[Sca-cooks] mysterious query (Parliament cake/gingerbread)

Johnna Holloway johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu
Wed Jan 24 18:05:06 PST 2007

Alys mentioned the Notes and Queries reference earlier today.
I finally had time to jump through the various hoops and ring the
various bells to get into Notes and Queries from home. It's available
as scanned images.
The original query appeared in December of 1896 and mentioned the
phrase 'apples and parliament.' The author continued,
"Parliament, which in pinafore days of the older of us was among the
most popular of cates,  is now like its contemporary  "brandy-snap," alias
"jumble," rarely displayed on the counter of the pastry cook.
Why was this "parliament" so named?"
Henry Attwell

(Note: it is spelled cates with a t in the text)

The responses  in 1897 pointed to Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary of 1880
where the definition was given as
Parliament-Cake, Parley - a thin species of gingerbread, supposed to 
have had its name from its being
used by the members of the Scottish Parliament during their sederunts. S.
"They..... did business on a larger scale, having a general huxtry, with 
parliament-cakes, and candles, and pincushions,
as well as other groceries in their window" (Annals of the Parish, p 182)
"Here's a bawbee tae ye: awa' an' buy parlewys wi 't."

So I then looked up Annals of the Parish where on page 130 of this edition
I found the quote mentioned above.
with *parliament*-cakes, and candles, and pincushions, as well as other 

It's footnoted as
3 *Parliament*-cakes. Thin gingerbread cakes, vulgarly known as "parleys"

The book was originally published in  1821.     This section dealt with 

Later on page 211 Parliament was again addressed.
This time a rhyme was presented from A Tale of Drury Lane.

And buy to gladthy smiling chops,
Crisp parliament with lollypops,

A Tale of Drury Lane was  a parody written in the style of Sir Walter Scott.

This anyway was what was in N&Q.

Hope this helps,


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