At the Mercer's Stall: A Conversation about Cloth

Once in town, a gentrywoman would have had many options for shopping. As mentioned in another post, she probably would have brought a servant with her to help with the shopping and carrying packages. In this conversation, the lady is looking for cloth for a new dress. She comes upon a mercer, or textile merchant, who has a stall set up at the market

Mistress: “Good morrow, Master”


Stallholder: “Good day to you Mistress”


Mistress: “I wish to purchase some tawny wool stuff, please”


Stallholder: “You are in luck, mistress. I hath just got some in. Tis of a fine quality”


Mistress: “It will serve very well. I needeth enough for a new gown.”

Stallholder: ”Can I get ye anything else?”


Mistress: ”Ay, some ribbon and thread, if you please.”


Stallholder: “Thankee, Mistress. Please call again.”

This conversation shows an easy transaction. As a stallholder, the Mercer would likely have had a permanent set up at the market. He would also have been familiar with the market’s regular customers. Mistress Dauntesey could purchase her cloth, and then take it to a tailor to have a dress made. Even a gentry woman who lived in the country would have had access to the best fabrics and latest fashions due to the extensive system of markets in England.

Source: Liz Smith, editor. The King’s English: 17th Century Words and Phrases.

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