1) The EDD has several late examples of ‘sneck’ where the reference is to a small piece of land jutting into a neighbouring field; an irregular projection in the boundary line.

A Holmfirth document in my possession, written by a solicitor in 1872, reports that a quantity of stone was piled up in the corner of a sneck of about 5 feet … at the division fence between the lands of Anthony Green and Messrs Moorhouse. A small explanatory sketch accompanies the text. This meaning of the word is listed in Carr’s Craven Glossary.

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2) Most commonly the iron latch on a door.

The evidence for this word is found mostly in the northern counties and parts of Scotland, and references in the OED take its history back to the early fourteenth century. The etymology is said to be obscure but a ‘sneck’ was most commonly the iron latch of a door and that meaning has changed little over the centuries. Early Yorkshire examples serve to confirm that meaning, with snekkys made for a cupboard in Beverley in 1409 and bandis, crokis and sneckes purchased from a York blacksmith in 1443: in 1419 Edmond Loksmyth provided j snek ad ostium pulpiti in Ripon at a cost of one penny. Similar references occur frequently through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in accounts concerned with building and property repairs, e.g. 1534 the keys and sneke of the churche dore in York

1615 1 doer with bandes and crookes, lock and key, iron snecke and slott with all belonginge for Mr Cholmeley of Brandsby. In 1673, the churchwardens of Bradford paid for door bands and sneck mending. In witness statements made before the magistrates the word occurs in quite different contexts. In 1701, a Bewerley bailiff called Thomas Simpson was reported as having come to the house, the door being shutt, and opened two snecks or latches: the clerk evidently recognised ‘sneck’ as a dialect word and added ‘latch’ so that there is no room for doubt. In Calverley, in 1738, a witness heard the sneck of Dobson’s shop door lift up. A series of East Riding title deeds provides possibly the most interesting use of ‘sneck’. In 1538-9 when property in North Cliff changed hands, the deeds had on the reverse side full details of the ‘livery of seisin’

that is the formal recognition of the change in ownership. In one case it is stated that the grantor, by his own hands, had delivered possession by the snekke of the dore in the name of the hole lands. In this case it seems that the sneck may have been removed and handed to the purchaser as a symbol of the property that he was entering into.

dates 1409 1419 1443 1534 1538-1539 1615 1673 1701

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