1) To fasten a cow in its stall.
The origin appears to be an Old English word for a rope, although in Sheffield in the nineteenth century it was ‘a piece of wood put round a cow’s neck’ which was then fastened to a chain in the cow house. The verb is recorded from the sixteenth century and was confined to Scotland and the northern counties. In c.1570 Mr Kaye of Woodsome Hall advised his son that at certain times cattle and sheep should not be allowed into the pasture grounds: he was to sele them upp to brede … mucke. In 1682, part of a property in Monk Bretton was described as a house for sealinge their cowes in and roome over them for lying of hay for the said cowes. A very similar description in the Huddersfield will of Richard Williamson, in 1686, referred to part of the barn and mistell … sufficient to seale one cow and lay hay for it. Later, the word may have been used more generally, for Joseph Exley of Rawdon had geese to sele in 1740. The buildings at Esholt Priory were surveyed in 1538 and they included a cowe-house of iiij rowmys seyled abowte, but this was perhaps for ‘ceiled’.