Rails, are pieces of timber, placed on stair-cases, and also on balusters, both as a support, and to prevent accidents. They also denote those pieces of wood which are fixed within pales, in order to strengthen fences.
In April, 1782, a Patent was granted to Mr. Francis Underwood, for his invention of making and ornamenting every kind of railing, balustrades, or balusters, and pannels for stair-cases, galleries, balconies, etc. both in private houses, and in churches, or other public, buildings. His privilege is now expired; but, as a detail of the principles on which he proceeded, would be intelligible only to architects, the curious reader will consult the 7th volume of the Repertory of Arts and Manufactures, where a full specification is inserted.