Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The custom or practice of marking the upper mandible of a swan, on behalf of the crown, of Oxford University, and of several London companies or gilds. The mark is made with a cutting-instrument, and the operation is still annually performed upon the swans of the river Thames. Also called
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. engraving A yearly expedition on the Thames to take up young swans and mark them, as by Companies of Dyers and Vintners; -- called also
“Milder still was swan-upping on the Thames, the ancient ritual of counting Her Royal Majesty's swans.”
“But this is not the only ludicrous mistake that has arisen on the subject, since "swan-upping," or the taking up of swans, performed annually by the swan companies, with the Lord Mayor at their head, for the purpose of marking them, has been changed, by an unlucky asperite, into swan-_hopping_, which is perfectly unintelligible.”
“The time-honoured brutality of swan-upping is now mitigated by law, its cruelty being obvious.”
“Swans were formerly considered royal birds; and those upon the river Thames are still the property of the crown, and the young ones are marked every year under the superintendence of the Lord Mayor, the ceremony being called swan-hopping, which is said to be derived from swan-upping, a part of the ceremony being to decide how far up the river the swans have a right to go.”
“Carl de Souza/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images A swan took off from the River Thames during the annual swan-upping census in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England Monday.”
“He presides over the annual ceremony of swan-upping, which, despite its suggestive name, involves nothing more exciting than marking cygnets 'beaks to indicate ownership.”
“For instance, use of the term swan-upping is always greeted with a smile in England.”
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A list of old British customs and traditions, and the characters involved, that harken back to former times.
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