Books of Husbandry
Thomas Tusser’s Points of Husbandry
Similar to today’s Farmer’s Almanac, books of husbandry were used by farmers to guide their tasks throughout the calendar year. Instructions for animal and crop care were listed by month and season. While books of housewifery (keeping of the home) were intended for women, books of husbandry were intended for men.
One of the most well-know of these books was written by English poet and farmer Thomas Tusser. His book is a mix of instructions and observations about farming and country customs. Tusser’s manual is written in rhyming couplets and has been frequently reprinted up to the present day. His poems include many terms and proverbs in print for the first time.
Thomas Tusser was born in Essex, England, in 1524. He was educated at Eton and King’s College and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Around 1552, Tusser left court life, married, and began farming. First published in 1557, A Hundreth Good Pointes of Husbandrie, eventually grew into Five Hundreth Pointes of Good Husbandrie to as many of Good Huswifery (1573). An informational poem, a calendar, and a how-to book for nobles and laypeople alike, it is thought to have been one of the most popular books of poetry during the time of Elizabeth I.
Five Hundreth Pointes of Good Husbandrie was aimed at small farmers. Tusser praised such virtues as individualism and thrift (“A fool and his money are soon parted.”) His poem was enormously popular in his lifetime and continued to be reprinted through the 19th century. Tusser himself gave up farming later in life; an outbreak of the plague forced him back to Cambridge, and he died in London in 1580.
FIVE HUNDRED POINTS OF GOOD HUSBANDRY - 1672 EDITION Photo credit: Antiquarian Auctions