1) The ‘oliver’ was a tilt hammer, used by early iron-workers.

The OED evidence for the word is limited to nineteenth-century quotations, the first dated 1846, although a reference to a description of the ‘contrivance’ indicates that it was in use in 1686. The first Yorkshire examples are in Warley near Halifax, in 1350, and Creskeld in Arthington in 1352. In that year Richard de Goldesburghe leased two ‘olivers’ to a man called Robert Totte

supplying him with charcoal and iron ore which is confirmation that Totte was operating a smithy. The original deed is in French and relevant extracts include: deuz Olyveres contenaunz vynt quatre blomes and urre suffisaunt pur les ditz Olyvers. The inference is that ‘oliver’ had already come to be used of the site of the hammer, of the smithies itself, a development similar to that of ‘wheel’. Stephen Moorhouse notes the use of olyvers in Clayton West in 1418, and more specifically in the Wakefield area: 1479 le smethys called Olyver, Crigglestone. In sixteenth-century accounts for the smithies at Farnley near Leeds, the building which housed the hammer was known as the ‘Oliver’: 1582 Paid to the smethe men for scouring and trimming the Olyver and mending the great dame 14s 4d: Item for theakine the olyver 10s 8d: ‘theakine’ or theaking is a reference to roof repairs. The etymology of ‘oliver’ remains uncertain but it has been plausibly suggested that the hammer in early forges may have been named in honour of the legendary hero Oliver who was renowned for the mighty blows he struck in battle. A reference in 1637 to a meadow Called ye Oliver in Ecclesfield may be evidence that an 'oliver' had once been in use there. Smith listed Oliver Wheel in Ecclesfield.

dates 1350 1352 1418 1582 1637

Related Content Loading...

Photo by Kreuzschnabel CC BY-SA 3.0