Digby, Sir Kenelm

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Digby, Sir Kenelm (1603–65) an adventurous and romantic figure of 17th-century England whose eccentric and posthumously published recipe book has earned him the interest and esteem of food historians.

His father, a convert to the Roman Catholic Church, died when he was still a boy; and it was a Protestant uncle who took him, at age 14 and for two years, to Spain, where he began his lifelong habit of collecting medical and culinary receipes. Later, at Oxford, he studied under a famous mathematician and astrologer, and also fell in love, with a notorious beauty, Venetia Stanley. Opposing the match, his mother packed him off on on a three-year Grand Tour of France and Italy, but he married Venetia when he returned and the marriage lasted happily for eight years, until Venetia’s sudden death in 1633.