Isabella Mary Beeton [nee Mayson] 1836-1865

Mrs Beeton Aged about 26
Mrs Beeton Aged about 26

Isabella Mary Mayson was born on 14th March 1836, the eldest of four children to Benjamin Mayson and his wife Elizabeth [nee Jurrum (per baptism record) but later variously reported as Jerrom/Jarrom/Jarron]. Her siblings were Elizabeth Ann [Bessie] born 1 March 1838, John born 2 September 1839 and Esther born 17 February 1841. Isabella was baptised on 20 April 1836 in St Mary's Church Bryanston Square. Her baptismal record shows the family as living at 40 Upper Baker Street, Marylebone, London.

Benjamin was a linen factor [merchant] and the family lived at 24, Milk Street in an area of Cheapside in the City of London. They had married on 2 May 1835 in St Mary's church, Bryanston Square, Middlesex but Benjamin died in 1840 from "apoplexy" before the birth of his youngest child, leaving his widow with four small children. The 1841 census indicates that Isabella was sent to stay with her paternal grandfather, John Mayson in Carlisle Cumberland for a while and that Bessie was billeted with the Whitaker family of St Botolph Without in Aldgate.

However, the family was reunited by 1843 when Elizabeth married Benjamin's good friend Henry Dorling, a widower from Epsom with four children of his own. This couple then went on to produce another thirteen children through their married life. [See the Dorlings of Epsom]

Epsom Grandstand as shown in The Mirror of Literature, Amusement & Instruction dated 30 May 1829
Epsom Grandstand as shown in
The Mirror of Literature, Amusement & Instruction dated 30 May 1829
Image Courtesy of Project Gutenberg

Henry Dorling and his father William ran a successful printing and publishing business in Epsom and were also heavily involved with the running of the Derby and horse racing in general in Epsom. Henry had been appointed Clerk of the Course so in 1845 was able to lease the Grandstand from the Association for 21 years at £1,000 per annum. As the Association had been running at a loss for some time the Committee gladly accepted Henry's offer and he was able to move his growing family into the vast building which could accommodate 5,000 spectators, thus giving the children space to run about. This household was presided over by "Granny" Jarron, Elizabeth's mother and, as the eldest child, Isabella was expected to help look after the younger ones and act as nursemaid. On race days the children were sent away to Brighton.

Isabella was a well-educated young woman for the times and by 1851 she was sent to Heidelberg to study music and languages. She also took an interest in and learnt how to make pasties. On her return to Epsom in 1854 she taught piano and much to her family's displeasure as they considered it beneath their status, she worked for a while in Barnards a local confectioners, making and selling pastries.

On July 10th 1856 Isabella married Samuel Orchart Beeton [1831-1877]. He came from Milk Street in Cheapside London the same place that Isabella had been born and despite the distance, the two families had kept in touch, no doubt encouraging the union between Isabella and Samuel. The courtship was carried out mainly by letter as there were few opportunities to meet. The wedding took place in Epsom Parish church with Isabella's sisters as bridesmaids dressed in pale green, pale mauve and white. After a continental honeymoon the couple returned to live in a large Italianate property at 2, Chanos Villas on the Woodridings Estate at Hatch End Pinner.

Samuel Orchart Beeton was born on 2 March 1831, the only son of Samuel Powell Beeton [1804-1854], a publican and his wife Helen [nee Orchart] who had married on 21 April 1830 in All Hallows, Bread Street, London. As his mother died shortly after his birth he was brought up mainly by his Beeton grandmother and his only formal education was at Pilgrims Hall Academy, a small private school which he attended from the age of twelve to fourteen. He was then apprenticed for seven years to a paper merchant and publisher in London where he apparently had quite a lively time. After this he set himself up as a publisher in partnership with Charles H. Clarke and they had the opportunity to publish Uncle Tom's Cabin, the anti slavery story by the unknown American author Harriett Beecher Stowe. Samuel immediately saw the potential of the story and it became a run away success, which at the height of its popularity, kept seventeen printing presses going. Samuel is also alleged to have sailed to America to present Harriett Beecher Stowe with a voluntary payment of £500.

The cover of the English Woman's Domestic Magazine
The cover of the English Woman's Domestic Magazine

After the death of his father in 1854, Samuel sold the public house in Milk Street to concentrate on his publishing business and within a few months of their marriage Isabella started writing articles on household hints and cookery items for Samuel's successful publication "The English Women's Domestic Magazine", a two penny monthly aimed at the middle classes. She later added items on childcare, something she was accustomed to after helping with all her brothers and sisters.

Samuel followed this success with "The Boy's Own Magazine", a Christmas annual, dictionaries and guides. By now Charles Clarke had left the partnership and Isabella became more involved in running the business, giving them a very successful professional and private life together. Samuel also encouraged her to write the work for which the Beeton name is still remembered, "Beeton's Book of Household Management." This was first published in parts between 1859 and 1861 with a straight forward approach to running the home and was exactly what was needed for the expanding Victorian middle classes. This gave information for the Mistress, Cook, Kitchen-maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under-Housemaids, Lady's-Maid, Maid-of-all-work, Laundry Maid, Nurse and Nurse-maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses etc etc. The cookery section took up most of the book with easy to follow recipes, ingredients, prices, weights and cooking times all clearly shown This book is now out of copyright but may be viewed at Isabella never claimed that the book was all her own work and it is clear that many of the recipes came from other sources but she did try or taste them herself trying to teach her readers that good living could be achieved without expense.

First edition book cover
First edition book cover.
Image courtesy of

During the hard winter of 1858 she opened a soup kitchen in her home for the poor children of the area.

In 1861 a new up market weekly "The Queen" was launched and Isabella visited Paris to establish a French connection for the magazine that included the latest Paris fashions and offered a pattern service to its readers.

The couple had four sons; their first child, Samuel Orchart, was born in the last week of May 1857 [no birth registration was ever made] but died three months later on 25 August while the family were away at Newmarket.

Their second son named Samuel Orchart was born on 3 June 1859 but died, at the age of three, of scarlet fever on New Years Eve 1862 while the family were on holiday in Hove, Sussex.

Their third child, Orchart Beeton [1863-1947] was born at the Beeton company offices on December 2, 1863 and a fourth son named Mayson Moss [1865-1947] was born on 29 January 1865. Mayson later went on to have a distinguished career in government.

Following Mayson's birth at their new home in Mount Pleasant, Swanscombe, Kent, Isabella developed peritonitis and puerperal fever and died on 6th February 1865, eight days after the birth of her son. There is speculation that her husband Samuel O Beeton had in fact also infected Isabella with syphilis.

She was twenty-eight years old when she was buried on 11 February 1865 in the Norwood Cemetery, Norwood Road, Lambeth, London.

Samuel never fully recovered after Isabella's death and in 1867 "The English Women's Domestic Magazine" became involved in controversy over articles on tight-lacing and beating. This was followed by further problems in 1872 when he used the Beeton Christmas annual to satirize the royal family. This led to two court cases in 1874 and 1875 and forced Samuel to sell his business to his rivals Ward, Lock and Tyler. He returned to independent publishing but his health deteriorated and he died on 6 June 1877 of pulmonary consumption at Sudbrook Park, Petersham Richmond Surrey. He left his two sons in the care of their uncle, Sidney Perkes Beeton.

Samuel and Isabella are buried, together with their first two sons in West Norwood Cemetery. The existing tombstone was erected in the 1930's by their surviving children Orchart and Sir Mayson, the original stone having fallen into disrepair. The site of their first home in Pinner has also gone, destroyed by bombing in 1940 but they are still remembered in the area by a road called Beeton Close.

The Beeton's headstone in West Norwood Cemetery
The Beeton's headstone in West Norwood Cemetery
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2015

This article was researched and written by Janet Painter, © 2011

Sources include:
'The Short Life & Long Times of Mrs. Beeton' by Kathryn Hughes ISBN 1-84115-373-7

Typical recipes from Mrs Beeton


INGREDIENTS.-- A few slices of rich cheese, toast, mustard, and pepper. Image of a hot water cheese dish
Mode - Cut some nice rich sound cheese into rather thin slices; melt it in a cheese-toaster on a hot plate, or over steam, and, when melted, add a small quantity of mixed mustard and a seasoning of pepper; stir the cheese until it is completely dissolved, then brown it before the fire, or with a salamander. Fill the bottom of the cheese-toaster with hot water, and serve with dry or buttered toasts, whichever may be preferred. Our engraving illustrates a cheese-toaster with hot-water reservoir: the cheese is melted in the upper tin, which is placed in another vessel of boiling water, so keeping the preparation beautifully hot. A small quantity of porter, or port wine, is sometimes mixed with the cheese; and, if it be not very rich, a few pieces of butter may be mixed with it to great advantage. Sometimes the melted cheese is spread on the toasts, and then laid in the cheese-dish at the top of the hot water. Whichever way it is served, it is highly necessary that the mixture be very hot, and very quickly sent to table, or it will be worthless.
Time - About 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
Average cost 1-1/2d. per slice.
Sufficient - Allow a slice to each person.
Seasonable at any time.


(Author's Recipe.)
Thought to be the only recipe from an Epsom source -
The Baroness de Teissier of Woodcote Park
INGREDIENTS - 3/4 lb. of suet, 3/4 lb. of raisins weighed after being stoned, 3/4 lb. of flour, 1/2 pint of milk, 1/4 saltspoonful of salt.
Mode - Prepare the suet, by carefully freeing it from skin, and chop it finely; stone the raisins, and cut them in halves, and mix both these ingredients with the salt and flour; moisten the whole with the above proportion of milk, stir the mixture well, and tie the pudding in a floured cloth, which has been previously wrung out in boiling water. Put the pudding into a saucepan of boiling water, and let it boil, without ceasing, 4-1/2 hours. Serve merely with plain sifted sugar, a little of which may be sprinkled over the pudding.
Time - 4-1/2 hours. Average cost, 1s. 4d.
Sufficient for 7 or 8 persons.
Seasonable in winter, when fresh fruit is not obtainable.
Note.-- This pudding the editors cannot too highly recommend. The recipe was kindly given to her family by a lady who bore the title here prefixed to it; and with all who have partaken of it, it is an especial favourite. Nothing is of greater consequence, in the above directions, than attention to the time of boiling, which should never be less than that mentioned.
Text and image courtesy of (opens in a new window)