Mrs Betsy Westhead's Receipt Book

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 1317
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      225 x 185 mm. 1 vol.; 5 loose sheets enclosed. Medium: paper. Binding: quarter-bound in red straight-grained morocco; marbled boards; printed stationer's ticket inside front cover: 'Ja[me]s Everett, Bookseller, Stationer &Printer, No. 10 Market Street, Manchester'.

Scope and Content

Manuscript receipt (recipe) book of Mrs Betsy Westhead of Manchester. There are approximately fifty culinary, medicinal and household receipts. Household and medical receipts include 'Ruffs for the wrists'; 'Knitting for Edging'; 'Narrow Edging'; 'Ointments &c. for Sprains and Bruises'; 'Cold Cream'; 'To make Soap'; 'Lavender Water'; 'Washing Paste'; 'For cleaning woollen cloths'; 'Dinner Pills' (comrising aloes, mastic and wormwood); 'Cream for the Hair'; 'How to wash Prints'; 'For the Hair to preserve it. Capt. Carpenter', etc. However, the majority are culinary, such as: 'Curry Soup'; 'Calves Foot Jelly - Mrs Tootal'; 'To Preserve Cucumber... Robert Owen'; 'Almond Pudding'; 'Baked Hunters pudding'; 'Currant Bread Cake - excellent Mrs. Wynn'; 'Tea Cakes - Mrs. Jellicoise'; 'Rhubarb Wine Mrs. Jones Sheffield'; 'Soda Cake'; 'Delicate Biscuits', etc. One receipt gives directions for making a paper children's toy, including an illustration of which shapes should be cut out. Others concern cleaning directions for paint, oil rags, and the removal of mould from linen.

The volume provides an intimate glimpse into the domestic life of the wife of a prominent Wesleyan businessman in Manchester. She evidently shared receipts with friends and acquaintances, and the volume provides valuable evidence of social networks among upper middle-class women in Manchester.

Administrative / Biographical History

Betsy Westhead, later Brown-Westhead (1806-1881), was the third daughter of G.R. Chappell esq., who was later an alderman of Manchester. In 1828 she married Joshua Proctor Westhead (1807-1877), eldest son of Edward Westhead, who was a partner with James Wood in the smallware and fringe manufacturers, Wood and Westhead, and his wife Ann. Joshua became a partner in the family business, which was later renamed J.P. & E. Westhead. The firm experienced financial difficulties in 1875, due to the notorious failure of Alexander Collie & Co.; it was restructured as a limited liability company, but went into voluntary liquidation in August 1891.

The Westheads were prominent Wesleyan Methodists. Joshua was also an early promoter of railways and was appointed chairman of the Manchester & Birmingham Railway, later becaming a director of the London & North Western Railway when it was formed by the merger of the M.B.R. and two other companies in 1846. In the same year the Westheads moved from Manchester to Lea Castle near Wolverley in Worcestershire. In 1847 Joshua was elected Member of Parliament for Knaresborough, representing the Liberals. He later served as MP for York, 1857-65 and 1868-70. Westhead changed his name by royal licence to Brown-Westhead in 1850. He died in July 1877. Betsy died at Upton-on-Severn, Worcestershire, in 1881.

Sources: W.E.A. Axon, The annals of Manchester (1886), p. 432; London Gazette, 12 February 1850, p. 397; articles in the Manchester Guardian: see Bibliography below.

Access Information

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The manuscript was purchased from David Rueger of Oxford in December 2011, for £150.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the manuscript can be supplied for private research and study purposes only, depending on the condition of the manuscript.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the manuscript. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The manuscript was sold at Bloomsbury Auctions, London, on 28 October 2010 (lot 45). The previous history of the manuscript is not known.

Related Material

The UML also holds a collection of deeds of the Westhead family (uncatalogued).


William E.A. Axon, The annals of Manchester: a chronological record from the earliest times to the end of 1885 (Manchester: J. Heywood, 1886), p. 432.

London Gazette, no. 21067, 12 February 1850, p. 397.

'The failures: further important suspensions', Manchester Guardian, 18 June 1875, p. 4.

'The late Mr. Brown-Westhead', Manchester Guardian, 27 July 1877, p. 5.

'Messrs. J.P. Westhead and Co. Limited', Manchester Guardian, 15 August 1891, p. 9.

Geographical Names