Kitchen Accounts of Sir William Fairfax


f [10] (3 January)

Strayngers Dynner Thomas fairfax gentleman and his wyf
Iohn Wightman & his wyf
and iij meas of colton bloweinge/


  • Endnote

    The Fairfax family was resident at Gilling Castle.

    It has not been possible to identify Thomas Fairfax or John Wightman. Thomas was the traditional Fairfax name for the eldest son and all the members of the family named Thomas were either knighted or ennobled (C.B. Norcliffe (ed), The Visitation of Yorkshire in the Years 1563 and 1564, Made by William Flower, Esquire, Norroy King of Arms, Harleian Society vol 16 (London, 1881), 117–118). Wightman is also a common Yorkshire name; he and his wife are probably neighbours. The meals provided to the men of Long Colton appear to be for playing ('bloweinge') pipes or other loud instruments. Since these are typical waits' instruments, it is possible that this was a professional ensemble.

  • Document Description

    Record title: Kitchen Accounts of Sir William Fairfax
    Repository: NYCRO
    Shelfmark: ZCV(F)
    Repository location: Northallerton

    For biographical information on the Fairfax family, see the Introduction. Sir William's steward John Woodward kept daily accounts of expenditures in the kitchen. The set is virtually complete from July 1571 to March 1582, with breaks between July 1572–October 1574, October 1575–November 1578, and October 1579–March 1580. In addition to expenditures on foodstuffs, the steward records on a daily basis the presence of 'strangers' at breakfast, dinner, or supper. Most of these are Fairfax family and friends, though there are some guests of a wider national significance, such as Walter Devereux (b. 1569), first husband of Margaret Dakins (later Lady Margaret Hoby) and brother of Robert Devereux (1565–1601), nineteenth earl of Essex, who visited on several occasions in 1579–80, and (occasionally) performers as well (P&P; Hoby, Diary, p 5). These lists are clearly not exhaustive, since most conclude with the phrase 'with others.' The Great Hall at Gilling, until 2018 the dining hall of Ampleforth Junior School, underwent extensive rebuilding c 1571–85 ('St Martin's Ampleforth, Wikipedia,, accessed 5 January 2021, Yorkshire Guide,, accessed 29 December 2020; Pevsner, North Riding, p 167).

    29 December 1574–5 January 1574/5; English; paper; 12 leaves; unfoliated; 300mm x 215mm,; ff [1–2], [11–12] repaired and mounted on modern paper with paper wrapper, '47th Book | 19–25 September 1579' on front cover.

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