1) The word ‘grass’ was commonly used in the past in the sense of pasture, as either a noun or a verb, and it had so many variant spellings that it can sometimes be difficult to recognise.

When Robert Casson of Leeds made his will in 1539 he first requested that his son suffer Elizabethe, his mother, to have one cowe gressed … without … payinge any thinge for the said cowe girse, and then asked that Robert Leadbetter have a cowe girssed within the same close. Compounds similar to cowe girse, that is pasture for one cow, are not uncommon, for example: 1494 j hors gresse in parva prata, Markingfield

1517 to have a horsgrys in the said close, Bridge Hewick. The verb ‘to grass’, meaning to pasture, occurs much earlier than that: in York, those who granted pasture rights to non-citizens had to pay a toll, or, as it was expressed in 1484 every person that gyrsys horsys of strangers that commys to thys Cite pay … iiijd. Again in York it was ordered in 1535 that butchers should have no grisyng within six miles of the City.

spellings girse gress
dates 1484 1494 1517 1535 1539

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