Persons of Quality

Hans Holbein, Frances de Vere, Countess of Surrey, 1522-23, Chalk on Paper, 315 x 213 mm, Windsor, Royal Collection

Lady Arundel’s recipe collection begins with a list of the practitioners, or “Persons of Quality,” who recommended remedies to Lady Arundel, including Walter Raleigh, Kenelm Digby and Theodor de Mayerne. There is a long line of doctors on record, followed by the Countess of Surrey, most certainly Frances de Vere, the great-grandmother of Lady Arundel’s husband.

The list names Paracelsus and Beda Venerabilis, thus referring to a long tradition of natural philosophy, as well as current sources like Lady Cromwell.

The collection consists of several chapters. The pagination starts with the Selected Experiments in Physick and Surgery, which up to page 298 deal with a wide variety of diseases and their respective remedies in short paragraphs.

Then follows a series of recipes attributed to Martin a Kurnebeck, Henry VIII’s doctor. Up to page 324, numerous recipes against diseases, the plague, against paralysis, cough and kidney stones, and a countess oyntment against bleeding in childbed are described.

Then follows a section with recipes from Lady Arundel’s cousin. After resorting to a traditional if ancient doctor like Martin Kurnebeck, the reference to “Cosin Standish” shows that the recipes came from numerous and contemporary sources, which were compiled in this form by Lady Arundel herself.

Even if there is no evidence of a relationship between Lady Arundel and Myles Standish, this name was certainly the first association of a contemporary reader. Standish was one of the leaders of the expedition of English dissidents who left Plymouth on September 6, 1620 with the Mayflower for the colony in Virginia (Strangers and Pilgrims, Travelers and Sojourners: Leiden and the Foundations of Plymouth Plantation 2009). The recipes thus appeared to have been tried and tested even under the most difficult conditions.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.