Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Murrell, John

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MURRELL, JOHN (fl. 1630), writer on cookery, was a native of London and by profession a cook. He had travelled in France, Italy, and the Low Countries, and his foreign experiences greatly improved his knowledge of his art. With the methods of both French and Dutch cookery he was intimately acquainted. He was author of a popular treatise on his art, which was licensed for the press to John Browne on 29 April 1617, under the title 'The Ladies' Practise, or plaine and easie Directions for Ladies and Gentlewemen.' It was first published in 1621 as 'A Delightfull Daily Exercise for Ladies and Gentlewomen, whereby is set foorth the secrete Misteries of the purest Preservings in Glasse and other Confrictionaries, as making of Breads, Pastes, Preserves, Suckets, Marmalates, Tart Stuffes, Rough Candies, with many other Things never before in print, whereto is added a Booke of Cookery by John Murrell, professor thereof' (12mo, Brit. Mus.) In an address to 'all ladies and gentlemen and others whatsoever,' Murrell speaks of the favour previously extended to other books by him, none of which seem extant. Thomas Dewe, the publisher, advertises his readiness to sell the ' moulds ' described by Murrell in the text. About 1630 Murrell published another volume called 'A new Booke of Cookerie, with the newest art of Carving and Serving.' The first edition of 'Murrels Two Books of Cookerie and Carving 'a compilation from earlier works appeared in the same year. A long title-page describes the recipes as 'all set forth according to the now new English and French fashion.' The first book on cookery is dedicated, under date 20 July 1630, to Martha, daughter of Sir Thomas Hayes, lord mayor ; the second book to the wife of Sir John Brown. A fifth edition ' with new additions ' is dated 1638 (Brit. Mus.) Another edition was issued in 1641 (Bodl. Libr.), and a seventh in 1650. Murrell's writings especially his first volume which deals mainly with ornamental cookery give an attractive picture of the culinary art of his day. But they have their barbarous episodes. Murrell strongly recommended for invalids 'an excellent and much approved' beverage, of which the chief ingredients were white snails.

[Murrell's Works ; Quart. Rev. January 1894; Arber's Stationers' Registers, iii. 608.]

S. L.