In one of the songs we sang at the Welsh session last night, there’s an interesting word – hatling, which means ‘mite, half-farthing; modest contribution, all that a poor person can afford’.
It’s a word I haven’t come across before, but from the context I guessed it was term of affection. This is how it’s used:
Fy hatling offrymaf dros enaid dan glo,
Fy nghanwyll offrymaf yn eglwys y fro,
’R offeren weddïaf saith seithwaith yn daer
Er cadw ei enaid anfarwol.
Myn Mair, Myn Mair
My penn’orth I’ll offer for a soul in prison,
My candle I’ll offer in the church in the vale,
The Mass I’ll pray earnestly, seven times seven,
To save his immortal soul.
O Mary, O Mary.
You can hear the whole song here:
So it seems it doesn’t mean what I thought. I can’t find any information about its origin, but my guess is that it’s a perhaps a nickname for a half-farthing. This is a coin that was first minted in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1828, and used in the UK from 1842. It was worth an eighth of a penny.
Some other nicknames and abbreviations for British coins include:
– Bender = a sixpence, known as such because it could be bent, due to its silver content. A one time you could get very drunk for a sixpence, which is the origin of the phrase ‘to go on a bender’.
– Bob = a shilling. Possibly related to bell ringing, as a bob can also be a tune played on church bells.
– Tanner = a sixpence. Possibly from the Romani word tawno (small one).
– Groat = four pence (fuppence). From the Dutch word groot (great).
– Ha’penny = half penny
– Tuppence = two pence
– Thruppence or Thruppenny bit = three pence
– Quid = £1
– Beer token = £2 (a pint of beer cost about £2 when this coin was introduced in 1998).
Only the £1 and £2 coins are still used.
Do you know of any other interesting nicknames for coins or bank notes?