Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Tally, a notched stick cleft into two halves, formerly used as a record of sales and loans, the parties to the transaction each retaining one half. The employment of tallies in the English exchequer began in the Norman period, and was not abolished by law till 1783. A square seasoned rod of hazel or willow was notched on one side, the size of the indentations corresponding with the amount of the coin or sum denoted. On two other sides, opposite to one another, were inscribed the sum paid (in Roman figures), the name of the payer, and the date of the transaction. The rod so marked was split down the middle, producing two exactly similar pieces, one of which (the "stock" or "tally") was given to the payer, the other (the "counterstock" or "countertally") remaining in the exchequer. When the debt was discharged, stock and counterstock were tied up together, and it was the burning of a large collection of these which caused the destruction of the old Houses of Parliament.