[Sca-cooks] A short note about medieval meals & breakfast

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Tue May 12 14:20:42 PDT 2009

This is interesting. I wonder what the guild requirements were at this time.
Searching on "nonemete" which seemed the most unusual word one comes
across this in OED
*noonmeat**.* Obs. Forms: 1 nónmete; 4-5 none mete (5 nun, nvne), 6
none, noone meat.... Now represented in dial. by nammet and nummet

] A meal taken at noon, a luncheon.

    * *A. 1000* /Sal. & Sat;/ lix, On xii monðum ða scealt sillan ðinum
      þeowan men vii hund hlafa, and xx hlafa, buton
      mor/enticons/ipa.asg.gifenmetum, and nonmetum.
    * *C. 1000* /Ælfric's Voc;/ in Wr.-Wülcker 147 /Merenda/, nonmete.
    * *A. 1400* /Gloss./ in /Rel. Antiq./ I. 6 /Merenda/, nonemete.
    * *1428-9* /Rec. St. Mary at Hill/ (1904) 71 Also payd for þe none
      mete on þe morwe of iij carpenters & ij plomers, a sholdere & a
      brist of moton;
    * *C. 1440* /Promp. Parv./ 360/2 Nunmete, /merenda/.
    * *1495* /Act 11 Hen. VII/, c. 22 /enticons/sect.gif4
      Laborers..longe sitting at ther brekfast at ther dyner and nonemete.
    * *1548* Thomas /Ital. Gram./, /Merenda/, breakefast, or noone meate.

    * *1591* Percivall /Sp. Dict./, /Merendar/, to take the noonemeat.

In Google Books one comes across these:


1495. The act for Wages fixed 26*. /8d. /per annum for a bailly of
husbandry, and for his clothing /3s. /with meat and drink. 20«. for a
chief hyne, carter, or chief shepherd, and for clothing 5«. with meat
and drink. Common servant of husbandry, 16«. 8</. and 4s. for clothing,
with meat and drink. Woman servant 10«. ; 4i. for clothing, with meat
and drink. Child under fourteen, 6i. /Sd. ; St. /for clothing, with meat
and drink.

Free mason, master carpenter, rough mason, bricklayer, master-tyler,
plumber, glazier, carver, and joiner, from Easter to Michaelmas, /Gd. /a
day without meat mid drink, or with it, /4d. /The winter half- year the
prices were 5rf. or /3d./

This was the maximum, and in counties where wages were lower, they were
not to be raised to it. At these wages, men were compellable to serve on
pain of a month's imprisonment and a fine of 20«.

Labourers 4d. without meat and drink, or /Id. /with it, the summer
half-year,—winter /3d. /or li. In harvest time a mower /6d. /without
meat and drink, or /4d. /with. Reapers and carters /5d. /or /3d.
/without or 477

with. Women 4^ or 2^. Half wages for half days, none for holidays.
These, too, compelíanle upon the same penalty.

Work to begin, the summer half year, before five—half-an-hour for
breakfast; an hour and a-half for dinner at such time as he hath season
for sleep appointed by the statute ; but at such time as is herein
appointed that he shall not sleep, then an hour for dinner, and
half-an-hour for his none- mete.

This nonemete—which seems to have been a meal in lieu of a nap— is still
the word by which /luncheon /was called at Bris- tol in my childhood,
but corrupted into /nummet./

Work to end between seven and eight. The winter half-year it began and
ended with daylight ; sleep time allowed from the middle of May till the
middle of August.— /Statutes, /vol. 2, pp. 585-7.

The whole Act as relating to wages was repealed the ensuing year, " for
divers and many reasonable considerations and causes." —Ibid. p. 637.

Southey's Common-place book By Robert Southey, John Wood Warter
Edition: 2 Published by Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1850
Item notes: v. 1 Up on Google BOOKS


"Regulation Of Hours Of Labour

The hours of labour were rarely the subject of legislation. By 2 Hen.
IV, c. 14 (1402), it was provided that:

No Labourers, Carpenters, Masons, Tilers, Plaisterers, Daubers, Coverers
of Houses, nor none other Labourers, shall take any Hire for the Holy
days [holidays], nor for the Evens of Feasts, where they do not labour
but till the hour of Noon, but only for the half- day.

And, as we have seen, the period of work of a caulker labouring by the
tide was laid down by an Act of Henry VIFs reign. The most elaborate
rules relative to hours are to be found, however, in another section of
the 11 Hen. VII, c. 22, which enacts as follows:

Whereas divers artificers and labourers retained to work and serve waste
much part of the day and deserve not their wages, sometime in late
coming unto their work, early departing therefrom, long sitting at their
breakfast, at their dinner and nonemete, and long time of sleeping at
afternoon ... it is therefore established, enacted, and ordained . . .
that every artificer and labourer be at his work between the middle of
the month of March and the middle of the month of September by five of
the clock in the morning, and that he have but half an hour for his
breakfast, and an hour and a half for his dinner at such time as he hath
season for sleep to him appointed by this statute, and at such time as
is herein appointed that he shall not sleep then he to have but an hour
for his dinner and half an hour for his nonemete ; and that he depart
not from his work between the middle of the said months of March and
September till between seven and eight of the clock in the evening.

The statute proceeds to say that in winter-time the day's work shall be
from the " springing of the day " till nightfall. These provisions, so
far as they enacted that a day's work should be substantially from dawn
to dusk, were in accordance, as we have seen, with long-established
practice. The statute, however, appears to have been unpopular and was
repealed in 1496 by 12 Hen. VII, c. 3.

Again full view on Google Books A History of Labor By Gilbert Stone
Published by The Macmillan co., 1922


edoard at medievalcookery.com wrote:
> I just came across this reference:
> "Divers artificers and laborers reteyned to werke and serve, waste werke
> moch part of the day, and deserve not ther wagis; sum tyme in late
> comyng vnto ther werke, erly departing therefro, longe sitting at ther
> brekfast, at ther dyner, and nonemete, and long tyme of sleping at after
> none."  - Stat. 2 Hen. VII., cap. 22 / as appearing in Medii Aevi
> Kalendarium, Vol. 1., R.T. Hampson, 1841.
> Implying that in England, for at least some time between 1485 and 1509,
> it was common practice for workers to have three meals a day.
> - Doc

More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list