Antedatings of "toad in the hole"

Hugo hugovk at GMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 9 21:54:40 UTC 2013

toad in the hole (OED: 1787)

Over in Britain, toad-in-the-hole is sausages baked in a big Yorkshire pudding batter. I have no name for an egg fried in a cut-out circle in a piece of bread and I've never seen it served in the UK.

The earliest toad-in-the-hole in the OED is from a 1787 Francis Grose glossary (strangely omitting his 1785 dictionary's definition), but I found some antedatings.


First, in a (a1726) song (sometimes called "Will Thomas" elsewhere) written by the Irish actor John Leigh (1689 - 1726):

"A General History of the Stage: From Its Origin in Greece Down to the present Time" (1749) by William Rufus Chetwood, page 180.

[Begin excerpt]
He has wrote several humourous Songs. Here follows a Sample, which as it is a Theatrical Anecdote, will requite a little Illustration by way of Notes.

To the Tune of, Thomas I cannot.
[End excerpt]

[Begin song excerpt]
A Toad in a Hole g was their Dinner that Day,
And my Noodle he lent them his Money
[End song excerpt]

[Begin excerpt]
g A Cant Word for any bak'd Meat with a Pudding.
[End excerpt]


Second, in a 1762 description of a wig:

"The Gentleman's and London Magazine: Or Monthly Chronologer, 1741-1794" (May 1762), page 260.

[Begin excerpt]
The first Capital discovers only a forehead, nose, lips, and one eye, the rest of the face is eclipsed by the Wig's protuberance, and appears like a small piece of beef baked in a large pudding, vulgar y called, a Toad in a hole.
[End excerpt]

(Bonus: see the next page for the fingers of a Google Books scanner-operator. See the page after that for a partial scan of wig illustrations; I'm not sure if the one described in the excerpt is shown.)



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