Sunday, June 14, 2009

Strange Brew

Being a stickler for words when transcribing wills, I came across a group of words my ancestor Elizabeth Cooke ( Transcribed here), had given to her daughter (also my ancestor) in her registered will proved in 1618.

I first read this as ‘a stove of stax and agylefatt’.
It didn’t make much sense, then I thought ‘fove of fax’, ‘fove of flax’ and even ‘stone of flax’ (14 pounds of flax) which seemed to make more sense, but what was an agylefatt? Two months later while reading other wills (which I do quite often) I found an inventory ‘In the brew house a mashefatt and gilefatt’, (well duh, I thought the ‘a’ was connected to gylefatt) now I could determine what the meaning of the words were. It was ‘a gylefatt’: a tub for fermentation of ale. And the ‘stove of stax’ most likely was used to roast grains to make malt or boiling water for pouring in a mashefatt. The mashefatt being the tub or vat where the crushed barley or other grain was soaked. Even if the only malt that you consume is in your ice-cream. It doesn’t hurt to learn a little about medieval practices.

Word of the Week:
Gylefatt, Gilefatt = A fermentation tub for ale.

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