What could "fermison" mean in this sentence?:

In 1370 Ralph Basset, who held lands in wardship of the heir of John Mowbray of Axholme, was ordered to allow the proctor in England of the abbot of Fécamp to exercise, among other rights, his right to 'five good bucks in time of grease (in gresso) and five does in time of fermison, all whole with their hides' in the woods of Stanherst and Rippefeld, a right that the abbot had going back to the time of Henry III.

— quotation from Edward III and the English Peerage: Royal Patronage, Social Mobility and Political Control in Fourteenth-Century England by J.S. Bothwell

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  • I'm interested in what "grease / gresso" means. I guess it is "in season" from the other answers, but this Latin definition doesn't clearly answer my question.
    – Ken Y-N
    Dec 22, 2022 at 2:05

3 Answers 3


There is a passage found here(1156-7), that says it's a period when male deer were protected.

The first citation (from a Foot of Fines) in OED sv fermison indicates that adult male deer could be hunted only between May and September, that the closed season for males was called fermison, and the females could be hunted only between November and February, their open season thus falling within the winter months of fermison when the males were protected.

So the does (female deer) could be taken during fermison.

  • 9
    It reads like a portmanteau of two Norman French words fermé (closed) and venesoun (hunting, meat from game (especially deer)).
    – Spencer
    Dec 20, 2022 at 19:40
  • 1
    My guess as to the etymology is that it's the root of fermé with the same suffix as comparison. Wiktionary says the Latin comparatus ("compared") yielded the Old French and English comparison, so presumably, the Latin firmatus (originally "strengthened," but "closed" in French) yielded fermison in the same way. I have no idea whether or not the suffix in venison is the same. Dec 21, 2022 at 2:20
  • 5
    @Spencer No mantels have ported here, as both venison and fermison derive from the same Latin agent-noun suffix used for producing such from first-conjugation verbs: ‑ātiōn-em‚ essentially English ‑ation. Venison is from Latin vēnātiōn-em meaning hunting, deriving from the 1st-conjugation deponent verb vēnāri meaning to hunt. Fermison is from Anglo-Norman fermyson, Old French fermeyson, fermoyson and thence from Latin firmātiōn-em, the agent-noun deriving from the first-conjugation verb firmāre, in medieval Latin meaning to close, Modern French fermer.
    – tchrist
    Dec 21, 2022 at 15:36
  • 2
    @Tanner See my previous comments for details.
    – tchrist
    Dec 21, 2022 at 15:49
  • @tchrist That would make a great answer.
    – Spencer
    Dec 21, 2022 at 22:33

OED has it as obsolete:

  1. A close-time for the male deer. attributive.

A "close season" is a time when hunting is forbidden.

Thus the abbot of Fécamp was entitled to receive five female deer when the killing of male deer was illegal.


A Google search for fermison gives three meanings- "the time in which it is forbidden to kill male deer", "deer,venison", and "a place where deer were kept or allowed to range". https://www.wordnik.com/words/fermison The first would appear to fit the context best.

  • 1
    Wow, Peter! How did you achieve that? My several Google searches refused to recognise 'fermison' and suggested I should instead have been searching for 'farmison'… about which, who gives a rat's whisker…? Rats and whiskers aside please, what exactly did you Ask Google, that produced a useful result? Dec 22, 2022 at 2:53
  • I entered just the single word fermison. Google asked if I meant farmison, but gave me the wordnik entry as the first item, followed by an item for fermion. I am using an iPad; in theory a PC would get the same results.
    – Peter
    Dec 22, 2022 at 4:43

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