George Sanders (1774-1846)

The name George Sanders cropped up during our research so as always we felt compelled to learn a little more about him. Our first port of call being the usual online sources such as DNB.  Sure enough  there he was on the DNB website, George Sanders born 1774, Kinghorn, Fife, son of John Sanders and his wife, Jean, née Bruce, so of course we wanted to check out his details date of birth, siblings etc and anything else we might glean from his baptism.

George Sanders by Andrew Geddes. National Galleries of Scotland, Scottish National Gallery.
George Sanders by Andrew Geddes. National Galleries of Scotland, Scottish National Gallery.

So far so good, this was going to be really straightforward or so we thought, until we realized that we couldn’t immediately find his baptism from the information we had.  After a few minutes we realized that the reason for this being that there was a second George also born in 1774, not in Kinghorn, Fife, but in Keith,Banff, now part of Moray, Scotland.

The George born 1774 at Kinghorn, Fife, with the correct parents, was in fact a George Saunders, not Sanders as shown in the baptism register below.

George Saunders 1774 baptism
George Saunders baptized 4th May 1774, Kinghorn, Fife. Parents John Saunders and Jean Bruce

So, this has left us with the dilemma as to which child the artist was, as there is no definitive proof we have included the baptism for George Sanders below. It seems likely that this George Sanders remained in Banff  where he married and had at least one child in 1800, but then he disappeared.

George SANDERS baptism 5th Jan 1774
George Sanders born 5th Jan 1774, parents James Sanders and Elizabeth Keith

We checked the 1841 census just to make sure which name was recorded on there and sure enough he was recorded as George Sanders, 25 Allsop Terrace, London then his death which was reported as having taken place on 26th March 1846, according to The Times of  Saturday, 28th March 1846, then his burial, again buried as Sanders.

George Sanders All Souls Kensal Green burial
George Sanders All Souls Kensal Green burial

And finally his will, and sure enough  … Sanders. Unfortunately in his will there were no family members named only two close friends, shipbuilders of Leith, one of whom was Thomas Menzies, so we can only assume that he had no family remaining when he wrote his will or he that he chosen not to include them.

We have found no mention of George being known as Saunders, he is even included in the Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Men of Fife of Past and Present Times by Matthew Forster Connolly (1789-1877), published 1866.

So was he actually the George Saunders of Fife as shown in the first baptism and opted to change his name to Sanders when he moved to England about 1806 or was he actually the George Sanders born in Banff?  We really can’t decide, so if anyone can shed any light on this we would love to hear from you.

Lord Byron Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
George Gordon, 6th Lord Byron (1788-1824) painted c1807-1809 Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
(c) National Trust, Tatton Park; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Mary Elizabeth Egerton (1782–1846), Lady Sykes (c) National Trust, Tatton Park; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) National Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Admiral George Keith Elphinstone (1746–1823), 1st Viscount Keith (c) National Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Washday Blues – Duties of a Georgian Laundrymaid

(c) Lady Lever Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) Lady Lever Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Last week we took a look at the duties of a housemaid (click the link to find out more), but if the house was large enough to warrant it, then a laundry maid would also have been employed, if not, then the role would have simply been added to the already onerous duties of the housemaid. The average annual salary for a laundry maid in 1750 was £5 (approx £450 in today’s money). In 1685 Hannah Woolley wrote a book which explained exactly what the duties of servants was; this book could still be purchased in the 1750’s for a mere 1 shilling.

The Compleat Servant Maid

The information below is taken from another fascinating book written by a Mrs William Parkes who gives clear instructions as to what an employer should expect their laundry maid to be able to do.

Before laundry is sent to be washed, laundry should be examined, and if any part require to be repaired, it should be kept back.

The housemaid/laundry maid should keep an account of the number of the articles that are sent to the laundry, and count them over on their return, to see that all are right, and well aired and should replace them in the linen-press. In putting by the fresh-washed linen, care should be taken to place it so that the whole stock may come into use in regular succession, by placing it, for instance, under the rest of the linen, or at the back of the press.

Tate; (c) Tate; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Tate; (c) Tate; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

If the linen be put damp into the linen-closet, it will be mildewed, and stains produced which cannot easily be removed. A good maid will manage her work in so methodical a manner, that she will never either feel or appear to be hurried. Every day in the week will have its allotted portion of the weekly cleaning; by which means no one day will be surcharged with work, so as to occasion bustle or annoyance in the family. The drawing-room, the dining-room, and the library, she should contrive to clean thoroughly at those times in which the family are absent.

I would certainly advise you to procure one who has been accustomed to the business of the laundry, as that is not a department which you can yourself superintend ; nor can a housekeeper do so to any great extent, without neglecting some of her other avocations. Your eyes will quickly tell you if she wash the linen clean, and get up fine muslin tolerably well. If this should not be the case, you must, certainly, notice it directly, or the colour of your linen will be injured.

Young woman ironing – Louis-Léopold Boilly, Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

One thing you must remember, that your laundry should have every convenience to facilitate the work. The wash-house should be well supplied with soft water, boilers, and tubs. A washing machine saves labour, but I believe that the clothes are not so well washed as by the hand; and some imagine that it wears out the linen, and tears it.

In the laundry there should be a good stove (for the double purpose of heating the irons and airing the linen), and also a mangle.

Muslins and light things should be washed in clean water, as their colour cannot be preserved if any other apparel have been, previously, washed in the water. I am convinced that the laundry-maid would much more easily preserve the good colour of her linen, and-linen spare her own hands, if she changed the water more frequently, although it might occasion a greater expenditure of soap. Flannels are sometimes washed in cold water, mixed with ox or sheep gall; but this is the old-fashioned mode, and many ladies now prefer to have them washed in clean hot water. The colour of flannel is entirely lost if it be washed in water in which anything else has been previously rinsed.

Courtesy of Wellcome Trust

Besides the essential articles of soap, blue, and starch, the laundry-maid should always have a supply of salt of lemon, citrate of potash, and bleaching liquid, with which to remove inkspots, iron-moulds, or other stains from the linen before it is washed.

The quantity of soap used in a week’s wash may be reckoned at the rate of half a pound per head; which includes the washing of the household linen as well. The quantity of starch depends, of course, upon the number of articles to be starched. Sometimes it is fashionable to have muslin dresses starched and when table linen is worn and thin, a little starch improves their appearance, by giving them something of the consistency of new linen.


The Laundress, Jean-Baptiste Greuze.
The Laundress, Jean-Baptiste Greuze. J. Paul Getty Museum

Some laundry-maids are so careless as to tear the linen in stirring it while boiling, making use of any rough stick they can find; and, also, sometimes to permit the water in the copper to get very low, by which means the linen is liable to be scorched by the fire. Such negligence should always be reproved. Soap is an article very easily wasted by a careless servant, and it requires some vigilance, either in the housekeeper or in the mistress of a family, to prevent it. When the quantity used weekly has been ascertained, it should be weighed out for each washing, nor should the laundry-maid be permitted to.

lwlpr21540 washing mill
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Needless to say, occasionally accidents happened!

Dowager Lady Walpole
Lloyd’s Evening Post, October 10, 1764 – October 12, 1764


Earl of Shelburn
General Evening Post, July 28, 1739 – July 31, 1739

Our final offering on the subject of laundry maids comes from the Daily Advertiser , Thursday, September 27, 1744.



Public Advertiser,  Friday, November 11, 1757

Life below stairs – the duties of a Georgian housemaid

lwlpr14293 - maid of all work
‘Maid of all work’ – courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Many of our posts take a look at the upper echelons of Georgian society, so this time we thought it might be interesting to look at what it would have been like to have worked ‘below stairs’ as a housemaid in a Georgian household: it’s not quite Downton Abbey though!

Although these duties weren’t written until towards the end of the Georgian era, the workload would more than likely have been the same for the previous hundred years or more. Having taken a look, our conclusion is that it’s certainly not a job for us, what do you think? To learn about the duties of a laundrymaid click on the link.

lwlpr02996 - Statute Hall for hiring servants
Statute Hall for hiring servants


A housemaid should be active, clean, and neat in her person. Be an early riser, of a respectful and steady deportment, and possessed of a temper that will not be easily ruffled. She must be able to see without much appearance of discomposure her labours often increased by the carelessness and thoughtlessness of others.

Many a dirty foot will obtrude itself upon her clean floors; and the well-polished furniture will demand her strength and patience, when spotted or soiled by some reckless hand.

lwlpr09742 - maid servant being scolded
Maid servant being scolded, courtesy of Lewis Walpole


The sitting rooms in daily use are first to be prepared. Upon entering the room in the morning, the housemaid should immediately open the windows to admit the fresh air. She should then remove the fender and rug from the fire-place, and cover, with a coarse cloth, the marble hearth, while the ashes and cinders are collected together and removed. The grate and fire-irons are afterwards to be carefully cleaned. If the grate has bright bars, it should be rubbed with fine emery paper, which will remove the burnt appearance of the bars. Fine polished fire-irons, if not suffered to rust, will only require to be well rubbed with a leather.

The carpet should be swept with the carpet broom not oftener than once a week, as more frequent use of the broom would wear the carpet too fast but, each day, it should be swept with a good hair broom, after it has been sprinkled with moist tea leaves. Sofas, and any other nice furniture should be covered over with a large calico cloth, kept for that purpose before the sweeping commences; and window curtains should be hung up as high as they can be out of the way of the dust. After the carpet is swept, the dust must be removed, either with a soft round brush, or with a very clean linen duster, from the panels of the doors, the windows and window- frames, ledges, and skirting boards. The frames of pictures and looking-glasses should never be touched with linen, but the dust should be cleared from them with a painter’s brush, or a bunch of feathers.

Where footmen are kept, the charge of rubbing mahogany furniture devolves on them, otherwise it becomes the care of the housemaid. The chairs and tables should be rubbed well every day and on the mahogany tables, a little cold drawn linseed oil should be rubbed in once or twice a week, which will, in time, give them a durable varnish, such as will prevent their being spotted or injured by being accidentally wetted. Bees-wax should not be used, as it gives a disagreeable stickiness to everything, and ultimately becomes opaque. When there are any spots or stains upon a table, they must be washed off with warm water before the oil is put on.

La Récureuse – The Scrubbing Woman, André Bouys. (1737)
La Récureuse – The Scrubbing Woman, André Bouys. (1737)

The chimney-ornaments, glass-lustres, or china, should be very carefully removed while the mantel-piece is either washed or dusted; and as the housemaid replaces them, she should, with a clean duster, wipe them free from the dust. The window-curtains are then to be dusted with a feather broom, and properly replaced on the hook.

About once a week the sills of the windows should be washed with soap and water, and the windows cleaned from the dust everywhere within reach.

lwlpr09523 Dinner just over
‘Dinner just over’ Courtesy of Lewis Walpole

The stairs and stair-carpets should next be swept down if time will allow of this duty before breakfast, as it is not a pleasant thing to be done when the family are moving about. And whenever good opportunities occur, such as the chief part of the family being absent from home for a few hours, the housemaid should avail herself of these to take the stair carpets up, and have them well beaten and shaken, while she scours the stairs down, and rubs the brass wires bright. The wainscot-board should also be washed, and the bannisters and hand-rail well rubbed.

As soon as the different members of the family are assembled at breakfast, the housemaid should repair to the bed-chambers, open the windows (unless the weather be damp), draw the curtains up to the head of the bed, and throw the bed-clothes upon two chairs placed at the foot of each bed, and leave the feather-beds open to the air.

When this has been done in all the rooms in use, she should then bring her chamber-bucket, with a jug of hot water, and with the proper towels, empty and clean out all the chamber-vessels in each room, and then instantly carry off, empty, and wash out the bucket, and turn it down in some appropriate place, that the water may completely run off from it. When quite dry, she will, of course, carry it to the closet appointed for her use, in which she keeps her brooms, brushes, and the rest of her cleaning apparatus. She should next carry water-jugs, one with soft water and another with pump-water, into every bedroom, and fill the water-ewers and decanters. The towels should be put before an open window to dry, or be changed, and the washing table put into complete order. The beds, which during this time have been left exposed to the air, have now to be made, and in this another of the female servants should be appointed to help her, as the feather ones cannot be well shaken, or the mattresses turned, by one person. It is very necessary that feather-beds should be well shaken, or the feathers will knot together, and render the bed hard and uncomfortable. Once or twice a week the paillasses should be turned, and every day the flock-mattresses and the beds. The sacking-cloth and bedstead should be dusted occasionally.

It is necessary to remind those who are called from other household work to assist in making the beds, that they should previously wash their hands, as nothing looks more untidy or disgusting than the marks of dirty fingers upon the bed hangings, sheets, or counterpanes. With cleanly servant, this can seldom occur. The beds being made, the curtains are to be shaken and laid upon the bolster, and a large calico coverlet should be thrown over the whole, and coarse towels over the washing and dressing-tables. If the bed carpets are small and loose, they should be taken up before the beds are made; but if they are fastened down, which is very customary now, damp tea-leaves should be strewed over them previous to their being swept with a stout hairbrush. After the room is swept, a damp mop or flannel, passed under the beds, the chests of drawers and wardrobes collects the flue and dust, and this should be done every day, as the best mode of keeping bed-rooms free from troublesome insects of every kind. A clean mop should belong to the housemaid for this purpose. Nothing betrays an untidy housemaid more than the flue being suffered to accumulate beneath the beds. After the room is swept, the ledges, panels of doors, and window-frames are all to be dusted, and the furniture rubbed and dusted.

Twice during the week bedroom carpets should be taken up and shaken, and the floors under them swept free from dust, and occasionally scoured. In the country, scouring is not so frequently done as in town, but the floors are oftener dry-rubbed.

In winter, a bedroom should never be scoured, unless the weather be mild and dry, for nothing is so likely to injure health as damp in a bedroom. As soon as a housemaid thinks she has finished a room, she ought to look around her and examine if she has omitted anything, which will show care and attention, and prevent her mistress from being obliged to call her up, to admonish her of any neglect.

During the winter, when there are fires in the bedrooms, the housemaid should, before sweeping the room, collect and carry away the ashes, clean the grate and fire-irons, and lay, with small pieces of wood, a neat fire, ready to be lighted either before dinner or at night, according to orders.

lwlpr09470 Swift's advice to servants
‘Swift’s advice to servants’ courtesy of Lewis Walpole

While the family are at dinner, the housemaid should again repair to the dressing and bedrooms, to put in order those things which have been used and disarranged at the dressing hour. Between the time of her own dinner and tea, she ought to be employed in sewing, perhaps in repairing the household linen, or in any work appointed for her.

Early in the evening, the beds should be turned down, the windows shut, the curtains drawn, the fires, if required, lighted, and the rooms are prepared for the night.

lwlpr02989 - The pretty maid with her apron before the candle
The pretty maid with her apron before the candle – courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Francis Cotes (20 May 1726 – 19 July 1770)

Paul Sandby 1761 Francis Cotes 1726-1770 Bequeathed by W.A. Sandby 1904
Paul Sandby 1761 Francis Cotes 1726-1770, Tate

As Francis was born this week in 1726 we thought it would be an ideal opportunity to take a quick look at his life and some of his wonderful paintings. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do. The first one looks quite a modern pose in our opinion.

Anna Maria Astley, Aged Seven, and her Brother Edward, Aged Five and a Half 1767 Francis Cotes 1726-1770 Purchased 1981
Anna Maria Astley, Aged Seven, and her Brother Edward, Aged Five and a Half 1767 Francis Cotes 1726-1770, Tate

Francis was born in London, the son of an apothecary Robert Cotes and his wife Elizabeth née Lynn, on the 20th May 1726 and then baptized at St Mary-le-Strand on 29th June 1726. Although unfortunately the image of this christening is quite poor we felt we had to include it.

Francis Cotes baptism

He studied his craft as a pastelist under the watchful eye of the portrait painter George Knapton, after which he established his own business based in his father’s premises in London. As his father was an apothecary Francis learnt about chemistry and was able to use this knowledge to his advantage when making his pastels. Cotes was always regarded as being a serious rival to Gainsborough and Reynolds and was a founder member of the Royal Academy.

Alice Countess of Shipbrook by Francis Cotes
Alice, Countess of Shipbrook

In 1762 the Register of Duties paid for Apprentices show that Francis took on a new trainee, one John Russell  (1745-1806)  who became renowned for his his portraits also and as a writer and teacher of painting techniques.

Francis Cotes - The young cricketer (1768)
The young cricketer – Portrait of Lewis Cage (1768)

Six years before his death Francis finally married, to Sarah Adderley. The couple married on the 3rd October 1764.

Francis Cotes marriage

One amusing comment noted in  The Diary of Mrs Hester Lynch Thrale being:

Whose picture is that said I, and that Lady’s pray, who is as eminent for her ugliness methinks, as anyone here for her beauty, hold for God’s sake says Francis Cotes, in a fright, ’tis my own wife, it is indeed; and I have been married to her but a fortnight’.

Princess Louisa and Princess Caroline by Francis Cotes, 1767
Princess Louisa and Princess Caroline 1767

Francis died on the Thursday afternoon, 19th July 1770, at Richmond, in Surrey, according to the Middlesex Journal, not on July 16th, 1770.

and was buried a week later on the 26th July at St Mary Magdalene, Richmond.

Francis Cotes July 1770 St Mary richmond

Our quick look at some of his paintings wouldn’t be complete with at least one courtesan, so here we have the infamous Kitty Fisher.

Kitty Fisher; Chawton House Library
(c) Chawton House Library; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation



ThralianaThe Diary of Mrs. Hester Lynch Thrale (later Mrs. Piozzi) 1776-1809, Volume 1

Lloyd’s Evening Post, July 23 1770 – July 25 1770

Middlesex Journal or Chronicle of Liberty July 21, 1770 – July 24, 1770

Header image: Detail from the portrait of Henry Cope, ‘The Green Man’, by Francis Cotes

A View of Paris from the Pont Neuf by Nicolas-Jean-Baptiste Raguenet, 1763, Getty Museum (image via Wikimedia Commons)

Grace Dalrymple Elliott – New book due out January 2016

The 15th of May marks the anniversary of the death of Grace Dalrymple Elliott, Georgian Era courtesan and reputed mother of the Prince of Wales’ daughter, Georgiana Augusta Frederica.

Georgiana Augusta Frederica Elliott (1782–1813), Later Lady Charles Bentinck courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Georgiana Augusta Frederica Elliott (1782–1813), Later Lady Charles Bentinck courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Grace died in Ville d’Avray, Paris, in 1823, having lived a long and tumultuous life filled with adventure and experiencing both the highs and the lows of the society of her age. Although she is best remembered as a demi-rep, there is so much more to her than that: she was not merely a fashion icon and the mistress of titled men, but a strong woman in her own right, one who lived upon her own terms. Sadly though, at the end of her life, Grace had little left; her one remaining close family relative was her young grand-daughter who she adored, and Grace’s dying regret was that she had nothing but her best wishes to leave her.

As long-term readers of our blog may know, we have written a biography of Grace, An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott, the product of many years of research into her life, which will be published by Pen and Sword. It contains much information that is new to Grace’s story, and some rarely seen illustrations and pictures too; our book is also a broad insight into the social history of the Georgian era, interspersed with the fascinating lives her maternal and paternal family led across the globe. It is both the story of Grace’s life and her family history.

Mrs Grace Dalrymple Elliott by Thomas Gainsborough (Metropolitan Museum of Art).
Mrs Grace Dalrymple Elliott by Thomas Gainsborough (Metropolitan Museum of Art).

An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott will be published in January 2016, and is available for pre-order from this summer.

If you would like to be kept informed in the meantime, please do consider subscribing to our blog where, alongside our remit of ‘blogging about anything and everything to do with the Georgian Era’, we will also now post regular updates on the progress of our book.

The Bathing Habits of Queen Caroline

Mistress of the Court

Today we welcome another guest to All Things Georgian, the lovely writer Laura Purcell  (, author of Queen of Bedlam. Laura has another book due to be released on the 4th August 2015 which is the  biographical story of Henrietta Howard  –  Mistress of the Court.  With that we will hand over to Laura to tell us all about Queen Caroline’s bathing habits –  it makes fascinating reading.

Queen, Queen Caroline washed her hair in turpentine,

Turpentine to make it shine, Queen, Queen Caroline

 The personal grooming habits of George II’s wife, Queen Caroline, were so unusual that they passed into legend and nursery rhyme. And while I have not found any proof that she used such a dangerous substance as turpentine for her hair, she was certainly washing it more often than the average Georgian woman at court.

In general the hair would be cleaned only by a thorough brushing, with washing in rosemary water taking place perhaps fortnightly, or at even greater intervals. And as far as the skin went, it was the hands, face, feet and personal areas that were cleaned every day. Full immersion in water was rare. Partly, this was due to the difficulty, not to mention the expense, of heating the amount of water required for a bath. You would also need to afford the help of servants to lug the water forward and backwards. But even those rich enough to obtain steaming tubs of water would use it sparingly. Medical science at the time considered it dangerous to overindulge in baths. The sudden changes of temperature when getting in and out of the water threatened chills, while opening up the pores made them susceptible to infections. This is not to say that every early Georgian had an unpleasant odour – the habit of brushing the skin, particularly under the arms, helped to carry away many impurities.

out of; (c) Warwick Shire Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

When Caroline arrived in England as Princess of Wales in 1714, she amazed the court with her regular bathing habits. She was always a progressive thinker, challenging opinions of science and religion amongst other subjects. She liked her skin and gowns to be clean and her servants well manicured – a feat which must have been quite difficult for those involved in the dirty work of running a household. At one point in her life, Caroline was separated from her children with only limited access to them. It is interesting to note that she insisted on bathing them and putting them to bed herself. While I imagine the heavy lifting of water would have been done by a servant, the main point is that Caroline considered it good practice to bath her children regularly – something which may well have earned her censure as a ‘careless’ mother.

If you visit Hampton Court Palace, you can still see Caroline’s bathroom. The bath itself is hidden behind a reconstruction of an early 18th century wooden partition, screening the royal bather from anyone peeking up through the windows from Fountain Court. The tub would be lined with linen, and a little stool placed in it for Caroline to sit upon. She would not bathe naked like us – some accounts say she wore a thin muslin gown while others describe a yellow canvas shift. Ornamental ewers of hot water would be fetched from the kitchens and poured into the bath. There was also a tank of cold water in a room out the back – just in case temperatures got a bit too steamy! The soapy concoctions whipped up for Caroline to wash with were mainly scented with orange and rosewater. These would be brought to her by her ladies, who would then retire to wait in the closet next door. When summoned, they would return and help to wrap Caroline in hot linen towels, which had been warmed by the fire.


Occasionally, you will smell a heavy, old-fashioned perfume in Caroline’s rooms at Hampton Court. To me it resembles rose otto, which is not the same as the rose scent we know today but a deeper, rather waxy fragrance used frequently in the Georgian period. The scent seems to travel through the rooms, sometimes following people around – a strange phenomenon I have personally experienced. Other people say they cannot smell it at all. Legend has it that this is Queen Caroline’s spirit, hovering around her old quarters. The idea is perhaps a little fanciful, but it is a testament to the cleanliness and good grooming habits of this queen that even her ghost has a reputation for smelling pleasant.


Queen of Bedlam 

Amazon UK


Mistress of the Court

Amazon UK



The Military Bishop – Frederick, Duke of York

In February 1788 a member of the royal family was lampooned by The Town and Country Magazine in one of its notorious Histories of the Tête-à-Tête articles, Memoirs of the MILITARY BISHOP and the CONVENIENT WIFE.

Frederick, Duke of York, second son of King George III, was the subject, designated by the title of The Military Bishop. Born on 16th August 1763, he had been sent to Hanover from a young age to pursue a military career. By the time of the magazine article, he was Colonel of the Coldstream Guards and had been granted the title of Duke of York. The epithet ‘Bishop’ makes reference to his election, at the age of only six months, in 1764, to the title of Prince-Bishop of Osnabrück in what is today Lower Saxony.

Frederick, Duke of York, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1788
Frederick, Duke of York, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1788

His mistress, a beauty from her picture, known only by the appellation of The Convenient Wife, was married to another, but had never had a sincere attachment to her husband. Neither, according to the article, did she have any regard to her own character and it was she who seduced her royal suitor, their amour carried on initially by letter.

Frederick - tete a tete

Eventually they began to conduct secret assignations, but were discovered by the lady’s servant, who ran home to tell the cuckolded husband, certain of a reward for doing so.

But the husband, a phlegmatic man unhelpfully named only as Mr. _____, surprised the servant by berating him for being a liar and a rascal, who had defamed his mistress for mercenary motives: the servant was thrashed, paid his wages, stripped of his livery, and turned out of doors.

Mercenary motives were, however, what now focussed the mind of the husband, who had only pretended to be enraged. Taking a poker, he broke the door of his wife’s cabinet, made of slight Indian wood, and discovered the letters which proved ‘the written evidences of her incontinence and his own dishonour’.

The Convenient Wife was in the arms of her royal lover, unaware that her husband had discovered her secret. But she was not to remain ignorant for long for, upon returning home that evening, she found her spouse sitting with the letters spread before him. He kept his cool through his wife’s confusion, and proposed that she repay her infamy by means of using her influence with the Duke to procure a position for him, either in the church or in the army. The Town and Country Magazine ended their article by saying, ‘. . . in one department he certainly will be placed, as the humble servant of his lady carries not only a truncheon but a crosier, and is completely church militant’.

Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia
Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia

Whoever The Convenient Wife was, she was soon supplanted in her Duke’s affections. He went on to make an unsuccessful marriage in 1791 to his cousin, Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia, the main attraction being the lady’s fortune (he was forever in debt!).

The Soldier's Return, courtesy of the British Museum, showing the Duke of York and Princess Frederica.
The Soldier’s Return, courtesy of the British Museum, showing the Duke of York and Princess Frederica.


A treaty of marriage is on the tapis at Berlin, between the Duke of York and the Princess Frederica of Prussia, a very beautiful and accomplished lady. The match is not yet finally settled, as the Duke is said to have desired eight millions of dollars as a marriage portion, the greater part of which is to pay his debts. The King, we are informed, has offered his Highness the half of that sum.

(Stamford Mercury, 17th June, 1791)

Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery
Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

The couple soon parted and the slightly eccentric Frederica lived at Oatlands surrounded by pet dogs, whose company she much preferred to that of her husband. In 1809 Frederick was to once more court scandal when another mistress, Mary Anne Clarke, was accused of selling army commissions signed by the duped Duke.

Mary Anne Clarke by Adam Buck, 1803. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.
Mary Anne Clarke by Adam Buck, 1803. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.

An adept administrator, which made up for failings in a military capacity, he is the subject of the well-known nursery rhyme The Grand Old Duke of York.

The grand old Duke of York,

He had ten thousand men.

He marched them up to the top of the hill

And he marched them down again.

And when they were up, they were up.

And when they were down, they were down.

And when they were only halfway up,

They were neither up nor down. 

Courtesy of the British Museum
Courtesy of the British Museum

Frederick, Duke of York, died of dropsy on the 5th January 1827 aged 63 years. Had he survived he would, in due course, have succeeded to the throne of England after his elder brother, King George IV. Today his statue stands atop the Duke of York Column, erected in 1834 close to The Mall in London.

Duke of York column


Gilbert Pidcock’s travelling menagerie

Roll Up! Roll Up! Today we invite our readers to visit Pidcock’s Royal Menagerie at Exeter ‘Change and also touring the country, so all can join in.  All manner of incredible and rare animals, some never seen before. And all for just one shilling.

Come on in, and prepare to be amazed . . .

Courtesy of the British Museum, 1799
Courtesy of the British Museum, 1799


Whatever deserves the Epithet of RARE, must certainly be worthy the Attention of the Curious.

JUST Arriv’d from the ISLAND of JAVA, in the East-Indies, and ALIVE, one of the greatest Rarities ever brought to Europe in the Age or Memory of Man,


It is described by the late Dr. Goldsmith as follows, viz. The Head inspires some Degree of Terror like a Warrior; it has the Eye of a Lion, the Defence of a Porcupine, and the Swiftness of a Courser; but has neither Tongue, Wing nor Tail. Its Legs are stout like the Elephant, Heel as the Human Species, and three Toes before; it is upwards of six Feet high, and weighs above 200lb. Its Head and Neck is adorned with a Variety of beautiful Colours, the Top a Sky Blue, the Back Part Orange, the Front Purple, adorned on each side with Crimson, curiously beaded, and its Feathers resemble the Mane of a Horse – and what is more extraordinary, each Quill produces two Feathers.

The Dutch assert that it can devour Glass, Iron, Stones, and even burning Coals, without Fear or Injury.

This Bird laid a large Egg at Warwick, on the 14th of January last, which is of a green Colour, spotted with white.

Ladies and Gentlemen One shilling each.

PIDCOCK, the Proprietor of this BIRD, will be at Sheffield Fair the 28th Instant; and will visit all the other principal Towns in Yorkshire.

(Leeds Intelligencer, 16th November, 1779)

Engraving, THE LION, by Thomas Bewick, 1753-1828, one of a series of large cuts, 1799-1800, for Gilbert Pidcock, proprietor of a travelling menagerie. Courtesy of the National Trust.
Engraving, THE LION, by Thomas Bewick, 1753-1828, one of a series of large cuts, 1799-1800, for Gilbert Pidcock, proprietor of a travelling menagerie. Courtesy of the National Trust.


GRAND MENAGERIE of WILD BEASTS and BIRDS, all alive, is just arrived, and now exhibiting at the White Lion, Corn-Market, DERBY. This invaluable Collection consists of two Mountain Lion Tygers, Male and Female – two Satyrs, or Ætheopian Savages, ditto – a He Bengal Tyger – a Porcupine – an Ape – a Coata Munda – a Jackall – four Macaws – two Cockatoos, one of which will converse with any Person in Company; with a Number of other Curiosities not inserted.

N.B. The large Beasts are well secured, so that the most timorous may approach them with the greatest Safety.

Admittance 1s. each – a Price by no means adequate to the Variety of Curiosities exhibited.

(Derby Mercury, 31st December, 1789)

Engraving, THE TIGER, by Thomas Bewick, 1753-1828, one of a series of large cuts, 1799-1800, made for Gilbert Pidcock, proprietor of a travelling menagerie. Courtesy of the National Trust.
Engraving, THE TIGER, by Thomas Bewick, 1753-1828, one of a series of large cuts, 1799-1800, made for Gilbert Pidcock, proprietor of a travelling menagerie. Courtesy of the National Trust.

Just arrived from the Lyceum, and Exeter Exchange, Strand, London, and to be seen during the fair, in the market-place, two of the grandest assemblages of living rarities in all Europe: consisting of two stupendous and royal OSTRICHES, male and female. These birds exceed in magnitude and texture of plumage all the feathered TRIBE in the CREATION. They already measure upwards of NINE FEET high, although very young! – Also a BENGAL TYGER, a young LIONESS, a real spotted HYÆNA, a ravenous WOLF, two ring-tailed PORCUPINES; an AFRICAN RAM, with four circular horns; and twenty other animals and birds, too numerous to insert. – Admittance, 1s. – Servants, half-price. – Likewise in the other exhibition is the ROYAL HEIFER with TWO HEADS, a beautiful COLT, of the race kind, foaled with only THREE LEGS, got by Sir Charles Bunbury’s Diomed, out of Barcelli, which was the dam of Marcia, now the property of Lord Derby; also a RAM with SIX LEGS. – In addition to the animal curiosities one of the most extraordinary productions of the human species will be shewn, namely the double-jointed IRISH DWARF, who will engage to carry two of the largest men now existing, both at the same time. – Admittance, as above. – Birds and beasts bought, sold, or exchanged, by G. Pidcock. – The above collection will proceed to Warrington, Liverpool, Manchester, &c.

(Chester Chronicle, 14th October, 1791)

Courtesy of the V&A.
Courtesy of the V&A.

Things did not always go to plan though. In 1792, Friday the 13th really lived up to its reputation as a day for disaster, as least as far as Gilbert Pidcock’s travelling menagerie was concerned while travelling through Lincolnshire . . .

On Friday the 13th inst. as Mr Pidcock was proceeding from Gainsborough to Brigg, with his exhibition of birds and beasts, a terrible clap of thunder, attended with lightning, took place, which frightened the horses, and they set off on full gallop, threw the ostrich carriage over, broke it to pieces, broke the back of the female ostrich which died the next day, and the male ostrich was bruised in so terrible a manner, that it died at Newark, on Wednesday the 25th. The Irish dwarf had his collar bone broke, and was otherwise much hurt, but is now in a fair way of recovery.

(Stamford Mercury, 27th April, 1792)

Exeter Exchange, courtesy of the British Museum.
Exeter Exchange, courtesy of the British Museum.

Time to celebrate – 100,000 hits on All Things Georgian


Here at ‘All Things Georgian’ we have topped the 100,000 hits on our blog, so time to celebrate. We have been simply astounded by the level of support from all our readers and for the lovely comments we have received both on the site and on social media. We would like to say a massive ‘Thank You‘ to everyone who has read our blog and a special ‘Thanks’ to those who have helped us to promote it.

When we began writing our blog it was simply designed as somewhere to put information that we weren’t using in our books and thought that some of our discoveries might interest one or two people. For the first few months it ‘ticked along’ with a few hits each month and we were delighted that a few people were interested in our ‘scribblings’.  Then, all of a sudden, it took off in a way we could not possibly have imagined. It leapt from a few hits each month to a thousand  a month and we are now averaging over 10,000 hits a month. Our total last year was just over 52,000 and so far in the first 4 months of this year we’ve just about reached the same figure. We have also ‘tweaked’ the design of our blog to freshen it up a little, we hope you approve 🙂

Descent of Madame Saqui surrounded by fireworks
Descent of Madame Saqui surrounded by fireworks Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

As the title of our blog explains we look at all things relating to the Georgian Era and hopefully if you look at our top 10 blogs you will be able to see what an eclectic mix we have. We try to remain true our initial concept that nothing would appear on our blog unless it contained at last one tiny piece of new or little known piece of information, hopefully we have achieved this so far.  We would love to be able to publish a blog each day, but as we are also writing a book time doesn’t permit us such luxury  if we are to remain true to our concept.

In order to complete our book we have had to make some massive cuts in order to keep it to a reasonable size and so, later this year year, we will begin to share with you those bits that ended up on the cutting room floor, so to speak.

To celebrate we thought we would take a look back at our top 10 blogs.

No 10. What became of Charlotte Williams, illegitimate daughter of the 5th Duke of Devonshire?

No.9  The Illegitimate child of Major General Banastre Tarleton

No 8. The ‘Petticoat Duellists’ of 1792

No 7.  18th Century Trade Cards

No 6.  ‘The Whole Duty of a Woman’ in 1737

So, now to our top 5 and we begin our countdown with

No 5.   Grace Dalrymple Elliott: Inventor of the Bellona Cap or Helmet, 1786

No. 4   The 18th Century mystery of Oliver Cromwell’s missing head

No 3.   Le Costume Historique: fashion through the ages

No 2. An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott

and, drum roll please, at No. 1 we have

Bums, Tums and Downy Calves

Image courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library Clearly the False Rump was not without its problems!
Image courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library
Clearly the False Rump was not without its problems!


The Royal Babies of King George III & Queen Charlotte

George III (1738-1820), Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) and their Six Eldest Children. Zoffany
George III (1738-1820), Queen Charlotte (1744-1818) and their Six Eldest Children. Zoffany Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

The arrival of a baby at any time is a joyous event and with the arrival of the latest royal baby girl, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, we simply had to take a quick look back at the children of King George III and his consort Queen Charlotte. They produced a staggering 15 children. So here’s a brief look at them all through their portraits.

1. Their eldest child and first in line to the throne was George, later to become the notorious King George IV (1762 – 1830). As you may know, George, Prince of Wales, was named as the father of our favourite Georgian courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott’s daughter, but that’s another story, with Prince George featuring in our book An Infamous Mistress.

2. Frederick, Duke of York, now gave the couple the requisite ‘heir and a spare’. (1763 – 1827).

Royal baby - Buckingham Palace
Queen Charlotte with her Two Eldest Sons (Artist, Johann Zoffany)

At number 3  we have William, who would eventually become William IV (1765-1837). So the monarchy was safe, ‘an heir and now 2 spares’.

Prince William (1765-1837), later Duke of Clarence
Prince William (1765-1837), later Duke of Clarence, King William IV. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

As if three children weren’t enough the couple produced their first daughter, Charlotte, The Princess Royal  (1766 – 1828).

Princess Royal
Queen Charlotte with Charlotte, Princess Royal (Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014)

The couples fifth child was to be yet another son, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn (1767 – 1820). In due time, Edward’s daughter Victoria would ascend to the throne, and you can discover more about Queen Victoria and her descendants here.

Portrait of a Baby, possibly Prince Edward (1767-1820), later Duke of Kent
Portrait of a Baby, possibly Prince Edward (1767-1820), later Duke of Kent. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

At number six and almost a year to the day, Augusta Sophia was to make her appearance into the royal family, followed by their seventh child, another daughter,  Princess Elizabeth  (1770 – 1840).

Princess Augusta, Princess Elizabeth, Prince Ernest, Prince Augustus, Prince Adolphus and Princess Mary
Princess Augusta, Princess Elizabeth, Prince Ernest, Prince Augustus, Prince Adolphus and Princess Mary, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Numbers eight & nine were  Prince Ernest (1771 – 1851) and  Prince Augustus Frederick (1773-1843), who was to become the 1st Duke of  Sussex, the title being conferred upon him on November 24th, 1801. This was the last time this title was used, but it is rumoured to be the one that will be conferred upon Prince Harry when he marries.

Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843). Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843). Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

These two were followed a year later by their tenth child Prince Adolphus (1774 – 1850). At number eleven there was Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester (1776 – 1857) and at twelve,  Princess Sophia (1777 – 1848).

The Three Youngest Daughters of George III
The Three Youngest Daughters of George III, John Singleton Copley, Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

At thirteen we have the young  Prince Octavius  (1779 – 1783) whose life was tragically cut short only six months after the death of his younger brother Prince Alfred. To find out more about the tragically short lives of Octavius and Alfred and the Queen’s mysterious pregnancies click on this link.

Prince Octavius (1779-1783)
Prince Octavius (1779-1783), by Benjamin West. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

14. Prince Alfred (1780 – 1782)

Prince Alfred (1780-1782). Miniature painted c.1782, British School. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017
Prince Alfred (1780-1782). Miniature painted c.1782, British School. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Finally, at number fifteen there was  Princess Amelia (1783 – 1810).


Our final offering, King George III, Queen Charlotte, the group portrait, accompanied by their surviving 13 children.

George III and Queen Charlotte with their thirteen children by John Murphy
We have written extensively about the British royal family, revealing new – and often surprising – information, and you can discover all here.