Captain Josias Bodley's visit to Lecale in Ulster 1602-03

[Captain Bodley and his host 'Master Moryson' (Sir Richard Moryson, brother of author Fynes Moryson) were officers in the English army.]

It was ten or twelve miles from that island to Downpatrick where Master Morrison dwelt ... Master Morrison himself leads us by wide stairs into a large hall where a fire is burning the height of our chins ... ordered a cup of Spanish wine to be brought with burnt sugar, nutmeg and ginger ... In an hour we heard some one down in the kitchen calling with a loud voice, 'To the dresser.' Forthwith we see a long row of servants decently dressed, each with dishes of the most select meats, which they place on the table in the very best style. One presents us a silver basin with the most limpid water, another hands us a very white towel; others arrange chairs and seats in their proper places ...

Before we get out of bed they bring to us a certain aromatic of strong ale compounded with sugar and eggs (in English, caudle), to comfort and strengthen the stomach; they also bring beer (if any prefer it) with toasted bread and nutmeg ...

How about the dinners? I shall therefore demonstrate from a single dinner what may be imagined of the rest. There was a large and beautiful collar of brawn with its accompaniments, to wit, mustard and Muscadel wine; there were well-stuffed geese ... there were pies of venison and of various kinds of game; pasties also, some of marrow with innumerable plums, others of it with coagulated milk, such as the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London almost always have at their feasts; others, which they call tarts of divers shapes, materials and colours made of beef, mutton and veal. I do not mention, because they are reckoned vulgar, other kinds of dishes, wherein France much abounds, and which they designate quelq' choses. Neither do I relate anything of the delicacies which accompanied the cheese, because they would exceed all belief. I may say in one word that all things were there supplied to us most luxuriously and most copiously.

Extracts from 'Account of a journey of Captain Josias Bodley into Lecale in Ulster in the year 1602-3' in C. Litton Falkiner, Illustrations of Irish history and topography, London, 1904, p.332.


  1. What kind of source is this?
  2. Briefly consider the document in its historical context.
  3. Summarise the information available in the document about Ireland in the early seventeenth century.
  4. Do you consider the document gives a reliable account of life in general in Ireland at the time? Give reasons for your answer.
  5. Make a list of all the food products mentioned by Captain Josias Bodley in the above document.
  6. Did you find it surprising that some of the food products mentioned above were available in Co. Down in 1602-3? Give reasons for your answer.
  7. Comment on Captain Bodley's attitude to his host.
  8. Refer to the information on Food and drink and Drink in the section on Women on the land.
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