Elizabeth Fairfax Cookbook, 1694-1795

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Manuscript Location
George Mason University, Fenwick Library
Holding Library Call No.
SCA C0202
Manuscript Cookbooks Survey Database ID#
Place of Origin
England ➔ Yorkshire
Date of Composition
The Elizabeth Fairfax Cookbook contains a bewildering welter of different hands. Underneath them all, an original cookbook, written around the turn of the eighteenth century, can be discerned. The original cookbook is in three parts: recipes for general cooking (mostly cakes, puddings, and cheeses), starting at the front of the volume; recipes for medicines, starting at around digital page 35; and recipes for drinks, starting around digital page 47. Later writers have added material to all three sections. On digital pages 70-80 a later writer has written a separate cookbook. Following a number of blank pages there are medical recipes to the end of the 134-page book. The date 1706 appears on digital pages 51 and 133, and the date 1795 appears on digital page 55, following a recipe for Potato Bread.

The book is associated with two women of the Fairfax family, of Yorkshire, England, by the two inscriptions present on the front page. The first inscription, a memorial to Frances Lady Fairfax reads "Frances Lady Fairfax Daughter of Sr. Thomas Chaloner was baptized Feb'ry the 20th, 1610 and dyed Jan'ry the 2nd 1692. She was Sixty years Mrs of Steeton as appears by her Arms set up w'th Sir William Fairfax over the hall door 1633." Lady Frances Fairfax was the daughter of Sir Thomas Chaloner, who served as Member of Parliament and also acted as tutor to Prince Henry, eldest son of King James I. Around 1630 Frances married Sir William Fairfax, who fought on the side of Parliament during the English civil wars and was mortally wounded during the relief of Montgomery Castle in 1644. Lady Frances and Sir William had four children, sons William and Thomas and daughters Catherine and Isabella.

The second inscription reads "Elizabeth Fairfax Hir Booke 1694." Little is known of Elizabeth Fairfax but she may have been a granddaughter of Frances and William, as a daughter of either William or Thomas. Elizabeth Fairfax married Thomas Spencer of Attercliffe Hall, which was located near the city Sheffield, in Yorkshire. It seems a logical surmise that she was the author of the original part of this volume.

In order to access the digital images of this book, click on "View the finding aid online" (under LINKS) in the catalog record, then click on "go to file" in the little box to the right in the finding aid.