Kidnap and Attempted Murder in the 18th Century: Viscount Valentia’s ancestry

Arthur Annesley, Baron Altham and Viscount Valentia was the downfall of Grace Dalrymple Elliott.  Their indiscretion in a London bagnio (a high class brothel) led to her divorce from her portly little doctor of a husband, John Eliot.

Although too much of an irrelevant distraction from Grace’s story to be included in our book on her, An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott, Valentia’s immediate ancestors have a fascinating story which we recount here.

An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott by Joanne Major and Sarah Murden. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Infamous-Mistress-Celebrated-Dalrymple-Elliott/dp/1473844835

His father, Richard, was the younger brother of Arthur Annesley, 4th Baron Altham (1689-1727).  Baron Altham had one son, James, who was twelve years of age when his father died, however Baron Altham had become alienated from his son and sent James to an obscure school where his death was announced.  At Baron Altham’s death his brother Richard claimed the titles and estates and arranged for his nephew, who was still alive, to be kidnapped and sold as an indentured labourer to an American planter for a seven year term.  James survived and managed to return home in 1741 and instigated an action against his uncle, who had now also become the 6th Earl of Anglesey on the death of a cousin in 1737, to reclaim his estates.

Valentia - plantation

Richard’s defence rested on whether James had been born to his father’s legitimate wife, Mary Sheffield who had died in 1729, or to a maidservant, Joan (Juggy) Landy.  James was successful in this action, but due to appeals by his uncle he was prevented from taking possession of his properties and spent many years in penury.  Richard attempted to have his nephew charged with the murder of a poacher.

The trial in which James Annesley stood tried for murder occurred in 1742. He had been out shooting sparrows with his friend Joseph Redding who was a gamekeeper when they saw a man named Thomas Egglestone and his son poaching fish. They went over to try to take the nets and Annesley’s gun discharged accidentally, killing Thomas Egglestone. All kinds of shenanigans went on behind the scenes before the trial came to the Old Bailey to induce the witnesses to accuse Annesley of murder. Annesley, to his distaste, was described to the court as a mere labourer.

The TRIAL of JAMES ANNESLEY, Labourer, at the Sessions-House in the Old Bailey, July 15, 1742 before the Right Honourable the Lord Chief Baron Parker, &c for the Murder of Thomas Egglestone, on Three Indictments; viz. At Common Law, on the Coroner’s Inquisition, and on the Black Act.

‘My Lord, I observe that I am indicted by the Name of James Annesley, Labourer, the lowest Addition my Enemies could possibly make Use of; but tho’ I claim to be Earl of Anglesea, and a Peer of this Realm, I submit to plead Not Guilty to this Indictment, and put myself immediately upon my Country, conscious of my own Innocence, and impatient to be acquitted even on the Imputation of a Crime so unbecoming [to] the Dignity I claim.’

James Annesley and Joseph Redding’s defence was as follows, and the full transcript of the court case can be read on the Old Bailey website here.

Court. Mr Annesley, you are indicted in a very unhappy Case, what have you to say for yourself?

Mr Annesley. My Lord, I am very unable to make a proper Defence, having by the Cruelty of those, whose Duty it was to protect me, been deprived of the Advantages of an Education I was entitled to by my Birth.

All I know of the melancholy Accident in Question is, that on the unfortunate Day mention’d in the Indictment, I went out with my Gun, in company with my innocent Fellow-Prisoner, to shoot Sparrows, as I usually did. As we were going along, Mr Redding, who is Game-Keeper to the Lord of the Manour, saw some People a poaching within the Royalty, upon which he proposed to go and seize their Nets, I followed him, the Deceas’d threw the Net into the River, and the Boy jump’d in to pull it across, to prevent which, I stoop’d to lay hold of one of the Ropes that trailed upon the Ground, and at the same Instant, the fatal Instrument I had in my other Hand, hanging by my Side, went off without my Knowledge, and to my great Grief as well as Surprize. My Behaviour, immediately after the Accident, was, I hope, inconsistent with a Temper that could murder a Man I had never seen before, without one Word of Provocation.

Whatever may be the Determination of your Lordship and the Jury, great as the Misfortunes of my Life have been, I shall always consider this unfortunate Accident as the greatest of them all.

Court. Mr Redding, what have you to say for yourself?

Joseph Redding. My Lord, I am Game-Keeper to Sir John Dolben, Lord of the Manour of Yeoveney. On the first of May last, in the Afternoon, Mr Annesley and I went out a walking; we saw a Crow, and Mr Annesley made an Offer to shoot at her, but I called to him not to fire, for that she was too far off: Soon after I saw Egglestone and his Son a fishing with a Casting-Net, upon which I said to Mr Annesley, I would go and endeavour to take their Net away, as it was my Duty to do; according I went up to the Deceas’d and demanded the Net, which he refused to deliver to me, and threw it into the River, one End of the String being about his Arm, I then laid hold of the String, and pulled, whilst the Boy endeavoured to draw it cross the River, and presently I heard the Gun go off (my Back being towards Mr Annesley ) and saw the Man fall down. – I said to Mr Annesley, I hoped he had not shot the Man, he said no, but turning up the Flap of his Coat, we saw he was shot; upon which Mr Annesley cried out, What shall I do! and expressed so much Concern, that I am sure it was quite an accidental Thing.

James Annesley and Joseph Redding were found not guilty of murder, but guilty of chance-medley (a killing that lacks malice aforethought) and left the court room as free men. Thwarted in his plan to see James swing at Tyburn, Richard also made attempts on his nephew’s life – the Penny London Post carried a very thinly veiled report which hinted at this in connection with one of his chosen assassins, a man named Thomas Stanley.

Thomas Stanley, mentioned in this Paper of Friday last to have been committed to Newgate under a strong Party of the Guards, by Henry Fielding, Esq; for lying in wait to assassinate the Hon. James Annesley, Esq; made a stout Resistance when taken, but the Constables at length trip’d up his Heels, and carried him before the Justice. This Fellow is a most notorious Ruffian, and is the same Stanley who was tried at the Commission of Oyer and Terminer in Dublin, for being concerned with one Murphy, one Stephens, and several others in a Conspiracy to assassinate Mr Annesley and Mr Mackercher, and lying in wait with Fire-Arms and Cutlasses to carry it into Execution: On that Occasion, after full Evidence had been given against him, and the Court appeared thoroughly satisfied of his Guilt, he escaped Conviction by an Accident, one of the Jurors being suddenly seiz’d, or pretending to be seiz’d, with an Epileptic Fit; which obliged Mr Annesley and Mr Mackercher, at the Request of the Court, to consent to quash the Indictment, rather than keep the Court and Jury sitting to wait his Recovery: Nevertheless, considering him as a very desperate dangerous Fellow, the Court remanded him to Prison, till he should find good Security to their Satisfaction. How he has since been let loose is a Mystery! —— It was very remarkable, that this low Ruffian was supported on that Trial by a Bar of six of the most eminent Lawyers in the Kingdom of Ireland.

Penny London Post, or The Morning Advertiser, 16th February 1750

The Honourable James Annesley Esquire by George Bickham the Younger, after Kings, line engraving, 1744 © The National Portrait Gallery
The Honourable James Annesley Esquire by George Bickham the Younger, after Kings, line engraving, 1744
© The National Portrait Gallery

James Annesley married twice, having children by each wife before dying in 1760 without fully establishing his claim to the titles and estates.  His first wife was Mary Lane, the stepdaughter of a Mr Richard Chester of Egham near Staines in Middlesex, an innholder (he appears to have been the landlord of the Swan at Staines, where he also held the position of Postmaster), and he had married her in 1741 at St Bride’s Church, a year before he stood trial for murder.[i] By Mary, James Annesley had a daughter. The daughter was Mary, baptized on the 26th May 1743 at St Mary’s in Battersea; she married Charles Granville Wheler on the 9th June 1764 at St Martin in the Fields, Westminster. Mrs Mary Annesley died in 1749.

Last Sunday Evening died of a Consumption, Mrs Annesley, Wife to the Hon. James Annesley, Esq; who claimeth the Estate and Honours of Earl of Anglesey, leaving only one Daughter, a Child six Years old.

London Evening Post, 23rd December 1749

James married his second wife in 1751 at Bilborough in Kent. She was Margaret I’Anson, granddaughter of John Bankes of Kingston Hall (now known as Kingston Lacy) in Dorset. James had three children by his second wife: Margaret Bankes Annesley (born 1753, died 1765), Sophia Bankes Annesley (born 1756 and died in infancy before 1760) and Bankes Annesley (born 1757, died 1764).

On Friday last the new-born Son of the Hon. James Annesley was baptized by the Name of Bankes; the Sponsors were, the Hon. Baron Smythe, the Hon. Mrs Spencer, and John Bankes, of Kingston-Hall in Dorsetshire, Esq; after whom the Child was named.

London Evening Post, 12th November 1757

© Henry Kellner via Wikimedia Commons
Kingston Lacy
© Henry Kellner via Wikimedia Commons

James died in 1760, with the question of his entitlement to the Anglesey estates still unresolved. His son died three years after his father, thereby ending any further claims and his uncle Richard had himself died in 1761.[1]

On Monday was privately interred at Lee in Kent, the Corpse of the Hon. James Annesley, who has left behind him one Daughter by his former Wife; and by his last Wife, the Daughter of Sir Thomas I’Anson, Bart. one Son and one Daughter.

Newcastle Courant, 26th January 1760

On Saturday last died of a Fever, at his Mother’s House in Westminster, the only Son of the late Hon. but most unfortunate James Annesley, Esq; by whose Death, his Right to the whole Anglesey Estate in England and Ireland, devolves on his two Sisters, the surviving Daughters of the said James Annesley. This Youth being the last of the Male Line of the Body of Arthur the first Earl of Anglesey, the Honours of Earl of Anglesey, and Baron Newport Pagnel, in England, and of Viscount Valentia, and Baron Altham, in Ireland, are extinct by his Death; Richard, the last Earl of Anglesey, who died about two Years ago, having left only three Daughters, by Ann, Countess of Anglesey, his Wife, but no legitimate Male Issue.

Newcastle Courant, 12th November 1763

Richard had married twice in 1715, once bigamously, and had by his second bigamous wife three daughters (Dorothea, Caroline and Elizabeth) before he threw her out around 1741 (he had deserted his first legitimate wife almost immediately).  Perhaps the cause of his disregard for his bigamous wife in 1741 was the fact that his first had conveniently died, hence technically leaving him a widower and, in September 1741, he married in secret Juliana Donovan, delaying a second, more public wedding until 1752.  By Juliana he sired Arthur plus another three girls, Richarda, Juliana and Catherine.[2]  At Richard’s death in 1761 a distant cousin claimed the Earldom of Anglesey, stating that Arthur, the son, was born illegitimate and this was upheld due to the secrecy surrounding the 1741 marriage leaving Arthur with the right to succeed to his father’s Irish titles only, those of Baron Altham and Viscount Valentia.

(c) Fylde Borough Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
The Village Wedding by Thomas Falcon Marshall
(c) Fylde Borough Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

On the 10th May 1767 Arthur Annesley, Baron Altham and Viscount Valentia, married Lucy Lyttelton at St. James in Westminster, the daughter of George Lyttelton, the 1st Baron Lyttleton of Fortescue.  Baron Lyttleton had both money and influence and Valentia hoped, with his father-in-law’s help, to rescue his earldom as Baron Lyttelton was anxious to see his daughter a countess.  This was not to be, a further legal challenge resulted in the final decision on the 29th April 1771 that Valentia’s claim to the Earldom of Anglesey was not valid.

George Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton by George Townshend, 4th Viscount and 1st Marquess Townshend pen and ink, 1751-1758 © The National Portrait Gallery
George Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton by George Townshend, 4th Viscount and 1st Marquess Townshend, pen and ink, 1751-1758
© The National Portrait Gallery

Three years later he was to be instrumental in Grace’s downfall, recounted in full in our book.

As first time authors this is a thrilling time for us, not least because we are longing to share the information we have uncovered during our many years of research into Grace and her family. We have lots which is new and hitherto unknown, and we are honoured to have been allowed to include within the pages of our biography some very rarely seen pictures connected to Grace and to her family.

Divorced wife, infamous mistress, prisoner during the French Revolution and the reputed mother of the Prince of Wales’ child, notorious courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott lived an amazing life in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century London and Paris. Strikingly tall and beautiful, later lampooned as ‘Dally the Tall’ in newspaper gossip columns, she left her Scottish roots and convent education behind, to re-invent herself in a ‘marriage a-la-mode’, but before she was even legally an adult she was cast off and forced to survive on just her beauty and wits. The authors of this engaging and, at times, scandalous book intersperse the story of Grace’s tumultuous life with anecdotes of her fascinating family, from those who knew Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and who helped to abolish slavery, to those who were, like Grace, mistresses of great men. Whilst this book is the most definitive biography of Grace Dalrymple Elliott ever written, it is much more than that; it is Grace’s family history which traces her ancestors from their origin in the Scottish borders, to their move south to London. It follows them to France, America, India, Africa and elsewhere, offering a broad insight into the social history of the Georgian era, comprising the ups and downs, the highs and lows of life at that time. This is the remarkable and detailed story of Grace set, for the first time, in the context of her wider family and told more completely than ever before.

 

[1] Richard Chester and Mary Lane (the mother of the Mary Lane who married James Annesley, married at St Benet’s Paul’s Wharf in London on the 26th January 1738. Richard Chester died in 1744 and his widow who had inherited his estate, in 1750, was declared bankrupt – James Annesley, in his will, honourably and generously provided an annuity for his former mother-in-law even though his first wife had died years before.

[2]He also had two further illegitimate children, a namesake son by Mrs Ann Saulkeld of London and a daughter named Ann by Mrs Mary Glover of Newport Pagnell.

 

Sources:

Old Bailey Online

John Martin, ‘Annesley, James (1715–1760)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/564, accessed 18 Sept 2015]

Wills of James Annesley (mistranscribed as Armesley) and Richard Chester, National Archives

The London Magazine, Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer, volume 19, 1750

Landed Families Blogspot

An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott is available from Pen and Sword Books (click here to order) and all good bookshops.

Copyright

The articles published on All Things Georgian are copyright by their respective authors. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without the authors permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement to the original author. 

Hair Styles of the Georgian Era

Given the length of the Georgian era we thought it might be fun to take a peek at how the Georgian ideas of what was fashionable and how it changed over the period. The comments have been taken directly from English Costume, Volume 4, by Dion Clayton Calthrop (1878 – 1937) so here goes.

George I (reigned 1707 – 1727)

The ladies were little lace and linen caps, their hair escaping in a ringlet or so at the side and flowing down behind, or gathered close up in a small knob on the head.

Elizabeth Egerton (1678–1720), Mrs Peter Legh (c) National Trust, Tatton Park; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Elizabeth Egerton (1678–1720), Mrs Peter Legh
(c) National Trust, Tatton Park; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

George II (reigned 1727 – 1760)

The hair is very tightly gathered up behind, twisted into a small knob on the top of the head and either drawn straight back from the forehead or parted in the middle, allowing a small fringe to hang on the temples. Nearly every woman wore a small cap or a small round straw hat with a ribbon around it.

Catherine Hyde (1700–1777), Duchess of Queensbury (c) English Heritage, Marble Hill House; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Catherine Hyde (1700–1777), Duchess of Queensbury
(c) English Heritage, Marble Hill House; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

In the middle of George II’s reign fashions and hair styles changed. Now the lady would puff her hair at the sides and powder it; if she had no hair she wore false, and a little later a full wig. She would now often discard her neat cap and wear a veil behind her back, over her hair and falling over her shoulder.

Catherine Harpur (d.1740), Lady Gough (c) National Trust, Calke Abbey; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Catherine Harpur (d.1740), Lady Gough
(c) National Trust, Calke Abbey; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

George III (1760 – 1820)

This was period of immense change in fashions both in terms of clothing and also hair styles. The writer of this book’s description of hair styles and hygiene is highly amusing:

Those piles of decorated, perfumed, reeking mess, by which a lady could show her fancy for the navy by balancing a straw ship on her head; for sport, by showing a coach, for gardening, by a regular garden on flowers. Heads which were only dressed, perhaps, once in three weeks, and were re-scented because it was necessary. Monstrous gatherers of horse-hair, hemp-wool and powder, laid on in a paste, the cleaning of which is too awful to give in detail. Three weeks, says my lady’s hairdresser, is as long as a head can go well in the summer without being opened’.  With the fashion of 1786 came the broad brimmed hat and the turban.

We simply couldn’t resist including this caricature!

lwlpr04213 - fruit stall
Fruit Stall. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library
The Artist at Work (Self Portrait) by Elisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun (copy of) (c) The Royal Agricultural University Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
The Artist at Work (Self Portrait) by Elisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun (copy of)
(c) The Royal Agricultural University Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Martine-Gabrielle-Yoland de Polastron (1745–1793), duchesse de Polignac by Elisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun (c) National Trust, Waddesdon Manor; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Martine-Gabrielle-Yoland de Polastron (1745–1793), duchesse de Polignac by Elisabeth Louise Vigée-LeBrun
(c) National Trust, Waddesdon Manor; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

George IV (1820-1830)

By the 1820’s it was all change again in fashion and hair styles.

Young ladies wear their hair well arranged … the curls again appear in numerous clusters around the face; and some young ladies who seem to place their chief pride in a fine head of hair have such a multitude of small ringlets that to give what is a natural charm all the poodle-like appearance of a wig.

A Regency Lady by Henry Wyatt (c) Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
A Regency Lady by Henry Wyatt
(c) Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Charlotte Rothschild (1807–1859), Baroness Anselm de Rothschild (c) National Trust, Waddesdon Manor; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Charlotte Rothschild (1807–1859), Baroness Anselm de Rothschild
(c) National Trust, Waddesdon Manor; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Header image: Mrs Richard Brinsley Sheridan by Thomas Gainsborough, National Galley of Art

The Faith of Georgian England

Once again we are thrilled to welcome our guest, the lovely Regan Walker, author of a Christmas story, ‘ The Holly & The Thistle‘ (full details of how to purchase her book are given below).

Today Regan has looked at faith in Georgian England; we hope you enjoy it and find it informative, we certainly have.

Beneath the form and ritual of religious life in Georgian England, one is tempted to ask, where were the hearts and minds of the people? I took on this task and found it daunting. It seemed the only evidence I could provide of what was in their hearts was to look at the actions that resulted from their faith (or the lack of it). I approach this issue hoping to shed light on what was happening to the church in England at the time that influenced the people, both rich and poor, in matters of faith.

 The 18th Century

The early 18th century was an age of reason. The churches in England, such as they were, lacked vitality, perhaps in part due to the action of the government. I speak in general terms, of course, as there have always been exceptions. But from what I’ve read, there was little enthusiasm for spiritual matters, perhaps as a reaction to the excesses of the 17th century. People were content with things as they were, and those few who attended church did so out of habit and social custom. The aristocracy was expected to provide a good example by attending church and some did, but perhaps only a few times a year on major church holidays. There were parishes where the poor had no church at all and wanted for spiritual leadership.

In the middle of the century, a change swept England. It began with a few who desired to grow closer to God. In 1729, a small group of men at Oxford began gathering under the direction of a man named John Wesley to observe the fasts and festivals of the church, take Communion, and visit the sick and prisoners. Wesley had made his love of God the central focus of his life. His efforts, and those of others, led to what became known as The Great Awakening, a movement that also swept Europe and the American colonies. It was to have great consequence.

The “Awakening” produced powerful preachers who encouraged a personal faith in God and a need for salvation. Pulling away from the ritual and ceremony that brought people to church out of habit, the “Awakening” made Christianity intensely personal by fostering a deep sense of spiritual conviction and redemption, and by encouraging introspection and a commitment to a new standard of personal morality.

(c) John Wesleys House & The Museum of Methodism; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) John Wesleys House & The Museum of Methodism; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

John Wesley, his brother, Charles, and George Whitefield—all ordained in the Anglican Church of England—had been missionaries in America. In 1738, they returned home disillusioned and discouraged. They began attending prayer meetings on Aldersgate Street in London, searching for answers. And they found them. During that time, all three had conversion experiences.

As John Wesley wrote,

“I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins.” (Journal of John Wesley, May 24, 1738.)

A year later, John Wesley and George Whitefield began preaching the gospel outdoors to large gatherings. Wesley considered the whole of England his parish, preaching to as many as 20,000 at one time in London. Thousands who had previously thought little of religion were converted. Although not his intention, Wesley’s message led to a new movement that would ultimately separate from the Church of England, called the Methodists.

From the very start, the Methodists were concerned with personal holiness and emphasized the need for salvation and forgiveness of sin. Those who criticized them, such as the Duchess of Buckingham, complained of being held accountable for sin “as the common wretches”. Wesley’s mission was to England’s poor, the unlearned and the neglected. He had little time for the aristocratic rich, finding them idle, trivial, extravagant and lacking in social responsibility.

One of the converts at this time, however, was the Countess of Huntingdon, who for the next forty years was deeply involved with the leaders of the Methodist movement. The countess was born into aristocracy as Selina Shirley, both sides of her family being descended from royalty. Selina married Theophilus Hastings, the Earl of Huntingdon, in 1728. The countess found the social life of the aristocracy empty. After she converted to the Christian faith in 1739, she was determined to use her energies and wealth for the cause of the gospel. Within a short time she was identifying herself with the Wesley brothers and other Methodist preachers in the Church of England. This reflected great courage on her part because these itinerant preachers were despised by most of the aristocracy.

Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntington (c) National Portrait Gallery, London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntington
(c) National Portrait Gallery, London; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

To reach her friends, the countess brought the leading preachers of the day into her home. A number of noble and influential people came to faith in this way. All of them were most likely members of the Church of England. When her husband died in 1746, the countess threw herself into her work with even greater zeal. By the time of her death, she had built sixty-four chapels, or “preaching places”, including one in Bath.

It is interesting to note that in 1748, John Newton, the slave ship captain and later author of the hymn Amazing Grace, was converted to Christianity during a storm at sea. Afterward, he became an enthusiastic disciple of George Whitefield and then an Evangelical lay preacher. In 1757, he applied to be an ordained priest in the Church of England, though it took seven years for that to happen, owing to his lack of credentials. Meanwhile, in his frustration, he also applied to the Methodists, Presbyterians and Independents, which suggests he could have found a spiritual home with any of them. Newton’s new found faith in God made a distinct difference in his life and the hymn for which he is famous testifies to this change (“I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now I see”).

The Clapham Group:

At the end of the 18th century, a group of wealthy Evangelicals came together, most of them living in the village of Clapham southwest of London. They were members of the Anglican Church but also Evangelicals. Their aim was to end slavery and cruel sports and to support prison reform and foreign missions.

The Clapham Group had some illustrious members including William Wilberforce, friend of both John Newton and Prime Minister William Pitt, and the statesman who successfully ended the slave trade; Charles Simeon, rector at Cambridge; Granville Sharp, a lawyer and founder of the St. George’s Bay Company, a forerunner of the Sierra Leone Company; Zachary Macaulay, estate manager and Governor of Sierra Leone (a homeland for emancipated slaves); John Shore, Lord Teignmouth, formerly Governor-General of India; James Stephen, lawyer, Wilberforce’s brother-in-law and author of the Slave Trade Act of 1807; Charles Grant, Chairman of the East India Company; and Hannah More, poet and playwright, who produced tracts for the group.

WHM146809 Portrait of William Wilberforce (1759-1833), 1794 (oil on canvas) by Hickel, Anton (1745-98) oil on canvas © Wilberforce House, Hull City Museums and Art Galleries, UK German, out of copyright
WHM146809 Portrait of William Wilberforce (1759-1833), 1794 (oil on canvas) by Hickel, Anton (1745-98)
© Wilberforce House, Hull City Museums and Art Galleries, UK

What motivated them? William Wilberforce’s views here are helpful. In his book, “A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, in the Higher and Middle Classes in This Country Contrasted with Real Christianity,” published in 1798, he speaks of a “true Christian” as one discharging a debt of gratitude to God for the grace he has received. Likely his views mirrored those of his fellow Clapham Group members when he said,

They are not their own: their bodily and mental faculties, their natural and acquired endowments, their substance, their authority, their time, their influence, all these they consider. . . to be consecrated to the honor of God and employed in His service.

The Clapham Group certainly put their faith into action. One of their primary concerns was foreign missions, taking seriously Christ’s command to “go and make disciples of all nations.” Among their achievements were the following: the Religious Tract Society founded in 1799; the Society for Missions to Africa and the East (now the Church Missionary Society) founded in 1799; and the British and Foreign Bible Society, founded in 1804. The latter circulated Bibles in England and abroad (likely the King James version). With funding from the Clapham Group, Hannah More established twelve schools by 1800 where reading, the Bible and the catechism were taught to local children.

The Regency:

Against this background, we emerge into Regency England (1811-1820). During this period, the religious landscape consisted of the Anglican Church, which occupied the predominant ground, and those considered “Dissenters,” a general term that included non-conformist Protestants, Presbyterians (identified with the Scots), Baptists, Jews, Roman Catholics and Quakers.

The Protestants moved toward the Methodist and Evangelical belief in a personal God and the need for salvation. The Roman Catholics, governed by the Pope in Rome, though discriminated against, were too strong to be suppressed and persisted, eventually regaining the ability to become Members of Parliament and hold public office with The Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. (Ironically, the Prince Regent opposed Catholic Emancipation even though Maria Fitzherbert, a twice-widowed Roman Catholic, was arguably the love of his life.)

There were many incentives to being a part of the Church of England because it was government controlled: Only Anglicans could attend Oxford or receive degrees from Cambridge. Except for the Jews and Quakers (the latter obtaining freedom of worship in 1813), all marriages and baptisms had to take place in the Anglican Church and the ceremony had to be conducted by an Anglican minister. All citizens, no matter their faith, paid taxes to maintain the parish churches, and non-Anglicans were prevented from taking many government and military posts.

According to Henry Wakeman in An Introduction to the History of the Church of England, by the time George III died in 1820, despite all that occurred in the 18th century, with a few exceptions, the Church of England was not materially different than it was when George III came to the throne in 1760.

The bishops were still amiable scholars who lived in dignified ease apart from their clergy, attended the king’s levee regularly, voted steadily in Parliament for the party of the minister who had appointed them, entertained the country gentry when Parliament was not sitting, wrote learned books on points of classical scholarship, and occasionally were seen driving in state through the muddy country roads on their way to the chief towns of their dioceses to hold a confirmation. Of spiritual leadership they had but little idea. (Wakeman at 457)

Jane Austen:

JaneAusten(c.1810)
Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

Jane Austen wrote about the world of the Anglican clergy, which she knew well, her father being the Reverend George Austen, a pastor who encouraged his daughter in her love of reading and writing. (In addition to her novels, Jane Austen composed evening prayers for her father’s services.) Two of her brothers were members of the Anglican clergy.

It was a culture in which faith often influenced one’s livelihood. Some of Austen’s characters (i.e., Edward Ferrars and Edmund Bertram) were clergy in need of parsonages. It was an acceptable occupation for a younger son. Large landowners and peers owned many of the church appointments and could appoint them.

Of the Anglican clergy, Wakeman said (at 459, 461),

The bulk of the English clergy then as ever were educated, refined, generous, God-fearing men, who lived lives of simple piety and plain duty, respected by their people for the friendly help and wise counsel and open purse which were ever at the disposal of the poor. 

A few of them hunted, shot, fished and drank or gambled during the week like their friends in the army or at the bar, and mumbled through a perfunctory service in church on Sundays unterrified by the thought of archdeacon or bishop. Some of them, where there was no residence in the parish, lived an idle and often vicious life at a neighbouring town, and only visited their parishes when they rode over on Sundays to conduct the necessary services. 

[With few exceptions] the clergy held and taught a negative and cold Protestantism deadening to the imagination, studiously repressive to the emotions, and based on principles which found little sanction either in reason or in history. The laity willingly accepted it, as it made so little demand upon their conscience, so little claim upon their life.

Wakeman also recognized the indifference of the Church of England to the “tearing away” of the followers of Whitefield and Wesley:

An earnest revival of personal religion had deeply affected some sections of English society. Yet…the Church of England reared her impassive front…sublime in her apathy, unchanged and apparently unchangeable….

Unlike some Anglicans, who may have attended church merely out of duty or habit, Jane Austen was more than a nominal church member. From the prayers she wrote, she seems to have been a devout believer who accepted the Anglican faith as it was, though she disliked hypocrisy and that may be reflected in some of her clergyman characters.

Austen also had views on the Evangelicals. In a letter to her sister Cassandra, written on January 24, 1809, she admitted, “I do not like the Evangelicals.” Like many Anglicans, she likely felt faith was to be unemotional and demonstrated in observances of certain services, prayers and moral teachings. The demonstrative preaching and strong message of the Evangelicals, particularly their enthusiasm and fervor, might not appeal to a girl raised in an Anglican minister’s home. Then, too, she had experience with certain Evangelicals, notably her cousin Edward Cooper, who she said in a letter to her sister, wrote “cruel letters of comfort”.

However, as Austen grew older, there is some indication of a softening in her thinking. On November 18, 1814, in a letter to her niece, Fanny Knight, Austen wrote,

“I am by no means convinced that we ought not all to be Evangelicals, & am at least persuaded that they who are so from Reason & Feeling, must be happiest & safest.” 

Perhaps as Austen viewed the decadence of the Regency period (particularly the social life in London), the indulgences of the monarch, George the Prince Regent, and the lackluster faith of some who adhered to the Church of England only out of habit, she found value in the sincerity of those who espoused a more evangelical message. It was, after all, the Evangelicals led by William Wilberforce, allied with the Quakers, who became the champions of the anti-slavery movement, resulting in the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1807. Among Jane Austen’s favorite writers were those who were passionately anti-slavery, such as William Cowper, Doctor Johnson and Thomas Clarkson.

Austen was critical of the Prince Regent, too, and understandably so. Unlike his parents, George III and Queen Charlotte, the Prince Regent lived a decadent life, indulging in his personal pleasure and devoid of any evidence of a personal faith, though he was nominally the head of the Church of England. As a result of the tax burden from the wars in France and the Prince’s opulent lifestyle that was crushing the poor and working classes, the resentment for the Prince grew more strident as time went on. Jane Austen disliked him intensely, principally because of his treatment of his wife, Princess Caroline of Brunswick (as seen in Jane’s letter to Martha Lloyd of February 16, 1813).

Lasting Change

However, in at least some parts of the Church of England during the Regency era, spiritual change was afoot. In such instances, the Church of England looked more like the Protestant Evangelicals. For example, Charles Simeon, rector of Trinity Church, Cambridge from 1782 to 1836, and a member of the Clapham group, was a great Bible expositor, who taught a risen Savior and salvation through grace, sounding very much like Wesley and Whitefield decades earlier. That was no mean feat given the opposition he faced at Cambridge. The universities were bastions of the established Church of England and seedbeds of rationalism, neither of which made them sympathetic to a rector of strong religious faith.

Charles Simeon, former Dean, engraved by William Say after a drawing by John Jackson, 1822 (KCAC/1/4/Simeon/1). King’s College, Cambridge.

Because of their stance on moral issues, the Evangelicals of the day were viewed by some as troublemakers who didn’t want anyone to have any fun. Notwithstanding such views, there were those in the aristocracy, including William Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire, who became Evangelicals though they never left the Anglican Church. And such faith produced change. Upon his conversion, the Duke gave up his long time mistress.

Scientific Discovery and the Industrial Revolution:

Other factors influenced people’s view of God, particularly in the 19th century. New ideas in politics, philosophy, science and art all vied for people’s attention. Two in particular, the scientific discoveries of the time and the Industrial Revolution, may have had dramatic effect on the people’s faith.

In 1781, while investigating what he and others believed to be a comet, William Herschel, an astronomer, discovered a new planet he named  “George’s star,” after King George III. (In 1850, after Herschel’s death, the name would be changed to Uranus.) This was the first planet discovered since ancient times. Herschel, a devout Christian, strongly believed that God’s universe was characterized by order and planning. His discovery of that order led him to conclude, “The undevout astronomer must be mad.”

Herschel’s discoveries caused his fellow scientists and theologians to reconsider their prior views of God and the possibility there were other creations in the universe. Not all views expressed were those of believers; however, one who is illustrative of the prevailing attitude was Thomas Dick, a Scottish minister and science teacher. In his book The Sidereal Heavens, published in 1840, he said of Herschel’s discovery,

To consider creation, therefore, in all its departments, as extending throughout regions of space illimitable to mortal view, and filled with intelligent existence, is nothing more than what comports with the idea of HIM who inhabiteth immensity, and whose perfections are boundless and past finding out.

Dick’s statement is indicative of the view during the early 19th-century when science was dominated by clergymen, men dedicated to their scientific work but still committed to their faith in God. Scientific discoveries were seen as entirely consistent with a belief in a Creator.

The other factor is the Industrial Revolution, which transformed English society and would certainly cause people to question the established order of things, including the church.

During the 18th century, England’s population nearly doubled. The industry most important in the rise of England as an industrial nation was cotton textiles. A series of inventions led to machines that replaced human laborers. The effect of machines replacing workers, particularly in the textile industry, was keenly felt in some parts of England. The lives of the working class were disrupted and many people relocated from the countryside to the towns.

In 1801, at the time of the first census, only about 20% of the population lived in towns. By 1851, the figure had risen to over 50%. New social relationships emerged with the growing working and middle classes. During this time of upheaval and relocation, though some individuals, like Charles Simeon, exercised great spiritual influence, the church as a whole failed to grapple with the problems that resulted from the huge surge in population and the growth of industrial towns. Still, perhaps the problems that led people to move to the larger cities resulted in their hearing the message of the great preachers of the day. Having heard, they might have been spurred to examine their faith.

One can only hope.

ReganWalker -Holly & the Thistle
A chance meeting at Berry’s wine shop, a misunderstanding and Christmastide all come together to allow the most handsome Scot in London to give Lady Emily Picton the best Christmas gift ever: a marriage not of convenience, but of love.

 

Links:

 

 

Copyright

The articles published on All Things Georgian are copyright by their respective authors. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without the authors permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement to the original author. 

18th Century corns – ouch!

Wellcome Images

We often take our feet for granted until we suddenly find that we have corns, bunions or hard skin and it was no different in Georgian times. Did you know that ‘four fifths of people are afflicted with complaints in the feet’? No, neither did we; so we thought we would take a quick look at 18th century views and treatments for the age old problem of corns, what a delightful topic, hope you’re not eating whilst reading this!

We all know what corns are and how painful they can be and clearly they are an age old problem and those clever Georgians found their own way of treating them.

What causes corns?

Today we believe that they are as a result of wearing shoes that fit poorly or certain designs that place excessive pressure on an area of the foot.

During our research we came across a fascinating little book written by a chiropodist in 1818 who agreed with this theory to a certain extent, but also added that the wearing of high heels and the use of hard leather also contributed to the problem. The writer though says that ‘even when buckles were in fashion, though they certain produced callouses on the upper part of the foot, corns were never seen to arise from their pressure’.

17th 18th Century Recipe for corn removal MS7721155 Welcome Library
17th-18th Century Recipe for corn removal. Courtesy of the Welcome Library.

He was also convinced that corns were mainly due to thin skin and that people who lived in the countryside and walked more, developed harder skin as they exercised more and as such suffered far less from corns than those living in the city, true or false we’d love to know! Maybe this is a good reason to take plenty of exercise.

Apparently he also understood that people could predict the weather by how painful or otherwise their corns were.

How to treat them

Easy, take a penknife or razor and remove them … NO that never was a good idea, even in Georgian times, and the writer of this book strongly advised against such self-treatment of the condition. He also noted the variety of ‘quack treatments’ such as plasters that could be applied either to relieve or remove the corn of which he was sceptical about their effectiveness.

An 18th century London corn- cutter's card... 'Apply to me, your feet I'll mend...' Date: 18th century
An 18th century London corn- cutter’s card… ‘Apply to me, your feet I’ll mend…’ Date: 18th century

He also talked about and advised against was to use ‘infallible cures from grandmama’s recipe book’.  After writing at length about the perils of such treatment the author strongly advises that the only solution is to seek medical help from a qualified professional person.

We did manage to find one of the ‘quack’ adverts he referred to.

Morning Post and Daily Advertiser, Wednesday, March 14, 1791

Courtesy of the Lewis Walpoel Library

Under no circumstances would we advocate this method!

Courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library

Sources

The Art of Preserving the Feet

James Guidney aka Jemmy the Rockman

James Guidney, aka Jemmy the Rockman, was a well-known character on the streets of Birmingham in the latter years of the Georgian and into the Victorian era, with his red military jacket and long white beard. Jemmy was a true English eccentric and had lived a life full of colour and adventure. He eventually settled at Birmingham where he sold a form of rock candy on the streets, which he called his ‘Composition’, crying out as he walked with his tin of his sweets, “Composition – Good for cough or cold – Cough or cold”.

© Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
© Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

Luckily for us, in his old age he wrote his autobiography, enabling us to tell his story completely.

Jemmy was born at Norwich to Jeremiah Guidney, a poor but hard-working man – Jemmy said he was born on the 1st September 1782 at Norwich but the only matching baptism we can find is dated the 21st March 1779, at St Julian’s in Norwich and for a James Wilcock Gidney whose parents were named Jeremiah and Mary.

Jemmy the Rock Man baptism

Jeremiah sent young Jemmy to a charity school on alternate days and to a spinning school where five hundred boys worked at spinning wool into skeins, and Jemmy excelled at this – more so than he did at his charity school lessons. At thirteen years of age he left both of these schools and worked with his father for a year, selling milk or apples and as an errand boy. Then, in 1797, he fell in with a recruiting party at Norwich, took the King’s shilling and enlisted with the 48th Northamptonshire Regiment as a drummer (Jemmy says this was in June, but his enlistment date is 1st October 1797 and he was eighteen years of age, suggesting the 1779 baptism is the correct one – the dates he gives in his biography are ever slightly out). His adventures were about to begin.

Around a year after he enlisted the 48th left England on board the Calcutta man of war bound for Gibraltar where they remained about a year and a half. After that they were sent to Minorca and then to Malta, via Leghorn (now Livorno). They arrived on the island of Malta in the September of 1799, according to Jemmy.

French troops were occupying the citadel of Valletta and the 48th were part of the force besieging it – a siege which lasted some months before the French surrendered and the British took possession. It was now that James’ fortune took a turn for the worse. General Abercromby landed on Malta on his way to fight the French forces under Napoléon Bonaparte in Egypt. Abercromby was at the head of an army 60,000 strong and he reviewed the troops stationed in Malta and chose the 48th to join his expedition. They duly embarked with him but he changed his mind and, instead of taking them to Egypt, left them at Fort St Angelo on the other side of the water from Valletta. It was at Fort St Angelo that Jemmy contracted ophthalmia and lost his right eye.

Perhaps, though, the loss of an eye was preferable to the loss of his life for Abercromby’s decision saved Jemmy from facing the French troops.

Grand Harbour and Fort Sant' Angelo, Valletta, Malta by Johann Schranz c.1828 (c) Government Art Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Grand Harbour and Fort Sant’ Angelo, Valletta, Malta by Johann Schranz c.1828
(c) Government Art Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

While stationed at Fort St Angelo Jemmy had a strange encounter. One spring morning in May 1802 he was walking to the Catholic Church and saw a lamb in front of him, which began to play around his legs then settled to walk beside him. After walking some distance the lamb turned around, blocked Jemmy’s path and took on the form of a man who addressed Jemmy by name and commanded him to always wear a beard in the future. Jemmy touched the head and face of the strange man standing in front of him, not able to believe his eyes, and swore that he distinctly felt the flesh of a man – Jemmy broke out in a cold sweat while the man resumed the shape of a lamb. Turning back to his camp, the lamb accompanied him as far as the place they had both encountered one another at which point it disappeared. Jemmy did as instructed though and grew a beard which he wore for the rest of his life with the exception of one short interlude, which we will come to in due course.

A year later the 48th left Malta and sailed back to England where they spent the some time in barracks on the south coast and on the Isle of Wight where they were sent to try to prevent smuggling. Then, in February 1805, they went back overseas, first to a garrison on Gibraltar and then to an island which Jemmy named, in his autobiography, as Paraxil off the African coast, their duty to stop Spanish boats from replenishing the supplies of the Spanish army. There he had a lucky escape; leading eleven men to the African mainland to fill a dozen casks with good drinking water, they were caught in a storm on their return and, to save themselves from a watery death, pulled off their clothes and swam back to the mainland. Ten African men, with muskets, were on the beach though and they seized all the men except Jemmy and one other, taking them prisoner. Jemmy and his companion instead jumped back in to the sea and, despite the storm, swam for Paraxil and safety.

While the 48th regiment went off to serve, with distinction, in the Peninsular War between 1809 and 1814, Jemmy was instead transferred into the 1st Royal Veteran Battalion and remained with them at Gibraltar until April 1810, when he was sent back to England and promoted to Sergeant and Drum Major.

Eventually, in the summer of 1814, the Battalion was disbanded and Jemmy and his comrades were told to assemble at Hyde Park Corner on the 21st July, which they duly did. After eight days billeted at Highgate they were marched to the Chelsea Hospital where they were passed by the board and given a pension of a shilling a day in recompense for their services.

The Royal Hospital, Chelsea: three-quarter view of the south elevation with people strolling. Coloured aquatint by G. Lynn after himself, 1818. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
The Royal Hospital, Chelsea: three-quarter view of the south elevation with people strolling. Coloured aquatint by G. Lynn after himself, 1818.
Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

And so Jemmy had to adapt to life outside the army. He returned to his birthplace, Norwich, and found himself a job as a footman and butler to a gentleman who lived in the nearby village of Thorpe, but he only lasted six months there as he was too used to travel to be so sedentary. Instead he married (signing himself as James Kidney), at Lakenham on the 10th of January 1817 (in his autobiography he says 6th January 1816), to a woman named Phoebe Crow who lived at Norwich and had a life annuity of £60 a year. With this Jemmy set himself up as a travelling dealer in haberdashery but, after being attacked by a foot-pad, he instead began to weave bombazines and crapes. In 1821 Phoebe died, and Jemmy, ever restless, travelled the length and breadth of the country selling ‘Turkey rhubarb, little books, &c.’

Jemmy the Rock Man marriage

After Phoebe’s death he gave up his pension, feeling that he could manage well enough without it, and thought he would travel to mainland Europe. So Jemmy went to London and procured a passport to Paris, for which he paid ten shillings. He didn’t understand the Vagrant Act, which prohibited begging, and thinking that by busking he’d earn a few coppers he began to sing the Freemason’s Hymn, which got him taken up by a couple of policemen to the Magistrates at Hatton Garden where he was convicted as a rogue and a vagabond, had his passport taken off him and was committed to Cold Bath Fields prison for three months. Jemmy dates this to August 1824 but he was once again wrong with his dates – it was June 1823 and was reported in the newspapers. From Bell’s Weekly Messenger, 24th August 1823.

HATTON GARDEN

A tall, ferocious-looking fellow, with a dark, heavy bushy beard, which nearly hid his features, was brought up, charged with being a rogue and vagabond. The prisoner who gave his name [as] James Guidney, is a well-known character on the town, and a complete impostor. He was taken up in Holborn, singing in some foreign tongue, and accosting ladies and gentlemen. He was blind of the right eye, and his appearance was sufficient to frighten women and children, and at every five seconds he pulled out his box and took a pinch of snuff. On his being searched, several cards of address, a Jew’s hymn-book, and a passport signed that day by the French Consul, were found in his pocket. He spoke no other than the English language, and that very fluently. On the magistrate asking him what religion he was brought up to, or why he let his beard grow; he said he was brought up a Protestant, but on seeing his error, he renounced it, and was converted to the Jewish religion, in which he expected to live and die. He had been a staff serjeant in the first Royal Veteran Battalion, and had a pension of one shilling a day, which he threw up, and his intention was to go to the Continent, to become a hawker of rheubarb and other articles. The Magistrate ordered the passport to be enclosed and returned to the French Consul, and the prisoner to be committed for three months as a rogue and vagabond to the House of Correction, and to have his beard shaved off. – He exclaimed, “No man alive shall shave my beard off.”

But shaved off it was! So, Jemmy was well known to the authorities, not something he had touched upon in his autobiography, nor had he mentioned converting to another religion. He was also quite clearly suspected of being a foreigner in appearance (his discharge papers from the army describe him as having a dark complexion, dark brown hair and hazel eyes). His arrest and incarceration scotched his plan of going to France and upon his release he ‘continued to perambulate the country, selling his small wares’ until he was taken on as a hermit for a month’s residence at Tong Castle in Shropshire. And it was after his month as a hermit that he travelled to Birmingham and began to sell his ‘Composition’.

Bull Ring, Birmingham by British School c.1820 (c) Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Bull Ring, Birmingham by British School c.1820
(c) Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

He had at least two sons, James born around 1825 in Birmingham and Charles, born in December 1827 and who died eleven months later. In the May of 1828, and on the same day that Charles was baptised, Jemmy married for the second time, to Elizabeth Pitt, the eldest daughter of the late Mr Pitt of Northwood Street, locksmith and bell-hanger. Their marriage took place in St Martin’s church and the baptism of Charles, on the same day, at St Phillip’s – maybe they did not want to admit to a child born out of wedlock to the vicar who married them? Strangely, on the same day at St Phillip’s, and entered immediately above Charles’ baptism, is one for James, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Pitt, born on the 14th February 1825 – is this the son who later calls himself James Guidney? And if so, was he actually Jemmy’s son as, in Jemmy’s own account (in which admittedly several of the dates are incorrect) he does not leave the Hermitage at Tong Castle and travel to Birmingham until 11th July 1825, almost five months after this James’ birth? For we can find no baptism for a James Guidney in Birmingham around 1825.

Jemmy the Rock Man - second marriage

Jemmy the Rock Man - sons bapt

Jemmy remained in Birmingham, selling his ‘Composition’ on the streets from nine o’clock in the morning until eight or nine o’clock at night. In 1841 he, Elizabeth and James were living in the yard of the White Lion inn in the St Martin’s area of Birmingham with Jemmy listed as a ‘dealer’. By 1851 it was just Jemmy and Elizabeth and they’d moved to Communication Row in St Thomas’. Elizabeth became ill and Jemmy struggled to care for her, asking for his pension to be reinstated in 1844.

Birmingham Daily Post 10th January 1859
Birmingham Daily Post 10th January 1859

By 1861 Elizabeth was gone from Jemmy’s side, possibly into the workhouse, and his son James and his young family was living with him. A subscription was set up in the early 1860s for Jemmy, with people far and wide sending money to support him, and in 1862 a ballad was sung around the streets of Birmingham titled ‘Jemmy the Rockman’. Capitalizing on his new-found fame, Jemmy published his autobiography, ending it with an advertisement for his services.

Having had very considerable experience as a Drummer, James Guidney will be happy to attend any Public Parties of Pleasure, and may be found at his residence, 18, Communication Row, Birmingham.

Jemmy died on the 28th September 1866 and was buried in Witton Cemetery in Birmingham.

James Guidney, 'Jimmy, the Rock Man' by British School (c) Birmingham Museums Trust; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
James Guidney, ‘Jimmy, the Rock Man’ by British School
(c) Birmingham Museums Trust; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Our final image of him comes courtesy of the Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery.

phpthumb

 

Sources:

Birmingham Daily Gazette

Birmingham Daily Post

Birmingham Journal

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Some Particulars of the Life and Adventures of James Guidney, a Well Known Character in Birmingham, written from his own account of himself, third and enlarged edition, 1862

Header picture:

Birmingham from the Dome of St Philip’s Church by Samuel Lines, c.1821, Birmingham Museums Trust

 

What was a Bourdaloue?

Ok, so we have finally lowered the tone of our blogs posts, but a question frequently asked is, ‘how on earth did women relieve themselves when wearing those enormous 18th century dresses’. Let’s face it when nature calls then there is little choice and public toilets did not exist in the 18th century, so here is how they solved the problem!

BK-1978-247
Courtesy of The Rijksmuseum

Women of the 18th century didn’t wear knickers, they hadn’t been invented which may have been something of a blessing when you find out that hanging around at court for hours necessitated the need for women to relieve themselves where they stood. Today, when needs must we have a modern equivalent, the ‘she-wee’, and of course those Georgians were no different. Just prior to the Georgian era they did had the chamber pot, but that was not very practical to be used in public so they devised an object known as a ‘Bourdaloue’. Personally, we think that the Bourdaloue would have been more discreet to be honest.

Rumour was (as no proof seems to exist) that the name of the object evolved courtesy of a Jesuit priest, Louis Bourdaloue who gave such long speeches that could last for hours that ladies needed to relieve themselves.  Another school of thought is that they came about as a result of women not wishing to miss a second of his amazing sermons, either way, whether true or not the ‘Bourdaloue’ evolved.  Certainly he gave his name to part of a hat* which seems far more acceptable. It also seems feasible that the modern word ‘loo’ came from this term, but again we have no proof of this – maybe one of our readers would be able to assist with this?

It was a boat shaped vessel with a raised lip at one end and handle at the other, a bit like a gravy boat and the maid would be expected to carry this for her mistress and likewise empty it after use. If you didn’t have a maid then you dealt with this yourself. Apparently it was designed to be used standing up, possibly not that easy to use then!

So with that we thought we would take a look at a few – and yes, these really were used for that purpose. If you couldn’t afford a china version then tin and leather ones were available, although it’s doubtful that any of those survived!

029-CP03.01-1024x705
c1811. Courtesy of the Winterthur Museum
Courtesy of Langeloh Porcelain
Courtesy of Langeloh Porcelain
Bourdaloue Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco 1735-1745
Bourdaloue dated 1735-1745, courtesy of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Tin-glazed earthenware painted with in-glaze colours, enamels and gilding Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum
image1-169-sevres-bourdaloue-ovale-en-porcelaine-tendre-a-decor-en-1
Sevres – 1757-58 Courtesy of LotPrivé.com
Tin-enameled earthenware Met museum
Tin-enameled earthenware courtesy of the Metmuseum

And finally, courtesy of the artist François Boucher ‘La Toilette intime (Une Femme qui pisse)’ – we will make no comment as to why Boucher would have chosen to paint such an intimate scene.

Sources

Belle Assemblée: Or, Court and Fashionable Magazine 1823

Ville d’Avray, the last home of Grace Dalrymple Elliott

Today we are going to take a look at the French village of Ville d’Avray, where Grace Dalrymple Elliott ended her days. In the eighteenth-century Grace had been known as a notorious courtesan and mistress of the Earl of Cholmondeley, the Prince of Wales (when he was young and handsome) and Louis Philippe Joseph, Duc d’Orléans. The Prince was the reputed father of her daughter, Georgiana, although Cholmondeley was the man who brought her up as if she was his own.

An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott by Joanne Major and Sarah Murden. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Infamous-Mistress-Celebrated-Dalrymple-Elliott/dp/1473844835

But, by the time the Regency ended and her former lover took the throne as King George IV, Grace’s heyday had passed.  Elderly and in ill-health she left England and settled instead in Ville d’Avray, a quiet village in between Paris and Versailles, where she died in 1823.

The Heights above Ville d'Avray with peasants working in a field by Camille Corot, 1870 (via www.wikiart.org)
The heights above Ville d’Avray with peasants working in a field by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, c.1870
(WikiArt Gallery)
a view of the rue Brancas near the artist’s home at Ville-d’Avray, southwest of Paris, which is visible in the distance. Camille Corot, c.1860s, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
A view of the rue Brancas near the artist’s home at Ville-d’Avray, southwest of Paris, which is visible in the distance.
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, c.1860s, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Originally a rural village, with copious vineyards on its exposed hillsides, it was transformed by the nearby Versailles, and the royal palace there. The forest, La forêt de Fausses-Reposes, which surrounded the village was used for hunting and, until the French Revolution, the Fontaine du Roy provided drinking water to the French royal family when they were at Versailles (it was known to provide the best drinking water in the area around Paris).  The large pond on the edge of the village was connected to another royal residence, that of the Château de Saint-Cloud, by an underground aqueduct. The Parc de Saint-Cloud is still connected via that aqueduct, and water from the pond at Ville d’Avray flows to the ponds and waterfalls of Saint-Cloud, and the forest at Ville d’Avray eventually merges into the scenery of the Parc de Saint-Cloud.

The Grand Cascade in the Parc de Saint-Cloud (image via http://www.tripstance.com/)
The Grand Cascade in the Parc de Saint-Cloud
(image via http://www.tripstance.com/)
Ville d'Avray - Le Cavalier à la entrée du bois by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, 1873 (image via https://commons.wikimedia.org)
Ville d’Avray – Le Cavalier à la entrée du bois by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, 1873
(Wikimedia Commons)

In 1789 Marc-Antoine Thierry gained the title of Baron and began to build a château and paid for a new church to be built. The construction began just three days before the fall of the Bastille and, although Thierry fell a victim to the Revolution (he was assassinated in the Abbaye prison during the September massacres in 1792), these buildings have survived.

Portait de Marc-Antoine Thierry, baron de Ville d'Avray, premier valet de chambre de Louis XVI, intendant du garde meuble by Alexander Roslin, 1790 (image via http://commons.wikimedia.org/)
Portait de Marc-Antoine Thierry, baron de Ville d’Avray, premier valet de chambre de Louis XVI, intendant du garde meuble by Alexander Roslin, 1790, Palace de Versailles
(Wikimedia Commons)
Château de Thierry à Ville-d'Avray (image via http://commons.wikimedia.org/)
Château de Thierry à Ville-d’Avray
(Wikimedia Commons)

Following the Revolutionary years Ville d’Avray gradually became more residential and people from all disciplines of the arts fell under its charm and spent time living there.  Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875), a well-known landscape artist, lived in the village for many years and left behind may fine paintings of the pond and forest on the edge of Ville d’Avray. Although all but one of his paintings shown here date from many years after Grace died, they can’t be that much different from the scenery she would have known and recognised from her last home.

If you would like to know more about Grace, our biography, An Infamous Mistress: the Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott, is now available for pre-order at Amazon and elsewhere and due to be published by Pen and Sword in January 2016.

A Woman Gathering Faggots at Ville-d'Avray, Camille Corot, c.1871-1874 (Met Museum).
A Woman Gathering Faggots at Ville-d’Avray, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, c.1871-1874, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
L'étang de Ville d'Avray by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, c.1863, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg (image via https://commons.wikimedia.org)
L’étang de Ville d’Avray by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, c.1863, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg
(Wikimedia Commons)
Ville d'Avray, Woodland Path Bordering the Pond by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, 1872, Indianapolis Museum of Art (image via https://commons.wikimedia.org)
Ville d’Avray, Woodland Path Bordering the Pond by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, 1872, Indianapolis Museum of Art
(Wikimedia Commons)
Banks of the Stream near the Corot Property, Ville d'Avray, Camille Corot c.1823. Corot’s mother and sister are depicted standing by a large Italian poplar that marked the entrance to the family’s property at Ville d’Avray, near Paris. (Met Museum)
Banks of the Stream near the Corot Property, Ville d’Avray, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot c.1823. Corot’s mother and sister are depicted standing by a large Italian poplar that marked the entrance to the family’s property at Ville d’Avray, near Paris. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Ville d'Avray the Chemin de Corot by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot c.1840. WikiArt.
Ville d’Avray the Chemin de Corot by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot c.1840.
WikiArt.
Ville d'Avray the Pond and the Cabassud House by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, c.1840. WikiArt.
Ville d’Avray the Pond and the Cabassud House by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, c.1840.
WikiArt.

Sources used:

http://www.mairie-villedavray.fr/index.php/Histoire?idpage=68&afficheMenuContextuel=true

http://www.agglo-gpso.fr/fontaine_du_roy.html

 

Divorced wife, infamous mistress, prisoner during the French Revolution and the reputed mother of the Prince of Wales’ child, notorious courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott lived an amazing life in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century London and Paris. Strikingly tall and beautiful, later lampooned as ‘Dally the Tall’ in newspaper gossip columns, she left her Scottish roots and convent education behind, to re-invent herself in a ‘marriage a-la-mode’, but before she was even legally an adult she was cast off and forced to survive on just her beauty and wits. The authors of this engaging and, at times, scandalous book intersperse the story of Grace’s tumultuous life with anecdotes of her fascinating family, from those who knew Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and who helped to abolish slavery, to those who were, like Grace, mistresses of great men. Whilst this book is the most definitive biography of Grace Dalrymple Elliott ever written, it is much more than that; it is Grace’s family history which traces her ancestors from their origin in the Scottish borders, to their move south to London. It follows them to France, America, India, Africa and elsewhere, offering a broad insight into the social history of the Georgian era, comprising the ups and downs, the highs and lows of life at that time. This is the remarkable and detailed story of Grace set, for the first time, in the context of her wider family and told more completely than ever before.