Mrs E. Feather: Comfort and Cleanliness

Mrs Feather
Mrs E. Feather

Mrs Feather attracted the attention of members of the English Royal Commission on Agriculture during a major public inquiry into the state of agricultural depression, which was chaired by Charles George Lyttelton, 8th Vct. Cobham. Her efforts were considered to be economically productive with regard to both eggs and meat, and her birds survived exceptionally well. Assistant Commissioner Fox was focussed on profit, and may have been amused to note that Mrs Feather routinely attended to her chickens hourly, from 6AM to 6PM (and later, in some cases). She appears to have suspended these activities temporarily in order to travel to London for the commission.

The commission appears to have requested her accounts, which are summarised in the first appendix of the same British Parliamentary Paper (1895; reference below). Mrs Feather also contributed an article on poultry keeping which was not published or publicly disseminated, but was inserted at the very back of the second appendix at the end of Mr Fox’s report. When it comes to the words and opinion of Mrs Feather herself, the cleanliness, hygiene and comfort of her poultry are vital—the loss of only a single hen out of a hundred was considered to be remarkable and a very positive thing. Much of her advice is the opposite of Lady Fanshawe’s methods from two centuries earlier; she suggests that chickens be allowed to roam and states that overcrowding must be avoided. She does, however, recommend bread soaked in ale for fattening chickens for the table (see Lady Fanshawe).

Mrs Feather’s letter to the commission:

Feather_Letter_1 copy

Feather_Letter-2 copyReport by Mr. Wilson Fox (assistant commissioner) on the county of Cambridge:


FeatherTextExcerpts used on this page are from the Royal Com. on Agricultural Depression Report by Assistant Com. on County of Cambridge Chair: LYTTELTON, Charles George, 8th Vct. Cobham, BPP 1895 XVII.151 C.7871 Royal commission on agriculture. England.

Charles George Lyttelton, 8th Vct. Cobham
Charles George Lyttelton, 8th Vct. Cobham

Charles George Lyttelton, the 8th Vct. Cobham, was a Liberal Member of Parliament elected to the House of Commons for East Worcestershire. He was a skilled cricket player with interests in the development of British railways and agriculture.