The English courtier Sir John Harrington (or Harington, or Haryngton, 1561-1612) was, according to popular misconception, the inventor of the flush toilet. It is more accurate to say that the flushing idea was much older, but that he developed a particular version of the concept which he installed in Queen Elizabeth I’s palace at Richmond.
But I digress. We are here to discuss food and related domestic matters, are we not?
The following extract on household rules in 1566 comes from Ten Thousand Wonderful Things (1859) by Edmund Fillingham King, and is presumably from Orders for Household Servants by John Haryngton 1566, Renewed by his Sonne, 1591. The advice is certainly fascinating, and may be a useful guide for those of you with troublesome servants.
From Sir J. Harrington's (the translator of Ariosto) rules for servants, we obtain a very clear conception of the internal government of a country gentleman's house in 1566.
A servant who is absent from prayers to be fined. For uttering an oath, 1d.; and the same sum for leaving a door open.
A fine of 2d., from Lady Day to Michaelmas, for all who are in bed after six, or out after ten.
The same fine, from Michaelmas to Lady Day, for all who are in bed after seven, or out after nine.
A fine of 1d. for any bed unmade, fire unlit, or candle-box uncleaned after eight.
A fine of 4d. for any man detected teaching the children obscene words.
A fine of 1d. for any man waiting without a trencher, or who is absent at a meal.
For any one breaking any of the butler's glass, 12d.
A fine of 2d. for any one who has not laid the table for dinner by half-past ten, or the supper by six.
A fine of 4d. for any one absent a day without leave.
For any man striking another, a fine of 1d.
For any follower visiting the cook, 1d.
A fine of 1d. for any man appearing in a foul shirt, broken hose, untied shoes, or torn doublet.
A fine of 1d. for any stranger's room left for four hours after he be dressed.
A fine of 1d. if the hall be not cleansed by eight in winter and seven in summer.
The porter to be fined 1d. if the court-gate be not shut during meals.
A fine of 3d. if the stairs be not cleaned every Friday after dinner.
All these fines were deducted by the steward at the quarterly payment of the men's wages.
As the recipe for the day, I give you a sixteenth century Rice Porridge with ground almonds, as given in The treasurie of hidden secrets, commonly called, The good-huswives closet of provision, for the health of her houshold Gathered out of sundrie experiments, lately practised by men of great knowledge: and now newly inlarged with divers necessary physick helpes, and knowledge of the names and disposition of diseases, that most commonly happen to men and women. Not impertinent for every good huswife to use in her house, amongst her owne familie, by John Partridge, published in 1573
To make fine Rise Porredge.
TAke halfe a pound of Iordyn Almons, and halfe a. li. of Ryce and a gallon of running water, & a handful of Oke barke, and let the bark be boyled in the running water, & the Almons beten with the hulles and all on, & so strayned to make the Rice Porrege withal.