“Concerning Buggs”


Katherine Windham’s Book of Cookery and Housekeeping of 1707,  transcribed by my friends Bonnie Lovelock and Roger Sykes, contains much more than cooking recipes. There are also various medicines, human and animal, and practical household tips such as these. In her time, nearly everything you would need for cleaning or other types of household care had to be made at home.

Take your cucumbers & breake ym in your hands, rub all the cranys[1] of your bedstead with ym, & in yr rome[2], take of the top of yr bedstead with ym, doe it every day, & in a litle time it will destroy ym, to prevent being bit, put some broken cucumbers in yr bed

tis good to use the water, before the cucumbers come in stilled[3] ye year before

a very good way
is to take down the bed & wash the bedstead with lime water & all the floor & walls, & every crany, which kills them


Rub the bedstead & where ye come with verdigreece[4], the smell makes ym creep out & kills them.

or Green Coper[5] as made like paint, & rubed in all the cranys of the bedstead, between all ye Joynts, ys best

to prevent yr face being bit, rub it every night with Juice of Lemon, & lay wormwood[6] about yr bed & necke,

to empty ye rome & make it so close no air can get out, not at the Chimny, & burn several dayes together Indian peper, yt ye rome is kept for 7 or 8 days in a continual smoke will smother ym

To Cure Buggs

Rub all ye Joynts of your Bed posts with verdigreece or oyle of Green Coperas[7] & ye will dye & come out at ye smell & for sake it, tho it does not touch them

To Kill Moths

Take shaving of Whale bone put it in a shaifing[8] dish of charcole to burn, set it in the rome made close, & hang any cover yn over it to receive the fume, ox gad[9] used so is very good

  1. cranys: crannies  ↩
  2. rome: room  ↩
  3. stilled: distilled  ↩
  4. verdigreece: verdigris, the reaction between acidic substances and copper, which acts as a fungicide or insecticide.  ↩
  5. She may mean some form of copper sulphate.  ↩
  6. Wormwood: Artemisia absinthium—a bitter, insecticidal garden herb which produces the hallucinatory constituent of the drink absinthe.  ↩
  7. Coperas: properly sulphates of copper from which sulphuric acid is made. Basically the same mixture as above, but perhaps stronger.  ↩
  8. chaifing dish: chafing dish, a shallow dish suitable for holding anything hot.  ↩
  9. This seems to mean that the same fumigant is suitable for treating ox gad-fly.  ↩

About William Savage

Author of mystery stories set in Georgian Norfolk.
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