Item 1 - Letter from T. Smith Woolley to W. Aldis Wright

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Add. MS b/74/9/1


Letter from T. Smith Woolley to W. Aldis Wright


  • 20 June 1881 (Creation)

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1 folded sheet

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South Collingham, Newark.—Discusses the use of the word ‘shot’ to refer to a piece of land.




South Collingham, Newark
June 20th 1881.

My Dear Sir,

I do not know the book referred to in your letter of the 17th but will certainly make its acquaintance on the first opportunity.

“Shot” is not an uncommon name for plots of land in open i.e. uninclosed fields, but I cannot at present lay my hand on any instance from which the origin of the name could be inferred or illustrated except that inclosed. Two of the “Furlongs” in the open fields of Whitchurch near Stratford on Avon, which I enclosed some years since, were called respectively:—

“Furlong Shooting to Courthill Gate,”
“Furlong Shooting to Merrylands.”

but Shooting is I think only used as equivalent to “extending” and has no connection with the “Shot” in question, as both the Furlongs referred to are nearly rectangular.

The inclosed plan of part of a property which we manage at St Margar[e]ts, Stanstead, near Ware, is very interesting,—for I believe the part (A) shaded with pencil was before the Inclosure known as “Ashley Shot” and it is certainly “Nook Shotten” in the sense you suggest.

My reason for believing that it was called Ashley Shot are (a) that an inclosure now forming part of it is still known as “Ashley Shot Close” and (b) the piece of Common adjacent (B) was as you will observe called “Ashley Shot Common” but I have no doubt I can get oral or at least good traditional evidence of the fact.

I had a notion which I now renounce, that “Shot” as the name of a field or Land meant like “Scot” a proportion of a Tavern Bill; “Scot” the quota of a tax levied on certain Lands. The Lands liable to Drainage tax in the levels of Hatfield Chase are still called “Scotted Lands” and the rates they pay “Scots”—(Scot free—Tax free.) One sense of “Shotten” is certainly “emp-tied.” e.g. a “Shotten Herring” is one that has spawned.

The whole subject of field names is very interesting.—The Field in front of my House which is as flat as a Billiard Table is called the Dale Close, from, I believe, the AS. for a portion,—I have seen a terrier of the time of the Commonwealth describing two “Selions of land in the Dale Close at South Collingham”

I remain, My dear Sir,
Yours very faithfully
J Smith Woolley

W. Aldis Wright Esq,

20 June 1881.
Mr Woolley’s letter on ‘Shot’—‘nook shotten’.


Written by an amanuensis in a legal hand, except for the signature and a correction. The plan which accompanied this letter is missing.

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      This description was created by A. C. Green in 2022.




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