Category Archives: Household

Household Moths

When Moths haunt amongst the Hangings

Some 17th Century household tips for getting rid of moths.

The rind of Citron laid amongst cloaths, keepeth them from moth-eating: and smelt on, preserveth in time of pestilence, or corrupt aire.

Oyle lees are good to annoint the bottomes of chests wherein clothes are to be laid, for they drive away mothes.

If you take the maw [stomach] of a weather sheepe new killed, not washed, but having all the filth hanging theron, which lightlie cover with earth in that place, where they most swarme in the garden, and after two dayes, you shall finde a marvellous companie of Moths and other flies heaped thereupon, which either carry away, or bury very deepe in that place.

Guinea-Pepper [an early name for Cayenne pepper], is such an Extream in Nature, viz. so hot and poysonous, that if the bigger sort be dryed, and the Cods cut and the Seeds scattered amongst Clothes, Hats, or the like, that are to be packt up, it proves the best Preservative from the Moth, and other Vermine that is known; for its excessive keenness destroys all Generation, even in the very bud. Likewise, if it be burnt in a Room, the Doors and Windows being close shut, it will destroy and kill all Buggs, Fleas, or the like, and you too, if you do not get out in time, its fumes are so hot, poysonous and penetrating.

To keep Apparel, Hangings &c. from Moths: Brush them several times in the Year with a Brush made of Wormwood Tops, and you may rub them with Wormwood, especially when you discern Moths to haunt amongst the Hangings.

And another Wormwood tip: Wormwood being laid amongst Cloathes will make a Moath scorn to meddle with the Cloath.

Florentine Iris [pale blue iris] is a sweet Powder, and is very proper to sprinkle amongst Clothes to preserve them from the Moth.

The Small Moth, which usually eateth garments, coverings of stooles, cushions, and furniture of beds. These in the eating of such things, are small white worms, like Nits, which are nothing else but Flea-Nits, which in the end turns to Fleas, and they are the original of these small Moths. And that these kind of Moths do proceed from Fleas, I am fully satisfied from an experience I found out in my own house: for keeping of Pigeons in a Closet for a certain time, and after removing them to an other place, had the closet cleansed with as much care as might be, yet notwithstanding in the Spring following, the walls and windows were as full of these small Moths, as was admirable to see, of the dung they could not proceed, for that was gone; so that I could conceive no other thing from whence they should proceed, but from Fleas crept into crivesses and holes, where they lay in Husks, which turned to winged creatures, as in Worms.

Tis very confidently reported, that there are certain Moths that reside in the cavities of a Sponge, and are there nourished: Notwithstanding all which Histories, I think it well worth the enquiring into the History and nature of a Sponge (from the wonderfully entitled: Some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses)

Bay leaves, laid up among your cloathes, will give to them a fragrant smell, and keep them safe from moaths.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

Conversation Entertainment Household

Good lord what dainty knacks you have

Following on from the blog post on John Florio, more conversations from the wonderful Frutes. I’ve chosen some of the most interesting and charming snippets.

First up, the weather:

A: What weather is it abroade?
S: It raines, it thunders, it snowes, it freeseth, it hailes and there is a great winde.
A: Goe to the windowe and looke better.
S: It is sharp, ill, close, darke, cruell, and stormie weather.
A: We will doe as they doe at Prato then.
S: And how doe they doe at Prato when it raines?
A: They let it raine, and keepe home.

Writing a letter:


S: Give me my deske, and some pen and ynke and paper.
L: I have no paper: neither is there any in the house.
S: Go buie some, here is monie.
L: How much shall I buye?
S: A quire: but let it be good, and that it doo not sinke.
L: It is verie dear of late.
S: Let it cost what it will, I must needes have some.

Chatting on the street:

G: Why do you stand barehedded? You do your self wrong.
E: Pardon me good sir, I doe it for my ease.
G: I pray you be covered, you are too ceremonious.
E: I am so well that me thinks I am in heaven.
G: If you love me, put on your hat.
E: I will doe it to obay you, not for any pleasure that I take in it.
G: What? Will you rather stand than sit?
E: I am very well. Good lord what dainty knacks you have here.
G: I have nothing but a few trifles.
E: What device is this, if a man may knowe?
G: It is a kinde of sweete water, very far fecht.
E: What do you doo with it, if it be lawful to know?
G: I use it to wash mine eyes and my face.
E: In truth it is very good, and verie sweete.
G: I praie you take a little that I have, for my sake.
E: Not for anie thing in the world.
G: I have some more, take it if you love me.


E: Fie, what an ill favoured woman I see passe through the streete.
G: Which, she that is clad in mourning apparell?
E: Yea sir, I thinke shee mourneth because shee is more foule than corruption it selfe.
G: Naie, you may say that she is more ill favored, more uglie, more loathsome, more foule and filthie than sinne and usurie it selfe.
E: Onelie the sight of her is able to make the whole Cleargie to gueld themselves.
G: I never sawe a finer remedie for love.
E: She would keepe the whole order of priestes chaste.

Making plans:

B: Oh, what a fine cleere night it is.
S: I will wager it will freeze before day.
B: I thinke so too because the skie is full of starres.
A: Will you be within to morrow morning?
B: I will endevour my selfe to be within.
A: I will come to you at seven of the clocke or there abouts.
B: You shall be welcome, and after dinner (God willing) wee will goe to some plaie, or to the Beare-baiting.
A: To some plaie if you will. I do not greatlie fansie the Bear-baiting, by reason of the filthie stinke that is there.
B: In trueth, that stinke is able to infect a man.
A: I perceive you begin to be sleepie, and therefore I bid you good night.
B: By the grace of God, I will lie a bed to morrow morning untill eight or nine of the clocke.

Going to bed:

M: Lay downe the bed, for I will goe sleepe.
L:  It is laid downe alreadie.
M: Dresse the bed, lift up that bolster.
L: It is too high alreadie.
M: Put another pillowe upon it.
L: I mervaile how you can lie with your head so high.
M: Lay one coverlet more upon it.
L: Which? That light or heavie one?
M: Which thou wilt, the quilt or the Irish rugge. Drawe the curtains, that the Moone shine not in his face, and lift up that boord-windowe.
L: Shall I help you off with your hose?
M: No, I am not so lazie yet.
L: Shall I untie your pointes?
M: Snuffe that candle, where are the snuffers?
L: I knowe not where they are. Oh here they be. I sawe them not.
M: Put on thy spectacles, forgetfull as thou art. Cast not that candle snuffe upon the ground.
L: Will you have the warming pan?
M: What to doo? It is not yet so colde.
L: Methinkes it is verie colde and sharpe weather.
M: A good fire in the chamber would doo no hurt.
L: I will with all diligence.
M: Oh what a good and soft bed this is.
L: Doo you want anie thing? Shall I put out the candle?
M: No truely, let the candle alone, for I will reade a Chapter.
L: What booke will you reade now you are a bed?
M: The Bible. I can not fall asleepe without reading.
L: They saye it is most wholsome to lye on the right.
M: What noyse is it I heare in that corner?
L: Belike they are either mice, ratts, or weasells.
M: Now I see I shall not sleepe all night.
L: Doubt you not, you shall sleepe well enough. Heere is a cat.
M: I will make them afraid with my snorting.
L: If you snort loud they will all runne away.
M: I cannot sleepe without something on my head.
L: Here is a night cap warme, cleane and neate.
M: I thank thee now goe a-Gods name.
L: I praie God I may sleepe well.
M: Amen, and God graunt I fall into no temptation.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved
Curiosities Handwriting Household


Over the past few years I’ve been slowly training myself to read 17th Century handwriting. The task is frustrated by a lack of regulated spelling and a tendency towards punctuation and abbreviation. Some hands are very easy to read, while others prove more challenging. I’ve been working today with the above – it’s a note written by a woman to her parents regarding a hat. Below is my attempt at deciphering it – some of it proved easy, but as you will see, some words still remain illegible to me. Anyone with a far better trained eye than my own is welcome to leave suggestions in the comments. Click on the image to open a larger version.

Loving Father and mother with my hartie commendations unto you. Remembered this is to desire you to send me word what fashion my mother will have her hat and whether she will have a double ? Band or a double? or single? with roose(?). I pray send me word unto which(?) order she will have it. And in haste I commit you to the protection of the almighty God whom I beseech to bless you both in body and spirit from London the eighth of May 1603.

Your loving daughter

Francis Woodall.

Update: Suggestion from Stanley Wells that ‘bless you both’ is in fact ‘bless us both’ – thanks Stanley!
And a comment from Sharky deciphers a double ‘tassle’ – ‘whether she will have a double tassle’.
I think ‘frypan’ might be ‘ribbon’…

New suggestion – from Sarah at The Folger – it’s not tassle but ‘Rowle’ band. Thanks Sarah!
The scypere/scyperd has everyone, well, baffled. A trawl through the OED has proved fruitless. Closest I found was ‘scye’ – the opening of a coat for a sleeve to be inserted, which dates from 1830.

Thanks to Simon Leake for pointing out Cypress was used on hats. OED: ‘1612.W. Fennor Cornu-copiæ 55   His hat‥With treble Sypers, and with veluet lin’d.’ ‘Sypers’ refers to Cypress, used on hats during mourning.

So, thanks to all the kind suggestions, the deciphered version now reads:

Loving father and mother with my hartie commendations unto you. Remembered this is to desire you to send me word what fashion my mother will have her hatt and whether she will have a dowble Rowle Band or a dowble syper or single syper with a Roose. I praye send me word in what order she will have it and in hast I committ you to the protection of the almightie god whom I beseech to bless us both in boddy and spiritt from London the eighth of may 1603.

Your Loving Dawyter
Franncis Wooddall

Thanks to on Twitter who helped me decipher it @Wynkenhimself, @Stanley_Wells, @SimonLeake, @rediculusT, @AdeTinniswood, @prattrarebooks, @pbabnet and @light_n_shade

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

Conversation Dining Food Household

Master Andrew, will it please you to eate an egg?

More from Florio’s charming English-Italian phrasebook, in which he gives characters everyday conversations in order that the reader might learn some useful phrases. The conversations reveal some lovely details about daily life in sixteenth and seventeenth century England. This time Aurelio and Pompilio meet on the street and go back to Pompio’s house to admire his lodgings, and following that, a dinner party conversation.

Pompilio: Good morrow master Aurelio.
Aurelio: And to you a good morrowe and a good year M Pomilio.
Pompilio: From whence come you in such haste?
Aurelio: I come from visiting a friend of mine.
Pomilio: Where dwells he, if a man may know?
Aurelio: Here by, in this streete.
Pompilio: Is it a hee or a shee friend, tell me in good sooth?
Aurelio: You goe about to make me blush.
Pomilio: Will it please you to goe so farre as my chamber?
Aurelio: Yes sir, but I would be loath to trouble you
Pomilio: Will you goe and see my lodging?
Aurelio: Honoured shall I be, if it please you to accept of my company?
Pomilio: What ho, Trippa, goe before and open the dore for us.

At the lodging:

Pomilio: Boy, bring hither some stooles, set a chaire there.
Aurelio: In good sooth, you are lodged verie commodiously.
Pomilio: To tell you the truth I am verie well here.
Aurelio: You have a daintie bed with verie fine household stuffe.
Pomilio: Here you may see verie farre.
Aurelio: Behold, it is a verie fine and pleasant prospect.
Pomilio: And delightsome, especiallie towards the Easte.
Aurelio: Is this a hyred chamber?
Pomilio: Yes sir, and I paie verie deare for it.
Aurelio: How much doo you paie a weeke for it?
Pomilio: I paie four crownes a moneth.
Aurelio: It is not very deare, being in London.
Pomilio: I must make as good shift as I maie.
Aurelio: In good truth you are verie well stored with bookes.
Pomilio: Those few that I have, be at your commandement.
Aurelio: Lend me this booke, for two or three daies.
Pomilio: Keep it so long as you please.

They then go on to discuss a sick friend, and which horses they will hunt with that afternoon, before arranging to meet at a church porch.

Next a dinner party, hosted by Simon, for his friends Nundinio, Camillo, Horatio, Melibeo, Taneredi and Andrew, waited on by Robert.

Robert: Master, dinner is readie, shall it be set upon the board?
Simon: I praie thee doo so, laie the board when thou wilt.
Robert: By and by, it shall be readie in less than a lightning.
Nundinio: My cravers [appetite], as the scots man saye, serves me well.
Simon: The meate is comming in, let us sit downe.
Camillo: I would wash first, if it were not to trouble Robert.
Simon: What ho, bring some water to wash our hands. Give me a faire, cleane and white towell.
Robert: Behold, here is one upon my shoulder.
Simon: My masters, drie your hands with this towell.
Taneredi: I praie you let us sit downe, for I have a good stomack.
Simon: My masters, the meate cooles.
Taneredi: My friend, I praie thee, give mee a messe of pottage, and a spoon also.
Robert: There be some upon the table, by the salt.
Simon: Bring hither that sallat [salad], those steakes, that legge of mutton, that peece of beefe, with all the boyled meate that we have.
Camillo: This may rather be called a banquet than an ordinarie dinner.
Simon: I praye you everie man serve himself, let everie one cut where he pleases and seeke the best morcels.
Taneredi: Truly these meates are verie well seasoned.
Camillo: In good sooth, you have excellent good bread here.
Nundinio: Good lord, how manie sorts of bread have you in your house?
Simon: Bring forth that loyn of veale roasted, and that quarter, whether it be of Kidde or Lambe.
Camillo: You are happie that have so good a baker.
Simon: Call for drinke when you please and what kinde of wine you like best.
Camillo: Give me a cup of beere, or else a bowle of ale.
Horatio: I love to drink wine after the Dutch fashion
Taneredi: How doo they drinke it I pray you?
Horatio: In the morning pure, at dinner without water, and at night as it comes from the vessell.
Melibeo: I like this rule well, they are wise, and Gods blessing upon them.
Horatio: A slice of bacon would make us taste this wine well.
Simon: What ho, set that gammon of bakon upon the boarde.
Taneredi: Of curtesie give me a little salt, I cannot reach it. I eate more salt than a Goate dooth.
Horatio: Give me a clean trenchar [plate].
Simon: Thou sillie wretch, give everie one cleane plates.
Nundinio: Let us make a lawe that no man put of his cap or hat at the table.
Camillo: An excellent and good lawe, for so shall wee not fowle our hatts.
Taneredi: Neither shall we be in danger to make the haires flie about the dishes.
Simon: Set that capon upon the table, and those rabbits, that hen, those chickens, that goose, those woodcocks, those larkes, those quailes, those partridges, and that pasty of venison.
Nundunio: Yonder is a most fine cubbord of plate
Simon: Andrew commeth. Have you dined or no?
Andrew: To tell you true, I am fasting yet.
Simon: Bring hither a stoole, and set a trenchar, a napkin, a knife, a forke, and a spoone there.
Andrew: Let no man stirre, I will sit here, by your leave.
Simon: Master Andrew, will it please you to eate an egg?

Andrew eagerly accepts the egg, and they go on to complete the meal with cheese, and fruit of every description, followed by marmalade and biscuits and caraway treats. They round off the evening with a merry game of cards and everyone has a splendid time.

More from Florio: Will you weare any weapons to daye? and Let us make a match at tennis


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