Elizabeth Raffald (1733 – 19 April 1781) was an English businesswoman, remembered chiefly for her 1769 book The Experienced English Housekeeper.


Raffald was born in Doncaster in 1733.

Between 1748 and 1763 she was employed as a housekeeper by several families, including the Warburtons of Arley Hall in Cheshire, where she met her future husband, John Raffald, Arley Hall's head gardener. In 1763 the couple moved to Manchester, where Elizabeth opened a confectionery shop and John sold flowers and seeds at a market stall. She also ran a cookery school and outside catering business from the shop, supervising formal dinner parties for the new money of Manchester. Of her nine children, only three daughters survived into adulthood.[1]

Raffald opened what was probably Manchester's first register office, an employment agency for servants. In 1772 she produced the first trade directory of Manchester and Salford, upgraded and reissued further editions in 1773 and 1781, invested in two local newspapers and also wrote a book on midwifery, under the guidance of Charles White, one of the founders of the Manchester Royal Infirmary, but she died before its publication. The Raffalds ran a coaching inn, The King's Head in Chapel Street where she tried hiring out carriages, holding regular entertainments and catering for the officers mess. They left there in debt due to John's drinking and he then took on a licence at The Exchange coffee house where again she catered, while still revising the directory and writing the midwifery book. She also took a stall at Kersal Races, supplying refreshments for ladies and gentlemen. She died at the age of 48 of a spasm and was quickly buried at Stockport Parish Church without her name on the headstone.


Raffald Experienced Housekeeper 2nd Course Table Layout

Raffald was author of the "extremely successful" The Experienced English Housekeeper. Her book, published locally in 1769, went through 13 authorised editions and at least 23 pirated ones.[2] In 1773, she sold the copyright to her publisher for £1400,[1] equivalent to about £163,000 as of 2017. In that book, she was the first cook to offer the combination of bride cake, almond paste, and royal icing.[3] It was a definitive work of instruction for fine dining using basic cooking principles, aimed at novices. She is also thought to have devised the modern Eccles cake, using flaky pastry instead of a yeast-based mix.

First page of the Manchester Street Directory, 1772

Raffald compiled and published the first trade directory for Manchester and Salford in 1772.


A blue plaque marked the site of the Bulls Head pub which Raffald ran on Market Place in Manchester.[4] It was damaged in the 1996 Manchester bombing and replaced in 2011 with a new black version on the Marks and Spencers Building, 7 Market Street.[5] In 2012 Arley Hall announced that some of Raffald's recipes would added to the menu in the hall's restaurant. General manager Steve Hamilton called her "a huge character in Arley's history and it is only right that we mark her contribution to the estate's past".[2] In 2015 Elizabeth Raffald was one of six women nominated for a public vote to decide the subject of a new statue in Manchester.[6]

Selected works

  • Raffald, Elizabeth (1772). Directory of Manchester and Salford, 1772. Manchester. 
  • Raffald, Elizabeth (1794). The English housekeeper for the use and ease of ladies, housekeepers, cooks, &c. written purely from practice...etc. Manchester: R. Baldwin. 
  • Raffald, Elizabeth (1984). Directory of Manchester and Salford, 1772: An Illustrated Reprint of the First Manchester and Salford Directory, 1889. Swinton: Neil Richardson. 




  1. ^ a b Local History Library of the Manchester Central Library (1978), pp. 5–6
  2. ^ a b "Georgian chef Elizabeth Raffald's recipes return to Arley Hall menu", BBC, retrieved 6 April 2013 
  3. ^ Wilson, Carol (2005), "Wedding Cake: A Slice of History", Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, 5 (2): 69–72, doi:10.1525/gfc.2005.5.2.69 
  4. ^ "Elizabeth Raffald (1733–1781)", Open Plaques, retrieved 17 February 2018 
  5. ^ "Plaque to Elizabeth Raffald, Marks and Spencer's Building, 7 Market Street", retrieved 21 November 2015 
  6. ^ Williams, Jennifer (20 October 2015), "Shortlist of six iconic women revealed for Manchester's first female statue for 100 years", Manchester Evening News, retrieved 21 November 2015 

Further reading

  • Appleton, Suze (2015), Elizabeth Raffald's The experienced English housekeeper of Manchester, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, ISBN 978-1-5084-4944-7 
  • Shipperbottom, Roy (1997), Introduction to Elizabeth Raffald's The experienced English housekeeper, Portico Library 
  • Shircliff, E. (1999), Elizabeth Raffald her biography and family tree, Amazon 

External links