Nova Scotia Archives

What's Cooking?

Food, Drink and the Pleasures of Eating in Old-Time Nova Scotia


Catchup, Carrot Pudding, Pork like Westphalia Ham, Butter Drops

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Thomas Beamish Akins, the first Commissioner of Public Records, collected and catalogued the early government records for Nova Scotia now known as Record Group 1. Volume 411 has records relating to the town of Halifax, 1754-1828 (microfilm 15457) and includes "amemorandum of cash expended for the use of Mrs. went worths house," 1 September 1786 to 15 December 1786. This was Frances (Fanny) Wentworth, wife of John Wentworth, then Surveyor General of the colony and later Governor (1792-1808). In the 1780s, the Wentworths maintained one of the town’s most lavish residences. It is more than interesting to note that the "use of Mrs. went worths house" coincided with the visit of HRH Prince William Henry (later King William IV) to Halifax in October, as captain of the frigate HMS Pegasus; that the Surveyor General was absent in Cape Breton that month; and that Mrs. Wentworth and the Prince are reputed to have enjoyed a brief affair during his time in port.

There are eleven recipes at the beginning of the memorandum, followed by 27 pages listing food purchases and general expenses for a very busy household – possibly indicating that the residence had been requisitioned by someone for official purposes. Entries in the book include food staples – bread, flour, chickens, ducks, "piggens," the occasional turkey, "CowCumbers," oysters, etc.; wine, sherry and "spirets," purchased every few days and usually a dozen bottles at a time; laundry supplies, general household goods, wages for household staff; and personal items such as "1 pr. Silk Stockings," "stick pomandum," "hear" powder and "Cannarey" seed, the latter acquired frequently and by the quart.

Date: ca. 1786

Reference: Commissioner of Public Records Nova Scotia Archives  RG 1 vol. 411 no. 10