The First Cup of Tea in England? by Peter Davidson

Peter Davidson

The First Cup of Tea in England?

 

By April 1653, things were not going well for William Blundell, squire, of Little Crosby in Lancashire. In his thirty-third year, he was beset by difficulties. He was a Roman Catholic and therefore subject to legal penalties and fines, as well as daily restrictions on his personal freedom. He had fought for the losing side in the Civil War and his land was threatened with sequestration. At the siege of Lancaster in 1643, a musket ball had struck his leg, leaving him lame. There was a lot of menacing noise all round him: ‘a perpetuall clatter with Affidavits, Reprizalls, Conveyances, Fynes, Fees, Attournements, Recoveryes and Certificats, with a world of other trumpery.’ He dealt with all of this with resilience, faith and a remarkable sense of humour.

We know so much about him because the Blundell family had formed the habit in the 1590s of writing down notes of events in family and national history, verses and songs (including one which begins ‘Luther loved his bonny lass’). Many of the family’s papers were bound up into a household book spanning more than a century, delightfully titled ‘The Great Hodge Podge’, and William Blundell also made copies of many outgoing

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