[Sca-cooks] A horse for a peppercorn-Explanation of a Food Myth
johnnae at mac.com
Mon Sep 13 05:30:28 PDT 2010
OED includes these meanings
b. Stipulated as the amount required in payment of a nominal rent or a
quit-rent. Also (occas.): a property carrying a rent of this kind.
Still common in legal use, in the drawing up of leases.
[1470 in J. Fullarton Rec. Burgh Prestwick (1834) 9 For the quhilk he
acht erli..gef it be askit thre pepir cornis in annuele.]
1607 S. HIERON Serm. 2 Tim. iv. 7 in Wks. I. 221 Some great man,
out of his bounty, giueth thee an inheritance of some pounds by the
yeare; thou must pay a pepper corne for thy rent. 1669 in Rec. Early
Hist. Boston (1881) VII. 50 He payeinge a pepper corne to the said
Treasurer upon demand for ever on the said 29th September.
c. fig. A thing of very small value or importance; a token, a trifling
1638 J. CLARKE Phraseologia Puerilis 333 This peppercorn of
1. Of the size or value of a peppercorn; very small,
1791 J. WOLCOT Remonstrance 7 Not pepper-corn acknowledgment I owe 'em.
It still turns up in British common usage.
C2. peppercorn rent n. a rent of a peppercorn, a nominal rent (see
sense A. 1b); also fig.
1844 Tait's Mag. Dec. 755/2 Church roofs new slated, at the cost and
charge of the people who do not go to church:and they call that paying
a *peppercorn rent to God.
1910 Encycl. Brit. I. 107/1 Burlington House..was granted to the
Academy for 999 years at a peppercorn rent.
2003 Evening News (Edinburgh) (Nexis) 19 May 17 The
centre..currently pays the council a peppercorn rent to use the former
It's also explained as
peppercorn rent A nominal rent. In theory one peppercorn (or some
other nominal sum) is payable as a rent to indicate that a property is
leasehold and not freehold, the peppercorn representing the
consideration. In practice it amounts to a rent-free lease.
"peppercorn rent" A Dictionary of Business and Management. Ed.
Jonathan Law. Oxford University Press, 2009.
I would say you hit the nail on the head.
On Sep 13, 2010, at 4:02 AM, David Friedman wrote:snipped Mistress
Geraldine, snipped The SCA page of her site contains the following
assertion about the recipes on her site:
> Her site also contains the following claim with regard to 16th c.
> "How expensive were spices? You could buy a horse for one pepper
> It struck me as wildly implausible, so I did a little quick
> research. snipped So unless horses got drastically cheaper between
> the 13th and 16th centuries or pepper drastically more expensive
> between the 15th and sixteenth, Geraldine's assertion is off by four
> or five orders of magnitude.
> But where did it come from? Poking around the web, I think I found
> the answer, which is the real point of this post.
> In Anglo-American contract law, a valid contract requires
> consideration--if I buy a horse from you but don't give you anything
> at all in exchange, there is no contract and I don't get the horse.
> But the validity of the contract does not depend on the adequacy of
> the consideration--any amount, however small, will do. This point is
> sometimes put in the form of "even a peppercorn is sufficient." The
> term "peppercorn rent" is similarly used for a nominal rent-a small
> sum used to make a real estate transaction that's in reality gratis
> take the form of a binding contract. Similarly "peppercorn payment."
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