Book of hand-written recipes for prescriptions by David Taylor (1857-1866)

Prescription book inside cover page
Prescription book inside cover page

Inside a worn leather-covered pocket notebook is an ‘Almanack for 1858’ which was used by Leeds-based herbalist David Taylor from 1857-1866 to record notes relating to his business. It has been used partly as an account book but is mostly as a recipe book. He has copied out some popular recipes from the day, those he’d picked up from doctors and colleagues, as well as noting his own. Tucked into the pages are drafts for testimonial letters and other notes.

Recipes are generally short but sometimes notes have been added about the application or the likelihood of success. Many recipes treat everyday ailments, such as tooth ache, dry eyes or health tonics. Others are more specific, such as syphilis, deafness or cholera.

One ounce of unicorn root was an ingredient in his ‘female pills’ which were

calculated to remove all obstructions to which females are peculiarly subject. also headache. depression of spirits. dulness of sight, nervous affections. pimples. sallowness of the skin so prevalent with the sex when suffering under irregularities of the system


This prescription book is one of the items in the collections preserved in the library at the Thackray Museum of Medicine .