1) A spelling of ‘bast’, the inner bark of the lime, which could be cut into strips and coarsely plaited to make matting (OED). It was used more generally for similar fibres.

In Yorkshire, particularly in Beverley, it was the word used for the rushes which were harvested each year in the town’s common pastures. In November 1755, the bellman announced that freemen had the liberty to cut up Carr Basses in Figham Carr at any time in the approaching winter and in 1787 reference was made to the Basshills in Figham. The practice was responsible for a verb, and in November 1803 the bellman’s cries gave way to handbills which advertised the bassing of Swinemoor, inviting tenders. It was a practice with a much longer history and it is unlikely that it was confined to Beverley. Once the bass had been harvested it was used to make matting, baskets, chairs: 1589 First 2 tubbes, a bass, a bill a pick pann, South Cave

1613-4 a forme a binche a basse, South Cave

1634 2 painted cloths and a basse, Elmswell

1764 a bas bottomed chair, Ecclesfield. Later it referred particularly to a type of open tool bag favoured by plumbers and ‘Bass tools bags made of jute’ are still in use, available online. This may be the product behind a rare occupational term: 1494 Robert Hunt, laborer and basmaker, York

1590 Thomas Kirkebye, Beverley, bassemaker

1776 Richard Wilson, bassmaker and brewer, St Olave’s, York. It was perhaps a seasonal occupation.

dates 1494 1589 1590 1613-1614 1634 1764 1776 1803

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