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frontispiece, Terrible Tractoration. A poetical petition against galvanising Trumpery, and the Perkinistic Institution: in Four Cantos

Trumpery (alternative forms: thrumpery, thrumphry, thrumphery, trumphy) borrowed from French tromperie (“deceit”). Its plural form is trumperies. A few of its senses are as follows: Noun 1) Worthless finery; bric-a-brac or junk. 2) Nonsense. 3) (obsolete) Deceit; fraud. Adjective 1) Gaudy but of no value. All of these meanings and more will be exemplified within this article.


  • Old St. Paul's was one of the largest churches in Europe... The church in the fourteenth century was not regarded only as a place for public worship. Masses and services of all kinds were going on all day long: the place was bright, not only with the sunlight streaming through the painted glass, but with wax tapers burning before many a shrine—at some, all day and all night. People came to the church to walk about, for rest, for conversation, for the transaction of business—to make or receive payments: to hire servants. The middle aisle of the church where all this was done was called Paul's Walk or Duke Humphrey's Walk. Here were tables where twelve licensed scribes sat writing letters for those who wanted their services. They would also prepare a lease, a deed, a conveyance—any legal document. The church was filled with tombs and monuments, some of these very ancient, some of the greatest interest. Here was one called the tomb of Duke Humphrey—Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who was really buried at St. Alban's. On May Day the watermen used to come to St. Paul's in order to sprinkle water and strew herbs upon this tomb—I know not why. Those who were out of work and went dinnerless were said to dine with Duke Humphrey: and there was a proverb—'Trash and trumpery is the way to Duke Humphrey.' Trumpery being used in its original meaning—tromperiedeceit.
  • "—an' a dog's skin over be the table, an' the floor was painted brown about three fut all round the walls. There was pieces o' windy curtain over the backs o' the chairs; there was a big fern growin' in an ould drainpipe in the corner; there was an ould straw hat o' John's stuffed full o' flowers an' it hangin' on the wall, an' here an' there, all round it an' beside it were picters cut from the papers an' then tacked on the plaster. Ye could hardly see the mantelshelf, Jane allowed, for all the trumpery was piled on it, dinglum-danglums of glass an' chaney, an' shells from the say, an' a sampler stuck in a frame, an' in the middle of all a picter of Hannah herself got up in all her finery.
  • "Bring out a chair," he shouted, "bring out a basin. Tell them to come to me. It's bleedin' she wants." He took from his carpet-bag a brass handled fleam, opened a blade and tried its edge with his thumb. "Hurry, hurry," he shouted, dancing towards the Master. "Man alive, stir yourself... Is it have me lose the baste ye would? Bring a basin quick, I tell ye... Look at her. Don't let her down—for God's sake, don't let her down," shouted the man and, even as Spotty doubled her knees and sank moaning in the straw, rushed over and began pulling at her tail. "She mustn't lie," he shouted; "she mustn't lie. Gar up." He kicked brutally at her buttocks. "Gar up—gar up, ye divil!"
    Then the Master crossed, took him by the shoulders and sent him spinning against the wall. "Get back, you brute!" The Master was hoarse with anger, his eyes flashed red murder. "Get out o' my sight," he shouted, "you ignorant brute! You a cattle doctor—you a Christian! Get out, I say; get out o' my sight. Here, take your trumpery." Out went the carpet-bag, the coat, the fleam, into the yard; out came the Master raging and flaring. "You'd murder my beast—you'd kick her to death—you'd torture the life out of her! I'm sick of the sight of you. Get out; get out!"
  • A concise sketch of the history of Perkinism, since its first introduction into this island, will render evident what has been the nature of the opposition to the Metallic Practice, inasmuch as it will show that it resolves itself into two heads, viz. Ridicule and Malicious Falsehood.
    • Christopher Caustic, Terrible Tractoration. A Poetical Petition against galvanisingTrumpery, and the Perkinistic Institution: in Four Cantos (1803) ed., Thomas Green Fessenden, 2nd edition, p. ix.
  • TRUMPERY: ...also in forms thrumpery... thrumphry... thrumphery... trumphy ...1. adj. Worthless, insignificant; silly, capricious, used esp. of persons. ...2. Rubbish, trash; broken furniture. ...3. A worthless sort of person; a pretentious or disreputable woman. ...4. Weeds growing on cultivated ground. ...5. Odds and ends, miscellaneous articles or property; knick-knacks, trifles.
    • The English Dialect Dictionary (1905) ed. Joseph Wright, Vol. VI T-Z, p. 253.
  • TRUMPERY, adv. ...A corruption of 'temporary.'
    He was only took on trumpery.
    • The English Dialect Dictionary (1905) ed. Joseph Wright, Vol. VI T-Z, p. 253.
  • The laird was delighted to see the haste and heartiness with which the leddy was resolved to consummate the match; but he said—
    "Do as ye like, leddy—do as ye like; but I'll no coom [dirty] my fingers wi' meddling in ony sic project. The wark be a' your ain."
    Surely neither you nor that unreverend and misleart trumphy your wife, our Meg, would refuse to be present at the occasion?
    'Deed, leddy, I'm unco sweer't; I'll no deny that," replied Dirdumwhamle.
    "If it is to take place this day, and in this house, gudeman, I'm sure it will be ill put on blateness, on both your part and mine, no to be present," said Mrs Milrookit.
    • John Galt, The Entail or The Lairds of Grippy (1896) The Works of John Galt, Vol. 2, p. 129.
  • Now as Abraham's example shews us there must be a meet burial-place provided for the dead; so in the second place, that it must be a Set and Designed Place; not at random... but appointed, and put apart for that use. ...Abraham ...settled... ground to this good and only purpose: which because it is a holy employment, in regard of the bodies of the saints that are there buried, it is locus sacer, "holy:" not for that the dust of it hath in itself any inherent quality of sanctity, but for that it is destined and set apart for this holy use. Hence these places were called of old χοιμητἠρια, "the sleeping places" of Christians: and even those High Priests and Elders, whose consciences would serve them to barter with Judas for the blood of his Master; yet would pretend so much charity, as with the redelivered silverings of Judas to buy a field for the burial-place of strangers, called thereupon, Άηελδαμἁ.
    Out of the consideration of the holy designation of these peculiar places, came both the title and practice of the consecration of Cemeteries; which, they say, is no less ancient than the days of Calixtus the first, who dedicated the first cemetery, about the year of our Lord two hundred and twenty: although these cemeteries, being then only the outer courts of the Churches, perhaps seemed not to need any new or several forms of consecration, but took part of the dedication with the holy structures; and indeed by the Council of Arles it was decreed, That if any Church were consecrated, the Churchyard of it should require no other hallowing than by simple conspersion.
    But superstition hath been idly lavish this way. The various and unnecessary ceremonies of which consecration whoso desires to see, let him consult with Hospinian in his Tract De Origine Dedicationum: where he shall have it fully recounted, out of the Pontifical of Albertus Castellanus, what a world of fopperies there are, of crosses, of candles, of holy water, and salt, and censings. Away with these trumperies. But, thus much let me say, that, laying aside all superstitious rites, it is both meet and necessary, that these kind of places should be set aside to this holy use, by a due and religious dedication, as we do this day.
    • Joseph Hall (bishop), "Abraham's Purchase and Employment of a Burying Place..." (Aug. 24, 1637) preached at Exeter, at the consecration of a new Burial-Place there, The works of the Right Reverend Father in God, Joseph Hall, D.D., successively Bishop of Exeter and Norwich (1808) pp. 433-434.
  • I give the story as I heard it, my lady, but be dazed if I believe in such trumpery behaviour of the folks in the sky, nor anything else that's said about 'em.
  • The undertaking was soon in full progress and by degrees; and by degrees it became the talk of the hamlets round that Lady Constantine had given up melancholy for astronomy, to the great advantage of all who came in contact with her. One morning when Tabitha Lark had come as usual to read, Lady Constantine chanced to be in a quarter of the house to which she seldom wandered; and while here she heard her maid talking confidentially to Tabitha in the adjoining room on the curious and sudden interest which Lady Constantine had acquired in the moon and stars.
    "They do say all sorts of trumpery," observed the hand maid. "They say—though 'tis little better than mischief, to be sure—that it isn't the moon, and it isn't the stars, and it isn't the plannards, that my lady cares for, but for the pretty lad who draws 'em down from the sky to please her; and being a married example, and what with sin and shame knocking at every poor maid's door afore you can say, 'Hands off, my dear,' to the civilest young man, she ought to set a better pattern."
    Lady Constantine's face flamed up vividly.
    • Thomas Hardy, Two on Tower (1882) p. 69.
  • She'll blab your most secret plans and theories to every one of her acquaintance... and make them appear ridiculous by announcing them before they are matured. If you attempt to study with a woman, you'll lie ruled... to entertain fancies instead of theories, air-castles instead of intentions, qualms instead of opinions, sickly prepossessions instead of reasoned conclusions. Your wide heaven of study, young man, will soon reduce itself to the miserable narrow expanse of her face and your myriad of stars to her two trumpery eyes.
  • We have seen that the Prussian ideal of government and the American ideal cannot exist together in the world and that the Prussian ideal is of necessity vicious in its nature and degrading in its effects. ...We fight not to avenge the Lusitania, not to rebuild Louvain, not to exact reparation for murdered women and children. We fight to slay the government which taught its people to commit such damnable atrocities. We fight that never again may a great nation with cynical insolence throw in the face of the world the base assertions that treaties are scraps of paper, that necessity knows no law, that might is the right of the strongest, and that the State can do no wrong. We fight to hurl the Hohenzollern and his dangerous doctrine of divine right upon the scrap-heap of useless trumpery, and to set the German people in his place, that they may learn to rule themselves.
  • But his masther didn t wait to hear the end of it till he was below himself...
    "What? What? What's this tarnation tomfoolery about?" sez he, "in my front parlour? or what do ye mane at all, at all?
    But the lad was whistlin' like a mavis on May-day, an' timin' himself makin' a new tin on the anvil, an' the sorra a answer he made him, but went on as unconsarned as iver.
    "I say, ye scoundhril ye," sez the landlord, kickin' one of the skillets clean out through the window, "get up out of that, an' clear out o' this yerself an' yer thrumpery in double quick time, afore I call in the polis, an' make them do their duty."
  • Presently he returned and pitched a small leathern bag of money upon the oak table by which George was sitting. ...
    'Ha! ha! Count it again. I tell 'ee, count it again.' And his laugh sounded hard like the clinking of the counted coins.
    'That's what 'tis.'
    ' 'Tis yours. I won't keep it vrom 'ee. It come to your mother by will by her mother's side. Fifty pound and the oddses be the duty; and I never touched it to this day. Goo an' make your way wi' it, if you be zo love-struck wi' a trumpery maid not wo'th her zalt.
    George pushed the money from him.
  • Pro. Say again, where didst thou leave these varlets?
    Ari. I told you, Sir, they were red hot with drinking;
    So full of valour, that they smote the air
    For breathing in their faces; beat the ground
    For kissing of their feet; yet always bending
    Towards their project.

    Then I beat my tabor...
    There dancing up to th' chins, that the foul lake O'er-stunk their feet.
    Pro. This was well done, my bird;
    Thy shape invisible retain thou still;
    The trumpery in my house, go bring it hither,
    For stale to catch these thieves.

    Ari. I go. I go.         [Exit.
    Pro. A devil, a born devil; on whose nature
    Nurture can never stick; on whom my pains,
    Humanely taken, all, all lost. quite lost;
    And, as with age, his body uglier grows,
    So his mind cankers; I will plague them all,
    Even to roaring: come, hang them on this line.

                                   [Prospero remains invisible.

The Modern Husbandman, or, The Practice of Farming (1744)[edit]

William Ellis, a Farmer, of Little Gaddesden, near Hempstead, in Hertfordshire. Vol. IV. Containing the Months of October, November, and December.
  • And if Cow and Swine-dung were thus incorporated together with Horse-dung, and kept under Cover, they would be Cent. per Cent. the better for it, in Comparison of their lying all abroad exposed to the Weather. But, in Case there are not Conveniencies for laying such Dung under Cover, then, as the Beast Dungs are made, they should be lain in one great Heap or Dunghill... and as the black Water drains from it, it ought to be carefully preserved, by causing it to run into such a Receptacle or Reservoir, as will give the Farmer an Opportunity to carry it out in a Tub or Barrel, for throwing it over the Dunghill, or to scatter it... For, if Stable or other Dungs were laid thinly over the Farm-yard, the Rains would easily wash through them, and the Sun dry them, and that much more than when such Dungs are laid in a thick Substance. But, before I quit this Subject, I must observe, that I have seen a great Farmer lay his Stable-dung under a Granary built high from the Ground on Purpose to be a Shelter or Cover for something: Here I should think it improper to lay Dung, because the Steam of Dung is most apt to breed a Mould, that is pernicious to every thing it settles, or gets to. When Fowls-dungs are kept by themselves, as often as we have Dust, offal Chaff, or other Trumpery, fanned out of the Corn, we mix them with such Fowls-dung which, in Time, will lie, heat, rot and become an excellent Manure, to be sown as I said, out of the Hand Seed-cott, and harrowed in with your Barley, or otherwise applied.
    • For the Month of November. Chap. VI. Of Dungs and Manures proper for Corn and Grass-Grounds in this Month. p. 70.
  • Now Wheat, Barley, Oats, Beans, Pease, and other Grain, are neargot as dry, as they will be, in the Mow, in the Cock, and in the Barn; and, as the Field-work is by the Beginning of this Month for the most Part over, and the Weather commonly frosty and snowy, the Farmer in Course, for these, and other Reasons, is obliged to employ his Hands in trashing out and cleaning Corn for Market; a Work that requires a good Workman: For, though Corn is got in dry, yet, if theTasker cannot clean and free it of the Seeds of Weeds, and other Trumpery, the Master must consequently be a Loser.
    • For the Month of December. Chap. VIII. Of Cleaning Corn for Market. p. 51.
  • The next Thing to be done, is to further clean the Wheat, by the Wheat-ridder, which is a round, splintered Sieve, worked in a round Manner, by the Tasker's two Hands, and who, by the Art of working this Sieve, will cause those Corals, Seeds of Weeds, and other Trumpery, that escaped the throwing Labour, to gather on the Top of the Wheat in the Sieve for his throwing them out, to be kept in a particular Parcel by themselves, to be thrashed hereafter; and this we call Peggings being composed of those Corals that were swept off the Heap of Wheat, after Throwing; and those Corals, Seeds of Weeds, and other Trumpery the Ridder-Sieve thus discharges.
    • For the Month of December. Chap. VIII. The Hertfordshire Way of thrashing Wheat, and cleaning it. p. 59.
  • When it is thrashed out and the Ails are beat and sufficiently broke, they pass the Corn through a large-holed Caving-Sieve, for taking away the short Straws and offal Trumpery, in order to prepare it for cleaning, by throwing; and, where there is Room enough, two Men may throw it well to clear it of its Chaff, the Seeds of Weeds, and the lightest Corns.
    • For the Month of December. Chap XI. Of Cleaning of Barley. p. 71.
  • Wheat, Barley, and Oats may be very expeditiously cleaned in great Perfection. When all the Barley is... screened, it is ready to put into Sacks for Market; but, in case some Seeds of Darnel should be left among the Barley, as if often happens, because these Seeds are so near the Bigness of a Barley-Corn, that they cannot be easily separated, it is not of great Importance or Damage to the Barley; for that this Seed is of such a Nature, as to add a Strength to the Liquor, and make the Beer or Ale, brewed from such Malt, the more potent. But the main Matter is to free it off its Ails and Tails; for, if these are left, in any Quantity, among the Barley, there will a lower Price be bid for it, than others that are free from such Trumpery. It is this that makes the Cleaners of Barley oftentimes walk on the thrashed Barley, to tread on and break oft these Ails; and sometimes neither Thrashing nor Treading will thoroughly break off these Ails enough to make the Parcel intirely clear of them. One Man will sometimes thrash and clean six or eight Bushels of Barley in one Day...
    • For the Month of December. Chap XI. Of Cleaning of Barley. p. 72.
  • The Author of improving wet and barren Lands says, that, by burning the Ground two Inches thick, there will be two Hundred and sixty Loads of Ashes to an Acre; and, by burning it three Inches deep, there will be four Hundred Loads to an Acre. It is true such Burning will clear the Land of Weeds and all Manner of Trumpery; but Woe be to the Farmer after the Ashes have been spent, which will be, as he says, at three Years End; for then will come on as great a Barrenness as the Ashes caused Fertility; and this for I know not how long, because the richest Part of the Ground, which is the Turf or Surface, is gone.
    • For the Month of December. Chap XVI. The Author's Answer. pp. 94-95.

Observations in Husbandry (1757)[edit]

Edward Lisle, Esquire; Late of Crux-Easton, in Hampshire. Vol. 1.
  • If dung lies near the corn-carting, and not carried out before harvest, so many sorts of corn be littered in it, which will not have time to rot, that you must expect a crop foul with trumpery.
    • Manure and Manuring. p. 55.
  • September 14th, 1699, I observed a close ploughing up in Leicestershire, and the corn sowing under furrow; the ground had been limed, and so strangely run to weeds, that I wondered at the boldness of the husbandman, and went up to him.—He was sowing his wheat steeped in lime; I observed the grain was plim and very large... (said he) here we choose a large seed, as supposing it has strength to shoot forth it's stalks through the clots and earth it lies under; for it now lies deeper, and the earth closer and heavier upon it than if it were sowed after the plough, and harrowed-in; besides, if very wet weather should fall upon it, so as thoroughly to wet the trumpery of weeds we turn in, a small grain would be sooner chilled than this large sort.
    • Of Sowing Wheat. p. 171.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • The English Dialect Dictionary (1905) Vol VI T-Z, ed. Joseph Wright, p. 253.