spire

1) As a verb ‘to spire’ meant to send out a shoot; to sprout.

In an undated seventeenth–century manuscript, gardeners were advised to set walnuts in some mould … not too dry and then some time in February by which time they may begin to spire for root you are to set them in some good ground, Farnley near Leeds.

dates 1600-1699

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2) A sapling, used especially of young oak and ash trees.

In 1389, Richard Saunderson of Yeadon was fined 2d because he ‘cut down hesshpires’ in the Yeadon woods

in 1392-3 the fabric rolls for Ripon record the purchase of xxxij spyres for 16s 4d. In fact the entry also gives details of costs for felling the trees, transporting them and paying wages, both to labourers and to Thomas Wright for working the wood. They were evidently used a great deal in building projects, and feature in the fabric accounts for York Minster: 1421 in lx spierres de quercu [oak] emptis apud Northdyghton

in xxiiij parvis spires de fraxino [ash] emptis pro j ustrino in Petergate, York. Other examples are found in lists of manorial offences: 1537 Robert Sergeantson ys a trespasser of fellyng and beryng away hys neghburs spyars and of other wod, Alverthorpe

1620 ‘for cutting and stealing in Watlas Springe two ash-spires value 20d’. Angus Winchester noted a reference in 1579 to spier toppes and esshe leaves used as cattle fodder in winter, Buckden.

dates 1389 1392-1393 1421 1537 1579 1620

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Photo by Kreuzschnabel CC BY-SA 3.0