In Part 2 of my Un-Churched Dictionary of the Churched, I continue with terms from 1811 either draw from church terminology or meant to reflect church culture. Many are frankly crude, but this was the world of the common folk who seldom had a voice. These words also provide a window into the world of the un-churched or moderately churched in how they saw the religion of their day.
Japanned: Ordained. To be japanned is to enter into holy orders or become a clergyman. This meant to put on black cloth, the color of the Japan ware.
Jehu: To drive Jehu like is to drive furiously; taken from the King of Israel a famous charioteer.
Jesuitical: Sly, evasive, equivocal; as in “A Jesuitical answer.”
Jew: 1) An over reaching dealer or extortioner. 2) A tradesman who has no faith and will not give credit.
Jew Bail: Insufficient bail.
Jew’s Eye: That’s worth a Jew’s eye; a pleasant or agreeable sight.
Joseph: 1) A woman’s great coat. 2) A sheepish bashful young fellow an allusion to Joseph who fled from Potiphar’s wife.
Kill Devil: New still burnt rum.
Kill Priest: Port wine.
Mess John: A Scotch Presbyterian teacher or parson.
Moses: “To stand Moses” means a man has another man’s illegitimate child fathered upon him and he is obliged by the parish to maintain the child.
Nazakene Foretop: The foretop of a wig made in imitation of Christ’s head of hair, as represented by the painters and sculptors.
Neck Verse: Formerly the persons claiming the benefit of clergy were obliged to read a verse in a Latin manuscript psalter; this saved them from the gallows. It was Psalms 51:1.
New Light: A Methodist; one of the New Light.
Nick: The Devil, sometimes called Old Nick.
Non-Con: A nonconformist, Presbyterian or any other dissenter.
Nose Gent: A nun.
Pantile Shop: A Presbyterian, or other dissenting meeting house, frequently covered with pantiles. Also called a cock-pit.
Parish: His stockings are of two parishes. In other words they are not fellows.
Parish Bull: A parson.
Parish Soldier: A jeering name for a militiaman. It comes from the substitutes being frequently hired by the parish from which one of its inhabitants is drawn.
Parson: A guide post, hand or finger post by the road side for directing travelers. It is compared to a parson because like him, it sets people in the right way. See Guide Post
Piss Prophet: A physician who judges of the diseases of his patients solely by the inspection of their urine.
Pontius Pilate: A pawnbroker.
Postilion of the Gospel: A parson who hurries over the service.
Pot Converts: Proselytes to the Catholic Church made by the distribution of victuals and money.
Priest Ridden: Governed by a priest or priests.
Pudding Sleeves: A parson.
Reader Merchants: Pickpockets, chiefly young Jews who ply about the bank to steal the pocket books of persons who have just received their dividends there.
Red Letter Day: A saint’s day or holiday, marked in the calendars with red letters. Also used as “Red Letter Men” which referred to Roman Catholics from their observation of the saint days marked in the red letters.
Resurrection Men: Persons employed by the students in anatomy to steal dead bodies out of church yards.
Saint Geoffrey’s Day: Never, there being no saint of that name, the term means tomorrow-come-never.
Saint Luke’s Bird: An ox. The evangelist St. Luke always being represented with an ox.
Shit Sack: A vulgar term for a non-conformist.
Smous: A German Jew.
Snub Devil: A parson.
Solfa: A parish clerk.
Soul Doctor/Driver: A parson.
Spiritual Flesh Broker: A parson.
Spoil Pudding: A parson who preaches long sermons, keeping the congregation in church till the puddings are overdone.
Steeple House: A name given to the church [Church of England] by Dissenters.
Stewed Quaker: Burnt rum, with a piece of butter. An American remedy for a cold.
Swaddlers: The Irish name for a Methodist.
Thorough Churchman: A person who goes in at one door of a church, and out at the other without stopping.
Tickle Text: A parson.
Tu Quoque: The mother of all saints.
Tub Thumper: A Presbyterian parson.
Wet Quaker: A member of the Society of Friends who has no objection to wine.