1) This word derives ultimately from Greek but it was brought here by the Normans. Originally, it was the name given to a salve which was used as an antidote to poison and apparently made up of spices and drugs, in which sense it is on record in England from 1340 (OED).

1457-8 In triaca pro Joh'e Selby ijd, Fountains Abbey. A North Riding by-name is an earlier example, possibly metonymic for an apothecary: c.1211 William Triacle, Guisborough. In 1464-5 John Person on the Jacob imported into Hull 23 lib’ treacle and 23 lib’ grengyngere, valued together at Ł1 10s 0d. A similar entry links the two commodities in 1467 and the inference may be that they were to be used together, for whatever medicinal purpose. They were almost certainly being brought into Yorkshire from the Low Countries, and in one case the home port was named as Veere. The editor was of the opinion that treacle here was a ‘compound of spices and drugs on a honey base, possibly … a sugar base’, an explanation which might explain how treacle came later to be thought of as something sweet. Treacle contained in a small box was actually a fashion item from the 1400s, attached to the girdles that ladies wore around their waists: c.1504 Item j dussan and a halfe of trehakyll boxys ijd, York. In 1693, a Selby shopkeeper had London treacle 3s

Veanas treacle 1s 6d.In Yorkshire the word was later used for the syrup produced when sugar was refined and crystallized. Treacle parkin is one of the most distinctively Yorkshire cakes, made now with oatmeal and sweetened with sugar and treacle - or ‘golden syrup’. At its best it is moist and flavoured with ginger, linked traditionally with several local customs and still popular on bonfire night. It is uncertain how old the tradition might be. The Mirfield diarist John Turner noted on 6 November 1750 that he gave one penny to his wife for treacle for a parkin and one earlier reference occurs in the Quarter Sessions rolls. The year was 1729 and the offence was one of theft: Ann Whittaker’s very full statement told how her Mistress did persuade her to ask Sarah Priestley … to steale meal from her master to make a parkin onand sent the meal by a Little lade … and gave Sarah … some brass to Fetch Treakle with from Elland to make a Parkin. The clerk referred to the finished product as parkins alias cakes which may imply that the magistrates were unfamiliar with the word ‘parkin’. In fact, it has an obscure origin and these eighteenth-century references predate those quoted in the dictionaries.

dates 1211 1457-1458 1464-1465 1504 1693 1729 1750

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