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Her entry on couch grass is a good illustration of this point. Freke's entry summarized three out of four points in the printed work; though with subtle changes to the text. It may be that she has seen this medicine work first hand or has personally experienced the effects. The notes presented here thus reflect practices of both reading and observation. The couch grass entry is merely one of many modified by Freke.

Freke added to this by writing: … the roots of Dwarfe Elder are as Gallant a purge for the Dropsey as any under the sun, as [h]as bin offten proved by the never dying D r octter Buttler of Cambridg you may take a dram or two drams att the Time Iff the patientt be stonge In white wyne or you may boyle the Roots in white wyne and drink itt against the Dropsey wch purges downwards watery humors.

Elizabeth Freke's abstract of Gerard provides us with several lessons on medical reading. Firstly, it serves as a gentle reminder that modes of reading, even when it involves only one reader, can be nuanced and varied. Gerard's large tome was conceived as a reference guide. The inclusion of multiple indices sorting the book contents by Latin and English plant names and by ailment or disease encouraged readers to dip in and out of the book. Like the concordances described by Peter Stallybrass, this book was designed to be read discontinuously allowing readers like Freke to gear their reading towards their medical practices.

Yet, Freke's reading for practice was not a hurried consultation of indices or a hunt for particular rare cures, rather it was a slow process of repeated readings, conversations and digestion. That is, it encompassed many of the characteristics of a mode of reading focused on rumination and reflection recently described by Jennifer Richards. The reading practices here are, thus, multifaceted and mixed. Secondly, Freke's reading process reminds us that reading was not a passive process or a simple, single linear knowledge transfer. Freke's abstract is not only based upon Gerard's text but rather also draws upon her trusted community of knowers, her extensive library and her own experiences and observations.

They are a record not only of knowledge consumption but also of knowledge production. A few decades before Freke began her abstract of Gerard, another gentlewoman, Margaret Boscawen d. Margaret was married to Hugh Boscawen — who, on and off, served as Member of Parliament for Cornwall, Tregothnan and Grampound between the late s and Together Margaret and her daughter Bridget Fortescue, who inherited Margaret's papers, left a considerable archive of medical and natural knowledge with a number of different bound notebooks and a flurry of loose leaves.

I am grateful to Anne Stobart for introducing me to the Fortescue archive. Within this complex archive, two slim volumes, mostly in Margaret Boscawen's hand, shows us how she read. Both volumes are revealing of Boscawen's reading practices and engagements with contemporary printed books. In this section, I will focus on analysing the various ways Boscawen read her herbal. This is the second edition of Culpeper's wildly popular The English Physitian. The combination of the numerous editions and Boscawen's sparse notes makes it difficult to identify the exact edition used.

However, it appears that many of the page numbers quoted by Boscawen correspond to the edition. See below for details. Earlier works by William Turner and John Gerard continued to circulate and added to these were new titles by authors and compilers such as John Parkinson, William Cole and Robert Lovell and others. Their Origin and Evolution. Within this book market, Culpeper's herbal was a huge publication success. Poynter's count, more than a hundred editions had been printed by the s and new editions continue to be issued.

Culpeper himself was well aware of the competition in herbal titles and, in his letter to the reader, carefully outlined the various distinctive characteristics of his own offering. According to Culpeper, his work was novel in three aspects. Firstly, he focused on local English plants. Finally, his work provided explanations of disease causation and therapies within an astrological medical framework. With the surviving evidence, it is difficult to ascertain exactly why Boscawen chose Culpeper's work over others.

Her remote Cornish location might have meant that local English plants were more readily available. It is likely that Boscawen was receptive to astrological medicine. That said, from the edition onwards, Culpeper's work was issued in octavo with no illustrations, and so it might also have represented the more affordable option. Earlier in this article, we were introduced to Elizabeth Freke who took pains to create detailed, meticulous reading notes from John Gerard's enormous herbal.

Documentary sources

Margaret Boscawen's interaction with Nicholas Culpeper's equally rich book takes a somewhat different turn. Within her larger medical notebook, information taken from Culpeper's text appears on two separate sections. Large receipt book. The book is unfoliated. The verso side of the folio is filled with medicines for the head.

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The four columns continue on the recto side of the next folio but the page is largely empty. These are interspersed with remedies for ailments of the head gleaned from another title by Culpeper, Culpeper's Last Legacy. The other columns on the page were filled with medical information gained by contemporary recipe donors. Other recipes are attributed to a Miss Plant and a Miss Jean Finnes who both contributed a number of recipes to the collection.

Boscawen's tabular arrangement of medical information and recipes is unusual as are her choice of headings. Within the schema, the inclusion of the stomach and spleen is somewhat unusual. One might infer that Boscawen is here imposing her own ideas of the body upon the traditional Galenic framework. Culpeper's English Physitian Enlarged appears again a few pages further on in her notebook. In this instance, she transformed Culpeper's alphabetically organized plant information into a collated list of distilled waters gathered from a number of different printed medical sources.

The highly abstracted notes, often consisting of only a herb name or recipe title, paired with page numbers suggest that Boscawen saw her list as an external, personalized, customized index to the texts. Here, the seemingly disparate information is united by their use of a similar methodology of production: distillation. Tellingly of Boscawen's own preoccupations, she noted alongside some of the titles, the specific type of still needed and the time of year recommended for the production of each medicine.

Artisanal Writing or Natural Historical Paperwork? Under each of these headings is a list of plant names. For some of these entries, Boscawen provided a book title written in shorthand and a page number. I have been unable to identify the exact system used by Boscawen but her notes most closely match that of Willis, Edmond as described in An Abreuiation of Writing by Character London , Mendle ed.

Dowd and J. Eckerle eds. Boscawen's notes refer to the second expanded edition of the work first published in Wing C At times, Boscawen added a few lines of additional information. The majority of the entries are very short with the longest entry no more than ten lines long. Her lists reminded her what needed to be accomplished at different times of the year and provided her with an immediate reference to more detailed information on particular materia medica.

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One wonders whether these lists also served as a simple inventory of the different roots, flowers and dried herbs stored away by Boscawen each year. If so, these lists would have performed the dual function of tracking both information and objects. To create her lists, Boscawen extracted information from Culpeper's alphabetically organized knowledge schema and imposed her own categorization system.

The lists also remind us that early modern medicine producers needed to plan ahead to both ensure availability of seasonal plant materials and to account for the long time frame required for the production of particular medicines.

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Yet, in another way, Boscawen's lists speak of more than just utility. Each of these lists is the result of Boscawen's application of a different search criterion on Culpeper's text and a record of the various ways Boscawen used plant knowledge. Like Freke's abstract of Gerard's herbal, Boscawen's reading of Culpeper's herbal is not a straightforward summary or scribal copy of the printed text. Both women engaged critically and selectively with their texts.

Their notes also show us that, despite reading the same textual genre, they approached and created their medical treasuries in a vastly different ways. Issues of access may account for these differences. For Freke quite plainly did not have continuous access to Gerard's text, whilst Boscawen's notes were clearly part of a larger medical library or archive comprising of both manuscript and printed books.

However, other circumstances relating to access might also come into play. While Freke's residence, West Bilney, located in rural Norfolk, was within easy travelling distance to King's Lynn, Norwich, Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds, Freke herself was a frequent traveller and spent significant amounts of time visiting spa towns such as Tunbridge Wells and going to London for business and personal reasons.

While housewifely medical tasks were a central part of her life, she also had continuous access to commercial medical services. For an account of the many different kinds of medical services and goods purchased by Freke during her husband's last illness, see BL, Additional MS , fols. Tregothnan, the Boscawen family seat, is located on the remote east Cornish coast near Truro and Falmouth. The Bocaswens were involved in the Cornish tin mines and, indeed, lived in mining country.

When their kinswoman Celia Fiennes visited in , she described how on her journey south, she did not travel on a coach road from the time when she left Exeter until she was around three miles out from Tregothnan. Being the Diary of Celia Fiennes , ed. Emily W. Tregothnan's relatively remote location must have encouraged Margaret Boscawen to cultivate her kitchen garden and to grow many of the plants and herbs required by the household for both food and medicinal purposes.

Thus far, my discussion has centred on our readers' engagement of herbals and plant information. However, both Freke and Boscawen were avid readers and their medical notebooks reveal that they consulted concurrently a wide range of vernacular medical texts. As financially comfortable gentlewomen, Boscawen and Freke were able to access the blossoming English medical book market and they owned six and eight printed medical books respectively.

We have little additional information on the Boscawen family library but we know that in Elizabeth Freke's case, her medical books constituted just a small portion less than a tenth of her library, which consisted largely of religious, legal and history books. Interestingly, while on a number of instances, Boscawen records medical information gathered in the s and 80s; her medical book collection appears to have been amassed in the mid s. The collections of both women covered four main areas: pharmacopoeias, contemporary medical recipe collections, general medical guides and herbals.

In addition, both referred to and took notes from at least one manuscript book. Large receipt book and , fols. Of our two readers, it is perhaps fair to say that Boscawen's tastes were a little more conservative than Freke's. Both these works were issued in multiple editions in the seventeenth century. Boscawen consulted the expanded edition Wing K The Queens Closet Opened was likewise a popular publication and Boscawen's reading notes matches to the first edition. Printed recipe collections flourished in the s. These collections were widely used and it was not unusual for compilers, whether male or female, to copy recipes from printed remedy collections into their own.

Like Boscawen, she consulted a number of herbals. Turning to pharmacopoeias, while Boscawen stuck with Culpeper's translation of the Pharmacopoeia Londinensis , Freke consulted Culpeper's translation plus the pharmacopoeias offered by the physician George Bates 86 86 George Bates — was physician to Charles I and II and Oliver Cromwell, as well as being an active member of the College of Physicians.

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His Pharmacopoeia Bateana was published posthumously in Latin in with numerous later editions. The Latin version of the text contains Bate's prescriptions as edited by the apothecary James Shipton with five hundred of the physician Jonathan Goddard's chemical processes and explications under the title Aracana Goddardiana.

This is a translation, by William Salmon of the second edition of Bates' Latin text.

Salmon also enlarged the text with his own additional commentary and recipes. The authorship of the recipes is clearly noted in square brackets throughout the text. Bate's Dispensatory Enlarged London , , contained even larger numbers of recipes by Salmon, to the point where the recipes from both authors were similar in number. Freke most likely consulted the second edition of the work. Galenical and Chymical. Moyse Charas — was an apothecary and chemist in Paris in the mid seventeenth century.

Both of these works contain lengthy sections on chemical remedies and, in particular, Salmon's work, with his detailed commentary on chemical processes and terms, can been seen as an attempt to popularize iatrochemical ideas. Freke's final reading choice undoubtedly also stemmed from her interests in iatrochemistry.

John Colbatch was a controversial figure who repeatedly bumped heads with the Royal College of physicians. In the s he performed a series of public experiments using these medicines and published several treatises delineating his trials of the drugs and praising their merits. During the same period, he also published several tracts advocating his medical theory centred upon acids and alkalis. While Freke may have honed in on information concerning materia medica , her very purchase of Colbatch's text suggests that she possessed some interest in new medical ideas.

A theme running through both Boscawen and Freke's reading lists is the focus on practical medical guides. With the exception of Colbatch's work, both Boscawen and Freke's books are essentially guides to medicine production. Certainly, this must be in part due to supply, as the majority of the vernacular medical books coming off English presses in the period are practically orientated but I think that these book choices also speak to the aim of their reading.

Both might have read for leisure elsewhere in library but here, they were reading for practice. Nor were they exceptional in doing so, for even though traces of early modern women's medical reading practices are hard to find, there are many other instances in the archives. In addition to the various examples provided about concerning women reading herbals, there is also documentation showing women readers exploring a variety of medical genres. This is the recipe collection of Elizabeth Sleigh and Felicia Whitfield.

Other women reveal their book purchase choices by asserting their ownership within the pages of a book. The Wellcome Library's copy of the edition of John French's The Art of Distillation contains a cornucopia of annotations and notes written in by Rebecca Tallamy and other members of the Tallamy family in the s. Interestingly, an annotator changed the publication date on the title page from to , suggesting that there was some awareness that French's book required some updating if only cosmetic by the eighteenth century. Thus, the printed medical book, once a conduit for medical knowledge, now becomes the receptacle.

Like Boscawen and Freke, Rebecca Tallamy also read several medical books at the same time. References linked to several recipes suggest that the Tallamys were, at the very least, reading Nicholas Culpeper and William Salmon alongside John French. The recipe could be copied from a number of works penned by Culpeper and, at present, I have not been able to directly link the manuscript reference to the printed work.

By the mid seventeenth century, female readers in early modern English households fully utilized the offerings coming off the printing presses to extend, confirm and challenge their own medical knowledge. Not only did gentlewomen like Elizabeth Freke and Margaret Boscawen read a wide range of texts but they also engaged with these texts actively. Women's medical reading practices were, thus, sophisticated syntheses of a range of medical and natural knowledge circulating in a variety of media. Here, acts of reading and writing themselves are also ways in which informal medical knowledge is transferred and created.

Boscawen's and Freke's active engagement with vernacular medical texts, in both manuscript and print, places them in the role of knowledge producers. Just as early modern natural philosophers might have relied on both readings and observations to understand the natural world, Boscawen and Freke combined time spent poring over books and time spent trying cures, planting herbs and making medicines.

The notebooks of Boscawen and Freke also highlight the divergent ways that were employed by early modern readers to seek out and appropriate natural knowledge. While we can paint both readers as elderly gentlewomen reading and healing in remote estates, their book choices and the ways in which they utilized their libraries were vastly different. Nowhere is this more evident than in their notes on plant information. My study of Boscawen and Freke's medical reading confirms recent arguments put forward by historians of reading on the need to study different modes of reading: acknowledgement of individual readers and the importance of reconstructing social, economic and political contexts for different sets of readers.

These same requirements most certainly also affected the other ways in which these two women participated in contemporary medical markets. While there is little evidence to suggest that either offered their medical services or sold their homemade remedies commercially, both likely interacted with contemporary medical practitioners and medicine producers as active patients and smart consumers. Consequently, in a way, the stress placed by historians of reading on creating individuated narratives can also be extended to our studies of medical knowledge transfer and medical consumption.

In recent years, historians of early modern medicine have worked to construct long narratives of medical consumerism and of the gradual commercialization of medical care in Britain and beyond.


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My studies of the Boscawen and Freke archive suggest that in sketching these sweeping histories, it pays to remember the quirks of individual actors. For sophisticated knowledge makers such as Boscawen and Freke must have made formidable negotiators in their medical encounters. Edited by Queux de Saint-Hilaire , vol. If the above link does not work, click here for another copy of the text. Some medieval English medical recipes English, late 14th- early 15th cent. Transcribed by Martha Carlin. Gina L. Greco and Christine M. Rose Cornell University Press, Expenses of Aragonese ambassadors in England Latin, Kirk and F.

Furnivall , pp. A Generall rule to teche euery man that is willynge for to lerne. Chambers William Wey, What to bring on a sea-voyage to Jerusalem English, 15th cent. From The Itineraries of William Wey From Andrew Clark, ed. Frederick J. Furnivall, ed. The above link is to a digitized version of this book that includes convenient hotlinks to individual texts, but which omits portions of the volume, including Part II. For a complete version of the book, click here. Urbanitatis English, c. Furnivall in The Babees Book , pp. John Russell, Book of Nurture English, c.

Recipes for making colored wax and ink English, 15th cent. Poem on the things that one needs in a household Ms. Original text from the edition of Achille Jubinal , with a modern French translation by Madeleine Jeay. Watelet de tous mestiers French,? Original text from the edition of Anatole de Montaiglon et James de Rothschild , with a modern French translation by Madeleine Jeay.

Naylor A farmer exchanges chores with his wife.


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Les Cris de Paris French, c. Hans Brask, Calendarium Oeconomicum Swedish, ? If this link fails, click here for another version, or here for an archived version. See also Hans Hildebrand, ed. See also a summary of the seasonal menus and tasks by Horace Marryat Click here for a description by Pegge of the rolls pp. VIII pp. Hans Sachs, Ein Tischzucht German, A poem on table manners, by the celebrated poet-shoemaker, Hans Sachs, with a modern English translation.

For an image of the original printed poem, with its woodcut illustration, click here. Manual de mujeres en el cual se contienen muchas y diversas recetas muy buenas Spanish, 16th cent. Contains culinary, medicinal, and household recipes.

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It is taken from Horace Walpole, ed. Ben Jonson, To Penshurst English, c. Wherein are discovered many rare Secrets very necessary to be known by all that delight in that Recreation, both for catching the Fish, and dressing thereof. Being A general Discourse of Angling; Imparting many of the aptest wayes and choicest Experiments for the taking of most sorts of Fish in Pond or River. Search for: Close.