“… I am Director General of the Vegatible Tribe”

Anne Hulton accompanied her brother Henry to Boston in 1767, along with his wife and year-old son, when he was named Commissioner of Customs by King George III. It was a dangerous time for agents of the crown, and she wrote richly detailed letters describing instances when the family was forced to flee the city by what Hulton called the “Sons of Voilence.”

But there were peaceful stretches, too, when Hulton’s focus was on cultivating a garden. “We are Farmers,” she writes.

I have studied Gardening here, & by my observation, & experience, have acquired a little Skill, so that I am Director General of the Vegatible Tribe. Tho’ our Farmer is a good common Gardener, yet many things we require, wch are not used to be raised here. We put in the Green house last fall 500 heads of the finest Celery that ever was seen here. I have never seen a Artichoke or Broccoli in this Country, but shall attempt to raise these now…. I have been told that it’s only of late years that Greens or Cabbages have been raised in this Country at all or in any plenty. All Greens or roots are calld by the name of Sause here. As to fruits, Apricots & Necterans are rarieties indeed, but Peaches, Strawberries, & Gooseberries grow wild, yet these, compared with those cultivated in Gardens in Old Engld are in Size as crabs to Apples, & of little value, we have these in Garden cultivated besides currance & rasberries but all scarse wth us, the Birds devouring ’em when ripe.

This excerpt is from In the Words of Women Chapter 1, page 13.

posted January 5th, 2012 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Boston, Farming, Food, Loyalists

one comment so far
  1. Wikipedia (where else!) notes that “Broccoli was grown at Antwerp whence it was taken to England by the sculptor Peter Scheemakers, according to a biographical note by J. T. Smith.” Scheemakers moved to England in 1735, so given the pace with which new foods generally spread, Anne Hulton was certainly in the agricultural vanguard. While artichokes were supposedly grown in Henry the VIII’s garden, their absence is harder to explain, both they and broccoli are originally Mediterranean plants, and not easily grown in New England, especially in the cooler climate of the 18th century. I would even speculate Miss Hulton’s access to a greenhouse was a real novelty at the time.

    Comment by G. Lovely — January 6, 2012 @ 11:21 am

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