1) As a noun it dates from the Old English period and can mean ‘bundle’ or ‘sheaf’. In Yorkshire it is much used with reference to bundles of peas from the seventeenth century.

1592 Mr Gayton oweth me 40 rapes of peas, South Cave

1642 Pease pullers … break the stalkes, cutte the stalkes, or else pull them up by the rootes, and then … they rowle them on forwards, tumbling them over and over till they bee as many as they thinke sufficient for a reape, Elmswell

1671 reaps of fitches lapt within some reaps of pease, Tinsley

1677 there was many reapes of cleane pease whereas George Bollers land was throughout struck with wild oates or thistles, Barnsley. No connection has been established with ‘reap’ as a minor place-name which occurs several times in the Pennines, especially near woodland or on the moor edge. The earliest evidence for this word is in Heptonstall: 1578 Henry Bawmefurth surrendered a parcel of land taken from the waste containing forty-three acres and three roods called parcel of the Reapes. Reap Hirst in Huddersfield dates from 1658 and Reaps in Slaithwaite from 1710. The meaning remains uncertain although it has been suggested that it referred to ‘shrubs, brushwood’. One possibility is that it related to ling or other moorland plants, marking locations where they were formerly bundled up and harvested, although no evidence for that has been found.

spellings rape
dates 1578 1592 1642 1658 1671 1677 1710

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