cag?

In England, at least as early as the 17th – 18th centuries, a unit of capacity for pickled sturgeon, 4 to 5 gallons, packed in what would now be called a keg.

[John Worlidge].
Dictionarium Rusticum & Urbanicum: or, A Dictionary of all Sorts of Country Affairs, Handicraft, Trading, and Merchandizing…
London: J. Nicholson, 1704.

sources

Sturgeon

the firkin        j li. xs.
the cagg        xv s.

“A Subsidy granted to the King of Tonnage and Poundage and other summes of Money payable upon Merchandize Exported and Imported.”
A statute from the 12th year of Charles II, 1660. The selection is from the Booke of Rates, which is not part of the statute proper but developed from it. Both are printed in:
Statutes of the Realm, Volume 5: 1628-80, John Raithby, editor.
London: 1819.

That the duty on the cagg is exactly half that on the firkin would seem to imply that the cagg's capacity was half that of the firkin's, which could make it 4 ale gallons or 4½ beer gallons. In England fish barrels were usually sized in wine gallons, but if the wine firkin were meant, the cagg would contain 42 wine gallons, which seems much too large for pickled fish. The real size is probably something in the area where the sturgeon was pickled.

An apology

The 1704 edition of Worlidge's dictionary has an entry for “CAGGOR-KEGG”, seemingly a type of keg, and we published an entry on the “caggor-keg”. It turns out this is a typographical error. It should have been “cagg or kegg”, and the third edition of Worlidge (1726) corrects the headword to “cag or keg”. In Phillip's dictionary (1706) the same sturgeon-related definition is given for “cag”.

We apologize to readers for mistakenly introducing a non-existent unit, the caggor (and are amused to see the speed with which it spread around the world to several web sites on units).

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