From our Collection: King’s Daughters Cook Book and Plum Pudding Recipe

Last week, we told the story of Allan’s Mill, Guelph’s first flour mill. Today, we’re going to tell the story of Margaret Allan. Margaret was the daughter of David Allan, whose father was William Allan Sr.—the man who bought Guelph’s first mill in 1832.

Margaret Allan fell in love with Nathaniel Higinbotham. Nathan was an Irish immigrant who came to Guelph in 1848 and started a pharmacy on Wyndham Street. Margaret’s parents disapproved of Nathaniel, however, because he was Presbyterian and Conservative, and the Allans were Scot Presbyterian and Liberal. The family shipped Margaret overseas to England for a year hoping that distance and a change of scenery would dampen the flames of her passion for Nathaniel. The strategy didn’t work. (Obviously. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Every one knows that.)

The two married in 1862 at the Allan home, and went on to have ten children. Their bed was nicknamed “The Family Ark” on account of the number of children they had. The bed is in the Guelph Museum’s permanent collection.

But that’s not our featured item today. The featured item is The King’s Daughters Cook Book:

Kings_Daughters_Cookbook_cover copy

The King’s Daughters was a charitable woman’s group involved in missions at the Guelph General Hospital, Elliot Home, and various other places in and around Guelph. Many well-respected Guelph women were part of this group, including John McCrae’s mother Janet, and (you guessed it) Margaret Allan (listed “Mrs. Nathaniel Higinbotham” in the cookbook).

The King’s Daughters Cook Book features a plum pudding attributed to Margaret:


If you have ten, small, hungry mouths to feed nightly, you likely have some pretty solid, go-to recipes in your repertoire. Especially for the holiday seasons, when in addition to your children and your husband, guests drop by unannounced, only to pass on holiday greetings, certainly not wanting to stay and impose upon your hospitality—though if there is an extra slice of pudding, they could be convinced to stay for a bite!

Recipe Challenge:

Now that you have Margaret’s recipe, we want you to give it a try and send us a picture of your results. We’ll do the same. This is a traditional plum pudding recipe, which means it uses suet, which is hard to find and not for vegetarians, so feel free to use a modern recipe instead. Get creative and add your own twist.

Also don’t forget to check out our exhibit Deck the Halls at the Civic Museum to learn about how the Victorians celebrated Christmas.


Posted by Dawn Owen on November 28, 2014

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