A piece of wood on which notches, numbers or letters might be incised in order to keep an account of debts, payments or work done. In some cases identical tallies were kept by each party to an agreement.
From an Old Norse word which meant ‘point’ which could be applied to ‘points’ or spits of land in place-names, for example Tang (Felliscliffe) and Tang Hall (Osbaldwick). In connection with cutlery it referred to the metal extension by which a blade is fitted into its handle, and in this sense it is on record from the fifteenth century.
The phrase ‘by task’ was a reference to piece-work, and in c.1570 John Kaye wrote owt with thy plowghe Lett taskers thresh more strawe (KayeCP). Employers would take on men at such rates under certain conditions.