[Sca-cooks] Measurement Definition

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Fri Sep 3 12:36:22 PDT 2010

I don’t think it’s that simple. I did some searching and will do some  
more later this weekend

I found this book which indicates that pounds of butter (and dishes of  
butter) by custom varied in England in the early 19th century.

The Literary panorama and national register, Volume 1 [London :  
Printed for C. Taylor, 1814-1819]
  edited by Charles Taylor

for November 1814

Report From The Select Committee, Appointed By The House Of ComMons To  
Investigate The Subject Of Weights-And Measures. [Ordered by the House  
of Commons to be printed, July 1, 1814]

Account Begins on page 194

On page 195

The mortification of such discrepancies has even penetrated our  
domestic economy. A pound of butter is, in some places, fourteen  
ounces, in others sixteen, and in others twenty;

With the utmost deference to the motives which induced the committee  
to tolerate different kinds of weights now used in certain trades and  
professions, we beg leave to protest against the indulgence :—if  
Goldsmiths are tolerated' in the use of their present weights— because  
the mystery of their trade re-' quires it:—if Apothecaries are to  
retain drams and scruples, because to act otherwise Were contrary to  
the regulations of the college, why not indulge the merchant in his  
long hundred,'and his short hundred ;

and why disturb the honest butterwoman  her rate at market, who  
composes her dish of butter in the county of Essex, of thirty six or  
forty ounces, while her neighbour Goodwife in Cam-; bridgeshire  
reckons twenty four, or thirty, to her dish.

These exceptions undermined the general regulation formerly : they  
retain the same powers, and will produce the same effects: if.  
Goldsmiths and Apothecaries are allowed to err through learning— their  
inferiors in every sense, except in common sense, will most assuredly  
plead equal privilege, and think themselves warranted in erring  
through ignorance.
On the last resolution of the committee, that "a jury should return a  
verdict," &c. we shall only add—that such verdict ought to be returned  
by the Grand Jury annually : it is a very proper part of their province.


Then for a measure that is much much larger--

  Ancient laws and institutes of Wales; comprising laws supposed to be  
enacted by Howel the Good: and anomalous laws, consisting principally  
of institutions which by the statute of Ruddlan were admitted to  
continue in force. London] Printed by command of His Late Majesty King  
William IV under the direction of the Commissioners on the Public  
Records of the Kingdom, 1841.

Page 199-200
Chapter xxvi The Venedotian Code.


1. From the bond maenols two a ' dawnbwyds' are due yearly.
2. The winter: a three year old swine; a vessel of butter, snipped
3. The measure of the summer dawnbwyd is, a three year old wether;

a dish of butter as broad as the broadest dish in the trev, and two  
hand-breadths in thickness;

twenty-six loaves of such bread as we have mentioned before; c and to  
collect' what there may be of milch animals possessed by all within  
the trev, and to milk them once in the day, and only that once…

The Venedotian Code is dated 13th century.

By the way the well received volume titled
The Cornucopia: being a kitchen entertainment and cookbook  by the  
Hermans and reprinted by the Huntington Library, ©2005.

reckoned that a dish of butter was a cup.

But that may be the measure used in cookery within the kitchen and nor  
in the dairy.

I'll keep looking.


On Sep 3, 2010, at 7:59 AM, Elise Fleming wrote:

> Greetings!  In puzzling out a recipe from "A Proper Newe Booke of  
> Cokerye" (To Bake Chekins in Lyke Paest) it says to take a "half a  
> dyshe of butter" to put on top of a chicken (which will be enclosed  
> in a pastry case).  Subsequently it says to take six egg yolks and a  
> "dyshfull" of verjuice to make a sauce for later on.
> Does anyone know how much a "dyshe" would have been around 1550?   
> The Hampton Court cooks found "an obscure dairy measure" from the  
> north of England (1800) that indicated it was 24 ounces.  Anyone  
> else have a better definition?
> I will say that if you are interested in Tudor cookery, you might  
> like to go to the Forum (http://www.tudorcook.co.uk/forums/)and join  
> the discussions.  I've actually gotten motivated to try some cookery  
> other than confections!
> Alys K.

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