Cogs and Cogware

The origins of the name Coghill have been a mystery.  One supposition by Willliam Wheater (1907) is that the origin is from Cogs, which he described as coarse cloths, which may have been died and set out to dry on a hill, hence Cog Hill, and furthermore, that the first Coghill may have simply been [John] of Cog Hill some time in the fourteenth or fifteenth century.

Here are some background pieces on Cogware:

Wiktionary has the following definition of COGWARE as at 4th October 2013:


Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
cogware (usually uncountableplural cogwares)
  1. a coarse cloth of the fourteenth century
    • 1964, L.F. Salzman, English Industries of the Middle Ages, p. 207:
      The better quality was used for ordinary cloths, and the worst was made up into coarse cloth known as cogware and Kendal cloth, three quarters of a yard broad, and worth from 40d. to 5s. the piece. The term cogware seems to have sprung from its being sold to cogmen, the crews of the ships called cogs; but whether for their own use, or for export is not quite clear.


A coarse woollen cloth made from the worst wool and used for clothing the very poor of London and other towns.

The fabric is mentioned in a Statute of 13 Richard II (1390) as not being subject to the Statute of 1328 which fixed a minimum length and breadth of each piece woven (to be measured by the King’s Aulnegar (fn. 1) and if found short forfeited for the Royal benefit as follows:—“Item, although it be ordained by divers statutes, that all manner of Cloths of Ray and Colour shall be of a certain Length and Breadth comprised in the same Statutes; nevertheless, for as much as it hath been a common custom to make certain cloths in divers Counties of England, called Cogware and Kendal Cloth, of the breadth of three-quarters of a yard, whereof some be of the Price of 40d. and some 5s., and sold to Cogmen out of the Realm and also to poor and mean People (fn. 2) within the Realm, of the which Cloth a great Part is made of the worst Wool within the Realm that cannot well serve for any other Cloths; It is accoran to make such manner of Cloths of the Length and Breadth aded and assented that from henceforth it shall be lawful to every ms it hath been used before this Time, notwithstanding any Statute made to the contrary; Provided always, that the Makers and Workers of such Cloths shall not make them of any better Wool than they were wont to do.

In the Parliament of 5 Henry IV (1403/4) the Commons prayed the king “that as of your special grace there was granted to all liege subjects within the realm of England, in the Parliament held at Westminster in the first year of your reign, that of no cloths called Kendale-cloth, nor any other cloth whereof the dozen shall not exceed the value of 13s. 4d., even if it has not been sealed with any seal great or little nor any subsidy should be taken of it for three years ensuing, the which are now passed; And now those who are the Auneours within your aforesaid Realm constrain the poor Commons to pay for the seal of each dozen 1¼d. for those of which the dozen does not exceed the value of 4 or 5 shillings. May it please your very abundant grace to grant in the present Parliament in relief of all the lieges within your aforesaid Realm, that no cloth from this day forward called Kendale-cloth, nor any other cloth, narrow or wide, the dozen of which does not exceed the value of 13s. 4d. within your aforesaid realm should be sealed with any seal little or great and that no subsidy should be taken upon it, and that no forfeiture should fall upon it considering that the first imposition of the aforesaid subsidies from the aforesaid cloths, the sealing of the same, commenced in the time when Waltham was Treasurer of England.” Response:—Let the matter be committed to the Council to do with it what seems best to them by authority of Parliament. Rolls of Parliament, m. 4, n. 70; printed Rot. Parl. iii, 541.

By the Statute of 9 Henry IV, c. 2 (1407) it is ordained and established that no cloth called Kendale Kersey, Frieze of Coventry, Cogware, nor any narrow cloth, nor remnant of cloth of England or cloth of Wales, of which the dozen does not exceed the value of 13s. 4d. should be sealed with any of the king’s seals nor aulnage great nor little to be paid for the same. And that the owners might freely sell the said cloths unsealed without forfeiting anything to the king for the same, notwithstanding any statute or ordinance made to the contrary Rolls of Parliament, m. 6, nos. 34, 35; printed Rot. Parl. iii, 614.

In the Parliament of II Henry IV (1410) the Commons informing “our very excellent Lord the King” that as in the case of cloths of colour there is a custom or tax called Cocket, (fn. 3) and that the Auneours who bear the seals to seal cloth exact the cocket and payment for the seals from the poor lieges of the Lord King upon cloths called Kendales, Kerseis, Narrow backs, Cogware, Coventry ware, Friezes of Ireland and Wales of which the dozen does not exceed the value of 13s. 4d., which cloths were never wont to be sealed nor to pay any such custom called Cocket in the times of your very noble progenitors formerly Kings of England whom God ‘assoile.’ May it please the King to consider the great poverty of his poor lieges and the unbearable charges and losses which they bear from one day to another insomuch that they cannot longer endure them; and to grant in the present Parliament by Statute to be made that none of the poor lieges of our Lord the King from this day forward shall pay any custom nor pay for the seal little or great on such cloths called Kendales, Kerseys, Narrow backs, Cogware, Coventry ware, cloths of Ireland and of Wales, nor for any remnant of two, three or four verges, (fn. 4) if the dozen of such cloths does not exceed the value of 10s. Response:—May it be the custom as in the past. (Rolls of Parliament, m. 3, n. 64; printed Rot. Parl. iii, 643).

In 1579 the Aldermen and Burgesses of the Burgh of Kirkbie Kendall “Ordeyned that none of the head burgesses or of the xxiiij Assistants (beinge no shearmen) shall for one year nexte make any woolen clothes but suche as they shall sell rowe (raw-cloth) excepte it be for ther owen wearinge Karseys (course stuff woven from long wool) white or blak cottons or Kelters (kilt, course woollen stuff) save Cnapmen Salters or comon dryvers of clothes w[hi]ch may make so muche as they can sell in ther ordynary walks and not otherwise and save to Mr. ffox (an Alderman) libertie to sell suche ffrece and cottons as he shall make in his howse when he will . . . . . And that every Inhabitannt (not beinge a shearman) makinge clothe shall dight all ther flrece by some freman shearmen at his shopp or howse and not otherwise vpon payn to lose vis. viijd. wheroff to the Chamber iijs. iiijd. and to the company (of Shearmen) iiis. Iiijd”. K. Boke of Recorde, 118.

By the Statute of 7 James 1, c. 16, “for the encouraging of many poore people in Cumberland and Westmerland, and in the townes and parishes of Carptmeale, Hawkeshead and Broughton, to continue their trade of making Cogware, (fn. 5) Kendals, Carptmeales and course cottons, whereas by the Statute of 9 Henry IV it was enacted (as above). Sithence the making of which statute the sayd Kendals and other course things of like nature and made of the like course wooll and differing in name onely, called Cogware, course cottons and Carptmeales, have been made in such sort as the parties which made the same were able, and as best might please the buyer, without being limited to any certain weight, or to any assyze of length or breadth, and were never searched nor sealed with any seale nor subject to any penaltie for the not sealing thereof nor any subsidie nor aulnage payed for the same, until of late that certaine evill disposed persons, contrary to the true meaning of the said law, have by colour of a late statute made in the 39 yere of the Reign of the late Queen Elizabeth, intituled an Act against the deceiptfull stretching and taintering of Northerne cloth, endevoured to make the said Cogware, Kendals, Carptmeales and course cottons subject to search and have demanded for the same divers severall summes of money for the seale of the collector of the subsidie and aulnage, to the great vexation and trouble of the sayd poore people. Be it therefore enacted by the King’s most excellent Majestie etc., that from henceforth all Cogware, Kendals, course cottons and Carptmeales, which are, or hereafter shall be made within the sayd Countyes of Cumberland and Westmerland, or within the sayd townes and parishes of Carptmeale, Hawkeshead and Broughton, whereof the dossen shall not exceed the rate and price of 13s. 4d., shall be made in such sort, as may best please the buyer; and shall not be searched nor sealed with any of the King’s seales nor with any other seale nor any subsidie or aulnage great or little paid for the same. But that the owners of such Cogware, Kendals, course cottons, and Carptmeales may freely sell the same, not sealed, as they have been accustomed, without forfeiting anything to the King for the same, any lawe or statute or any branch or clause of any lawe or statute heretofore made to contrary notwithstanding.”

Cornelius Nicholson in his Annals of Kendal says that the plant genista tinctoria or Dyer’s Broom was brought in large quantities to Kendal from the neighbouring commons and marshes. This plant, after being dried, was boiled for the yellow colouring matter it contained. The cloth was first boiled in alum water, for the mordant, and then immersed in the yellow dye. It was then dried and submerged in a blue liquor extracted from woad, which combined with the yellow, produced the solid green so much celebrated.

Among other allusions to Kendal cloth in English Literature (fn. 6) are the following:—

Lydgate. 1425. “On his head he had a threadbare Kendal hood.”

Barclay. 1524. “His costly clothing was threadbare Kendal green.”

Sir Thomas Moore. 1532. Confutation of Tyndale. “Tyl he doe of his gray garments and cloth himself cumley in gaye Kendal greene.”

Discipline of Commonwealth. 1550 “A serving man is content to goe in a Kendall cote in summer.”

Shakespeare, Henry IV. 1598. “Three misbegotten knaves in Kendal green.”

Coryat’s Crudities. 1611. Panegyric to the Mayor of Hartlepool. “Put on’s considering cap and Kendal gowne.”

Scott, Rokeby. 1813. “A seemly gown of Kendal green.”

1                       Anne or ell-wand to measure fabrics.

2                       “But as the devil would have it, three misbegotten Knaves in Kendal green came at my back and let drive at me.” Shakespeare

3                       Cocket is a seal belonging to the King’s Custom house, or rather a scroll of parchment sealed and delivered by the officers of the Custom house to merchants as a warrant that their goods are customed.

4                       Measurement by a stick or rod; a verger carries a wand.

5                       The name Cogware must surely come from Cog. a broadly built cargo-ship, and the ware such as was largely exported to the North American markets

From: ‘Records of Kendale: Further records’, Records relating to the Barony of Kendale: volume 3 (1926), pp. 56-79. URL: Date accessed: 04 October 2013.



Devant le grant conseil.                                                               Before the great council.

Pur draps appellez cogware.                                                     For cloths called cogware.



A nostre seignur le roi et a son bon conseil; monstrent les communes de les contees d’Essex et de Suff’: qe par la ou en l’estatut fait l’an .xlvij. me du regne nostre seignur le roi q’ore est, ordeigne fust qe touz draps de colour qe serront faitz en Engleterre vendables serroient de la longeure de .xxvi. aulnes mesurez par le dos, et de laieure de .v. quarters au meins; et demy drap de longeure et de laieure solonc l’afferant, sur forfaiture de mesmes les draps. (fn. 92) 142. IIII XX III.

To our lord the king and his good council; the commonalties of the counties of Essex and Suffolk declare: that whereas, in the statute made in the forty-seventh year of the reign of our present lord the king [1373], it was ordained that all coloured cloths made for sale in England would be 26 ells in length measured by the back, and at least 5 quarters in width; and half cloth of the length and width according to the rate, on forfeiture of the same cloths. (fn. 92)


Plese a nostre seignur le roi et a sa tresnoble conseil granter a voz dites communes voz graciouses lettres patentes, et par ycelles declarer en ce present parlement, qe les draps appellez cogware et kerseyes faitz es ditz contes, et autres tieux estroites draps y faites et en autres paiis auxint, q’eles ne soient compris en dit estatut, en aide et relief del dite commune.

May it please our lord the king and his noblest council to grant to your said communities your gracious letters patent and to declare by the same in this present parliament that the cloths called cogware and kersey made in the said counties, and other such narrow cloths made there and in other regions also, should not be included in the said statute, in aid and relief of the said commonalty.


[editorial note: Responsio.]                                                       [editorial note: Answer.]


< Le roi voet q’ils eient tielles lettres par les quelles soit declarree, qe les estreites draps appellez cogware et kerseyes, acustumes d’estre faites es dites contees, ne doivent mye estre entenduz pur estre compris en dit estatut, ne souz la paine d’ycelle. (fn. 93) >

The king wills that they should have such letters in which it should be declared that the narrow cloths called cogware and kersey, usually made in the said counties, are not intended to be included in the said statute or under the penalty of the same. (fn. 93)

92                      SR , I.395 (c. i)

93                      See Appendix no. 20


From: ‘Edward III: April 1376’, Parliament Rolls of Medieval England. URL:;strquery=cogware Date accessed: 04 October 2013.


April 15 1297
To Thomas de Snyterton and Thomas de Seggeford. Order to restore to brother James called ‘Copyn’ of the order of the Hospital, the envoy of the king of Denmark, all the money [arrested] by Nicholas de Holm and Robert de la Roche, keepers of the port of Holm and Hunstanston, co. Norfolk, in the hands of the said James in a cog (coga) of Denmark, which lately arrived in the said port of Holm on account of stress of weather (per maris intemperiem), which sum was delivered to Thomas and Thomas by the said keepers.

To Nicholas de Holm and Robert de la Roche, keepers of the ports of Holm and Hunstanston, co. Norfolk. Order to restore to the said James and to certain merchants of Flanders and Almain all the goods and wares lately arrested by them in the aforesaid cog in the hands of James, the envoy of the king of Denmark and of certain merchants of Flanders and Almain, and to restore to them also the cog.

To the treasurer and barons of the exchequer. Order to cause Hugh de Mortuo Mari to have respite until the coming parliament at Lincoln for the 347l. 7s. 2d. due to the king at the exchequer from him for the debts of his ancestors, as the king has granted him this respite in order that there may then be done what he shall then cause to be considered by his council. By K.

To the bailiffs of Ravenesere. Order to restore to Dodinus, citizen and merchant of John, count of Holland, the king’s son, of Staveren (Stauria), his ship called ‘Cog Godyer,’ which lately came to Scarborough together with certain other ships and was afterwards taken to the port of Ravenesere by the king’s licence, and to restore all its tackle. The king makes this order at the count’s request. By K


From: ‘Close Rolls, Edward I: April 1297’, Calendar of Close Rolls, Edward I: volume 4: 1296-1302 (1906), pp. 24-28. URL:;strquery=cog Date accessed: 04 October 2013.



Jan. 30 1384
To the sheriffs of London and Robert Forde their searcher or serjeant. Order not to trouble the commons of Essex and Suffolk or any of them contrary to the late king’s will and declaration made at their suit in the parliament holden in 50 Edward III, and to give up any strait cloths of theirs arrested contrary to the same; as by petition presented in that parliament, shewing that in a former statute it was ordered that all coloured cloths thenceforward made in England for sale ought under pain of forfeiture thereof to be 26 ells in length measured by the back, and five quarters at least in breadth, and the half cloth in proportion, and for their relief praying a declaration that all cloths called ‘cogware‘ and ‘kereseys’ and other strait cloths there and elsewhere made are not included in that statute, which declaration the late king there made, and by letters patent of 14 December 50 Edward III exemplified their said petition and the endorsement thereof.


From: ‘Close Rolls, Richard II: February 1384’, Calendar of Close Rolls, Richard II: volume 2: 1381-1385 (1920), pp. 353-363. URL:;strquery=cogware   Date accessed: 04 October 2013.


April 1 1393
To the sheriff of Kent. Order upon sight etc. to cause proclamation to be made in the county [court] and in cities, boroughs, market towns, fairs, markets etc., that all who henceforward will make for sale any rayed or coloured cloths shall under pain of forfeiting the same make rayed cloths of 28 ells measure by the list in length and five quarters in breadth, and coloured cloths of 26 ells measure by the fold and six quarters in breadth at least, and half cloths of proportionate length and of the same breadth, and shall cause them to be sealed with the alnager’s seal before they be exposed for sale, according to divers statutes published in time of the late king and of the king, whereby it is ordered and agreed that such cloths made in England shall be of the measure aforesaid, that any cloth or half cloth exposed for sale which is not of that measure shall be forfeit to the king, and all exposed for sale before being so sealed shall likewise be forfeit; but it is not the king’s intent that cloths made by people for their own use and for their household, or cloths made for sale by poor men be forfeit, though they be not of that measure, or cloths of ‘cogware,’ and ‘Kendalecloth,’ provided these be made of the worst and weakest wool of the realm, and exceed not the value of 40d. or 5s.

From: ‘Close Rolls, Richard II: March 1393’, Calendar of Close Rolls, Richard II: volume 5: 1392-1396 (1925), pp. 128-135. URL:;strquery=cogware Date accessed: 04 October 2013.