Cooking in the City

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By | Early Medicine



The Wellcome Library has recently acquired the “Book of Receipts for Cookery and Pastry 1732 & c.” (MS.8687) started by Sarah Tully, who married Richard Hoare of the London banking family in 1732, and continued by other hands, presumably following her early death in 1736. The early pages of this volume are written out in a very fair hand and it seems quite likely that this was done either by Sarah Tully herself or a relative as a preparation for her wifely duties in running her husband’s household. Richard Hoare later became Lord Mayor of London and was knighted in 1745.

The volume contains the usual mixture of medical, household, veterinary and culinary recipes, and includes, pasted inside the front cover advertising broadside, printed in English in Venice, for the famous theriaca fina or Venice treacle, a honey- or molasses-based composition thought efficacious against poisoning, sold at the “Aquila Nera” [At the Sign of the Blak Eagle] in the Merceria San Salvatore.

The culinary recipes indicate a cosmopolitan and sophisticated household. Some connection with India, or at least the East India Company, is suggested by recipes for “A Loyn of Mutton Kebob’d” “pilau after the East Indian Manner”, “currie powder” and “Indian pickle”. There is some evidence for European travel or contacts, with instructions on how “To make mackrony’ [macaroni] – including “Parmason cheese”, specified, and to prepare “Fromage Fondu”. There are also details of how “To make Chocolate as prepared for the King”. Whether these somewhat exotic items were actually prepared within the Hoare household may possibly be revealed by consulting the archives of C. Hoare and Co., private bankers, which include ten boxes of bills and receipts relating to Richard Hoare’s household expenditure, 1727-1754.

The medical recipes include “An Excellent rect. [receipt] for ye heartburn brot from Italy by the Duke of Shrewsbury”, “Dr Radcliffe’s Specifick for the Cholick”; “A Tincture for the Gout or Cholick in the Stomach” also ascribed to Dr Radcliffe, and “Mrs Masham’s universal Purge” – which may or may not reflect the after-effects of the rich and exotic dishes described.

Lesley Hall

Lesley Hall

Lesley Hall, FRHistS, PhD, DipAA, has been an archivist at the Wellcome since 1979. She has published extensively on the history of sexuality and gender in Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries, given many talks and conference presentations, and featured on radio and television. Further details can be found at her website.

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