"herring broth"

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed Jun 4 15:05:35 UTC 2003

John Baker observes, in response to Mark Mandel's observation:

>        "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."
>        >
> John Baker
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mark A Mandel [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

In the early 19th C, the newspaper reports of criminal cases involving assault & battery, wife-beating, rape and similar crimes often represented the D. A. as the attorney acting on behalf of the injured party, rather than the attorney for The People.
I don't have the same impression of accounts of trials for burglary or even "highway robbery", (a term that covered what I would call "stick-ups" and "muggings", I supposing that "highway robbery" is the sort of crime committed by a "highwayman" as in the cowboy movies, that is, not a crime of the city streets, but of country roads).


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.

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