Coffers, Clysters, Comfrey and Coifs:
the lives of our seventeenth century ancestors
by Janet Few
You may have found some information and documents about ancestors in the seventeenth century but you probably don't know much about their lives. This great book by Janet Few will help you with that.
I met Janet last year and was really impressed with alot of her ideas on the Facebook generation. This year rather than reaching forward, I was so impressed with her expertise at reaching backward. Janet is a fantastic resource in seventeenth century British lives. She has spent alot of time as Mistress Agnes at the living history site Torrington 1646. As she and her compatriot Chris Braund discussed with me at Who Do You Think You Are Live, you learn so much by trying to live as people did historically. You come up with all sorts of issues that regular research and study don't teach you.
This book is full of her wealth of knowledge. It has chapters on homes and furnishings, household tasks, food and drink, clothing, gardening, medical practices and herbs (scary!) crime and punishment (even scarier!) witchcraft (yikes) and childhood pastimes. Not only fascinating, the book makes you wonder how your ancestors survived :) I learned so much that made my ancestors lives so much more real. It really showed me how much we might put our modern preconceptions on our research and on reconstructing our ancestor's lives. They lived so differently than we do.
Besides many interesting facts and lots of wonderful pictures, there are also lots of "ah-ha" moments. There is a picture of a square wooden trencher where we get the phrase "a square meal." And when someone was punished in a pillory, their ears might have been nailed to the restraint thus leaving them "ear-marked." The book is graphic, but realistic. Lots to learn about the lives of our ancestors.
You can get it at www.familyhistorypartnership.co.uk