Elizabeth Raffald – The Experienced English Housekeeper
Elizabeth was an author, innovator, entrepreneur and benefactor, an extraordinary woman of hard work and enterprise who contributed hugely to the development of Manchester in the 18th century. Although now largely unknown her endeavours are remarkable.
Elizabeth Raffald is on the shortlist for the first female statue for Manchester since Queen Victoria! If you would like to vote for her the vote is at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WoManchesterStatue
Produced Manchester’s first trade directory in 1772, with updated versions in 1773 &1781 at a time when Manchester was expanding with the growth in the cotton industry.
Wrote The Experienced English Housekeeper, a cookery book of over 800 original recipes. The first edition sold 800 copies by advance subscription at 5 shillings each and the second edition ran to 400 copies with extra recipes added
- She sold the copyright to her book for £1400 (equal to £200,000 today)
- The book was reprinted 13 times with a further 23 pirate editions.
- Her book has the first printed recipe for ‘Bride Cake’- modern wedding cake
- She gave the first instructions for double icing celebration cakes using almond icing under royal icing
- Her recipe for sweet patties is credited as being the basis of the modern Eccles cake
- Co-wrote a book on midwifery with Charles White, the surgeon responsible for St Mary’s hospital and MRI
- Co-owned Harrops Mercury, only the 2nd ever newspaper in Manchester
- Co-founded Prescott’s Journal, Salford’s first newspaper
- Ran a confectionery shop in Fennel St, a kind of deli where she also supplied outside catering
- Opened a further one in Manchester’s market place
- Opened a cookery school for daughters of ladies
- Superintended many public and private dinner parties
- Started the first servant’s employment register office
- Managed a pub on the Market place in Manchester, The Bull’s Head
- With her husband ran a coaching inn on Chapel St, Salford, The King’s Head
- Spoke French and attracted many foreign travellers to stay at the inn
- Arranged and catered for entertainments held at her Salford inn
- Hired out carriages from the inn
- Catered for the officer’s mess in Manchester, based at her pub
- Catered for a refreshment stall at nearby Kersal Moor race course
- Gave food and clothes daily to the poor of the town
- Gave birth to 9 children, but only 3 daughters lived to grow up and marry
She was born Elizabeth Whitaker in Doncaster in 1733 and went into domestic service at the age of 15, arriving at Arley Hall, Cheshire where she met her future husband, John Raffald who was from Stockport. They had both arrived there from Yorkshire in 1760, first John, then at the end of the year Elizabeth made the treacherous journey over rough, rutted roads. They married in 1763 and it was the rule at Arley that married servants weren’t allowed to stay, so they moved to Manchester. John joined his brothers on their market stalls and Elizabeth set up a confectioner’s shop together with an employment register for servants, a cookery school for daughters of ladies and supervised private dinner parties.
She was a vital and enterprising woman, getting involved in lots of ventures in business and publishing. Her major production was her 800 recipe cookbook, The Experienced English Housekeeper, which presold 800 copies before it was even printed. It was remarkable for its day, full of the confectioner’s trade secrets and detailed instructions, introducing several new ideas. It went into 13 genuine reprints and 23 pirate editions. She is renowned for producing the first Manchester trade directory in 1772 but she also did so much more, co-owning a newspaper, and co-founding a second, collaborating on a book of midwifery and revising her directory for a further 2 editions in 1773 and 1781.
She took a second shop in Manchester’s market place, and then catered for the town’s central pub, The Bull’s Head, before moving with her husband to a coaching inn where she hired out carriages, catered for the officers’ mess and put on card entertainments and florists’ competitions. John became alcoholic and suicidal and debts forced them to leave. They moved to the Exchange Coffee House where Elizabeth did the catering and took a refreshment stand at Kersal Moor races during the summer, a course that was known for its nude male races at Whitsun.
After all her work, Elizabeth died suddenly at the age of 48 of a ‘spasm’, probably a stroke, and was buried ignominiously in the Raffald family vault at Stockport without her name on the headstone. Creditors quickly came after John and he signed over everything in the Coffee House before leaving for London, possibly with Elizabeth’s books under his arm.
Arley Hall are very proud of their connection with this tremendous woman and include her recipes on their Tudor Barn menu. In Manchester the only indication of her work is a small plaque high up on the rear wall of the M&S building, giving a few brief details of her work. The Market Restaurant in the Northern Quarter used to have a function room named for her, but there is very little in Manchester to commemorate this remarkable woman. As a Mancunian woman myself I think it is time to put that right.
Suze Appleton wrote this piece to share with you and gives talks on Elizabeth Raffald
I believe she deserves to be remembered by a modern generation who have no idea how much is owed to this woman of incredible drive and attention to detail. I have produced a booklet of her story, available now on Amazon, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Elizabeth-Raffald-Experienced-Housekeeper-Manchester/dp/1508449449
I give talks to local groups about her and am also writing a more in depth look at her story. She is nominated for the female statue for Manchester and because she sounds such a character I intend to recreate her life in a fictional biography. I also plan to recreate a meal to go with the talk at Arley Hall, where she was housekeeper
About Suze Appleton
I was born in the fifties, married in the seventies, single again in the nineties and have had more than a few issues to deal with in my life, from achieving a degree at the age of 42, then developing epilepsy in 1994 and getting divorced in 1995. I then had to cope with being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. Subsequently I built my way back to good health and a well paid and respected job. Unfortunately I felt like a square peg in a round hole. In 2010 I resigned from my job to devote myself to the task of becoming a published writer by studying for an MA in Cornwall. I completed two units of this but was dissatisfied with the standard of tuition so returned back to Manchester to work on developing my fiction and non-fiction.
I have been writing since keeping a diary of progress through the treatment for breast cancer in 2002. ‘My Journey Through Breast Cancer ‘was published in 2012 along with a novel completed in 2009. I tried various writing courses in journalism and creative writing, but in the end it was the support of friends in my WI, The Heatons, who gave me invaluable feedback, together with the knowledge that the only thing that would produce a published book was to persevere at writing it. I began with one novel that became a trilogy, together with excursions into other novels before stumbling across the story of an extraordinary woman from 18th century Manchester, Elizabeth Raffald. All books are available through Amazon as ebook or in print, and I’m thoroughly enjoying introducing more people to Elizabeth through my talks. My time is split between my writing ,my mother, my daughter and grandchildren and the WI, where I am currently Secretary. I was first President of our WI back in 2008 and still count it as one of the best things I’ve ever done. I credit it with giving me the confidence to do the work I do now and it also brought me a lively group of friends in my neighbourhood