Lady Ashburnham Pickle

Lady Ashburnham Pickle

A mustard relish, Lady Ashburnham pickle originated in New Brunswick. It is also called Lady Ashburn or Lady A relish. Whatever you call it, it’s the best mustard pickle that I have ever eaten.

lady ashburnham pickle photo d-stewart

I have, however, never made it. Fortunately, I know people who do and they keep me supplied. I’m especially proud of the relish pictured here because those are our cucumbers in it.

You want large cucumbers, I was told, preferably when they’ve gone yellow. So the good news is that you can leave this until you’ve finished your other pickles. The bad news is that you can leave this until you’ve finished your other pickles. By the time I’ve done bread and butters, dills and relish, I don’t want to see another cucumber! Thankfully, others have more stamina.

I fell in love with Lady Ashburnham relish when I bought a jar from the lady who ran the Cowtown Market on Main Street in Sussex. She had made it, and was surprised that I had never heard of it or of Lady Ashburnham. So she told me about her, then I googled for more.


From My New Brunswick, here is how to make the relish. Equally delicious is the story of the Ashburnhams of Fredericton, which follows here.

Lady Ashburnham Pickle: Ingredients

  • 6 large cucumbers (peeled with seeds removed and chopped into a ¼ to ½ inch dice)
  • ¼ cup [pickling] salt
  • 4 cups onions, chopped fine
  • 2½ cups [white] vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1 tsp. celery seed



  • Cut your cucumbers and onions into small pieces and mix together in a large pot; I use a food processor for the onions but cut the cucumber by hand. (I find the cucumbers are much too delicate to chop in a processor and they may very quickly turn to mush).
  • Add salt to cucumbers and onions, and let sit overnight.
  • Next day, drain and rinse salt. Add the remaining ingredients.
  • Cook over low heat for 45 mins, making sure to stir the pickles often.
  • Carefully pack into hot sterilized jars. Wait for the “pop”, store and enjoy!


Lady Ashburnham of Fredericton

lady ashburnham fredericton-region-museum-fb

Lady Ashburnham was born Maria Elizabeth Anderson in 1858 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Her parents were William Henry Anderson and Lucy Ann Stephenson.

Rye, as she was called, worked as a night telephone operator in Fredericton. Thomas Ashburnham was one of her frequent callers. She’d put him through to the livery stable so he could get a ride home. They began talking more during his calls, eventually met, fell in love and married in June 1903.

Capt. Ashburnham was the 5th son of the Earl of Ashburnham in Sussex, England. Retired from the 7th Queen’s Own Hussars, he emigrated to New Brunswick in 1901.

Ashburnham and Anderson Family Tree

lady ashburnham chart d stewart

But in 1913, Thomas Ashburnham’s eldest brother Bertram, the 5th Earl, died. Bertram had a daughter but his only son died soon after birth. Of his six brothers, only Thomas was still alive. So Thomas found himself the 6th Earl of Ashburnham and Viscount St Asaph.

Finding Freedom, 1914 style

The new earl and countess moved to the family estate in Sussex. It didn’t work out so well. Rye did not feel comfortable with his family. So they did a Harry and Meghan. They returned to Fredericton, but they kept the titles. Over the next few years Thomas sold his properties in England and Wales except for Ashburnham Place.

Ashburnham Place Sussex UK
Ashburnham Place in the late 1800s from Landed Families of Britain.

In Fredericton they moved back into their Ashburnham House on Brunswick Ave. It was two houses they had knocked together into one quite grand house. There they entertained. Rye’s younger sister Lucy was their housekeeper.

One of sister Lucy’s specialties was a mustard pickle. It proved very popular at dinner parties. “I hope Lady A has some of her lovely pickle with dinner tonight,” I imagine was said by more than one guest.

In 1924 Lord and Lady Ashburnham sailed to England for a visit. He caught pneumonia on the way and died soon after their arrival. He is buried at Ashburnham Place. Lady Ashburnham returned to Fredericton.

Brunswick Street houses from Google street view

The Ashburnhams had no children. With no male heirs in the family, the peerages became extinct. The family estate went to his niece Catherine, Bertram’s daughter. She died in 1953, leaving no children, so it passed to her cousin’s son, Rev. John David Bickerstheth. He donated most of it to the Ashburnham Christian Trust.

Lady Ashburnham kept Ashburnham House in Fredericton where she remained until her death in 1938. Her sister Lucy died in 1943 at the age of 79. Titles and houses may be gone, but the pickle remains. A treasured legacy from the Anderson sisters.

There is a lovely painting of Ashburnham House in its heyday in Impressions of Historic Fredericton by Fernando Poyatos (tap title for Amazon).

Historic Fredericton

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. It is now summer 2023, and I continue the tradtion,my late mom Tina, of making Lady Ashburnham pickles. Mom sold cases of of this tasty Maritimes delight at the Boyce Market in Fredericton. it was always one of my favorites. I miss you mom.

    1. Hi Paul, I hope your pickles turn out well. But, since you have your mother’s knowledge to help you, I’m sure they will. I was pleased enough with my first attempt last year that I’ll be making them again soon. I’ll think of your mom while doing so. Thanks for writing.

  2. My sister in law and myself made Lady Ashburnham pickles.
    We love them too.
    thank you for the story and the recipe.

    1. You’re welcome, Barbara. I made Lady A pickles last week. The house smelled wonderful from them. 🙂

  3. Heather Hay Charron. You would have the exact mustard pickle lady ashburnham pickle recipe i have been searching for as well as your green tomato chow chow recipe. Would you please share them with me.
    Thanking you in advance.

    1. Hi Joan, I’ve sent your comment on to Heather in case she doesn’t see it here.

  4. My recipe for Lady Ashburnham pickles also has cauliflower, celery along with the peppers, onions and cucumbers. It is delish!!

    1. Hi Sherry, what a great idea. They would be really good in it. Thank you for the inspiration!

    2. Actually that recipe with cukes, onions, peppers. cauliflower and
      celery is not a Lady Ashburnham recipe but a very old Cape Breton recipe that we from that area have been making for more
      than 100 years. Along with an increased volume of flour and spices we also add a teaspoon of curry powder..I also do Lady Ashburnham relish and everyone loves both!

  5. My great-grandmother made Lady Ashburnham Pickle every summer, and my grandmother carried on that tradition. As a small child in the 1950s, I used to eat it with toast for breakfast whenever I was staying at Grandma’s, and I loved it. I wrote out the recipe for myself one summer and, although Grandma has been gone for many years, I remember those hot, long-ago summers pickling beets, making chow chow and, of course Lady Ashburnham Pickle. And, of course, I make it myself.

    1. Hi Heather, on toast for breakfast – why hadn’t I thought of that! It sounds wonderful. Thanks for writing. Summer pickle making with grandma is a nice image to be given on a snowy morning.

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