18th Century Gaiters & Spatterdashes

For improved organization & navigation, the links here are divided up into extant examples and depictions on farmers, peddlers, laborers, beggars, hunters, other civilians, and soldiers.

The New World of Words, or Universal English Dictionary (1706) says that Spatter-daſhes or Spatter-plaſhes are “a ſort of light Boots, without Soles,” while A Dictionary of the English Language (1775) defines spatterdaſhes as “coverings for the legs” (further suggesting the words gambade and gambado as synonyms). A Law Dictionary (1708), on the other hand, provides more distinguished language: “Huſeans, Of the French Houſeau, i. ocrea, a kind of Boot, or ſomewhat made of courſe Cloth, and worn over the Stocking; a Busking, or as the vulgar call it a Spatterdaſh.”

The word gaiters seems to be the term used more often for leg-coverings worn by soldiers, as in this verse from “A Soldier, A Soldier for Me”:

Each morn when you see him upon the parade ...

Extant examples

  • NT 1349377.1/1349377.2, brown suede with seam lines trimmed with brown leather, decorated with brown leather and fastened with metal buttons, possibly Spanish, 17th century
  • MFA 43.1704a-b, brown leather with appliquéd decorative sections backstitched with white cotton, western European, 18th century
  • MFA 43.1712a-b, brown leather with appliquéd decorative sections, western Europe, 18th century
  • Pair of leather gaiters which form part of a set of male clothes and accessories for a lay figure used and made by the artist Louis François Roubiliac, c. 1750-1762
  • A pair of original Prussian army gaiters, c. 1786
  • Bonhams Sep 26 2012, Lot 219, white linen spatterdashes with 28 blackened bone buttons and white wool spatterdashes with 9 wool-covered buttons, late 18th to early 19th century
  • NT 1349374.1/1349374.2, Holland partially lined with linen and fastening with self-covered buttons, c. 1800-1815
  • NT 1349376.1/1349376.2, buckskin fastening with metal and bone buttons, which have been moved to make the gaiters larger, c. 1800-1815
  • Met 1978.85.3a, b, a pair of cotton and linen gaiters with horn buttons, British, 1805-1810

Spatterdashes in agricultural & rural contexts, including farmers & yokels


Peddlers, beggars, & other laborers in spatterdashes


Hunters & sportsmen in spatterdashes


Spatterdashes in other civilian contexts


Gaiters in military contexts