From the Research Files: Regency Pest Control
Two-and-a-half years ago I started a blog post based on a Google Books find from 1777 called:
The Complete Vermin-Killer
And promptly lost the book in one of my many folders. In my defense, there was a lot going on during that time and in the many months that followed.
Fortunately, I recently found this research gem.
In the pre-Covid time when I discovered this, one of my biggest fears was that the moles infesting the very far north part of our county would travel south of a major cross street and invade my neighborhood.
Okay, it wasn’t one of my biggest fears, but it was a concern because, ugh, those critters destroy a lawn. My daughter had them in her backyard. And I remembered my mother’s struggles with moles infesting her yard. Mom’s favored treatment was mothballs (inside and outside the house, hold your nose), and they weren’t very effective.
The Complete Vermin-Killer, or a Valuable and Useful Companion for Families In Town and Country
That is a very long subtitle, but the publishers, Fielding and Walker of No. 20, Pater-Noster Row, were not finished. Here’s the complete title page:
Bed bugs, or as they call them “house bugs” were apparently a big problem. But five pages of the book were devoted to the extermination of moles. Clearly they were a threat to agriculture.
The methods used were not so different to the modern day methods: chemicals, fumigation, traps…
Here are some of the Georgian remedies:
- Two or three heads of onions, leaks, or garlic
- The juice of wild cucumber or the dregs of oil poured into their holes
But, as when reading an eighteenth century cookbook, I had to look up some of the ingredients.
- A strong lye of water and copperas
- Black or white hellebore mixed with a paste made of wheat flour, milk, and sweet wine or metheglin, and the white of one egg
One that still has me puzzled is the “bark of dog’s-cole”. If you know what that is, please tell me in the comments.
There are many more treatments and approaches discussed.
I don’t foresee moles making it into any future stories, but who knows? Right now I’m writing a character who dabbles in homemade medicinals, so I’m looking forward to the “useful family receipts for the preparation of medicines, for the cure of common disorders.”
And, since I know next to nothing about what makes for a good horse, the section of this book titled “The Gentleman Farrier; or directions for the purchase, management and cure of horses” might be enlightening.
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