John Nourse

While John's career was cut short by death and his reputation overshadowed by the subsequent one of his wife Elizabeth Burn, his own role as the public face of their catering company established the name Nourse as the flavour of Regency Edinburgh at the beginning of the period.

- c. 1805
51 Nicholson Street
At the time of his marriage he was described as 'Gentleman servant'. By 1799 'John Nourse and Co' were confectioners and grocers. On 3 and 24 April 1804 he catered for Corri's Grand Military Promenade and Balls, providing 'Cold Collations, Wines... Tea, coffee, orgeate [a very sweet soft-drink, often mixed with soda-water: a Regency equivalent of Irn Bru perhaps? (3)], confecitonaries etc; the whole prepared by Mr Nouse, Confectioner, of whom private parties may have suppers bespoke for any number.' On 27 April he held a ball of his own at Corri's Rooms:
Mr Nourse, Confectioner, Most respectfully begs leave to acquaint the Nobility, Gentry, and the Public, that his Ball, frmerly advertised, and postponed to a future evening, is now fixed for Friday 27th April 1804, when there will be a Grand Militay Ball unde the patronage of the Colonel and Officers of the 5th regiment of Dragoon Guards, and Colonel Lord Advocate, the Officers and Gentlemen of the First Regiment R.E.V. when the two bands belonging to these regiments, at the commencement of the evening, will alternately perform several favourite pieces. The Ball Music to be conducted by Mr Gow. Gentlemens Tickets 5s each -- Ladies Tickets free. to be had at his shop, no.15 Nicholson Street, at the Music Shops, and at the Rooms on the night of the ball. (4)
His career, cut short by death, was carried on by his wife Elizabeth Burn, who made Nourse's Modern Practical Cookery an international household name.
Chapel connection
1797, baptism
Married on
18 November 1793 (5)
Elizabeth Burn
William (1794 at Dunfermline), Jessie (1795 at Dunfermline), Mary (1796 at Dunfermline) (3), Walter Nourse (1797, Charlotte Chapel)


  1. Registers of Charlotte Chapel (NAS CH12/3)
  2. Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1818
  3. See 'A Splash of Madeira and Some Cordial Water: Popular Drinks During the Regency Era' in Jane Austen's World, Blog, accessed 3 November 2011)
  4. Caledonian Mercury 31 March 1804, 19 April 1804, 26 April 1804.
  5. Elizabeth Driver, Culinary Landmarks, A bibliography of Canadian Cookbooks 1825-1949 (University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2008) p.91

Back to index