Background Information



MRef 1-2752
In mediæval times, a person accused of murder might be branded with the letter M.

A similar brand in Lancaster Court is said to have been used more recently to mark offenders as Malefactors.

See Benefit of clergy

This & associated entries use material contributed by Godfrey Young

MachpelahRef 1-536
The Hebrew name of the cave which was used as a burial place by Abraham in Genesis.

Having seen many overcrowded public cemeteries, Dr John Fawcett bought the land on which Machpelah House was built and gave it the name Machpelah as it was intended to be Fawcett's burial place

MackintoshRef 1-2930
Waterproofed worsted material used in the production of rainwear. The material was invented by the Scottish chemist Charles Macintosh [1766-1843] in 1823.

See James Akroyd

MadderRef 1-1984
An herbaceous climbing plant – rubia tinctorum – which was used to produce a red dye.

Roman graves from the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD have been found with textiles dyed with madder

MadrigalRef 1-1446
An unaccompanied secular song for several voices.

Madrigal societies were popular in the 19th century.

See Brighouse Glee & Madrigal Society, Glee and Rastrick Glee & Madrigal Society

MaggotoriumRef 1-2590
An establishment – or sanatorium – in which those suffering from consumption lay on beds in chalets above or adjacent to troughs of rotting meat. The Victorians and Edwardians believed that the pungent smell of the ammonia produced by the maggots feeding on the flesh, was beneficial to the sick

In the early 20th century, Arthur Bryant, who lived at Thornton, Bradford, had been ill with tuberculosis and noticed a gradual improvement in his health after he started breeding maggots for local anglers. He became known as the Maggot King of Thornton. In February 1911, the Bradford Telegraph organised trips for thousands of consumptives from all over Yorkshire to seek the cure.

See Thornton

MagistrateRef 1-2067
Aka Justice of the Peace, JP.

A legal officer who presides over minor prosecutions and legal cases.

See Magistrates & Courts and Stipendiary magistrate

Magistrates & CourtsRef 1-319
The Foldout collects the entries for some JPs, magistrates and courts with links to the district.

Many of the local Mayors were also JPs

Magna CartaRef 1-2776
A document constituting a fundamental guarantee of rights and privileges, granted by King John in 1215.

In 1213, as a response to the king's demands for excessive feudal dues and attacks on the privileges of the church, Archbishop Langton proposed to the barons the drawing-up of a binding document. John was forced to accept this and signed the document at Runnymede on 15 June 1215.

See Barons' War

MaidenRef 1-322
A guillotine based upon the Halifax gibbet and taken to Edinburgh – and thence to Aberdeen – by the Earl of Morton, regent for James VI of Scotland in the 16th century. Having seen one of the executions on the gibbet as he passed through Halifax, Morton ordered a model to be taken of the machine, which he carried into Scotland, and had one of similar construction made from it. The copy stood about 10 ft high.

In 1581, Morton himself was brought to the block, and suffered by the machine which he had caused to be erected. Other Scottish towns hired the Edinburgh maiden for 30 shillings

Maiden nameRef 1-499
The surname of a woman before marriage.

Traditionally, if Miss Mary Smith married Mr John Jones, she would lose her maiden name and be known as Mrs John Jones.

The maiden name of a child's mother is recorded on birth records after the middle of the year 1911.

Until the 20th century, it was common for the eldest son to he given his mother's maiden name as a forename.

See Mrs

This & associated entries use material contributed by Roger Beasley

MainRef 1-1324
A cockfight

The Main plotRef 1-T28
In July 1603, Sir Walter Raleigh was suspected of leading The Main Plot to dethrone James I immediately after his accession. He was tried for treason and imprisoned in the Tower of London

Maintenance of Husbandry & Tillage, Act for the [1597]Ref 1-2129
Passed to tackle the growing poverty and social distress

Majesty's PleasureRef 1-1066
A legal term denoting a custodial sentence of unspecified length – often imposed on grounds of insanity – and subject to periodic review

MalariaRef 1-814
An infectious parasitic disease carried by mosquitoes in fens, marshes and the marshy valley bottoms, such as at Hebden Bridge. The symptoms include periodic fever and an enlarged spleen.

The disease could be treated by Peruvian bark – which contained quinine – but this has been replaced by synthetic medicines.

The name comes from the fact that the disease was thought to be a consequence of bad air. This was associated with the stagnant water of swamps and marshes – correct conclusion, wrong reason.

In 1856, William Henry Perkin was searching for a cure for malaria and discovered the first synthetic aniline dye – mauve. In 1897, Ronald Ross showed that the disease is transmitted by the mosquito. In 1899, Sir Patrick Manson identified the anopheles mosquito as the carrier.

See Ague and Miasma

MalfeasanceRef 1-1672
Wrongdoing or misconduct, especially by a public official.

Compare Nonfeasance

Man-at-armsRef 1-1253
Aka Yeoman. A soldier holding a piece of land – typically 60-120 acres – in exchange for military service

Manchester clothRef 1-1050
A name given to a cotton or linen cloth, recorded in the 19th century.

The city of Manchester was the centre of the cotton industry at the time

MangleRef 1-2338
Aka Wringing machine. A hand-operated set of rollers used for wringing wet clothes

MangoRef 1-M18
Someone who traded in slaves

ManorRef 1-134
The basic unit of feudalism established after the Norman Conquest. The country was divided into manors, each with its own lord and its own jurisdiction, rules, courts and customs.

A manor comprised the lord's house, cultivated land and meadow land, land rented by free tenants, land held by villagers, common land, woodland, and waste land. Typically, a manor would be 1200 to 1800 acres in extent.

See Manor of Barkisland, Manor of Batley, Manor of Copley, Court leet, Customary due, Dower House, Elland, Manor of, Manor of Erringden, Manor of Fixby, Manor of Greetland, Halifax, Manor of, Heptonstall, Manor of, Manor of Hipperholme Thorn, Manor of Hipperholme, Manor of Lindley, Manor courts, Medale, Manor of Midgley, Manor of Norland, Manor of Northowram, Manor of Ovenden, Rastrick, Manor of, Manor of Rishworth, Manor of Royds Hall, Manor of Shelf Hall, Manor of Shelf, Manor of Southowram, Sowerby, Manor of, Manor of Soyland, Manor of Stainland, Manor of Stansfield, Sub-manor, Manor of Wadsworth, Manor of Wakefield and Manor of Warley

Manor courtsRef 1-1067
The court in which the representative of the lord of the manor heard cases and petitions. There were no paid officers at the court. Each tenant was required to perform the various duties.

These were often held in the nave of the church

Manor houseRef 1-129
This was the house occupied by the lord of the manor.

See Great Houses

Manorial courtRef 1-2529
The mediæval feudal system required that the lord of the manor provide a court for his tenants. These included the court of the honour and the court baron for free tenants, and the court customary for unfree tenants or villeins. The Court rolls recorded the proceedings.

See Affeerer and Hallmoot

MantuaRef 1-M43
A loose gown worn by ladies in the 17th/18th century. This was often worn open in the front to show the underskirt.

These were made by a mantua maker

ManumissionRef 1-M28
A grant of freedom

MapsRef 1-342
The Foldout gives more information about Maps which you may find useful when visiting and touring the area.

See Clickable map of Calderdale, Land ownership maps, Moore's Terrier, Ordnance Survey Maps and Townships of Halifax Parish

This & associated entries use material contributed by Chris Denham

MarasmusRef 1-853
A wasting away of the body. It may be linked to a poor diet or a physiological inability to digest and absorb food efficiently.

This was recorded as one of the causes of death of Branwell Brontë

MarchetRef 1-1214
A sort of bread eaten by the mediæval upper classes and made of white wheat flour

MarkRef 1-1326
Until the fairly recent past, a great many people were unable to read or write and used their mark to sign a will or other legal document. The document would then be counter-signed by a clerk of the court.

Typically, the mark would be a letter X, although it could also be some other letter or symbol.

Marks were often used by people who were able to write, for example

  • When someone with minimal education chose not to display their poor writing attempts to the educated vicar

  • For marriage registrations, where a wife might not wish to appear too clever in front of her new husband – particularly if the groom himself could not write

  • When registering a birth – and trying to hold a baby at the same time – making a mark might be simpler than signing

MarkRef 1-2993
Mediæval unit of accounting. There was no coin of this value.

Typically, a silver mark was valued at about 13s/4d, two-thirds of £1 and equivalent to about 8 ounces of silver. A gold mark was worth £6.

A noble was worth half a mark

MarlingRef 1-M49
An agricultural technique used in some parts of the country, in which a pit is dug to extract the underlying limey clay, and then this is spread on the topsoil

MarriageRef 1-925
The ritual union which recognises the union of a man and a woman, and establishes their mutual rights and obligations.

Since the Church of England considered Nonconformists to be heretical, many ceremonies conducted by the Nonconformist churches were not recognised beyond those churches. For this reason, many people who were married in a Nonconformist church, had the ceremony repeated in the local Parish Church

See Banns of marriage, Dynastic marriages, Marriage Act [1653], Marriage Act [1753], Marriage Act [1836], Marriage allegation, Marriage bond, Marriage licence, Miscellaneous marriages and Morganatic marriage

This & associated entries use material contributed by Ainley Wade

Marriage Act [1653]Ref 1-M48
During the Commonwealth, this said that the marriage was to be a civil ceremony and that the banns could be read in the market place instead of the church

Marriage Act [1753]Ref 1-1859
Aka Lord Hardwicke's Act. Required that all marriages – even Nonconformist – be performed in an Anglican parish church or chapel, the banns of marriage must be repeated for three successive Sundays, as before, and that no licence should be granted to a minor, and that the wedding must be conducted in a church according to the English Book of Common Prayer, and properly recorded in the parish register. This was intended to stop clandestine marriages without a licence, and those conducted when the parties were intoxicated. For those who were unable to read, the Act was read out in churches and chapels on Sundays in 1753, 1754 and 1755. It came into force on 25th March 1754 and improved the recording of marriages. Only Jews and Quakers were exempt, other nonconformist marriages were forbidden until the Dissenters' Marriage Act [1836].

Marriage Act [1836]Ref 1-1818
This and the Births & Deaths Registration Act established the system of civil registration. All marriage registers were to record the name, age, occupation and residence of the bride and groom, and the name and occupation of the respective fathers

Marriage allegationRef 1-2428
The marriage allegation, the marriage bond, and the marriage licence were 3 documents required for a marriage by licence rather than by banns.

The marriage allegation was a statement sworn by one of the couple stating there was no legal impediment to their marriage

Marriage bondRef 1-2412
The marriage allegation, the marriage bond, and the marriage licence were 3 documents required for a marriage by licence rather than by banns.

The marriage bond was a document comprising the obligation and the condition, which again asserts that there is no legal impediment to the marriage and supports this by a contract to pay a sum of money if there is later found to have been an impediment to the marriage. The bond also ensures that any financial penalty required to be paid by the clergyman – in cases of an illegal marriage – would be met by the forfeiture of that money

Marriage licenceRef 1-2829
A couple who wished to be married in the Church of England, had to perform one of two procedures: either banns were published, or a marriage licence was obtained.

Although it was customary for the banns of marriage to be read in the parish church of the intended couple, the church authorities were able – on payment of a fee – to issue marriage licences for those who did not wish to have the banns read out publicly, or who wished to marry quickly.

Marriage licences were obtained from the diocese where one of the parties lived, and in which the marriage was to take place.

The actual documents involved were the marriage allegation, the marriage bond, and the marriage licence, and the information may also be recorded in the Act Book. The licence to marry was handed to the clergyman performing the ceremony. It may have been retained by the clergyman, or it may have been returned to the couple.

Before the introduction of civil registration in 1837, the Church of England was responsible for the solemnising of marriages in England and Wales. Hardwicke's Marriage Act [1753] allowed Jews and Quakers to be married in their own places of worship. Banns-only registers were introduced in 1823.

The legal age for marriage with parents' consent was 12 for a girl and 14 for a boy.

In 1926, a couple aged 16 or over could marry without their parents' consent

Married Women's Property Act [1870]Ref 1-M55
This allowed wives in England to have property of their own

Marston Moor, Battle ofRef 1-414
During the Civil War, 22,500 Parliamentarians and Scottish Covenanters – under the Earl of Leven, the Earl of Manchester and Lord Fairfax – defeated the Royalist force of 17,000 – under the Earl of Newcastle – at Marston Moor, west of York, on 2nd July 1644.

See John Crossley, Sir Richard Gledhill and Siege of York

MasonRef 1-1450
Someone who works in stone.

A mason banker is the bench on which the mason works.

See Fixer, Freemason, Hewer and Mason's Mark

Mason's MarkRef 1-324
A simple mark made by a stone mason on each individual block which he had worked.

The marks served two purposes

  1. Quality control: the finished stone would be inspected by the foreman to ensure that it fully complied with the required specification and that, if it didn't, then the stone was either returned to the mason responsible, for rectification or it would be rejected
  2. Accounting: the stone, having been accepted by the foreman, would be inspected to measure the extent of the work (by yard or cube) and this would be recorded in a Tally book against the corresponding mason's mark listed, so that the mason would then receive payment for his labours

See Masons' marks on the Rochdale Canal

Matrimonial Causes Act [1923]Ref 1-M3
Allowed British women to divorce their husbands for adultery

Maundy MoneyRef 1-2992
Sterling silver – 1, 2, 3, and 4 pence – coins which the English sovereign distributes to a number of elderly citizens on Maundy Thursday.

The number of recipients – and the value of coins distributed to each person – is equal to the sovereign's age at the next birthday.

Since 1662, the coins have been specially minted for the ceremony

MavisRef 1-M26
A song-thrush

MayflowerRef 1-96
The Mayflower carried 102 passengers, the Pilgrims, (plus a crew of about 25) to Massachusetts in America. They left from Plymouth, Devon on 6th September, 1620 and made the 66-day voyage, arriving in November

MayorRef 1-538
The elected head of the municipal corporation or the district council of a city or a borough.

The mayor may be a man or a woman.

The period or term of office of a mayor is known as the mayoralty.

The mayor's consort is the mayoress and performs a supporting rôle. The mayoress may be the mayor's wife or any other man or woman.

See Mayors of Brighouse, Mayors of Calderdale, Mayors of Halifax, Mayors of Todmorden, Alderman and Magistrates

MaypoleRef 1-M51
A tall pole with long ribbons attached to the top, and used for traditional May Day dances to celebrate the arrival of spring. The maypole probably represents the sacred tree which formed the centrepiece of pagan spring festivals.

The tallest maypole in England was 130 ft high and erected in The Strand, London, in 1661. In 1717, it was taken down for use as a support for Sir Isaac Newton's telescope.

These were strongly discouraged by the church in the 19th century, and the Dissenters tried to ban the practice because of the drunkenness and lewd behaviour which accompanied them, and children were encouraged to participate.

The theft of the maypole by rival communities was common

MeadRef 1-628
In names – such as Acre Mead, Prior's Mead – this is a form of the word meadow

Means testRef 1-M38
An assessment of all of personal and family income in order to determine the amount to be paid in social security benefits.

In 1931, an Act was passed to use the employment insurance fund to pay only limited, short-term benefits. The longer-term unemployed and those not covered by the scheme were to receive assistance only after a means test had been applied and the amount of unemployment benefit assessed. The Unemployment Act [1934] retained the means test as a method of distributing unemployment benefit.

See William Holt and Todmorden Communists

MeaslesRef 1-817
An infectious fever with small red spots appearing on the skin. It often led to pneumonia and could be fatal. Common in children.

There was a local outbreak in November 1902 to August 1903. This began at the Red Cross Model Lodging House, Brighouse and was blamed on tramps and itinerants.

There was a national epidemic in April 1926. Several local schools were closed.

The disease was controlled in the 20th century

MedaleRef 1-1798
A drinking festival after the meadow land of a manor had been mowed – meadow ale

Medals & awardsRef 1-M9
Information about medals and awards can be found at the links below

Mediæval LatinRef 1-M24
A form of classical Latin which was taken across Europe with the spread of the Catholic Church. It was used by the educated classes and – except for the Commonwealth period 1651-1660 – was used for legal documents until 1731. The language contained many non-classical forms and the vocabulary – to describe current concepts, and abbreviations – often included words taken from the local language

Medley clothRef 1-2912
Cloth produced from wool which was dyed before weaving

MeerRef 1-988
A fence, hedge or other boundary. This may be marked with posts or meer-stones.

See Mir

MeetRef 1-M45
Appropriate, suitable, fit, proper

MegRef 1-M37
A Victorian term for a halfpenny

Member of ParliamentRef 1-M53

Memoranda rollRef 1-M29
A document recording memoranda – that is, things to be remembered – by the Exchequer

Memorial Inscription / MIRef 1-1288
A text remembering a person after his/her death, or a number of people who died in similar circumstances (such as war or accident).

It may be inscribed on a gravestone or plaque giving the age and date of his/her death.

See Relict and Widow / Widower

MendingRef 1-301
A stage in cloth-making when the piece of cloth is examined and any faults mended. Burling and mending was a common job description

MercerisationRef 1-949
The process invented by John Mercer by which cotton is soaked in caustic soda while under tension to produce a finish similar to silk with improved strength, lustre, and absorbency of the thread.

The process of mercerisation is carried out by a mercer.

See Mercers' Company and Silk mercer

Merchant Adventurers, The Fellowship ofRef 1-495
An association of merchants who were involved in foreign trade. The company received it charter in 1407.

Sir Richard Saltonstall was a governor of the Merchant Adventurers.

See Wool export

Merchant's markRef 1-M8
A symbol or design which was used from the 13th century to identify goods and products at a time when many people could not read or write

MerchetRef 1-2368
A compulsory payment to the lord of the manor by a villein whose son or daughter was to be married.

See Formarriage and Lerwite

MercyRef 1-M56
See Amercement

MereRef 1-619
Used in place names – such as Resby Mere – the element often means boundary

MerinoRef 1-M31
A breed of sheep, and the name of a fine woollen yarn – possibly worsted mixed with cotton – or a fabric made of such yarn.

Records for Akroyd's mill show that they were producing the fabric in 1826

MerrybegotRef 1-993
A word used to denote an Illegitimate child

Mersey flatRef 1-2861
A type of barge used on the Rochdale Canal. They were 74 ft in length, and 14 ft wide. They were capable of carrying loads up to 50 tons

MeseRef 1-998
See Messuage

Mesne LordsRef 1-1026
A later name for Sokemen

This & associated entries use material contributed by Joanne Backhouse

MesolithicRef 1-562
The Middle Stone Age was the period of human development after the Palæolithic which, in Britain, began around 8000 BC when the ice was receding after the Ice Age. People were hunter-gatherers with much emphasis on settlements around bogs and water. Around 4000 BC, it gave way to the Neolithic.

There is some evidence of Mesolithic occupation in the Calderdale district, including Cock Hill, Midgley Moor, Crow Hill, Midgley Moor, Dog Hill, Rishworth Moor, Ferny Lee, Midgley Moor, Fly Flatts Reservoir, Gaol Lane, Halifax, Great Manshead Hill, Ripponden, Grey Stone Quarry, Ripponden, High Brown Knowl, Wadsworth, High Rough, Midgley Moor, Holdsworth, Linsgreave, Ripponden, Manshead, Nab Water, Pule Hill, Boothtown, Ringstone, Barkisland, Saw Gill, Ripponden, Wicken Clough, Ripponden and Winny Stone, Midgley Moor

MesotheliomaRef 1-31
An incurable tumour of the pleura, peritoneum or pericardium, cancer caused by exposure to asbestos – especially blue asbestos. It is said that the disease can take up to 50 years to develop, and patients are given less than 12 months to live after diagnosis.

See Cape Insulation Limited, Nick Crossley, Jean Greenwood and Kosset Carpets Limited

MessuageRef 1-1265
Also mese. A dwelling house with adjoining land and outbuildings assigned for its use.

A capital messuage was a large residential property

MeteRef 1-1697
A unit of distance

See Metes & bounds

Metes & BoundsRef 1-2708
A method of surveying property by using physical and topographical data in conjunction with direct measurements.

See Mete

MethodistRef 1-117
A member of The Methodism Evangelical Protestant Christian movement which was founded within the Church of England by John Wesley in 1729.

In 1749, the Methodists met in the Cow Green preaching room. Church Lane Chapel was the first Methodist chapel in Halifax [1760] Wesley's Chapel, Broad Street was the 2nd Methodist Chapel to be built in Halifax.

With the Methodist Union in 1932, the denomination of Wesleyan Methodist became Methodist.

See Chapel House, Todmorden Edge, Fly Sheets controversy, Methodist New Connexion, Methodist Unitarian, Primitive Methodism, Slave trade, Wesleyan Methodism, Wesleyan Reform Movement and John Wrenshall

This & associated entries use material contributed by Ben Stables

Methodist Free ChurchRef 1-404
Established in 1957 when the Wesleyan Methodists and the Wesleyan Reformers amalgamated

Methodist New ConnexionRef 1-118
In 1797, after John Wesley's death, about 5,000 Methodists left the Wesleyans to form the Methodist New Connexion under the leadership of Alexander Kilham and William Thom. This was the first major non-Wesleyan Methodist chapel. This branch of Methodism was established as a more democratic body than had been known under Wesley.

  1. Mount Zion, Ogden is the oldest continuous Methodist New Connexion group
  2. Salem Methodist Chapel, North Parade was the first specific Chapel to be built by the Society [1797]
  3. Hanover Methodist Chapel, Halifax was the second New Connexion Chapel to be built

The original Methodists were known as Wesleyan Methodists.

In 1907, the the Methodist New Connexion, the Methodist Free Church, and the Bible Christians amalgamated to form the United Methodist Church.

See Pickles Row, Midgley

This & associated entries use material contributed by John Hoyle

Methodist UnitarianRef 1-116
Aka Cookites. A breakaway group from the Methodists established by Joseph Cooke in the early 19th century. They established chapels in the west of the district, and John Fielden became a member.

See Unitarianism

MiasmaRef 1-785
A heavy or foul-smelling vapour – such as that from a swamp – which was believed to carry germs and to cause disease.

It was widely held that diseases such as cholera were transferred miasmically.

See Malaria

MickleRef 1-438
The element meaning large is used in placenames such as Micklemoss and Micklethwaite

Middle AgesRef 1-2457
The period from the Dark Ages at the end of the 5th century up to the 15th century, that is, the time between the fall of the Western Roman empire and the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks on 29th May 1453. Some writers regard the reign of Henry VII, or the Reformation, as marking the end of the Middle Ages. The adjective is mediæval

Middle EnglishRef 1-721
The version of the English language which evolved from Old English and was spoken from about 1350.

Chaucer wrote in this form and only a few words are intelligible to the average reader.

Around 1500, it gave way to Modern English

MigrationRef 1-494

Milch-kineRef 1-M66
The plural form of milch-cow, a cow which is kept solely for milking

MileRef 1-1706
A unit of length equivalent to 320 poles = 1760 yards = 1·609 kms; a square mile is equivalent to 2·589 square kms. In mediæval times, there was considerable regional variation in the actual length of a mile:

  • 1976 yards: Scottish mile
  • 2240 yards: Yorkshire mile and Irish mile – may be based upon a pole of 7 yards
  • 5000 yards: London mile
  • 6610 yards: English mile
  • 7000 yards: Welsh mile
  • 1620 yards: Roman mile

The statute mile – 1760 yards – was specified by Act of Parliament in 1593

1 square mile = 640 acres = 2·59 square km.

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

MilestonesRef 1-1290
See Clay House, West Vale, Finger post and Mile

Military Cemeteries & MemorialsRef 1-738

Military CrossRef 1-1209
A military decoration awarded to officers of the British Armed Forces.

Since 1979, this and other decorations have been awarded posthumously.

Since 1993, it has been awarded to other ranks

Militia listRef 1-M2
From the 18th century, the Clerk of the Peace was responsible for publishing a list of newly commissioned officers in the London Gazette

MilkRef 1-759
In the 19th century, farmers added boracic acid, more commonly known as borax, to their milk, in the belief that it would purify the milk, and remove the taste and smell from milk that had gone off. Mrs Beeton told consumers that this was quite a harmless addition.

Boracic acid can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Moreover, bovine TB – passed in milk which has not been pasteurised – flourished in the bacteria-friendly environment created by borax

MillRef 1-M12
The earliest mills were corn mills.

When the mechanisation brought by the Industrial Revolution took cloth production from the domestic system into the larger scale, a great many cotton, woollen and silk manufacturing and processing mills were built in the district.

There have been a great many local mills.

Few of them are still in production

Mill raceRef 1-M10
The channel bringing water to a mill wheel

Millbank Prison, LondonRef 1-2510

The National Penitentiary opened in 1816.

People who were to be transported were held here prior to departure.

Around 1867, when transportation ended, Millbank became a local prison.

In 1870, it became a military prison.

It closed in 1890 and was demolished in 1892

Milled edgeRef 1-M34
Machine-made coins appeared in 1562 during the reign of Charles II and had a milled edge to discourage the practice of clipping coins and making counterfeit currency

Various designs were used for the pattern on the milled edge, each more difficult to copy:

  • Vertical lines
  • Diagonal lines
  • Chevron
  • Curves like parentheses

From 1662, the milled edge was also engraved with the Latin inscription:

Decus et Tutamen

The inscription reappeared when the £1 coin was issued in 1983

MillingRef 1-332

Million Pound ActRef 1-103
The Church Building Act [1820] was passed to build churches in the developing towns after a survey had shown that no new churches had been built since the time of Queen Anne.

The Act allocated £1 million to build churches in industrial areas for want of places of public worship, particularly for persons of the middle and lower classes. A further £500,000 was added in 1824, and a further £181,000 was raised by public subscription. The money came from a surplus of the indemnity money which was paid to Britain by Austria after the Napoleonic Wars.

The government gave £1,152,044, and the public gave £1,847,956.

The churches were built to a tight budget and decoration was kept to a minimum, and the churches often had galleries.

A church built under the Act might be known as a Commissioners' Church, a Million Pound Church, or a Waterloo Church.

Some local examples include Christ Church, Barkisland, Christ Church, Pellon, Christ Church, Todmorden, Parish Church of Saint Martin, Brighouse, Saint James's Church, Halifax, Saint James the Great Church, Hebden Bridge, Saint John's Church, Ovenden, Saint John in the Wilderness, Cragg Vale, Saint Michael's & All Angels' Church, Shelf, Saint Michael's Church, Mytholmroyd, Saint Paul's Church, Cross Stone, Saint Paul's Church, King Cross and Saint Peter's Church, Walsden

See Robert Dennis Chantrell and John Oates

MillwrightRef 1-M15
Someone who made the machines and tools used in mills.

See Jonathan Barker

Mineral lineRef 1-2355
Another term for the tramways which were used in coal mining

Mines Act [1842]Ref 1-712
This prevented boys under 10 years old and women from working in coal mines

MingeRef 1-M39
See Mynge

MiningRef 1-368
See Coal mining, Lead Mining and Stone quarrying

MinuetRef 1-M17
A slow and stately dance written in triple time

MirRef 1-888
Used in place names, the element means a boundary valley.

See Meer

Misprision of TreasonRef 1-1095
From 1561, an Act of Parliament made it a crime – known as Misprision of Treason – to manufacture counterfeit foreign coins.

The term is from the French mesprit – meaning contempt.

See Coiners, High Treason and Petty Treason

MistalRef 1-73
A cow-shed or barn.

Often with a hay-loft above.

The word uses the elements mist – a form of mixen, meaning dung – and stall

This & associated entries use material contributed by Alan Greenwood

MixenRef 1-772
The element – used in place-names such as Mixenden – comes from the Old English mixen [a dung-hill].

The word is also related to Middin, midden, muck and mistal

Model Lodging HousesRef 1-66
In his report of 1851, William Ranger recommended the provision of Model Lodging Houses for the poorer people in towns.

The Model Lodging House Movement was established to provide low cost shared rented rooms to workers and to the homeless under the auspices of the local authorities.

Some local examples were

See Common Lodging House

Modern EnglishRef 1-976
The form of the English language which evolved from Middle English and was spoken from around AD 1500.

There had been many changes in pronunciation since Middle English – especially the change in the quality of vowels which is known as the Great Vowel Shift and which continued until around 1700.

The following example is from a 16th century sermon to thieves:

As for stealinge, that is a thing vsuall: who stealeth not? For not only you that haue besett me, but many other in many places
Shakespeare wrote in this form and, once you have got used to the spelling, it is intelligible without much difficulty today.

Middle English and early Modern English had no standard spelling, and this varied from writer to writer – Shakespeare even spelled his own name in different ways.

With the introduction of printing, a standardised spelling appeared in the late 17th century, although it was a record of English as it was pronounced in late mediæval times

ModusRef 1-M46
Also Modus decimandi. The conversion of a tithe payment to a fixed sum of money after the Tithe Commutation Act [1836]

MohairRef 1-2671
The clipped wool of the angora goat. It varies in fineness and is resilient and strong. Its value is determined by its lustre and not its softness. It is used extensively in industries such as carpet, upholstery, curtain and automobile cloth. Mohair cloth is used for linings, pile fabrics, suitings, upholstery, dress materials, felt hats, and sweaters. The name is also used for yarn made of the wool, and for a fine camlet made of the yarn, and for imitations of the yarn or cloth.

Some forms – called brilliantine – have cotton warp and mohair filling.

See S. Bottomley & Brothers, Damask, John Foster & Son Limited and Lustre fabric

MoidoreRef 1-2995
A Portuguese gold coin which was accepted as currency in England during the 18th century.

In England, these had a face value of 27/6d.

They were replaced by the Spanish dollar at the end of the 18th century.

The name comes from the Portuguese moeda d'ouro meaning coin of gold.

See Foreign coins

MoietyRef 1-M47
A half. Often used to mean half a share of a deceased's estate

MoldbrestRef 1-M13
Land which was exhausted by over-cultivation, and abandoned by the tenants. The name means soil exhausted

MoleskinRef 1-2915
A smooth, very heavy fustian cloth

Molly houseRef 1-M50
An ale-house frequented by homosexuals. These are recorded from the 1690s

Money-fiefRef 1-1417
Military service in return for an annual payment made by the king

Money, Value ofRef 1-M41

Monkey boatRef 1-2860
Aka Narrow boat

Monmouth's rebellionRef 1-M1
After James II's accession in 1685, James Scott, Duke of Monmouth, the illegitimate son of Charles II, landed in England at Lyme Regis, Dorset, claimed the crown from his uncle, and raised a rebellion, which was crushed at the Battle of Sedgemoor.

In order to deal with the rebellion, James II added new regiments of horse and foot to those already in existence. The 10th Regiment of Foot was one of these

MonogramRef 1-M14
A symbol formed by intertwining two or more letters and/or numbers

Mons StarRef 1-744

See 1914 Star

Monumental inscriptionRef 1-1221
Abbr: MI.

An epitaph on a grave, tombstone or memorial.


Mop FairRef 1-2514
Aka Hiring Fair. An annual event – held at Michaelmas – where farmers and landowners hired their artisans, labourers and servants for the year ahead. Wages and conditions of service were agreed on the spot. The custom was discontinued after the First World War

Moravian BrethrenRef 1-781
The Unitas Fratrum. A Protestant sect which grew out of the earlier Hussite communities and the Bohemian Brethren. They were persecuted and driven out of Bohemia, and emigrated to Germany, England and North America.

John Wesley and his brother joined the Moravians, but left to found the Methodists.

There are still small congregations in the UK, the USA and Europe

See Fulneck, German House, Lightcliffe, Lower Wyke Moravian Church, Lower Wyke Moravian Chapel Graveyard, Moravian House, Moravian Sunday School, Wyke and Moravian Terrace, Hipperholme

Morbus CordisRef 1-528
The Latin term for heart disease or heart failure

MoreenRef 1-2904
Aka Mooreen.

A strong ribbed woollen, worsted or cotton cloth used for curtains, often figured or watered, and used for curtains and in upholstery.

In 1811, John Holland introduced moreens into Yorkshire from Norfolk.

Records for Akroyd's mill show that they produced the fabric in 1811

Morganatic marriageRef 1-M57
A marriage between husband and wife of unequal rank. Any children are legitimate, but cannot inherit the higher rank. If the wife is of lower rank, she is not granted the husband's title

MormonsRef 1-M35

MortarRef 1-1953
A vessel in which substances are pounded or ground with a pestle

MortificationRef 1-795
Any of a number of diseases including gangrene, necrosis and severe infection

MortmainRef 1-1074
The transfer of property to a religious body – a dead hand – which can never transfer it further.

See Statute of Mortmain [1279]

MortuaryRef 1-M5
A payment or gift made to the priest of a mediæval parish on the death in the family of a parishioner. Typically, this gift was the second-best animal – later the second-best moveable property – from the estate of the deceased. Poor parishioners were exempt.

In 1529, it was changed to a payment of 10/-

MossRef 1-590
Used in place names – such as micklemoss – the element is used to refer to swampy or boggy ground or a marsh.

The word comes from the Old Norse mose [a bog]

Moss reeveRef 1-970
An official who handled legal claims for land which was bog or swamp.

See Reeve

MoteRef 1-M4
A meeting.

See Moot hall

Mother churchRef 1-M27
The parish church of the district where baptisms and burials were performed. The smaller chapels which were built in the outlying districts were chapels of ease and only for worship and had to be specially licensed for baptisms and burials. The name is also used for the cathedral of the diocese.

On Mothering Sunday, parishioners would return to their mother church, or the cathedral of the diocese, to worship and make offerings

Motor Cycle Drivers' LicencesRef 1-885
In January 1904, the council Watch Committee granted Motor Cycle Driver Licences to the following people

  1. Ernest William Shaw Hughes
  2. Unknown
  3. Edward Farrar
  4. George Frederick Harker
  5. Samuel Longbottom
  6. Sam Thomas
  7. Walter Sandwell Clegg
  8. Joseph Henry Horsfall

The numbers are those assigned to the driver's licence.

See Car Drivers Licences, Car registration letters and Motor Cycle Registrations

This & associated entries use material contributed by Alan Longbottom

Motor Cycle RegistrationsRef 1-210
In January 1904, the council Watch Committee granted Motor Cycle Registration numbers to the following people

  1. Ernest William Shaw Hughes
  2. Frank Egerton Walker
  3. John Turner
  4. George Edward Walsh
  5. Edward Farrar
  6. George Frederick Harker
  7. Samuel Longbottom
  8. Herbert Wilfred Pilling
  9. Sam Thomas
  10. Walter Sandwell Clegg
  11. Harry Mortimer
  12. Joseph Henry Horsfall

The numbers are those assigned to the motor cycle.

See Car Drivers Licences, Motor Car Registrations, Car registration letters and Motor Cycle Drivers Licences

This & associated entries use material contributed by Alan Longbottom

MovableRef 1-M22
Portable property – as distinct from land and buildings. A mediæval tax of 6% or 10% was often levied on movables

MozingRef 1-283
The process of brushing the finished cloth to raise the nap.

See Gig mill

MrsRef 1-507
Courtesy title for a married woman.

If Miss Mary Smith married Mr John Jones, she is traditionally known as Mrs John Jones.

Historically, if she survived her husband, she would be known as Mrs Mary Jones.

See Maiden Name

MuckenderRef 1-M42
A handkerchief

Mule SpinningRef 1-M6
The method of spinning by means of a spinning mule. It was superseded by ring spinning

MultureRef 1-1586
A fee, fine, tax, or penalty, especially a levy of corn, grain or flour, which a miller received in payment for grinding corn.

In Halifax, this was collected at Mulcture Hall.

In the reign of Charles I, the tax was fixed at 1/20th of all the corn grown in and brought into the manor of Halifax, 1/24th of hard corn, and 1/30th of other corn

MummerRef 1-1208
A street performer – often masked – who acted out plays and mime shows on public holidays and at religious festivals

Mummified catsRef 1-2469
Skeletons of cats and mummified cats – possibly produced by walling-up the live animal – have been found in many buildings. These were ritual objects which are thought to deter mice or to protect the building from fire.

One was found in the rafters at Heptonstall church after the storm of 1847, and was displayed at the Cross Inn, Heptonstall.

Other examples were found at Slead Hall, Brighouse

MummingRef 1-M52
A ritual in which a group of people with blacked faces and dressed as women go from house to house without speaking – possibly just humming quietly. When inside the house they clean the rooms

MumpsRef 1-872
A viral infection. It is common – although short-lived – in children, and may lead to meningitis. Symptoms are fever, pain, and swelling of the salivary glands. In adults, the symptoms are more serious and it may cause sterility in men. This was common in the 19th century

MungoRef 1-256
A recovered wool product of poor quality reclaimed by grinding tightly-woven worsted and/or hard rags. It is usually of very variable and short fibre length. Mungo-grinding – predominantly around Dewsbury – was mechanised from around 1834.

The name is said to derive from the dlalect term, mun go – meaning must go, must sell – which is how it was described by George Parr, who modified the production of shoddy to this new material

MunimentRef 1-M54
A document giving evidence of a person's rights and privileges and which enables him to defend the title of his estate

MurageRef 1-1427
A charge made to pay for the building and maintenance of the walls of a town.

See Weiring

MurdersRef 1-M33

MurrainRef 1-812
Aka cattle plague. A disease of sheep and cattle. The term was not specific and applied generally to any such disease

MurreyRef 1-914
An heraldic term referring to the stain (colour) mulberry-crimson

Muscovy CompanyRef 1-M36

MustardRef 1-M23
The powder – made from the seeds of brown mustard plant brassica juncea and the white mustard plant sinapis alba – is used in seasoning food and as a medicine. The powder is coloured with turmeric.

Until the 1950s, black mustard brassica nigra was used, but this was replaced by brown mustard.

There was a local mustard-making industry.

This was made by a mustarder or mustardman

Mustard makingRef 1-361
There was a small local industry producing mustard.

See Mellor's Mint, Brighouse and Oxford Mill, Brighouse

Muster rollsRef 1-1097
List of military groups and their arms which were produced in the 16th/17th century

MuteRef 1-M25
A mourner who was paid to walk in a funeral procession and to look sorrowful and melancholy. These were often children

Mutual Improvement SocietiesRef 1-M7

MyngeRef 1-1033
Aka Minge. An uncultivated and unenclosed piece of land

MysteryRef 1-1007
An old term meaning a handicraft, art, or trade. The word may be associated with mastery.

See Guild

MytholmRef 1-770
Used in place names – such as Mytholm and Mytholmroyd - the element means
a meadow at the junction of two rivers which was likely to flood


land at the mouth of two holmes

Pronunciation: the stress falls on the first syllable, the th is voiced, and the final syllable has the neutral schwa vowel: my-ðəm

© Malcolm Bull 2024
Revised 17:43 / 3rd May 2024 / 92706

Page Ref: B113_M

search tips advanced search
site search by freefind