A glossary of terms and phrases used in the Hundred of Berkeley; this is an extract from The Berkeley Manuscripts, by John Smyth of Nibley [1568–1641]. The manuscript was written between 1618 and 1639, it seems. The edition I have was edited by Sir John Maclean, F.S.A., for the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archæological Society, and published in 1883 in three volumes.

There is also a picture of the title page.

Since the printed book is actually an edition of an older manuscript, the page breaks in the manuscript are marked, and the manuscript pages (folios) numbered.

[folio 20]

Phrases and proverbs of speach proper to this hundred.

In this hundred of Berkeley are frequently vsed certaine words proverbs and phrases of speach, which wee hundreders conceive, (as we doe of certaine market moneyes,) to bee not only native but confined to the soile bounds and territory therof; which if found in the mouthes of any forraigners, wee deeme them as leapt over our wall, or as strayed from their proper pasture and dwellinge place: And doubtles, in the handsome mouthinge of them, the dialect seemes borne of our owne bodies and naturall vnto vs from the breasts of our nurses: with some fewe of which dishes I will heere feast my reader and sport my selfe, vizt.,

  1. A native hundreder, beinge asked where hee was borne, answereth, where shu’d y bee y bore, but at Berkeley hurns, And there, begis, each was y bore. Or thus, Each was ’geboren at Berkeley hurns.

  2. So naturall is the dialect of pronouncinge the ɫreletter (y) betweeene words endinge and beginninge with consonants, that it seemes droppinge from the aire into our mouthes: As, John y Smyth: John y Cole: Sit y downe: I can y finde it: her has y milkt: come y hither: well y said my Tomy: It’s a good y white pott: Each ha kild a ferry vat y hogg: Our sowe does not well y fatt y: hur may y serve for lard y: moder cut y mee some meat: my mal is a good y wench: Watt y ge Tom y some nin y wel y din’d: hur is y gone: I will y goe: Come y my sweet y will y: Th’art my pretty dick y: With thousands the like, accomptinge our selves by such manner of speach to bee true patryots, And true preservers of the honored memory of our old forefathers, Gower, Chauser, Lidgate, Robert de Glouc̃, and others of those and former ages.

  3. The letter (ff) is frequently vsed for v. As fewed for viewed: fowe for vowe: fenison for venison: farnish for varnish: and others the like.

  4. The ɫre (v) is also frequently vsed for (f.) as vethers for fethers: vastinge for fastinge: vowlar for fowlar: venne for fenne: a varthinge for a farthing token: vire for fire: vat for fat venison; So powerfull a prerogative of transplanta ͠co n, have wee hundreders over the Alphabet.

  5. G is often also used for C. As guckowe for cuckowe; grabs for crabs: A guckold for a Cuckhold, and the like.

  6. ffor dust, wee say, doust: rowsty, for rusty: fousty, for fusty, youse for vse: and the like.

  7. Thicke and thucke, for this and that, rush out with vs at every breath. As, d’ont thick way; d’ont thuck way: for, doe it on this way: doe it on that way.

  8. Putton vp, for put it up: putton on thick way: putton on thuck way: setton vp, for set it vp: cutton of, for cut it of; And many the like.

  9. I wou’d it was hild, for I would it were flead, or the skyn of.

  10. y w’ood t’wert hild: for, I would thou were hanged.

  11. Hur goes too blive for me: i.e. shee goes too fast for mee.

  12. fflippant. i.e. slippery, quicke, nimble.

  13. Neighboriden; for neighbourhood in all senses.

  14. Wenchen, for wenches or girles.

  15. [folio 21]

  16. Axen, for ashes

  17. Hur ligs well y bed y this morne; i. shee sleepes a napp of nyne houres.

  18. I can beteeme shee any thinge. i.e. I can deny her nothinge.

  19. What? wil’t y pisse a bed. i.e. what will you pisse your bed:

  20. Sheeme bene heere a numbers while. i.e. mee seemes I have byn heere a longe while.

  21. Beanes thick yeare are orribly hong’d. i.e. Beanes this yeare are horribly codded.

    Note: Shorter OED has cod = to produce pods, to gather pods (of peas), but I don’t understand horribly codded. Bailey’s (1736) also has cod = a pod. Johnson and Grose concur. Horribly could mean `excessively’, and hong is the obsolete past tense of to hang, so maybe it means there are lots of large pods on the beans. I’m flummoxed. Liam

Proverbs peculiar to this Hundred.

  1. Hee’s like an Aprill shoure, that wets the stone 9 times in an houre. Hee’s like a feather on an hill.—Applyed to an vnconstant man.

  2. Hee is an hughy proud man, hee thinkes himselfe as great as my lord Berkeley.—Our simple ancient honesties knewe not a greater to make comparison by, when this proverbe first arose.

  3. Hee’l proove, I thinke, a man of Durseley. i.e. A man that will promise much but performe nothinge.—This (now dispersed over England,) tooke roote from one Webb a great Clothier dwellinge in Durseley in the daies of Queen Mary, as also was his father in the time of kinge Henry the viijth.; vsinge to buy very great quantities of wooll out of most counties of England; At the waighinge whereof, both father and sonne, (the better to drawe on their endes,) would ever promise out of that parcell a gowncloth peticote cloth apron or the like, to the good wife or her daughters, but never paid any thinge: Old Edward Greene vicar of Berkeley, in the first of kinge James, vsinge this proverbe in his sermon there, whereat many of Dursley were present, had almost raised a tumult amongst his auditory, whereof my selfe was one.

    Note: Queen Mary reigned 1553–1558; K. James (I) 1603–1625, 1st. James is 1603/4

  4. Hee seekes for stubble in a fallowe feild, i.e. hee looseth his labour. Or, as wee otherwise speake, seekes for a needle in a bottle of hay.

  5. No pipe noe puddinge: In the like sense as, No penny no pater noster. Or as, Carmina si placeant, fac nos gaudere palato. Now thou my penny hast, of the musicke let mee tast.

  6. Hee that feares every grasse must never pisse in a meadowe. In like sense as, A faint hart never won a faire lady.

    Note: Also in Bailey’s

  7. Hee that’s cooled with an Apple, and heated with an egge, Over mee shall never spread his legg̃.—A widowe’s wanton proverbe.

  8. Neighbor, w’are sure of faire weather, each ha beheld this morne, Abergainy hill.—A frequent speach with vs of the hilly part of this hundred; and indeed that little picked hill in Wales over that Towne is a good Alminake maker; whereof my selfe have often made vse in my husbandry.

  9. Hee is very good at a white pott.—By white pot, wee westerne men doe meane a great custard or puddinge baked in a bagg, platter, kettle, or pan: Notinge heerby, a good trencher man, or great eater.

  10. I must play Benall with you. A frequent speach when the guest, im̄ediately after meat, without any stay departeth.

  11. A great houskeeper is sure of nothing for his good cheare, save a great Turd at his gate. I wish this durty proverbe had never prevailed in this hundred, havinge from thence banished the greater halfe of our ancient hospitallity.

  12. My catt is a good moushunt.—An vsuall speach when wee husbands com̄end the diligence of our wives. Wee hundreders maintaininge as an orthodox position, That hee that sometimes flattereth not his wife can̄ot alwaies please her.

  13. Quicklye prickes the tree, that a sharpe thorne will bee.—In like sence, as elsewhere.—Soone crookes the tree, that a good cambrell will bee. Contrary to that wicked one—A younge saint an old Devill.

  14. Day may bee discerned at a little hole.—Diversly and not vnaptly applied.

  15. [folio 24]

  16. The gray mare is the better horse.—meaninge, that the most master goeth breechlesse: i. when the silly husband must aske his wife, whether it shall bee a bargaine or not.

  17. Money is noe foole, if a wise man have it in keepinge.—Alludinge to the old com̄on saying,—That a foole and his money are soone parted.

  18. When wheat lies long in bed, it riseth with an heavy head. When wheat is sowne in October or November, and by reason of an heavy furrowe cast vpon it, or other accident of nyppinge wether, shewes not above ground till December or January, Our plowmen say It will at harvest have the greater eare; But, (by the leave of my fellow ploughmen and theire proverbe,) I thinke both they and my selfe bury neere halfe the seed wee sowe in that manner, that never riseth.

  19. Dip not thy finger in the morter, nor seeke thy penny in the water.—Lord Coke, cheife Justice, in the yeare 1613, brought this into that hundred at the maryage of the lady Theophila Berkeley to Sir Robert his eldest sonne, which since is growne frequent. A prudent dehortation from buildings and water-workes. ffor my follies in both, I may be iustly indited.

  20. Hee’s like the master Bee that leades forth the swarme.—Alludinge to the prime man of a parish, to whose will all the rest agree.

  21. Hee mends like sowre ale in som̄er. i.e. Hee growes from nought to worse.

  22. Hee hath offered his candle to the divell.—This (now com̄on) thus arose; Old ffillimore of Cam, goinge in Anno 1584, to [pre]sent Sr Tho. Throgm: of Tortworth with a sugar lofe, met by the way with his neighbor S. M: who demanded whither and vpon what busines hee was goinge, answered, To offer my candle to the Divill: which com̄inge to the eares of Sr Tho: At the next muster hee sent two of ffillimores sonnes soldiers into the Low countries, where the one was slayne and the other at a deere rate redeemed his returne.

  23. Be-gis,, be-gis, it’s but a mans fancy.—A frequent speach which thus arose: William Bower of Hurst ffarme, had each second yeare one or more of his maidservants with childe, whom, with such portions as hee bestowed vpon them, hee maryed either to his menservants, (perhaps also sharers with him,) or to his neighbors sonnes of meaner ranke: Some yeares past, it was demaunded of A: Cl: why hee beinge of an estate in wealth well able to live, would marry one of Bowers double whores, (for by her hee had had two bastards,) whereto A. Cl: soberly replyed, Begys, Begys, its but a mans fancy, Its but a mans fancy: meaninge, &c. take which of the constructions you please; In both senses it’s com̄on with vs hundreders.

  24. Gett him a wife, get him a wife. W. Quinten of Hill havinge a pestilent angry and vnquiet wife, much more insultinge over his milde nature then Zantippe over Socrates, was oft enforced to shelter himselfe from those stormes, to keepe his chamber: whence, hearinge his neighbors complayninge of the vnrulines of their towne bull, whom noe mounds would keepe out from spoilinge of their corne feilds, the bull then bellowing̃ before them, and they then in chasinge him towards the com̄on pound; peepinge out of his chamber windowe, cryed to them; Neighbors, Neighbors, gett him a wife, gett him a wife; meaninge, That by that meanes hee would bee made quiett and tamed as himselfe was: from whence this proverbe (nowe frequent) first arose.

  25. [folio 25]

  26. If once againe I were Jacke Tomson or John Tomson, I would never after bee good man Tomson while I lived: Hence this, thus: This Jacke Tomson soe called till sixteene, and after John Tomson till hee maryed at 24, was the only jovyall and frolicke younge man at merry meetings and Maypoles in all Beverston, where hee dwelled: After his maryage, (humors at home not well settlinge betweene him and his wife,) hee lost his mirth and began to droope, which one of his neighbors often observinge, demanded vpon a fit opportunity, the cause of his bad cheare and heavy lookes; wherto, hee sighing gave this answere: Ah neighbor, if once againe I were either Jacke Tompson or John Tomson, I would never bee goodman Tomson while I lived: This story I derived from Wi{ll-tilde}m Bower the elder, the old Bayle of this hundred, vpon whose kinsman the instance was; And from whome his owne case dissented but little.

    Note: Note: {ll-tilde} should be a double letter ell with a single tilde going through both of the at about the x-height. It markes an abbreviation for William Bower the elder.

  27. Hee drew it as blith as a Robin reddocke: vizt., As a robin redbrest.

  28. Ch’am woodly agreezd. vzt., I am wonderfully grieved.

  29. When Westridge wood is motley, then its time to sowe barley.

  30. Hee’s well served, for hee hath oft made orts of better hay; Orts is the coarse butt end of hay which beasts leave in eatinge of their fodder: This proverbe is applyed to man or woman who refusinge many good offers in maryage, either in greatnes of portion or comlines of person, At last it makes choice of much lesse or worse.


    Hee hath sold a beane and bought a peaze; } Reproaches
    Hee hath sold a pound and bought a penny; to an vnthrifty
    Hee hath sold Bristoll and bought Bedminster; man.
  32. Beware, Clubs are trumps; Or clubs will prove trumps. A caution for the maids to bee gone for their Mistresses anger hath armed her with a cudgell: Or, to the silly husband to bee packinge, for his wife draweth towards her altitude.

  33. Hee’s a true chipp of the old blocke. Like sonne like father.

  34. All the maids in Wanswell may dance in an egg shell. I hold this a lying̃ proverbe at this day; it slandereth some of my kindred that dwell there.

  35. Hee has met with an hard Winter. Alludinge to one reco[ver]ed from a pinchinge sicknesse: or to a beast cast down with hardness of fare.

  36. Simondsall sauce, vsuall To note a guest bringinge an hungry appetite to our table: Or when a man eates little, to say hee wants some of Simondsall sauce: The farme of Simondsall stands on the highest place and purest aire of all that country: If any scitua ͠co n, could promise longe and healthy daies I would thence expect it: provided I have a good woodpile for winter.

  37. Simondsall newes. The clothiers horsecarriers and wainmen of this hundred who weekly frequent London, knowinge by ancient custome, That the first question, (after welcome home from London,) is What news at London; Doe vsually gull vs with feigned inventions, devised by them vpon those downes; wheich wee either then suspectinge vpon the report, or after findinge false, wee cry out, Simondsall newes. A generall speach betweene each coblers teeth.

  38. Hee is as milde as an hornett. Meaninge a very waspe in tongue or trade; This proverbe I have from my wife, a true Cowleian, and naturall bred hundredor; A proverbe as frequent with her, as chidinge with her maides.

  39. [folio 26]

  40. Poorly sitt, ritchly warme; when on an high chaire wee sit before the fire the legs are only warmed: but sittinge on a poore lowe stoole, then thighes belly breast & bosome face & head take benefitt & are warmed. Howbeit wee hundredors sometimes metaphorize this proverbe into a prudent counsell, directinge our worldly affaires.

  41. ffaire fall nothinge once a yeare. It needs no com̄ent.

  42. Il’e make abb or warp of it. If not one thinge yet another.

  43. In little medlinge is much ease.
    Of much medlinge, comes no sound sleepinge.

  44. An head that’s white to mayds brings noe delight: or An head that’s gray serves not for maydens play: In which state my constitu ͠co n now stands.

  45. When the daies begin to lengthen the cold begins to strengthen.—meaninge the coldest part of Winter is after the winter Solstice. Alludinge also to the rule of husbandry: That at Candlemas a provident husbandman should have halfe his fodder, and all his corne remaininge.

  46. All is well save that the worst peece is in the midst. Noe speach more true, when the taylor first puts on our wives new gownes.

  47. A man may love his house well though hee ride not vpon the ridge: Or, Love well his cowe though hee kisse her not.

  48. As nimble as a blinde cat in a barne.

  49. I w’ud I c’ud see’t, ka’ blind Hugh. for I would I could see it.

  50. Lide pilles the hide: meaninge that March (called by vs lide) pinches the poare man’s beast.

    Note: lide is not in the Shorter Oxford.

  51. Two hungry meales makes the third a glutton. In like sense as, Hungry dogs eat durty puddings.

  52. If thou lov’st mee at the hart, thou’lt not loose mee for a fart. Often varied into divers applica ͠co ns.

  53. When the crow begins to build then sheepe begin to yeald: meaninge, that the fall of rotten sheepe is principally in ffebruary or March, wherein that bird gathereth sticks to make her nest: Alludinge to that other proverb, Michaelmas rott comes short of the pott: Intimatinge, that those sheepe which by wett somers hony dewes, or like causes of rott, which when com̄only comes in August or September, Rottinge at Michaelmas, dye in Lent after, when that season of the yeare permitted not the poore husbandman to eat them.

  54. Smoke will to the smicker: meaninge, If many gossips sit against a smokey chimney the smoke will bend to the fairest; A proverbe which doth advantage a merry gossip to twitt the soule slutt her neighbour.

  55. A misty morne in th’old o’th moone doth alwaies bringe a faire post-noone. An hilly roverbe about Simondsall.

  56. The more beanes the fewer for a penny. Meaninge, When beanes prove best wheat and barley proove worst, wherby the price of pulse is raised.

  57. When thou dost drinke beware the tost, for therein lyes the danger most.

  58. My milke is in the Cowes horne, now the zunne is ’ryv’d at Capricorne: meaninge, when the dayes are at shortest, the cowe com̄only then fed with strawe and neere the calvinge, gives little or no milke.

  59. Bones bringe meat to towne: meaninge, Difficult and hard things are not altogether to bee reiected [rejected], or things of small consequence.

  60. A poare mans tale may now bee heard: vizt., When none speakes the meanest may.

  61. Store is noe sore; Plenty never rings it’s master by the eare.

  62. In descrip ͠co n of our choicest morsells, wee say; The backe of an hearinge, the poll of a tench, The side of a salmon, the belly of a wench.

  63. [folio 27]

  64. Ritch doth proove the man who hath the hand,
    To bury wives, and t’have his sheepe to stand.

  65. A sowe doth sooner then a cowe, bringe an oxe to the plowe: meaninge, nore profit doth arise to the husbandman by a sowe than a cowe.

  66. As bawdy as a butcher: meaninge, that filthiness stickes to his conditions, as visibly as grease to the butchers apron.

  67. Hee that will thrive must rise at five: But hee that hath thriven may lye til seaven.

  68. Hee that smells the first savour, is the faults first father. This proverbe admits many applica ͠co n: The homlyest is, That hee first smels the fart that lett it.

  69. Hee is tainted with an evill guise.
    Loth to bed, and lother to rise.

  70. Hee that worst may, must hold the candle. Or, the weakest goes to the wall.

  71. If two ride vpon an horse one must sit behinde; meaninge, That in each contention one must take the foile.

  72. Bee the counsell better, bee it worse,
    ffollow him, that beares the purse.

  73. Many esteeme more of the broth, then of the meat sod therein. Di{ver}sly applied.

    Note: {ver} here is a scribal abbreviation, a v with a curved line over it, unavailable in Unicode right now.

  74. The Crowe bids you good morrow. A phrase wherby wee figuratively call a man a knave.

  75. Barley makes the heape, but wheat the cheape: Meaninge, that a good wheat yeare pulles downe the price of its selfe and of all other graines, which noe other graine doth.

  76. Hee bites the eare, yet seemes to cry for feare: meaning, hee doth the wronge yet first complaines.

  77. Neerest to the well furthest from the water. Like, neerest to the church furthest from God.

  78. Hee never hath a bad day that hath a good night: not much vnlike, Hee never hath a bad lease that hath a good landlord.

  79. Hee hath eaten his rost meat first: diversly applyed.

  80. Nocke anew, nocke anew. i.e. Try againe.

  81. Boad a bagg, and bearn’. i. An ill hap falles where it is feared.

  82. Needand night make the lame to trott.

  83. The owners foot doth fatt the soile: Or the masters eye doth feed the horse.

  84. The cup and cover will hold togeather: Birds of a feather will flocke togeather; Like will like; The Dyvell likes the collier.

  85. Faire is the weather where cup and cover doe hold together: vizt., where husband and wife agree.

  86. Things ne’ere goe ill where Jacke and Gill pisse in one quill.


    A woman, spaniell, and a walnut tree, } Sed quere de hoc.
    The more they are beaten, better they bee.
  88. Much smoke little fire; much adoe about nothinge.

  89. Hee that wreakes himselfe at every wronge,
    Shall never singe the ritch mans songe.

  90. A style toward, and a wife forward, are vneasy companions.

  91. As the good man saies, so it should bee,
    But as the good wife saies. so it must bee.

  92. As proud as an Ape of a whip; vz. not proud at all; rather in dislike of ye. thinge.

  93. On St Valentines day cast beanes in clay, But on St. Chad sowe good and badd.—So that wee hundredors lymit the seed time of that lenten crop between the 14th. of ffebruary and the second of March.

  94. As proud as a dog in a dublett. i.e. very proud.

  95. Patch by patch is yeomanly; but patch vpon patch is beggerly.

  96. [folio 28]

  97. Winter never dies in her dams belly. Our climate is sure of frosts or snowes first or last.

  98. Botch and fit, build and flit. I beshrew this proverbe, whereby the tenant is kept from a comly repairage of his house, for doubt of havinge it taken in revertion over his head.

  99. Its merry in the hall when beards wagg all. i.e. when men are eatinge, and women dancinge.

  100. The mice will play when the catt is away. i.e. Servants will loyter when the master is absent: This my experience in my longe abodes abroade, all my life longe, hath prooved too true for my profitt.

  101. Lill for loll: Id est, one for another: As good as hee brought:

  102. When Wotton hill doth weare a cap, Let Horton towne beware of that. i.e. That foggy mist com̄only turnes that way into raine.

  103. Better a bit then noe bread. i.e. Somethinge is better than nothinge. Nothinge hath noe savour.

  104. Many seames many beanes. An husbandly proverbe checkinge great and broad furrowes, too frequent with our hynde servants.

  105. Beware the fox in a fearne bush. i.e. Old fearne of like colour keepes often the fox vnperceived. Hypocrisy often clokes a knave.

    Sat lusimus istis.

I have now ended what I intended in generall, in sport or earnest, in the description of this hundred. I nowe fall vpon a perticular description of each Towne, parish, village, hamblet, Ryver, hill, dale, or other remarkeable place, As by Alphabet they present themselves before mee; Dedicatinge what followeth,

To you my beloved sonne John Smyth, and to you my ancient and honest servant William Archard; Thus tellinge you, That


[folio 29]

In this space, yee two, havinge beene in many sallies abroad and serches at home my helpers and Amanuenses, and withall most likely after my daies to hold vnder that noble family the place I yet doe, I offer then to your viewe and amendment, if in any thinge I have erred; the rather also for that your future daies, treadinge in the same waies wherin I have walked, may both iudge of my stepps and inlarge the path which I have trodden in, much by mee desired, for the benefitt of that noble lord and his ever honoured family, vnder which I have growne vp to bee what I am; and vnder mee, yee to bee what you now are, with future hopes conceived of you both. God almighty blesse yee: The affectionate prayer of

John Smyth the elder.
December. 1639.
Anno 15. Regis Caroli

[folio 30]