Monday, April 22, 2019

What The Ell?

An Ell is a unit of measure for cloth.  It originally came from a measurement based on the length of the arm from the shoulder to the wrist (about 45 inches).  The unit varies with the type of Ell that it is.  Cloth measurements of the time were; 4 nails equal nine inches or one quarter of a yard, four quarters were 36 inches or one yard, five quarters equaled 45 inches or one English ell, 3 quarters or 27 inches equaled one Flemish ell and 6 quarters equaled 54 inches or one French ell.

Loom Town in Dorchester County (Today named Woolford, over by Church Creek) was called loom town because there was a weaver’s loom in just about every household in the 1600s.  An act in 1682 authorized the county court commission to pay six pounds of tobacco for every yard of linen woven which was three quarter of a yard wide (a Flemish Ell). 

above an ell wand to check the width of cloth.  Could it be the name Ellwand came from an ell rod, stick or wand? Much like the tape measure, the ell wand was carried around by cloth manufacturers and tailors.

Since Delmar was not created until 1859 any use of the word Ellwands would have passed.  However a tailor in this area before 1800 would have made use of the ellwand to check the cloth he purchased.

above checking the width with an ellwand. 

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