16th & 17th century English terms for chairs

I hate to do posts without pictures, but this one’s easier that way. I’ll do pictures in a separate post.

if you read Chris Schwarz’ blog, http://blog.lostartpress.com/  you’ve seen his posts about Randle Holme’s seating furniture, and today a discussion between Chris & Suzanne Ellison about stools in particular. Randle Holme’s work has always been one of my favorite resources when studying 17th-century stuff. Another is probate records, particularly the household inventories compiled at the time of a person’s death. One reason these are so helpful is that they are the work of many people, thus we get a wider snapshot than just Randle Holme’s ideas. When you study inventories from a wide geographic range, you get various uses of terms. Once you study New England records, they’re even more mixed up, because you have immigrants from all over England thrown together in a small area. The language gets funny.

here’s some terms I have noted about seating furniture. These go way beyond the limits of Chris’ “furniture of necessity” but are still worthwhile.

My comments in brackets.

Chris – note: “beere stoole” and “ale stole” –

This first set I compiled from J. H. Wilson, editor, Wymondham Inventories (Norwich: Centre of East Anglian Studies, date?)

 

Long forme

Two little buffett stooles

Turned chayer

Litle old stoole

Old close stoole

Cushion stoole

Beere stoole

Back chaiers

Seeled settle

Wicker chaier

Little chaier

Forme

Bench

Three footed stole

Ould chayer

Ale stole

Joyned form

Framed stooles  [not sure how or if a “framed” stool is different from a “joyned” form…the form is long. Framed & joined are usually thought to mean the same thing, joined w mortise & tenons]

Cushin stooles

Back chayers

Cushion chayer with a back

Great back chayers

Footstoole

A forme of joyned worke

Great chayre

Close-chayre

 

Plymouth Colony, (New England) :

1 old brodred stoole  [I think “boarded” in this case, not “embroidered” – but might be…]

2 busted stools 1s6d

3 bossed stooles [I think this is an upholstered stool, trimmed w large headed tacks…]

a close stoole 8s [not just a stool or ease, but any stool w a compartment in its bottom]

a large stoole Covering and many borderings for stooles 10s,

2 wrought stooles [wrought is upholstered]

2 Cushen stooles

six buffitt stooles 10s

Essex County, Massachusetts:

3 Leather stooles 5s

foot stoole

a brewing stoole 1s6d  [“brewing stool” which might clarify the English “beer” and “ale” stools above.]

 

6 cushion stooles & 2 chaires £2

6s  a great stoole or table 3s

an old stoole table

4 Lowe cuchin stools

Back in England, from A. D. Dyer, editor, Probate Inventories of Worcester Tradesmen, 1545-1614 (Worcestershire: W. S. Manley & Son LTD, for the Worcestershire Historical Society, 1967)

Settelles

Forme

Joyned stoles

Chaire

Benche

Gyne/geynyd stoole [think phonetic, thus “joined”]

Small settell of waynscote with a bench

One bench with a back of waynscote

Chayre stooles

Joyned formes

Framed formes

Waineskott benche  [in all of these wainscot means either oak, or frame & panel work.]

 

Peter C. D. Brears, editor, Yorkshire Probate Inventories 1542-1689 (Yorkshire: Yorkshire Archaeological Society, 1972)

 

Formes

Long furram [form?]

Buffet/buffet stooles

Close stoole

Low stoole

Covered stoole

Long settle

Chaires

Sewed cheare

Seald/seeled cheare [this is “ceiled” a term meaning “joined” – joiners were sometimes called “ceilers”

Wanded chaire  [willow/wicker]

 

Francis W. Steer, editor, Farm and Cottage Inventories of Mid-Essex, 1635-1749, (Colchester: Wiles & Son, Ltd., 1950)

Chaire

little chaires

great joyned chayer

high Chairs

low chairs

Joyne inlaid Chaire

Wainscot chair

one Chaire with turn’d pins

leather chaires

Russia lather Chairs

blew cloth Chaires

green chair

chaires bottom’d with rushes

chayre table

turkey worke stooles

stooles

letle Stooles

bucket stools  [seen paintings of chairs made from barrels. never seen an old one surviving]

Joyned stooles/ joint stooles

2 foote stooles

green stooles

join’d stooles buffeded

one settle with 3 boxes in it

bench boards

long bench joyning to the wainscot

long forme

Settell

joyned forme

Great Wicker Chair

low Wicker chair

wicker chayer

 

Michael Reed, editor, The Ipswich Probate Inventories 1583-1631 (Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: Boydell Press for the Suffolk Records Society, 1981)

Form/forme

Buffet stoole/forme

Joyned forme

Frame for a stoole

Stole of easment  – [this one’s clear – a chair w a chamber pot. a shitter]

Lowe ymbrydred stooles

Footestooles/ Ould footstooles

Two round stooles

Green frindged high stooles

Lyttle stoole with a green cover

Ould stooles covered with blue cloth

Three footed stooles

A brasse foot stoole

Joyned stoole

Gyned stole

Small wyndd stooles

6 heigh stoles covered with lether

Old tressell stooles

Six wrought stooles

heigh stooles covered with lether

6 joyned stooles covered with scottish work

5 heigh buffet stoles

Settle

seeld bench-parlor

One high bench with a backe

Chayers litle and great

Oulde chayers

Great chaire

chair table

Wekar/wicker chayer

Wicker chaire with a back

Matted chayers  [chairs w rush seats]

Six old segging chayers

18 chayers of seg cist 7s (?)  [are these serge chairs? i.e. upholstered ?]

Wooden chayer – [Wooden? aren’t they all wooden? This means a wooden seat, not a woven seat.]

Turned chaires

Three green turned chaires

Great turne chayer

One turnors chayre

Old turne chayer

hye turned chayer

hipp turned chayer (?) [I assume bad transcription]

Closse chaire

Back chayrs

one hopp chayer

Childrens chayers

Old backt chair

Joyned chaires great and small

A small Flanders chayer with a backe of green cloth

Great joyned chaire covered with lether

Lether backe chayers, 2 heygh and 2 lower

One chaire covered with scottish work

One great green frindged chaire

One high green chaire

One settworke chaire

Wrought chaires

chayers covered with greene kersye

1 couch as it standeth

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8 thoughts on “16th & 17th century English terms for chairs

  1. I saw on Chris’s blog, Suzzanne used the term “Creepie” People used that term for some 3 leg stools I slapped together back when I was doing living history. I never questioned it. This term didn’t show on your list. Is it just a form of modern slang?

    • Never heard that term = I haven’t seen it in a 16th/17th century document. Doesn’t mean it’s not there, I just never saw it. & I read lots of those records; 25 years’ worth.

      • From the OED: (noted as Scottish and dialect)
        a. A low stool. Also creepie-stool, creepy stool.
        1661 Mercurius Caledonius To assemble all her Creels, Basquets, Creepies, Furmes.
        a1756 Sc. Song, Logie o’ Buchan I sit on my creepie and spin at my wheel.
        1859 E. C. Gaskell Haunted House: Ghost in Garden Room in All Year Round Extra Christmas No. 13 Dec. 34/2 He sat between his parents..and Bessy on the old creepie-stool.
        1865 Reader 18 Nov. 579/3 Carrying her creepie in one hand and her milking-pail in the other.
        1892 J. Barlow Irish Idylls vii. 178 Pat, set the ould creepy stool for Mrs. Doyne.
        1903 W. B. Yeats Hour-glass (1904) 3 A creepy stool near it.
        1922 J. Joyce Ulysses i. iii. [Proteus] 42 Fiacre and Scotus on their creepystools in heaven.

  2. Perhaps the “framed stool” is an attempt to distinguish an opened “joined” stool, from a close stool with ‘frame and panel’ (Just a thought) Also in the UK wainscot, further (according to Victor Chinnery – Oak furniture, a British Tradition) specifically implied to imported straight grained oak, as opposed to native grown varieties.

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