A 19th Century Farmer’s wife

Harriett Dale was born in Sussex in the UK in 1797, and married George Goacher in 1823.  She and George had at least seven children who reached maturity.  George was a successful farmer and for more than 30 years the family lived at Jessup’s Farm, Ashurst in Sussex.

Although the farm was of a substantial size by British standards and George employed a number of farm workers, Harriett probably only had one house servant.  She and her four daughters were probably responsible for almost all of the household duties, as well as helping out on the farm.

Harriett obvious received some education because she could read and write.  She kept notebooks in which she wrote down recipes, either given to her by friends and acquaintances or that she had devised herself.

The West Sussex Record Office has one of Harriett’s notebooks dated 1867.  It is a slim book, about 6” x 4”.  It contains 54 recipes that were obviously written down as and when they came to hand.  They range from pies, puddings and cakes to pickles and sauces.  There are recipes for preserving vegetables, for making drinks such as Damson Gin, and more unusual recipes for things such as “White Liniment” and “For a cough”.

As the recipe for the cough medicine involves 60 drops of Laudanum (a notorious 19th century drug much used by Sherlock Holmes) combined with Treacle and Vinegar, the recipes must perhaps be regarded with caution.  One of the other recipes – for “Emily’s Cake” – includes Ammonia in its list of ingredients.  One wonders whether Emily survived!

If you want any further information on Harriett, her family or her recipes, then please email me at goacher@one-name.org

Below are four of Harriett's less lethal recipes.  I can't vouch for any of them!

White Liniment

1 Raw egg well beaten
½ pint Vinegar
1 oz Spr. Turpentine
¼ oz Camphor
¼ oz Spr. Wine

Very good for sprains or bruises
For human beings or cattle
Also for sore throats and Rheumatism

Take 16 lemons peeled and squeezed; put the juice into a Gallon of boiling water; add a little Cream of Tartar, 2½ lbs of Lump Sugar. Let it stand one day then strain.
  Gloucester Puddings

The weight of 3 eggs in Butter and Flour, 12 bitter almonds and 5 oz of pounded sugar. Beat all ½ an hour. Bake in cups half full.

Apple Pudding

Grate some Stale Bread and slice some Apples. Grease your Basin well with Butter, Sprinkle plenty of crumbs all over it, especially at the bottom. Then put a layer of Apples and Crumbs alternately with plenty of sugar, so on till full. A thick layer of crumbs upon the top. Bake in a slow oven one hour and a half. When done melt some butter and pour into the middle of it before turning out.