John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Happy Birthday, murrrmaiyd!

For your present, here's Today's Forgotten English!

A marriageable maid; Norfolk.
--Capt. Francis Grose's Provincial Glossary, 1811

Maids' Money
On this date annually since 1674, domestics and au pairs have competed at the local guildhall in Guildford, Surrey, for a modest, winner-take-all purse -- now a little more than £10 -- known as "maids' money." Although the contest is decided by throws of dice, it is stipulated that the winner cannot be a resident of an alehouse or "hostelry" and therefore, it is assumed, not familiar with gambling. The original £400 endowment was left by one John Hay, who in 1674 spelled out the rules in his will. A new wrinkle developed in 1702, when one John Parsons bequeathed £600 to "a poor young man" who successfully completed a local seven-year apprenticeship. But since candidates for this prize proved to be scarce as hen's teeth, Guildford officials decided that the proceeds from Parsons's bequest should instead go, over the years, to the runners-up of the dice-throwing competition.

-The Gneech

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