1) In coal-mining to drive was to dig or excavate horizontally, opening up a passage for ventilation, drainage, or more commonly for the getting of coal.

1486 in dryffyng any depe hed, Cortworth

1659 libertye … to drive and make watergates, Wibsey

1735 Jo. Berry for waterhead driving 2s, Whitley

1761 driving back from the pitt … to the sow, Tong. It was used in contrast to the verb ‘to sink’.

dates 1486 1659 1735 1761

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2) To move animals from one region to another.

In 1499 it was judged lawful to dryve the commons of Heton and Rylstone and in 1530 a tenant was said to have wrongfully driven the Kynges more of Holmefyrth. On the moorlands between the West Riding and east Lancashire, especially in the area around Colne and Haworth, certain officers who worked in the vaccaries had the task of driving away any animals which trespassed on their territory, forcing them back into their own pastures: they were known colloquially as ‘drivers’ although in the earliest Latin documents they had the title of custodientes. There is a specific reference to four Moredrivers in Rossendale in 1423 and the by-name is on record much earlier. William Driver and Thomas Dryver were both ‘of Colne’ and John Dryuer was living in Skipton in 1379. The noun ‘driver’ could mean simply ‘drover’. 1497 To every servant at holdes the plowgh xijd. To every dryver viijd. Every woman servand viijd. To my hyrd at kepis my ky xijd, Stokesley.

spellings driver (1)
dates 1323 1379 1423 1497 1499 1530

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3) Occupational terms, probably for middlemen who moved goods between suppliers and customers.

There were several occupational terms which had 'driver' as the second element, notably wool-driver was a term used in the Halifax area: 1606 Thomas Sugden, wolledriver, Bradford. The word is used in the Act of 1555 which had to do with the trade in wool in that part of west Yorkshire: and the same inhabitants altogether do live by cloth-making, and the great part of them neither getteth corn nor is able to keep a horse to carry wools, nor yet to buy much wool at once, but hath ever used to repair to the town of Halifax … to buy upon the wool-driver. Other compound forms of that kind are cloth-driver, corn-driver and fish-driver, all dealt with separately. I believe these were middlemen who moved freely between the suppliers and their potential customers: they were in danger of ‘engrossing’ and ‘forestalling’, but the Act of 1555 recognised the role they played, especially in rural areas. One fuller reference gives us a better understanding of the term and how long it may have been in use before the examples quoted here: 1556 one Robert Baker of Malton fishedriver and wooldriver : this man lived with Ralph Dicconson who was a witness in a tithe dispute and whose evidence offers us an insight into how they operated: he stated that he used to drive fishe xl yeres sence and more from Malton to Kirkham and he recalled disputes with local men when he bated his horse upon the brode balke whilste he mendid his wooll packes. That was well before the Dissolution, and he could remember chatting about saltfishe with the man in charge of the kitchen at Kirkham Priory.

spellings driver (2)
dates 1555 1556 1589

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4) Probably an early example of the verb 'pile-drive', found in a bridge-building document of 1616.

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Photo by Kreuzschnabel CC BY-SA 3.0