Cantering Through Cant (4)

The judicial system in the 18th century was not as strait-laced as it is today. Francis Grose, in his A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785) reveals this curious little insight into life at the King’s Bench. The brace tavern, he defines, as “a room in the South East corner of the King’s Bench, where for the convenience of prisoners residing thereabouts, beer purchased at the tap-house was retailed at a halfpenny per pot advance. It was kept by two brothers of the name Partridge, and thence called the Brace”.

Grose provides a synonym for freckles, bran-faced. He notes “he was christened by a baker, he carries the bran in his face”. Brandy-faced, though, is “red-faced, as if from drinking brandy”.

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