Cleaning House

Susanna Whatman, painted by George Romney in 1782

You would expect a woman this elegant-looking to be renowned for her beauty or gentility, but Susanna Whatman’s fame derives from a very different source. Susanna Bosanquet married James Whatman, a wealthy paper mill owner, in 1776 and began keeping a manual on housekeeping in order to better manage her servants. It is one of the few surviving primary source documents that reveals how 18th century homes were maintained. While some of her notes about the duties of housemaids and cooks no longer apply today, some still seem very helpful. I’m going to remind myself of this tidbit next time I can’t find something in my kitchen:

“There should be a place in the Kitchin for everything kept there, otherwise it will be lost or mislaid without being missed, and [this] holds good for every other department, and saves many things, and much trouble. “

From The Housekeeping Book of Susanna Whatman, page 44

Available for purchase here

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