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October 6th, 2006

Happy Birthday, blacktigr!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English!

barring-out
The breaking up of a school at the great holidays, when the boys within bar the door against the master. Northern England.
--Samuel Pegge's Supplement to Grose's Provincial Glossary, 1814


Barring out the Master
In late September or early October, northern English schoolboys once observed a custom called "orders." As James Halliwell's Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words (1855) explained it: "The master is locked out of the school by the scholars who, previous to his admittance, give an account of the various holidays for the ensuing year, which is promises to observe, and signs his name to the orders, as they are called, with two bondsmen. The return of these signed orders is the sign of capitulation. The doors are immediately opened, beef, beer, and wine deck the festive board, and the day is spent in mirth." William Hutchinson's History of Cumberland (1794) assessed the risks: "The master, meanwhile made various efforts, both by force and strategem, to regain his lost authority. If he succeeded, heavy tasks were imposed, and the business of the school was resumed and submitted to, but it more commonly happened that he was repelled.

-The Gneech

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