E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Dame Juliana Berners, in her Booke of St. Albans, says, in designating companies we must not use the names of multitudes promiscuously, and examples her remark thus:
We say a congregacyon of people, a hoost of men, a felyshyppynge of jomen, and a bevy of ladyes; we must speak of a herde of dere, swannys, cranys, or wrenys, a sege of herons or bytourys, a muster of pecockes, a watche of Byghtyngales, a filyghte of doves, a claterynge of choughes, a pryde of lyons, a slewthe of beeres, a gagle of geys, a skulke of foxes, a sculle of frerys; a pontificatye of prestys, and a superfluyte of nonnes.Booke of St. Albans (1486).
She adds, that a strict regard to these niceties better distinguishes gentylmen from ungentylmen, than regard to the rules of grammar, or even to the moral law. (See NUMBERS.)