Will and Guy's Humour - Funny Historical Truths
Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a
bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour.
Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege
of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.
Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small
animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and off the roof.
There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.
The floor was dirty. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.
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The wealthy had slate floors
that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they adding more thresh until when you opened the door it would
all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway.
This was the situation: Abraham Thornton was accused of having drowned Mary Ashford, but he was acquitted by the jury. This acquittal did not satisfy popular feeling, and the brother of Mary Ashford appealed.
Now Thornton was well advised as to his next proceeding, and, following the still existent law of this early time of which I write, he went to Westminster Hall, where he threw down, as a gage of battle, an antique gauntlet without fingers or thumb, of white tanned skin ornamented with silk fringes and sewn work, crossed by a narrow band of leather, the fastenings of leather tags and thongs.
This done, he declared himself ready to defend himself in a fight, and so to uphold his innocence, saying that he was within his rights, and that no judge could compel him to come before a jury.
This was held to be good and within the law, so Abraham Thornton won his case, as the brother refused to pick up the gauntlet. The scandal of this procedure caused the abolishment of the trial by battle, which had remained in the country's laws from the time of Henry II, until 1819.
In words of Dion Clayton Calthrop on Richard I.
Peas Porridge Hot
In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat.
They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold
overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.
Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could ' bring home the bacon.' They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and 'chew the fat.'
Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.
Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or 'upper crust.'
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes
knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family
would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.
England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a 'bone-house' and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the 'graveyard shift' ) to listen for the bell.
Thus, someone could be 'saved by the bell' Also they could be considered a 'dead ringer.'
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There is a Bit of History Buff In All of Us - More Funny Historical Truths
Randy Trobaugh kindly researched the history of these fascinating sayings.
Cost an Arm and a Leg
In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was
either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him
standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both
legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many
people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms
and legs are 'limbs,' therefore painting them would cost the buyer more.
Artists know hands and arms are more difficult to paint.
As incredible as it sounds, men and women took baths only twice a year (May and October) Women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford good wigs made from wool. They couldn't wash the wigs, so to clean them they would carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake it for 30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term 'big wig.' Today we often use the term 'here comes the Big Wig' because someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.
In the late 1700's, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was used for dining. The 'head of the household' always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Occasionally a guest, who was usually a man, would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal. To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge. They called the one sitting in the chair the 'chair man.' Today in business, we use the expression or title 'Chairman' or 'Chairman of the Board.'
Personal hygiene left much room for
improvement. As a result, many women and men had developed acne scars by
adulthood. The women would spread bee's wax over their facial skin to smooth
out their complexions.. When they were speaking to each other, if a woman
began to stare at another woman's face she was told, 'mind your own bee's
wax.' Should the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term 'crack a
smile'. In addition, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt.
Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what the people considered important. Since there were no telephones, TV's or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars. They were told to 'go sip some ale' and listen to people's conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at different times. 'You go sip here' and 'You go sip there.' The two words 'go sip' were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and, thus we have the term 'gossip.'
Mind your P's and Q's
At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from
pint and quart-sized containers. A bar maid's job was to keep an eye on the
customers and keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and
remember who was drinking in 'pints' and who was drinking in 'quarts'.
In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon... There was only one problem...how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a 'Monkey' with 16 round indentations.
However, if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make 'Brass Monkeys.' Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled.
Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, 'Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.' All this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you!
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