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The Cornish Pasty

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The Plymouth Pasty, 1510 AD

The Cornish Pasty notes that "Pasties" occurs in a list of expenses on a page in the Borough of Plymouth Audit Book, 1510. The book is housed at Plymouth & West Devon Record Office (Ref. 1/130) and was found in November, 2006. The expenses relate mainly to work done on the Castle, street repairs and a big celebration of some sort in the "yeldehalle" (= Guildhall). This is put into a possible historical context below.


Image of "the pafties" as written in 1510 AD

An image of the phrase "the pasties"
The "f" is really the "long s" used in Middle English
The blue text is our digitally overlain transcription
Reproduced with permission of Plymouth & West Devon Record Office,
Reference 1/130, Borough of Plymouth Audit Book, 1510


The "f" is pronounced as an "s" as in modern usage - the "f" is merely the written form (called the "long s") of a non-capital S, coming into usage as lower case letters came into being at the end of the eighth century. It persisted into Middle English (1100-1487 AD) and beyond, into Chancery Standard English. It was used in 1746 on the front of Mrs  Barriball's letter to John Tremayne.


Below, see:
"Itm for the cooke is labor to make the pasties ....... X d"
digitally outlined on the document below

(X d = 10 d, which is 4.16 pence in today's money)

The page from the Borough of Plymouth Audit Book, 1510, with five entries related to preparing pasties

Reproduced with permission of Plymouth & West Devon Record Office,
Reference 1/130, Borough of Plymouth Audit Book, 1510


The Audit Book is written in a style of hand-writing that dates from the early 16th Century. This was the period at the end of Middle English (the name given by historical linguistics to the diverse forms of the English language spoken between the Norman invasion of 1066 and the mid-to-late 15th century, when the Chancery Standard, a form of London-based English, began to become widespread, a process aided by the introduction of the printing press into England by William Caxton in the 1470s) and Modern English (the form of the English language spoken since the great vowel shift, completed in roughly 1550). Source: Wikipedia_Middle English

An interpretation below, by paleaographic analysis, was worked on by my learnéd friend and fellow Pasty Antiquarian, Mr Henry "Oggy" Trelissick

Below is a version of the transcription of the deciphered of the Middle English that the document is written in .....


Plymouth Adit Book 1510, page mentioning pasties. The blue print is the digitally overlain transcription of the original Middle English

Reproduced with permission of Plymouth & West Devon Record Office,
Reference 1/130, Borough of Plymouth Audit Book, 1510
(but modified here with the modern blue typescript digitally overlain)

The section for the feast where pasties were eaten, in the grey outlined box above, seems to read as ....

The transcription so far ..... [  ] = unsure, italics = guesswork ..... bearing in mind that sometimes different words were used at that time and words were sometimes spelt in seemingly strange ways .....

blue = original 1510 AD Middle English
black = Modern English



Itm for iij of laytthe nayles

iij d

Itm for 3 of lathe nails

3 d


Itm to John heydon willm heydon and John hykks for helynge

vppon the Caftell & the yeldehall j day & [di]ewy of them /v d/ a day

XXij d [ob]

  Itm to John Heydon Willm Heydon and John Hicks for healing
upon the Castle & the Guildhall 1 day & delivery of them (5 d) a day

24 d (??)


Itm to a man to serve them that tyme

vj d

Itm to a man to help them that time

6 d


Itm for carage of helynge stones to the Caftell

j d

Itm for carriage of healing stones to the Castle

1 d


Itm for iij qrts of a C of Rosen for the Caftell dore

ij d

Itm for 3 qtrs of a cwt of Resin for the Castle door

2 d


Itm for a qrt of a C of pyche for the same

viij d

Itm for a qtr of a cwt of pitch for the same

8 d


Itm for a Stone of tallows for the same

XX d

Itm for a stone of tallows for the same

20 d


Itm to Nicolas Serle for his labor a bowte makynge cleane of

the Caftell Xiiij dayes /iiij d/ a day and fynde himselfe

iiij s viij d

  Itm to Nicholas Searle for his labour about making clean of
the Castle 14 days (4 d) a day and find himself

4 s 8 d


Itm for flowre to bake the venyfun of the ij bukks that

Maister Eggcomb sende to the towne

ij s iiij d

  Itm for flour to bake the venison of the 2 bucks that
Mister Edgecumbe send to the town

2 s 4 d


Itm for the Cooke is labor to make the pafties

X d

Itm for the Cook is labour to make the pasties

10 d


Itm for a pownde of pep[per] to the same

Xiiij d

Itm for a pound of pepper to the same

14 d


Itm for the bakynge ther of

viij d

Itm for the baking thereof

8 d


Itm for bredde occupyed at yeldehall at etynge of the venyfun

iX d

Itm for bread supplied at Guildhall at eating of the venison

9 d


Itm for Xij gallons of clarett wyne at / vj d / the gallon and

iij galons and a potell of redde wyne at / vij d / the gallon
upyed yn the yeldehall that tyme Om

viij s iiij d

  Itm for 12 gallons of claret wine at (6 d) the gallon and
3 galons (miss-spelt) and a bottle of red wine at (7 d) the gallon
supplied in the Guildhall that time Total

8 s 8 d


Itm to Nicolas (Sanndes) Edward for pavynge of X yerds

of the strete before the to wne shoppe that Wat. Pains holdes

Xij d [ob]

  Itm to Nicholas (Sanndes) Edwards for paving of 10 yards
of the street before the town shop that Wat. Paines holds

12 d (??)


Itm for carage of gra[v]ell to the same

iiij d

Itm for carriage of gravel to the same

4 d


Itm to Nicolas Chugge for hokes & twyftes weyenge viij [lb]

for the towne shoppe that Richard Walshe holdes

Xij d

Itm to Nicholas Chugg for hooks and screws weighing 8 [lb]
for the town shop that Richard Walsh holds

12 d


Itm to the towne clerke for pchement pap[er] & inke this yere

?j s 8 d

Itm to the Town Clerk for parchment paper & ink this year

?1 s 8 d


Itm for makynge of the Reweynour is acompte

iij s iiij d

Itm for making of the Revenuer's account

3 s 4 d


Itm for the Reweynour is [gollus] this yere

X d

Itm for the tax man is gloves this yere

10 d





Sum Xlvijj s ij d



 Total 48 s 2 d 


NB - The items are numbered here for easy reference.


Notes: Itm 1: healing = reparation; Itm 3: serve = help; Itm 5: rosen = resin/rosin; Itm 7: tallows = candles/fats; Itm 19: Reweynour = Revenuer, Revenue man, tax man.


The grand total on the account appears to be 48s 2d, or 48/2 as we used to write it pre-decimalisation on 15 Feb. 1971 (we remember!), or, more properly, £2.18s.2d: in today's money - £2.91.

If you see errors or you have transcription suggestions for this document, please email me. Any good corrections will be gratefully acknowledged, if you permit.

To put the Plymouth Pasty, 1510, into some sort of historical context, Plymouth Castle was (and some remains are still) located above the Barbican, some of the construction being done by 1403 AD. It was eventually replaced by the construction of The Citadel in 1665 AD on partly the same site.

My learnéd friend and fellow Pasty Antiquarian, "Oggy" Trelissick, has suggested that the Castle was being renovated in celebration of King Henry VIII's accession (21 April 1509), marriage to Catherine of Aragon (11 June 1509) and/or Coronation (24 June 1509). This is a distinct possibility.  Henry VIII was the father of Queen Elizabeth I (1553-1603 AD). Another possibility is that in 1512 there was a war against France, across the Channel from Plymouth, and perhaps the towne was making prudent preparations with regard to the castle.

There is more comment about this pasty item on the following websites:

The Plymouth and West Devon Records Office web page about Archives in focus reports that the find was featured on BBC TV's "Spotlight" news programme. We have also seen reference to it being featured in the "Western Morning News" local newspaper, although we cannot give web links for these reports due to the passage of time and the updating policies of newspaper web sites. The Archives in focus page also reports:  "Our pasty has now become a legend, being discussed across the Internet, appearing in blogs and newsgroups and has even had a poem written in its honour."

Acknowledgement: We are grateful to the staff of
Plymouth & West Devon Record Office for their help.

As you can see, we are proud to present the facts on The Cornish Pasty!


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