The first printed evidence we have of Chocolate being used in London is in the notice in the Public Advertiser in 1657:

In Bishopsgate St is an excellent West India drink called chocolate to be sold, where you may have it ready at any time, and also unmade at reasonable rates.

By the end of the Commonwealth in 1659, Thomas Rugge, a London diarist, was writing in his Journal about coffee, chocolate and tea as new drinks in London, and referring to chocolate as ‘a harty drink in every street’.

Charles II’s physician Henry Stubbe wrote ‘The Indian Nectar’ in praise of chocolate. He said there were two qualities of chocolate- ordinary and royal. The royal variety which the King enjoyed was rich in cocoa, and not too sugary. Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary on 24 April 1661 that in order to allay his appalling hangover, following the festivities surrounding the coronation of Charles II, he drank chocolate as a morning-after cure:

“Waked in the morning with my head in a sad taking through the last night’s drink, which I am very sorry for; so rose, and went with Mr Creed to drink our morning draught which he did give me in Chocolate to settle my stomach.”

During the 18th Century there was a great increase in the consumption of chocolate throughout Europe. It was not long before cocoa suffered the same fate as tea and coffee and had duties imposed upon it. All chocolate, at this time to be made into drinking chocolate, had to be wrapped in stamped papers supplied by excise men and then sealed proving tax had been paid.

By 1800 the tax was two shillings in the pound on cocoa imported from British Colonies. So its use was restricted to the well off and chocolate became a feature of the daily life of the smart set. Addison wrote in the Spectator that its use was considered a token of elegant and fashionable taste. Beautiful sets of china were made for the service of chocolate. Some can be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Much chocolate was supplied not by specialists but by grocers. the Russells of Bloomsbury used a grocer who supplied them with many other products.

Likewise the Purefoys, a landed Buckinghamshire family used an agent to buy things not produced on their estate and he bought chocolate from a grocer called Moulson.

Mrs. Purefoy, a determined lady, kept a close eye on the transactions of her agent. On one occasion she wrote that the chocolate was so bitter and highly dried that she could not drink it. perhaps the grocer had heated it too long or too quickly. Her complaint illustrates the variations in quality which one might expect from small workshops.

One superior grocer who supplied chocolate was a woman, Teresa Mocenni of Sienna. She was the friend and supplier of the Countess of Albany, the widow of Bonnie Prince Charlie, when she lived in Florence.

Letters written by the Countess echo this awareness of variation in the recipe and quality of the chocolate.

21 November 1797 she wrote saying the chocolate was good but she preferred more vanilla.

25 July 1798

“the chocolate would be as good as Livornese if it were worked a little more and smoother.”

Again on 25 April 1801 she asked for chololate pastilles saying,

“Put in as much Vanilla as you can. I would prefer to have the best Chocolate even if it is dear,”

We have seen that chocolate was drunk and valued by the upper classes and beyond the reach of the lower classes, but the middle classes?

For them it was a rare luxury.

A lawyer called Burrell living on the then large income of £300 a year kept a diary between 1692 and 1711, in which he mentions the new hot chocolate drink twice only, once as a gift and once when he drank chocolate in London.

The account book of Sarah Fell of Swarthmoor hall, includes this entry:

“I penny was spent on chocolata” in November 1675.

She was married to George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends. This may well be the first known reference to a Quaker in connection with Chocolate.

Middle class people living in the country relied on travelling tradesmen for goods not produced locally.

One was the Reverend William Cole who was visited from time to time by the Cartwright Brothers, who were lace buyers visiting their workers. On one occasion Cole records in the Bletchley Diaries that they brought him 2 pounds of chocolate. It was not clear whether this was a gift or in exchange for some other service.

Clearly some middle class families did obtain chocolate, but the supply was infrequent and not to be relied upon.

One young lady, Miss Elizabeth Cartwright, who lived on the edge of Nottingham, wrote teasing letters to her good friend Mr. Dodsley. He had failed to arrive on two occasions when she was expecting him.

“…the Chocolate ready, the Balm Tea prepared, my cap put on much tighter than usual; all this done on two mornings together, yet no Mr. Dodsley appeared.

The accounts of Abraham Dent, who kept a grocers, mercers and stationers shop in Kirkby Stephen, indicate that chocolate usage in the 18th Century in the North of England was minimal. Between 1762 and 1765 tea appears often, coffee rarely and chocolate only once.

The middle and lower classes would have to wait until the twentieth century when reductions in taxation, large scale manufacturing, improvements in processing and transport would finally enable them to enjoy chocolate.

One exception was the navy. As early as 1780 it was served to British sailors by Captain James Ferguson, who had enjoyed drinking cocoa while the fleet was anchored in Antigua, in the British West Indies. He and the ship’s surgeon understood the nutritional value of cocoa, and as a dried provision it was ideally suited to long sea voyages. Limes provided essential vitamin C, therely preventing scurvy while coca provided a whole gamut of other vitamins and minerals as well as valuable and nourishing proteins and fats. the comfort and stimulation afforded by the drink to men taking the night watch must have been considerable.

By 1824 the cocoa issue or CI was instituted in the Navy , and each man received his daily ration, a one ounce block of chocolate along with his rum and limes.

Dr. Hans Sloane who we have already encountered as the friend of diarist and antiquarian Ralph Thoresby, both at the Royal Society and afterwards at the Grecian Coffee house, valued chocolate highly for its restorative qualities. He was the first person to try mixing it with milk. This was a closely guarded secret remedy, which was sold to an apothecary after some years. The secret was eventually bought by the Cadbury Brothers in 1824. They subsequently successfully mass-marketed it. Hans Sloane had already made himself a considerable fortune, and invested some of it in cocoa plantations in Jamaica, where he had first observed its dramatic effects in reviving sickly babies.

His ideas were evidently shared by Dr. Claver Morris, who we shall see in the following extracts dosing himself with chocolate in times of indisposition. Dr. Morris, however, rarely referred to meals in his diaries.

Dr. C Morris

21 Feb 1721

“Mr. Hill, Mr. Lucas, & I went to Mr. Burland’s [his son in law] to see his and his wife’s Pictures, & Breakfasted on Chocolate.”

8 August 1726

He was very ill with Rheumatick fever, cough, mucous ,loosing weight.

“I could not eat anything all this day, but a Dish of Herb-Porridg for Dinner & a Dish of Chocalate & Bread weaken’d & thinn’d with Milk for Supper.”

9 August 1726

“I continued Ill with my Cold. Wrote a Prescription. I eat only all this day a Dish of Herb-Porridg, & in the Evening a dish of Chocalate & Milk with Bread.”

This was the last entry but one in his diary. The last entry was on August 12th. His diary editor Hobhouse says:

“Tea, coffee and chocolate were infrequent luxuries, though they were all known in England in Morris’ time and could be obtained at the coffee houses which first began to be established about 1650. Morris records as unusual: “I breakfasted on tea (at home)”. I breakfasted on chocolate (at Mr Burlands).” “I drank coffee at Mr Hillses (after morning church).”He also records purchases of tea in small amounts. In 1712 Bohea cost him 7s.6d for a quarter pound and green tea 5s. Chocolate was relatively much cheaper; he buys it at 3s 6d. and 4s. a pound, probably unground as he also purchases a chocolate mill for 6d.”

Dudley Rider regarded chocolate as a food so necessary that he delayed his journey with his cousins rather than start without it.

Dudley Rider

Wednesday , September 14, 1715.

“Rose between 6 and 7. Got myself ready for my journey to the Hay (Westbrook Hay, Herts. where his brother Richard had an estate) with Cousin Billio and his wife. At 7 o’clock cousin and his wife came. They would not stay to drink chocolate and so left me to follow them after having drank some chocolate.

Monday, September 26.

“We went then to visit Mr. Partridge and his wife: we were treated at his lodgings with tea and fruit and chocolate. Tuesday, September 18. Rose at between 5 and 6. Went to Mr. Marshall’s…drank some chocolate there.”

Mary Delany

Though an aristocrat , Mary Delany complained about the high price of chocolate.

October 5. 1727 to her sister

“Mrs. Badge nor I could not rightly understand you about the Bohea tea, for she does not remember she was ordered to bespeak any, and you say in your letter that I must send the Bohea tea that was bespoke and a pound more.

She imagines the tea Mama meant was “tea dust,” but she can’t get any for love nor money, but has bought two pound of Bohea, at thirteen shilling a pound, which the man says is extraordinarily good; but everything of that kind grows very dear, chocolate especially. I have sent you a pound at three and sixpence, the best in town at that price, but am afraid it is not such as my mother will like, but I desire her approbation of it as soon as she has tasted it. [Mrs. Granville having been brought up in Spain was particularly fond of chocolate.]

February 29. 1727-8 to her sister

“By monday’s coach I will send the chocolate and tea, and the new plays…”

March 12. 1728

“..I sent by a gentleman who came from Mr. Skin [a carrier] last Friday, three pounds of chocolate at four shillings per pound, one pound of Bohea thirteen shillings…when the lampreys come in , I shall be glad to have as many potts sent as will come to the money I have laid out in the chocolate and tea, which is twenty-five shillings.”

May 11. 1728 to her sister

“.. The man at the Poultry has tea of all prices,-Bohea from thirteen to twenty shillings, and green from twelve to thirty.”

April 19. 1729 to her sister

“I sent a little box last night to the carrier with a set of china as my mama ordered me: I hope they will come safely, I gave great charge about packing them carefully. China is risen mightily within this month. My Aunt Stanley liked them so well for the oddness of them, that she bought a set of cups, saucers, bason, sugar-dish and plate costing fourteen shillings.”

March 30. 1732 to her sister

“Yesterday we had an entertainment of another sort, and very agreeable in its way,-an assembly at Mrs. Butler’s. I played two pools at commerce: when that was over, at 10 o’clock was placed on little tables before the company as they sat, a large Japan board with plates of all sorts of cold meat neatly cut, and sweetmeats wet and dry, with chocolate, sago, jelly, and salvers of all sorts of wine. While we were eating fiddles were sent for.”

Mary Delaney gives us a vivid picture of life among the upper class. Difficult to imagine the pandemonium of all the activities she describes as going on simultaneously. But which of us would have imagined games, breakfast and harpsichord playing all taking place at the same time in the same hall without her witness? From that grandeur she shows us how simple her evening meals could be when she was alone. On a Thursday evening in 1740 it was chocolate and an egg.

April 5. 1733

To her sister from Dangan, the estate of Mr. Wesley. “We meet at breakfast about ten; chocolate, tea, coffee, toast and butter, and caudle, are devoured without mercy. The hall is so large that very often breakfast, battledore and shuttlecock, and the harpsichord go on at the same time without molesting one another.”

[See famous men file for party where Handel was served Chocolate.]

April 12. 1734} A thursday evening in 1740

Ann Granville, now Mrs. Dewes, to her sister Mrs. Pendarves, later Mrs. Delany, after her departure. “..To tell you what my heart feels of love and gratitude no day or night can suffice! I am going to drink your health in chocolate- your own dear chocolate, shall eat my egg and go to sleep because it is the only way I can see you now..”

February 13. 1745-6 Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes

“Today a strange gibble gabble woman has plagued me all the morning; I never was more provoked to be rude in my life. I crammed her with chocolate and plum-cake, and then sent her packing, but she has robbed me of what is not in her power to restore- a good hour of my time.” [Time to write letters to her sister was the most valuable of commodities.]

One cannot imagine am aristocrat living in lodgings in this century, but in the 18th century buying property was rather rare. It is unusual to see a precise description of the decoration of a small apartment, so the next extract is particularly interesting. The Cocoa Tree was a famous chocolate house.

15 January. 1746-7 Pall Mall

“My lodging consists of one parlour (staircase is light and easy) and a drawing room, a size larger than what I had in Clarges Street: tapestry hangings, crimson stuff damask curtains and chairs, and tolerable glasses between the windows. The bedchamber backwards, new and clean; crimson and yellow flaring hangings of paper and a bed of the same materials as the curtains in the dining room; but it looks into a pretty garden, and over the Prince of Wales’s into the park, which is cheerful and pleasant. The two pair of stair rooms and the garret are all very tolerable. The rent four guineas a week; the situation is next door to the Cocoa Tree, which is the direction to me.” This is to show the address in letters as house next to Cocoa Tree.

February 1750 Delville Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes

“Sunday morning just as I was going to church, I heard a tantararara at the door, and in walked my Mrs. Hamilton, her eldest daughter, and two sons. They went to church and drank chocolate afterwards; but she never dines abroad and left me a little after two.”

The excitement must have been extraordinary at the ball where such efforts had been made to create the ambiance. Instead of servants carrying round the cups of chocolate however did they arrange pipes to deliver hot chocolate to the leaves of trees and what was done to stop the flow when the cups were full?

February 7. 1752 Delville “The grand ball was given last Wednesday…the musicians and singers were dressed like Arcadian shepherds and shepherdesses and placed among the rocks. If tea, coffee, or chocolate were wanting; you held your cup to a leaf of a tree, and it was filled; and whatever you wanted to eat or drink, was immediately found on a rock, or on a branch, or in the hollow of a tree. The waiters were all in whimsical dress.”

James Woodforde

James Woodforde a country clergyman, like many others who travelled was commissioned to buy chocolate and also records it as part of a special celebration.

3 October 1763

“Went to Sherborne this Morning early on purpose upon ye Grey to get me a Beaurou of one Hodinett a Cabinet-Maker and to get a pound of Cocoa for Mrs Melliar of C.Cary, of one Mr. Sanson.”

9 August 1763

“I went to Mrs Melliar’s publick Breakfast in the Vicarage Garden, where was Coffee, Tea & Chocolate & all kinds of Cakes & proper for the above (a very large Company there, a very good Band of Musick, Bells ringing, 80 loaves given to the Poor of Cary, every thing very elegant and handsome) all done in honour of Lord Stavordale being this day of Age. His Lordship is on his Travels abroad. There was dancing after breakfast in the Garden till three in the afternoon. I danced one Minuet in the Garden with Miss Martin, but would not dance Country Dances.”.

Dr. Hans Sloane who we have already encountered as the friend of diarist and antiquarian Ralph Thoresby, both at the Royal Society and afterwards at the Grecian Coffee house, valued chocolate highly for its restorative qualities. He was the first person to try mixing it with milk. This was a closely guarded secret remedy, which was sold to an apothecary after some years. The secret was eventually bought by the Cadbury Brothers in 1824. They subsequently successfully mass-marketed it. Hans Sloane had already made himself a considerable fortune, and invested some of it in cocoa plantations in Jamaica, where he had first observed its dramatic effects in reviving sickly babies. His ideas were evidently shared by Dr. Claver Morris, who we shall see in the following extracts dosing himself with chocolate in times of indisposition. Dr. Morris, however, rarely referred to meals in his diaries.

Chocolate was not generally available to the poorer classes until the 20th Century.

One exception was the navy. As early as 1780 it was served to British sailors by Captain James Ferguson, who had enjoyed drinking cocoa while the fleet was anchored in Antigua, in the British West Indies. He and the ship’s surgeon understood the nutritional value of cocoa, and as a dried provision it was idelaly suited to long sea voyages. Limes provided essential vitamin C, therely preventing scurvy while coca provided a whole gamut of other vitamins and minerals as well as valuable and nourishing proteins and fats. the comfort and stimulation afforde by the drink to men taking the night watch must have been considerable.

By 1824 the cocoa issue or CI was instituted in the Navy , and each man received his daily ration (a one ounce block of chocolate along with his rum and limes.

A curious use of Chocolate.

Private Parsons arrived at the Balaclava front in the Crimea in November 1852.

“chocolate also used to be sent out to us, this reaching us made up in the shape something like a big flat cheese. This chocolate we found would burn, so breaking it into pieces and piling stone around, we then would set fire to it, place our canteen on top and then wait for something warm, this being the only way we succeeded in doing so in the first few months.

Today chocolate is available in many forms varying from cheap basic to the most highly refined luxury products such as those sold by Rococo based on a single organic estates beans from Grenada. TEA and COFFEE TEA AND COFFEE Thomas Turner Shopkeeper

3 December 1755

‘Made an entry of my shop and kitchen to retail coffee, tea etc. and dated it as tomorrow’

By statute every retailer dealing in coffee, tea, cocoa or chocolate was required “before he take any of the said goods into his possession to make an entry in writing of all the store houses, shops, rooms, and other places intended to be used by him at the excise office for the division” on pain of forfeiting the goods plus £200 fine.

Travels of Faujas St. Fond 1784 Faujas visited Greenwich Observatory with a Committee of the Royal Society, was introduced to William Herschel, at four o’clock they adjourned to a tavern where dinner was served. “We rose from the table at seven o’clock not to depart, but to pass into another room, where cut bread and butter, tea, coffee, brandy and rum awaited us… the tea is always excellent in England; but nowhere do people drink worse coffee. The English must be little sensible of the delicious flavour of this agreeable beverage, which nature seems to have created to solace at once the body and the mind …Voltaire, who was extremely fond of coffee, called it with good reason the quintessence of the mind. Why then does the English government, for political and commercial reasons, prevent the people from using coffee which they might prepare according to their own taste, and compel them to purchase from monopolist dealers a kind of inferior quality, and bad flavour, which has been roasted a long time before …. I was so disgusted with the bad coffee which I found even in the most opulent of houses.

Smuggling and Customs Officers

Smuggling is a crime with an unusual status.

Although most crimes are abhorred by the middle classes smuggling was the exception which for reasons of economy and presumably of enjoying the thrill of taking a risk was regarded by them as the exception to their usual stance of not supporting illegal activities.

The temptation was great the excise duties were large and were levied on the goods which were an important part of the lifestyle of the well off -wine and spirits. If caught the smugglers suffered the penalties of the law. The £12,000 which Morris says Mr Bragge is to be fined sounds an enormous amount if considered in terms of today’s inflated equivalent.

The Smuggler’s trade could not have continued unless their social superiors bought from them. This they undoubtedly did as numerous diary entries testify.Those who bought the smuggled goods feared detection but it was very unlikely that they would be prosecuted in the same way as the smugglers, as is shown in the extract from Claver Morris’ diary. A further extract showed that the law could detect the perpetrators from time to time.( 26 Jan. 1726.) Thomas Turner admitted that he gave charity to a smuggler out of self interest. He feared that the Smuggler might inform the Customs that he had bought their goods.

The high Excise Duty and the accessibility of this area of Sussex from the sea made smuggling a recognised way of life. The Custom-House was at Newhaven. But at Pevensey Bay or Cuckmere Haven, a dozen miles south of East Hoathly, were good quiet beaches where the smugglers of the Alfriston area could land their contraband french brandy. It was then sent to the Forest Ridge (Mayfield, Burwash, Robertsbridge etc.) and so towards London through a chain of receiving cottages.

Dark nights were used for this business, as Horace Walpole learned to his cost. Finding travel difficult he and his friend decided to put up at the Robertsbridge Inn, but found all the beds occupied by smugglers who were posing as ‘mountybanks’. So they pushed on to Battle, which was full of Excisemen who had just shot a smuggler. Feeling very insecure they took links and lanthorns and made their way through the mud to their destination at Hurstmonceux. Smuggling in Sussex reached high periods of activity during both the seven Years’ War and the Napoleonic Wars. The opportunities in each period were huge at the same time as the prevention resources were much depleted by the demands of the services.

Almost the whole population participated including the clergy, who were often won over by a keg of ‘Nantzy’, french brandy from Nantes . After 1830 the Preventive Service was much strengthened, and after a series of bloody battles on the beaches smuggling slowly declined. The strangest aspect of the Customs duel with the smugglers and their customers is the periodic sharing of the booty. Thomas Turner tells us of a party given by the Customs Officers. Holland when complaining that the smugglers overcharge says that he could get very good spirits for half the price at Customs House.

Smuggled goods included spirits, tea, silks, tobacco, coffee, cocoa and chocolate, as well as home products like candles, salt and soap.

Dr C Morris

15 May 1719
>”The Claret (10 dozen) John Baker driving 2 horses home, was seiz’d on, Forfeited Goods, yesterday, by the Lime [Lyme Regis] Custom House Officers.

2 1 Dec. 1721

>”Wm. Clark brought home a Hogshead of Claret, in the morning early, from Sadbury, coming from thence all night.”

4 Dec. 1721

>”Being my Daughter’s Birthday I went to her house about 5 & Carryed a Bottle of French Claret.”

“I5 Oct.1723

>”I got up to let in Amey Rodgers with 4 Gallons & 6 Pints & half of French White-Wine.”

[This late night transaction implies the wine was smuggled.]

21 Sep.1724


>”I upped to let Coggin of Somerton in about 4 a clock with one Anchor of (Brandy) which I bought of him which weight 87 lb, of which 14 lb was allowed for the caske. he brought in also 3 Anchors more & left them in my Inner Cellar.”

[No doubt this was smuggled, probably brought up from the Dorset coast.]

26 Jan.1726

>”I went to get Mr. George Mattocks to go with me to-morrow to Sadborrow from the news of Mr. Bragge being charged by the Government to pay 12000 for avoiding to pay Custom on Goods brought in his Shipps.”

[It is pretty clear that Bragge had been engaged in extensive smuggling operations, and that the wine Morris got from them was contraband.
On 18 Dec 1725 he had put the claret in the Hole in the Inner Cellar, presumably to conceal it from the Customs Officers]

#Walter Gale

Schoolmaster 1749 to 1759

>”I set out for Laughton after drinking a quartern of gin and came to Whitesmiths where was a hurley bolloo about Mr. Plummer’s (now a custom house officer) having seized a horse loaded with 3 anchors of brandy which was carried off by him and two soldiers.”

#Thomas Turner

Shopkeeper of East Hoathley

On 10 November 1757 Turner records an attempt of a father to rehabilitate his sons from a life of smuggling. Master Paris came to him and begged him to draw up a petition on behalf of his sons to ask some relief of their neighbours.

>”upon which I drawed up the following petition, viz., Whereas John and Francis Paris having formerly through mistaken notions followed that unwarrantable practice of smuggling though for a considerable time past being convinced of the mischievous consequences of such a practice…having entirely refrained from the said practice, but as they who have once ventured on such an illegal course may years after become subject to the law (as many unhappy instances too justly testify) and which is now become the case of those unhappy men who have lately been sworn against in his majesty’s court of the Exchequer for a very considerable sum. Which if the law is executed against them in the most rigorous manner they must be obliged to abandon their native country and that which is most dear to them- their family and relations, but as they have some prospect and hopes to believe the said affair may be made up for a small sum in proportion to so great a one which they are sworn against for, though still so great that they are unable to raise the same from their effects. They therefore humbly implore the assistance of their neighbours and acquaintance hoping they will commiserate their unhappy affair and yield them some relief and succour in this their day of adversity and trouble and they will ever (as in duty bound) thankfully acknowledge the favours they shall be pleased to confer on them. I gave the man 2s. 6d. for his son-not that I did it so much from principle of charity as self-interest, having formerly bought some brandy of them. I could not tell but their poverty might induce them to do that for me which another had done for them, in order to clear themselves.”

24 November 1763

>”Mr. Bannister having lately taken from the smugglers a

of brandy, entertained Mr. Carman, Mr. Fuller, and myself, in the even, with a bowl of punch at my house.”

On the 24 December 1764 he wrote

>”…Mr Bannister, our officer of excise, having lately made a seizure of some brandy, brought in 2 bottles of it to my house, and myself, Sam.Jenner, Thos. Durrant and Joseph Fuller Jr. clubbed for lemons and sugar, and we had an agreeable bowl of punch in the even, and spent the even till near 12 o’clock.”


Arriving from France

>”I had great reason to be pleased with the custom-house officers in England. These were two men whom at first glance I took for beggars: they had the appearance of persons of that station, which in England is the lowest and meanest of all. They came on board, and e most submissive manner asked permission to examine the contents of my trunk, which they opened, and retired with the utmost humility, without so much as searching my pockets, or even my linen-bag. It cost me half a crown to get my effects from the custom-house, where they had been left at my landing; but this is an old due and not an exaction of the officers: it is called the Viscounty fee.”

Compare with Sophie Van La Roche account.

#James Woodforde

14 February 1777

>”…Andrews the smuggler brought me this night about 11 o’clock a bagg of Hyson Tea 6 Pd. weight, he frightened us a little by whistling under the Parlour Window just as we were going to bed. I gave him some Geneva and paid him for the Tea at 10/6 Per Pd.- 3.3.0.”

29 December 1786

>”Had another Tub of Gin and another of the best Coniac brandy brought me this evening abt 9. We heard a thump at the front door about that time, but did not know what it was, till I went out and found the two Tubs but nobody there.”

6 June 1788

>”…1.18.0 for a Tub of Coniac Brandy of four gallons by Moonshine Buck and 2.6.0 for two tubs of Geneva of 4 gallons each by ditto and the odd 8d. for Horses shoes removed.”

#William Holland

29 July 1805

>”After breakfast moved about the garden and trimmed the arbour. While I was at work with a bill hook in my hand Little Cockney Shitfield the Brandy Merchant called. I desired him to walk in. I paid his bill but did not order more as what I had is not yet out. I made him give me a receipt this time which he used not to do before. He said it made a great difference to him but said I the Law requires it. It does so returned he, then he jumped up skipped on his horse and was off in a trice telling me that at any time when my stock was out if I would but drop a line I should have it in a trice.But really they are become now so abominably dear that there is scarce any drinking of them and moreover at the Custom House one may have very good spirits for half the price he sells at.So Mr Cockney I think I shall be able to cater better in future.”

A vast range of goods were smuggled not just the brandy and tobacco which first comes to mind but also many everyday useful goods which might have been defined as luxuries in this time such as tea, silks, coffee, cocoa, and even necessary items like candles, salt and soap.
Smuggling was part of the unending fight between the Government which needs to levy taxes to pay for public services and the citizen who knows this, but still attempts to evade paying his share.

7 Buildings-

The architect’s problems in dealing with clients impossible demands are illustrated in this extract. Imagine the size of the inscription necessary to make such large letters. Impossible to achieve while keeping the correct proportions of the pillar.

We think of vandalism as a 20th century phenomenon. So it is on a massive and near universal scale but graffiti have appeared throughout the centuries and here we have an example of awareness of the strong possibility that vandals would deface the monument.

Life and Correspondence of Mrs. Delany 15 February 1722-3

Lord Lansdowne to Colonel Bernard Granville

” ..• 1 thank you for the plan you sent me of the pillar erected upon Lansdowne, but I find the performer has not been exacLHis directions were to be sure of making tables for the inscription so large that the letters might be easily legible at a distance by any passenger on horseback … it was likewise forseen, that unless it was surrounded by a rail it would be impossible to hinder it from being defaced by comers and goers, who would be apt to scratch their own conceits and sentences upon it.”

Dear Miss Heber

Mrs. Bland to Miss Heber Seymour Street. 13 Sep. 1791

“Your acqaintance, Mr Hookham, has got a most tempting House. I was walking past it very lately & was kindly ask’d to Look at it. The Library & building of the House Cost £3000-& the first contains 10,000 Volumes to Let out to subscribers. The room is above 100 feet long, to have a large table in the middle, seats & other accomodation that, when Ladies have been walking with a Beau, they will find it the best way into Bond Street to Hook’em. n

British Museum

M. Grosley Vall. P.74

London suffered from humidity and “WOUld be uninhabitable, if, to supply it with constant fuel, it had not’ a resource in sea-coal, which immense forests would be insufficient to furnish … in the month of Mayall the apartments in the British Museum, apartments as extraordinary on account of their number as their size, had a fire in them: not so much to warm the rooms, as to preserve from damps and humidity the books, the manuscripts, the maps, and the curious collection of ali sorts deposited in that fine building.

Activities and inventions

From the top to the bottom of society people were very much more active in the 18th Century than in the late 2Oth.At the bottom agricultural labourers aided by horses did by hand ploughing, sowing seeds and harvesting, their teenage children were mostly employed as servants, their wives worked most of the hours of the day preparing food, washing clothes by hand, gleaning in season.Nowadays the same group of people are aided by machines which take away the effort of work, or are unemployed and receive a dole. Likewise upper and middle class people use cars to travel and machines to do most tasks so that it is necessary to go to a gym for exercise. The diaries show us even well off people walking, riding and engaging in activities of a/l kinds.

The amazing Dr. Morris successfully pursued so many activities it is hard to list them. He had a professional life of visiting and diagnosing patients which involved much travel. He had his own ‘elaboraory’ in which he dispensed medicines. He played many musical instruments and played in consorts with his friends, took his children to their boarding schools. He ran s~veral farms, supervised the brewing of a vast quantity of beer and entertained friends regularly. Besides all these activities his mind was very inventive and he personally tried to solve many little problems which were thrown up in everyday life. He undertook tasks which we would pass on to specialists such as cleaning a watch or servicing a barometer. His mind was constantly active noting things which did not work well and thinking out solutions then trying to make the mechanisms himself. He made a new jack for his harpsichord of metal instead of quill which would have resulted in a very much louder sound. He made a mechanism for opening and closing his curtains which sounds very like the contrivances sold today for this purpose.He devised a way of counting the revolutions of his coach wheels so that he could record the number of miles travelled. He was indeed a renaissance man.

Dudley Rider as a student made himself a fountain pen, presumably fitting his quill pen with some sort of reservoir. All of our diarists were writing in the tedious way then necessary. They used the feathers of geese, swans, and crows. They had to point and slit the lower end. The hollow inside the feather held some ink but not much so writing involved constatntly dipping their quill pens in ink. In 1809 Joseph Bramah (1748-1840) patented a machine for cutting gooe feathers into three or four nibs to be used with a separate pen holder. As early as 1780 a Birmingham manufacturer, S. Harrison produced a metallic pen but it was too difficult to use We see passages faint as the ink supply diminished or blotted where it flooded and marvel at their industry and at the ease with which we can put down our thoughts on word processors.

One might imagine that aristocrats with many servants passed the days in idleness or at least dOing no more than the many social activities which undoubtedly occupied much of their time. Mary Delaney’s diaries show an intelligent and gifted woman engaged in many artistic and craft works. Her paper mosaics, flower paintings and shell work were famous in her time. She also did knotting,was interested in organizing gardens, growing orange trees and making wine.ln her old age she was a valued friend of King George.

But machines were being invented and beginning to effect all branches of society. Spinning and weaving and agricultural machines took away jobs while enabling less men to do the work. Mary Delaney noted an invention by which 1800 candles were lit in 3 minutes, but unfortunately not how this could be done. Part of the entertainment for the well off of her day was to see wonderful machines like the clock which played twenty four tunes perfectly or an Orrery.

Dr. C Morris 27 April 1709

“Saw out of my Garret Window Cox hanged at Stookley Hill with my little telliscope.” 11 June 1709

“I cleans’d my wife’s Gold Watch.” 28 July 1709

“I prescribed for Mr. Mayowe of Truro and sent the form by the post in Mr. Mills letter to him.” 20 February 1710

“I rivetted on the Brass ornaments of my snaffle Bridie.” 21 Nov. 1719

“Mr. Hill came and mended some faults in the Penning my Harpsichord … James Parfitt put on the Brass Gemels [Bars placed together as couples) on my Harpsichord.”

15 Dec. 1719

“Later I made an end of a Harpsichord Jack of mine own invention to strike the String with brass, without a Quill.”

20 Nov. 1720

“I had a new hand made of Deal, by Thomas Parfit, put into the Time-Beater … .1 went to our Cecilia-Meeting at Close-Hail.”

20 Jan.1722

“I visited my Daughter, she having been, Yesterday morning about 8 a clock deliver’d of a Daughter.

Mr. Brook ofAxbridge came, with Mr. Thomas Parfit & set up the Five -Feet Pendulum Clock which I bespoke of him & calculated. I paid him 6 Guineas for it without a case.”

7Feb 1722

“I washed the mercury for my inlay’d Barometer”. 19 July 1722

“I bought in the Castle in Bristow, a large Cock for the Cistern in my Garden, & a Brass Wind-fall for the lower Pipe of my Pump. I bought, betwixt the Bridge and the Back, a Lock for my CoachHouse Door. My Servant waited with my Horses at the Glass-House in Bedminster, where I call’d & bespoke some Glasses. I got home by 10.”

8 Sep. 1722

“I put some of the Pictures which had been cleans’d, & vernish’d by Mr. Hodges [an ExeterJapanner] who came about this Country to cleans Pictures.”

13 Feb. 1723

“I went to the Toy-Man, now (from Bristow-Fair) at the Christopher, & bought a pretty Snuff-Box, for Travelling.”

16 May 1723

“I finished the putting on the Spurrs & Barrs of my Jack Splatter-dashes” [A gaiter or legging]

20 Sep. 1723

“I fitted the strings for my new-contriv’d manner of Drawing & undrawing the curtains of the Window in my Dressing-Room.”

19 Nov. 1723

“I made an end of calculating the Machine to be fix’d to my Calash to Count the Revolutions of the Wheel, & consequently the Miles travelled.”

28 Feb 1724

“Mr. Burland gave me a Bridge for my Bass Violin which he made on purpose: They all supp’d on Sturgeon.”


“John Bird fitted a Sprin[g]-Jack for my Harpsichord with the addition I had contrived.”

Dudley Rider

Monday, August 29. 1715.

“Began to read Perkin’s Law, but it came into my head to make my pen that belongs to my pocket book into a fountain pen, which took up all my morning and I did it at last.”

M. Grosley

Travelling from Dover to London on a sunday on which day the police law forbade coach travel.


“Between Canterbury and Rochester the inhabitants of a village situated on the side of the highway had made choice of that day on which the high road was to be free, to remove a windmill from the left to the right side of the road, to the place which seemed best suited to it.

[Shades of Don Quixote !]

“Now as the country is very woody, the body of these mills is a sort of high cage, which receives the wind above the trees: this cage which bears a strong resemblance to a bee-hive, consists of a circular frame of wood, surrounded with a lattice rough cast with lime. That which was to be removed having the form of a cone thirty feet high, with a diameter of 12 or 14 feet, moved on in a hollow way which we were then travelling in, and which it filled: twenty or thirty men, some of whom dragged it along with cords, the remainder pushing it on with their hands, advanced

slowly; and as it had twenty fathom length of road still to go, we had little hope of soon getting rid of it: coachmen, postillions, passengers .. alighted, and joined those who pulled or pushed it on: after about an hour’s labour, we reached a part of the road, where the slope, which bordered one of its sides, was least steep; this slope was made level, and lengthened out by a pick-ax: at last the carriages reached the ridge of the road with the help of cords, which entered the body of each carriage and the coach-box. All the frenchmen present laughed heartily at the adventure, but this had not the least effect on the flegmatic temper of the English: both young and old talked of many different expedients to get rid of us: at last they went about their work in good eamest, disengaged our carriages, and resumed their business with all the seriousness of men who had passed their life in removing windmills. ”

Mary Delany

February 9 and 11. 1724-5 To her sister, Ann Granville

“I was interrupted by Lady Peyton and her daughters who called on me to go to hear the musical clock … it is a new one, and a complete piece of ingenuity as ever I saw; it plays twenty-four tunes with as much exactness as it is possible for them to be played in concert, the price of it is five hundred pound. He was hoping to dispose of it to the King for Prince Frederick.”

[Lady Peyton was the wife of Sir Tewster Peyton, of Doddington, Camb., Bart.]

“I hope you received the harpsichord strings, the ballads and the edging. I send the rest of the strings this post.

-Mary Delany

12 October 1727. The day after the Coronation of George 1/ and Queen Caroline. To her sister Ann Granville.

“I was a spectator in West minster Hall, from whence the procession begun, and after their Majesties were crowned, they retumed with all their noble followers to dine … The room was finely illuminated, and though there were 1800 candles, besides what were on the tables, they were all lighted in less than three minutes by an invention of Mr. Heideggar’s, which succeeded to the admiration of all the spectators; the branches that held the candles were all gilt and in the form of pyramids … Everybody I knew came under the place where I sat to offer me meat and drink,

which was drawn up from below into the galleries by baskets at the end of a long string, which they filled with cold meat and bread, sweetmeats and wine.

I hope you found the worsted; I packed it with the flax, which if it proves good I desire you will give me the satisfaction of knowing.”

[Mary Granville and her mother were celebrated spinners, both in flax and in that preparation of wool called Jersey. Her descendant Lady LLandover who edited the letters still possessed her spinning wheel, a piece of purple poplin and damask napkins of the finest texture of her spinning in 1860.]

A more ordinary day. Mary Delany’s letter to her sister vividly conjures up the day.

“Last night I returned from Court cold and weary, … 1 found a room full of smoke, the wind and the rain beating against my windows, my pussey lost (as I thought), but she was found. Well, into bed I tumbled about half an hour after one. I slept tolerably well, dreamt of nothing at all, waked at eight, roused Mrs. Bell, huddled on my clothes, bought eighteen yards of a very pretty white silk for Trott, something in the nature of shagreen, [a sort of silk taffeta with a grained look] but a better colour than they ever are; it cost sixpence a yard more; the piece came to three pounds and twelve shilling. Then I called for my tea-table, sent John of a Howdee [hOW d’ye do?] to my Aunt Stanley, and at his return he brought me a letter from my dear sister.”

August 23. 1729.

to her sister

“Lady Sunderland is very busy about japanning; I will perfect myself in the art against I make you a visit and bring materials with me.”

to the same

September 9. 1729

“Everybody is mad about japan work; I hope to be a dab at it by the time I see you.” 8 June 1731

“The next day I met the Percivals at Mr. Wesley’s where after a good repast and kind welcome, we walked up-stairs, where we were to be entertained with an orrery. You must understand that this is a machine in form of a sphere, wherein is demonstrated the solar system, with all the motions and distances of the planets. Just as the learned man was going to explain to us, a summons arrived for me to go to Mrs. Monck’s Christening, which with great regret I did. I represented Lady Shelburne. no woman there but myself. I stayed there about an hour, and returned to the good folks in Conduit Street, but the celestial affair was over.”

Letters and post to her sister March 3. 1738-9

“to tell you all the particulars … would flourish out more paper than a single frank would contain.”

Mrs. Foley, of Stoke Edith, Herefordshire to Mrs. Dewes at Bradley near Droitwich in Worcestshire.

November 11. 1740

“I am, my dearest Mrs. Dewes, quite out of patience with your post, for your letter dated the 4th I did not receive until last night and the one you mention to have wrote in answer to mine never came to my hands: can you blame me for being anxious .. Please to put “post town at Gloster upon your letters; if they don’t come safe we will try by way of London.”


same person and date

“I was engaged with my crayons and painted whilst they talked the world over, and now and then put in a word to let them know I had my ears at liberty though my eyes were employed:that double entertainment is a high regale to me, but it come seldom in my way.”

30 October 1746

Daily activities at Cornbury, seat of the Duke of Queensbury.

“We meet at Breakfast between nine and ten, which lasts near two hours intermixed with conversations; when over, the coach is ready for D.O. and me to tour in the park,and to see my Lord’s improvements, and the rest of the company ride … We return home at two and spruce out, dinner at half an hour


after two; the afternoon- coffee, sauntering, conversation comes on, and tea; my drawings produced, many civilities are uttered, and the whole ends with a pool at commerce, which brings us to our hour of supper; and we go to our separate appartments at eleven.”


Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes October 27. 1750

” •. 1 am knotting a plain fringe to trim a new blue and white linen bed I have just put up; as soon as that is finished I will do some sugar-plum for you .. ”

In 1861 Lady Uanover still had some brilliant blue linen chair covers with a border of oak leaves cut out in white linen and tacked down in different sorts of white knotting which also formed the veining and stalks, the work of Mrs.Delany. She said it was the custom of ladies to use their knotting shuttles in periods of relaxing such as the tea-table hour.

January 12. 1750-51

“I have made a pipe of orange wine and next week shall make raisin wine by your receipt.”

[very much larger quantities of light wines and syrups appear to have been made annually of currants, raspberries, and other home fruits in private families than is now the case. note of Lady Uanover, editor 1861)

January 19.1750-1 Delville

Mrs. Delany to Bernard Granville

“I am now considering about a greenhouse, and I believe I shall build one this spring; my orange trees thrive so well they deserve one. I propose having it 26 ft. by 13, and 13 high.”

December 16.1755

Mrs Delany to Mrs. Dewes. Spring Gardens

“I hope you do not take damp walks, but make use of your sedan.”

[It appears from this advice that sedan chairs were used in the country as well as in London.]

January 31.1756 New Street,Spring Gardens Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes

“Mr. Wesley [her godson] came one morning to see me. I told him if he would cross the park from Pall Mall, (where they live) he might come to me at any time after nine: he seemed pleased and I gave him my key of the park door.”

17 November 1756. Bath Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes

“We got to Bristol at one. Mr. Calcot, the philosopher was there, who has the famous collection of fossils … his collection is rare and curious, of spars, minerals and tossns, such as I have never seen, and unanswerable testimonies of the Deluge. But his heart I believe is of the petrified kind, and encrusted with avarice, for he has many of most sorts in his collection, and he gave me not so much as a single grain of tin! however I was not disappointed, as I went for instruction and entertainment, though not without some small hope of a little gain.!

September 4.1757 .Bath Mrs. Delany to Mrs. Dewes

“Lady Caroline Fox has taken lodgings in this house, and comes on tuesday.”

No date

“Lady Andover and I have entered on a piece of work to surprise the Duchess of Portland on her return, which is flourishing. It is a frame of a picture, with shell work, in the manner of the frame to your china case; and we are as eager in sorting our shells, ptacinq them in their proper degrees, making lines, platoons, ramparts, as the King of Prussia in the midst of his army, and as fond of our own compositions.”

December 29.1757. Bulstrode Mrs. Delany to Mrs.Dewes

“I have now in hand two frames of shells in their natural colours … The Duchess has just finished a bunch of barberries turned in amber, that are beauti{ll, and she is finishing an ear of barleythe corns amber, the stalk ivory, the beards tortoishell. At candlelight, cross- stitch and reading gather us together. .. 1 think the knowledge of houswifery is very necessary to everybody, let their station be what it will, but I am afraid my Pauline (Her niece) got cold with her mince-pie making.”

February 11. 1758. Spring Garden Mrs. Delany to Mrs.Dewes

“I am glad Mr. Lucy is so well; I wish he would bring some shells from Naples; there are very pretty ones there, though none extremely rare … 1 sent you a specimen of Gibraltar shells, to let you see Captain Meade may bring you very pretty ones ..

We had like to have lost all our week’s linen and three suits of the finest Irish damask;

the washerwoman’s goods were seized by her merciless landlord, and Lady B–th and the Steward threatened, that if we did not lay down six guineas our linen should be sold! I sent for Mr. Chapone, who got us our linen, only paying for the washing. Glorious news came today of Clive’s great victory.He shames all our generals.”

[Colonel Clive in conjunction with Admiral Watson gained a victory over the Nabob Suraja Doula after a campaign of only thirteen days.]

March 7 1758

[Mrs. Delany’s husband.the Dean of Down, also had a victory. After a case lasting for years Lord Mansfield in The House of Lords declared in his favour in the matter of a marriage settlement of his late wife. The decision vindicated his reputation, though he was left liable to pay three thousand pounds.]

c.P.Moritz Travels in England

At Oartford “I first saw (what I deemed a true English Sight) in the street two boys boxing.”

Shoe making craft

James Lackington’s Memoirs

He worked for Mr. John Taylor of Kingsbridge … ” he never treated me as a journeyman, but made me his companion. I was the first man he ever had that was able to make stuff and silk shoes; and it being also known that I came from Bristol, this had great weight with the country ladies,and procured my master customers, who generally sent for me to take the measure of their feet, and I was looked upon by al to be the best workman in the town, altho’ I had not been brought up to stuff-work, nor had I ever entirely made one stuff or silk shoe before.”

Learning to write

“I was obliged to employ one or other of my acquaintance to write my letters for me. My master said to me one day he was surprized that I did not learn to write my own letters. The thought pleased me much, and without any delay I set about it, by taking up any pieces of paper that had writing on them, and imitating the letters as well as I could. I employed my leisure hours in this way for near two months, after which time I wrote my own love letters, a bad hand, you may be sure; but it was plain and easy to read which was alii cared for.”

Dr Peter Oliver

30 March 1784

“I sent a power of Attorney to Dr. J. Jeffries to get my Dividend for me.” 30 November 1784

Dr. Jeffries in company with Mr Blanchard set off in an Air Balloon from the Rhodenum, Park Lane 25 Minutes before 3 o’clock & landed in the Parish of Stone in Kent 10 minutes before 4 o’clock.

[Dr. John Jeffries 1744-1819. American balloonist & Physician, born in Boston. A loyalist during the American Revolution, he settled in England and made the first balloon crossing of the English Channel with the French aeronaut Francois Blanchard in 1785.

Jean Pierre Francois Blanchard 1753-1809, french baloonist and inventor of the parachute. With Jeffries was the first to cross the Channel by balloon in 1785. A flight which was reported upon in the diary of Sophie van la Roche. Blanchard was killed during practice parachute jumps from a balloon.]

Nancy Woodeforde 15 June 1792. Friday

“I wrote a letter to Mr. Samuel Woodforde my Brother which I began at seven and finished before eight, being in haste to send it up to Mr. Bidewells that he may put it into the Post Office tomorrow.

14 July 1792 Saturday

Received a letter from Brother Sam. Paid for the letter 5 pence.

Penelope Hind

Diaries and Correspondence 1787-1834 Sarah Markham After a visit to friends

“Rarely did we return without finding marks of the tender way our Mother employed herself during our absence. At one time a little room alloted to us, and where we deposited our choices things, was fitted up afresh;pretty boxes Etc. of her own making to ornament, fresh prints to adorn it; and at another our chamber was fresh papered and made gay and chearful; and in one way or other, proofs were given of a delight in making us happy.”

Hannah Mary Reynolds

[See housework for details of diarist.] 18 August 1793 friday

“Walked with my father [Abraham Darby of Coalbrookdale] to the Parade and saw the Camera Obscura.” [In Liverpool]

William Holland

1 April 1803, Friday

“no clock striling this morning. Little William jumped down from the staircase window, jarred the clock so much that the pendulum fell off and was bent so we must have Mr Coles to it.After dinner Coles came to set the clock in order.”

26 November 1804, Monday

“Called on Coles the clockmaker about the Jack.” 3 December 1804, Monday

“I walked down to Stowey, called on philosopher Coles and paid for some little articles. He shewed me aa curious clock of his invention which was carried to London and exhibited before the Society of Arts and then raffled for and won again by the philosopher. He is certainly a wonderful man.”