Being a family historian is a true labour of love, but it is also quite the learning process. We are going to try something much different. Instead of doing a monthly newsletter or even a quarterly newsletter we will do a blog. Here is where I can post neat things that I have found or post the puzzlers that I run up against.
Join me as I time travel through time uncovering stories of our wonderful ancestors!!
Friday, 22 January 2016
Week Three Shrewsbury Cakes
They say “A child is raised by the village” and I say this
Palin Family History Research could not be done without your generous
contributions and help.
The latest GREAT find comes with help from my “Palin Guru”,
Bob Palin in Seaforth near Liverpool. Bob has been researching
the many lines of the Palin tree for a very long time and he has shared so much
over the years.
I am very excited about this find. It is indeed a sweet addition to the
"Mr Palin, prince of cake compounders
The mouth liquifies at thy very name!"
That’s right, Mr.
Palin of Shrewsbury Cake fame is none other than our very own James Palin
youngest son of the Portrait Palins!!!!!!!!!
There has been so much
confusion with this James Palin born in Aldford in 1758 to Thomas and Elizabeth
Palin. We had thought that he had
married a Martha Boffey/Boughey and that turned out to be false. The only thing we did know about him was that
he apprenticed as a Bookseller and Binder with a Peter Broster in Chester in
So the search was on
for a bookseller named James Palin and lo and behold we found him. Our James Palin had moved to Shrewsbury and
had a bookstore there. He married a
woman, Frances Hill, whose family had a bakery and when the inlaws died the
bakery was turned over to him. He
continued to run the book store and the bakery and making a success of both.
I have not been able
to find any children from this marriage and James died in Shrewsbury in 1828.
I also went searching
for why our James Palin and his cakes should show up in print. It seems the author, Richard Harris Barham1788 – 1845, (aka Thomas Ingoldsby) must have travelled
through Shrewsbury and had one of the sweet cakes from Palin’s store. He never forgot how good they tasted.So when he was writing his tale about the murderer Bloudie
Jack at Shrewsbury Castle and had a woman feed him a sweet cake to save herself
from being killed, Barham then added the infamous footnote – “Oh Palin, Prince of cake compounders!
The mouth liquefies at thy very name”
I have found a gazillion different recipes on line for the infamous
Shrewsbury Cakes, the strangest one was made with rose water. If any of you go to make them, let me know
how they turn out!!!
This is what Bob Palin had sent me that proved what I had found about
by LC Lloyd for a Shrewsbury Historical Newsletter
cakes as we have pointed out, were well known some four centuries ago, but their
most famous maker was PAILIN who dates from more recent times. Who was PAILIN?
It would seem to be evident he was a confectioner, who kept his shop at the
corner of Castle Street and School Lane and who made Shrewsbury cakes of such
surpassing quality that they called forth an admiring apostrophe from the author
of the "Ingoldsby Legends". But beyond this PAILIN appears to be an
elusive will o' the wisp sort of fellow and the endeavour to clothe his shadowy
personality with some habiliments of fact has proved a task of some difficulty.
Eventually however after a good deal of searching a certain amount of
evidence has emerged.
of persons named PALIN or PAILIN make their appearance in Shrewsbury
records of the 18th & 19th centuries, but the only one who
could have had a thing to do with Shrewsbury cakes is the James PALIN
confectioner and stationer Castle Street, who is included in Thomas Marshall's
"Directory of Shrewsbury" for 1804. No other confectioner with a shop
in Castle Street is mentioned, so we are safe in assuming that this was none
other than the celebrated cake maker. The fact that he was also a stationer
enables us to supplement considerably our knowledge of his life from the
records of local printers and booksellers published in the
"Transactions of the Shropshire Archeological Society". From
this source it appears that PALIN was the most celebrated of all makers of
Shrewsbury cakes was neither a Salopian nor by trade a confectioner.
He was born at Chester, where his father was a grocer, apprenticed to the trade
of bookselling, admitted a freeman of Chester in 1784 and apparently went into
business there. Whether he found that Chester offered insufficient scope for
his talents we do not know but about the year 1790 he migrated to Shrewsbury
and in 1792 he became a member of the Shrewsbury Bookseller's Company passing
the foreigner's admission fee of 10 pounds.
predecessor in the confectionery shop School Lane was a Mrs. HILL."HILL
baker and confectioner " is included in Minshull's "Salopian
Directory, Raven Street" of 1786, and no other confectioner with an
address in Raven Street is mentioned Raven Street is of course the old name for
Castle Street. Mr. S H PLUMMER who occupied the shop until 1938 when it was
acquired by Ms Phillip's Stores, Ltd, had a copy of the old drawing of the premises
in which both names HILL and PALIN were painted up over the front; he also had
an old label (found tacked on a box lid, among some rubbish) addressed in ink
to Mrs. HILL (" confectioner, Castle Street, Salop" and dated 20th
May 1793. (The label incidentally was formed by the back of a playing card).
advertisements of PALIN's cakes the claim is made that the business was
established in the year 1760. There seems to be no definite evidence to
authenticate that date, which appears in red upon a tradition handed down to
successive owners of the business. Such an early date cannot apply to PALIN,
who did not come to Shrewsbury until about 1790, but it may well refer to the
establishment in business of his predecessor, Mrs. HILL or her husband. Of the
latter person however we have no knowledge - even his Christian name is unknown
and the circumstances of the origin of the business must for the
present remain a mystery
In St. Mary's
parish registers there appears a record of the marriage in 1791 of James
PALIN of St. Chad's parish to Frances HILL of St. Mary's parish. Without much
straining of probabilities it may be suggested that the bridegroom was the
Chester bookseller, removed to Shrewsbury, and that the bride was the daughter of
Mrs. HILL the confectioner. This would explain how James PALIN the bookseller
became James PALIN the confectioner. He may be said to have become a
confectioner by marriage. And further may we not hazard the guess that the
cakes whose delicate flavour so captivated the author of "The
Ingoldsby Legends" were made by the fair Frances whose mother would no
doubt have initiated her into the secret of their making, rather than by
James, whose training and experience had been acquired in another field.
evident from a survey of the information available that James PALIN was first
and foremost a bookseller. By a curious almost ironical chance his name
lives as a maker of Shrewsbury cakes - despite the possibility - we can put it
no higher - that he never made a cake in all his life. He owes his name
entirely to the "Ingoldsby Legends" reference, and it is an
additional irony, that the spelling of his name in that reference is incorrect
and the name has thus been perpetuated to this day in an incorrect form. In all the contemporary references to him his
name is spelled PALIN. "i" thee intrusive "i" of the
Ingoldsby Legends reference and of all later references does not
once occur. Thanks to the Rev R H BARHAM's sweet tooth and imperfect observation,
James PALIN the bookseller has his niche in the Temple of Fame as PAILIN the
maker of Shrewsbury cakes.
1815-1816 PALIN was elected warden of the Shrewsbury Bookseller's Company - the
highest position in the company - and a newspaper reference in 1821 indicates
that in that year he was still in business as a bookseller. This is the latest
certain reference to him that has been found. In 1829 however a newspaper
record of the death of James PALIN of St. John's Hill at the age of 71 years,
may refer to him. If so he had retired from business, for according to a
directory published in 1828 the confectionery in Castle Street seems to have
been occupied at that time by Thomas OWEN. OWEN remained in business until 1851
if not later, and in 1868 we had the shop in the occupation of Thomas PLUMMER,
in whose family the business remained until 1938. It was then taken over by Ms.
PHILLIPS & STORES Ltd, who thus became the makers of PAILIN's
Shrewsbury Cakes and sole proprietors of the famous secret recipe from
which the cakes were, and still are made.
familiar circular trademark of "PAILIN's Original Shrewsbury Cakes"
incorporating the three loggerheads of the borough arms was originated by
Thomas PLUMMER and first used by him in June or July 1873. It was registered
under the Trade Marks Registration Act of 1875 on the 17th April 1878 having
been advertised in "The Trade Marks Journal" of 2nd January 1878.