"herring broth"

Wed Jun 4 01:07:35 UTC 2003

        "Prosecutrix" was indeed used as the feminine of "prosecutor" (a word no longer thought to require a separate feminine form).  Prosecutor/ix meant something like "complaining witness."

        I'm still mystified by the herring-broth reference.  The best I can make of it is that John may have been calling Mary a fishwife, but while that would be a personal insult I don't see why it would be a gross national insult.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark A Mandel [mailto:mam at THEWORLD.COM]
Sent: Tuesday, June 03, 2003 8:40 PM
Subject: Re: "herring broth"

On Tue, 3 Jun 2003, George Thompson wrote:

#As a contribution to our researches into food history, I offer the following:
#John Middleton was indicted for an assault on Mary Gibson.  The
#prosecutrix is a married woman of reputation, a native of Ireland.
#On Sunday the 2d. inst. the prisoner came into her apartment, where
#she and her husband were at breakfast, and enquired if she could not
#give him some herring-broth.  Conceiving this to be a gross national
#as well as personal insult, the prosecutrix threw the contents of the
#slop-bowl in his face, and he departed to all appearance perfectly
#satisfied.  [Later, he meets her in the street, as she is leaving
#church, and kicks her,] telling her at the same time that he was
#giving her a little herring-broth.  [6 months.] New-York Commercial
#Advertiser, August 18, 1807, p. 2, col. 4 - p. 3, col. 1

I note that "prosecutrix" is evidently used as the feminine not of
"prosecutor", but for what today would be called "plaintiff".

-- Mark A. Mandel

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