Historically Speaking

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Posts Tagged ‘1400s’

Landed Gentry

Posted by Admin on December 13, 2010

Landed gentry is a traditional social class found not only in the United Kingdom but also in parts of Europe.  It was made up of heads of household(read:  men) who were without title (read: they were not considered part of nobility) and who were considered members of upper class society. 

The landed gentry usually owned extensive land such as country estates, which oftentimes included tenanted farms, and their immediate family, although some were also involved in public service.  Because of financial circumstances, these men had no need for employment outside of managing their own lands and investments. 

Some of the landed gentry still hold land that their mediaeval ancestors held and many families of mediaeval descent can lay claim to having had one or more ancestors who increased or renewed the family fortunes through service to the Crown. 

The concept of landed gentry has continued from Medieval Times through to recent history.  For example, sixteen years ago, The Right Honourable Chevalier Professor Sir Devendra Prasad Varma, Ph.D., passed away unexpectedly.  His obituary read in part:

Dr Varma was a retired Full Professor Emeritus from Dalhousie University at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  Born in Darbhanga, a Himalayan village overlooking Mount Everest on October 17th, 1923 to landed gentry parents, he eventually became a British / Canadian citizen. He was an internationally acclaimed scholar and the author of dozens of major articles and books in the scholarly discipline of Gothic Studies, making him the pre-eminent scholar in the field.

Back in the 1400s, the formation of the centralized Russian state in the second half of the 15th century led to the rise of a large cavalry composed of landed gentry.  It was only during the 1630’s that the landed gentry cavalry began to be gradually replaced by cavalry regiments organized in reiter and dragoon regiments.

Katharine Parr — the last of King Henry VIII‘s wives — was born into the landed gentry in 1512.  Formerly married to Edward Borough, whose father was a country squire and then to John Neville, Lord Latimer, Katharine Parr continued her upwardly rise in society when she married Henry VIII (after Henry VIII‘s death, she married a former suitor, Thomas Seymour, who had courted her at the same time as she was being courted by Henry VIII).

The farthest back that the term landed gentry can be traced to is 1030 when the Danish Viking King Sweyn invaded and conquered England. His son, Prince Canute was declared King of England upon King Sweyn‘s sudden death on February 3, 1014.  Among King Canute‘s Chiefs was a man known for making superior swords.  He found favour with King Canute who christened him Genergan which, translated into English, means “Iron Famous” and gave him the title of landed gentry in England. 

The name Genergan was later changed to Jernigan and the descendants of this line have been Knights, Barons and Baronets. At one point the Jernigan Barony even laid legal claim to the Stafford Barony.

Posted in Idioms from the 11th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Jack Of All Trades

Posted by Admin on August 3, 2010

The phrase “Jack of all trade, master of none” has been around for quite some time and still finds its way into conversations even today.   It’s an interesting phrase without a doubt that hails from the 18th Century.

Port Folio was a Philadelphia literary and political magazine, published from 1801 to 1812 by Joseph Dennie and Asbury Dickens.  In Port Folio 1.38, one of the journalists wrote:

… a Jack of all trades is good at none.

But like other idioms at Idiomation, the first reference found isn’t always the first published reference for an idiom. 

In 1704, the Boston News-Letter made its debut, “Printed by Authority,” and publication continued for 72 more years. It was the first true newspaper published in Boston, and in the colonies. The initial issue bore the date of April 24, 1704.  It was published by John Campbel, postmaster of Boston, and son of Duncan Campbel, the organizer of the Postal System in America.

In 1721, that phrase — with minor changes — was used in an article in one of their newspapers:

Jack of all trades and it would seem, good at none.

The phrase came from England, however.  The phrase appeared in Geffray Mynshul’s book Essays and Characters of a Prison written in 1612 and published in 1618:

Jack of all trades, master of none, though ofttimes better than master of one.

 However, with one more jump we learn that in 14th Century Medieval England, where Jack was any common fellow and so a jack of all trades was a common fellow who could do many different jobs.

Posted in Idioms from the 15th Century, Idioms from the 17th Century, Idioms from the 18th Century, Idioms from the 19th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

She’s A Pip

Posted by Admin on July 23, 2010

The phrase “she’s a pip” can have both a negative and a positive connotation which sometimes causes confusion when the person using the phrase doesn’t provide additional clues as to how the phrase should be interpreted.

In the 1400s, the chief feeling of irritation or annoyance was a ‘pip.’  The word was derived from the  Middle Dutch word pippe which was derived from the Vulgar Latin word pippita which was derived from the Latin word pituita which literally means phlegm.  If the phrase is used in a derogatory manner, this is the origin of the phrase.

However, if the phrase is used in a complimentary fashion, we must travel back to 1797 where ‘pip‘ was something that was perceived as being singularly extraordinary of  its kind.  If one said of a female he or she knew that she was ‘a pip” it meant that the person in question was a one-of-a-kind, excellent person in the speaker’s opinion.

The word “pip” was a common word in England at the beginning of the 20th century, it was, and still is, used to signify the letter “p” in military communications by telephone or radio.

Posted in Idioms from the 15th Century, Idioms from the 18th Century, Idioms from the 20th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »