Cider Musings

William Lawson

The second writer in the 17th C of note on cider and orcharding.


Lawson was a graduate of Christ Church College Oxford and vicar of Ormsby in north Yorkshire from 1583. Not much is known about his personal life. He wrote New Orchard and Garden, Or the best way for Planting, Grafting, and to make any pound good for a Rich Orchard; particularly in the North Parts of England, published in 1618, dedicated to Sir Henry Belasyse of Newburgh Priory  ( spelt Belloses in the book) who was a relative. It was reprinted many times .

Newburgh priory was founded for the Augustinian Monks  until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538 by Henry VIII. It was purchased the following year by  Anthony de Bellasis, a royal chaplain, for £1,062  Anthony had been responsible for the dissolution of not only Newburgh, but also eight other monasteries in the north of England. His nephew Sir William Bellasis (1524–1604) converted Newburgh into a private residence in 1546.  His eldest surviving son Henry inherited it. Being a religious house it is unclear whether the moated orchard was there before and William Lawson used the idea or whether William recomended it. However plans show this and William recommends it ""But of all other ( in mine opinion) Quickwoods and moats, or ditches of water is the best fence."

Contained within the book as well as copious details on planting and pruning fruit trees is the use of apples and pears in cider and perry. His joy of nature shines though even for a Yorkshireman! " every wondrous thing  that greens a grows"  and " One chief grace hat adornes an orchard I cannot let slippe: A broode of Nightinggales, who with their several notes and tunes, with a strong delightsome voice, out of a weake body, will beare you company night and day"

"In France .... and in England they make great use of Cyder and Perry, thus made: Dress every Apple, the stalk, upper end, and all galls away, stamp them, and strain them, and within twenty four hours run them into clean, sweet and sound vessels, for fear of evil air, which they will readily take will be as wholesome and pleasant as Wine. "