Friday, August 6, 2010

Dr Fuller’s infusion

Three centuries ago today, a country lawyer called Timothy Burrell, began taking a new system of ‘bitter infusion and stomachie wine’. A month later, he switched to Dr Cox’s infusion, and a month later, he was back on Dr Fuller’s potions. Such details, spare but fascinating, are to be found in a journal and account book which Burrell kept for over 20 years, and which is in print thanks to The Sussex Archaeological Society, and freely available online thanks to Googlebooks.

Timothy, born in 1643, in Cuckfield, Sussex, was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, before being called to the bar. He practised law in London, but then returned to Cuckfield, where he lived at Ockenden House. He married three times, and the third wife died giving birth to his only child, a daughter in 1696. He, himself died in 1717.

For over 20 years, from 1693 to 1714, Burrell kept a journal and account book, and this surfaced in the mid-19th century, when it was edited and annotated by Robert Willis Blencowe for Sussex archaeological collections relating to the history and antiquities of the county, Volume 3, published by The Sussex Archaeological Society in 1850. The journal - which contains entries in Latin and Greek as well as small sketches - relates entirely to domestic matters, and mostly to the cost of things. The full text is freely available at Internet Archive thanks to Googlebooks.

Here is one entry concerning the costs of a funeral from 1708, and most of the entries for the year 1710, including the one from exactly three centuries ago today. (The quoted translations from Latin are provided as footnotes in the Sussex archaeological collections.)

9 January 1708
‘These are the funeral charges on the internment of my dear sister Jane Burrell, who died on the 16th January, 1708. To G Wood, for crape and worsted for the shroud, £1 6s, and for making it, 8s; for making and nayling the coffin, £2 2s; for bays to line it, 11s, and cloth to cover it, £1 6s; for black crape, hatbands, gloves, 6s; favour knots, wine, and use of pall, £15 1s.

To Mr Middleton, for sermon, £2 3s. To the clerk and sexton, for the passing bell and grace, 2s 6d. To Mr Daw, for his bill for charges for commission and probate of the will, £2 9s. The total expenses were £35 9s 6d.’

26 March 1710
‘Two bushels of wheat which I sent to John Sturt the miller, weighed 124lbs sack and all; there were brought back 111lbs, so that 13lbs were wanting.

To John Lord, to buy stockings, 1s 6d; for 2 neck-cloths, 4s 6d; breeches and drink, 5s.

I pay’d the saddler for John Coachman falling drunk of his box, when he was driving to Glynde, in part of his wages, £1 7s 6d.’

22 May 1710
[Original in Latin: ‘Maria Christiana Goring came, a most welcome guest; she went away the 26th of June.’]

2 June 1710
‘For the things bought by my sister for my daughter at London I paid £37 13s. For a scarlet camlet cloake, £3 9s.’

25 June 1710
‘I paid to Nanny West for her wages, due at Lady day, £1 10s, besides 10s to Dr White, and 27s to Fishenden the apothecary.’

6 August 1710
[Original in Latin: ‘I began Doctor Fuller’s system of bitter infusion and stomachie wine.’]

8 September 1710
[Original in Latin: ‘I tried that of Dr Cox.’]

10 October 1710
[Original in Latin: ‘I began a new system of Dr Fuller’s, on Monday, after 12 o’clock in the forenoon.

To Anne Chaloner, an old maid and poor, the daughter of my nurse, I gave 2s 6d.’]

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