Charles Elmé Francatelli, Crockford’s, and the Royal Connection

 Colin Smythe

This is a conflation of two articles, the first with this title and the second called ‘Charles Elmé Francatelli, Additions and Supplementations’,  both of which appeared in Petits Propos Culinaires (edited by Tom Jaine, London: Prospect Books) issues 101, October 2014, pp. 17-42 and 102, March 2015, pp. 100-118, with later additions, the most recent on 29 May 2017.

Charles Elmé Francatelli stands, with Louis Eustache Ude and Alexis Benoit Soyer, as one of the three most eminent chefs of mid-nineteenth century England, but very little has been written about him. Soyer’s years at London’s Reform Club (1837-50) were justly famed, and yet Francatelli’s time there from 1854 to 1861, is almost entirely ignored, and the Club’s archives hold virtually nothing.

Soyer was five years younger than Francatelli and died in 1858, aged forty-eight; Ude was seventy-six when he died in 1846, and Francatelli seventy-one when he died thirty years later, but less has been written about him and, it seems, more often inaccurately than of his confrères in the great art of cookery.

This article has grown out of my attempts to find accurate information on the internet and elsewhere about Francatelli’s life for a forty or so word entry for a biographical index that I am preparing for another book,[1] and I was frustrated by the lack of agreement about the facts – or more often, lack of facts. For example, the question as to when and for how long he worked for Queen Victoria elicits varying answers; also, the opening date and early years of the St James’s Club (better known as ‘Crockford’s’ after its founder/owner), for which Francatelli worked before and after his time at Buckingham Palace are also cause for disagreement. I have cleared up some of the ambiguities and misinformation about Francatelli’s life, his time at, and the history of ‘Crockford’s’, and of his later activities, at the Coventry House Club, his time at the Reform Club, as manager of the St James’s Hotel, as chef de cuisine for the Prince of Wales, and finally manager of the Freemasons’ Tavern in Great Queen Street, London (next to the Freemason’s Hall, home of the United Grand Lodge of England). The details here have been taken from contemporary printed reports, and where possible, I have cross-checked them against other sources, including advertisements and law reports. This would not have been possible without the facilities of the ever-growing British Newspaper Archive.[2]

After separating from previous partners and ventures, details of which are not relevant to the present article (although he was a wealthy man as a result of them), William Crockford (1775-1844)[3] determined to set up a separate enterprise entirely on his own. He was already at 51 St James’s Street by February 1823, using it as a gambling ‘hell’, as evidenced by the Orme vs. Crockford legal case heard in December 1824, and where it was already described as ‘one of the most splendid gambling houses in London’.[4] William Crockford always kept absolute control of the Club, financially and otherwise, until his retirement in 1840, although it was technically run by a Management Committee, and he was famous for knowing exactly how much each of its members was worth.

In the April 1823 edition of Boyle’s New Fashionable Court and Country Guide, Crockford is shown to be at 51 St James’s Street, and in the January 1824 edition he appears as also having no. 50, and he then acquired nos. 52 and 53. By April 1824, both 50/51 St James’s Street and 106 Pall Mall are listed as the St James’s Club House. Plans to build a purpose-built structure on the St James’s Street site were under way, so another property had been needed to house the Club during  construction, hence the use of the Pall Mall buildings. A relatively early member was William Henry Fox Talbot, the pioneering photographer, who applied to join the following year, and the Secretary’s acceptance letter of 28 July 1825 from the St James’s Club House exists, showing this address. For a time its name became the United St James and Chess Club. A Mrs Bell was still advertising her Fancy Ball Dresses from 52 St James’s Street, ‘the Centre of Fashion’, in August 1825, so evidently Crockford had not yet acquired that lease.[5]

It appears that in 1826 Crockford’s moved out of 106 to another building in Pall Mall as, following the collapse of its Club-house at 49 St James’s Street on 9 November, the Guards Club was able to move into it less than three weeks after that catastrophe.[6]

John Timbs, in his 1866 Club Life of London, mentions that the St James’s Street leases had 22 years to run when they were sold after Crockford’s death (bringing it to a term in 1868), and that the annual rental was £1,400.[7] Crockford’s new building was opened in late 1827, although the grand opening appears not to have taken place until 2 February 1828.[8] Apart from its sumptuous rooms, its 285 foot (87 metre) long cellar was built across the road partly under St James’s Street at the corner of King Street and St James’s Street, to hold well over 300,000 bottles, valued at over £70,000 (well over £5m in today’s money). Above it was the short-lived Crockford’s Bazaar. From mid 1827, he had employed the famous chef Louis Eustache Ude,[9] who worked for the Club until in September 1838 when he was sacked, or quit, over a salary dispute.[10] His replacement was Francatelli, who had been educated in France as a pupil of the legendary Antonin (or Marie Antoine) Carême (1783-1833), and prior to his being hired by Crockford had been successively chef de cuisine to a number of titled employers, including the Earls of Chesterfield and Dudley, Lord Kinnaird and Mr Rowland Errington. [11] By Disraeli’s account he was not a success – ‘The new man is quite a failure’ – but it appears he stayed on and early in 1840 agreed to take up the position of ‘Chief Cook’ (as the position is referred to in the account books) at Buckingham Palace at the instigation of the Lord Steward of the Queen’s Household, the 18th Earl of Erroll (a member of Crockford’s who thought more of his cooking than Dizzie did). So Francatelli started in the Palace kitchens on 9 March (the day after his predecessor left), at a salary of £250.0.0 a year, paid quarterly (an eighth of what the Prince Regent had paid the legendary Carême),[12] and he was part of the Royal Household through 1841, when at the end of November his actions came to the notice of the Press. There was, according to the Morning Post of 2 December 1841 a ‘Fracas at Buckingham Palace’.

On Tuesday last [30 November] a long investigation took place at the Board of Green Cloth, before the Lord Steward of her Majesty’s Household,[13] when nearly twenty persons of the Royal establishment were examined touching an affray between Mr Norton, the Deputy Comptroller of her Majesty’s Household, and Mr. Francatelli, chief cook of the Royal kitchen.

It is well known that broils, jealousies, and ill feeling, to a great extent, have been existing in the Royal establishment ever since the appointment (at the instance of his Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex) of the Hon. Charles Augustus Murray to the office of Comptroller of her Majesty’s Household. That gentleman, immediately on entering office, caused many old and valuable servants of the Royal Household to be pensioned, or sent to the rightabout,[14] in order to make way for a large number of French servants, who now fill some of the principal offices in the Royal establishment.

‘Mr Norton, by his judicious management, has done much towards allaying the ill-feeling among the servants, which this injudicious change naturally created, and, by his straightforward, manly conduct, has gained the respect of those over whom he has had control. Francatelli, on the contrary, has kept his department in continual broils, which have been the cause of many dismissals and numerous complaints to the Lord Steward. On Monday last Mr Francatelli took an opportunity of insulting Mr Norton in the presence of all the Pages and about forty others, when high words ensued, which ended in a policeman being sent to take Francatelli into custody, but he managed to make his escape before the officer arrived. The result of the investigation was the suspension of Francatelli until the matter shall be laid before her Majesty and Prince Albert, when there is no doubt that measures will be adopted to prevent a recurrence of such disgraceful proceedings.’[15]

A decision was, it would appear, slow to be made, as at the end of December 1841 he must have been given – or he gave – a quarter year’s notice, for his title remained Chief Cook, and his salary continued being paid until 31 March 1842. His position was taken on 1st April by the former 1st Master Cook, P. N. Morel, at a slightly lower salary, and Francatelli returned to Crockford’s. By then, having destroyed the finances of many great families, William Crockford had retired at the age of sixty-five, and sold out (while retaining the lease), extracting from the Club on his departure £1,200,000 (well over £50 million in today’s terms), leaving it to the Management Committee to run.[16] Whatever Francatelli’s new salary was, it would have been considerably higher than the £250 he had been paid by the Lord Steward.

It must have been a couple of months after the 29 January 1842 by-election that got him into Parliament as a Member for Dublin that the young Mr William Henry Gregory,[17] was elected to Crockford’s. From what he wrote in his Autobiography, Francatelli was already back at work there:

‘The most fashionable club before the establishment of the Coventry was Crockford’s, and I was elected to it immediately after being returned for Parliament. It was admirably kept. Francatelli, the cook, was unequalled; there was a first-rate supper, gratis, with the best champagne for those who hungered and thirsted after midnight; and in a little room off the supper-room was the gambling table, at which too many an ardent admirer of hazard had lost all his fortune.’

Francatelli’s length of time in royal service is mentioned in passing in a statement that the chef made when called as a witness in a libel action between James Bellenger, house-steward of the Marquis of Clanricarde and James Burrows, a coal merchant, in November 1843.[18] In court, he stated that

he was managing steward of the St James’s Club House, under a committee of noblemen and gentlemen, and that he had formerly been in the service of her Majesty for two years…. The St James’s Club was not managed now the same as when Crockford kept it. The club was frequented by gentlemen for the purpose of dining and taking refreshments, and for reading the various newspapers and periodicals. That was all he had seen. He did not go into the rooms on the first floor on business. His duties were confined to the reading and coffee-room. He had never seen hazard or roulette played there. He was a total stranger to what was going on up stairs.’

The reporter described him as ‘dressed in the most exuberant style of showiness, and spoke with much affectation’.

The reason for the care with which he spoke about the activities of the Club was because Sir James Graham, the Home Secretary who had taken office in 1841, had started a blitz on gaming clubs, and according to Gregory,

set to work with no half-measures; the police were ordered to break into every hell and bring the keepers and the gamblers also before the magistrates, by whom they were severely punished
. But that was not all. In spite of the remon­strances of that class who, while honestly disapproving of evil things, cannot bring themselves to attempt their removal, in spite of prophecies that the youth of England would betake themselves to private play if they had not the vent of public play, Sir James Graham sent word to Page, the manager of the club who had succeeded ‘Old Crocky,’ that the police had orders to enter it with as little ceremony, and to arrest its inmates, as if it were a coffee hell frequented by costermongers. The consequence was that in a month or two it was closed.

Gregory’s memory would seem to be at fault, however, as Crockford’s was the one Club in the area of St James’s Street, Piccadilly, and the environs that seemed not to get raided – and it repeatedly avoided them. Indeed, it became notorious for the fact. Four years after his ‘retirement’, Crockford was in ill-health when he was called in 1844 to give evidence to a House of Commons Select Committee set up to inquire into the existing statutes against gaming of every kind, during which he evaded or refused to answer almost every question put to him. H.T. Waddy’s The Devonshire Club– and ‘Crockford’s’ reprints some of Crockford’s evasions,[19] and also notes that on 7 May 1844, almost at the end of the enquiry, the police raided seventeen of the eighteen gaming houses in the locality. The exception was Crockford’s, of course, but the fines inflicted  on the seventeen were nominal, the most flagrant offenders getting away with £3 0s 0d.  As Waddy relates,

The Commissioner of Police, who had already been in the witness chair, was recalled, and he was asked for mere decency’s sake why Crockford’s had not been raided. He explained that Crockford’s was a ‘general club’ (whatever that might mean), that ‘many persons belong to Crockford’s who never play’, and that in his view it was therefore not a common gaming house.[20] Of the common clubs raided, or of some of them at any rate, precisely the same might have been said. These are subtleties beyond the comprehension of a lawyer, but they availed, and everyone seems to have been satisfied.[21]

It was certainly not a ‘common’ gaming house: apart from a mass of the nobility, Lord Palmerston, and a bishop, even the Duke of Wellington, were members. The Duke often visited but played safe: it was said he never gambled, and had only joined so that if his son the Marquis of Douro applied, he could blackball him. [22]

Crockford died at his home at 11 Carlton House Terrace on the evening of Friday 24 May 1844, two days after the defeat of his horse Ratan, one of the two favourites, in the Derby (held on the Epsom Downs racecourse), when it had finished seventh, which it was feared would cause not a few problems among the betting fraternity.[23] Crockford’s was closed on 1 January 1846.[24] The Club-house was auctioned on 23 June 1846, netting his executors £2,900 for the remaining twenty-two years of the lease, which was subject to a yearly rent of £1,400. The decorations alone were estimated to have cost £94,000. [25] The buyer was not mentioned in the press, but later that year a three-year sub-lease was acquired at a rent of £3,000 a year by M. Victor Guigne, a Frenchman who did not know he had to have a licence for music and dancing, but prior to his unsuccessful application to the magistrates in March 1847, he made full use of the premises, with balls often taking place two or three times a week.[26] The interior was redecorated in 1849, and opened for the Military, Naval, and County Service Club, but that closed in 1851.’ [27]

According to an 1856 article in the Morning Chronicle,

In 1843 Count D’Orsay, Baron Brunow, Lords Chesterfield and Cantilupe, dissatisfied with some of the regulations of ‘White’s’ started the ‘Coventry Club’. During its short but brilliant life this club eclipsed White’s. The situation was beautiful, commanding the Green-park, and the cuisine was under the direction of that celebrated chef, Francatelli. But on the death of Lord Cantilupe and the flight of D’Orsay to France [he went bankrupt in 1849], after a lingering consumption, it expired.[28]

This was certainly  inaccurate as far as the Club’s opening date was concerned.

Francatelli  probably stayed at Crockford’s until it closed. He was therefore ‘available’ when approached about working at the Coventry House Club, which was to be opened on 1 June 1846 (the day before the original date set for the auction of the lease of the Crockford’s club-house and contents).[29] He dedicated the Modern Cook (published in mid April 1846)[30] to the Earl of Erroll who had got him the job at Buckingham Palace, that position being made much use of in publicising the book, and Erroll must have suffered some embarrassment over his protegé’s ‘fracas’, even though he was no longer Lord Steward when it occurred.

On 8 July 1846, the thirty-year-old William Gregory wrote in his diary, ‘Elected member of the new club, the Coventry’, noting that it was worth belonging to because of its ‘incomparable cuisine’, but he was scathing about its membership.[31] The Club House at 106 Piccadilly[32] had been the town house of the Earls of Coventry, and after the death on 15 May 1843 of the 8th Earl (of the 2nd creation), the title devolved to his five-year-old grandson, his eldest son, Viscount Deerhurst, having died of tuberculosis on 5 November 1838. The house and contents were sold by the trustees to his next-door neighbour, Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild for £23,000, but it remained empty[33] until a lease was taken by the founders of the Coventry House Club, which opened on 1 June 1846, and remained there until it closed on 25 March 1854.[34] It would appear that Francatelli remained working there, occasionally tempestuously,[35] till the end.[36]
Just over three months later, on 11 July, the Morning Post announced that the Reform Club, ‘having lost their cook, who is now at the head of the refreshment department of the Crystal Palace,[37] have engaged the services of the celebrated Francatelli’, but he must have already been working there in June as on 4 July he advertised for an apprentice, applicants having to present themselves in person at the Reform Club.[38]

A few months after his arrival at the Reform, it seems Francatelli was in an inventive mood – this from the 7 November 1854 issue of the Cheltenham Chronicle (p. 4):

A trial has been made of a new stimulating cordial prepared by the successor of M. Soyer at the Reform Club. It is supposed to have peculiar efficacy in cases of sea-sickness, and Sir James Graham [by now First Lord of the Admiralty] has given orders that a supply should be immediately sent to Admirals [Sir Charles] Napier [in command in the Baltic] and [James Whitley Deans] Dundas [in command in the Black Sea]. To prevent the escape of its effervescing qualities it will be hermetically sealed and packed in chaff, the packing to be superintended by Mr Bernal Osborne [First Secretary of the Admiralty]. The bottles will be labelled separately with the motto ‘Bravo Charlie!’

Apocryphal? If not, and if it worked, surely a pleasant relief for both admirals, but evidently none was sent for those of lower rank, and the recipe has not, unfortunately, survived.

The only other press reports in the British Newspaper Archive that I have found relating to him during his period at the Reform is his advertising for an apprentice in the 20 October 1855 issue of the Morning Post, and  the report of a banquet in honour of the hero of the siege of Kars in the Crimea, General Sir William Williams 1st Bart MP, in July 1856,[39] and the audit of the Club’s 1856 accounts, which were not in a good state as a result of the death of the Club’s Secretary, and there was a deficit of about £2,500. In addition, the auditors regretted

that Mr Francatelli has not produced any vouchers for the sums he has received for the purchase of Cook’s sundries (amounting to £78 2s. 7d. for 42 weeks, commencing Feb. 24, previous to which date these entries do not occur), and he alleges that he is not bound to do so. They cannot, therefore, certify to the correctness of these payments.’[40]

There were frictions with the Committee:

A good story is told of Francatelli when he was cook at the Reform Club. The committee cut down his expenses and the chairman made himself particularly disagreeable to the professor who determined to pay him out in his own coin. One day the president dined at the club and ordered a rump-steak. When he put his knife and fork into it, he found it tough and intolerable. Calling the waiter, he ordered the cook to be sent for. ‘This steak, sir,’ said the angry diner, ‘is uneatable.’ ‘Sir,’ said Francatelli, ‘you are perhaps aware that there is only one really good steak in an ox; and, since the committee have cut down my expenses, I cannot afford to buy an ox for every member of the club!’[41]

The celebrated Fleet Street journalist George Augustus Sala (1828-95) (who liked to eat well, and whose motto through life had evidently been ‘serve hot!’), wrote that he met him in 1862:

it was my fortune to make the acquaintance of another cook almost as celebrated as Soyer. This was Charles Elmé Francatelli, who had been chef to her Majesty the Queen, and whose cookery-book I consider to be quite as practical and quite as refined as Soyer’s Regenerator, while it is devoid of those bizarre and fantastic episodes with which Soyer occasionally spiced his pages. Francatelli was a very intelligent, courteous person, whose only artistic fault was that he had an exceeding weakness for the use of truffles, with which, often without rhyme or reason, he pertinaciously stuffed his dishes. As a rule, three-fourths of these costly tubers have lost their scent and savour by the time that they have reached an English kitchen, and are practically worthless; but Francatelli could not be dissuaded from concocting plats truffes. My relations with him were amicable, but not of the nature of close friendship, in that I owned in a sense about one-twelve-hundred-and-fiftieth part of him, since he was chef at a club in Pall Mall of which I was elected a member two-and-thirty years ago.[42]

The title page of the 1867 edition of the  Cook’s Guide states that Francatelli stayed at the Reform for seven years, i.e. till 1861, and in spite of Sala’s recollections, he could not have met him there as he was only elected to the Reform on 13 March 1862. The Reform Club had advertised in the Morning Post for a new Steward and Chief Cook – ‘Wanted immediately’ – on 21 January 1861, so Francatelli must have already left by then. The Committee was seeking ‘Written applications for each situation, stating the salary required, and enclosing testimonials, to be addressed to the Committee of the Reform Club … on or before Monday, Feb. 4.’[43]

Charles Mackay wrote in his 1887 memoir, Through the Long Day,

Signor Francatelli . . . remained in the service of the Reform Club until 1861 or 1862, during which time he gave great satisfaction to the members. Unfortunately for the Club, he was dismissed by the Committee on a point of temper and not of efficiency, and because he attempted to act as the master and not as the servant of his employers.[44]

Having outstared, as it were, the committee of the Coventry House Club, perhaps he felt he could also get the Reform’s committee to back down too. If so, Francatelli had miscalculated, as the committee of the Reform was obviously made of sterner stuff.

    Exactly two years later, on 21 January 1863, the Reform was again advertising in the Morning Post: ‘WANTED immediately, for the Reform Club, a CHIEF COOK’.[45]

Coincidentally, less than three weeks later, on 7 February 1863, a number of papers[46] carried an announcement that The St James’s Hotel Company was being formed:

The proposal is to lease some premises lately erected on the site of the old Glo’ster [Gloucester] Hotel, at the corner of Berkeley street, Piccadilly, and M. Francatelli is to be the company’s manager. Operations, it is stated, can be commenced by the end of next month. The direction is very respectable.

            The St James’s Hotel was opened on 2 May,[47] but well before its opening the management had made use of the unfinished building by letting out the windows, balconies, private rooms and seats to people wishing to view the royal procession that passed by the hotel as part of the wedding celebrations of the Prince and Princess of Wales on 10 March.[48]

Unfortunately on 19 May, money and jewellery to the value of £600 (£26,000 now) was stolen from the Dowager Lady Blantyre’s apartment in the hotel, and the Hotel had to pay compensation.[49]

 By 11 May 1863, Francatelli would appear to have been chef de cuisine in the Prince of Wales’s household at Marlborough House for some time, possibly since its establishment prior to the Prince’s marriage in March.[50]

He does not appear in the list of the Prince of Wales’s household staff,[51] but given that in February 1863 it had been announced that Francatelli was to manage the St James’s Hotel, which opened on 2 May 1863 and was more or less at the top of St James’s Street, it would seem likely that he had also arranged to cook at Marlborough House, down the hill, when the Prince and Princess of Wales took up residence there after their wedding (though he must have found it easier to walk through St James’s Park to get between the two). As he was both the manager of the Hotel and chef de cuisine at Marlborough House, he could not have appeared in a list of the Prince of Wales’s regular full-time staff. His work in Marlborough House would explain why, later in May, the Dowager Lady Blantyre had to report the theft of her jewels to Mrs Francatelli, who was effectively co-manager. This arrangement with the Prince must have been eminently satisfactory to the directors of the Hotel as it would have greatly added to its reputation.

From the press references to him at the time of Louis Kay’s rail accident in June 1864, and later, and Mrs Greswell’s account of her years at Sandringham,[52] he must have been continuously thought of as a regular member of the household. For example, the London City Press of 29 October 1864 reports a dinner of the United Cooks’ Pension Society, which was attended by, amongst a host of other guests, ‘Mr J.H. Aberlin, chef to Her Majesty’, and ‘Mr Francatelli, chef to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales’. He had catered for the Prince and Princess of Wales’ birthday parties at Sandringham on a number of occasions in the mid [53] cake he prepared for the Princess’s 21st birthday in 1865 was ‘one of the finest of Mr. Francatelli’s productions. It was in white sugar, with the Princess’s monogram on shields round the sides, the top being ornamented with jasmine, orange blossoms and convolvuluses’.[54] This was the last press mention I have seen of his working for the royal couple.

At the St James’s Hotel his fame grew further, unrestricted by the borders of clubland. As the 1868 edition of The Epicure’s Yearbook  & Table Companion noted, after surveying the various eating places in London ‘Yet nobody would for one moment think of comparing the most carefully prepared dinner for sixty, with such a menu as Francatelli prepares for  half-a-dozen, in Piccadilly . . . . Francatelli is, beyond all question, the greatest artist who is catering, at this present writing, for the gourmets of London.’[55]

While he would cater for the regimental dinners,[56] which were not very large, his greatest dinners were for small numbers, and the menus of a few have been recorded, for example, the ‘Epicure’ Dinner on 12 November 1867, at which the menu was

Les huîtres.
Potages.––  La purée de gibier à la chasseur; à la Lulienne.
Poisson.–– Les épigrammes de rougets à la Bordelaise; le saumon à la Tartare.
Entrées.–– Les mauviettes  la Troienza; les côtelettes à la Duchesse; les médaillons de perdreaux à la St. James; le selle de mouton rôtie.
                                              Legumes.                                             Salade.
Second Service.–– Le faisan truffé à la Périgueux; la mayonnaise de crevettes; les chouxfleurs aux parmesan; la charlotte de pommes; le gateau à la Cérito. [57]

The  following month, on 19 December, Francatelli produced a Horseflesh Dinner at which twenty-two sat down, but it was not without prior difficulties, to say the least:[58] as the London Daily News reported:–

The first serious attempt at horse-eating in England took place on Thursday, when 22 gentlemen sat down to an elaborate banquet at a leading West-end hotel. This banquet has been in course of preparation for months, and considerable pains were taken to make it successful. The horse was the gift of one of the diners, who has personally superintended its diet and regimen ever since its fate was determined on, who rode it into town last Saturday, and had it killed ‘on approved principles’ two days later. The cook was the most celebrated artist of the day; the dinner was presided over by a well-known and accomplished man; and the church, the bar, the bench, physic, literature, science, the arts, the Royal and the other learned societies, were all represented among the people dining. We subjoin the bill of fare, which may possibly become historical, and from it will be seen that, although horse flesh was served in great variety, it was supplemented by the ordinary dishes of a well-served British dinner.

Menu1

‘We may say at once that the dinner was eminently successful, and that it was the unanimous opinion of all present that the horse-flesh portions of it were as unexceptionably excellent as the rest. Although hippophagists of twenty years’ standing were among the company, the majority had not tasted horse before, and every dish of it was subjected to searching and severe tests. The animal eaten last night was more than 18 years old, but the meat was tender and succulent, and when, after the soups, and made dishes had been discussed and approved, the braised joint came on, and the flavour of the meat, undisguised and unaided by sauces or condiments, was tasted, the verdict was even more enthusiastic than before. There is, in fact, little to distinguish horse from other forms of animal food. Its taste is something between beef and fawn, and a fillet or cutlet it will compare favourably with any other meat. Of course the party last night were disposed to be critical, and from the appearance of the soup to the departure of the joint every mouthful was discussed in a grave and judicial spirit as became men who were trying an experiment from which important results were expected. At first there was a little suspicious politeness in pressing the dishes upon neighbours as if to gain opinions without personal knowledge. The soup was smelt and sipped half-timorously, close questions were put as to ‘which made-dish – horse or no horse – was being served now’; but the cheerful and steady example of the experienced was contagious, and in the end all present ate heartily and enjoyed much. The conversation ran on horse-eating, the speeches bore strictly upon the same subject, and the practical effect of introducing horse as an article of English food would be, it was maintained, to place a nourishing animal diet within the reach of thousands to whom meat is an unattainable luxury now. In Paris horseflesh is sold at two-pence a pound, and as the age of a horse does not affect its fitness for the table, the advocates of the new food maintain that the animals past work have but to be properly cared for to make first-rate butcher’s meat when killed. The horses now devoted to the nourishment of dogs and cats are in an enlightened future to feed men and women; and a horse patty, or sirloin, or ‘saddle’ is to become as common and acknowledged as a horse sausage is common and unacknowledged now. The experimentalists of last night invite their friends to follow their example, and by putting horse upon their own tables to make it a familiar article of food, and so to abolish the strong repugnance entertained by those unacquainted with its juicy merits. So long as this exists it will be in vain to advocate its use, and, as these gastronomic philosophers insist upon the moral and material advantages to be gained from the introduction of horse as an extra article of food, it is probable that the private dinner of yesterday will be followed by a public entertainment on a larger scale. The first step has been taken, and the principal obstacles overcome. And no one can appreciate the difficulties besetting such a meeting as last night who has not tried to run counter to a well-established British prejudice. When the horse – a sturdy grey. 13 hands high – was given, and had been properly fed up, butcher after butcher refused to slaughter it, on the ground that ‘if hide or hoofs were seen coming out of the slaughter-house it would be their ruin’. When a butcher had been found chivalrous enough to agree to run this risk, the hotel-keepers of London refused to have the dinner at their house. The mere mention of the word ‘horse’ converted civility into contempt, and all the arguments as to the harmlessness of the proposed banquet, and the admirable qualities of the meat to be used, were met by point-blank refusals and a significant motion to the door. It was only through the superior enlightenment of the celebrated artist under whose auspices the dinner of yesterday was served that the experiment could be tried at all, and even now it is not considered desirable to publish the name of the hotel, lest the fears of its proprietors should be realised, and its custom flag, because a handful of scientific men were permitted to try an interesting gastronomic experiment, and to dine as they pleased. Other proofs are not wanting of the deep-rooted prejudice against horse prevailing among those who eat as well as those who serve dinners, among the tradesmen who sell and the customers who buy food. The streets surrounding the butcher who killed the horse are already liberally placarded with notices in which that fact is stated, as a warning to the neighbourhood; and a hostile knacker threatens legal proceedings under the act prohibiting horse-killing in London save at authorised places. The passage in Deuteronomy, and its condemnation of animals which do not divide the hoof; the travellers’ tales of starvation culminating in horse-eating; the sentimental objection that devouring ‘the friend of man’ has about it something cannibalic; the jests on finding eggs in mare’s nests, and on putting the ‘bits’ of horses into human mouths, are among the forms of opposition of which the advocates of horse-eating complain. It is unnecessary to hazard any prophecy concerning the result of their efforts, or to weigh the objections against the advantages of horse-flesh as an article of food; the matter has been practically and successfully launched, and will now stand or fall upon its merits. The one fact about which there can be no sort of doubt is that the horse can be made both palatable and appetising, and that in a little society, which number at least one eminent gourmand in its ranks, opinion was unanimous as to its succulence, delicacy, and flavour.

A correspondent of the Times also attended and reported on his ‘first and unprejudiced hippophagic experience’, and he had no compunction about mentioning the name of the chef. Although that particular secret was short-lived, I have not come across the names of any of those who attended.[59] At the outset he wrote:

‘The task of cooking the flesh was entrusted to the able hands of Charles Elmé Francatelli.
‘He placed on the dinner table in orderly succession the following artistic preparations:– ‘Consommé de cheval aux quenelles. Saucisses de cheval aux pistaches. Escaloppes de cheval aux fines herbes. Emincée de cheval à la Polonaise. Culotte de cheval braisée aux choux. Filet de cheval piqué, sauce poivrade. Mayonnaise d’homard a l’huile de cheval.’
‘The consomme presented a clear amber colour to the eye; to the nose it offered a peculiar odour, recalling a faint far-away echo of game. The palate confirmed the nasal diagnosis, detecting at once a false gaminess of flavour. In other respects there was nothing to distinguish it from an ordinary meat consomme of the best quality.
‘The sausage so entirely resembled the common run of Continental sausages as to leave a strong mental conviction behind its taste that horseflesh is the normal component of these edible cylinders.
‘Of the escalopes and emincee it need merely be said that they gratified the palate and bore testimony to the metamorphous skill which a chef can display in his entrées.
‘The crucial test was at hand, and the clotte de cheval and filet piqué exhibiting horse flesh under the simplest culinary conditions, were tasted with the conscientious and analytical care which the first trial of a gastronomic problem so momentous demanded. The meat was extremely tender, somewhat loose in texture, wanting fineness in the grain, and it was a shade darker in colour than beef similarly dressed. It had the same odour which characterised the soup and the same special flavour. In endeavouring to describe this distinctive feature I would ask the reader to take the flavours of butcher’s meat and of game as his two extreme points of comparison – the flavour of horseflesh will occupy the mean between them. It is an intervening step, it is the missing link between the odours and flavours of butchers’ meat and game.
‘A great French gastronomic philosopher, when asked if he had dined well replied, ‘Demain je te dirai si j’ai diné aujourdhui.’ Let me therefore add that I slept well, without nightmare, that I rose with a clean tongue, and ate a hearty breakfast. The sum of my experience is that the flesh of an old horse properly cooked is a palatable and nutritious diet, and is entitled to take a recognised rank among the meats of our dinner table.
‘I am, Sir, your faithful friend,
‘Dec. 20                                                            SAVARINI DISCIPULUS’[60]

On 10 April 1869, four years after Liebig’s Extract of Meat was launched in continental Europe, Francatelli arranged a test dinner using it –

‘On Saturday evening a number of gentlemen interested in this new article of diet, and several men of science who were capable of expounding the advantages to be derived from its general use, met together at the St. James’s Hotel, where Mr Francatelli had prepared a dinner in which the extract figured conspicuously, as it formed the basis of all the soups and made dishes, in lieu of the ordinary stock. The proportions in which it was used were exceedingly small, one ounce being equivalent to the stock produced from two pounds of lean beef, but it was quite clear that nothing was wanting in the way of flavour or nutritive qualities.’

At the end of the speeches given by its supporters, of whom the principal exponent was Dr J. L. W. Thudicum,[61]

‘Mr. Francatelli, on being called upon, unhesitatingly confirmed all that had been said in its favour as an article of food. He considered it would be especially useful amongst the stores of the army and navy, looking to the difficult circumstances in which they were placed at times.[62]

Another that garnered a considerable amount of press coverage was a parliamentary dinner given at the St James’s Hotel by the leader of the Conservative opposition in the House of Lords, Lord Cairns, on 7 February 1870, the same night as one hosted by Earl Granville at his home in Bruton Street, as well as those given by leading parliamentary figures of ‘the other place’ (the House of Commons):

‘”Dukes,” said the late Edward Whitty, “are the court cards of the political pack.” If so, genius is evidently the ace of trumps. The Prime Ministers, in esse and in posse, gave their Parliamentary dinners on Monday, as did also their colleagues, Earl Granville and Lord Cairns; it is curious to notice how the various ranks of the peerage were divided between the two latter. The Liberals had five Dukes, the Conservatives eight; but then one of the former was a royal Duke, which makes the difference. Only two Marquises on the Conservative side, while no less than half-a-dozen sat round Earl Granville’s table. Lord Cairns beat his rival in Earls – twenty against seventeen; but there was not a single Viscount at the St James’s Hotel, while there were five in Bruton Street. The Liberals were strongest in Barons – ten against six. At each entertainment there was a poet, Lord Houghton and Lord Lytton being the bards in question.’[63]

*   *   *

It might be logical to surmise that Francatelli’s departure from the St. James’s Hotel was brought about by the death on 2 March 1869 of his wife,  Elizabeth,[64] who had been running the hotel with him, but following her death he continued as Manager of the Hotel (which in popular parlance appears to have been known as ‘Francatellis’),[65] – the Liebig dinner took place little more than a month after his bereavement – and he seems to have been there until he resigned a year later. From the tone of his advertisement on page 1 of the Morning Post on 22 March 1870, and a similar text in later issues of that paper, it would appear to have been a sudden event, probably not unlike his departure from the Reform Club.

Mr Charles Elmé Francatelli desires to inform his friends and the public that, from this date, having resigned the managership of the St James’s Hotel Company (Limited), 77 Piccadilly, London, he is OPEN to a SIMILAR ENGAGEMENT. March 21 1870.’

(The St James’s Hotel continued of course, but lost its popularity, and it was only in 1888 that a concerted attempt was made to revive its fortunes.[66]

On 2 August 1870 Francatelli married again, to the appropriately named Elizabeth Cooke, and in October it was announced that he had been engaged as sole manager of the Freemason’s Tavern in Great Queen Street,[67] where he continued to cater for special banquets, which often got reported in the press, but none appear to have reached the social heights of those at the St James’s Hotel.[68]

It would appear that the last of the great dinners that he oversaw was that for the 31st Annual Festival of the Royal General Theatrical Fund on 7th June 1876, a report of which filled five columns of The Era the following Sunday.[69] He retired, and died two months later, at 1 Cavendish Place, Eastbourne, on 10 August 1876, leaving his widow with two young children (see below).

The London correspondent of the Glasgow Herald, also printed by the Edinburgh Evening News (with acknowledgement to the Herald), noted that by the time he had moved to the Tavern,

his genius was dimmed, and the voracious appetites of the ‘craftsmen’ and their demands for food, whilst they displayed another inability to appreciate the art of dining, damped his zeal, and he soon became tired of such unsympathetic patrons, and retired from the place in sorrow, to end his days in peaceful retirement.[70]

The Daily Telegraph’s obituary article commented:

‘With regard to the status enjoyed, by M. FRANCATELLI in the magyric heirarchy, it is surely sufficient to remark that he was the pupil of CARÊME, the most inventive, the most scientific, and the least empirical of modern chefs. At the feet of that illustrious man CHARLES ELMÉ took his first lesson in the mysteries of liaisons and consommés; from him he learned the secrets of the accurately based béchamel, the exactly concocted financière, the unimpeachable ravigotte, the true tartare – there are as many spurious varieties of this grand sauce as there are false creeds – and the perfect poivrade. At one period of his career M. FRANCATELLI seems to have manifested a greater predilection for the vocation of a chef d’office than of an officier de bouche —to have sought rather the fame of the confiseur than that of the cook. It was said by a sorrowing colleague of a deceased Equity lawyer of great eminence that ‘in the department of Specific Performance he displayed inimitable sweetness’; thus there may be those who hold that it was as a confectioner that FRANCATELLI exhibited the widest fertility of resource and the airiest delicacy of hand. Such qualities, it is said, he manifested long since in the Royal kitchen; but he was subsequently maitre d’hotel and chief cook to her Majesty; he was afterwards, for seven years , as SOYER had been for a longer period, chef to the Reform Club; then he undertook the culinary superintendence of the St. James’s Hotel, Piccadilly, where many of his most recherché banquets were given; and finally he assumed the management of the Freemasons’ Tavern. None of us are devoid of faults, and, without violating the spirit of the precept De mortuis, it may be gently hinted that a few shortcomings flecked the sun of FRANCATELLI’s genius. He could teach plain and cheap cookery to the middle and humble classes; but, left to himself, with an indulgent and admiring employer, he was, like Henry VIII, ‘an expensive Herr’. He would have dissolved pearls in the vinegar of his marinades if he could. Finally he was just a little too much addicted to the use of truffles. Epicurean tears may flow at the remembrances of his truffes à la piémontaise and à la serviette; yet the stern exigencies of truth compel the admission that he truffled his dishes not wisely but too well….

            Its [Cookery’s] foremost professors have always been naturally restricted in number – the great masters in every art must be sparse – and, looking at the present position of the cuisine, the death of FRANCATELLI  seems to open a gap which – we are mournfully constrained to say – does not present much likelihood of being speedily or easily filled. It is but cold comfort to remember that there were great men before AGEMEMNON; it is with those who should come after Agememnon that we are concerned; and it is hard to avoid the melancholy conclusion that paucity in number and inferiority in capacity mark the descendants of Kings of Men and Kings of Cooks alike.[71]

***

With regard to family information, Charles Elmé Francatelli was almost certainly the second son of Nicholas Francatelli, steward, who appears to have been the first Francatelli to arrive in England and who died 26th August 1833, aged 76. In the 1841 Census CEF is listed as living with his mother Sarah (buried on 7 December 1845, aged 75), his wife Elizabeth, and son Ernest, at St James’s Palace. His eldest child, Emily, not at home on the night of the 1841 census, was born about a year before Ernest (c.1835-88), who was listed as an apprentice cook at Harewood House in the 1851 Census, had problems with the law later that year (see note 32),  married Elizabeth Ellen Reid in 1859, and had one daughter, Elizabeth Mary (Eliza May in the 1871 Census) born 1867. Emily married Robert Baily, a stock broker, at St George’s, Hanover Square, on 24 September 1854, and had three children; she and they lived with her parents, according to the 1861 and 1871 Censuses, no mention being made of Robert.

As mentioned, CEF’s wife Elizabeth died on 2 March 1869, aged 61, and on 2 August 1870 at St John’s Parish Church, Notting Hill, he married the twenty-five year old Elizabeth Cooke, and their son, named after his father, was born on 29 February 1875, according to the rather careless baptismal registrar, who recorded the event on 28 October 1877. It is probable that there were two earlier children, Violet (1872-3), and Bessie (1874-80). A six-year-old Charles Elmé Francatelli is listed in the 1881 Census as living as a boarder with a family in Deal, Kent. Elizabeth died on 5 January 1882, leaving a personal estate valued at £20, administered by her brother William Cooke, who is listed as Charles Elmé’s guardian.

In the half-yearly elections to the London Orphan Asylum, Watford, held at the Cannon Street Hotel on 22 June 1885, he was one of twenty-three boys to be elected to attend the school, with 703 votes. I have not found him in the 1891 Census. Given the publishers’ contracts of the time, it is doubtful that Bentley & Sons had been paying any royalties for the still-popular Modern Cook (then in its 27th edition) or for The Cook’s Guide (in its 49th thousand).

The great-grand-daughter of CEF’s elder brother Nicholas (c.1793-1872), was Laura Mabel Francatelli (1878-1967) who survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.  (CEF’s great nephew, also called Charles Elmé (1851-1901), was a cook, who got married in 1875, the same year as Charles Elmé, CEF’s son by his second wife, was born.)

Apart from The Modern Cook (1846), Francatelli wrote A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes (1852), and while he was at the Reform, The Cook’s Guide and Housekeeper’s & Butler’s Assistant (1861)[72] and The Royal English and Foreign Confectionary Book (1862). In 1863 he also published anonymously – ‘By an Englishman’ – a little book compiled for Thomas Bayley Potter (1817-98) for free distribution among the Lancashire operatives at the time of the Cotton Famine. It was then called Cookery for the Lancashire operatives, and it was reprinted in 1871 as Popular Cookery.[73]

It is rather difficult to estimate the value of the sums mentioned in terms of today’s money. Effectively, it appears there are three different levels of value increase since the 1830s, on the price of goods, such as bottles of wine, on wages/wealth, and on construction costs, so that £100 spent on wine would be the equivalent of £8,000, while gambling and building would represent much greater worth. To work on the lowest multiples, the £3.5s.6d ticket for the Reform Club dinner in 1856 given in honour of General Sir William Williams was equivalent to £250.  The £10,000 Crockford put out for the bank each night was worth about a million. The £1.2 million he took out of the Club in 1840 would have been worth about £95 million based on the historic standard of living, but in economic power about £1.5 billion, it would seem. Those interested in finding out more about relative values should look at http://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/ as it is a most enlightening read.

 

NOTES

[1] The Autobiography of Sir William Gregory KCMG 1816-92, edited by Lady Gregory (1852-1932), the 19th volume of the Coole Edition of her writings, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1970-
[2] https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/
[3] The son of a fishmonger with his business off the Strand, Crockford had moved up in the world, with gaming houses in partnership with others, and a successful stud at Newmarket, he extracted himself from his partnerships in King Street, and Watiers Club, and set up by himself in St James’s Street.  A.L. Humphreys’ Crockford’s or The Goddess of Chance in St. James’s Street 1828-1844, London: Hutchinson, 1953 (hereafter Humphreys), is based on published sources, and he uses the diary of James Gallatin to date the opening as taking place on 2 January 1828, but Gallatin’s diary actually dates it as 2 January 1827 (The Diary of James Gallatin. Secretary to Albert Gallatin, A Great Peacemaker, 1813-1827, ed. Count Gallatin, 2nd printing, New York: Scribner, 1916, p. 265). Humphreys’ misreading is not helpful to anyone working out the chronology of events. But four years after the publication of Humphrey’s work, Raymond Walters Jr, in The American Historical Review, vol. 63, no. 4, July 1957, pp. 878-85, squarely denounced the Diary as a post-1879 forgery by its ‘editor’, a black-sheep of the Gallatin family, and advised all libraries to transfer their copies of this ‘historical romance, partly derived from fact’ to the fiction shelves. One example he gives is that James claims to dine at Crockford’s in March 1827 and see the Prince de Talleyrand there, but the Prince was not in England at any time between 1794 and 1830. Referring to this error, Humphrey does note that Gallatin is not very accurate in his dates, but does not think to ask why or how diary entry dates, supposedly written contemporaneously with the events recorded,  could be so inaccurate. Had he done so, and checked further, he would have found that James was in America from August 1826 to October 1827. Henry Blyth’s Hell & Hazard, or William Crockford versus the Gentlemen of England (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1969) relies on Humphreys, with the result that both volumes are incorrect as to dates of events around the 1826-27 period. The collapse of the Guards Club building is put in both works as occurring in November 1827, whereas it occurred exactly twelve months earlier. Connery Chappell’s novel Two Pleasures for your Choosing. The World of William Crockford  (London: Falcon Press, 1951) is a reconstruction of Crockford’s world, using published facts as a framework.

[4] The law cases heard in the Court of the King’s Bench on December, first The King v. Crockford and then Joseph Orme v. Crockford (Leeds Mercury, 18 December 1824, p. 3, and, fully, in the Lancaster Gazette, 1 January 1825, p. 4) read like a farce, but Crockford’s preparations to ensure it happened this way would surely have been more sinister. Crockford had the Attorney General Sir John Copley (later 1st Baron Lyndhurst, Lord Chancellor 1827-30, 1834-35, 1841-46) defending him, before the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Charles Abbott (later 1st Baron Tenterden). There is no doubt that Crockford was guilty, but the witnesses against him failed to appear: the event in question had taken place on 23 February 1823, twenty-two months before the case came to court so there had been plenty of time to arrange the desired outcome. As a columnist in the Devises & Wiltshire Gazette on 10 July 1828 noted, when no prosecutors appeared against Crockford on two later indictments, ‘The profits of these gambling dens must be pretty tolerable, to allow their proprietors to buy off the prosecutors in almost every case where indictments are preferred against them.’
[5] William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-77). The letter is in the Fox Talbot Collection, British Library, London, Collection no. 21551, Collection no. historic: LA25(MW)-41 (http://foxtalbot.dmu.ac.uk/letters/transcriptName.php?bcode=Read-R&pageNumber=0&pageTotal=1). The Club is also registered as being at this address in the April 1824 edition of Boyle’s Fashionable Court and Country Guide. An advertisement in the 10 March 1826 issue of the Morning Post (p.1, col. 2) announced ‘That an Extraordinary General Meeting of the United St James’s and Chess Club will be held, on Monday 20th instant, at Three o’Clock, to take into consideration a proposition for augmenting the Number of the Club, and on other Business. By Order of Committee, No. 106, Pall Mall’. The Leeds Intelligencer (18 August 1825, p. 1) and York newspapers carried Mrs Bell’s advertisements prior to the York Musical Festival.
[6] The Guards Club had in 1824/25 built itself a Club-house at 49 St James’s Street, beside the property that was to become the St James’s Club site but, as reported in the Morning Post of 10 November 1826 (p. 2) ‘Yesterday morning, as early as half-past eight o’clock, St. James’s-street was rendered almost im­passable, in consequence of the sudden full of that magnificent building, the Guards’ Club House. It appears that only a few mouths ago, the establish­ment underwent a complete repair, and, in order to make it more roomy, the party wall on the south side had been cut in half, and four inches raised against it, which had materially weakened it; in addition to this, the houses adjoining it had been pulled down, in order to be rebuilt; so that the wall lost all its support. Yesterday [the previous] afternoon, and indeed for two or three days, supporters had been raised against it, in hopes that its falling might be prevented, and every precaution was adopted by the Surveyors, and other Gentlemen connected with the works, to save the building. About one o’clock yesterday morning the establishment closed, and all the Members left, and the Steward, Mr. Stone, his family, and domestics, retired to rest.
Mr. and Mrs. Stone and their infant child, a little girl about three years old, slept in the back attic, upon which floor the housemaids also slept; and on the second floor, in the back rooms, slept the waiters, and other men engaged in the house. About half-past six o’clock yesterday morning the two housemaids and the kitchenmaid rose to do their morning’s work, leaving Mr. and Mrs. Stone, and the rest of the individuals, fast asleep in their beds; and about half-past seven a master builder (we believe a Mr. Todd) observed the party-wall above alluded to bulge out very much, and he immediately suspected that its fall would soon take place, and thereupon ran into the house and cried out,  “For God’s sake leave the premises, if you wish to save your lives, for the house will fall almost directly.” The servants that were up, instantly ran up stairs, and informed their master and mistress of the dan­ger that awaited them, and also aroused their fellow servants, and all lost no time in deserting the house, and leaving it and all the property therein to its fate. Not two minutes had elapsed after the inmates had escaped, before the whole of the party wall fell d6wn with a tremendous crash from the roof to the basement, and then the roof, having no support, fell in with such force, that the materials carried the ponderous beams and rafters through the billiard-room, drawing-room, down to the coffee-room; but such is the extraordinary manner in which the ma­terials have fallen, that very little damage to what might be expected has been done to the furniture in the rooms through which they passed. The billiard table and the four gas burners surmounting it, re­main untouched. Not even a glass of the lamp is broken; and, in the drawing-room, the elegant chandeliers, which this establishment so much boasted, are scarcely injured, and can be seen from the street We really believe, from the curious manner in which the roof fell in that had not Mr. and Mrs. Stone and their little girl escaped, they would have remained unhurt, as a beam fell in that posi­tion, that entirely rescued the bedstead from being buried with the rubbish; immediately after the ac­cident, a party of the Foot Guards were stationed about the building, to protect the property, that is now buried under the rubbish, from peculation; and messengers were dispatched to the Noblemen, form­ing the Managing Committee, to acquaint them of the disastrous event, and in a short time after, Ma­jor Gunthorpe, Lord F. Poulett, and Sir A. Murray, arrived, and remained about the ruins for several hours. There can be no doubt but the weak state of the party-wall, and the circumstance of the workmen having dug six or seven feet below the foundation, in order to build the adjoining houses, was the cause of the accident. What is most fortunate is, that no lives were lost, as just before the wall fell, there were from 80 to 100 men at work underneath it, but at the moment they were luckily all gone to breakfast. To prevent any accident, men have been at work to pull down the tottering remains.’ The Public Ledger & Daily Advertiser of the same date (p.3) printed the same story, and in the next column noted that it understood Mr Crockford was expecting a membership of 700 for his new gaming house.
At some time in 1826 the St. James’s Club had vacated the 106 Pall Mall address, so the Guards Club was able to take possession following the ruin of its Club-house, and it stayed there until it moved back to its old home at the end of November 1827. ‘The Officers of the Guards have got into their new Club-house, next door to Crockford’s.’ (Morning Post, 27 November 1827, p. 3.) In 1850 it moved again, to 70 Pall Mall (Timbs, p. 278).  The costs of the repairs were expected to be paid by Crockford, and the Morning Chronicle (24 January 1827, p. 3) noted ‘Mr Crockford, it is said, has at length compromised the matter with the Officers of the Guards, by paying them a thousand pounds towards rebuilding their late club-house.’ My attempts at finding out when Crockford’s moved from 106 Pall Mall to the other address have so far been failures: not even the Parish rate books help as they only record who paid the rates, not who was using the premises. Crockford’s name does not appear at all in any Pall Mall address between 1825 and 1827 (Parish of St James’s, Piccadilly), though he does appear in the St James’s Street rate book in November 1826 and after (Parish of St George’s, Hanover Square, Dover Street ward).

[7] John Timbs FSA, Club Life of London, vol.1, London: Richard Bentley, 1866), p. 286, elsewhere referred to as Timbs).
[8] The Morning Post (26 February 1827) reported ‘The prodigious celerity exercised on this extensive pile of building astonished everybody. The fact is this:– A very considerable sum of money has been betted that the house will not be ready by a certain day. Energetic men are at the head of the establishment, and they boast that it will be ready even before the time named: to effect this there is no cessation in the labour: the men work from twelve to fifteen hours every day. Sunday excepted. It is a curious sight to see their operations by torchlight. The Guards Club will have the advantage of a new house, but unfortunately they have only a seven years lease of it.’ On 20 March the paper noted, rather optimistically, that Crockford’s new premises at 50 St James Street would open on 15 June 1827. On 8 February 1828 (p. 4), the Berkshire Chronicle carried the conclusion of its ‘Chronology of the Principal Events during the Year 1827’, and its entry for 12 November notes ‘About this time Crockford’s new Hell opens’.  This is as close as I have been able to come to a specific date for its opening, and it is possible that the building was being used before it was completely finished. The formal opening took place about ten weeks later: according to Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle of 3 February 1828, p. 2, ‘We understand that Mr Crockford last night opened his splendid club mansion, in St. James’s-street, to an assemblage of the Nobility and loungers (if they will be called such), who frequent such places.’ And the following week’s issue (10 February, p. 2) reported further : ‘Among the crowd of rank and fashion who thronged the St James’s Club on the night of the grand opening, Mr. Peel was observed. When the Secretary of State for the Home Department visits such a place, we have security enough for its honourable management. A great number of ladies of distinction were present, and expensive refreshments were provided for them.’ 

The building at 106 Pall Mall did not last much longer: the 5 October 1827 issue of The Morning Chronicle carried an advertisement for the letting of the premises ‘at present in the occupation of the Guards Club . . . .These premises have been occupied by the University, St James’s and Chess Clubs.’, and then the 31 December issue of The Times carried a notice for ‘A New Club – No Entrance Fee’ about to be formed at that address, but a year later The Morning Chronicle (6 December 1828) was again carrying an advertisement for leasing the premises. It is most unlikely it was leased again as on 3 June 1829, while it was being demolished to make way for the redevelopment of that part of Pall Mall following the demolition of Carlton House, the upper floor collapsed, killing two workmen (The Morning Chronicle, 4 June). The Travellers Club then acquired the lease of the site, built new premises designed by Charles Barry, and by early July 1832 had moved into its new Club-house, next to the Athenæum (at 107 Pall Mall, and completed by May 1830). The recently founded Reform Club moved into 104 Pall Mall in 1836 and started building its new Club-house, also designed by Barry, in 1838, completing it in 1841, its site now expanded to include nos. 105 and 103. The Travellers’ old home at 49 Pall Mall was auctioned ‘This Day’ ‘with immediate possession’ on 13 July 1832 (Morning Post, p. 4.).

[9]Born in 1769. Through his father, who worked there, he started his career in the kitchens of King Louis XVI. A paragraph in the Morning Post of 13 August 1827 noted: ‘The  celebrated French Cook, Monsieur Ude (says a Correspondent), is to receive from Mr Crockford, for the superintendence of his Suppers, at St James’s, the sum of 1200£ a-year, besides numerous perquisites. Ude is, we understand, fitting up an establishment on a magnificent scale in Albemarle-street.’ He lived there, at No. 2, until his death, after a short illness, on Good Friday, 10 April 1846.  After leaving France he had first worked for the 2nd Earl of Sefton (1772-1838, who left him 100 guineas a year in his Will, even though Ude had left his employ over twenty years before, purportedly because the Earl’s son had added salt to a soup he had created). Following his departure in 1815 or slightly later, by the time of the publication of the 1818 edition he had been for a short period Steward at the (Senior) United Service Club, and after that for George III’s second son the Duke of York  and when the Duke died in 1827 he was taken on by Crockford. His fame amongst the general British population rested on his book The French Cook. This had been first printed for the author (and probably paid for by his employer, the 2nd Earl) in 1813 by Cox & Baylis (printers of Cobbett’s Weekly Political Register in Great Queen Street), and sold by John Ebers (of 27 Old Bond Street), as had the second and third editions. When the General Military Club was founded in 1815 it moved into 23 Albemarle Street, remaining there when it amalgamated with the Naval Club in 1816 to form the United Service Club, which moved on the expiry of its lease, to 11 Charles Street, St James’s (now Charles II Street) in 1818, before its final move to its stately new building at 116 Pall Mall in 1828. The 14th edition of The French Cook was published in 1841, and in it he is described as ‘Projector of the original coffee-room held in the United Service Club-house in Albemarle Street’: evidently he was using the building vacated by the Club in 1818.

     The Count d’Artois, the future King Charles X of France arrived in England in 1792, staying in London until 1796 when he moved to Holyrood House, Edinburgh. He returned to London in 1805 remaining there until 1814 when he returned to France. He returned briefly to England in 1830 after his enforced abdication, and died in 1836. For the first time, in the 1841 14th edition of The French Cook, Ude’s publisher John Ebers mentioned the fact that he was a former cook to King Charles X. Ude was also said to have been chef for two years to Napoleon’s mother, Nobile Madame Maria Letizia Buonaparte (1750-1836, to whom Napoléon granted the title Madame Mère de l’Empereur, but never made her a Princess, an omission which annoyed her considerably). Given the length of time Ude was said to have been employed by the Earl of Sefton – ‘nearly 20 years’ – his employment by Mme Buonaparte and the Comte d’Artois must both have occurred in the 1790s, in France and England respectively.

      The eighth and ninth editions were both published by William H. Ainsworth (of 23 Old Bond Street), in 1827, the eighth by himself alone, while the ninth lists a number of other booksellers on the title page). All other editions were published by Ebers, apart from the privately printed 1813 edition mentioned above, which was not included among the numbered editions. 1st 1813, 2nd 1814, 3rd 1815, 4th ?, 5th 1818, 6th 1819, 7th 1822, 8th, 9th 1827, 10th 1829, 11th ?, 12th 1833, 13th  1835 /1836, 14th 1841. His sales possibly fell off with the publication of Francatelli’s and Soyer’s works which reviewers said were better than Ude’s – see note 29 below, for example.
[10] Benjamin Disraeli to his sister, Sarah, in February 1839. ‘There has been a row at Crockfords and Ude dismissed. He told the Committee he was worth 4000£ a year. Their new man [Francatelli] is quite a failure, so I think the great artist may yet return from Elba. He told [Sir George] Wombwell that in spite of his 4000 a year he was miserable in retirement; that he sate all day with his hands before him doing nothing. Wombwell suggested the exercise of his art, for the gratification of his own appetite. “Pah!” he said. “I have not been into my kitchen once: I hate the sight of my kitchen. I dine on roast mutton dressed by a cookmaid.” He shed tears and said he had only been twice in St James’s Street since his retirement which was in September, and that he made it a rule never to walk on the same side as the Clubhouse. “Ah I love that Club, tho’ they are ingrats. Do not be offended Mr W. if I do not take of my hat when we meet, but I have made a vow I shall never take my hat off to a member of the committee.” “I shall always take my hat off to you, Mr. Ude.”’ (Lord Beaconsfield’s Letters 1830-1852, New edition, edited by his Brother [Ralph Disraeli], London: John Murray, 1887, p. 146.) Wombwell’s wording as recorded by Disraeli would seem to imply that Ude was still getting £4000 a year after he ‘retired’.

[11] The three noble lords by whom he was said to have been employed before Crockford were the 6th  Earl of Chesterfield (1805-66) who succeeded to the earldom aged ten in 1815, the 1st (and last) Earl of Dudley, of the first creation (1781-1833), the 9th Baron Kinnaird (Scots peerage, and 1st Baron Rossie in the UK peerage) (1807-78), as well as Mr Rowland Errington (1809-75, né Rowland Stanley-Massey-Stanley), Master of the Quorn Hounds, and later 11th Baronet. (‘The Melton Breakfast’ by Francis Grant, showing the Quorn Hunt of Melton Mowbray preparing for the day, was published as a mezzotint in 1839, and shows Kinnaird and Errington next to each other.) Details as to when Francatelli worked for them are unfortunately lacking. Chesterfield was born the same year as Francatelli (1805). Francatelli would have been twenty-eight when the Earl of Dudley (who was Viscount Dudley & Ward before being created an Earl in 1827) died. The Lord Ward who was said to be going to employ Francatelli on the demise of the Coventry House Club was a relation, and subsequently became the 1st Earl of Dudley of the 2nd creation in 1860. See note 30 below.
[12] Ian Kelly, Cooking for Kings. The Life of Antonin Carême, the first celebrity chef, London: Short Books, 2003, p. 123. For details regarding the salaries of the hierarchy in the Buckingham Palace kitchens then – the Chief Cook, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Master Cooks, the 1st and 2nd Yeomen of the Kitchen, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Roast Cooks, the four apprentices, the two scourers, and the Kitchen maid –see the Lord Steward of the Royal Household’s account books for 1840-42 in the National Archive, Kew, refs. LS 2/66, LS 2/67 and LS 2/68.
[13] The Earl of Erroll had been appointed Lord Steward on 15 November 1839 and he was succeeded by Charles Cecil Cope Jenkinson, 3rd Earl of Liverpool, on 3 September 1841, so it may be assumed that the latter was less sympathetic towards Francatelli than the Earl of Erroll had been.
[14] To be dismissed or turned away unceremoniously. OED
[15] At the time of publication of The Modern Cook in 1846, little more than three years after the event, the reviewer in The Literary Gazette was already, perhaps mischievously, speculating on the reason for his departure from the Palace. The story had originally been reported in the Morning Post on 2 December 1841, and picked up by The Times, and Dublin Evening Mail, 3 December, The Examiner on 4 December, The Spectator, 11 December 1841, p. 1189, and numerous local papers. The Bucks Herald (11 December) noted that the Windsor Express was defending Mr Murray from the insinuations in the Morning Post, initially quoting the Express before contradicting it: ‘“Now nothing can be farther from the truth than the insinuation thus conveyed, for we can take upon ourselves to say that since that gentleman’s appointment he has not caused the dismissal of any one servant which was not justified by circumstances that demanded his removal and that Mr Murray’s management of the royal household, necessarily with some few exceptions, is of that character which has secured for him the highest approbation of all the respectable well conducted servants in the royal establishment.” Perhaps the Express will be kind enough to inform us what circumstances except to make room for Mr. Francatelli, “fully justified” the removal of Mr. Huggins, and of Mr. Lloyd, from their respective situations. We will furnish the Express with a few more names of persons removed from their situations by the Hon. Mr. Murray, with respect to which removals it may then also exert its ingenuity to discover the causes by which they were “fully justified”.’ Nothing more, however, seems to have appeared in the press thereafter. Possibly it realised that the charge was difficult to sustain: Francatelli took over from the departing Chief Cook, so there was no ‘making room’ necessary – unless it was to make room for him and his family (mother, wife and son) to live in St James’s Palace.
[16]  Crockford never disguised the fact: ‘Many a young man, aye, and many a father, had reason to curse that house. The late Mr Crockford lived by it, and died a millionaire. How he made his wealth was pretty well exemplified by his answer to a nobleman, who went to him and complained that his son was ruined in the house, to which Mr Crockford coolly replied, “I know it; I ruin one a-day. I live by it.”’ The Evening Chronicle (London), 4 December 1846, p. 4.
[17] The Rt Hon. William Henry Gregory (1817-1892), MP for Dublin City 1842-72, and for Galway County 1857-72 when appointed Governor of Ceylon 1872-77. PC (Ireland) 1871, KCMG 1875. He married, firstly, on 11 January 1872 Elizabeth, 3rd daughter of Sir William Clay MP and widow of James Temple Bowdoin, who died in Kandy on 28 June 1873. He married secondly, on 4 March 1880, Isabella Augusta Persse (1852-1932), 7th d. of Dudley Persse of Roxborough, Co. Galway, the Lady Gregory of Irish Literary Revival and Abbey Theatre Dublin fame. She edited his Autobiography (London: John Murray, 1894). See note 1. (His horse, Barricade, came third in The Oaks the day William Crockford died.)

[18] The Standard, 28 November 1843.
[19] H. T. Waddy, The Devonshire Club– and “Crockford’s”, London: Everleigh Nash, 1919, pp. 153-62. See also The Morning Post, 19 July 1844, p. 7e,f. Waddy states on pp. 141-42: ‘That Crockford’s should have escape prosecution as a common gaming-house is a tribute to the influence and high social position of its frequenters. The law of the day was precise enough that a common gaming-house constituted a public nuisance; but it was necessary before the police could set the law in motion that they should be armed with sworn information of two householders resident in the parish. In the whole history of Crockford’s the police could not or would not, in any event they did not, obtain such information, and though Crockford’s more humble imitators, dotted around the neighbourhood of St James’s, viz. in Albemarle Street, Piccadilly, Jermyn Street and St James’s Street itself, were all in turn raided, Crockford’s remained majestic and immune.’ Other authors disagree on this (see, for example, T. H. S. Escott’s Club Makers and Club Members, London: Fisher Unwin, 1914, pp. 208-209, much of which is based on Gregory’s recollections that he provided Escott), but Waddy’s account is supported by the failure of the police to raid Crockford’s on 7 May 1844 when seventeen other hells were, and the excuses that were given.
[20] An interesting article that looks very much like a public-relations exercise was published in The Town, (‘a journal of essays, characteristic of the manners, social, domestic and superficial, of London and the Londoners’, which tended to be given over to more scandalous news), and reprinted in The Kentish Gazette on 20 June 1837 (page 4), from which this text is taken. While it cannot have been the whole truth, it certainly contains more information about how the St James’s Club operated and about the Crockford family than any other press report I have seen, and as I have not found it printed in any more recent publication give it here in full, with some information I have found about those family members mentioned.

‘CROCKFORD’

‘The Club now consists of 800 members, and the amount of subscription is ten guineas per annum. This club is governed by the ordinary arrangements of others. The secretary is Mr. H. Page, who also acts as croupier at the hazard table. Upon the play part of this club, the public are some in the dark, and others in great error. We will, therefore, set them right, and vouch for the accuracy of our detail.

   ‘Out of the 800 members, not more than seventy are what is termed playmen, that is to say, play games of chance— hazard for instance. Many of them do not even touch a card, others play whist and games of science, but decline partaking in the amusement of the dice box. The game of hazard is played in a small front room on the second floor of the house adjoining, or right wing of the building; this room is never shown to visitors who may obtain tickets from the members, to take a survey of these truly magnificent premises The morning play commences at four o’clock in the afternoon and continues till seven, the stakes played at this time of day are from 10s to £50, and the bank put-down is £2,500; at eleven o’clock the night play begins, and then the bank is increased to £10,000, and the stakes may be said to be unlimited. Crockford takes his seat at a desk, at the corner of the room; the business of the hazard table is managed by Messrs. Page and Darking. Mr. Crockford, two years back, finding many of the subscribers get deeply into his debt, adopted the plan of playing for ready money only, and intimated to those on his books, that he would, in the event of their winning, pay them without reference to by-gone accounts, if they brought ready money into the house. This had the desired effect, for many who were in his debt were in the habit of going to try their luck at the minor Hells, fearing, if they won at his table, he would expect them to settle their old obligations. Upon this understanding, many of the old flock returned, and lost considerable sums.

   ‘Of course there are some exceptions to this rule, many gentlemen who have behaved honorably to him, he is still happy to accommodate; some who have incurred debts of honor have been known to transfer houses and other property to him, in liquidation of his claim against them. A house next to the Traveller’s club, in Pall Mall, he obtained in this way, and one in Bruton-street, under similar circumstances, from Lord Segrave. The public are induced, by false accounts of this Club, and the proceedings therein, to imagine, that means of the sort imagined are made use of by Crockford to induce them to do so, nor is it the fact that false dice or cards are ever introduced into the club. Any person detected in such infamous practices, however noble or influential, would be exposed, and expelled the club.

   ‘The supper and refreshments that are provided nightly, gratis, for the hazard room company, cost £50.

   ‘It is not generally known, that Crockford carries on the business of a wine merchant, and has, perhaps, a more exten­sive connexion amongst the aristocracy than any other trader. His stock of wines is of the finest quality, and most extensive description, and is said to be worth the enormous sum of £200,000; the business is conducted under the superin­tendence of his son Edward, at the cellars of the St. James’s Bazaar; the whole of which building, by the way, is Crockford’s property.

   ‘Since the De Roos affair, at Graham’s, the whist-playing branch of that club has become members of Crockford’s, and assemble at a house at the back of the great hell in Arlington-street, No. 3. Singular to relate, Crockford makes it a point of conscience, that no play shall be allowed until after the clock has struck twelve on a Sunday night.

   ‘Mr. Crockford has a wife, and a family of fourteen children now living, the four eldest, viz., Edward, George, Priscilla, and Mary Anne, are the issue of his first marriage; one of his daughters is married to a clergyman of the Church of England.

   ‘We cannot conclude this sketch without observing that Mr. Crockford is a man of the most humane and benevolent disposition; he never discharges a servant if he can possibly avoid it. If he discovers that they have fallen into vicious courses, he gets rid of them, that they may not corrupt the rest of his numerous establishment. Not long since, a young man, who had been in his employment upwards of fifteen years, got into the habit of frequenting the common gambling houses of the metropolis. Crockford, although he knew his character otherwise to be irreproachable, immediately dis­missed him, but not without first reading him a strong moral lesson as to his future conduct in life, and the baneful prac­tice of gaming, and making him a present of £100, over and above the wages due to him. Mr. Crockford has a splendid freehold estate at Newmarket, where his wife and family reside. They are greatly respected by the inhabitants of the surrounding neighbourhood; particularly by the poor, who often feel the benefit of their humanity and generosity.’

The four eldest children were born to Crockford’s first wife, Mary, reference to whose death I have not found. Their births are registered – George (born 1 November 1802, d. 1869), Edward (born 21 June 1804, d. 1875),  Mary Ann (born 16 May 1806, d. 1891) and Priscilla Eliza (born 24 January 1809, d. 1853, having married the Rev. Cornelius Thompson on 6 January 1835). William married, secondly, Sarah Frances Douglas on 20 May 1812, the register having  his brother Thomas (1760-1836) and Louisa Crockford as witnesses (probably the Thomas Crockford and Louisa Browne who married on 2 February 1793 in Christ Church, Southwark). Their ten children were William John (born 9 October 1813, took Holy Orders, and was Rector of St Mawgan in Meneage, Cornwall, when he died in 1853), Fanny (22 June 1815-1905), Julia (born 18 October 1816), Richard (baptised 18 October 1817), Charles (baptised 19 March 1819), Elizabeth (baptised 26 February 1820), Frederick (baptised 25 July 1821), Rose Maria (baptised 9 April 1823, married Dr James Cumming of Lowndes Street, Belgravia on 22 August 1848, was placed in Otto House, a lunatic asylum in Hammersmith on 27 April 1857, where she remained until her death on 22 February 1908,, her estate at probate being worth £11,756 16s 11d.), Harriet (though name illegible on baptism certificate, 28 December 1824 – 24 September 1918, who administered Rose Maria’s estate), and Felix (born 1 September 1826). In most cases Sarah Frances is named ‘Fanny’ on the certificates. Edward married Susanna Blake at St George’s Hanover Square on 5 February 1838, and sorted out his father’s racing debts following William’s death after the 1844 Derby, and was an auctioneer and estate agent whose office was at 156 New Bond Street,. From the records it would appear that a number of the children who were baptised in Newmarket were later also baptised in London.

Crockford’s home in Newmarket was Panton House in the High Street, which included a large parcel of land at the rear, on part of which is now Tattersalls, Europe’s leading bloodstock auctioneers. The house had been built by Thomas Panton (1668-1750), keeper of King George III’s horses in Newmarket, had descended to his son Thomas (1722-1809) who followed his father as keeper of the king’s racehorses, and after his death was bought by Crockford in 1810. It was divided into three residences. Across the road from his home he also had set up another gambling establishment, at Rothesay House (information from the Newmarket Local History Society website).

                [The De Roos affair related to the premier Baron of England, Henry William Fitzgerald-De Ros (b. 1793), 21st Baron, Lord de Ros/de Roos marking cards at Graham’s Club. After fleeing to the Continent in mid August 1836, he was prevailed upon to return to England and sue his accusers for libel, the case being heard at the Court of the King’s Bench the whole of Friday and till late on Saturday, 10-11 February 1837. With numerous packs of cards he had been seen to mark being produced as evidence, and witnesses swearing to his repeated use of the ‘pass’ or sauter la coupe trick, the jury found for the defendant, Mr John Cumming, in less than 15 minutes. (Leicester Chronicle, 18 February 1837, p. 4.) Gossip abounded after he again left the country travelling, it was reported in some papers, on the Rotterdam steam packet on 20 February, while others stated he was staying with relations in Long Ditton, then going to Stuttgart for a time to stay with his sisters, then in March being rumoured to be staying at the Steyne Hotel in Worthing, in April to be living in Alderney, and by August in Brittany or Normandy. He had evidently returned to his villa (or cottage) in Grove Road, St John’s Wood, by the end of November 1837. His health deteriorated, newspaper reports in March 1838 noting this, and he died of dropsy (edema) there on 29 March 1839. He was rumoured to have won over £100,000 at cards during his life. Such was the indignation aroused by the scandal that there was talk in the House of Lords of the expulsion of the name of Lord de Ros – the title under which he sat, although popularly known as de Roos – from the peerage.]

[21] Waddy, p. 145.

Another interesting report of the events of the enquiry forms Chapter XVI of the pseudonymous “Gambling, Gamblers and Gambling Houses, Being Extracts from the Note-book of the late Ralph Roulette, Esq”, published in the 16 May 1847 issue of The Era, p. 10.
I long, yet almost dread, to hear the rest. Pursue thy tale, old man, relate
at full what hath befallen to them and thee, till now.’ Comedy of Errors.
In my last chapter [published in the issue of 2 May], I commented on a portion of the evidence given before the Parliamentary Committee, on the subject of gaming; the evidence then adduced was of the police authorities. I am now about to turn to that of the  playmen and turfites themselves, and I shall commence with “The Leviathan,” William Crockford. When the committee had got hold of him, they expected great things – a rare treat – a grand exposé – but they were mistaken. Cautious ever, he fenced all the questions; knew nothing; never heard anything; and had no belief or opinion in the world. His evidence tickled my fancy amazingly. The committee evidently intended to play the game of “drawing the badger,” but it was a failure.  The old one was one too many for them. I fancy I see “mine ancient” when he was called in for examination, with his puckered-up mahogany phiz and stubbly chin buried in his loose and slovenly tied cravat; his small eyes, with a knowing twinkle, seeming to say, “Don’t think I am to be had.” The very first question put to him was a poser, “What is your occupation?” How neatly was it answered. “I have none, generally speaking. I am concerned in mines and other things”, True, oh! King of Clubs—Crockford’s was to you an almost in exhaustible mine of wealth. Capital idea that, “mines and other things.” He then goes on to say, “I have been proprietor of that club for from fifteen to seventeen years; it was a private club, not a thing done in public at all; it was amongst private gentlemen. I decline stating the rules of admission. There might have been a good deal of play carried on at the club, but I do not feel at liberty to divulge the pursuits of private gentlemen; situated as I was, I do not feel myself at liberty to do so.” The committee did not expect such “a stopper” as this, and they did not know what to make of it. So they held a council of war, in the meantime dismissing “old Crocky” to the lobby to cool his heels, and indulge in a chuckle at their expense. On his recall, finding that direct questions were of no avail, they smoothed the way to another species of attack, by intimating that he might be under no apprehension of his evidence being used against him by informers, as he was taken under their protection, and would be included among those who were held harmless from the effects of “Qui tams,” and actions for penalties. This was throwing the sop to Cerberus, but the old dog would not nibble at the bait; for after stating that he found himself getting too old to continue the club any longer, and that he had given it up to the committee, to manage themselves, he; declined saying who that committee was, who the chairman, or any thing about them; did not know who managed it, who paid the rent, with whom he had made any agreement, if at all, or any matters concerning it; and, finally, declined saying if he was cognisant of what took place in the house whilst it was under his management. The MPs, finding they could make nothing of my friend, tried back again, but in vain; and, at last, abandoning the soothing system, hinted at withdrawing their protec­tion, and excluding him from the indemnity certificate. But he quaintly and quietly told them, that this made no difference in his answers; and then the venerable became tifty, saying, “I decline telling what my previous occupations have been. Am I to give a history of my life? I should rather decline it. I am now seventy years of age, and I have lived about forty years in St. James’s-street, or down at Newmarket.”
Quite right in Crocky to refuse giving to the committee his autobiography; they anticipated no little amusement, doubtless, from drawing him out; and so would the world at large, if his life were pub­lished, but he is gone—who is there now capable of writing it? Who that can give the particulars of his strange eventful career? Fiction would shrink into nothingness beside it. But he has died and made no sign – the secrets of the prison house have been faithfully kept.
‘But I am digressing from his evidence, such as it is. His ire expended, he gets funny, giving some of the gentlemen a sly dig in the ribs. “I have played at whist, and at hazard, and have had race horses, but I never played at horse racing.” True, he never trifled with anything. This was neatly done; but it told; it was an unmistakeable hit.
‘Then we have another attempt at a draw. “I dare say there are many young men who have lost large sums of money of late; but I cannot tell – I cannot say that I know many who have lost £10,000, £20,000, or £50,000 by gambling. I really have no opinion on it: I have not lately known anything of the gambling habits contracted in this town. At some time of my life, I had some idea of it. Many people will say they have been ruined by gambling, who have been ruined by keeping women, and having a box at the opera, and other things of that kind; but they lay it all on gambling.” Bravo, Crocky, that was a home-thrust, skilfully planted, and one that made a decided impression from its truthfulness.
‘Again, observe how cautiously he answers the queries put to him. “I think the law is strong enough for the suppression of gaming, if it is put in force. I am aware that a great deal of gaming goes on notwithstanding the existing law, and so it is with respect to pickpocketting, and yet the law is strong enough. I have my own opinion whether the laws against gaining are applicable to a club or not, but I should say they are not. I see no harm in other keeping a hazard table, or playing at it. One man may call £100 a serious loss, and another £1,000; one may not feel a large sum to be a serious loss, whilst the loss of a small sum of money may be very injurious to another. I never to my knowledge knew a man lose £50,000 or £100,000. I know nothing about people’s affairs; I do not know what people have lost in the club houses. I decline disclosing anything which took place in my own club house. I do not wish to enter into any of the concerns of the club, in which I have been engaged.” A wise resolve this on the part of the witness. The investigation would been anything but pleasant to some of the lords of the soil, if those walls could but speak of the scenes that have passed within. The tale would be a sad one – an overwhelming and convincing argument in favour of my theory, that to gamble is death to all the better feelings of our nature, whilst it is certain and inevitable ruin to health, wealth and prospects; but, alas for the good cause! The walls of Crockford’s play-room are but silent witnesses of what has taken place within.
‘I could not but admire with what tact and delicacy Crocky shielded the members of the club from the inquisitorial eyes of the committee. He was grateful for the good they had done him, and he would not “peach” upon them. He knew nothing – withheld all clue from them, and left them to grope about in the dark, and feed upon their own surmises. Had he but suffered a single thread to have dropped, the whole veil would at once have been torn to atoms, and left the hideous spectacle exposed. But he pre­served it intact, and the private histories of many an aristocrat in the kingdom, that he could have startled the ears of the committee with, remained safe in his keeping. Almost his last answer, however, was a gentle hint to some of the subscribers to Crockford’s, who were in arrear, that they had better pay up: it was truly characteristic of the man. “Have you had to do with any Levanters yourself?” “If that applies to the club, I decline answering it, I never heard any rule as to Levanters at Hazard. If the honourable member was the frequenter of a Hazard table, he would know that they played for ready money.” True, they played for ready money, and when they won, were paid it. But how were the heavy losses paid? He might have added, by I O U’s, bills, and post obits; but on this subject he was silent, contenting himself with the trifling hint which he threw out to the gentlemen punters.
I have dwelt upon Crockford’s evidence, not so much on account of any great facts contained in it, but more as exhibiting the habitual caution of this extraordinary man. He was never to be caught tripping. Though an uneducated man, he possessed great and peculiar talents, and sufficient shrewdness to baffle the united efforts of the body of gentlemen who constituted the parliamentary committee. They could make nothing of him, either by threats or promises. He remained true to his colours, and, knowing the man as I knew him, I believe he would have died sooner than have flinched or betrayed the secrets of his calling. He has gone to his account. Peace be with him; for whatever his faults may have been, he possessed a good heart. Mammon was his god, it’s true – true, also, that he was a gambler; but there are still many living, which, if they would, could bear ample testimony to his liberality and kindly feeling, and many more that could speak of his forbearance. Gambling was his trade, his profession, or whatever else you choose to call it; and he attended to it during a series of years indefatigably. In his way, he was a great, nay, a wonderful man. Of humble origin, the architect of his own fortune, and, comparatively speaking, devoid of education, he became a millionaire, and mixed with the great and noble of the land, borrowing a certain degree of polish from the contact and association, whilst he preserved his simple habits and appearance and unobtrusive manners to the last. With so much tact, coolness, and energy of character, had Fate cast him a different lot in life, how great a man might have been William Crockford!’
Some of Crockford’s debtors were pursued by his widow, one being Lord Maidstone, against whom Sarah Crockford won her case for non-payment for a year’s subscription, food consumed, etc. See Lloyd’s Weekly London Newspaper, 6 December 1846, p. 3.
[22] Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911 edition, vol. 7.  The Duke’s taste-buds were suspect: Felix, a chef the Duke employed, could not cope with him. His previous and subsequent employer, Lord Seaford, reported that ‘The poor fellow came to me with tears in his eyes and begged me to take him back again, at reduced wages or no wages at all, for he was determined not to remain at Apsley House. “Has the Duke been finding fault?” said I. “Oh no, my lord; I would stay if he had: he is the kindest and most liberal of masters: but I serve him a dinner that would make Ude or Francatelli burst with envy, and he says nothing; I serve him a dinner dressed, and badly dressed, by the cook maid, and he says nothing. I cannot live with such a master, if he was a hundred times a hero.”’ The Examiner, 14 August 1852, p. 5.
[23] ‘It is stated that Mr Crockford’s death was accelerated, if not actually caused by his intense anxiety respecting the result of the Derby’ Morning Post, 27 May 1844, p. 5. See, for example, The Standard, 27 May 1844, p. 4, 28 May, p. 1; Morning Post, 29 May, p. 5, 30 May, p. 5; The Era, 2 June 1844, p. 9. 
[24] Letter dated 24 December 1845 from R. W. Graham to Thomas Duncombe, in Thomas Slingsby Duncombe, Life & Correspondence, 1868, quoted in Humphreys, pp. 199-200. That year’s Derby was the subject of one of the worst criminal subterfuges in racing history as the so-called three-year-old winner Running Rein was proved, through the detective work of Lord George Cavendish Bentinck, to have been a four-year-old previously known as Maccabeus. This did not affect Crockford’s 3-year-old, Ratan, as it was unplaced, and may have been ‘got at’.
[25] ‘Sales by Auction. The St. James’s Club, known as Crockford’s, St. James’s-street. THE LEASE of the Celebrated Establishment, with or without the MAGNIFICENT FURNITURE, Plate, China, and costly and complete appointments, in detail, by Messrs. CHRISTIE and MANSON, on the Premises, St James’s-street, on TUESDAY, June 2, and following day, unless previously disposed of by private contract. (Daily News, 5 May 1846, p. 8.) Details of the sale, which had been delayed until 23rd June, appeared in Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, 28 June 1846, p. 8, which noted that the three leases under which the premises were held expired at Michaelmas 1868. Crockford’s stud of horses at Newmarket had been sold through Tattersall’s within a month of his death, on 20 June 1844 (London Standard, 21 June 1844, p. 2). The Morning Chronicle of 29 October 1827 noted that the ‘entire expence of the ground, the house, and the furniture … it is said, exceed 120,000£.’ Based on this and the figure of £94,000, the leases and the building would have cost Crockford in excess of £26,000.
[26] Morning Chronicle, 3 December 1846, p. 7. He was warned by Mr Hardwick, the sitting magistrate that he would be fined £50 for each night he opened his rooms without licence, and render his visitors liable, without previous warning, to be taken into custody by the police. The ‘spirited French lessee’ evidently thought it worth that: there was a bal masqué, a Neapolitan ball, and numerous others.
[27] Timbs, p. 287. A decade after Crockford’s closed, the St James’s Club name was used for a new club, founded in 1857 by the 2nd Earl Granville and the Marchese d’Azeglio, Minister of the Kingdom of Sardinia to the Court of St James’s, after a dispute with the Traveller’s Club. Its first premises were in Charles Street, just off Berkeley Square, and then in Grafton Street, from whence at Michaelmas 1868 they departed, moving into 106 Piccadilly, where its members made full use of the original gaming room for backgammon, until it merged with Brooks’s Club in 1978. For a while the Crockford’s building must have housed the Wellington Hotel which had absorbed Christie’s Hotel next door, according to the somewhat out-of-date 1878 Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map, before in 1874, it became the home of the Devonshire Club which remained there until that Club’s merger with the East India, Sports & Public Schools Club in 1976.
[28] ‘Sketch of English Clubs’ signed ‘American Paper’, Morning Chronicle, 2 April 1856, p. 6. Count D’Orsay died in 1852.  ‘The agreement for the lease of Coventry House, 106 Piccadilly, was signed on Friday’ (Morning Post, Wednesday 11 February 1846, p.5.) Another report gives Saturday. ‘A dinner will be given at the New Club, lately established, in Coventry House, Piccadilly, on the 1st of June, for the opening’ (Daily News, 8 May 1846, p. 5), and ‘The new club … will certainly open on the 1st of June’ (Daily News, 22 May, p. 4).
[29] Advertisements in May (e.g. ‘THE LEASE of the Celebrated Establishment, with or without the MAGNIFICENT FURNITURE, Plate, China, and costly and complete appointments, in detail, by Messrs. Christie and Manson…’ in Daily News, 5 May 1846, p. 8; Morning Post, 18 May, p. 8) stated the auction was to take place on Tuesday 2 June, but in the event the auction took place three weeks later on 23 June. Newspaper reports, but not the advertisements themselves, stated that the unexpired term of the lease was 32 years. 

[30] Richard Bentley, Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty’ had started advertising The Modern Cook as being ‘Just Ready’ on 4 December 1845 in the Standard, p. 2. On 1 January, he announced that publication was to take place ‘in a few days’ (Morning Post, p. 8). On 13 March, Bentley announced it was ‘Now Ready, and may be had from all Booksellers’ (The Standard, p. 2), but the first review I’ve found appeared in the Morning Post on 6 April (p. 3), in which the reviewer remarked ‘The only book of this description that can claim any rank by the side of it is Eustache Ude’s; but the Anglo-French system is carried out in this volume to a far greater extent than by Ude. It bears intrinsic evidence of being the compilation of a practical man, and a worthy pupil of the Grand Carême. The arrangement of the subjects differs from that which is usually adopted, and may be held as an improvement, excepting the glossary which is, altogether a mistake. . . .  His mode of dishing entrées is deserving of great praise: but he makes no mention of his entrée of larks, or alouettes desossés à la Macédoine, a dish which is well worthy of a place in such a work as this. The wood-cuts are admirably executed; and the manner in which the work is got up reflects great credit on the publisher.’ It was also reviewed in the Literary Gazette, and Journal of Belles Lettres on Saturday 18 April 1846, no. 1526, pp. 354-55. Headed ‘L. Eustache Ude and Cookery’, about a quarter of it is devoted to Ude, who had died just eight days before, hails ‘the very good-looking Mr (not Signor, for he is an Englishman by birth) Francatelli among the number of veritable artistes’, and playfully queries the reasons for Francatelli’s departure from royal service – ‘so gentlemanly a beau, that we cannot but wonder how her Majesty came to part with so amiable and handsome maître d’hôtel and chief cook. A change of ministry appears to us to be nothing in comparison.’ It ends ‘May our readers enjoy such a treat often and often; may they try Francatelli, and not find him wanting: may his publishers, printers and reviewers learn how to estimate his qualities, and long may it be before, crowned with a garland of Parsley and Glory, he, like our late friend Ude, be gathered to his last remove in Kensal Green! It is a cookery-book which may truly be called Supreme.’

                The book had been long in its preparation: it was first advertised by Bentley as being ‘In the Press’ under the title Modern Cookery in November 1843 (see the Morning Post, 24 November 1843, p. 2.)

Simpkin Marshall did not advertise Alexis Soyer’s Astronomic Regenerator until it was almost published:  the 27 June 1846 issue of the Morning Post announced it was to be published on the 29th, but the issue of 30 June (p. 8) announced that ‘Tomorrow, July 1, will be published Soyer’s Cookery’. Reviews of it appeared in the Morning Chronicle on 4 July (p. 5) and in the Morning Post on 7 July (p. 3).
[31] ‘Wednesday, July 8, 1846.—Elected member of the new club, the Coventry; something pre-eminently muscadin. The Cercle des Pretentieux, and I may add of many of them precieux ridicules, a kind of expiring effort to lift old tottering, decrepit dandyism to a pedestal. It is worth belonging to, besides the incomparable cuisine, if only to watch the last death-struggle of these priests of that foolish false god, before which simple and honest Englishmen so long submitted to bow down. There have been dynasties of rank and ancient lineage, dynasties of wit, and dynasties of wealth; but of all dynasties that ever strutted its little day, the most contemptible was that dynasty of exclusivism – an idol ideal with face of brass, but with feet of mire and clay. One can understand the insolence and vulgarity of wealth reigning supreme, one can rejoice in the domination of intellect giving law to society, but that imbecile, ignorant, useless dandyism, without the prestige of rank, the splendour and material enjoyments of wealth, the fascination of genius, or the high desert of a great deed, should have been tolerated so long as a domineering power, proves that in the wisest of nations, as well as in the wisest of human beings, there may be intervals of infatuation. So far as either regard or respect for such men goes, I would as soon be elected a member of some Chartist lodge, among men rude indeed and prejudiced, but earnest, fresh, and true.’ Sir William Gregory’s Autobiography [citation to be completed]
[32] Timbs notes ‘The Coventry, or Ambassadors’ Club was instituted . . . at No. 106, Piccadilly’. The April 1847 edition of Boyle’s London Court & Fashionable Guide records that Julius Le Souëf is Secretary of the Coventry House Club at that address. He was still listed as Secretary in the 1851 Census.
[33] See ‘Improvements in the Green Park’… Baron Rothschild and the Commissioners of Woods and Forests’ (Morning Post, 8 March 1845, p. 4) ‘In 1843, in consequence of the demise of the late Earl, Coventry House, with the furniture and contents, were sold by [the trustees of] the present Earl to Baron Rothschild for the sum of 23,000£…up to the present time Coventry House has not been occupied by him, and is in fact now for sale.’ Previously, the Morning Post (14 May 1844, p. 7) had contained an ‘(Advertisement.)–– We were not aware until these days that Mr Bryant of St James’s Street, had purchased the very choice collection of pictures belonging to the late Earl of Coventry… Mr Bryant, having permission to show the pictures at Coventry House, they will remain there for a short period, but it will be necessary for cards to view.’

[34] ‘It is stated that the Coventry Club will be closed on 25th March next.’ The paragraph continued ‘Francatelli, the celebrated chef de cuisine, who was one of the chief attractions of the club, it is rumoured, has been secured by Lord Ward [William Ward (1817-85) 11th Baron Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley of Dudley Castle, of the 2nd creation].’ (The Examiner, 18 February 1854, p. 108.) The source of the rumour was the Globe (not yet seen). On its closure, Messrs. Foster and Son announced in The Times (23 March, p. 16, and 27 March 1854, p. 12) that they were ‘directed by the Committee of the Coventry House Club, in consequence of the dissolution of that establishment, to sell by auction on the Premises, on Thursday April 6, at 1 precisely (unless previously disposed of by private contract), the lease of Coventry House, Piccadilly…. The lease has 10 years unexpired, at a rent of £1,000 per annum.’ The lease didn’t sell, and it was still on the market in June, and it was only in 1855 it became the home of the Comte and Comtesse de Flahault de la Bellarderie, later Napoleon III’s ambassador to Britain 1860-62, and the family lived there till December 1866. In 1867 it was let for the season to Mr and the Hon. Mrs Hughes of Kinmel, and in 1868 to the Viscount and Viscountess Holmesdale, before being acquired by the new St James’s Club, which moved from their Grafton Street premises at the end of September that year.
[35] ‘Not long since a well-known gentleman of convivial habits had ordered for his refection at the “Coventry” a favourite dish of his, “Filets de grouse à la Paoli”, which, as is well known, ought to be served up very hot, covered with finely-shred olives. On this occasion the garniture was omitted, and the indignant epicure commanded the cook to appear at the bar of the coffee-room and receive judgment. Francatelli, somewhat surprised, made his appearance in apparel as well cut, and in colour somewhat less prononcé than his accuser. He heard the charge calmly till the indignant diner exclaimed, “At the ––– Club –––– always sends up this dish in proper style; why have I to complain here?” “Mais, monsieur,” shrieked the Italian; “mais, monsieur! a donc l’audace de me comparer à ce misérable ––– c’en est trop c’est une insulte – c’est infame!” Accordingly, on the following day he threatened, if the member did not forthwith quit the club, that he would send in his resignation. The committee were in despair: there was no alternative but a full and ample apology. Apology to a cook! perish the thought! The proud Milesian, however, found it necessary to succumb. The cook was appeased, and the club still exists.’ Wells Journal, 24 April 1852, p. 4.
[36] In 1851 Francatelli’s 17-year-old son Ernest, having been in service with the Earl of Harewood for four years (and listed as an apprentice chef at Harewood House in the Census taken on 30 March 1851), was assisting him at the Coventry House Club, and living with him at 106 Piccadilly. He had been arrested with a school-friend, Thomas Wilkie Adam, on suspicion of picking pockets in the Drury Lane Theatre. They were found innocent by a grand jury (the handkerchief Adam was said to have picked bore was obviously his own – it bore his initials), but to protect their reputation they accused the police constables of perjury, with Earl Howe and Viscount Castlereagh attending as character witnesses for the boys. The constables were found not guilty, but the jury also expressed complete confidence in the innocence of Ernest and his friend (The Times, 12 December 1851, p. 7, 3 January 1852, p. 7, and 8 January, p. 7, Morning Post, 24 December, p. 7).  In 1878 a ‘Mons. Francatelli’ was evidently chef de cuisine at the Royal Albert Hotel in Exeter (Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, 4 January 1878, p. 7), and I suspect this was Ernest, but until I can find further evidence, that will have to remain supposition. (On 19 July (p. 8), the Western Times’ reporter had certainly mistaken the chef for Francatelli senior: ‘The officers’ mess [of the Royal First Devon Yeomanry] is at the Royal Albert Hotel, where everything will be in the highest state of the art, the chef de cuisine being, it is said, Mons. Francatelli, late cook to the Prince of Wales.’) According to the 1881 Census he was living in London. He died in 1888.
[37] Reports of the Reform Club’s banquet in honour of Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Napier (1786-1860)  on 7 March 1854 provide the name of Soyer’s successor, a Mr Fidler, who was much praised on that occasion –‘the cook for that day was inferior only to the admiral’ (Inverness Courier, 16 March, p.5). The Crystal Palace was opened by the Queen on 10 June, and the press of the time stated that the catering for the Crystal Palace was in the hands of Mr Edward Horne, late lessee of the Lord Warden Hotel, Dover, and before that proprietor of the Mersey Hotel in Liverpool, while William Honies and a Mr Watson are mentioned as assistants. On 3 June, the correspondent of the Preston Chronicle ‘learned today that amongst the notables whose skill has been called into requisition in this department, is Mr Fidler, the clever chef de cuisine of the Reform Club, who put upon the table in so admirable a manner the celebrated Napier banquet. Is not the departure of this renowned chef from the Paradise of Pall Mall to the Sydenham Symposium an earnest that the directors of the latter intend to leave no stone unturned to give thorough satisfaction to Her Majesty’s lieges?’ The Morning Post’s statement about the departed cook’s future activities ‘at the head of the refreshment department’ would still seem to have over-gilded the lily somewhat, however popular Mr Fidler was.

Having been out of a job since 25 March, it is probable that Francatelli would have been keen to take over at the Reform as soon as Fidler departed, as the gossip about his being employed by Lord Ward I have seen nowhere else confirmed. I have not been able to find out when Fidler started work at the Reform, but at the banquet given in honour of Lord Palmerston on 20 July 1850, two months after Soyer’s resignation, the cuisine was under the direction of ‘Mr Butler, the proprietor of the London Tavern’ (London Daily News, 22 July 1850, p. 5), so he was not there then. Such banquets tend to generate newspaper reports that mention who is organising the spread, but it would seem the Reform gave no other newsworthy banquet until the Napier one, so there is a large gap in potential information sources. As well as the Reform, Fidler is also reported to have run the kitchens of the Carlton and Oriental Clubs, and spent five years with Lord Zetland, before he became chef at the Grand Hotel, Brighton, when it opened in 1864 (Chester Chronicle, 23 July 1864, p. 8).

[38] Morning Post, 11 July 1854, p. 5.  ‘Mr C. E. Francatelli, Chef de Cuisine to the Reform Club, wishes to MEET with a respectable Youth as an APPRENTICE.’ (Morning Post, 4 July 1854, p. 1).

A decade later, one of his apprentices nearly lost his life in a railway accident at Egham station on the evening of Tuesday 7 June 1864, when Louis Kay (or Kaye), who had failed to catch the returning royal train to London, was one of two passengers severely injured (five were killed) when a train carrying passengers from the Ascot races was stationary at Egham Station and another train ran into it, crushing the rear coach. The Bury and Norwich Post (14 June, p. 3) reported  ‘The most lamentable [case] is that of a lad of 18, named Louis Kaye, an apprentice to Mr Francatelli, one of the cooks in the household of the Prince of Wales, at Marlborough House. This poor lad had the fore part of both his feet crushed and lacerated in so terrible a manner that amputation was necessary to save his life. Mr Ferguson accordingly went down to Egham on Wednesday to perform the operation, which he did with his usual skill and success. The fore parts of both feet were removed by cutting up diagonally through the soles of the feet, so as to leave the heels and ankle bones untouched. The poor boy refused to take chloroform, and bore the operation with the utmost fortitude. He is, we are glad to say, doing as well as can be expected, though of course still in a critical condition.’ An earlier report mentions that Mr Ferguson had been instructed by the Prince of Wales and that ‘Mr Ferguson, we are informed, speaks highly of the courage and endurance of the lad under an operation which, under the circumstances, was of an extremely painful nature.’ (Morning Post, 9 June, p. 5.) ‘He is now (twelve o’clock) somewhat composed, and has been visited by some of his relatives.’ (Leeds Mercury, 9 June, p. 3.). After the operation, Louis remained at the Railway Inn, and papers of 22 June mention that he was visited by his father and mother. On 2 July it was reported that he appeared ‘to have had a relapse, which inspires some fears as to the result’ (Lake’s Falmouth Packet and Cornwall Advertiser, p. 3), but I have found no further mention of him after that date.
[39] ‘The dinner was a splendid one, and did credit to M. Francatelli; but a good dinner might reasonably be expected, considering that the eminent chef had induced the directors to fix the price of the tickets, of which there were one hundred and fifty, at £3. 5s. 6d. each.’ (Inverness Courier, 17 July 1856, p. 5.)
[40] Morning Chronicle, 28 April 1857, p. 3.
[41] Royal Cornwall Gazette, 22 December 1892.
[42] George Augustus Sala, Things I have Seen and People I have Known, London: Cassell, 1894,  vol. 2, pp. 249-50. Amongst Sala’s recollections are some of his often eating in Paris with Charles Dickens. The London Library possesses a copy in which a contemporary reader has expressed outrage at Sala’s account, which the reader complains are entirely fabricated, one comment reading ‘Sala never dined in his life with Dickens in Paris’. Given the date of the Reform’s advertisement for a new Chief Chef – if this had been Francatelli’s title – then Sala’s recollections are definitely false. P.D. Edwards asserts in his Dickens’s ‘Young Men’: George Augustus Sala, Edmund Yates and the World of Victorian Journalism (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997) that by the time Sala came to write his autobiography and Things I Have Seen, his memory was failing and ‘he had put off the task for too long’.
[43] Morning Post, 21 January 1861, p. 1. The advertisement was repeated in the next two issues of the Post, and also in the London Daily News on 23 January.
[44] Charles Mackay LLD, Through the Long Day, or Memorials of a Literary Life during Half a Century, London: W. H. Allen, 1887, vol. II, p. 106. Mackay had described Soyer as a ‘bustling, somewhat fussy and vulgar, but very clever artiste in his vocation’, and continued that ‘Signor Francatelli was, if not a better cook, a man who took higher social rank, and was a gentleman both by manners and education.’ Ibid., p. 105.

[45] The Reform was having difficulties with its staff at that time. Having advertised for a Chief Chef to  replace Francatelli in January 1861, it advertised for a Housekeeper in June 1862, a Secretary in July 1862, a Chief Chef in January 1863 and again in June that year.
[46] Including The Examiner, p. 11, and London City Press, p. 5.
[47] Morning Post, 24 April 1863, p. 8.
[48] Morning Post, 6 March 1863, p. 1.
[49] Morning Post, 7 December 1863, p. 7. Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, 13 December 1863, p. 5.  Reports mention that Lady Blantyre reported the loss to Mrs Francatelli.
[50] Liverpool Mercury, 11 May 1863, p. 3. ‘The Prince of Wales’s household consists of 16 male servants; and when to these are added the Housekeeper, the princess’s dressers, the maid, and the stable department, under the dominion of the Master of the Horse, not forgetting Francatelli, chef de cuisine, it will be seen that, capacious as Marlborough House is, it is completely filled by the establishment occupying it.’
[51] Pamela Clark, Senior Archivist in the Royal Archives, Windsor Castle, told me that there was no help to be had from that source: ‘I have checked our list of the Household staff of the Prince and Princess of Wales, but Francatelli’s name is not included in this.  If, therefore, they did indeed employ him, this must have been as a contractor, but, unfortunately, we do not have detailed accounts for the Prince and Princess nor any relevant correspondence, so I am unable to confirm this.’ Nevertheless, he was thought of as working for the Prince: for example, the London City Press of 29 October 1864 reports a dinner of the United Cooks’ Pension Society, which is attended by, amongst a host of other guests, ‘Mr J.H. Aberlin, chef to Her Majesty’, and ‘Mr Francatelli, chef to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales’.  
[52] In 1887 the Temple Company of 6 Booksellers’ Row, W.C. published Eighteen Years on the Sandringham Estate by ‘The Lady Farmer’ (well-known as being Mrs Cresswell, née Louisa Mary Hogge, c.1836-1916). She had married Gerard Oswin Cresswell (c.1837-65) in 1862, and the lease of Appleton Hall (a house rebuilt for them by the Prince of Wales) terminated in 1880. She reports (though sadly without mentioning the year, and seems to be combining recollections of more than one event): 

                ‘One year the Marlborough House servants came down by special train, and the rival establishments were in great force, the decided belle of the evening being Madame Francatelli, who did not belong to the household, but was invited out of compliment to the chef and was most becomingly dressed, and not at all forward or flirtatious. The ball opened with a country dance, the Prince and Princess leading off with the heads of the respective departments, and the Duchess of Teck, whose good nature and frank enjoyment made her a great acquisition, with another of the upper servants. One year the Princess’s coachman, the most diminutive man in the room, was her partner, and the contrast was rather striking. The house-party, equerries, ladies-in-waiting, and all invited from the neighbourhood, were ordered to join, no shirking or sitting-out allowed; and when the side had been made up, the Prince and Princess set off with their partners, round and round, down the middle and up again, and so on to the end, the Prince the jolliest of the jolly, and the life of the party, as he is wherever he goes. I never saw such amazing vitality. His own master of the ceremonies, signalling and sending messages to the band, arranging every dance, and when to begin and when to leave off, noticing the smallest mistake in the figures, and putting people in their places. In the ‘Triumph’, which is such an exhausting dance, he looked as if he could have gone on all night and into the middle of next week without stopping, and I really believe he could. He is an antidote to every text and sermon that ever was preached upon the pleasures of the world palling upon the wearied spirit. They never pall on him, and year after year he comes up ‘to time’ with renewed capacity for revelry and junketings. It was a mercy to have a quadrille, now and then, for a little rest. The Marlborough housekeeper, who was attired in a pea-green silk, danced it in the old polite style, holding up her gown in points, and dropping a little curtsey to her partner each time she came forward, like Mrs Fezziwig, of immortal memory (‘Dickens’s Christmas Carol’). Then a jig was started, and it was so pretty to see the way the Princess danced it; while the state liveries of the footmen, and green velvet of the gamekeepers and Highland costumes, mixed with the scarlet coats of the country gentlemen, and the lovely toilettes and the merry tune, made a sight to be seen or heard. Almost before one dance was ended the Prince started another, and suddenly the Scottish pipers would screech out, and the Prince would fold his arms and fling himself into a Highland fling, and so on fast and furious until far into the hours of the morning, with supper intervening, when our former partners, the footmen, waited upon everyone as demurely as if they had not at all been careering about together just before.’ (pp. 156-59)

          Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge (1833-97) only became Duchess of Teck on her marriage to the Duke on 12 June 1866, so in spite of the title used in the book, these dances probably took place prior to her marriage, and before Gerard Cresswell’s death on 27 October 1865, when his widow went into mourning for some years, and spent her time concentrating on the upkeep of the farm. Sadly, there is no further mention of the Francatellis in the book, and the author never dates any event but one – the near death of the Prince of Wales in 1872.

[53] ‘How the Prince of Wales’ Birthday was kept at Sandringham’ Middlesex Chronicle, 14 November 1863, p. 6. ‘The Princess of Wales’s Birthday’ The Morning Post 4 December 1865, p. 5. (This is not the same report as that quoted in the following note.)
[54] From ‘The Princess of Wales’s Birthday. (From our Special Correspondent)’ in The Standard, 4 December 1865, p. 3. Francatelli had also supervised the cooking for the Sandringham estate’s labourers: ‘Mr Francatelli had the viands ready for the men, though the bulk of these were not ready for the food.’ Later, ‘three long and one cross tables were supplied with plates, knives and forks, and pint mugs, and beside each plate being a third of a half-quartern loaf. The cooks of the house had sent down provisions literally by the cartload. Beef, boiled, roast, or baked, and mutton boiled, formed the staple of the entertainment, but there were a couple of bushels of potatoes bursting their jackets in a copper by the door, and as for carrots and turnips there seemed to be no end to the dishes of them. But who has seen a cartload of plum puddings? As many six-pound plum-puddings as could be set together in the bottom of a great farm cart were drawn by a horse from the kitchen to the coach house, and then all the puddings had not arrived, for some twenty more were carried down in the arms of some volunteers, who thus gave themselves an appetite. It was quite five o’clock when the signal was given to begin. General Knollys, Mr Herbert Fisher, and Mr Holzmann, with Mr Carmichael and some other gentlemen, waited upon the labourers, who were presently reinforced by the gamekeepers released from duty by the safe deposit of the spoil of the day in the game larder. By the time they had got to the pudding a drum and fife band from Snettisham kindly attended with the view of enlivening the proceedings with music; but the drum was indifferently braced, and the fife was wheezy in the extreme, so that the compound was intolerable, and not to be endured. It was a great relief when some genius conceived the brilliant idea of putting into the hand of each boy of the band a wedge of plum pudding weighing about a pound avoirdupois. That stopped the fife, but the drum could both eat and beat, and did.’ Also printed in South Bucks Free Press, Wycombe & Maidenhead Journal, 9 December 1865, p. 6, under the title ‘How the Princess of Wales’s Birthday was Kept at Sandringham’.
[55] [William Blanchard Jerrold], The Epicure’s Yearbook and Table Companion, London: Bradbury, Evans & Co., 1868, pp. 112, 113. The menus of both the ‘Epicure’ Dinner and ‘Le Diner du Cheval’ are given in this edition, on pp. 80, and 82-83, the latter ending with a Note, ‘“The Epicure” can vouch for the general excellence of this banquet, and the horse-dishes were both palatable and appetising.’
[56] For example, the 17th Lancers’ dinner, attended by the Duke of Cambridge, on  28 May 1868 (and on 27 May 1869 – though without the Duke), the 5th Dragoon Guards’ dinner on 1 June 1868, that of the 74th Highlanders on 25th May 1869, of the 13th Hussars on 2 June 1869, and the 7th (Queen’s Own) Hussars on 16 June 1869, to mention a few, as well as a dinner given for a member of the Canadian government by the directors of the Great Western Railway of Canada on 28 January 1869.
[57] The Epicure’s Yearbook and Table Companion, London: Bradbury, Evans, & Co., 1868, p. 80.
[58] The Daily News, 21 December 1867, p. 2.
[59] Apart from William Blanchard Jerrold, the anonymous editor of the Epicure’s Yearbook.
[60] The Times, 21 December 1867, p.5d, mostly reprinted in Illustrated Police News, 28 December 1867, p. 5. Translated as a Disciple of Savarin, the nom-de-plume pays tribute to Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), one of the most influential food writers of all time.  By 2 February, news of this dinner and, it would seem, the run-up to the event, was being reported in Daily Alta California with an extract from the Times report, prefaced by the author of the London letter, under the heading ‘Hippophagy’ – ‘But talking of changes, is it not a dreadful thing to reflect that the roast beef of old England itself is threatened – aye, sir, and by horse flesh? Perhaps next Christmas, instead of gigantic barons of beef which we now see hanging up in the butchers’ shops, decorated with flowers and ribbons, we may smack our lips in an ecstasy of expectation over ribs of horse, with oats and whipthongs set around the joints as garnish. At present the lovers of cooked horse have to suffer here some of the penalties inevitably incurred by the pioneers of science. So great is the prejudice against using a draught animal for food, that no butcher could be got for a long time to kill the beast. The man who did perform that office at last is likely to be ruined, for the streets round about him are covered with placards denouncing him as an unnatural heathen. Then, no hotel could be found to cook and dress the animal; but at length an enterprising individual was found (by name Francatelli), and the repast was served up (but this is a great secret, therefore I proclaim it aloud) at the St James’s Hotel, corner of Berkeley street, Piccadilly. … The evidence is so conclusive that I really believe we shall soon be able to get a plate of horse at the hotels and clubs, and I hope it may prove wholesome.’

Just over a month later, the Langham Hotel, Portland Place, London, hosted a ‘Great Horse Dinner’, organised by Algernon Sidney Bicknell (1832-1911), which was so popular that the largest room in the Langham was crammed with 150 diners, ‘and the artists, surgeons, physicians, litterateurs, members of parliament, barristers, clubmen, and men about town assembled to discuss in a fair but decidedly impartial spirit the dishes set before them. There was little to conciliate beforehand. A guinea and a half is a full price for any dinner, and those who paid it yesterday probably did so in the spirit, cynical or otherwise, of gastronomic enquiry.’ The Times devoted a column (7 February 1868 p. 9f) to the previous night’s dinner, noting that three horses, aged 4, 23 and 22 years, had contributed to it, and their photographs were handed around. The Daily News (7 February 1868, p. 5) devoted a column and a half to its report, and both listed the menu and quoted a letter of support from the Société Protectrice des Animaux, Paris, which was read at the dinner. The French had only licensed the selling of horseflesh in 1866  (‘Horseflesh as Food’ in Islington Gazette, 11 September 1866, p.3), and by January 1868 there were about 18 shops in Paris thus licensed.  On 13 February Bicknell gave a lecture of hippophagy at the Crystal Palace, and invited his audience to partake of samples cooked by his chef. To considerable laughter he stated that the horse was 23 years old, had been driven about in a brougham, and was perfectly sound up to the time of being killed. Members of his audience sampled Julienne soup, pistachio sausages, roast fillet, stewed roll, roast sirloin, and braised round, which were generally enjoyed (Daily News, 14 February 1868, p. 5). See also Chris Otter’s ‘Hippophagy in the UK: A Failed Dietary Revolution’, in Endeavour, vol. 35, no. 2, 2011.  http://www.academia.edu/1037896/Hippophagy_in_the_UK_A_Failed_Dietary_Revolution

[61] Dr Johann Ludwig Wilhelm (or John Louis William) Thudicum (1827-1901) was at this time lecturer in pathological chemistry at St Thomas’s Hospital, London. He had entered the University of Giessen to study medicine in 1847, when he worked after hours in the laboratory of Baron Justus von Liebig (1803-73), the inventor of the Extract. The Baron had formed companies with George Christian Giebert, Société de Fray Bentos Giebert & Cie in 1862 and Liebig Extract of Meat Co. in 1865. They branched out into Fray Bentos Corned Beef in 1873. Giessen University, founded in 1607, is now officially called Justus Liebig Universität Giessen after its most famous faculty member who is considered the founder of modern agricultural chemistry and the inventor of artificial fertiliser.
[62] Morning Post, 12 April 1869, p. 7. He had already endorsed Brown & Polson’s Patent Corn Flour (e.g. Wells Journal, 4 June 1864, p. 1) and Mr G. J. Bliss of Norwich’s Sandringham Sauce – ‘This is a most excellent sauce for Chops, Steaks, Salmis, Grilled Fowls, Game, and Fish – a really genuine Article’ (Norfolk News, 26 June 1864, p. 1).
[63] The Graphic, Saturday 12 February 1870, p. 2. Hugh McCalmont Cairns (1819-85), 1st Baron Cairns and later 1st Earl had been Lord Chancellor in 1868 and again 1874-80. In the intervening years, and at the time of this dinner he was the recognised leader of the Conservative (opposition) party in the House of Lords. Edward Whitty (1827-60) was an English journalist noted for his biting parliamentary reporting.
[64] The Death Certificate, issued on 5 March, gives the cause of her death as ‘Disease of the heart & kidneys’.
[65] Weavers and Weft; or, In Love’s Nest, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915, author of over 50 novels, including Lady Audley’s Secret) first published in the Weekly Supplement to the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 12 August – 9 December 1876, and published the following year in Weavers and Weft, and other Tales, has a witness in a court case dining at ‘Francatelli’s’.
[66] ‘Some twenty years ago the cuisine of M. Francatelli made the early reputation of the St James’s Hotel. Since then, for some occult reason, it has gradually forfeited its early popularity. Successful rivals have sprung up in all directions, and dinners at the St James’s have long since ceased to be the talk of the town. It has lately passed into fresh hands, and the present proprietors have determined to make an effort to do something more than regain the ground which their predecessors lost. They intend, if possible, to make its restaurant overlooking the Green Park, and rechristened ‘The Berkeley’, the Café Anglais of Piccadilly. A chef from that far-famed establishment has been retained, the rooms have been sumptuously decorated with tapestry and fresco painting, and M. Diette, once manager at Meurice’s, who launched both the Continental and the Bristol, has thrown in his lot with the new venture.’ Hampshire Telegraph, 12 May 1888, p. 1.
[67] Morning Post, 9 April 1870, p. 1. Morning Post, 27 October 1870, p. 1. The announcement added that the establishment ‘has been entirely reorganised and great improvements have been carried out.’
[68] Including one for the Royal Masonic Institution for Boys, on 8 March 1871, and the annual Highland Society of London on 21 March 1873, held ‘as usual’, at the Tavern, at which Francatelli ‘was more than once complimented upon the perfection of the ‘Scottish course’ which he placed upon the table, and which consisted of cocky leeky, collops, haggis, shepherd’s pies, and sheep’s heads and trotters’, (The Standard, 24 March 1873), The Freemasons Festival banquet on 28 April 1875 (in Freemason’s Hall), and The Railway Benevolent Institution’s 17th annual dinner on 10 May 1875.

[69] ‘Thirty-First Anniversary Festival of the Royal General Theatrical Fund’, in The Era, 11 June 1876, pp. 12-13.
[70] ‘Death of a Celebrated Cook’ in the Glasgow Herald, 17 August 1876, p. 5a, also in Edinburgh Evening News,  that day, p. 2.
[71] From an untitled article that also covered the history of haute cuisine which appeared in the Daily Telegraph, 17 August 1876, p. 5. Most of it was reprinted in ‘Death of Francatelli, the Cook’ in Freeman’s Journal, 18 August 1876, p. 7.
[72] The Cook’s Guide, with its 40 illustrations and 1,000 recipes, was being advertised as being in its 21st thousand in the Morning Post, 30 May 1867.
[73] ‘Thinking its wide circulation would do good’, T. B. Potter ‘says that the publishers, Messrs. Ireland and Co., will print 100,000 at 30s per 1,000.’ The Graphic, 28 January 1871, p. 7. A copy is in the British Library, shelf-mark: General Reference Collection RB.23.a.28955.

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