The recipe book of Sarah Tully (Lady Hoare)

As we are approaching Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake day, I thought we would take a look at Sarah Tully, later to become Lady Hoare about whom the Wellcome Collection have a book of recipes from the 1730’s in Sarah’s name. It’s not clear whether Sarah wrote the book itself, or her name simply appeared on the front of it, especially as there appears to be a variety of handwriting in it.

From this portrait of Sarah though, it does look as if she’s holding the recipe book itself, purely a guess on my part, of course.

Philips, Charles; Sarah Tully (1708/1709-1736), Lady Hoare; National Trust, Stourhead

Amongst the countless recipes of receipts as they were then known, we have one for pancakes. For any chefs out there they are perhaps worth a try on Pancake Day.

Who was Sarah? 

James Tully died in August 1731, leaving a wife, Sarah and several daughters including our lady in question, Sarah.

Upon the death of her father, who died suddenly from an apoplectic fit and fell of his horse, Sarah and her siblings became extremely wealthy heiresses. Her father’s wealth was estimated to have been around at least £5 million in today’s money.

In his will James, an attorney, left lands at Wood End, Ravensden, Bedfordshire to his wife and also his lands at Hatfield Broad Oak, Essex which he had purchased from Richard Hoare. To his daughter Sarah he directly left land in Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Berkshire and Middlesex, plus properties on Bow Street Convent Garden and Poland Street in Westminster. Even just some of this would have made Sarah an extremely affluent heiress.  His other daughters, Charlotte, Anne and Elizabeth he also left various estates.  James was one, exceptionally wealthy man, whose will runs to about 8 pages, with further legacies to different people.

Ramsay, Allan; Sir Richard Hoare II (1709-1754), Kt, as Lord Mayor of London; National Trust, Stourhead

It would just eight months later that Miss Sarah Tully was married to a member of the banking dynasty Hoares. She married Richard Hoare, on 24 April 1732. Richard was also the Lord Mayor of London in 1745. The couple had just one child, a son, Richard.

Woodforde, Samuel; Sir Richard Hoare (1735-1787), 1st Bt of Barn Elms; National Trust, Stourhead

Sadly, Sarah’s married life was extremely short as she died September 1736, but Richard wasted little time marrying for a second time. His second wife being a Miss Elizabeth Rust, described in the press as being a ‘beautiful lady of great merit, find accomplishments, and a considerable fortune’. So, Richard clearly married well twice.

For anyone interested in 18th century recipes I would highly recommend reading this book, a direct link is highlighted the start of this article.

Not only did Sarah’s book contain recipes, a few household tips and also health remedies, such as this one for ‘buggs‘.

and this one which was specifically for Richard to ‘keep him free from oppression, lowness and flatulence‘.

Finally, this is not a remedy I will be trying, under any circumstances. I can’t imagine anything worse than a concoction made from earth worms and garden snails to be drunk as a cure for a consumptive cough!


14 thoughts on “The recipe book of Sarah Tully (Lady Hoare)

  1. Gillian Williamson

    A great piece Sarah, especially as I’m about to start a project on a MSS receipt book in the Gibson Library in Saffron Walden


  2. mistyfan

    The 18th century version of Mrs Beeton, eh? Is this handwritten book a manuscript for a version that went to press?

    Perhaps she invited people to bring their favourite receipts to share in a collective recipe book. The same thing can be seen today in collective recipe books produced by churches and other organisations.

    What exactly are “buggs”? Does she mean household pests or a malady of some sort?

    The pancake receipt might be interesting to try, but boiling up rice and mashing it sounds too much bother for me. If anyone else tries the receipt, please let me know how it goes.

    Medicine made from snails and earthworms – yecch! Where did she pick up that one? Did the local quack contribute his favourite receipt or something?


    1. Sarah Murden

      I’m not aware that it was ever published as a book, rather, it was something she wrote for her own and her family’s use and was perhaps passed down through the generations. We’re just so lucky that it has survived.

      Buggs – household pests were very common, with bed bugs being the most frequent critters that presented problems for Georgians.

      Pancake recipe – hmm perhaps one for a chef to have a go at making, and if they do, I’d love to know how they turn out, too.

      They were very fond of homemade remedies from natural products, some of which today or course would be lethal. Quite often these remedies were passed down through the generations, so perhaps it was something she learnt from her mother. I have to say I draw the line at eating/drinking anything that includes worms and snails … perhaps that’s just me though 🙂


      1. mistyfan

        No, I reckon a brew made from snails and earthworms would make you even sicker, especially from the taste. Maybe you had to hold your nose while doing it. Looks like it was still pretty much the age of medieval quack medicine.

        Thank you for the other information.


        1. Sarah Murden

          The book was written about 1730, so early in the Georgian Era, a time at which what we would call quack medicine was all that was available, so it would have made sense to them at the time 🙂


  3. I marvel at the handwriting, be it Sarah’s or another’s.
    I used to have fairly good handwriting once upon a time, but many years of computer keyboard bashing have left me sadly out of practice.


  4. mistyfan

    If the book was something that passed through the generations, I imagine each generation would add receipts they had picked up themselves. Hence the various handwriting. I wonder where they got all the receipts from? I don’t imagine they had Womens Weekly in the 18th century.


    1. Sarah Murden

      Receipts woud have been handed down through the generations, often orally, which is perhaps why Lady Hoare decided to keep hers in a book.


  5. Fascinating post. At first I was surprised that remedies were included in a recipe book but thinking about it, it makes sense. Was it common practice to include remedies in recipe books at the time?


    1. Sarah Murden

      Thank you. Yes, it was common practice to include remedies and household tips in such books. They are absolutely fascinating. This is a piece I wrote was about lip salve or balm which includes recipes for making such products, again from information contained in recipe books –

      Liked by 2 people

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