… and now for something completely different. It would be difficult to find a greater contrast between the Language and Literature of Malaysia and today’s book, Hilary Spurling’s Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book. I hope that this demonstrates the diversity of material available for the biography of Captain Thomas Bowrey.
Within in Bowrey’s papers, there is correspondence about the Malay and other oriental languages alongside bills for food and, even, a dinner to celebrate the launching of one of his ships. When searching for book on food of the period, I could not resist purchasing Hilary Spurling’s book.
Although I have not yet proved the connection, Bowrey’s wife Mary Gardiner was distantly related to the Fettiplace family through her mother Frances Bushell. The mother of Frances’ nephew, Thomas Bushell, was Diana Fettiplace and he changed his surname when in inherited his uncle’s estate. This uncle was probably Elinor’s great grandson, Sir Edmund Fettiplace. Thus, any possible connection between Elinor and Bowrey is extremely tenuous but still proved irresistible when I was searching for books about the food of the period despite it being out of period.
Elinor was not unusual in being guardian of her own recipes but few such Receipt Books have survived and even fewer published. Recipes were passed down families and Frances was likely to have brought her own with her when she married Philip Gardiner. Bowrey moved in with the family when he married Mary and may well have experienced some of Elinor’s dishes although, as recipes usually passed through the female line, probably not. At the launch dinner mentioned earlier, Bowrey supplied the cook employed with a ham, no doubt prepared to one of Frances’ recipes. Unfortunately, there is no ham recipe in the book.