One illustrious tie to the past for me is my grandfather, seven greats back, Sir George Augustus Elliott. A British general and Governor of Gibraltar during the American Revolution, he was given the title Lord Heathfield, Baron of Gibraltar, in honor of his bravery in its defense during the attack by the Spanish and French. While Sir George was giving his all for king and country, his grandson was fighting under George Washington as a commissary officer. There must have been quite a rift in that family.
Then there are the Scotch-Irish of whom I am one of the many descendants that people this land. The politically correct term is Scots-Irish, but we have always referred to ourselves as ‘Scotch.’ A colorful description of these highly vilified folks is given in an excellent Revolutionary War history, The Road to Guilford Courthouse.
‘They were belligerent, loyal, bigoted, valiant, crude and tough. The men drank hard, fought hard, and moved often. Their young women shocked sensibilities with public displays of bosoms and legs rarely seen in eighteenth century America.’ An Anglican missionary in South Carolina back country described them as ‘Ignorant, mean, worthless, beggarly Irish Presbyterians, the scum of the earth, Refuse of Mankind, and white savages.’
That’s my blood y’all, and the Scotch-Irish made all the difference in how the revolution played out. I hasten to add that my mother insists we descend from the pious noble Scots, but I suspect these others are also somewhere in my heritage.
My absorption with Colonial America encompasses the high drama of the Revolution. Research into the Southern face of the war was partly inspired by my great-great-great grandfather, Sam Houston, uncle of the famous Sam, who kept a journal of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina, 1781, that is used by historians today.
This rich heritage led to further research and a deeper appreciation for those who’ve gone before us. Some of my books are straight historicals while others include light paranormal elements (more or less) but my fascination with the past is a constant. Historical Romance novel Enemy of the King grew out of my preoccupation with early American and the Revolution.
Being a Virginian from the Shenandoah Valley, I’m immersed in history. Nor are we far removed from historic Williamsburg, one of my most favorite places to visit. I’ve touched on various aspects of Williamsburg in other posts and will from time to time.
A popular food that would have been served in the homes of early America is Syllabub. To quote from Colonial food in Colonial Williamsburg: “This dessert/drink tastes like fermented lemon chess pie. It has a thick portion which rises to the top of the glass. This section is eaten with a spoon, then the diner drinks the remaining wine mixture.”
For more on colonial cookery visit:http://www.foodhistory.com/foodnotes/road/cwf1/
Recipe for Syllabub from the Charleston Receipts book. This one is reprinted from The Carolina Housewife by a lady of Charleston, Miss Sara Rutledge, daughter of Edward Rutledge the signer of the Declaration of the Independence.
To 1 quart of cream add 1/2 pint of sweet wine and 1/2 pint of Madeira, the juice of 2 lemons, a little finely powdered spice and sugar to taste. The peel of the lemon must be steeped in the wine until the flavor is extracted. Whisk all these ingredients together, and as the froth rises, take it off with a spoon, lay it upon a fine sieve. What drains from it put in your pan and whisk again. Pour the froth into glasses. Serves 12. Chill.
*Nutmeg was very popular in colonial American so may be the spice referred to in the recipe.
For more on my work please visit: http://www.bethtrissel.com/