That is, halig fax or holy hair. Its previous name was
Horton. The story is that a certain clerk of Horton, being jilted,
murdered his quondam sweetheart by cutting off her head, which he hung
in a yew-tree. The head was looked on with reverence, and came to be
regarded as a holy relic. In time it rotted away, leaving little
filaments or veins spreading out between the bark and body of the tree
like fine threads. These filaments were regarded as the fax or hair of
the murdered maiden. (See Hull.
(in Nova Scotia). So called by the Hon. Edward Cornwallis, the
governor, in compliment to his patron, the Earl of Halifax (1749).
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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