Category Archives: Custom

Custom Printing

11 Blows On His Buttocks

17th Century Printing Press

These fragments come from a contemporaneous description of the methods and customs of a 17th Century Printing House. One shilling was worth about £4, a crown was 5 shillings, and a penny about 35p.

Persons Instrumental about Printing

The Master Printer who is the Soul of Printing; all other workmen about it are as Members of the Body.
The Letter Cutter, the Mould-Maker, the Letter Caster, the Letter Dresser; all called Letter Founders.
The Compositer, the Corrector, the Press-Man, the Ink Maker; all go under the Notion of Printers.

Customs of the Chappel

Every Printing-House is called a Chappel, in which there are these Laws and Customs for the well and good Government of the Chappel, and for the orderly deportment of all its Members while in the Chappel.

Every Workman belonging to it are Members of the Chappel, and the Eldest Freeman is Father of the Chapel; and the Penalty for the Breach of any Law or Custom is in Printers Language called a Solace.

1. Swearing in the Chappel, a Solace.
2. Fighting in the Chappel, a Solace.
3. Abusive Language or giving the Lie in the Chappel, a Solace.
4. To be Drunk in the Chappel, a Solace.
5. For any of the Workmen to leave his Candle burning at Night, a Solace.
6. If a Compositer fall his composing Stick [a sort of wooden ruler] and another take it up, a Solace.
7. For three Letters and a Space to lie under the Compositers Case, a Solace.
8. If a Press-man let fall his Ball or Balls [used to ink the letters] and another take them up, a Solace.
9. If a Press-man leave his Blankets [woolly cloths] in the Timpan [frame] at Noon or Night, a Solace.
10. For any Workman to mention joyning their penny or more a piece to send for Drink, a Solace.
11. To mention spending Chappel Money till Satur-Day Night, or any other before agreed time, a Solace.
12. To play at Quadrats or excite others in the Chappel to play for Money or Drink, a Solace.
13. A Stranger to come to the Kings Printing-House and ask for a Ballad, a Solace.
14. For a Stranger to come to a Compositer and enquire if he had News of such a Galley at Sea, a Solace.
15. For any to bring a Wisp of Hay directed to a Press-man, is a Solace.
16. To call Mettle [metal] Lead in a Founding-House, is a Forfeiture.
17. A Workman to let fall his Mould, a Forfeiture.
18. A Workman to leave his Ladle [for pouring molten metal into moulds] in the Mettle at Noon or at Night, a Forfeiture.

And the Judges of these Solaces or Forfeitures and other Controversies in the Chappel or any of its Members was by Plurality of Votes in the Chappel; it being asserted as a Maxime that the Chappel cannot Err. Now these Solaces or fines were to be bought off for the good of the Chappel, which never exceeded 1 s. 6 d; 4 d; 2 d; 1 d. according to the Nature and Quality thereof.

But if the Delinquent proves obstinate and will not pay, the Workmen takes him by force and lays him on his Belly over the correcting stone and holds him there whilest another with a Paper board gives him 10 l. in a Purse viz. 11 blows on his Buttocks, which he lays on according to his own Mercy.

Customs for Payments of Money

Every new Workman to pay for his Entrance half a Crown, which is called his Benvenue, till then he is no Member, nor enjoys any benefit of Chappel Money.

Every Journeyman that formerly worked at the Chappel and goes away, and afterwards comes again to work pays but half a Benvenue.

If Journeymen Smout one another they pay half a Benvenue.

All Journeymen are paid by their Master Printer for all Church Holy-days that fall not on a Sunday whether they work or no, what they can earn every working day, be it 2. 3. or 4 s.

If a Journeyman Marries, he pays half a Crown to the Chappel.

When his Wife comes to the Chappel she pays 6 d. and then all the Journeymen joyns their 2 d. a piece to make her drink, and to welcome her.

If a Journeyman have a Son born, he pays 1 s. if a Daughter, 6 d.

If a Master-Printer have a Son born, he pays 2 s. 6 d. if a Daughter, 1 s. 6 d.

An Apprentice when he is Bound, pays half a Crown to the Chappel, and when he is made Free, another half Crown: and if he continues to work Journeywork in the same House he pays another, and is then a Member of the Chappel.

It is Customary for all Journeymen to make every Year new Paper Windows about Bartholomew-Tide, at which time the Master Printer makes them a Feast called a Way-Goos, to which is invited the Corrector, Founder, Smith, Ink-maker, &c. who all open their Purses and give to the Workmen to spend in the Tavern or Ale-House, after the Feast. From which time they begin to work by Candle light.

The Printers, Journeymen, with the Founders and Ink-makers have every Year a general Feast, which is kept in the Stationers Hall on or about May-day. It is made by 4 Stewards, 2 Masters, and 2 Journeymen; and with the Collection of half a Crown a piece of every Guest: the charges of the whole Feast is defrayed.

About 10 of the Clock in the Morning on the Feast day the Company invited meet at the place apointed, and from thence go to some Church thereabouts in this follow|ing Order. First, 4 Whifflers (as Servitures) by two and two walking before with white Staves in their Hands, and red and blew Ribbons hung Belt-wise upon their Shoulders: these makes way for the Company.

Then walks the Beadle of the Company of Stationers, with the Companies Staff in his Hand, and Ribbons as afore.

Then the Minister, whom the Stewards have engaged to Preach the Sermon· and his Reader or Clerk.

Then the Stewards walks by two and two with long white Wands in their Hands, and all the rest of the Company follows in like order till they enter the Church &c. Service ended, and a Sermon for the occasion finished, they all return to their Hall in the same order, where upon their entrance each Guest delivers his Ticket to a Person appointed, which gives him admittance; where every one Feast himself with what he likes best, being delighted all the while with Musicks and Songs, &c.

After Dinner the Ceremony of Electing new Stewards for the next Year begins: then the Stewards withdraw into another Room, and puts Garlands of Laurel or Box on their Heads, and white Wands in their Hands, and are Ushered out of the withdrawing Room thus; first, the Companies Beadle with his Staff in his Hand, and Musick sounding before him, then followed one of the Whifflers with a great Bowl of White-wine and Sugar in his right Hand, and his Staff in the left, after him follows the eldest Steward.

Then another Whiffler as aforesaid, before the second Steward: in like manner another Whiffler before the third; and another before the fourth Steward.

And thus they walk with Musick sounding before them three times round the Hall, and in the fourth round, the first Steward takes the Bowl from his Whiffler and Drinks to one (whom before he resolved on) by the Title of Mr. Steward Elect: and taking the Garland of his own Head, puts it on the Steward Elects Head, at which all the Company claps their Hands in token of Joy.

Then the present Steward takes out the Steward elect, and Walks with him hand in hand, (giving him the right Hand) behind the three other Stewards another round the Hall; and in the next round as aforesaid, the second Steward Drinks to another with the same Ceremony as the first did; and so the third, and so the fourth. And then all walks one round more hand in hand about the Hall, that the Company may take Notice of the Stewards Elect: and so ends the Ceremony of the Day.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved
Custom Men Swordplay

The true Arte of Defence

Yesterday I had the good fortune to witness a display of Elizabethan sword-fighting. The display, which took place outside in the sunshine, consisted of three very skilled (and very tall) men in protective (Elizabethan-style) clothing demonstrating a variety of Elizabethan swordplay techniques. I had imagined the spectacle would resemble the sword-fights I’ve seen in the theatre; all breathless energy and nimble footwork. The reality was very different, much more sedate, (although this was in part due to the fact it was a demonstration; in the video below it’s much faster). The combatants approached each other slowly, and with caution, which makes a great deal of sense since both are holding potentially lethal weapons. The footwork was steady, no sudden Errol Flynn leaps forward. Balance is very important, since in a serious sword-fight, tripping over a clump of grass is liable to offer an opponent an easy victory. Initially the group demonstrated some defensive practise exercises, which when combined together formed a sort of martial arts dance. Less like fighting, more like balletic fencing. The object is to defend at all possible times while looking for an opening in an opponent’s defence; a simple mistake can lead to a fatal wound. Much to my surprise hands formed a large part of the defence; thrusting at an opponent with the sword in one hand, using the other hand to block their blade. According to the lead swordsman, in Elizabethan England duelling often occurred without gloves or any protective clothing, and it is impossible to imagine any gentleman walking away unscathed after such an encounter.

From simple defensive exercises, the display moved on to double-weapon combat, in which each man fought with a sword and a dagger. The dagger, much larger than the one which usually dances before Macbeth’s eyes, serves much as the hand had done in the earlier exercises, to defend, but is naturally more robust, and can also be used to attack as well as block. The combination of the sword and the dagger together was compelling, and as the impressive display picked up pace, the air was filled with the authentic clink and whoosh as dagger met dagger and blades cut the air.

Finally came the spears. The most dangerous of the weapons on display; longer than a sword, but with the added advantage of maintaining considerable distance between opponents, which puts the man armed only with a sword or dagger at a distinct disadvantage. It wasn’t hard to understand why the many descriptions of atrocities and massacres which occurred in early modern Europe involved these deadly weapons; babies spiked on the ends of spears is a recurring image in texts concerned with religious and political bloodshed. Spears were almost certainly used in serious fights to the death and armed combat. The elegant swords meanwhile would often be used in duelling, which has a long and complex history and was used to settle disputes and recover honour. Surprisingly, losing a duel didn’t equate with loss of honour. In fact quite the opposite. The very fact a man elected to duel demonstrated his bravery. Duelling to the death was also surprisingly uncommon. The intention was to display virility and masculinity, not to butcher one’s opponent. In fact it was rare for a man to be killed in a duel, although several sensational duels did end in death.

After the display we were invited to handle (cautiously) the replica Elizabethan swords. Weighing a few kilos each, they were much heavier than they appeared; I was barely able to lift a sword off the ground, let alone wield it over my head. The dagger was easier to manage, shorter, obviously, and less heavy. It had a rounded end and a hefty hilt, and dangling it at my side I tried to imagine what it must have been like to have something of that weight permanently suspended from a belt. The larger sword would have been impossible to wear casually, and even in a hilt it would have been considerably dangerous and impractical. The display taught me much about the reality of swords and swordplay in Shakespeare’s England. Actors like Shakespeare would also have handled these weapons, whether on the stage, or to protect themselves on the mean streets of London. Ben Jonson killed the actor Gabriel Spenser in a duel, and perhaps Shakespeare walked along bankside to the Globe with a dagger clinking at his side.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved
Clothing Conversation Custom London

Will you weare any weapons to daye?

More entertaining conversation from John Florio. This time a man visits his friend at home and waits while he dresses. Florio provides some really lovely detail about clothing, and gives us a glimpse into the daily lives of Londoners in late 16th Century London. The conversation takes place between Mr Nolano, Mr Torquato, and the servant, Ruspa. It is entitled ‘of rising in the morning, and of things belonging to the chamber’.

Nolano: What ho, M Torquato, will you lye a bed all day?
Torquato: Who is there? Who calleth me? Who asketh for me?
Nolano: A friend of yours. Are you up?
Torquato: M Nolano, I pray you, excuse me. Ile be with you by and by.
Nolano: Rise at your leisure, for I will stay for you.
Torquato: The doore is open, will it please you to come in?
Norlano: God give you good morrow.
Torquato: The like to you, you are very heartily welcome.
Norlano: Are you not ashamed to lie a bed so long?
Torquato: I was not asleep, I was slumbering.
Norlano: How have you rested this night?
Torquato: Well, but I have had many dreadfull dreames. What ho, Ruspa, come hither, where art thou? What art thou doing?
Ruspa: Here I am. What lacke you?
Torquato: Open that window and give me my clothes.
Ruspa: What apparell will you have this day?
Torquato: First give me a clean shirt, one of the fine ones.
Ruspa: There are but two that be cleane.
Torquato: Where be all the others?
Ruspa: The laundress hath fix of them.
Torquato: Dispatch and give me a shirt.
Ruspa: With what band with you have it?
Torquato: With a falling band [a band or flat collar worn around the neck].
Ruspa: There is none.
Tarquato: Give me one with ruffes then.
Ruspa: Here is one with ruffes.
Tarquato: Give me my wastecote.
Ruspa: Which will you have, that of flannell?
Tarquato: No, give me that which is knit.
Ruspa: What sute of apparell will you weare today?
Torquato: That of white satten, laide on with gold lace.
Ruspa: That lacks I know not how many buttons.
Torquato: Set them on then by and by.
Ruspa: I have neither needle, thred, nor thimble.
Tarquato: Mr Nolano, think not the time long, Ile be with you presently.
Nolano: In the meane while I will reade this booke.

Here follows an inventory of all Tarquato’s clothes. Presumably to assist the reader in learning the Italian names. He owns:

A long gown furr’d with Martines, a furr’d gown, a night gown of chamlet [a fabric made from Angora], a rugge gowne, a cloake lined with bayes, a cape cloak of fine cloth, a riding cloake of broad-cloth, two doublets, one coate, one velvet Jerkin, one Spanish leather jerkin, one of beaver and the other of felt, and two velvet caps.

He also owns shoes:

Two payre of bootes, one of Spanish, the other of neates leather, one payre of spurrs, three payre of boote hose, one payre of pumps and pantofles [a sort of indoor shoe], and a payre of night slippers.

The inventory continues with:

A dozen shirtes, two of handkerchers, and as many falling bands of lawne, eight ruffes bandes with their hand cuffs, four towels, six wipers [flannels], eight quoifes [night cap or skull cap], ivory combes, cisors, eare pickers and other knacks [nick nacks].

Back to the conversation:

Ruspa: Will you weare shooes or buskins to daye?
Tarquato: Give me the shooing horne, to pull on my shooes. Tye my poynts [laces] with slyding knotts but not with fast knotts.
Ruspa: What girdle will you have?
Torquato: Reach me that of blew velvet embroydered.
Ruspa: Will you weare any weapons to daye?
Torquato: Give me my sword and dagger.
Ruspa: Take this rapier, for it is lighter.
Torquato: Reach me the combe, to combe my beard.
Ruspa: Everie thing is in the case upon the window.
Torquato: Where be my gloves? I see them not.
Ruspa: You forgot them in some place yesternight.
Torquato: What ho, Ruspa, bring hither some drinke.
Ruspa: What would you have Master?
Torquato: Bring some wine, and a manchet [a loaf of fine bread], and
a napkin. Wash the glasses verie well.
Ruspa: Anon, anon, Ile come by and by.
Torquato: Pour out some wine and give me a drinke.
Nolanto: I marvell how you can drinke so earlie. I drinke very
seldome between meales.
Torquato: It is good to drinke in a morning to charme the mist.
Ruspa: Will your worship have anything else?
Torquato: Give me my cap and gird my sword about me.
Nolano: This cloake becommeth you verie well.
Ruspa: Shall I goe with you?
Torquato: No, dresse up the Chamber and laye everything in his place.
Nolano: I pray you let us lose no more time.
Torquato: I am readie, goe before and I will followe you. What ho, boy,
come after me.
Ruspa: I come, but first I will shut the dore.
Torquato: Lock it with the key
Ruspa: Fast binde, fast finde.
Torquato: And he that shuts well, avoydeth ill luck.

Next time, admiring a man’s lodgings, and a dinner party.

More from Florio: Let us make a match at tennis and Master Andrew, will it please you to eate an egg?


© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

Christmas Custom Entertainment Food Household

We Were All Merry

These fragments come from the water poet John Taylor, and offer a glimpse into typical Christmas Day celebrations in 17th century England.  I’ve also included a carol, published in 1688, which provides further insight into festive food and the all-importance of Ale.  I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to visit Fragments in the last twelve months, and to wish you all a very merry Christmas!

I was presented with a cup of browne Ale, seasoned with Sinamon, Nutmegs, and Sugar.  When dinner was ready, I was set at the upper end of the Table, my owne company set round about me, and the rest ate with the servants.  We had Brawne of their owne feeding, Beefe of their owne killing; we had brave plum broth in bowle-dishes of a quart.  The White-loafe ranne up and downe the Table, like a Bowle in an Alley, every man might have a fling at him.  The March Beere marched up and downe, and we were all merry without the helpe of any Musicians.  We had good cheere, and good welcome which was worth all, for the Good-man of the house did not looke with a sour or stoicall brow, but was full of mirth and alacrity, so that it made the house merry.

Dinner being done, Grace being said, the Cloth taken away, the poore refreshed, we went to the fire, before which lay a store of Apples piping hot, expecting a bowl of Ale to coole themselves in.  Evening Prayer drew nigh, so we all repaired to Church, so went I home againe and passed the time away in discourse while supper, which being ended, we went to Cards. Some sung Carrols, merry songs, some againe to waste the long nights, would tell Winter-tales.  At last came in a company of Maids with Wassell, Wassell, jolly Wassell. I tasted of their Cakes, and supped of their Bowl, and for my sake, the White-loafe and Cheese were set before them, with Mince-Pies, and other meats.  These being gone, the jolly youths and plaine dealing Plow-swaines, being weary of Cards, fell to dancing; from dancing to shew me some Gambols.  Some ventured the breaking of their shinnes to make me sport, some the scalding of their lippes to catch at Apples tied at the end of a sticke, having a lighted candle at the other; some shod the wilde Mare; some at hotcockles, and the like. These Country revels expiring with the night, early in the morning we all tooke our leave of them, being loth to be too troublesome; and rendering them unfained thanks for our good cheere (who still desired that we would stay with them a little longer) we instantly travelled towards the City.

Being entered into it, we saw very few look with a smiling countenance on us, but a few Prentices or Journeymen that were tricked up in their Holiday cloathes. At last the Bells began to ring, every house-holder began to bestirre himselfe, the Maid-servants we saw hurrying to the Cookes shops with Pies, and before we were aware, whole Parishes of people came to invite us to dinner.

 Father Christmas, 1653

(For those who may wonder, nappy, in the context of this carol, means having a foaming head!)

A Carrol for Christmas-day at Night
To the Tune of My Life, and my Death

My Master your Servants
and Neighbours this Night,
are come to be merry,
with love and delight.
Now therefore be Noble,
and let it appear,
that Christmas is still
the best time of the Year.
To sit by the fire,
rehearse an old tale,
and taste of a bumper
of nappy old Ale.

It flows from the Barley,
that fruit of the Earth,
which quickens the fancy,
for pastime and mirth.
And therefore be jolly,
now each bonny Lad,
for we have no reason
at all to be sad.
Remember the season,
and then you’ll ne’er fail,
to bring in a bumper
of nappy brown Ale.

Now some of your dainties
let us freely taste,
my Stomach is ready,
I am now in haste.
And therefore sweet Mistris
I hope you’ll be brief,
to bring out the Sirloin
or Ribs of Roast Beef.
With other choice dainties
I hope you’ll not fail
at this happy season
with nappy brown Ale.

And now let me tell you
what dainties I prize,
I long to be doing
with curious minced-pies,
where plums in abundance
lie crowding for room.
If I come but near it
I’ll tell you its doom,
I’d soon part the quarrel
but hold, let’s not fail
to think of a bumper
of nappy old Ale.

The Pig, Goose and Capon
I’d like to forgot
but yet I do hope they’ll
come all to my lot.
We’ll lay a close siege
to the walls of the Goose,
and storm her strong castle,
there is no excuse
shall hinder our fury,
therefore let’s not fail
to have a full bumper
of nappy old Ale.

All those that are willing
to honour this day,
I hope that they never
will fall to decay;
but always be able
their Neighbours to give,
and keep a good Table
as long as they live.
That love, peace and plenty
with them may ne’er fail
and we may ne’er miss
of good nappy Ale.

Nativity Scene
© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved
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