1) A cottage was formerly a small dwelling, typically associated with families or individuals of lowly status.
1443 a plase then being in the tenour of Margaret Judson, a cotag wyth a yard lygyng therby, Stockeld
1491 all the right and tytill of a meyss a coteghe and vi oxgang of land, Glusburn. The compound 'cottage-house' occurs in Yorkshire and was in regular use from the sixteenth century. I have found no reference elsewhere to the term and it may simply have been a regional verion of cottage. It was clearly the dwelling of somebody who was less well-off: 1574 Item I give to everye cottage house within the town of Southcave one pecke of multer corne
1650 one cottage house and garden in the lane, Bowling
1681 all my right ... in the cottage house in Gowthropp, in Selby, & the close to the same belonging
1722 unto my wife the title and tenant right of one Cottage House in … the possession of Robert Askwith, Nesfield. The Act of 1589 had given the word cottage new meaning, by insisting that newly-built cottages must henceforth possess four acres of land, enough for the tenants not to be a charge on the township. There were exceptions, notably for sailors, game-keepers, labourers in coal-mines, quarries and the like
that is workmen who were unlikely to be a problem for the overseers of the poor. There is an interesting definition of a cottage tenancy in a survey of one East Riding manor: 1600 Cotages be those to which doth belonge neyther Lande in the common fields … nor common in the oxpasture yett haue they common of pasture in the cowpasture shepe pasture & Auerish fieldes how small soeuer ther rent be, Settrington. Further details follow but this hints at the different shades of meaning from one manor to another. Such holdings were distinct in Settrington from ‘husbandries’ and ‘grass farms’ and these terms also will have had very localised meanings. The tenants were referred to as cottagers: 1578 Item I give to the cottigers of Southcave everye one of them iid
1600 if the cottingers rent exceed 6s 8d then he is allowed common proportionable to the surplusage, Settrington. In 1697 Abraham de la Pryme used the words cottagry and half cottagry when he referred to customary practices in the manor of Broughton near Brigg.