Anna Cromwell English Recipe Book, 1650, with Later American Additions

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[Library Title: Charles Brigham Account Book]

Holding Library Call No.
Mss. Folio Vols. B
Manuscript Cookbooks Survey Database ID#
Place of Origin
United States ➔ Massachusetts ➔ Grafton
Date of Composition
1650, with additions ca. 1730
This manuscript consists of Anna Cromwell's seventeenth-century English recipe book, which comprises approximately 180 extant pages, to which approximately 20 pages of recipes and farm accounts have been appended, mostly by a single unknown author presumed to have lived in Massachusetts in the early eighteenth century.

Anna Cromwell, about whom nothing is known, inscribed her book "Anna Cromwell / my book of Receipts / December the 26th / 1650. Her book is in six sections, some of which were sewn into the original notebook, according to the library. All of the recipes in each section are numbered, although some of the numbering is in error. The sections are as follows: general culinary recipes (approximately 139 recipes; recipe 129 skips to 230); recipes for wines, waters, mead, metheglin, cider, ale, brandy, and other drinks (recipes start at number 78, suggesting that pages of this section are missing, and end at number 152); remedies (approximately 213 recipes; number 209 skips to 121); 113 additional remedies; a fifth section that is too damaged to read; and a final section comprising dozens of recipes for sweetmeats and cakes (there are several numbering errors in this section). The recipes are detailed and clearly expressed and the book, in general, is extraordinarily interesting. Unfortunately, the ink is faded and many pages are torn, making the book difficult (though not impossible) to read.

A penciled note inside the volume glosses the book's journey to Massachusetts. The note reads: "This book was given to Sarah Sartell when she moved to Grafton amongst the Indians. Sarah married ["Rev Solomon" is added above the line] Mr. Prentice [cross outs] he was the first minister 1731 in Grafton. The mother of Sarah had this book written by Mr. Sartell so that she could do her own Cooking and Doctoring as there was no Dr in the country." The final sentence of the note is obviously in error. Sarah Sartell Prentice lived from 1716 to1792, her husband, the Reverend Solomon Prentice, the first minister of Grafton, from 1705 to 1773. The book is signed in one place by Charles Brigham (1700-1781), who was one of the original proprietors of Grafton.