Recipes are often found in printed appointment diaries, such as a copy of The Complete Pocket-Book, or Gentleman’s and Tradesman’s Daily Journal, for the Year of Our Lord 1796 belonging to an unidentified person, who can be surmised from the content to be a man. In addition to copying out various poems, sayings and even figures for the national debt, he records some stories that caught his interest.
For example, in the pages for January 1796 he notes:
Feminine Dress. As through the winter the Ladies have gone on progressively “baring their beauteous forms to every gale”, we may expect (we will not say hope) that by the return of summer they will be enabled to go naked.
In August this miraculous little tale caught his eye:
Died at Crookham, near Cork, Patrick Grady & Eleanor his wife. They were born in the same house, on the same day, were married in the same house they were born in, where they fell sick on the same day, & died on the same day, after having lived 96 years. Their bodies were escorted to the grave by 96 of their children, grand & great grand children.
He was fascinated by elopements, recording in October:
Of all the vagaries & eccentricities of woman, the most extraordinary instance appears in the Hampshire Chronicle, that of a Lady who has absconded from her husband, with a fiddler without a nose.
And a longer story a month later:
On Monday last Miss S*****, 2d Daughter of Mr S, a Member of the present House of Commons, eloped from her Father’s house in Marybone, with Lieut R of the Royal Navy. As the Lady under the Will of her Grandmother, is entitled to an immense fortune, a pursuit was next morning begun, not by Land to Gretna Green, for the Son of Neptune, on this occasion preferred his own element to all others, & hoisting the mainsail of a large Pleasure boat, which he hired for the purpose, was wafted down the Thames, the East Way, as far as Gravesend. There he was obliged to wait for the tide, & here just as the tide had half flooded he was overtaken by the Lady’s brother & some more friends, who by the treachery of her maid (who refused to trust her sweet person to the water) discovered the nautical track the Lieutenant took. Our hero recd them, four in number, politely on board, & having his bark well manned, he weighed anchor, standing for a little Island called Old Haven, between Gravesend & the Nose, where he put the four Gentlemen on shore, and wishing them a good day pursued his Voyage with a favourable wind. From Old Haven the Gentlemen did not get away until the Wednesday following, when they were put on board a collier & arrived in London on Friday about 12 O’Clock. The Lieutenant, we suppose, by this time is happy in a bride, as no doubt he put into some port where licences are not tenaciously adhered to. Perhaps he got to Scotland.
And finally in this miscellany, an epitaph in Cirencester churchyard:
Our bodies are like shoes, which off we cast,
Physic their Cobler is – and Death their Last!
Quotations from D/EHX/F86, Hertfordshire Archives.