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A loaf of bread, a carton of milk…


A shopping list has turned up under the floorboards of Knole, an ancient and huge country house in Kent. We’ve never been, but it’s just in reach of a day trip and has been on our list since forever.

The note is dated 1633 and appears to have fallen out of a trunk in the attic and worked its way down into the woodwork. It reads:

Mr Bilby, I pray p[ro]vide to be sent too morrow in ye Cart some Greenfish, The Lights from my Lady Cranfeild[es] Cham[ber] 2 dozen of Pewter spoon[es]: one greate fireshovell for ye nursery; and ye o[t]hers which were sent to be exchanged for some of a better fashion, a new frying pan together with a note of ye prises of such Commoditie for ye rest.

Your loving friend
Robert Draper
Octobre 1633

Wikipedia tells me Greenfish is used as the common name of several unrelated groups of fish: Ascension wrasse, Bluefish, Murray cod, Pollock, St. Helena wrasse. Though all of those were discovered after 1633, so most likely it’s this one: “Greenfish” was also formerly used to refer to green cod, fresh or freshly-salted Atlantic cod.

I first saw this story at The Smithsonian‘s FaceBook, which, sadly, spends too much time these days explaining to us important historic facts like the Statue of Liberty is actually a Muslim woman. I used to love that place.

More on this from the Mail and the National Trust.

They’ve been working on a multi-million pound renovation at Knole for some years now. I posted in 2014 about the witch marks found there by workmen.

OH! And a very happy Imbolg to you! Or St Brigid’s Day, if you prefer. Or even Candlemas. In theory, it means the turning toward Spring. In practice — effing February.


Comment from Ric Fan
Time: February 2, 2017, 12:04 am

I cant believe you have never visited the ancestral home of one of your chickens. cluck! cluck!

Comment from drew458
Time: February 2, 2017, 12:37 am

Neat link there to the Statue of Liberty, but the headline is misleading. Just because the sculptor tried to sell an idea for a big female statue to Egypt and failed, doesn’t mean the big statue idea he sold to France was of the same model. He just liked big women statues.

But, I expect you’re being slightly sneaky, hoping that we’d go there and see the weasel link in the sidebar!

Comment from Armybrat
Time: February 2, 2017, 12:46 am

My maternal grandmother was off the boat Irish. My mother is 1st generation American. My great grandmother was a Gaelic speaker- never learned English. My grandmother’s first child, born in the US was Caroline Brigid, born on 1 Feb, died on 1 Feb. My mother was born 14 months later. I’ve always known this day as St. Brigids day.

Comment from Niña
Time: February 2, 2017, 2:03 am

I’ve an ancestor who left England for Massachusetts in 1634…probably because of the greenfish. 😜

And I posted an article about St. Brigid’s day on the book of faces yesterday…I’ve ancestors from there, too, although long before AB’s granny!

Comment from Veeshir
Time: February 2, 2017, 10:27 am

I wonder if he got his stuff.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: February 2, 2017, 12:37 pm

Hey, maybe that woman was bringing her lamp out to light the darkness for all the muslims who built America’s intercontinental railroads and factories in the 57 states!

American History, as told by a Harvard Graduate, Constitutional Scholar and thankfully now former President.

Makes one wonder why a Harvard degree is considered worth more than the paper it’s printed on.
And how long the Smithsonian will be permitted to carry on as if Barry the Bozo is still President.

Comment from Wolfus Aurelius
Time: February 2, 2017, 2:09 pm

In Loozyana, instead of the groundhog, we have (or ought to have) Big Cockroach. On August 2 he comes out, and if he sees his shadow before somebody steps on him, we’ll have six more weeks of summer.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: February 2, 2017, 3:38 pm

The grocery list is written on rag paper. I’m amazed that the bugs didnt get it. Also, I wonder how much rag paper cost back then.

Comment from dissent
Time: February 2, 2017, 4:34 pm

One of my mother’s ancestors likely came over from Kent, ’bout 1637 or so. Would love to get over to that neighborhood someday and poke around for scraps of paper much like this one.

There was a lot of fascination with Egypt back in the 19th century; pretty sure it had little to do with Islam, and much more to do with romantic notions of pre-Muslim Egypt. Pyramids, pharoahs and all that stuff.

Comment from OldFert
Time: February 2, 2017, 11:22 pm

Statue of Liberty a moslem…
Well, I guess that’s the phase we’re in now. I remember in the ’90s how everything was from Africa.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: February 3, 2017, 12:29 am

OldFert @ February 2, 2017, 11:22 pm: I remember in the ’90s how everything was from Africa.

Everything is still from Africa.

Egypt is in Africa – therefore the Pyramids and all that cool Egyptian superscience was invented by blacks, i.e. the ancestors of the gangbangers in Englewood.

(Who in reality are descended from West Africans. West Africa is further from Egypt than Sweden is. Egyptians are white. Swarthy, but white.)

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: February 3, 2017, 12:40 am

That’s a pretty hefty shopping list – 24 pewter spoons, and a bunch of other pricey metalwork.

Incidentally, note the Egyptian reference in the note: the sender’s address is “Copthall”, i.e. “Copt Hall”, possibly a reference to Egyptian Christians. Or maybe not – it seems to be a spelling of Copped Hall.

Comment from durnedyankee
Time: February 3, 2017, 5:18 pm

“Well, I guess that’s the phase we’re in now. I remember in the ’90s how everything was from Africa.”

All true.
Every year around the solstice Beethoven would serenade Lady Liberty in the great hall of the castle in Zimbabwe with black Jesus Kwanzaa tunes like “The little rapper boy”.

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