Background Information

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WainwrightRef 1-1464
Someone who makes wains or wagons.

See Cartwright

WakeRef 1-1032
The traditional ritual of keeping vigil over a corpse on the eve of the funeral, or on the eve of any festival.

This is said to have originated when the body was watched overnight to ensure that it was dead, thereby avoiding anyone being buried alive.

See Arvill and Wakes

Wakefield, Capture ofRef 1-417
On 21st May 1643, during the Civil War, Sir Francis Mackworth was the Royalist commander at Wakefield when the city was captured by Prince Rupert

WaleRef 1-217
Raised ridge or rib lengthwise on the surface of a piece of cloth.

Compare Course

Walk millRef 1-W38
Aka Fulling mill

Walkers' ShearsRef 1-69
Shears or clippers which were used for cropping pieces of cloth after the nap had been raised by a teasel plant or other device.

The shears consisted of 2 opposing iron blades – about 4 ft in length – and the pair weighed about 50 lbs.

These can be seen in one of the drawings by George Walker.

An image of a pair of shears is inscribed on a gravestone in the porch at Halifax Parish Church. The stone has been dated to about 1150 and indicating the early presence of a woollen industry in the district

WantoRef 1-1011
pl wantoes. A rope which is used to secure a pack on a pack saddle, or a load on the back of a horse

WantyRef 1-1219
A rope or girth which was used to tie a fadge to a packhorse

WapentakeRef 1-316
An administrative subdivision of a county in the Danelaw. It is equivalent to the hundred in those areas outside the Danelaw.

The West Riding comprised 10 wapentakes: Ainsty [until the 15th century, when it became a part of the city of York], Agbrigg & Morley, Claro Lower, Claro Upper, Ewcross, Osgoldcross, Skyrack Lower, Skyrack Upper, Staincliffe East, Staincliffe West, Staincross, Strafforth & Tickhill Lower, and Strafforth & Tickhill Upper.

Halifax lay within the Wapentake of Agbrigg & Morley.

The word comes from the Old Norse vapntak [voting by a show of weapons].

In Norman times, the Wapentake Court was known as the Sheriff's tourn

A modern translation of Wapentake would be District

War Graves Photographic ProjectRef 1-739
A joint venture with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission whose aim is to photograph every grave and memorial from World War I onwards.

The searchable database gives access to the photos of the individual headstones & memorials

War MemorialsRef 1-W37

War of 1812Ref 1-2369
A battle between the British Empire and the USA which began in 1812.

See Shannon & Chesapeake, Stansfield

War ShrineRef 1-1001
During World War I, boards were set up in streets and public places to announce the deaths of local men and women in the conflict. These were decorated with flowers and short services were held. Later, they were replaced by stone versions

WarpRef 1-275
The fixed threads during weaving which run along the length of a piece.

In the industrial production of cloth, the yarn is wound onto a cheese for loading on the weaving machinery.

See Portit and Warper

Warp-stretchingRef 1-286

Warping oughRef 1-W30
See Wough

WarrenRef 1-2825
Aka Coniger. A mediæval term for an area reserved for the rearing of rabbits.

The warren was the property of the lord of the manor and was managed by a warrener.

The word comes from a variant of the Old French garenne meaning a game park

See Free warren and Warner

Wars & BattlesRef 1-105
The links here give details of some of the wars and battles which – although not directly connected with the Calderdale district – are mentioned in some of the entries here and affected the district: Adwalton Moor, Battle of, Afghan Wars, American Civil War, American War of Independence, Ashanti Wars, Boer Wars, Bradford, Siege of, Crimean War, Dutch Wars, French Revolution, Heptonstall, Battle of, Battle of the Hollins, Marston Moor, Battle of, Napoleonic Wars, Peninsular War, Pontefract, Siege of, Punitive Expedition to Benin, Battle of Slaughter Gap, South African Wars, Sowerby Bridge, Battle of, Sudan Campaign, Waterloo, Battle of, World War I, World War II and York, Siege of

Wars of the RosesRef 1-505
[1455-1487] A series of civil wars fought between the houses of Lancaster and York for the English throne. The wars ended with the victory of Henry Tudor and the establishment of the House of Tudor

Wart stoneRef 1-W18
A stone with a depression in the upper surface. The depression would be filled with water. The hand – or other extremity – would be dipped into the water as a cure for warts

WashingRef 1-232
Wool was washed with a soap made by boiling tallow (made from mutton fat) with potash (made from burned plants and seaweed).

See Bleaching

WassailRef 1-W13
To drink a toast to someone's health.

The word is used in expressions such as here we come a'wassailing.

The word comes from the Old English wes hál, meaning be well

WasteRef 1-1617
In the period following the Norman Conquest, a great many areas rebelled against the Normans. In 1068, Cospatric, the Earl of Northumberland, led an insurrection.

The forces of William I marched north and punished the rebels, burning homes and lands and laying the countryside waste. This was known as the harrying of the north.

Domesday book uses expressions such as:

wasteas est
hoc est vasta

to describe much of the land as being entirely or partly waste, possibly a consequence of campaigns against such insurrections in the period 1068-1070.

In 1069, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says of Yorkshire that

... the king ... had laid waste all the shire
Most of the castles in Yorkshire – including Richmond and Pickering – were built at that time to oppress the locals.

In some cases, waste might mean that the land was not suitable for agricultural use

Watch & wardRef 1-W4
A mediæval system whereby the men of the community – the watchmen – on the orders of the constable, took it in turns to mount a night-guard against thieves and robbers

Watch & Ward Act [1812]Ref 1-2721
Act of Parliament passed in response to the Luddites' attack on mills, such as those at Foster's mill at Horbury, Wakefield and William Cartwright's mill at Rawfolds.

This was ...

An Act for the more effectual Preservation of the Peace, by enforcing the Duties of Watching and Warding, until the First Day of March 1814, in Places where Disturbances prevail or are apprehended
It allowed members of the public to enrol as special constables armed to maintain law and order. This was generally unpopular

WaterRef 1-2334
Used in place names, such as Colden Water, Graining Water, Hebden Water, Nab Water, Ogden Water, Reaps Water, Walsden Water, Widdop Water, and Noah Dale Water, this is a local word for a stream.

See Clough

Water closetRef 1-2274
A privy or lavatory in which the waste was removed by flushing with water. These replaced earth closets and the Goux system as Corporation sewerage facilities were introduced at the beginning of the 20th century.

See Pierre Nicholas Goux

Water-frameRef 1-81
In 1768, Richard Arkwright invented the water-frame roller for carding and spinning cotton into strong thread. By 1784, the water-frame was used in the production of worsted, and then for flax, but it was unsuitable for the shorter noils of woollen fibres where the spinning jenny was preferable.

The improved and faster steam-powered throstle appeared around 1800.

See Frame

Water powerRef 1-1571
When the domestic system of cloth production was overtaken by the machines of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century – see flying shuttle, spinning jenny, water frame – the new mills were originally water-powered and built on hillsides and along the banks of streams and rivers.

The first water-powered worsted spinning mill was built around 1784 near Lancaster.

When steam power began to replace water power about 1820, some of the smaller water-powered mills were abandoned, and others were converted to steam

See Cold Edge Dam Company and Water Dispute between Michael Foxcroft & Henry Farrer

Water shortagesRef 1-W15
Water supply was often restricted during the summer months as reservoir levels dropped. In 1929, the supply was cut off between 5 pm and 7 am for 17 weeks. Village pumps were locked. In November 1947, cuts were imposed. Yorkshire Water Authority's hosepipe ban was often imposed in the late 20th century

Water supplyRef 1-8380
The soft water draining off the moors into the streams and rivers of the district was ideal for washing wool and producing cloth, and was drinkable.

In the 17th century, Charles II issued permits for companies to pump water from the rivers and deliver it – via wooden pipes – to domestic customers.

Until the urbanisation of the 19th century, most domestic water in the towns came from wells, or it was purchased from street traders.

In Halifax, the town was supplied by water from Well Head and Highroad Well, channelled through wooden pipes and underground tunnels. As the town grew the water supply became polluted, causing illness and disease. Public health was threatened by water-borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera.

In 1890, the West Riding County Council required all authorities adjacent to the Calder to take action to purify the water in the river.

Wells and spas were the only source of water before municipal supplies were provided from reservoirs. Halifax Corporation engaged John Frederick La Trobe Bateman to solve the problem of bringing water from Widdop to Halifax.

In 1618, it is recorded that

Water was brought to Halifax in leaden pipes

In the mediæval period, the wells were used for baptisms.

From the middle of the 19th century, hydropathy at spas became popular.

See Act for supplying Halifax with Water [1762], Clifton Water Supply Company and Cold Edge Dam Company

Waterloo, Battle ofRef 1-452
18th June 1815.

Conflict during the Napoleonic Wars in which the Anglo-allied forces under the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian army defeated the French under Napoleon.

The importance of the Battle is reflected in the number of streets and other features which are named Waterloo.

Local people who died in the Battle include:

Other local people who took part in the Battle include:

See Prince of Blucher, Halifax

WaterwheelsRef 1-3890
The Foldout looks at the subject of waterwheels

WaulkingRef 1-185

WaylandRef 1-W35
A blacksmith

Weather-spyRef 1-W24
A popular name for an astrologer

Weavers' Act [1555]Ref 1-1989
The small cloth workers in the domestic system complained that they were being oppressed by the wealthy clothiers. Under the Act, clothiers in country districts were forbidden to keep more than one loom, and woollen weavers were forbidden to keep more than two looms

Weavers' strikeRef 1-715
On 29th July 1893, a strike began at Luddenden.

A strike began in July 1906, when Hebden Bridge fustian weavers discovered they were paid 2/- a week less than those in Lancashire, and asked that their wages be increased to the level of those in Bury and other Lancashire towns The employers refused, arguing that Hebden Bridge was at a disadvantage in being distant from the centres of yarn production and markets for cloth.

The first group of strikers walked out of Ashworth Brothers' Foster Mill and the dispute soon spread to the mills of Richard Thomas & Sons, E. B. Sutcliffe & Company, and Roger Shackleton.

Within a few months, 480 men and women had stopped work and 2,000 looms stood idle. Some went to work for firms not affected by the strike, others remained unemployed. The strikers made a weekly collection around the district to augment the strike pay which they received from the Weavers' Union. The strikers met at the Tin Mission, Hebden Bridge.

There were many demonstrations, and, in September 1906, mounted police were brought in to keep the peace. In February 1907, a crowd of 5,000 attended a meeting at the Co-operative Hall in February.

During the strike, a number of suffragettes and other women – including Lavena Saltonstall – were arrested following an attack on the House of Commons in March 1907.

In October 1908, around 150 weavers were still on strike. The Weavers' Union told them that their strike pay would be cut. On 31st December 1908, the strikers received their last strike pay. The strike was over.

The Eaves Self-Help Manufacturers' Society was established by the unemployed weavers.

See Thomas & Sons

Weavers' windowsRef 1-2491
Windows with tall, thin panes, set high within the upper rooms of a house so as to give maximum light for the handloom weavers working inside. There are a great many local examples, including Machpelah, Hebden Bridge, Nicklety, Walsden and Weavers' Cottages

WeavingRef 1-195
A stage in cloth-making when the yarn was woven into a piece of cloth

See Beamer, Bishop Blaise, Weavers' windows and Thomas the Webster

Wedding anniversariesRef 1-W29
Lists of the traditional wedding anniversaries can be found at the links shown below

Wedding breakfastRef 1-W10
Until the late 19th century, weddings were required by law to be held in the morning. After the ceremony, the celebrations would include the wedding breakfast

Wedding dressRef 1-W17
Until the late 19th century, it was customary for a woman to marry in her best clothes. During the 19th century, it became fashionable to marry in white. A wedding dress usually had a high neck and long sleeves

WednesdayRef 1-W20
The day is named after Woden or Odin, the chief Germanic god

WeedsRef 1-W16
Aka Widow's weeds. Mourning clothes

Weeping crossRef 1-W9
A wayside cross where penitents might pray

WeetingRef 1-249
Aka Lecking

WeftRef 1-1041
Aka Woof. The thread wound onto the bobbin for weaving and which runs across the width of the piece

Weights & MeasuresRef 1-708
Some of the people who have held the office of Inspector of Weights & Measures in the district include Francis Scott, John Wood Scott and Joseph Seed

WeiringRef 1-1400
The maintenance of walls which protect the land from rivers and streams.

See Murage

Welch wigRef 1-W11
Aka Welsh cap. A woollen or worsted cap. These were originally made in Montgomery, Wales

WeldRef 1-2459
Aka dyers' rocket. A plant – reseda luteola – which was used to produce a yellow dye

Well-dressingRef 1-W5
Local custom in which the head of a well is decorated.

See Spa Laithe

WelshRef 1-973
Used in place names – such as Walshaw and Walsden and the modern word Welsh – the element comes from the Old English word walh or wealh meaning foreigner or stranger and was applied to the original Celtic British peoples, as distinct from the incoming Anglo-Saxon people.

It is also used in surnames such as Walsh and Welsh

WergildRef 1-W23
Aka Wergeld. A payment made in Old English times to an injured person or his family by the person who caused the injury. The amount depended on the social rank of the deceased. It originated in European tribal society as a substitute for the vendetta, or blood feud. During the 10th and 11th centuries, it was replaced by punishments imposed by the courts of law

Wesleyan MethodistsRef 1-2375
After the Methodists split around 1797, those who followed Kilham and Thom were known as New Connexion Methodists, and those who followed the original beliefs of John Wesley were known as Wesleyan Methodists.

In 1849, a number of Wesleyan Methodist ministers were expelled for insubordination and established the Wesleyan Reformers.

See Primitive Methodism

Wesleyan ReformersRef 1-407
Established in 1849 by a number of Wesleyan Methodist ministers who had been expelled for insubordination in the Fly Sheets Controversy

See Mount Pleasant Wesleyan Reform Chapel, Wainstalls and Wainstalls Wesleyan Reformers Church

West Yorkshire Archive ServiceRef 1-2468
Abbr WYAS, WYJS.

Located in

  • Halifax: calderdale@wyjs.org.uk
  • Huddersfield: kirklees@wyjs.org.uk
  • Bradford: bradford@wyjs.org.uk
  • Leeds: leeds@wyjs.org.uk
  • Wakefield: wakefield@wyjs.org.uk

See Phyllis Ramsden, Halifax Central Library, Journals of Anne Lister and Nonconformist Records

West Yorkshire RegimentRef 1-1172

Westphalian seriesRef 1-2168
Carboniferous rocks formed over 290 million years ago.

Lower Coal Measures of this period lie east of the Hebble.

See Coal mining

Wet nurseRef 1-W25
A woman who was hired to breast-feed other people's children

WHARFEGENRef 1-571
A genealogical website for the Wharfedale and Craven district of Yorkshire

Wheel windowRef 1-204
A circular window with the mullions meeting at a central point like the spokes of a wheel.

An alternative name for apple-and-pear window and rose window

WhigRef 1-3043
During the reign of Queen Anne, parliament split up into two groups known as Whigs and Tories. The word comes from the Scottish whiggamore and means either a Scot who robbed and then murdered his victims, or a horse drover, or a horse thief. The Whigs upheld the rights of the people and were opposed to the King. They were superseded by the Liberals in the 19th century

WhinnyRef 1-591
Also whinney and winny, and may be corrupted to windy.

The element is used in many local place names – such as Whinney Field, Halifax, Whinney Fold, Halifax, Whinney Hall, Shelf, Whinney Hill, Brighouse, Whinney Hill housing estate, Whinney Royd Lane, Northowram, Whinney Royd, Northowram and Winnyfield, Skircoat.

The word comes from the Old Norse whin [gorse]? meaning a place where gorse grows.

See Windy

WhipcordRef 1-2916
A fustian cloth made of worsted or woollen, also cotton and rayon. Very much like gabardine. It is very durable, rugged and stands hard usage and wear, and is used for topcoats, uniforms, sportswear, riding habits

WhippingRef 1-1624
A traditional method of punishment in which the accused – often beggars and both men and women – were tied to a post and whipped.

There are no surviving examples of whipping posts in Calderdale.

Offenders were also tied to the rear of a cart and whipped as the vehicle was drawn through the streets.

See Cotton measures, Flogging and Scourge

Whisky SpinningRef 1-W2
The term is used in the 19th century for illicit manufacture of spirits

Whit walksRef 1-2297
Church & chapel processions which proceeded through the community at Whitsuntide. These involved banners showing the name and date of their church or chapel and carried by the men of the community and tableaux displayed on lorries and carts.

The participants singing hymns to the accompaniment of brass bands – to a park or the local place of worship where a tea was provided.

Hymn-singing, prayers and sports often followed the tea – see Sunday-school treat. Children traditionally wore their new clothes. These continued into the 1960s when entertainment became more sophisticated.

The walks were made on Whit Monday, but some places held them on the Friday of Whit Week.

See Blackley Whit Walk

White breadRef 1-1925
Bread made from boulted flour

White Sewing MachineRef 1-1768
American sewing machine company founded by Thomas White in Cleveland, Ohio in 1876. Their first models were introduced in the late 1870s. It was the second the largest and best-known of the US sewing machine companies, after Singer. Their Family Rotary model – FR – was manufactured from the late 1890s until the Second World War. The company took over other sewing machine companies to become White Consolidated Industries. They ceased production in the United States by the early 1970s, and moved to Japan.

See William Henry Beal and Whitehall, Halifax

WhitesRef 1-852
A disease

WhitesmithsRef 1-W22
A closed benevolent society

Whitsun AleRef 1-1810
A church ale held at Whitsuntide

WhitsuntideRef 1-719
The Christian festival of Pentecost which falls on the 7th Sunday after Easter.

Whit Monday was a holiday. In 1971, it was replaced by the Spring Bank Holiday

See Whit Monday Fields, Whit walks, Whitsun Ale and Whitsuntide buns

Whitsuntide BunsRef 1-736
A tea-cake eaten at Whitsuntide.

An 1884 recipe for the buns – as made by Dobson's of Elland – specified


24 lbs flour
5 lb butter
5 lb lard
8 lb sugar
8 oz salt
20 eggs
13 quarts milk
2 lb yeast
20 lb currants
5 lb peel
to make 180 10-ounce buns

Whole clothRef 1-2641
Aka Broad cloth. A piece of cloth measuring 24 yards by 1¾ yards

See Narrow cloth and Ullnager

Whooping coughRef 1-873
Aka Chin cough, Pertussis. An infectious disease – common in children. The symptoms include a convulsive cough followed by a crowing intake of breath – hence the name. This was common in the 19th century

Widow auctionRef 1-3035
An instance of wife-selling took place on 5th May 1866, when an auction was conducted at the Horse & Jockey Inn, Ainley Woods, Elland. The lots included furniture, agricultural items, and
a fine young widow, having worn 3 husbands

Despite enthusiastic bidding from 1 guinea up to £13, the widow did not reach the reserve price and the sale was abandoned after she declined to be bought

Widow's weedsRef 1-2052
See Weeds

Wife-sellingRef 1-3034
This was a form of divorce practised in the 18th/19th centuries. Known as the poor man's divorce.

In the transfer, the woman was often delivered in a halter.

In August 1881, a Brighouse man sold his wife for 2d. The woman had documents drawn up to prevent him buying her back.

See Samuel Hey, Samuel Lumb and Widow auction

WildboreRef 1-W32
A strong, closely woven, unglazed tammy, similar to the bunting material which is used for signal flags. Little Joans were a type of wildbore.

Records for Akroyd's mill show that they produced the fabric in 1803

WillRef 1-1595
A document which contains the final wishes and testament of a deceased person – the testator – and indicates how the property is to be dispersed amongst – the beneficiaries – the issue, friends and relatives of the deceased.

In addition to houses, land and money, the will contained instructions for bequests of clothing, furniture, household goods, and animals.

It was common for a man to leave a horse or a cow to the local vicar, as a burial fee.

Until 1858, the church had responsibility for proving wills. Will were proved in the Prerogative Court of York (if the person had property in the North of England), or in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury (if the person had property in the South of England, or in both north and south).

In 1858, the state took over this responsibility.

All wills proved since 1858 are held at the Public Record Office in London, the County Records Office, and possibly the local Diocesan Registry. Wills before 1858, may be held anywhere.

The Yorkshire Indexers website is compiling indexes to Wills and Admons recorded in the Deeds Registry [1901-1920]. The Indexes are to be found at URLs of the form

where the final letter = A in this instance = indicates the initial letter of surnames on that page

See Effects, En ventre sa mère, Estate, Halifax Wills Volumes I & II, Halifax Wills Volume 2 and Probate

Will o' the wispRef 1-W27
Aka Ignis fatuus. A natural phenomenon seen at night on marshy ground. The gases generated by the decomposition of organic matter may spontaneously ignite to produce random flashes of light across the bog. They were believed to disorient travellers and lure them to a boggy grave

WilleyingRef 1-171
Aka Willowing, Willying, duling.

A stage in cloth-making when the dried wool – or other raw material – from the bales was beaten to remove dust, to disentangle the material, to open matted locks, and to blend the staples into a consistent material.

The worker who did this was known as a willeyer, a willey girl, a willeyman, or a willower.

When mechanised, in the late 18th century, the work was done by revolving spiked cylinders on a willeying machine.

This technique also allowed rags and scrap cloth to be recycled.

William IVRef 1-W2496
[1765-1837] He succeeded his brother George IV as King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

He married Adelaide.

He was succeeded by his niece, Victoria.

See Northgate Hall, Halifax

WillowRef 1-198
A machine for separating the filaments of the raw wool

WillowingRef 1-W41

WillyingRef 1-W28

Wilton carpetRef 1-997
A type of carpet in which the pattern is woven into the carpet in loops of cut or uncut pile, rather than being inserted in a backing – compare Axminster. This produces a velvet-like quality.

It is woven on a wire loom.

The method was used at Wilton, Wiltshire, from the 16th century until 1995, when the Wilton Royal Carpet Factory closed. In the 18th and 19th century, Wilton was roughly twice the cost of Brussels carpet, and it became common to have a Wilton carpet in the best room, and to use Brussels carpet in less-important areas of the house.

See Avena Carpets Limited and John Crossley Carpets Limited

WindingRef 1-253
A stage during the spinning stage of cloth-making in which yarn is transferred from one spool, bobbin or cheese to another.

In cone winding, the yarn was held on a metal or paper cone-shaped core.

The work was done by a winder

Winding holeRef 1-1017
Aka Winning hole. An area of a canal where a boat can be wound, that is, turned around.

The word is pronounced as in the wind (of weather) and not as in to wind (of wool) 

Winding sheetRef 1-2077
A shroud

Window TaxRef 1-1572
In 1696, William III imposed a tax on houses with more than a specific number of glass windows. Returns recording details of those who paid the tax can be found at the County Records Office.

The tax influenced domestic architecture for many years. Many houses had some of their windows bricked up to avoid paying the tax, and others were built with fewer or no windows, and, in 1746, excise duty was imposed on glass

WindrowRef 1-1872
Double rows of hay. On a windy or wet day, the windrows are broken up into cocks with the rake. In the Upper Calder Valley they are called hoblins

WindyRef 1-602
Used in place names, the word may indicate the obvious exposed, windy nature of the place, or it may be derived from the element whinny or whinney or winny

WineRef 1-W3
Although the local climate did not support the cultivation of grapes and the production of wine, Domesday Book records that there were 38 vineyards in England

Wine & Beerhouse Act [1869]Ref 1-547
The Act required beerhouses to apply for a licence from the magistrates.

It was followed by the Wine & Beerhouse Amendment Act [1870].

See Beerhouse Act [1830]

Wine & Spirit MerchantsRef 1-3840

WinnackRef 1-W33
A leather bottle.

Various spellings of the word may be encountered: whinnack, whinacke

Winning holeRef 1-1021
Aka Winding hole

The Winthrop FleetRef 1-487
The Winthrop Fleet left England for America on 26th August 1629.

It was the greatest fleet ever assembled to carry Englishmen overseas to a new homeland.

The Ships of the Fleet were

  • Arbella
  • Ambrose
  • Jewel
  • Talbot
  • Charles
  • Mayflower
  • William & Frances
  • Hopewell
  • The Whale
  • Success
  • Trial

See The voyage of the Winthrop Fleet to America

Wire drawingRef 1-711
A stage in the process of wire-making which involved pulling the wire through a series of smaller and smaller dies to produce a finer wire at each stage.

The process was carried out by a wire drawer.

See Charles Henry Broughton, Carrington Binns, Halifax Wiredrawers' Association, Healey & Healey, Solomon & Frederick Pitchforth, Solomon & James Pitchforth, Thomas Popplewell, James Royston, Son & Company, Siddall & Hilton Limited, Small Wiredrawers' Society, Frederick Smith, Town Woodhouse, Wood's John Wood & Sons and James Woods & Brothers

Wire loomRef 1-731
A loom on which wires are woven into the fabric of the material. The wires are removed from the finished material and the loops of yarn can be cut to produce a pile. These are used for producing velvet and Wilton carpets

Wire-makingRef 1-363
Wire making began in the Calder valley in the late 18th century to produce wire for the cards which were used in the textile industry for yarn preparation. The term wire drawing was a stage in the process

WitchRef 1-W8
Another name for a dobby.

See Drum witch

Witch ballRef 1-1044
A coloured glass ball which was used to ward off witches, scaring them by their own reflection

Witch bottleRef 1-1769
A bottle – containing a man's/woman's urine – often buried beneath the threshold or hidden within the house in an attempt to deflect any evil spirits or curse which might be directed at the man/woman. Sometimes, bent nails may also be placed in the bottle in the expectation that these would cause pain to the person who placed the curse

Witch ladderRef 1-2748
A string of 40 beads or a cord of 40 knots which witches use for magic. A ladder would be made of a number of feathers, each a different colour, and a cord of three colours – red, white and black – braided together.

A ladder could be used as a general charm for protection and good luck, and for a specific purpose, such as acquiring knowledge, health or prosperity. A ladder could be used to cast a spell over a person, in which case the witch hid the ladder so that the victim could not find it, as the only remedy was to find the rope and untie the knots

Witch markRef 1-2716
A mark – such as freckle, mole, wart, birthmark, pimple, pockmark, cyst, liver spot, wen, or other blemish – which was said to identify a witch. Red hair was another sign.

The term was also used for an inscription or graffito – such as might be found in a church – to ward off evil. These were often simple symbols of the cross, or might be more complex geometric designs intended to confuse and trap evil spirits. They were frequently place near the font, to protect the child during baptism

Witch pegRef 1-1004
A small notched stick which is sometimes found secreted in old buildings. These were ritual objects to frighten evil spirits and ward off bad luck.

See Bent Head, Heptonstall

Witch postRef 1-3028
A wooden post – typically a part of the fireplace – which was installed to protect the house against witches who might attempt to enter by way of the fireplace.

It might be made of the wood of the rowan tree and marked with cross-shaped designs.

A crooked sixpence was often kept in a hole in the post. The coin would be retrieved with a knitting needle and put into the churn on occasions when butter would not turn

Witch stickRef 1-1064
A glass stick filled with hundreds of tiny beads which was used to ward off and preoccupy witches who were compelled to count the number of beads

Witches & WitchcraftRef 1-449

WiteRef 1-W7
See Angwite, Blodwite, Flemeswite and Leyerwite

WithensRef 1-600
This element is used in place names which are associated with willow trees, like the word withy and comes from an earlier word for willow.

Locally, the element is found in names such as Withens Clough, Withens, Withinfields, and Withins

WizardRef 1-1939
Aka Cunning man. A name given to mediæval law-enforcers

WolfRef 1-813
A tumour which grows rapidly

Women's namesRef 1-2429
In the mediæval period, women's names might be recorded inaccurately.

For example in the Inquisitionis Post Mortem of Geoffrey Stansfeld (of 1508), both his wife Katherin, and Agnes – the wife of his son Ralph – are referred to as Margaret.

Earlier, in the mid-15th century, instances have been found where a lady whose name was not known has been called Isabella in a document. Anne may also have been used in this way

WoodbinesRef 1-W14
A cheap and popular brand of cigarette

WoodhouseRef 1-598
Used in place names, this often refers to a community established on woodland outside a village and its common land as the village expanded

WoofRef 1-161
An alternative name for weft. The adjective woofed means woven

Wool exchangeRef 1-1240
Unlike the large buildings in Leeds and Bradford [1867], there was no formal wool exchange in the Calderdale district.

See Cloth Hall

Wool exportRef 1-579
There were many merchants companies – such as the Merchant Adventurers and the Eastland Company - involved in the export of wool. They controlled the woollen trade and organised convoys to protect shipments from Britain.

In 1496, the Magnus Intercursus encouraged the export of wool to the Netherlands.

See Mr Kyte and Woollen industry

Woollen industryRef 1-358
England has a long history as a producer and exporter of wool, and from the 12th and 13th centuries, most parts of the country manufactured cloth. Halifax and the Calder Valley were especially prominent.

See Buried in wool, Cloth-making and Industry

Woollen registerRef 1-1432
A document which recorded that burials in the parish had been made in woollen shrouds

Woolsorter's diseaseRef 1-39
Local name for anthrax which was often caught from the wool of infected sheep.

It is also recorded as alpaca poisoning when caught by workers sorting alpaca wool

Workers' Educational AssociationRef 1-1090
The Association to Promote the Higher Education of Working Men was founded by Robert Halstead and Albert Mansbridge in 1903, and became the Workers' Educational Association in 1905. The first branch was in Reading [1903].

The first WEA class in Halifax was given at the Municipal Technical College in 1909.

See Sir Dryden Brook and Halifax Workers' Educational Association

Workers' HousingRef 1-466
A great many individuals and large companies built housing for their own workers. These ranged from the large model towns to the smaller estates and streets.

Local examples include:

See Worker's housing in West Yorkshire [1750-1920]

Workhouse MatronRef 1-1962
She assisted the Master in the workhouse. She was usually his wife, and was in charge of the female inmates and the domestic arrangements at the workhouse

Workhouse Test Act [1722]Ref 1-2290
Provided for the care and housing of the needy.

See Workhouse

WorkingRef 1-1328
In the context of 19th century education, this referred to the teaching of plain sewing.

See Accomplishments and Ciphering

Working hoursRef 1-2138
In the mills, workshops, and factories of the 18th and 19th century, working hours were typically 6:00 am to 7:30 pm with a lunch break of 1 or 1½ hours. On Saturdays, the hours might be 6:00 am to 4:00 pm. Sundays were days of rest and church or chapel.

By the 1840s, professionals usually worked only half a day on Saturday, and had Sunday off.

In the 1850s, a Birmingham engineering company, Wordsells, gave its workers Saturday afternoon off, and the practice soon spread throughout the industrial north.

In 1867, Brighouse cloggers closed at 5:00 pm on Saturdays and at 7:30 pm on other days.

In 1872, workers at Sugden's Flour Mills went on strike for a working day from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.

In shops, the hours were longer, many closing at midnight.

See Child labour, Half-timer, Early-closing day and Licensing hours

Working Men's ClubsRef 1-W26

World War IRef 1-2540
[28th July 1914 to 11th November 1918] It was known as the Great War, the First World War [1918], World War I, WW1, and WWI.

Many of those who died in the war are buried in any of several Military Cemeteries, maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

See 1914-15 Star, 1914 Star, Battle of the Somme, Brighouse Chums, British Expeditionary Force, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Conscription, Dead Man's Penny, German U-Boats, Halifax Great War Trail, William Henry Johnson, Military Cemeteries, Pals Battalion, People who Died in World War I, US aliens in World War I, War Heroes and War Shrines

World War IIRef 1-2549
[1939-1945] Aka the Second World War, World War II, WW2, and WWII.

See Battle of Britain, Conscription, German U-Boats, War Heroes, Military Cemeteries, People who Died in World War II and World War I

WormsRef 1-2616
Worms and other intestinal parasites were a common feature of life in the 19th century. They may be caused by eating uncooked food and infected water. There are estimates that over 90% of the population was affected by the parasites

WorsettRef 1-W31
Alternative form of the word worsted

WorstedRef 1-242
Aka worsett, Stuff.

A piece of fine cloth made of long, smooth woollen staples. The shorter strands were combed out to make noils, rather than being carded as with woollen cloth. The fibres were twisted, and the resultant yarn was strong and smooth and did not require fulling.

It was often used for bed-clothes, and then later for gowns, doublets and other clothing.

The name is derived from the village of Worstead, Norfolk, where much of the cloth was produced in the pre-industrial period.

At the start of the 18th century, these superseded the coarser kerseys. Unlike the kersey, worsted was typically red, blue or green in colour.

The first water-powered worsted spinning mill was built near Lancaster in 1784 and this supplied yarn to the Halifax district.

The technique came to Yorkshire from East Anglia around 1787.

The earliest worsted factory is said to have been at Dolphin Holme, near Lancaster, which was built in 1784 – see Thomas Edmondson.

Samuel Hill was famous for his worsted cloth.

The Luddites did not smash machines which processed worsted materials.

The production of worsted material came to Halifax at the end of the 18th century, and by 1830 – when worsted mills out-numbered woollen mills – Halifax and Bradford were major centres for worsted production. Worsted manufacturing reached Brighouse about 1800.

Wool with longer staples came from Lincolnshire and Leicestershire.

In 1926, the Courier records that there were 12,000 workers in Halifax providing one seventh of the country's worsted production.

Bay, a mixture of combed and carded yarns, was popular in Lancashire, and came to Yorkshire later.

See Callimancoe, Halifax, Bradford & Keighley Insurance Company, Noondoo and Industry

Worsted Act [1777]Ref 1-1996
Allowed worsted manufacturers of the North to appoint inspectors for the detection and prosecution of embezzlement of raw materials within the domestic system.

See Worsted Committee

Worsted CommitteeRef 1-749
A group set up by the Worsted Act [1777] to
prevent frauds and abuses committed by persons employed in the manufactures of combing wool, worsted, yarn, and goods made from worsted, in the counties of York, Lancaster, and Chester

Recorded on 3rd January 1820, when the Quarterly Meeting was held at the White Swan, Halifax

WortRef 1-689
Aka wart, and wyrt. Used in place names – such as Wortley – the element is probably from the language of the Angles and means a vegetables, or a place for growing

WorternRef 1-W6
Aka Wortun. A dialect form of quartern

WorthRef 1-690
Used in place names, such as Butterworth, Crimsworth, Holdsworth, and Wadsworth, the element is of Anglian origin and means an enclosure or a farm, and is connected to the words garth, ward, yard, and ultimately the Slavonic grad and gorod.

Most of the worths in the district are found on high ground

WorthRef 1-W21
The worth of a manor, as in Domesday Book was the annual income from the land – not the value of the land

WoughRef 1-241
A warping ough or frame at the rear of a loom which arranged the warp

Wringing machineRef 1-1860
Aka Mangle. A hand-operated set of rollers used for wringing wet clothes

WuzzingRef 1-302
Method of drying the wool or the pieces during the cloth-making process. The wool was placed in a basket – a wuzzing skep – which was attached to a pole and whirled round, making a wuzzing noise. Centrifugal force squeezed the water out of the wool.

Wuzzing holes – where one end of the pole was fixed to the wall whilst the other end was held in the hands – can be seen in walls, the stone-work of some weavers' cottages, and elsewhere in the district. These are about the size of a finger

WYASRef 1-W40
Abbr: West Yorkshire Archive Service

WyrthRef 1-W19
A labourer


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© Malcolm Bull 2019
Revised 17:29 /23rd May 2019 / b113_w / 91497

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