The Widdowes Treasure was written by John Partridge, in 1595. As the title page states, the book is 'Plentifully furnished with Sundry precious and approved secrets in Phisicke and Chirurgery, for the health and pleasure of mankind'. The book contains a range of recipes for medical remedies, to treat anything from chapped lips and drunkenness to gout and even cancer. There are also recipes for confectioneries, syrups, gold and emerald dyes, and black ink, as well as for concoctions to make beards grow, or to provoke sleep.
Partridge learnt many of his recipes from the long-established practices of courtly kitchens. In the preface to the book he writes 'this Pamphlet being written (not many yeeres past as it should seeme) at the earnest request ... of a Gentlewoman in the Countrie for her private use, which by these singuler practices hath obtained such fame, that her name shalbe remembred for ever to the posterities'. Only the wealthiest members of society would have had regular access to valuable key ingredients such as sugar, spices, hothouse-grown fruits or plentiful livestock. Partridge writes in the preface that the pamphlet was lent to him by 'an especial friend'.
- Full title:
- The Widdowes Treasure, plentifully furnished with sundry precious and approved Secrets in phisicke and chirurgery, for the health and pleasure of mankinde. Heereunto are adioyned sundry prittie practises and conclusions of Cookerie, with many profitable and wholsome Medicines for sundrie diseases in Catell.
- 1595, London
- John Partridge
- Usage terms
- Public Domain
- Held by
- British Library
- Article by:
- Liza Picard
- Shakespeare’s life and world, Elizabethan England
The wealthiest Elizabethans ate lavish meals of many courses, while many poorer people didn’t even have their own ovens, and some of the poorest survived on leftover scraps from the rich. Liza Picard describes how class, religion and politics all influenced how Elizabethans shopped for food, cooked and ate.