beam

1) Verb relating to two different processes in cloth-making.

As a verb connected with cloth-making this had two quite different meanings: 1632 for beaming, betling, etc. 20 pieces of linen cloth, each 20 yards long, Wass. This is a reference to a practice made illegal in 1559: an Act passed that year described ‘beaming’ as placing a piece of cloth over a beam, soaking it with ‘deceitfull liquors’ and beating it with battledores, seeking ‘to stretch and draw the same’. The following confirms that meaning: 1605 quod obtundit et verberavit x pecias panni linnei , Thirkleby. The word beam applied also to that part of a hand-loom upon which the warp was wound and the process was described as looming or beaming the warp: 1783 beamed a warp, Ovenden.

dates 1559 1605 1632 1783

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2) In Old English ‘beam’ was a tree and this meaning survives in compound names such as ‘hornbeam’. It came to refer to large pieces of squared timber, as used in house-building but was not very common in Yorkshire.

1434-5 ‘200 laths purchased for lez bemes of the chapel … plastering les bemes’, Selby.

places Selby
dates 1434-1435

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Photo by Kreuzschnabel CC BY-SA 3.0