Life in Elizabethan England Next

At the Sideboard: A Jack and a Gill

A jack is a waxed leather bottle or tankard such as a huntsman, traveler, or soldier might carry. Not to be confused with jack, a stout leather jacket worn by moss troopers, border reivers, and other rowdies.

A gill (pronounced "jill") is a measure equal to a quarter of a pint (4 ounces), or any cup of this size.

Jug A pottle (rhymes with "bottle") is a measure equal to two quarts (half a gallon), or a vessel of this size.

A cup or bowl for soup, broth, and the like is called a porringer ("poran-jer"), especially when it has one or two flat handles (parallel to the ground, not perpendicular to the cup). In Northern counties and along the Scottish borders, this is also called a pottinger ("pott-in-jer")

Come landlord fill the flowing bowl
     until it doth run over!
For tonight we'll merry merry be!
    Tomorrow we'll be sober!


A cup for drinking ale or wine is often called a pot or a bowl. Ask for "a bowl of brown ale" or "a pot of brandywine." (Thus, a drunkard may be called a tosspot.)

A tapering, cylindrical cup without handles is a beaker. A beaker with three (sometimes four) evenly-spaced handles is a tyg (pronounced "tig").

A tankard is a large drinking cup with a handle. It does not have a glass bottom.

Plate is all your pewter, silver, or gold dishes, utensils, and serving pieces collectively. When times are hard, you can always pawn your plate. When you refer to the plates you use while laying the table, say dish, platter or trencher, as appropriate.

Some good words:
  • Leathern - made of leather, as "a leathern jack"
  • Treen - made of wood (from "tree"), as "a treen platter"

::  To Set a Fine Table
::  Dinner at Cowdray House


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MaggiRos
28 March 2008 mps