Know I bet your thinking what is she on about? Who is Isabella Mayson? Well you may know her better by her married name of Isabella Beeton.
Isabella Mary Mayson was born in London on the 14th March 1836 to Benjamin Mayson and his wife Elizabeth Jerrom. She had 2 younger sisters and a younger brother. When she was 4 her father died and she went to live with her grandfather. She eventually went back to live with her mother. When she was 7 her mother married Henry Dorling the clerk of Epsom race course. Henry had 4 children of his own so it was a large family living at the race course. It got even bigger after Elizabeth and Henry had 13 more children. This taught Isabella a lot about running a large household and raising a family. To be honest most days must have been crowed control in the Mayson Dorling household. Isabella spent time at boarding schools in London and Germany and it was in Germany she began an interest in pastry which continued when she returned to Epsom.
Isabella married Samuel Orchart Beeton in July 1855 at St Martin’s Church, Epsom. Samuel was a publisher who made his fortune publishing Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Samuel encouraged Isabella to write for the women’s magazines of the day including The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine. It was in the magazine that she encouraged women to send in their recipes which they published, usually unsourced. Isabella also translated French texts and had a cooker column. Isabella also had a column in the new magazine The Queen, The Ladies newspaper.
It was in 1861 that Isabella published her most famous work the Book of Household Management through her husband’s publishing house. The book was 1112 pages long and in the first year sold over 60,000 copies. All the aspiring women wanted a copy. The book held a wealth of information in it. The book held around 900 recipes most of which were the ones that were sent into The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine. The book also gave information on how to run the household including how to manage the servants and look after the animals of the house. She also advocates the use of in season produce. There is also information on basic first aid and poisons. I’m not sure if it’s how to uses them or how to avoid them. Mind you the way I cook if it explained how to survive my food then it could help. Later editions of the book included pictures and the book is still in print today.
Isabella continued her work in the magazines and with her book throughout her marriage as well as being a mother. She gave birth to 4 sons and had several miscarriages. Her first son Samuel Orchart Beeton was born in May 1857 but he died in August the same year. Her second son Samuel Orchart Beeton was born in September 1859 and he died on New Year’s Eve of the same year. The couple’s third child was born in December 1863 and he was named Orchart Beeton and he lived until the age of 83 in 1947. Their final child was Mayson Moss Beeton who was born in January 1865 and he also died in 1947 aged 82. It may be that Isabella’s husband had syphilis when the couple married and it was this that caused the miscarriages.
Isabella died on the 6th February 1865 aged 28 just 9 days after giving birth to Mayson. She died from puerperal fever or childbed fever. This is a bacterial infection and is similar to sepsis. It’s the same thing Queen Jane Seymour died from.
So just think how many of your ancestors have read this book since it was published in 1861. Did my great, great grandmothers pick up a book? I can just see Charlotte Weeds nee Voyce in her cottage in Norfolk with the book or Louisa Dent nee Payling in the Red Lion in Wisbech. How about Jane Jessop nee Wood cooking up a storm in Barnsley waiting for her slater husband to come home. How about Grace Elshaw nee Moor cooking for her family and running the household waiting for her forger son in law to come home. I may never know if they read it but maybe they did.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my Family History Ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!