In Chapter VIII of Thomas Deloney's novel Jack of Newbury, a woman schools Mrs. Winchcombe (Jack of Newbury's wife) on how to save money by being more economical with the food for her servants and workers (emphasis mine):

And in like manner for their meate: it is well knowne, that neckes and points of beefe is their ordinarie fare: which because it is commonly leane, they seeth therewith now and then a peece of bacon or porke, whereby they make their pottage fat, and therewith drives out the rest with more content. And thus must you learne to doe. And beside that, the midriffes of the Oxen, and the cheekes, the sheepes heads, and the gathers, which you give away at your gate, might serve them wel enough: which would be a great sparing to your other meate, and by this meanes you might the better maintaine your hoode and silke gowne.

Note that "meat" was often used in the more general meaning of food or dish. Mrs. Winchcombe also admits that her servants

make such parings of their cheese, and keepe such chipping of their bread, that their very ortes would serve two or three honest folkes to their dinner.

Wiktionary defines ort (usually plural) as

A fragment; a scrap of leftover food; any remainder; a piece of refuse.

My question here is whether "gathers" refers to some edible part of an animal (edible for Elizabethans, not necessarily for modern dainty eating habits) or whether it is a synonym or near-synonym for "orts".

1 Answer 1


gather, n.2   Obsolete. The pluck (heart, liver and lights) of an animal, esp. of a sheep or calf. Also plural.

a1600   T. Deloney Pleasant Hist. Iohn Winchcomb (1619) viii. sig. Kij   The sheepes heads, and the gathers, which you giue away at your gate, might serue them well enough.

Oxford English Dictionary

(‘Lights’ are lungs, so called because they are the least dense of the internal organs.) Sheep’s gathers are the main ingredient in haggis, although in Newbury they might be used for humble pie.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.