Exploring CPP 10a214: The Downings of Massachusetts Bay

By Hillary Nunn with Rebecca Laroche

The Herrman Moll Map (or the “Post Map”), Map of New England and the adjacent colonies, c. 1729.
The Herrman Moll Map (or the “Post Map”), Map of New England and the adjacent colonies, c. 1729.  Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

No one from the Downing family was at the first Massachusetts Bay Thanksgiving in 1621. It’s interesting to note, though, that the Downings – a family that Rebecca Laroche and I have been mapping into a thoroughly English network of recipe writers – made important contributions to the development of the New England colony. The family’s arrival in North America offers us tantalizing new angles for exploring our recipe manuscript – one that resides at The College of Physicians in Philadelphia, but whose authors all seem to have called England home.

The Downings missed the first Thanksgiving dinner by almost twenty years, arriving in Boston in August of 1628. Emanuel Downing – born in 1585 to Calybute Downing and Elizabeth Wingfield – was a member of the Inner Temple in London; his second wife was Lucy Winthrop, sister of the Massachusetts Bay governor John Winthrop. According to Charles Wentworth Upham, Downing and his brother-in-law “went together, with their whole heart, into the plan of building up the colony.” [1]

Downing bought a farm in Salem, and he remained in the colony until securing an appointment in Scotland in 1655. His son George became the first tutor at Harvard, ventured to the Caribbean, and later returned to England to become a wealthy financier and diplomat, obtaining a baronetcy in the process.[2] At least two of Emanuel and Lucy’s children, however, remained firmly embedded in the New England colony, marrying into the local Gardner family;[3] in fact, Anne Downing Gardner took as her second husband Simon Bradstreet, whose first wife had been the poet Anne Bradstreet.[4]

Emanuel’s Salem farmhouse, meanwhile, continued to be called Downing House; it gained a degree of infamy during the following decades, when its new resident, John Proctor, was tried and hanged for witchcraft.

The American connection forged by this branch of the Downing family offers no easy explanations for the CPP manuscript’s travels. The recipe book, after all, seems to have moved out of the direct Downing line and into the Layfield family’s possession. We have no evidence (yet) whether Anne Layfield ever left England, but her descendants may have. Perhaps they bestowed the manuscript on an American cousin?

A newspaper clipping, dated 1739, wedged inside the manuscript suggests that the book remained a household reference source well into the next century. Unfortunately, the clipping offers no indication of the newspaper’s name or city of origin, nor do the listed ingredients betray any particular local flavor.

But how did the manuscript end up in Philadelphia? The CPP records offer no hints regarding the book’s journey from England to the United States. Nor do the recipes in the book itself suggest any drastic change in location. And, even if we could trace the manuscript’s journey from the Layfield family to a distant relation from Emanuel Downing’s New England line, that would not explain the book’s move from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania. We can only hope that further research on the Western half of the Atlantic brings us further clues to the manuscript’s travels.

[1] Charles Wentworth Upham, Salem Witchcraft; with an Account of Salem Village, 45. [http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/texts/tei/Uph1Wit?div_id=d1e9960, accessed 13 Nov 2014]

[2] Jonathan Scott, ‘Downing, Sir George, first baronet (1623–1684)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/7981, accessed 13 Nov 2014]

[3] Upham, 45

[4] Francis J. Bremer, ‘Bradstreet, Simon (bap. 1604, d. 1697)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/37215, accessed 13 Nov 2014]

Exploring CPP 10a214: Lady Honywood, Continued; or On E. Layfield’s Gout

By Rebecca Laroche with Hillary Nunn

In my entry in April, I introduced a medical practitioner, Lady Honywood, who had recipes attributed to her in The College of Physicians of Philadelphia manuscript owned by Anne Layfield.  Lady Honywood’s reputation as a devout nonconformist and medical practitioner have been recorded in the diary of Ralph Josselin. Her recipes appearing in another recipe book not only give us more evidence of her practice, but also reveal something new about the Layfield manuscript.

Three recipes attributed to Lady Honywood appear in the 1680 manuscript compiled by Johanna St. John, which has been discussed at length in a previous post by Elaine Leong.  These recipes are scattered throughout the St. John manuscript and are treatments for three very different conditions.  The initial Honywood attribution, which appears early on in the manuscript, is an “admirable thing for a cancer.”  This was the second time that Johanna St. John had recorded a recipe for cancer on that page – the first being attributed to a Lady Temple:

 
Honywood recipe in St John copy
Wellcome MS 4338, digital image 0010.

As the two recipes that frame these are for the sore breast, the implicit location of this canker is on the breast as well.

The next lies amongst a series of cough medicines, “For the Cough of the Lungs, / which has cured thos that have died one gene / ration after another”:

Wellcome MS 4338 digital Image 0068
Wellcome MS 4338, digital image 0068

The recipe record, while short, gives testimony not only to the recipes efficacy, but also to Lady Honywood’s acumen.  She, after all, has cured a disease that had been plaguing a family for decades.  The final recipe bears full transcription because so brief and carries a tinge of magical thinking (see posts by Laura Mitchell on this site),  “Lady Honywood to prevent miscarying,” which reads simply “A dryed Toad & hang it about the wast.”  [1]

In isolation, these three Honywood recipes are of a piece with many we have seen:  two medical practitioners exchange their knowledge, and one, under different topics, has organized that knowledge along with others she has gleaned.  When we put these recipes next to the Layfield manuscript, however, we gain new insight into how and why the Layfield recipes were collected.

The Honywood recipes in the Layfield manuscript are not the same as those that are found in the St. John recipes.  As a reminder, the first two of the three Honywood recipes collected by E. Layfield were for the gout, the second for the King’s evil.  While E. Layfield and his wife Anne may have practiced medicine among their acquaintances, this document begins to reveal itself as a more local document, as gout seems to be one of its central concerns.  While only four recipes address gout in the Downing half of the manuscript, and then often amongst a list of other ailments, seven recipes are listed specifically for gout in the smaller Layfield section, and one of these (within three pages of the Honywood recipes), “An excellent Receite for the Goute, to giue ease,” ends with this attribution and testimony: “Master Rob. Wingfeld gaue it me with / much adoe, & great intreaty, at  / Sir Rich. Wingfelds at Easton / Its singular good, I haue tryed it.”[2]

Who the Wingfelds were and where they lived are subjects for further research and another post, but what we can tell from this entry and the collection of Honywood recipes is that the compiler E. Layfield suffered from gout himself, and he asked for recipes from members of his circle for some insight toward relief.

[1] Wellcome MS 4338, fol. 206.

[2] The Historical  Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, MS 10a214, fol. 224.