Ann Clarke's recipe book is written on both sides of the first 9 leaves of an octavo size notebook of approximately 100 leaves. Her book was compiled in London, evidently by three different individuals, whose recipes appear sequentially in three distinct groups, each in a different handwriting. The recipes, which appear to have been copied from other sources, are entered without error, crossing out, or interlineation. The food recipes are relatively sophisticated. There are also medical recipes and instructions for removing stains from cloth.
Ann Clarke was born into a modest English family as Ann Phipps. She later married a London stationer and printer named Benjamin Clarke, whose business transactions she sometimes handled. The couple were Quakers at a time of Quaker persecution in England. Benjamin Clarke was jailed at one point for his religious beliefs, and it is possible that Ann was as well. They determined, therefore, to emigrate to the fledgling colony of East New Jersey, where a small English and Scottish Quaker community had begun to form in the late seventeenth century. Benjamin Clarke emigrated in late 1683, settling in the town of Perth Amboy. His wife, voyaging unaccompanied, arrived in New Jersey in March 1685. She evidently died the following year, leaving her husband and a son, Benjamin Clarke, Jr.
Ann Clarke's recipe book may have been presented as a gift to Ann prior to her voyage to America, much like the Anna Cromwell recipe book
, in the American Antiquarian collection. Although the Clarkes' living arrangements in New Jersey were likely very simple, it may have been possible to reproduce some of the recipes, at least for special occasions. The book's direct link to the English Quaker community in its early, fervent phase makes the book of high interest.
Starting in November 1688, Benjamin Clarke repurposed his wife's recipe book as a journal, which he maintained until his death in October of 1689, at the age of 45. His son then wrote accounts in the book until 1721. The journal is discussed in fascinating detail in "Benjamin Clarke Sr. and His Diary of the Early Raritan Valley," an article written by Robert W. Craig. The article was published in The Princeton University Library Chronicle
, Vol. 66, No. 3 (Spring 2005) and is available for download here
. Robert Craig also provided, in correspondence, most of the information in this record.
The manuscript is housed in Box 2, Folder 1 of the Clarke collection in the Princeton library. It is in fragile condition. It can also be viewed on microfilm at the Alexander Library on the New Brunswick, New Jersey, campus of Rutgers University.