Reference > Brewer’s Dictionary > Tailors.

 Tails.Tailor’s Sword (A), or A Tailor’s Dagger. 
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
 
Tailors.
 
The three tailors of Tooley Street. Canning says that three tailors of Tooley Street, Southwark, addressed a petition of grievances to the House of Commons, beginning—“We, the people of England.” (See VAUGHAN.)   1
   Nine tailors make a man. The present scope of this expression is that a tailor is so much more feeble than another man that it would take nine of them to make a man of average stature and strength. There is a tradition that an orphan lad, in 1742, applied to a fashionable London tailor for alms. There were nine journeymen in the establishment, each of whom contributed something to set the little orphan up with a fruit barrow. The little merchant in time became rich, and adopted for his motto, “Nine tailors made me a man,” or “Nine tailors make a man.” This certainly is not the origin of the expression, inasmuch as we find a similar one used by Taylor a century before that date, and referred to as of old standing, even then.   2
       
“Some foolish knave, I thinke, at first began
The slander that three taylers are one man.”
       
Taylor: Workes, iii. 73" (1630).
   Another suggestion is this: At the death of a man the tolling bell is rung thrice three tolls; at the death of a woman it is rung only three-two tolls. Hence nine tolls indicate the death of a man. Halliwell gives telled = told, and a tolling-bell is a teller. In regard to “make,” it is the French faire, as On le faisait mort, i.e. some one gave out or made it known that he was dead.   3
        “The fourme of the Trinitie was founded in manne… . Adam our forefather… . and Eve of Adam the secunde personne, and of them both was the third persone. At the death of a manne three bells schulde be ronge as his knyll, in worscheppe of the Trinitie—for a womanne, who is the secunde personne of the Trinitie, two belles schulde be rungen.”—An old English Homily for Trinity Sunday. (See Strutt: Manners and Customs, vol. iii. p. 176.)
 


 Tails.Tailor’s Sword (A), or A Tailor’s Dagger. 

 
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