose disabilities or age prevented them from going into a workhouse.

See Indoor-relief, Out-Relief and Relief

Parish Vestry
A committee which administered the Poor Law in a parish.

So-called because they originally met in the Vestry of the church

Parkin Pigs
Flat cakes made of parkin in the shape of a pig, such as were sold at Brighouse Pig Fair.

Sausage pigs were also sold.

It has been suggested that the pigs represent the boar which was sacred to the Norse gods Freyr and Freya. The two were worshipped at autumnal festivals

Aka Roundheads, Ironsides. Those who supported the side of Parliament during the Civil War.

When the Royalists occupied Halifax, many Parliamentarians fled into Lancashire.

Some local individuals who were on the Parliamentarian side, included Jeremy Bentley, Colonel Robert Bradshaw, John Briercliffe, Samuel Broadley, Oliver Cromwell, Major Eden, Ferdinando Fairfax, Thomas Fairfax, Captain Farrar, Captain Farrer, Joseph Fourness, Captain John Hodgson, Tobias Law, Sir Thomas Middleton, Jonathan Priestley, Joseph Priestley, Samuel Priestley, Colonel John Rosworm, Joshua Stansfeld, Nicholas Starkie, Captain Thomas Taylor, Henry Tilson and Joseph Whitley

See Puritan

Parliamentary brandy
A popular name for unflavoured gin which was produced when legislation increased the duty on the spirit in the 18th century

Parliamentary train
Under an act of 1844, each railway company was required to run at least one train each way, each week day with a fare of a penny a mile for third class passengers and at not less than 12 miles per hour. These became known as parliamentary trains

Parochial rights
The rights of a Chapel of Ease to conduct baptisms, marriages and burials

A parishioner

Partible inheritance
The process whereby an inheritance is divided among all the heirs.

Compare primogeniture

See Hearth-passage, Cross passage and Through-passage

An heraldic term referring to an animal which is represented as if it were walking, facing the dexter side and with the right front foot raised and with the tail raised.

See Couchant and Trippant

Passing bell
Aka Forthfare. A church bell which was tolled to mark someone's death.

Typically, there were 9 (or 30) strokes for a man, 6 (or 20) for a woman, and 1 (or 10) for a child.

Some churches rang an extra stroke for each year of the deceased's ages

Pastoral farming
Cattle farming and sheep farming were – and still are – found throughout the district. Pig farming and poultry farming only appear after the 18th century.

See Arable farming

Pastoral Measure [1969]
Legislation under which decisions over the fate of disused Anglican churches were systematised. The Redundant Churches Fund was set up as a result

Patent Rolls
A collection of letters and other correspondence with the sovereign

The Old English word paeth means an unmade road, often across open country or moorland

Patriotic Fund
A national fund established in Autumn 1854 which supported the widows and orphans of the Crimean War. Newspapers of the time published details the sums collected by individual towns

Patronymic Surnames
The use of the father's name as a surname for his children is widespread.

In England, this took the form of

Robert son of John

which evolved into the surname

Robert Johnson

An overshoe with a wooden sole or a metal device attached to the sole of the shoe to raise the foot clear of the ground, mud and water Some designs comprised circular metal rings which made a distinctive sound on the pavement. There were many local clog and patten makers.

Aunt Branwell was known for wearing these in the Parsonage at Haworth

Paulinus cross
A cross erected by Paulinus. Mount Cross is said to be an example.

See Paulinus Pilgrim & Heritage Way

A charge made to pay for the paving and maintenance of the streets of a town

Aka Paage. A charge which was levied on pasturage

Decomposed and waterlogged vegetable matter – chiefly sedges and sphagnum moss or bog moss – which compacts to form a brown or black mass. Peat is found on the local moorland.

Peat made from sphagnum moss is usually on the tops and the hills, and that from sedges is usually lower down and on the valley floor. For this reason, moss peat is often more acidic – having had nutrients washed out by the rain – whilst that lower down retains the nutrients.

A peat layer can be from a few inches up to 6 ft in depth. This was an important source of fuel until the beginning of the 20th century, and thin slices were occasionally used as a roofing material.

The lord of the manor granted the Right of Turbary, permitting the cutting of peat, turf and other fuel. The turf was cut with a fleight spade and stored in a peat house.

See Peat

A unit of capacity and volume equal to 2 gallons = 9·0922 litres.

See Bushel and Kenning

Also Peculier. A parish or church which is outside the jurisdiction of the bishop of the diocese.

A Royal Peculiar falls under the personal authority of the sovereign.

The term Peculiar People was used to denote the Jews

Peculiar People
A sect recorded in the 19th century. Amongst other things, they believed that it was wrong to take recourse to medical advice in the case of illness, and that
the elders of the church [should] pray over him

An annual sum of money paid to a monk or a nun in lieu of free clothing and other necessities

Pecuniary legacy
A legacy which includes an annuity, or any other instructions by the testator for the payment of money

See Badger

A 19th century term for athletics.

See Joseph Horrocks and J. W. Raby

Pediculi capitis
Head lice

A traveller who offered goods for sale. This term was used for someone who went about on foot carrying his goods on his back and his shoulders, as distinct from a hawker

Peninsular War
[1807-1814] Conflict between France and the allied powers of Britain, Spain and Portugal for control of the Iberian peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars.

See King's Hanoverian Army, Samuel Lister, Abraham Mather and George Stansfield

Aka Forest whites.

A coarse, woollen fabric. Similar to a kersey. It was usually white and measured 1¾ yards in width.

Named for Penistone, near Barnsley, where it was produced in the 15th century. By 1706, it was produced in other areas.

See Old Draperies

Basic unit of British currency before decimalisation and after. The coin was introduced by Offa in the 8th century and was borrowed from the Franks who used the name denarius – after a Roman silver coin. The English name was dinar or denier, hence the abbreviation d but later the name penny from the Norse word for money was used.

Elizabeth I issued coins worth 1½d and ¾d to simplify giving change – see token.

Around 1644, Charles I introduced unusual denominations of coins: sevenpence; ninepence; tenpence; elevenpence, and others – as mentioned in the entry for Shilling

In 1797, Matthew Boulton produced the first machine-made copper pennies at his factory in Soho, Birmingham. These featured Britannia with a trident, for the first time.

Before decimalisation, the penny = 1d was equivalent to 1/240th of £1. After decimalisation, the new penny = 1p = was equivalent to 1/100th of £1. The value of the pound was unchanged.

The plural is pence when referring to prices, and pennies when referring to the coins

Penny Bazaar
A number of Penny Bazaars are listed in the 19th and 20th century directories. These were general stores and charged one penny for any of a wide range of different goods. Some local examples were those of Mewett & Heywood [1915].

The fashion store, Peacocks, began as a Penny Bazaar opened in Warrington in 1884. Marks & Spencer began as a Penny Bazaar opened by Michael Marks in Leeds in 1884.

In 1905, there were several 1d Bazaars, 2½d Bazaar, 3½d Bazaars, and 6½d Bazaars in Halifax and in the Borough Market

A unit of weight equal to 24 grains = 1·5552 gram.

Abbreviated to dwt

People's History Museum
The national centre for the history of working people in Britain

People Who Cannot Marry

Peppercorn rent
An insignificant – or nominal – rent

From the Latin meaning walking around. In law, it is used to mean
the process of determining the bounds of a piece of land by walking around it

The land could then be described by reference to known fixed objects – such as named houses, buildings, geographical features, boundary stones and markers – which were encountered on the walk

A unit of length, equivalent to 5½ yards.

See Pole and Rod

To lay a piece of cloth over a rod, pole, or perch, and hold it against the light to find any faults in the material, during burling.

The work is carried out by a percher

Perpetual shearing machine
This was a shearing machine invented by James and Enoch Taylor. Cropping was one of the first processes to be mechanised. It could do the work of 10 croppers.

This – along with other shearing frames and the gig mill – put many croppers out of work and became Luddite targets

Personal Ancestral File
Family history software produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Personal chattels
All carriages, motor cars & accessories, horses, stable furniture & effects, garden effects, domestic animals, plate, plated articles, linen, china, glass, books, pictures, prints, furniture, jewellery, articles of household or personal use or ornament, musical & scientific instruments & apparatus, wines, liquors, and consumable stores.

It does not include any chattels used at the death of the intestate for business purposes nor money or securities for money

See Goods & Chattels and Inventory

A name for whooping cough

A heavy, club-shaped stick which is used to pound materials in a mortar

Peter Pence
A name for the hearth tax because it was paid on the feast of St Peter ad Vincula.

The fee known as St Peter's Pence was an annual fee of 1d per household which was paid to the Holy See. Henry VIII abolished it in 1534, but it is still collected in Catholic churches

A type of heavy, woollen cloth.

See James Walton

Petit Mal
A mild epileptic fit characterised by mild seizure, muscle spasm, or twitching

See Grand Mal

Petty Sessions
A court which was the lowest level in the English legal system, and where most crime was dealt with. These are now known as magistrates' courts.

From the 16th century, Petty Sessions were held for specific areas or divisions of a county

Petty treason
The murder by a woman of her husband.

See High treason and Misprision of Treason

In the Middle Ages, people stood in the nave during the church service. A stone bench was provided around the wall for the old and infirm, hence the expression weakest to the wall.

Burials often took place inside the church.

Early churches did not have fixed pewing, but wooden benches were used from the 14th century. In the 17th century, pews appeared.

The seats often faced inwards.

The right to occupy a specific pew was often attached to a property. Some churches derived income from pew rents – see proprietary church. The rate was usually higher for those pews nearest the altar. Some wealthy people rented pews in several churches.

High enclosed boxed pews – often with doors to keep out the draughts – were introduced in the 18th century and often filled the nave.

Galleries were introduced to accommodate the growing population of the 17th/18th century. The Victorian High Church Movement caused box pews and galleries to be removed from many churches. The seating arrangements which we see today date from the late 19th century. The clergy were empowered to hire or sell pews, galleries and burial ground – as at Holy Trinity Church – and provided an income for the incumbent. Often pews had carved bench-ends depicting animal or foliage designs

An alloy of copper and lead, with some antimony and bismuth, which was used for making tableware – plates and drinking vessels – and items used in church ceremonies. The high lead content made it a potentially unsafe material. The use of pewter was superseded by developments in glass-making and earthenware production


Photographic techniques
A great many photographic processes are – and have been used – for capturing visual images, including

Photographs relating to the entries on Malcolm Bull's Calderdale Companion can be reached from the individual entries

Study of the shape and lumps-and-bumps of the skull. An idea – now discredited – which originated with the Austrian physician Franz Josef Gall, who said that such features revealed measurable psychological and intellectual traits. It became popular in Britain from around 1815

Charlotte Brontë became interested in the science.

See Dr Disney Alexander and T. P. Browne

Aka Tuberculosis

A general term for medicines prescribe by a doctor

In weaving, the number of the weft cross threads – picks – per inch is a measure of the fineness of the cloth.

A regular piece of cloth has around 40 picks to the inch, calico has 64 picks to the inch, and moleskin is around 200 picks to the inch.

The number of picks is also a measure of the rate of weaving: a hand-weaver may have reached 35 picks per minute, and a power-loom 160 picks per minute.

The verb to pick means to throw the shuttle across the piece of cloth.

See Portit

A fee which was paid for breaking the ground to set up booths at the fairs held in market towns, charter towns and abbeys

A hammer-like device – usually made of wood and leather – which a weaver uses to throw the shuttle across the warps on a loom.

The construction of the early forms was described as

a 3-forked bit of hazel, palm, holly or birch, shaped by hand with a pocket-knife, and then dried by being hung up in the house, the holes for the spindle being bored with a hot iron

James Fielden is credited with having made the first hand picker with a bit of flat wood and the ends of hide for runners.

With the introduction of power looms, pickers were in great demand.

In the late 19th century, Todmorden supplied the world with pickers.

They became redundant when the flying shuttle was introduced.

Arch View Picker Works, Todmorden
Tom Ashworth

The British Picker Company Limited
Buffalo Hide Manufacturing Company

Dugdale, Lello & Company
John Dugdale & Company

Howorth Fielden
James Fielden
Robert Fielden & Sons
Thomas Fleming, Son & Company

Gaol Lane Picker Works, Halifax
Gauxholme Picker Works
Greenwood & Ormerod

Helliwell: Young Helliwell & Sons
Martin Holt
William Holt
Fielden Holt & Sons

Inchfield Picker Works, Walsden

A. Kinghorn & Company

Peel Mill, Todmorden

Thomas Radcliffe

Scaitcliffe Picker Works, Todmorden
Shade Picker Works, Todmorden
Stansfield, Lells & Company

Thomas & John Walton

Stage in cloth-making when the raw wool was picked clean and any foreign bodies removed. The wool was then oiled to resist damage during the carding and spinning processes

Picric acid
The chemical was used in the manufacture of explosives.

Several local companies were involved in production of the compound: Joseph Brooke Limited, Low Moor Chemical Company, North Dean Munitions Factory, Greetland and Sharp & Mallett

See Crow Nest, Lightcliffe

Pie poudre court
Aka Pie powder court. A court – associated with a fair or market – which tried cases involving merchants and travellers from outside the town. The judge is the steward of the lord of the market or fair, and the court only lasts for the duration of the fair.

The name comes from the French term meaning dusty feet and signified those people who had travelled to attend the fair or the market

A piece of cloth, typically produced by domestic handloom weavers working at home, such as were sold at the Piece Hall. In 1552, Parliament passed an Act specifying the amount of wool which must go into a piece of cloth. This and the length of the pieces was controlled by an ullnager.

Prior to the appearance of the flying shuttle and the spinning jenny, one piece was the typical weekly product of the domestic weaver. Domestic production declined as the farmers moved into the towns during the industrial revolution.

See Broad cloth, Cut, Greasy piece, Narrow cloth and Putting-out

Piece work
A system of payment in which the worker was paid for the number of pieces – or finished goods – rather than by a regular hourly, daily or weekly wage

Pieces of eight
A silver coin of Spain and Spanish America worth eight reals, widely circulated in England; the word pieces is a corruption of pesos

Pig club
During World War II, meat rationing increased the need for people to keep animals for food. The Small Pig Keepers' Council encouraged local councils to permit people to keep a pig in their back yard. Local people, schools, and other organisations grouped together to form pig clubs to keep the animals. The animals were fed of scrap food.

When the animals were slaughtered, half of the carcass was claimed by the Government, and the other half was retained by the members of the Club for food.

See Dig for Victory, Ripponden Stones County School and Upper Greetland Pig Club

Many local houses have a dovecote or holes in the gables for pigeons.

The birds were kept in the roof or attic space to provide food for the family, and were valued for their meat, eggs, feathers, down and dung

A wooden milk-pail.

This is usually coopered and looks like a section of a barrel and has one (or two opposing) staves longer than the others.

Various spellings of the word may be encountered

A Middle English word meaning a small irregularly-shaped enclosed field, or a paddock, or a croft, from which the surname Pickles is derived.

See Croft

Used in place names – such as Parlick Pike, Todmorden, Pike Law, Rishworth, and Stoodley Pike - the word means a hill or a peak

Pilgrimage of Grace
The uprising of 1536 in which people of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire protested about the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the break with Rome which Henry VIII had brought about

Pilgrimage of Mercy
On 24th April 1832, a meeting was held at York Racecourse attended by men, women and children from all parts of the county to hear Richard Oastler speak against slavery and child labour

Pillar & Stall
A stone quarrying technique in which roads were driven into the rock, from the bottom of the shafts, in grid pattern, leaving pillars of stone to support the roof. The stone extracted from the roadways would be taken, via the shafts, to the surface for processing

A traditional method of punishment – for cheats, imposters, libellers, immoral people, and political offenders – in which the accused stood upright with his/her arms and neck locked into the instrument, whilst the public hurled abuse and objects at them. Women were not put in the pillory.

A pillory stood at the junction of Old Market and Northgate, Halifax until 1786. The pillory was abolished in 1837.

There are no surviving examples in Calderdale

Pillow beer
A pillow case

Pillow mound
A rectangular, flat-topped, earthen mound constructed for breeding rabbits. A hedge or fence may have been build around the mound

Pin stone
A stone with a depression in the upper surface. The depression would be filled with water. These were found near holy wells and metal pins were left in water as a votive offering in return for healing or other benefice. The pins might be deliberately bent or broken. Wells where this was practised are known as pin wells

Pin wells
A well where pins are left in a pin stone as votive offerings.

See Rag wells

An alloy of copper and zinc which was used to imitate gold in jewellery

Pink disease
A disease of infants due to mercury poisoning caused by teething powders

Pink Pills for Pale People
A cure-all patent medicine produced by Dr Williams around 1900

A unit of capacity and volume equal to 20 fluid ounces = 4 gills = 0·5683 litres.

The pint is still valid as a unit for trade in the UK, following legislation of 1994/5 which replaced some imperial units by metric units

Pioneers of 1847
A group of around 161 Mormons who crossed the plains of America from the Missouri River to the Great Salt Lake Valley in the Summer of 1847.

There were several people from the Halifax district in the group, including

Question: Does anyone know the connection between these members of Pitchforth family?


Pious Uses Commission [1651]
An enquiry into the way in which local charitable bequests were spent.

See John Briercliffe and Robert Hall

Pip, Squeak & Wilfred
A popular name for the 3 medals which were awarded to most British servicemen and women during World War II

The name comes from the title of a popular carton published in the Daily Mirror

Pipe roll
Aka the Great Roll of the Exchequer. Introduced about 1130. A document which was wrapped around a rod or pipe for storage. These were used for annual accounts submitted to the Exchequer by the sheriff

A rod on which the weft is wound during weaving. Unlike a bobbin, the pirn is fixed.

See Pirning

A stage during the spinning stage of cloth-making in which the weft is wound onto a pirn

The right to fish in the pools belonging to the lord of the manor

A Spanish gold coin – equivalent to 2-escudo – which was accepted as currency in England during the 17th and 18th century. The name is also used for any of several European gold coins of approximately the same value.

In England, these had a face value of 17/-

See Foreign coins

Pitched paving
A road surface in which the slabs are laid vertically, with the edges forming the surface.

See Flags and Setts

Place names
Many place names are derived from the physical characteristics of the place, or from the name(s) of the settler(s). Place names are also the source of many surnames.

See Field-names and Names

Places outside Calderdale

See Black Death, Bubonic plague, Buried in Wool, Murrain and Pneumonic plague

Plague pit
A communal grave for victims of the plague

Plague stone
A stone – such as Robin Hood's Penny Stone – where those inflicted with the plague placed money – soaked in vinegar to disinfect the coins – in exchange for food left by those yet unaffected by the disease.

Many still remain and are said to bring good luck if you replace any money found there with an equal or greater sum

Plain backs
Aka Bombazett

A popular name for any sudden affliction or paralysis

A type of chasuble

An illness believed to be caused by planetary influences

An area which is planted or under cultivation – such as farmland, a large garden or an orchard.

The trees were often planted in uniform rows which makes them recognisable may years later

Pleas of the Crown
These were pleas or actions of which the Crown claimed exclusive jurisdiction as affecting the king's peace. Concealing a plea of the Crown – pro placito corone celato – was the offence of not presenting to the justices certain offences, of greater magnitude than mere misdemeanours, which it was that person's duty to present

A debtors' prison

An inflammation of the lungs producing a hacking cough and sharp chest pains

The area of land which can be cultivated by one eight-ox plough team in a year. Equivalent to 8 bovates. This was used for tax assessment as a measure of the arable land on an estate.

The area might vary in different regions, according to the nature of the land and the soil

See Carucate

Plug & feathers
A line of metal flanges and wedges which were struck by hammers to split large stones during stone quarrying.

Two bars – the feathers – were inserted into a hole drilled into the rock, and then a third bar – the plug – was hammered between the 2 feathers to prise them apart

Plug Riots
[August 1842] The workers feared that the introduction of steam power would put them out of work. Riots in which groups of Chartists – from Bradford and surrounding districts – marched from town to town removing the plugs from the boilers of the mills and emptying the mill dams as they passed, bringing production to a halt. At some mills, they broke windows.

On 15th August 1842, following a meeting at Skircoat Moor, a mob marched over North Bridge to Akroyd's power-loom shed in Haley Hill. One man was killed and several others wounded when a party of soldiers fired into the crowd.

The situation is often referred to as The 1842 General Strike and caused many workers to lose their jobs.

See Dean Mills, Midgley, Garnett's Mill, Midgley, Leppington's Mill, Brookfoot, Little John Mill, Rastrick, Lower Mill, Brighouse, Peel House Mill, Luddenden, Perseverance Mill, Brighouse, Robin Hood Mill, Brighouse, Second West Yorkshire Yeoman Cavalry, Slead Syke Mill, Brighouse, Thornhill Briggs Mill, Upper Mill, Brighouse and Victoria Mills, Brighouse

The Plymouth Brethren
An evangelical Christian group which originated in Dublin in the 1820s.

See Alma Street Meeting Room, Halifax and John Crossley

An industrial disease of the lungs caused by the inhalation of irritant mineral or metallic particles.

See Silicosis

Pneumonic plague
See Bubonic plague

A bag or a sack.

The expression to buy a pig in a poke refers to the sale of an animal – purporting to be a pig – unseen in a closed sack. The fraud would be revealed when the cat was left out of the bag

A unit of length, equivalent to 5½ yards.

See Perch, Rod and Yorkshire pole

Pole Screen
A small adjustable screen mounted on a pole. It stood front of an open fire to shield a lady's face from the heat, thus avoiding her complexion from becoming discoloured

Until the 1830s, law and order was the responsibility of the parish constables. In 1828, Sir Robert Peel reformed the police force in Britain. In 1839, a law was passed enabling magistrates to establish a police force in their counties, and the County & Borough Police Act [1856] required them to establish a force.

See Constable and Special Constable

Aka Polio and Infantile paralysis. A viral infection of the central nervous system affecting the nerves which activate the muscles. Common in children. Paralysis is seen in about 1% of cases, and the disease is life-threatening only if the muscles of the throat and chest are affected.

There were several outbreaks of the disease in the district in 1933 and in July 1947.

This was common in the 19th century. Vaccination is now available. Sufferers were once placed in an iron lung respirator. Children – and others – wearing calipers to support their limbs, were a familiar sight in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1960, the Chain Telephone campaign was launched to publicise the disease

Poll Books
Before the secret ballot introduced by the Ballot Act [1872], these were published after every election and showed the names of the electors and the candidate for whom each voted

Poll Tax
In 1377, a head tax of

  • One groat – 4d – on all persons between 12 and 60 years of age

  • Priests and beggars, exempt

  • Married couples, 4d

  • Tradesmen, 6d

  • Merchants, 1 shilling

In 1379, a graded tax was introduced ranging from 10 marks for the Duke of Lancaster to one groat for a common labourer. In 1380, it was changed to 3 groats – 1 shilling – and was levied on the entire male population, regardless of property. The tax was due in January and June.

Poll-tax collectors were frequently attacked, and because of wide-spread evasion of payment in January, the government decided to collect the June 1381 instalment immediately. This sparked off the Peasants' Revolt of 1381.

The tax was increased in 1660, 1667, 1678, 1689, 1691, 1694 and 1697.

There are few surviving document recording payment of the tax.

It was re-introduced in 1989 as the Community Charge

The town was notorious for its smoke and pollution, and the view from Beacon Hill was used in many films of northern, kitchen-sink dramas in the 1950s-1960s. In 1961, the Chief Public Health Inspector for Halifax, commenting on the town's reputation as the devil's cauldron, said that if the soot deposited over one square mile, over a period of ??, were piled into an area of 10 square feet, it would be higher than Halifax Town Hall.

See Beacon Hill and Clean Air Act

The illegal retrieval of impounded animals

Aka Bridge money. A charge which was imposed to pay for the building and maintenance of the bridges of a town

Pontefract, Siege of
In April 1645, Lord Fairfax lay siege to the Royalist garrison during the Civil War.

See Captain Nathan Drake, Captain William Eden and Abraham Sunderland

Poor apprentice
A pauper child who was sent into domestic service by the parish churchwarden or the Overseer of the Poor.

Between 1601 and 1834, a child without parents was often put into an apprenticeship in order to relieve the burden on parish funds.

See Apprentice

Poor Law
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the work of caring for the poor and needy fell to other authorities, notably the parishes. A system for the relief of the poor was established by a number of Poor Laws and Poor Law Amendment Acts.

Because of the Industrial Revolution, more people came into the towns and cities. After the Napoleonic Wars, the Poor Law Act [1834] was passed, replacing all earlier legislation. This enabled the formation of Poor Law Unions.

See Able-bodied, Halifax Poor Law Union, Idle poor, Impotent poor, The Leeds Intelligencer, Out-poor relief [1787], Poor rate and Vagrants

Poor Law Guardians

Poor Law riots
Following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, parochial relief was abolished and replaced by more cost-effective workhouses. The new Act was violently opposed in the north of England where unemployment was widespread – and many union workhouses were burned and pulled down by mobs.

On 16th November 1838, there were violent scenes in Mankinholes, and on 21st November 1838, there were riots at Todmorden

Poor Law Union
The Poor Law Amendment Act [1834] allowed several parishes to form Unions. There eventually 643 such Unions across England and Wales.

In January 1837, the large parish of Halifax, with two adjoining townships, was formed into two Unions, for the maintenance of the poor. The Halifax Poor Law Union comprises the 10 townships of the Halifax Parochial District, the 8 townships of the Elland Parochial Chapelry, and the township of Hartshead-cum-Clifton, in the parish of Dewsbury.

The Halifax Board of Guardians comprised 31 persons; of whom, 5 were elected for Halifax, three for Northowram, 2 each for Southowram, Elland-cum-Greetland, Hipperholme-cum-Brighouse, Ovenden, Warley, and Sowerby; and 1 for each of the other townships.

The Hebden Bridge Union comprised the 5 townships of Heptonstall Parochial Chapelry, and the town and chapelry of Todmorden.

See Gilbert Unions, Out-poor relief [1787], Poor Law, Todmorden Poor Law Union and Union Workhouses

Poor rate
A tax or rate imposed on rate-payers by the parish for the support of the poor, under the Poor Law.

Spending on the Poor Law was about £4m [1800] and £7m [1830].

In January 1907, there were disturbances in Todmorden when passive resisters refused to pay the educational part of their Poor Rate.

See Workhouse, Out-poor relief [1787], Passive Resister and Poor Law

Used in place names – such as Popples Bottom, Slack, Popples, Holmfield, Popples, Illingworth, and Popplewell Charities,Lower Popplewells, Warley - the element indicates a connection with wells and water and means a bubbling spring

Population of Calderdale
The Foldout shows the population for Britain and for various communities in the Calder Valley.

See Halifax Improvements Acts

A genetic disorder which is characterised by discoloured red/brown urine, extreme sensitivity to light, epilepsy, and bouts of mental disorder. It is known as the Royal disease because Mary Queen of Scots, James I, and George III suffered from porphyria

Portable soup
Dried soup made for travellers

A heavy dark brown beer brewed from browned or charred malt. Stout is a stronger version. The name may derive from its popularity with porters in London. It was popular in the 19th century.

See Thomas Collinson and Half & half

Aka Porty.

A unit of counting warp threads. This may be around 35, although it varied from district to district.

See Pick

A drink made from milk curdled with wine, ale or vinegar

Post horse
A horse which was stabled at a posting house and could be used for post-riders or hired by travellers

The period immediately following the mediæval period

Born after the death of the father

Posting house
These were introduced around 1600.

See Post horse and Pubs & Inns

Pot o' Four
The pot or cylindrical iron stove in which four men could heat their wool-combing implements at one time. The pot typically measured about 16 inches in diameter and stood 16 inches high.

This has been a popular name for a public house.

An unsociable person was called a pot o' one

Potato famine
[1845-1852] A period of starvation in Ireland caused by potato blight which destroyed the main food crop for one-third of the population. This led to deaths and mass migration with much of the Irish moving to England and the Americas. These reduced the population by about one-quarter, from which the country has never recovered.

See Tim Cowbrain and Irish immigrants

Pots, potters & potteries

Poultry breeding

A unit of weight equal to 16 ounces = 0·4536 kilogram. Abbreviated to lb.

The pound unit of currency was originally based on the value of a pound weight of pure silver.

The pound is still valid as a unit for trade in the UK, following legislation of 1994/5 which replaced some imperial units by metric units

The stretch of water between two locks on a canal

Basic unit of currency before decimalisation and after

An enclosure for confining stray and wandering animals and cattle. This might be an open-air pound overt or a roofed pound covert. A pinder or a pounder was an official in charge of a pound

Pound breach
Owners who illegally removed their animals from the pinfold or bribed the pinder, were guilty of pound breach and fined or sentenced to hard labour

Pound lock
The familiar canal lock comprising a rectangular chamber of brick or stone with gates at either end and a separate means of letting water in at the higher end and out at the lower end, allowing boats to float from one level to another.

These replaced the earlier flash locks

A tax which was based upon the weight of goods

Power loom
Invented for use in the cotton industry in 1784, by Edmund Cartwright, the power loom mechanised weaving and paved the way to mass production in both the woollen and the cotton industry.

It was a large and clumsy device which required 2 strong men to work it.

A more successful version made entirely of metal was produced by William Horrocks in 1803. This was further improved by Sharpe and Roberts in 1822. Anti-power-loom riots of 1826 hindered the introduction of power weaving.

In the 1820s-1830s, when they first appeared in worsted mills, there were fewer than 3000 power looms in Yorkshire; by 1841, this had increased to 11,000; by 1850, this had increased to 30,000. Their use in woollen and silk mills saw similar growth.

See Erasmus Bigelow and George Collier

Property of the Templars or the Hospitallers.

The preceptory of the Knights Hospitallers at Beverley was one of the wealthiest in the country before the Dissolution

Large numbers of prefabricated homes were built to house the growing population and to meet the demand for homes in the middle of the 20th century.

Although many were intended to be temporary, some are still in use today.

Les Piggin writes

The first prefabs were built at Haley Hill in 1946 and other estates soon followed, at Illingworth, Ovenden and Sowerby Bridge (where some still remain).

They were remarkable for their time having 2 bedrooms, fitted bathrooms and kitchens and solid fuel room heaters, far better accommodation than most people had at that time.

They were originally meant to last for just 10 years, but in 1957 they were given an indefinite extension of life.

However, by 1963 the Council claimed that problems with many of the roofs would be too costly to repair and they were doomed.

We lived in a prefab at the corner of Illingworth Road and Occupation Lane from May 1947 to about May 1963. Soon after this all the prefabs were pulled down, deemed too expensive to repair. We moved just on Illingworth Road to Whitehill Crescent, where I lived until 1969.

I can recall Illingworth before 1955, when it was still mainly open fields


See Housing estates

Promotion to a more responsible / senior position

A Christian Protestant movement established around 1560 which advocated a national church in which there were no bishops, where congregations elected clergy, there is no compulsory form of worship, and each congregation is governed by a group of clerical and/or lay elders or presbyters who replaced church courts.

See United Reformed Church, Eastwood Presbyterian Chapel, Stansfield, Hill End Presbyterian Church, Mixenden and Northgate Presbyterian Church, Halifax

Presentation Brothers
A group of Catholic laymen established in 1802 to work with the young, the homeless and the elderly.

See Shibden Industrial School

A mediæval payment for fishing rights

A group of men who forcibly recruited men into the army, the navy or other military group

Click the icon to go to a website which compares the worth of money at selected dates in history.

The calculated figures may not accurately reflect the prices of land and houses which have increased disproportionately

A wooden peg or skewer which was used to fix the bundles of cloth or wool into a fadge. These were about 4 ins long

Priest Hole
A small room or closet in which Catholic priests might hide at times from the 16th century when they were being persecuted.

Some local buildings have/had these, including East Riddlesden Hall and Nether House, Hove Edge

Primary sources
Original documents or records which have not been altered in any way since the time that they were written.

See Secondary source and Source

Prime Ministers

Primitive Methodism
The main body of Methodists from 1810, until the Methodist Union was established in 1832.

See Abraham Crossley and Wesleyan Methodism

The right or custom by which land or a title passes to the eldest son.

See Gavelkind, Partible inheritance, Royal succession and Ultimogeniture

Princess Mary
[1897-1965] Princess Royal, Countess of Harewood. Only daughter of George V.

See Princess Mary High School

Princess Royal
Title awarded to the eldest daughter of the monarch.

The list of those who held the title has included

Printing on cloth
Some textiles – such as calico – had the design printed on them. Such mills needed large quantities of water for the process and were built near streams and rivers

Aka Gaol. There were several prisons, dungeons or lockups, of which some buildings still survive.

Lockups are recorded at a cellar in Old Market [around 1660], the Debtors' Gaol in Gaol Lane, the dungeon in Dungeon Street, the Debtors' Prison in Gaol Lane and Hanson Lane [19th century], Elland Prison, Illingworth Gaol, Brighouse towser, Rastrick towser, and at Southowram.

See Workhouse and Punishment

Prison hulk
A floating prison in which convicts might be held prior to transportation.

They were decommissioned ships, often warships, moored in the Thames estuary, off Portsmouth and elsewhere.

The prisoners on board were kept in irons.

The Prison Hulk Registers and Letter Books record the names of persons incarcerated aboard these vessels.

These were no longer used after the 1850s

Prison records
Some gaols kept records of felons and prisoners. From November 1871, when systematic photography of convicted prisoners began, these may include photographs

Private grave
A grave which has been bought for exclusive use of the owner. The owner – or his heirs – can decide who shall be buried in the grave.

See Public grave

The process of establishing that a will is valid.

See Effects, Estate and Resworn

Probate Inventory
See Inventory, Personal chattels and Probate

Probate petition
A petition asking for authority to settle or wind up an estate

Prodigy house
A large country house such as were built in Elizabethan and Jacobean times

A name for incidence of diarrhoea.

See Cholera

Project Gutenberg
A website which presents old books and texts for reading and/or downloading

Promissory notes
These were used extensively in the 18th century on account of the scarcity of small coins.

See Banknotes and Foreign coins

Proni ventri
A swollen or distended stomach

Proprietary Church

The period 1653-1659 after the Civil War when the country was ruled by the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell [1653-1658], and his son Richard Cromwell [1658-1659]

Protestation returns
In 1641/2, in order to identify any Roman Catholics, adult men were required, by order of the House of Commons, to take an oath of allegiance to live and die for the true Protestant religion. Those who signed – or who refused to sign – were recorded in Protestation Returns for each parish.

In 2017, it was announced that the Returns are to be digitised

Prove a will
Wills were proved in ecclesiastical courts in order to determine that the document truly reflected the last wishes of the deceased. These were held at Canterbury or at York because the wills were regarded as religious documents, in which the testator commended his soul to God.

The Court of Probate was established in 1858

Provisions of Oxford
A set of provisions issued by Henry III in 1258 under pressure from Simon de Montfort and the baronial opposition. They provided for the establishment of a baronial council to run the government, carry out reforms, and keep a check on royal power

Provisions of Westminster
A set of reforms issued by the Parliament that met at Westminster on 13th October 1259. They were forced on Henry III by his rebellious barons, and forbade the king to grant lands, castles, or offices of state to foreigners. These provisions were a further step following the more radical Provisions of Oxford

/ Proximo.

The abbreviation is used to mean next month, as in

The meeting will be held on the 21st prox. 

See Inst and Ult

Aka Prodeshommes. A term used to refer to a particular subset of the urban population, and generally meaning townsmen or citizens.

The word comes from the Latin probi homines meaning reputable men

A type of cloth.

Records for Akroyd's mill show that they produced the fabric in 1798

A book of psalms

Public grave
A grave which is owned by cemetery authority. The authority decides who shall be buried in the grave – thus the interments will not necessarily be related.

See Private grave

Public House Closing Act [1864]
The Act required that pubs close between 1 am and 4 am. Prior to the Act, pubs and inns were able to stay open 24 hours a day

Public Record Office
Abbr: PRO.

A central depository for all rolls, records, writs, books, proceedings, decrees, bills, warrants, accounts, papers, and documents belonging to the Crown. Established after the Public Record Act [1838]. The PRO was in Chancery Lane in London, until 1995, when it moved to Kew

Pudding, Tom

Puddle clay
Clay, thoroughly mixed with water, sand or gravel, so that it becomes watertight. The term puddling refers to the process of lining the bed and sides of a canal with this clay

The term was introduced in 1762 by James Brindley who taught his workmen how to do this by digging it with their heels. The mixture was also pounded by horses or navvies wearing puddling-boots.

The English landscape gardener, Capability Brown [1715-1783] used cattle to trample the clay

A raised platform / lectern which was used in places of worship – churches & chapels – for preaching and leading the congregation in prayer.

Some pulpits had platforms at several levels – such as the 3-decker pulpit in Elland Parish Church.

There may be a canopy or sounding board above the pulpit to amplify and project the speaker's voice.

See Chapels (Nonconformist), Coley Church Pulpit, Sowerby Parish Church Pulpit and Wesley's Pulpit

See Knur & spell

A unit of 72 gallons

See Crimes & criminals, Murders, Birch, Ducking stool, Hard labour, Iron cage, Prison, Stocks, Transportation and Whipping

Punishment room
Some large houses of the 17th / 18th century often had a punishment room which was used to imprison servants who had misbehaved. Typically, this would be a small closet or cupboard with a heavy locked door. There might be a horizontal, narrow slot in the door to pass a plate of food through to the servant

Punitive Expedition to Benin
[1897] Admiral Sir Harry Holdsworth Rawson led the British Force of 1,200 on the successful Punitive Expedition to Benin. The Expedition was in retaliation for the killing of a party of Britons who had gone to the Kingdom of Benin in West Africa to demand an end to customs duties imposed on British traders by the ruler of Benin. The British captured, burned and looted the city of Benin, now in Nigeria.

The expedition apparently ...

... put an end to human sacrifices and other horrors then perpetrated by the natives

Many of those who took part in the Expedition brought home many of the country's treasures as trophies – including the famous Benin Bronzes.

See Ashanti Wars

Punjab Medal
Awarded to those who served in the Punjab Campaign of 1848-1849 in India

A religious group of the 16th/17th century which rejected the ceremonies and services of the Church of England for a simpler, purer form.

During the Civil War, the Puritans supported the Parliamentary cause.

See Quakers

Ale, often warmed and with added gin and spices. This was a popular drink in the late 19th century

Aka Spotted fever. A rash caused by spontaneous bleeding below the skin. A popular name for meningococcal meningitis

Aka Purprestura. Land which has been obtained by encroachment on – or enclsoure of – common land, waste land or woodland

An heraldic term referring to the colour purple

A follower of the ideas of Edward Bouverie Pusey [1800-1882]

Putrid fever
Aka Jail fever, was a form of typhus. The name was also used for small pox

The practice of distributing yarn and other materials to individuals and families, for handloom weaving and production of the finished pieces of cloth.

This exploited the weaver's capacity as it required 5 or 6 spinners and several carders to support one weaver.

Records show that Jonathan Akroyd and other local manufacturers sent wool to North Yorkshire, and to Preston and other parts of Lancashire to be spun.

A similar system operated in the cutlery industry.

See Taking in

The right of a forester to take food for man, horse and dog within the forest without payment.

See Hook


© Malcolm Bull 2017 / [email protected]
Revised 18:05 on 19th December 2017 / b113_p / 119