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Syrup of Poppies


Poppy flower-heads boiled, commonly with raisins, liquorice, aniseed and sugar (Moxon 1764). A cough remedy or the basis of sedative drinks.

Papaver Somniferum, the Opium Poppy

There are numerous reports of deaths from Poppy Syrup throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries. The 'Leeds Intelligencer' on Tuesday 12 July 1791 (p3), reporting the death of a baby from a misjudged dose of the medicine, said that; "...opium, laudanum, nay even Godfrey's cordial, syrup of poppies, and poppy tea, are deleterious poisons, and there is reason to fear that the lives of some, and the constitutions of many children, fall a sacrifice to such medicines, when imprudently administered."

Original Receipt in 'English Housewifry' by Elizabeth Moxon, 1764 (Moxon 1764)

Take two pounds of poppy flowers, two ounces of raisins, shred them, and to every pound of poppies put a quart of boiling water, half an ounce of sliced liquorice, and a quarter of an ounce of anniseeds; let these stand twelve hours to infuse, then strain off the liquor, and put it upon the same quantity of poppies, raisins, liquorice, and anniseeds as before, and let this stand twelve hours to infuse, which must be in a pitcher, set within a pot or pan of hot water; then strain it, and take the weight in sugar, and boil it to a syrrup: when it is cold, bottle it.

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