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Subpœna:
Literally “under penalty”. A writ commanding a person’s attendance in court.
Plaintiff:
One who brings a case to court.
Defendant:
One who is sued in court and defends the charge brought against him.
Court of the Exchequer:
A common-law court which originated in the reign of Edward I and dealt with revenue cases. It did not exist when Trial by Jury was produced, having been merged with two other medieval courts by the 1873 Judicature Act to form the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court. It would not have dealt with breach of promise actions in any case.
Be firm, be firm my pecker:
“Pecker” means mouth, so this phrase could be translated “Keep a stiff upper lip” or “Keep your chin up”. The phrase “keep your pecker up” means don’t be down-hearted.
Your evil star's in the ascendant:
An astrologer would prophesy that you had little chance of success.
Tink-a-tank:
Onomatopoetic sound of a guitar.
Cloy:
To satiate, to glut, to surfeit, to fill to loathing.
Reversed in banc:
Overturned by a superior court.
An impecunious party:
One who is short of money.
Swallow-tail coat:
A dress coat with a forked tail like that of a swallow.
Brief:
A summary of the relevant facts and points of law drawn up for a barrister, usually by a solicitor.
Booby:
Dull or stupid person.
Westminster Hall:
The medieval part of the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) where the Common Law courts were held until the present Law Courts in the Strand were opened in 1882.
Fury:
The furies were avenging female spirits in mythology.
The Bailey:
The Old Bailey, built in 1539 on Cheapside in the City of London and established in 1834 as the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales.
Middlesex Sessions:
Sessions were courts held four times a year in a county or other administrative district. The Middlesex Sessions are those for the county of Middlesex.
The Gurneys:
A well-known Quaker banking family.
Incubus:
A nightmarish oppressor.
Threw over:
Abandoned, jilted.
Patent to the mob:
Obvious to everyone.
Nob:
A swell, an important person.
Job:
An undertaking ostensibly for the public good, but really for one’s own.
Counsel:
A barrister engaged to conduct a case in court.
Season vernal:
Springtime.
Camberwell:
A lower middle-class suburb of London which was developed in the nineteenth century.
Peckham:
Camberwell’s neighbour to the south and a distinctly working-class suburb.
Arcadian vale:
Arcadia is a mountainous area in central Peloponnesus, and was regarded by the ancient Greeks as an ideal region of rural contentment.
Otto:
A scent known as “attar of roses”, i.e., perfume made from rose petals.
Watteau:
Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721), a French artist who painted idyllic pastoral scenes.
Trousseau:
A bride’s collection of clothing, household linen, etc.
Water from far Cologne:
Eau de Cologne, a perfumed spirit invented by Johann Maria Farina, an Italian chemist who settled in Cologne in 1709.
A nice dilemma:
“Nice” here means “requiring scrupulous exactness”.
Prepossessing:
Attractive.
Abatement:
Something which detracts from the value. In this case, the amount of damages to be awarded for the loss of such a fiancé.
Fob:
Small waistband pocket (the reward is presumably small).

This glossary may be freely reproduced in programmes for productions by amateur companies provided
The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive is credited.

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