Published in 1864, Australia’s first cookbook has gone on display at Tasmania’s State Library in a celebration of its 150th anniversary.  The venue is fitting, given that the author was a Tasmanian, Edward Abbott.


The English and Australian Cookery Book: Cookery for the Many, as well as the ‘Upper Ten Thousand by Edward Abbott, published London, England, 1864

Recipes include roast wombat, kangaroo steamer and slippery bob – which was battered kangaroo brains fried in emu fat.  Yum, yum.

Also included are domestic tips and advice regarding smoking, tea drinking and servants – along with 12 pages of advertisments.  It seems that everything old is new again.

Edward Abbott, the author, interests me because his parents were friends of John and Elizabeth Macarthur.  Edward’s father was an army officer who served alongside John Macarthur in the NSW Corps.  In fact Captain Abbott and the Macarthurs travelled to NSW on the same ship, the Scarborough, in 1790.

I’ve found it hard to learn much about Louisa Abbott, Edward’s mother.  An unverified Abbott family tree website lists her maiden name as Louisa Smith.  Just the sort of name an ex-convict might use…

Louisa had at least three children: Edward (1801-1869); John (1803-1875) and Harriet (1805-1808).  Little Harriet had only just turned two when she died and is buried in St John’s Cemetery, Parramatta.

In 1801 Captain Abbott acted as second in two of John Macarthur’s three (recorded) duels and was, for a time, banished to the garrison at Norfolk Island for his pains.  And in 1804 Mrs Abbott, along with the infant Edward and his baby brother John, fled the uprising of Irish convicts at Castle Hill in company with Elizabeth Macarthur and Eliza Marsden.  The three women, along with their young children, escaped at midnight by boat along the Parramatta River to Sydney.

You’d think Edward Abbott might have wanted to write about that adventure but apparently the cookbook was deemed more likely to be lucrative.  Again, nothing has changed.

To find out more about the cookbook try:

Each of the links above should take you straight to the cookbook.  Links throughout the above text will take you to the relevant page within the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB).  Eliza Marsden doesn’t have her own entry in the ADB – take your chances with her husband Samuel Marsden (the flogging parson) – but she’s interesting enough that I’ll likely blog about her in future.