Exploring CPP 10a214: The Layfield Hand

By Rebecca Laroche with Hillary Nunn

Since March 2013, Hillary Nunn and I have been using this forum to test out our various theories about one mid-seventeenth-century manuscript held at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia owned by Anne Layfield and dated 1640. So far, we’ve closely examined recipes from the first part of the book (pages 1 through 72), which were written in a clear humanist italic and reportedly compiled by a “Cal. Downing” (06/08/13).Hillary Nunn’s last post pointed to the other dominant hand in the collection, which I will describe further.

We first see the hand in the title of the document, “Medicinae Liber” (“Book of Medicines”) which appears on the front page of the Downing portion. Reading through that section, this handwriting does not appear again until page 74.

The Downing and title-writing hand (hereafter Hand 2) exchange a few pages, then at 79, Hand 2 takes over.It is at this point we catch a glimpse of how this hand connects with the manuscript owner Anne Layfield.On page 79, the recipe is titled “An admirable receite to make a water that /will cure any old sore, giuen to my deare wife /by the Lady Ashborneham as a great treasure/ tryed by her Ladyships sister who got both great /creditt, & rewards for cures done with it”

2012-10-15 DearWifeCpp[1] and another “The rare water to cure all soares made /by my Deare wife” (82).  The attribution of the next recipe for a balsam does not appear in its title, as it is long (6 lines of script), but rather at the end of the directions as “Probatum by Mistress / Anne Layfielde”: [2]

Probatum Anne LayfieldNow the surmise that Anne Layfield is the owner of the recipe book and the same “dear wife” of the previous recipes comes through a close analysis of another part of the collection (pages 207 to 241), almost all of which exists in Hand 2 and is upside down (because of a do-si-do compilation) relative to the Downing portion.

In this section, the compiler, the doting husband of the recipe from page 79, indicates his social network and his medical concerns. As with Calybute Downing, this compiler also ascribes recipes to himself with a “probatum per me” (223), but only with the calligraphic initials ESL:

ESLThe elongated descender of the L, similar to that in “Anne Layfielde,” shows the connection between the attributions, and suggests that Anne Layfield and the “deare wife” may be one and the same. A London marriage recorded between an Edmond Layfield and an Ann King in October of 1640 (the year of the manuscript) affirms this theory. [1]

Other evidence that the “ESL” in question is named Edmund Layfield lies latent in Hillary Nunn’s post in which she reported that the death of George Wilmer (possible husband of the Mistress Wilmer of Bowe in the attribution) was witnessed by Edmund Layfield of St. Leonard-of-Bromley.

This preacher was also the author of two sermons printed in the 1630s, the first of which had as a dedicatee another widow Wilmer of Bowe [2], and the second named an Elizabeth Toppesfield, daughter of Susan Ferrers and wife of William Toppesfield, Esquire. [3]  Testimony to this same social connection can be found in the section compiled by Hand 2, as it contains “Mistris Toppisfields Diett drinke” (231).  Remembering Calybute Downing’s Hackney appointment, we begin to uncover the circulation of recipes within a network of Protestants inhabiting the London area in the 1630s and 1640s. That this network, in the previous generation, may have included Catholics and, in the next decade, may have held both Parliamentarians and Royalists is the subject of our further analysis and research.

All images appear courtesy of The Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

[1] familysearch.org. (Accessed 01/02/2104).
[2] Edmund Layfielde, The Mappe of Mans Mortality and Vanity (London, 1630).
[3] Edmund Layfielde, The Sovles Solace (London, 1633).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *