She threatened to throw a chair at him and called him...

"Old hackle back". This is from a tweet yesterday morning by historian Jonathan Healey (had never heard of him). 'He' was an irritating Puritan minister, evidently. But I am reading in the Dictionary at 'hackle'; I don't believe I've ever heard the word used except in the sense that someone's hackles have been raised-- thought the reference there was to an animal's hackles (I've understood, 'the hair at the back of the neck') but it only now occurs to me that I have no idea if that is true or not. It is evidently in origin a cloak etc (a chasuble, even), in use meaning the straw coverings for beehives or wine bottles. There is a second noun that encompasses what I've thought is the meaning of the word-- "erectile hairs along the back, neck, or shoulders of an animal (esp. a dog), which rise when it is angry or alarmed"-- that derives from a toothed tool used to prepare flax etc, a heckle. This is derived ultimately from the old word meaning, to hack at, to cut, chop, and so forth.

In any case, why did the old woman call the offensive cleric 'old hackle back'? Perhaps she meant that he seemed always angry, which would fit with my stereotypical view of the revolutionary Puritans. A specific sense of the word is 'a snake's skin' that has been discarded-- maybe she was making a more general comment on his morals.