The Granville Project

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The Granville manuscript was triple-key transcribed by students at the University of Texas, Arlington: undergraduates and graduate students who were taking courses entitled “Culinary Shakespeare,” during the Fall term of 2015.

Biographical and Contextual Information:

 The Granville Family manuscript, housed at the Folger Shakespeare Library (V.a. 430), is dated from 1640-1750 and contains culinary, medicinal, and household recipes that are written in a number of different hands. The manuscript, most often referred to as Mary Granville’s receipt book, was owned by at least three generations: her mother, Mary herself, and her daughter, Anne D’Ewes. The various hands indicate that each generation likely contributed the writing and editing of the familial receipt collection. On the inside of the front cover, Mary Granville dedicates the book to her daughter and writes: “Mrs Ann Granvills Book which I hope shee will make a better use of then her mother Mary Granville” After this dedication, Anne writes, “Now Anne Dewes” and “Bradley 8 Sep[tember] 1740” indicating that she is now married and living in Bradley, Worchestershire.

The family had connections with Spain, as Mary Granville was the daughter of Sir Martin Westcomb, who had been the English Consul in Cadiz (like his father before him, also Sir Martin). Many of the recipes make reference to Cadiz and several recipes are written in Spanish, such as a recipe for an ink (f.96r), for Amber Water (f.106r), and a recipe for the New World commodity, chocolate (f95). The recipe for “good chocolate,” which calls for 1000 “cacaus” or cacao pods, three ounces of cinnamon, six vanilla beans and three pounds of sugar, was for a chocolate drink, as chocolate would not be eaten in solid form until the end of the seventeenth century. At the end of the recipe, Mary Granville’s mother, Mrs. Wescombe writes a note about the provenance of the recipe: “Colonel John Belalyse had this receat with him. Cadiz October 1665.” According to Catherine Field,

“Belalyse, a leader during the Third Dutch War and a colleague of her husband, was a member of Mrs. Wescombe’s receipt coterie. Her coterie also included close family members (many of the receipts are by her sister in Essex, England),as well as other political allies of her husband. Mrs. Wescombe’s receipt reflects the new taste of the British consumer for the luxury item, chocolate, which was just becoming available in England and on the Continent—in part, because of Oliver Cromwell’s recent capture (in 1655) of the island of Jamaica.”[1]

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Another early chocolate recipe appears in Ann Fanshawe’s receipt book, though hers is dated from 1665. Like Mrs. Westcomb, Ann Fanshawe had connections with Spain, as her husband was the English Ambassador there in the 1660s, and her recipe book similarly has recipes in Spanish or with a Spanish origin. Placing receipt books together, such as looking at the Granville and the Fanshawe side by side, tells us much about the larger story these manuscripts reveal about the culture and the era in which they were produced.

This text is now searchable in the LUNA Folger Manuscripts Transcriptions Collection.


Amy L. Tigner, University of Texas, Arlington



Field, Catherine. “‘Many Hands Hands’: Early Modern Englishwomen’s Recipe Books and the Writing of Food, Politics, and the Self.” Dissertation, University of Maryland, 2006.

Granville, Mary. “Granville Family Receipt Book.” Folger Shakespeare Library, 1640-1750.


[1] Catherine Field, “‘Many Hands Hands’: Early Modern Englishwomen’s Recipe Books and the Writing of Food, Politics, and the Self” (Dissertation, University of Maryland, 2006), 191. Field was one of the first scholars to write about the Granville receipt book and her dissertation is very informative about women’s receipt manuscripts more generally.