Susanna Whatman

Susanna Whatman (born Susanna Bosanquet) (23 January 1753 – 29 November 1814) was a British writer on household management who came to notice about 200 years after her birth.

Susanna Whatman
Whatman by George Romney
Whatman by George Romney
BornSusanna Bosanquet
23 January 1753
Hamburg, Germany
Died29 November 1814 (1814-11-30) (aged 61)
Baker Street, Westminster, London
NationalityKingdom of Great Britain
Notable worksSusanna Whatman Her Housekeeping Book


Whatman was born in 1753 in Hamburg. She was the daughter of Elizabeth and Joseph Bosanquet. Her father was a director of the Levant Company and the East India Company. Her grandfather had been a Huguenot who had left France in 1686.[1]

She married James Whatman on 3 December 1776. He was the son of James Whatman and they had created an innovative paper business in Kent. Her husband had been married before to Sarah (born Stanley) who had just died. He had two children from that marriage.[2]

"A View of Vinters at Boxley, Kent, with Mr. Whatman's Turkey Paper Mills" by Paul Sandby in 1794[3]

Sarah became the head of the household at their home near Maidstone called Turkey Court. In her first year, 1776, there she wrote down a detailed set of instructions for herself and their servants in household management. She would add to and improve these notes over the next 24 years[4] including when they moved to "Vinters"[1] in 1782. Her husband had bought the house, at Boxley in Kent, a few years before and £5,000 was spent on the house when they moved in.[5] There is a painting by Paul Sandby which shows Vinters in 1794 and the paper mills that had created the family's income.[3] Her husband died in 1798 having sold the mills years before when he had a stroke. Whatman's son James married in 1811 and she gave up the job of running the big house of Vinters.[1]

Death and legacyEdit

Whatman died in Baker Street in 1814.[1] Her writings received no notice until 1952 when Susanna Whatman Her Housekeeping Book was published.[6] Her writing shows that although her houses had many rooms, Whatman demonstrates that she had an intimate knowledge of each room and its contents. She knew how the sun would enter a room and she appreciated the damage it could inflict on carpets and decorations if the sun was not kept from the room.[7]

Vinters, was a Whatman family home for many years. It was requisitioned for work during the second world war and it was demolished some time after 1956. The grounds are now (2020) a nature reserve and open to the public.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Brown, Robert (2004). "Whatman [née Bosanquet], Susanna (1753–1814), writer on household management". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/55398. Retrieved 2020-08-30. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Baker, Anne Pimlott (2004). "Whatman, James (1702–1759), paper maker". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/40776. Retrieved 2020-08-30. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ a b "A View of Vinters at Boxley, Kent, with Mr. Whatman's Turkey Paper Mills - Paul Sandby RA, 1731–1809, British". Google Arts & Culture. Retrieved 2020-08-30.
  4. ^ Whatman, Susanna (1956). The Housekeeping Book of Susanna Whatman, 1776-1800. G. Bles.
  5. ^ a b "About The Reserve – Vinters Valley Nature Reserve". Retrieved 2020-08-30.
  6. ^ Whatman, Susanna (1952). Susanna Whatman Her Housekeeping Book/introduced by Thomas Balston ; Decorated by Lawrence Josset ; [Forword by Brooke Crutchley]. University Press.
  7. ^ Ponsonby, Margaret (2016-04-15). Faded and Threadbare Historic Textiles and their Role in Houses Open to the Public. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-13690-3.