Still Life of a Bowl of Strawberries, Standing Cup, a Bottle of Rose Water, a Sugar Loaf and a Box of Sugar; The Merchant's House

‘The Whole Duty of a Woman’ in 1737

Well, who would have believed it, in 1737 a book was written outlining how a woman should behave!  It is a fascinating little book as combined with The Duty of a Virgin, a Wife and a Widow we have cookery recipes, modesty, religion and best of all ‘a wife’s behaviour to a drunkard’.

It could possibly have been a Georgian equivalent of a ‘Mrs Beeton’ maybe.  The book was written to provide a woman with guidance about how to live her life during all three stages and appears to have been written from a female perspective although whether it was actually written by a woman seems unclear.  In all likelihood, it was written by a man and there appear to be some suggestions that it could have been written by a William Kenrick, but whether correct or not we will never know as the book had no author named.


Rather than looking at the duties of a woman in this blog, we are going to look at the cookery section and for those with an interest in Georgian cuisine, it is full of amazing recipes and most notably their immense obsession for adding nutmeg to nearly every recipe! There are recipes for virtually every day of the year, along with meals planners, so no shortage of ideas. Below we offer a sample for your delectation.

Gravy for White Sauce

Take part of a knuckle of veal or the worst part of the neck of veal, boil about a pound of this in a quart of water, an onion, some pepper, six cloves,  a little salt, a bunch of sweet herbs,  half a nutmeg sliced, let it boil an hour then strain it off and keep for use.

An Oyster Soup

Your stock must be of fish, then take two quarts of oysters, set them and beard them; take the hard part of the oysters from the other and beat them in a mortar with ten hard yolks of eggs, put in some good stock, season with pepper, salt and nutmeg, then thicken up your soup as cream; put in the rest of your oysters and garnish with oysters.

A Neck of Lamb - a Round of Beef - and a Scrag of Mutton
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Salmon in Cases

Get a piece of salmon, take off the skin; mince some parsley, green onions and mushrooms. Put your parsley and green onions into a stew pan with some butter , season with pepper and salt then put in your salmon without putting it over the fire again and toss it up to give it a taste; place your slices of salmon in a paper case. Put your seasoning upon it and strew crumbs over all, let it bake to a fine colour. Your salmon being done serve it up with lemon juice for a small entrée.

Beef Fillets

Fillets or slices of beef larded, marinated with vinegar, salt, pepper, cloves, thyme and onions must be roasted leisurely on a spit and then put into good gravy with truffles and garnished with marinated pigeons or chickens.

Oatmeal Pudding

Get a pint of fine oatmeal, boil it in new milk and cream, a little cinnamon and nutmeg and beaten mace and when it is about the thickness of a Hasty Pudding, take it off and stir in half a pound of sweet butter and eight eggs (leave out the whites) very well beaten and put in two or three spoonfuls of sack and make a puff paste and lay round your dish and butter it very well and bake it well, but not too much.

The chop house Finucane delint
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

 Stewed Red Cabbage

Cut your cabbage fine and small, stove it with gravy and sausages and a piece of ham; season with pepper and salt before you sent it away , put in a little elder vinegar and mix it well together which will turn it a reddish colour to serve away hot.

Quaking Pudding

We take a pint and somewhat more of thick cream, ten eggs, put in the whites of three only, beat them well with two spoonfuls of rose water. Mingle with your cream three spoonfuls of fine flour; mix it so well that there are no lumps in it. Put it altogether and season it according to your taste. Butter a cloth very well and let it be thick that it may not run out and let it boil for an hour as fast as you can, then take it up and make a sauce with butter, rose water and sugar and serve it. You may stick some blanched almonds upon it if you please.

The dinner spoild
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

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Still Life of a Bowl of Strawberries, Standing Cup, a Bottle of Rose Water, a Sugar Loaf and a Box of Sugar; The Merchant’s House