E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
To correspond. The tally used in the Exchequer was a rod of wood, marked on one face with notches corresponding to the sum for which it was an acknowledgment. Two other sides contained the date, the name of the payer, and so on. The rod was then cleft in such a manner that each half contained one written side and half of every notch. One part was kept in the Exchequer, and the other was circulated. When payment was required the two parts were compared, and if they tallied, or made a tally, all was right, if not, there was some fraud, and payment was refused. Tallies were not finally abandoned in the Exchequer till 1834. (French, tailler, to cut.)
In 1834 orders were issued to destroy the tallies. There were two cartloads of them, which were set fire to at six oclock in the morning, and the conflagration set on fire the Houses of Parliament, with their offices, and part of the Palace of Westminster.
To break ones tally (in Latin, Confringere tesseram). When public houses were unknown, a guest entertained for a night at a private house had a tally given him, the corresponding part being kept by the host. It was expected that the guest would return the favour if required to do so, and if he refused he violated the rites of hospitality, or confregisse tesseram. The white stone spoken of in the Book of the Revelation is a tessera which Christ gives to His disciples.
To live tally is to live unwed as man and wife. A tally-woman is a concubine, and a tally-man is the man who keeps a mistress. These expressions are quite common in Cheshire, Yorkshire, and Lancashire. In mines a tin label is attached to each tub of coals, bearing the name of the man who sent it to the bank, that the weighman may credit it to the right person. As the tallies of the miner and weighman agree, so the persons who agree to live together tally with each others taste.