As the core Ward-ers, the main group that has been working on transcribing and vetting the John Ward diaries, have gone through the texts, we have learned a lot about John Ward’s life and mid 17th century England. There have been pages and pages of medical content, including recipes, discussions of conditions, diagnoses, and treatments (so many pages of medical content, so few of them fit for dinner conversation). There have been pages and pages of genealogy of European nobility (looking at you House of Orange). There has been Latin and Greek. But sometimes, just sometimes, you turn a page (digitally, in this case) and come upon a dozen or so entries of the most amazing early modern gossip.
Pages 151v and 152r in V.a.291 are a set of such pages. Originally worked on by two of our volunteer transcribers, Nicole Winard and Kate Tallis, I came across these pages recently while going back over sections of the manuscript with Sara Schliep. Sara and I were completely entranced by this opening, with its somewhat haphazard entries containing personal anecdotes and some hot gossip.
So let me present to you here a window into the world that John Ward lived in, as noted in his diary.
I was att Essex-Garden Ianuary: 22
where the Dutches of Somerset
livd, I saw no great matter. but
only Oranges and myrtles, the plot
is handsome and a wildernes but
nothing of any great Raritie
planted as I saw:
John Ward was an avid botanist (see also his ongoing friendship with Edward Morgan, the head of the Westminster Physic Garden in London), and he mentions visiting various gardens in both London and Oxford regularly. In this case, we’re pretty sure that he’s talking about the garden at Essex House in London and that the “Dutches” in question was probably Frances Seymour, (née Devereux). One of the things we find so fascinating about this passage is that oranges and myrtle had become so commonplace in England by this time that Ward counts them as lovely, but not anything of “great Raritie”.
One Mr. Baker. is Gardiner att
Continuing with the garden theme, Ward next mentions Syon House, another London seat of the Duke of Somerset. Alas, Mr Baker seems to have been lost to the mists of time (or at least the mists of the internet).
One Mr. Ball keeps a great Gar
den about Brainford of flowrs
and a Nurserie likewise:/
The Earl of Northumberlands
sonne to marrie the Earl of South
And from gardens Ward moves to… genealogy. John.
The Earl of Northumberland’s son, in this case, must have been Josceline Percy, who married Elizabeth Wriothesley in December 1662. This tracks with the dates of these entries, which were written in January of 1662 (on fol.150r Ward notes the date of the entry as “Sunday. Ianuary the 19. 1661”, which with Lady Day dating, is exactly correct for January 19, 1662).
My Lord. Capel married one of the
Earl of Northumberlands daught
ers and my Lord. Stanhope Earl of
Oh goodie. More names to look up.
Lord Stanhope = Philip Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Chesterfield, who married Elizabeth’s older sister Anne, who died in 1654.
A Boon-Crytton, Mounseir Iohn,
and Mon-dieu, all ffrench pears:/
John Ward was many things. Talented at writing French, he was not. It’s gotten to the point where if we get really stumped on trying to find a name, we start trying to figure out what French name he might have butchered. It works more often than not.
In this case, the three French pear varieties he’s talking about are most likely the Bon Chrétien, more commonly known as the Williams pear, the Monsieur John, and the Mon Dieu, which seems to have about a million names, perhaps the most common of which is Jargonelle.
I was att Richmond Ianuary. 23: where
is a most pleasant green as euer I
saw, with many good houses about itt:
More London geography, and another firm date! Ward doesn’t date entries very often, so having two on one page is kind of amazing. He definitely appreciated certain areas of London.
whether. Dr. Turner. Dean of Canter=
burie and prebend of pauls is not the
same with Dr. Turner the Civilian:/
The “Dr. Turner” who was Dean of Canterbury was almost certainly Thomas Turner. Who the other Dr. Turner might have been is a bit more of a mystery, although there’s evidence in an 18th century biographical dictionary that there was a Dr. Turner who sat on Cromwell’s judicial bench in the 1650s, and was described as a “civilian”.
Ianuary the 24. I drank Mumme
it came from Brunswick itt is made
with wheat and is pretended uery
good for the head and I know not
what, itt is high coloured and drank
in flute glasses 3d. the pint:
Three dates! Such riches! This is one of those entries where we give deepest thanks to the OED. “Mumme”, it turns out, is a variant spelling of “mum” which is, exactly as Ward describes, a wheat beer from Brunswick. Interesting details about both the glasses and the price. We haven’t yet come across another place where he talks about the price of beer.
I saw nere Thames street a signe
which. was this Buckworths percy’s
famous Lozenges better. farre then
Buckworths and for this reason I
hear that Buckworth hath sued
him, for disgracing his Lozenges:
One att Mr. Gellibrands in pauls-
Church yard told mee that Lownes
a Book-seller. who livs next door
Gellibrand hath sold ten pounds
worth of those Lozenges in a day
hee had them att 2 shillings the ounce
and sould them for half a Crown:
hee got more by them then by his Book
Oooooh the drama!
Medical lozenges, usually “a small cake or tablet, originally diamond-shaped, of medicated or flavoured sugar, etc. to be held and dissolved in the mouth” according to the OED, were a common part of 17th century medicine. Also called troches (which may have been a specific type of lozenge—Ward doesn’t always make a clear distinction between the two), these medicines are found all over Ward’s diaries, primarily in recipes for making various types of them.
Here, we have an amazing insight into the sometimes cut-throat business practices of early modern medicine.
There seems to have been a running feud between Percy and Buckworth, for around this time, Theophilus Buckworth published a full page screed against Percy (spelled Peircy in the document) and Lownes (spelled Lownds in the document, but almost certainly the same person that Ward is referencing), and an advertisement about where to buy genuine Buckworth lozenges.
Both of these items have been dated as c.1660, and it would be fascinating to know if they came before or after the incident with the signboard that Ward describes.
We don’t know what Percy’s immediate response might have been, but I did find an advert dated about 1665 from Percy’s side of the fight.
Interestingly, the amount on the advert is exactly the amount that Ward says Lownes is charging (a half crown being 2 shillings, 6 pence).
Inquire what that Buckworth was
and where hee livs:
And, in typical John Ward fashion, he ends this whole remarkable episode with a note to himself to find out who, exactly, Buckworth was… I always wish I knew if he ever followed up on these notes to himself, and if so, what he did with this information. Did Buckworth randomly get a note one day from a vicar in Stratford? Ah, for a time machine.
ffathorne the great Ingrauer
livs about Temple Barre, and
is much troubled with sicknes:
And for the final entry on this page, we have a brief note about the health of the painter and engraver William Faithorne. It’s unclear what Ward’s particular interest in Faithorne might have been. It could be from a medical perspective, as he often noted details about cases that he heard about; or, it could be from a bibliophile perspective, an interest in Faithorne because of the books that he produced engravings for. It would be interesting to compare all of the books that we’ve found mention of in Ward’s diaries to the ones that Faithorne did engravings for… Someday!
This is just a single double page opening in one of the thirteen volumes of Ward’s diaries that we have been working through. As we transcribe and then vet each page, we find ourselves falling down rabbit holes like these on a regular basis. Is this capitalized word a name, a place, or just a randomly capitalized word? Which daughter did you mean there, John? Is that an actual word, an interesting variant spelling, or is Ward mangling a non-English word?
One of the benefits to doing this kind of work in groups is that one person can fall down a rabbit hole of research and everyone else can help haul them out again so that we can move on to the next entry. But hopefully this post has shown why we do this kind of research—the more we can identify the details behind each entry, the more we learn about John Ward and his world. And sometimes, about how lozenges spawn a feud.
- Look, the earldom of Essex was created nine times between the 12th and 17th centuries. Forgive me if my eyes go a little crossed every time one of them gets mentioned.
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