About "Hillsborough paint"; also "executive officer" and "knock [someone] up"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Dec 20 16:24:23 UTC 2007

This may be of no use to the OED since it does not use the phrase
"Hillsborough paint", but it is about a month earlier than the
citations I sent Jesse, does define a principal ingredient, and is
witty (e.g., the allusion to the non-importation actions).
The Massachusetts Gazette: and the Boston Weekly News-Letter, 1774
June 2, 3/3 [via EAN].

The Act for Tarring and Feathering being repealed, the old Act for
nocturnal Painting seems to be revived. A number of the executive
Officers of this renewed Act made a visit to my House last Tuesday
Night, and did me the Honor to give my front Door a daub, gratis. I
value this favor or savor the more, as the Paint is of our own
Growth, and what is had from our own BOWELS. I must acquaint the
Gentlemen that I an not insensible of the di-STINK-tion they have
shewn me, and therefore request, that the next visit of this sort
they make me, however late it may be, that they would knock me up,
that I may entertain them according to their real merits.

Boston, June 2, 1774.

Another kind of night-soil.  While the colonial term for this,
"Hillsborough paint" (or "treat"), has not survived, the practice
has.  My encounter:  In the early 1980s, after checking in to a
Holiday Inn in Wroclaw (Breslau), I found the door of the room I had
been assigned smeared with human feces.  And on a rolling
room-service cart nearby in the hall there was a clearly recognizable
human turd.

The earliest instance of "executive officer" I find in OED2 is 1790.

OED2 describes this sense of "knock up" as "not current in the U.S."
(no kidding!), and has no U.S. citation until 1973 (which is merely
an explanation of what the phrase means in "Fielding's").


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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