Martha Lloyd’s Household Book
On show at the Museum this season, in keeping with its theme of At Home with the Austens, is a very important manuscript book: Martha Lloyd’s household book- a book full of hand written recipes, household advice, medicinal remedies and formulas.
Martha Lloyd, knew the Austen family very well. She was the daughter of the Reverend Noyes Lloyd and, after his death, she and her sister, Mary and their mother, Martha née Craven, rented Deane Parsonage from the Reverend George Austen, Jane’s father, from 1789 until 1792. George Austen owned the benefice of Deane, and it was there that he and Mrs Austen had begun their married life together in 1765. The two families were living very close to each other- the Austen family lived at the nearby Steventon Rectory at this time, and Steventon and Deane were less than 1 ½ miles apart. As a result of this proximity, the girls got to know each other very well. Cassandra, Jane and Martha became firm friends, a situation that continued even when the Lloyd ladies left Deane so that James Austen, Jane’s eldest brother and his new wife, Anne Matthews could live there. The Lloyds then moved to Ibthorpe near Hurstbourne Tarrant which was fifteen miles away, but the two families continued to be close. Indeed, Jane Austen made her debut into society from the Lloyd’s house at Ibthorpe when in 1792, she attended her first dance as an adult at Enham House near Andover.
A Daguerreotype of Martha in old age on show at the Museum
Mary, Martha’s sister became James Austen’s second wife in 1797. After the deaths of both the Reverend George Austen and Mrs. Lloyd in 1805, Martha came to live with Mrs Austen, Cassandra and Jane at Southampton and then, from 1809, at Chawton. Some of Jane Austen’s letters to Martha survive, and it is clear that she was a most well-beloved friend, though she was ten years older than Jane. She knew that Jane Austen was a writer, and indeed Jane dedicated Frederick and Elfrida to her. By 1799 Martha had read First Impressions (later to be revised as Pride and Prejudice), so many times that Jane Austen joked about her in her letter to Cassandra Austen dated June 11th of that year, written from Bath:
I would not let Martha read First Impressions again upon any account, & am very glad that I did not leave it in your power. – She is very cunning, but I see through her design; she means to publish it from Memory, & one more perusal must enable her to do it.
She eventually became Francis Austen’s second wife in 1828, when she was aged 62. The portrait of Frank, below, is also on display at the Museum. They lived together at Portsdown Lodge, which was just outside Portsmouth, until her death in 1843.
This leather bound manuscript book contains recipes from many different members of the Austen family and their circle of friends. It was most probably begun by Martha in the late 18th century and she continued to add to it during her time in Southampton and at Chawton. We know that she also continued to collect recipes after her marriage to Frank, for one recipe is dated 1829.
While the book is on show at the museum we shall be sharing some of the recipes with you here, so that you can see what kind of food and drink the family would have enjoyed when At Home with the Austens in Chawton.We do hope you will join us for what promises to be a fascinating series of posts.