1) These terms cannot readily be distinguished from that of ‘file-cutter’ and the evidence for all three is relatively late.

Of course files will have been in constant use in the cutlery trade from the outset, but it is likely that cutlers originally made their own. In 1616, for example, an Eckington cutler called Roger Barber had in his possession 4 fyles with some other small tools. The occupational terms which indicate that file-cutting had developed as a separate craft date from the mid-seventeenth century: 1657 Jonas Tayler of Sheffeld filemaker: 1675 George Chow of Sheffield fylemaker. It was not until 1682 though that these workers were brought under the jurisdiction of the Cutlers Company. Examples of ‘filesmith’ are recorded later than those for ‘filemaker’ although the two words seem to have had the same meaning: 1698 Anna fil’ Joh’is Hellifield filesmith de Sheffield. The OED evidence for both these terms, and for file-cutter, is also late which supports the view that recognition of file-making as a separate craft was delayed generally, not just in Sheffield.

spellings filesmith
dates 1616 1657 1698

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