Primary Sources 50 stories from 50 years of the Archives

Rhubarb, cardamom and opium

This compact book belies the wealth of information contained within. In neat cursive is the 'Inventory of the Stock, Implements & Cattle belonging & now being upon the tenement of Eames Hill' and 'Inventory of the household Goods & of all the Personalls & Appurtenances of Francis Meyler of the Town & Country Haverfordwest', recorded from the 7 to 20 March, 1740.

This is the financial tally of a man's home and business, one Francis Meyler, apothecary. Anything of value is inventoried. In turn all rooms in the house are visited, assessed and listed — the dining room, parlour, black room, kitchen, closet, stairs, garret, cellar — as well as the backyard, loft, orchard and farm stock.

Meyler's business is listed and registered similarly, giving an intriguing insight into the practical workings of such a business. Chemicals, drugs, preparations (galenicals), apparatus, and herbs, spices and minerals such as asafoetida, myrrh, opium, rhubarb, coriander, tamarind, mustard seed, cinnabar and treacle are listed, measured and valued.

The apothecary's book is part of the Bright Family collection, which dates back to the 15th century and records 500 years of British and Australian mercantile, social and family history. Within the extensive records of this family there are many other inventories, registers and lists, including sugar traded, the transport of slaves and their registration, and goods and provisions for transport to the Caribbean and Australia.

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