But don’t try these at home!

You know how it is – you see an interesting reference in a catalogue at the Record Office, order it and then be amazed at what you find. The following recipes were found in ‘A Book of Cures’ c.1843 NRO ref ZB1421

An Excellent Purging Elixir
Take an ounce of good rhubarb, two ounces of senna, half an ounce of liquorice, juniper, aniseed and caraway seed, two ounces of stoned raisins. Put all the ingredients into a quart of good brandy and half a pint of briony water. When it has stood a month to infuse, strain it and add half a pint of the purging syrup of roses. Take six spoonfuls of this whenever you fear a fit of the colic or find a sickness in your stomach.

To cure deafness
Take clean fine black wool and dip it in civet (an oil extracted from the civet mammal), put it in the ear, as it dries which in a day or two it will, dip it in again and keep it moisten’d in the ear for a month.

An Ointment for a Ricketty child
Pick snails clean out of their shells and prick them full of holes, hang them up in a cloth and put a basin to catch what drops from them which you must boil up with Speracity and blades of mace of one ounce each. Rub this ointment along the back bone, round the neck, wrists and ankles. Use this constantly night and morning. This has recover’d many weak children from sickness, lameness and deformity.

A Powder for Worm Fever in Children
Take crabs-eyes and corraline of each two drams, cream of tartar one dram, make all into a fine powder and give as much as will lie on a sixpence, three times a day in a spoonful of milk water and drink two or three spoonfuls after it. If this does not keep it being costive, give sometime a glister of milk and sugar and if the weakness continues, rhubarb steeped in small beer, drank constantly for three weeks or a month will certainly effect a perfect cure and strengthen as well as sweeten the blood. This powder must be taken at the Full and Change of the Moon. (Crabs eye is the seed of the plant Abrus precatorius, coralline an algae)

A Good Snail Water
Take a peck of snails clean wip’d, crack them and put them in a gallon of milk, with a handful of balm, as much mint and unset hyssop, half a pound of dates, as many figs, and one pound of raisins. Distil all together and let it be the constant drink in a consumption.

A Drink for the Gout
Sarsaparilla eight ounces, sassafras, china and harts horn shavings, of each three ounces, angelica roots, one pound of raisins, and the roots of the sweet-smelling flag three ounces, of candied eringo root half a pound. Hang these in six gallons of small ale and as soon as tis a fortnight old, drink of it constantly. It is an incomparable drink to sweeten the blood and correct those very sharp humours that occasion that dismal tormenting distemper. (eringo is the root of the sea holly plant)

AM 14 March 2024