1) Occupational term for the maker of the flattened part of an instrument or tool.

The earliest examples of ‘blade’ were recorded in the Old English period and they referred to the leaves of plants or to the broad, flattened part of an instrument or tool. In this latter sense the blade was distinct from the shank or handle, and it was evidently considered to be leaf-like: it was used particularly of a paddle or oar but occurred also in connection with weapons or knives. It is on record from c.1325 and some sixty years later Chaucer’s ‘rusty blade’ was a sword. The ‘bladesmith’ was the metal worker who made such blades and the occupational term occurs from c.1400. As a surname, but not necessarily hereditary, it can be found earlier in the rolls of York freemen: 1357 Nich. Bladsmith

1394 Joh. Bladesmyth de Stayngate’ and in Doncaster: 1369 Henry Bladesmyth. The occupational term occurred independently: 1375 Johannis de Wathen, bladesmyth, Hull

1449 Hugh Calcotes, bladesmyth, York

1501 Laurence Ryder, bladsmyth, York. The inference is that such ‘blades’ were for weapons, probably daggers and swords, since cutlers and bladesmiths were in the same guild in York. However, a reference in York to bladesmythes that makes cutler ware in 1488 shows that it was not always the case. In the Ordinances of the Sheffield cutlers in 1565 it was ordered that no bladesmythe … shall sell no maner of blades to no dagger maker. The word is found occasionally in Sheffield as an occupation: 1698 Robertus fil’ Roberti Sands bladesmith, Sheffield.

dates 1357 1369 1375 1449 1488 1501 1565 1698

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