1893 text

Wigg, a kind of north country bun or tea-cake, still so called, to my knowledge, in Staffordshire. — M. B.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

15 Annotations

First Reading

vincent  •  Link

pasted in from sources
in summary a wegge from Roger Miller on Sun 7 Mar 2004, 11:55 pm
wigg\Wigg\, Wig \Wig\, n. [Cf. D. wegge a sort of bread, G. weck, orig., a wedge-shaped loaf or cake. See Wedge.]
A kind of raised seedcake.

dirk  •  Link


In Dutch "wigge" or "wegge" did originally mean a wedge-shaped loaf of bread. The origin of the word is old-saxon (meaning "wedge"), and it is by that way that it found its way into English.
(unfortunately in Dutch, but the above is a summary translation)

Around 1600 we find the following marvellous Latin description by Kiliaen (Low Countries, a translator who worked for Plantin the famous printer):
"massa butyri oblonga, utrimque acuta; butyrum cuneatum in formam cunei coactum; panis triticeus, oblongus
(I leave it to Vincent to provide us with a fittingly lucid translation...)

dirk  •  Link


The relevant part of the Latin quote translates as:
"wedge-shaped loaf of wheat bread".

vincent  •  Link

Dirk's trans: good enough but my indoctus take is:
my version: a wedged shape of wheat loaf , each side and end cover'd in butter and forced into wedge shape with wedges .
browzing to-day in a bread book I came across the following
Wegglitag, little rolls for breakfast with gipfeltag [could not find a meaning ],
Swiss, small white oval rolls glazed in beaten egg and notched [similar to likes of hot cross buns]

May one of the back benchers or from the gods has a better translation:{please, hoisted by my own petard}
P.S. There is a letter signed by one Mr Wegg in the late 1600's.

Pauline  •  Link

Sounds so Scandinavian, but...... Unless there is a campaign involving plaster of Paris, I cannot free vincent from his petard. The heavy, metal kitchen wedges must be retracted and we are left with only a normal household knife cutting this now-fabled loaf into wedges.

Grahamt  •  Link

Gipfeltag means summit day:
as in the day of the summit meeting, or the day one reached the summit of the mountain. Not sure what that has to do with breakfast rolls (that are called Milchbrot in my local supermarket - I live in Switzerland)

Grahamt  •  Link

In English: a Wig (SOED)
wig /wIg/ n.1 Now Sc. & dial. Also whig.LME. [MLG, MDu. wigge wedge, wedge-shaped cake: see WEDGE n.] A kind of small bun made with currants and butter.

vincent  •  Link

Wig[Wedge etc.] sure sounds like the fore runner to the Hot Cross Bun.

Steve Wigg  •  Link

It is so interesting to read about the origin of ones name. Facinating. It is also associated with a beetle (or earwig) but I prefer to be likened to a loaf of bread rather than a creepy crawley. At least I can provide sustenance, even if it is slightly heavy.

Steve Wigg

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

Another take on Wigg: besides it be later in the rein of CII, a political word Whig, it also dothe mean
a yokel (dag}" 1. A yokel, country bumpkin. Obs. rare.
c1645 TULLIE Siege of Carlisle (1840) 3 And needs he [sc. Leslie] would retreat to Newcastle, till great Barwise set himself first into the water; and the rest, following him, so frighted ye fresh water countrie whiggs, yt all of them answered the Motto, veni, vidi, fugi. c1655 J.

7, 8-9 Sc. wigg, 9 Sc. quhig, 6- whig.
Variously applied to (a) sour milk or cream, (b) whey, (c) buttermilk, (d) a beverage consisting of whey fermented and flavoured with herbs.
1615 MARKHAM Country Contentm. II. iv. 114 As for the Whey you may keepe it also in a sweet stone vessell: for it is that which is called Whigge, and is an excellent coole drinke and a wholsome. 1633 HART Diet of Diseased II. xvii. 209 Sowre whey..is in very great request in the Northerne parts of this Iland, where it is called of some whigge, and of others wigge
fig. 1661 NEDHAM Hist. Engl. Reb. xlii, There lies the Cream of all the Cause; Religion is but Whig.
[f. WHIG n.1]
trans. and intr. To turn sour; to curdle.
1666 in Dom. State Papers Chas. II CLXXIX. lf. 136 (MS.), The Wiggomers, for so they call the mutineers, being a middle sort betwixt Anabaptist and Presbyterian, are quite quelld onely that they shifft their quarters as they heare they are pursued.

Bradford  •  Link

In the 22 March 2008 issue (#580) of "World Wide Words," Michael Quinion notes:

"2. Weird Words: Wigg /wig/ w{shti}g
A kind of bun or small cake made of fine flour.

On Good Friday 1664, Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary, "Home to the only Lenten supper I have had of wiggs and ale." Though they were sometimes described as being like Good Friday buns, ancestors of our hot-cross buns, they seem to have been linked not only with the end of Lent but with any special occasion; Clement Miles noted in Christmas in Ritual and Tradition in 1912, "In Shropshire 'wigs' or caraway buns dipped in ale were eaten on Christmas Eve." They were also recorded as being associated with St Andrew's Day on 30
November, for some reason notably in Bedfordshire.

A Lincolnshire variation on an old children's rhyme goes:

Tom, Tom, the baker's son,
Stole a wig and away he run;
The wig was eat, and Tom was beat,
And Tom went roaring down the street.

In the nineteenth century, wiggs (or wigs or whigs; spellings have been very variable) were widely known and equally widely variable in their recipes. Caraway was one constituent mentioned in some parts of Britain (these were presumably the type recorded in The Tale of Ginger and Pickles by Beatrix Potter: "But a person cannot live on 'seed wigs' and sponge cake and butter buns"); in other places it was said that they should be sweet and contain currents (though in northern England this was a spice wig, a plain wig being without them). In Lincolnshire, plums were considered to be a vital
ingredient, while in Hampshire honey was essential. On the other hand, the austere burghers of Bristol said a wigg was a local name for a plain halfpenny bun. They were nearest its origin, since a wigg was at first simply a fine wheaten loaf lacking these later elaborations.

Most recorders of this dialectal term said that wiggs should be long or oval, though in 1900 The Farringdons by Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler includes the line, "Elisabeth helped herself to one of the three-cornered cakes, called 'wigs.'" Etymologically speaking they
should be wedge-shaped, as the word is from old Germanic "wigge", a relative of "wegge", from which "wedge" is derived. The word is recorded from about 1375."

I would have just directed you to the site, but it won't be updated again till 29 March 2008. But by all means visit:


where "Michael Quinion writes on international English from a British viewpoint."

Anki in Sweden  •  Link

Periwig (or periwigg as Pepys write it) is of course not a cake, but a peruke!! Why on earth should a cake catch fire? It's absolutely clear from the diary that Pepys false hair caught fire. He says he stood with his back to the candle. If it was a cake he would have seen it, as you hold a cake in your hand!


Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

WIG (from Periwig) false hair worn on the head; also a sort of small cake.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Bill and Anki --- click on periwigg in the est, and it'll take you to the right part of the Encyclopedia. This is the link for the cakes.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


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