1) A word of Old English origin, on record from <i>a</i>.700. As a substantive it referred commonly to metal plates which were nailed to those parts of carts, ploughs and wains that were subject to wear and tear.
1296-7 et pro ferr[o] et clutis ad carucas plaustra et carectas, Bolton Priory
1400 Alano Quelewright pro iiij cloutes … pur le charet, Richmond
1420-1 Et in 1 cluta carecte cum clavis ad fixuram eiusdem 1d, Selby
1580 on dosson plewcloutes … and fowre cart clowtes, Stockeld
1648 a dozen wane cloutes and plow cloutes with other Iron stuffe, Sharlston. More specifically, clouts were needed for wheels, axles or the plough mould board: 1395 It. pro ix molebrodclowtys iiis xd, Whitby
1404-5 ‘And for 18 clouts purchased for the axles of the cart’, Selby. More unusual is a reference to a brass plate with which a tinker had mended a pot: 1520 To Agnes Sherp a brasse pott with a tincler clowte, Ripon. It was used occasionally in metal-working contexts as a verb: 1835 2 men 1 Day hooping and clouting, Wath.It was also the usual word for the small leather patches used by cobblers and is mentioned in the cordwainers’ ordinances: 1417 aut novos talos fecerit, York and in shoemakers’ wills: 1546 I bequeath to Richarde my sone ij dacre of leder clowtes, Spofforth. In this connection ‘clout leather’ was an attributive use: 1494 1d to towll [toll] for selling off clouteledyr on the same feyre daye, Nafferton
1599 No tanner dwelling without the liberties of the town shall sell any clout lether or upper lether in any place within the liberties but only in open market, Beverley. In this context also it was used as a verb: 1589 no maister of the said occupacion of cordyners … shall coble or clowte any old shoes, bootes buskens or such like wares, York. One early by-name probably referred to a cobbler: 1307 Adam Clouter, Wakefield.A clout might also be a piece of cloth, especially one in which pins or needles were secured: 1461 4 cloutes nedells, Hull
c.1504 ij clowtes of pynns, York. More pejoratively it was a rag: 1564 hayth called prest capps and surpluses vile clowtes and rages, Hessle. The most unusual reference is in the farming-book of Henry Best of Elmswell where he informs us that shepherds kept the shearings [yearling sheep ] barren by covering their genitals: 1642 yett is it a custome with many … sheepmen … to clowte their shearings to hinder them from tuppinge.