Cider Musings

John Worlidge 1640–1700

John Worlidge or John Woolridge was an agriculturalist, who lived in Petersfield, Hampshire, England. He was considered a great expert on rural affairs, and one of the first British agriculturalists to discuss the importance of farming as an industry. No portrait of John is known. He signed his books cryptically J W Gent

His first published book Systema Agriculturæ, or the Mystery of Husbandry discovered … by J. W., Gent., was first published in 1668. Worlidge appears to have carefully studied the writings of his predecessorsand the anonymous writers whose works were published by Samuel Hartlib. Gent was the standard abbreviation for gentleman at the time. 

This work treats of improvements in general, of enclosing meadows and pastures, and of watering and draining them, of clovers, vetches, spurry, Wiltshire long-grass (probably that of the meadows of Salisbury), hemp, flax, rape, turnips, &c A Persian wheel was made by his direction in Wiltshire, in 1665, that carried water in good quantity above twenty feet high, for watering meadows, and another near Godalming in Surrey. Sowing clover and other seeds preserved the cattle in the fatal winter of 1673, in the southern parts of England; whereas in the western and northern, through defect of hay and pasture, the greater part of their cattle perished. Hops enough were not planted, but we imported them from the Netherlands of a quality not so good as our own.

In 1676 Worlidge published his book on cider, Vinetum britannicum, He advocated the production of cider over that of wine in England because it was better suited to the climate and resources after the climate cooled. This book separated the science of cider making from the mystical and religious of previous books and was popular being reprinted and several new editions made.


It is recognised as the first book to discuss the viability of cider as an industry specific to the British Isles and climate. And goes into great depth in the process and includes details of secondary fermentation and keeping cider in glass bottles cool in running spring water. He also describes making early versions of the current craze of adding fruits and flavours to cider. In chapter 5 section 7 of the 3rd Ed 1696 he mentions spices inc juniper, wormwood, ginger cloves cinnamon rosemary elderberries and mulberry. Although he prefaces it with the statement "There is not any Liquor that has less need of Mixtures than Cider. Being of itself so excellent, that any addition whatsoever maketh it less pleasant"