Death by dangerous driving of a stagecoach

From the early 1800s, coach design was much improved and, in part, so were roads. By the 1820s coaches could travel at about 12 miles an hour with four horses rather than six as had been used previously. Coach drivers also were much smarter in their appearance and the government legislated that the names of the coach proprietors were to be painted on the doors of the coaches, with the exception of mail coaches.

There were strict rules about how many passengers could travel, both inside and out and the maximum weight of luggage. The law stated that stagecoaches were not to carry more than six passengers on the roof  and no more than two on the box in addition to the coachman. For every passenger in excess, the coachman was liable to a penalty of 40 shillings, and if he was the owner or part owner this penalty was raised to £4.

The penalty for carrying excess passengers was severe and ingeniously contrived in order to totally suppress the practice. It was 5 shillings for every supernumerary passenger, to be paid to the toll-keeper at every turn pike gate. This was a sure fire way of making sure that an excess number would be instantly spotted by the toll-keeper who would be keen to have a chance to enhance their income.

Cordrey, John. The London to Dartford Stage Coach. Museum of London

The guard of a stagecoach who fired his pistol unnecessarily, or for anything other than defensive purposes, on the road or in any town, forfeited 20 shillings, a penalty which was increased to £5 in 1811.

The height to which luggage might be piled on the roof was also carefully set. From 1 March 1811, it became unlawful for any driver, owner or proprietor to permit luggage, or indeed any person, on the roof of a coach, the top of which was more than 8 feet 9 inches from the ground, or whose gauge was less than 4 feet 6 inches.

Turnpike keepers and others were given powers to have luggage measured and driver’s refusing such measurements to be taken were to be fined, on conviction, of 50 shillings.

Intoxicated coachmen came in for a maximum of £10 penalty, or the alternative, a term of imprisonment not less than three months or not exceeding six, so being drunk in charge of a coach was not a great idea!

The Piccadilly Nuisance. British Museum

With the instigation of so many rules and regulations to be followed, a new breed of people a appeared on the scene ‘the professional informer’. These people were akin to a modern day ‘ambulance chaser’. They would pursue coaches checking that the coachman wasn’t breaking any rules and if they were, they would be reported to the appropriate authorities, for which these informers would receive a very handsome fee – nice work if you could get it.

Today’s story is about a less than careful coach driver. In July 1827 John Maule, the driver of the stagecoach, Celerity, that was travelling to Exeter was charged at the Coroner’s Inquest to appear before Chief Justice Best, with the manslaughter of Thomas Strange at Bulford on 18 June 1827.

Unknown artist; William Draper Best, Lord Wynford (1767-1845); Wadham College, University of Oxford

The events surrounding this charge were, that there were two coaches, the Celerity and the Defiance, running from Exeter, on this day they were travelling in opposite directions. The Defiance on its way to Exeter from Andover, Hampshire. The Defiance had been operating for about three years and the Celerity, just one.

On the night in question, the Defiance was at the foot of a hill near Exeter, where the accident happened. The Defiance was going very slowly and it was just at that time that the coachman of the Defiance spotted the Celerity about 200 yards away, at the top of the hill and approaching him very quickly.

The coachman of the Defiance pulled off the road as much as he safely could to avoid the rapidly approaching Celerity, but it was too late, the near wheels of the Defiance found its two near wheels on the turf (the whole road from bank to bank being about 86 feet wide), when the stagecoach overturned and was entirely on the grass, closely followed by the Celerity, which threw some of its passengers.

In court the jury were told that there was strong proof of the side on which the accident really originated, this being that no-one was seriously injured when the Defiance toppled over, whilst several people in the Celerity were injured and others severely bruised, a gentleman, Thomas Strange died at the scene.

Cordrey, John. ‘The Wellington Coach’ (The Newcastle-York-London Mail). Ferens Art Gallery

A Thomas Bradley Naylor, a student of Magdalen Hall, Oxford was examined by Mr Halcomb, and confirmed that he was seated on the box of the Defiance. He confirmed coach was about three miles from Exeter when he saw that another coach approaching as it was not especially dark, and the Defiance had its lamps lit.

The coachman of the Defiance shouted to slow the horse down, but it was too late, the carriage tipped onto its side. Naylor asserted that the Celerity also had its lights on and could therefore have clearly seen the Defiance, but that it was being driven too fast. He said his coach was going quite slowly, not more than six or seven miles an hour and that there was enough room on the road for the Celerity to safely pass, were he been going more slowly.

Joseph Cannon, guard of the Defiance, also confirmed how slowly they were travelling, although he estimated it to be at the rate of about four or five miles an hour. So, both the coachman, witnesses and his guard providing very similar accounts of the event.

Another witness, James Bridge, also a passenger on the Defiance was called to provide his account of events. Bridge was sitting on the back just behind the coachman when he saw the Celerity about 150 yards away. He estimated that it was travelling at about 11 or 12 miles an hour with a heavy load on it. In his opinion the horses hadn’t heard the command of the coachman.  William Bound Rondle, another passenger who was inside the coach also supported that he had heard the coachman shout to the horses, but by that time it was too late, the accident had occurred.

The Celerity was laying across the road with its roof close to the bank, the luggage rack fell off and broke and the horses became detached from the coach. He stated that he helped to extricate two ladies who were underneath the coach, one of whom was later to die from her injuries. The coachman was called to give evidence and again said he’d called to his horses, but it was too late.

After lengthy deliberation by the jury and with help from the judge it was decided that the coachman, John Maule was not guilty, as he was not the regular coachman, and that it was an unfortunate accident.

The judge, however, gave notice that if another case of the same kind should come before him, and a conviction ensue, he would transport the prisoner for life; for it was absolutely necessary to put some check on this system of furious and negligent driving.

This of course, was not the only accident and many coachman drove furiously and had a reputation for liking a tipple or two whilst enroute.


Sun, 30 Jul 1827

Harper. Charles G Stagecoach and mail in the days of yore: a history of the coaching age

The Sedan Chair of the Georgian Era

Would you really have wanted to walk around the streets of 18th century? They would have been dirty, smelly places and you could find yourself up to your ankles in the proverbial, probably not a pleasant experience – then why not try the sedan chair and be carried around in style instead.

St James's Palace and Pall Mall. Lady Lever Art Gallery. A Sedan chair in the front, centrecentre
St James’s Palace and Pall Mall. Lady Lever Art Gallery. A Sedan chair in the front, centre of the painting

The name ‘sedan’ came from a town in France where they were first used. They were upright ‘boxes’ carried by two ‘chairmen’ by the use of long poles running from front to back as seen here. The door being at the front of the chair meant that the passenger could get in and out easily without the need for the poles to be removed.

Sedan Chair at No.1 The Royal Crescent, Bath. ©Sarah Murden
Sedan Chair at No.1 The Royal Crescent, Bath. ©Sarah Murden

If wealthy, you could purchase your own sedan chair with your own livery painted on it, or you could simply hire one, very much as you would do today when hailing a taxi. The ‘chairmen’ would have preferred to carry females as they would weigh less, making the journey less arduous for them, but of course, they didn’t get any say with that one.

The average cost of a chair would have been around £4,000 in today’s money, but of course, the grander it was, the higher the price. Here we have a receipt for one made in 1788.

Invoice for a sedan chair 1st May 1788. Yale Center for British Art
Invoice for a sedan chair 1st May 1788. Yale Center for British Art

Given the potential value of such an item they were ripe for having parts stolen, as reported in the Caledonian Mercury of April 1730

Last night the place adjoining to St James’s where her majesty’s sedan chair is kept, was by some persons broke open, and the four great tassels of gold, of considerable value, taken away. A sentinel is now constantly posted near the spot.

Royalty of course, had their own sedan chair maker, Mr Vaughan, who in 1733, made a ‘rich sedan for the Princess Royal for her marriage’. His son took over the family business and here we have the beautiful sedan chair, dated 1763, belonging to Queen Charlotte made by Samuel Vaughan

Samuel Vaughan. Sedan chair 1763
Samuel Vaughan. Sedan chair 1763. Royal Collection Trust

Not that you would know it from the image below, drawn in the 1770s, but by 1790 the popularly of Bath was such that regulations had to be set in place for sedan chair owners.

The Circus, Bath John Robert Cozens. 1773. Yale Center for British Art
The Circus, Bath John Robert Cozens. 1773. Yale Center for British Art

This is to give notice to the chairmen of this city, that if their chairs are found placed in any part of the streets other than those appointed by the mayor of the said city, for the standing of their chairs, they shall be obliged to suffer the penalties expressed in the City Act for regulating chairmen.

No chairs are to be placed on any terrace or footway whatever, except on the North and South Parade, St James’s Parade, Westgate, Edgar and Princess Buildings, Paragon and Axford buildings, Belmont and Oxford Row, and those to be kept full ten feet from the respective houses, except in Bond Street and those to be placed in the mid-way of the same street. And all chairmen, who attend at the theatre are to keep their respective chairs a full ten feet from chair-pole to chair-pole, directly opposite the theatre doorway.

All chairmen who are called upon to carry fare out of the liberties of this city, are particularly desired not to exact or make any other demand more than the usual rate of fares. Those who find themselves aggrieved by the chairmen, either by misplacing their chairs, extortion or insolent behaviour, may receive redress by application to the mayor at the Guildhall on Mondays and Thursdays, between 12 and 1 in the afternoon.

An Irishman in a Sedan chair, in which he walks not understanding what it is for, to the amusement of the two porters and a passing woman with a basket on her head. 28 January 1800. British Museum
An Irishman in a Sedan chair, in which he walks not understanding what it is for, to the amusement of the two porters and a passing woman with a basket on her head. 28 January 1800. British Museum

True or false this little tale from 1789 was quite amusing and if we’re honest we  could imagine it happening to some unsuspecting person–

A simple bumpkin, arriving in London, was very much taken at the sight of a chair, or sedan and bargained with the chairmen to carry him to a place he named. The chairmen, observing the curiosity of the clown to be suitable to the meanness of his habit, privately took out the bottom of the chair, and then put him into it, which when they took up their poles, the countryman’s feet were upon the ground, and as the chairmen advanced, so did he, and to make the better sport, if any place was dirtier than the rest, that they chose to go through; the countryman not knowing that others were carried or rather driven, in the same manner, so arriving at his lodgings he paid them what they demanded.

Returning to the country he related what rare things he had seen in London and told people that he’d been carried in a sedan. “A sedan, what is that?” His reply, “it is like our watch-house, only it is covered with leather, but were it not for the name of a sedan, a man might as well walk on foot”.


Derby Mercury 14 June 1733

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette 09 December 1790

Featured Image

A tall female Macaroni sitting in a sedan chair carried by two footmen; the roof of the chair has been lifted to allow her coiffure to stick through, while a boy page stands behind. 17 July 1772 Etching with hand-colouring. British Museum

George III's Procession to the Houses of Parliament in his new State Coach, attributed to John Wootton.

The Gold State Coach

LONDON, January 8.

Yesterday the old State Coach, built for King George I and the Carriages of his late Majesty, given by the late Master of the Horse to the Servants, were sold at Bever’s Repository; it is remarkable the Gold Lace of the State Coach, which was taken off before the sale and burnt, amounted to 53l. 19s.

A new superb State Coach is building for his Majesty, which, when finished, will be the most magnificent ever seen in this Kingdom.

(Derby Mercury, 9 January 1761)

George III had taken the throne on 25 October 1760, upon the death of his grandfather, George II (George III’s father, the old king’s eldest son, had died in 1751). His coronation took place almost a year later, on 22 September 1761, but if he was hoping that his new State Coach would be ready for the occasion, then he was going to be sorely disappointed. It took almost two years for the coach to be completed, for it was no ordinary coach. It would be, the new king decided, the most elegant and magnificent coach that had ever been seen in his kingdom.

George III in his coronation robes, by Allan Ramsay.
George III in his coronation robes, by Allan Ramsay.

It is said a new State-Coach is going to be built (from a design already made by a celebrated English Artist) which for elegance, taste, and grandeur, will, it is thought, excel any thing of the kind ever yet doe in Europe; and we have the pleasure to add, that the construction, painting, and every other part of the same, is to be the work of our own countrymen.

(Leeds Intelligencer, 20 January 1761)

Sir William Chambers, a Scottish/Swedish architect was responsible for the original design, while the contract for building the vehicle was given to the coachmaker, Samuel Butler. Then came the ornamentation, carved sculpture by Joseph Wilton which was then gilded by Henry Pujolas and decorated by the metal chaser, George Coyte.

Sir William Chamber's design for the new State Coach, 1760.
Sir William Chamber’s design for the new State Coach, 1760. © Royal Collection Trust

The whole concept was for the coach to be the most wonderful – and therefore the most expensive – ever to have been built in England, and the decoration was full of symbolism. It was intended that ‘when riding in the coach, the King would appear as Neptune, monarch of the seas, and also Apollo, leader of the muses of artistic innovation’.

There are four Triton, mythical sea-gods placed on the body of the coach and, at the front, almost appear to be pulling the coach. Whether it was intended or not, in motion the coach rocked about as if it was rolling on the high seas, to the distress of those inside! When George III’s younger son, William IV used the coach during his reign in the 1830s, he complained that it was just like being on board a ship ‘tossing in a rough sea’, and as he’d served in navy for many years, he ought to have known.

The Gold State Coach, built in 1762.
The Gold State Coach, built in 1762. © Royal Collection Trust

The first outing of this magnificent new state coach was on 25 November 1762 when the king travelled in it to the State Opening of Parliament. So great was the public interest, that anyone with rooms in and around Parliament Street were able to rent them out at exorbitant rates for the day, and those ladies and gentlemen lucky enough to get one leaned out of the windows to watch the king pass by in his state coach, drawn by eight horses. As it turned out, watching from above was by far the safest vantage point.

London, November 25

This Day, about two o’clock, his Majesty went to the House of Lords from St James’s in his new State Coach, drawn by eight fine cream coloured horses, ornamented with blue ribbands and Morocco trappings. His Majesty went through the Park, and was attended by the Lords Oxford and Cadogan, the Master of the Horse and other principal Officers of State. The crowd was so great on this occasion, and carriages so numerous, that they extended quite from St James’s to the Parliament House, and it was with great difficulty that foot passengers could pass along the streets. In Parliament Street, one of the horses which drew his Majesty’s Coach fell down, and occasioned some little confusion, but we do not hear of any damage.

(Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 2 December 1762)

George III's Procession to the Houses of Parliament in his new State Coach, attributed to John Wootton.
George III’s Procession to the Houses of Parliament in his new State Coach, attributed to John Wootton. © Royal Collection Trust

The crowds were so great that they led to injuries and even – reportedly – to death. The first accident occurred just as the coach left the gates of the Royal Mews on Charing Cross when a young woman fell beneath the hooves of one of the Life Guards horses. We haven’t found any further report on her, but it reads as if she survived her accident. The deaths were due to the immense press of people in confined spaces.

In the narrow passage leading from Spring Gardens into the park, a woman and child were crushed to death, and their bodies were laid on the grass in the park; another woman and a lad are said also to have been crushed to death near the Horse Guards, and several were beat down and trampled on, and had their arms broke, and otherwise much bruised; and divers women lost their hats, capuchins, gowns, shoes, &c. I the crowd.

(Derby Mercury, 26 November 1762)

The Gold State Coach is still used for ceremonial occasions, but has been modernised over the years to give a (slightly!) more comfortable ride.

Sources not mentioned above:

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 2 September 1762

Derby Mercury, 26 November 1762

Leeds Intelligencer, 20 January 1761

Royal Collection Trust: notes against object RCIN 917942, Design for the State Coach by Sir William Chambers and object RCIN 5000048, the Gold State Coach.

Dandy in a Droshky, Russia, 1820s

Chatsworth’s Russian Coachman

This is the third in a series of blogs in which we have taken a closer look at some of the staff and servants of the Dukes and Duchesses of Devonshire. Today we’re taking a look at the 6th duke’s trips to Russia and concentrating on just one man, a larger than life Russian coachman. He certainly merits his own blog.

William Spencer, 6th Duke of Devonshire by Thomas Lawrence
William Spencer, 6th Duke of Devonshire by Thomas Lawrence (via Wikimedia Commons)

In 1817, William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire (known as Hart due to his former title, the Marquess of Hartington) travelled to St Petersburg in Russia with a whole host of attendants for the wedding of his friend, the Grand Duke Nicholas Pavolvich of Russia (later Czar Nicholas I and Catherine the Great’s grandson). The bride was Charlotte of Prussia (subsequently known as Alexandra Feodorovna); Hart loved St Petersburg and thought it ‘more beautiful than Paris’.

The Empress Catherine the Great of Russia (1729-1796); Russian School
The Empress Catherine the Great of Russia (1729-1796); Russian School; The Bowes Museum

His Grace the Duke of Devonshire is about to sail for the Continent, in company with the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia. His Grace has seceded to an invitation from the Grand Duke, to make a tour in Russia, and other parts of the Continent, which will occupy the whole of the ensuing summer.

During the trip, one of the duke’s attendants was his courier, Xavier Faldyer. He was ‘not agreeable, a sort of obstinate old Don Quixote, in an eternal wrangle with the Doctor, who had undertaken to regulate the expences and never ceased to exclaim, “terrible! terrible!”’ From the Chatsworth archives relating to the family’s servants, we can glean further information. Edwin Jones was the clearly long-suffering doctor who accompanied the duke.

Michael Lemm went along as a footman but didn’t think much of Russia, observing that ‘he would rather be hung in England than die in Russia’. Mr Worrall was the coachman.

Another expedition to Russia took place in 1826 when the 6th Duke of Devonshire travelled there to attend the coronation of Nicolas I. George Spencer Ridgway, the duke’s valet and ‘foster brother’ was by his side; George’s mother, Mrs Ridgway had been the duke’s wetnurse and George’s middle name, Spencer, indicates a close relationship with the family. He started at Devonshire House as a footman in 1802 and, when appointed the duke’s valet, Ridgway was his most trusted servant, acting as personal secretary, agent and steward too until 1858.

Miniature portrait of Emperor Nicholas I, 1826-1830; The State Hermitage Museum

In Russia, the duke and George were given a Russian coach by the emperor, known as a droshky. They also acquired a coachman who they brought back to Chatsworth along with the droshky. Peter Wisternoff (also Westerney, Wisternou and Ustinowica and born c.1796) was known as Peter the Russian or just the Russian Coachman; his helper was a man named Thomas Hawkins (who seems to have ended up the Porter at Devonshire House). Wisternoff stayed at Chatsworth until the early 1840s, a brilliantly eccentric character, tall and with a fine, intelligent countenance who wore his traditional Russian clothes rather than livery and sported the biggest and bushiest of beards.

Major General Norcliffe of Dalton Hall Riding in a Russian Droshky
This is titled ‘Major General Norcliffe of Dalton Hall Riding in a Russian Droshky’ although it’s very similar to a Russian print from the 1820s, ‘Dandy in a Droshky’ (see next image). Nevertheless, it is exactly how Peter the Russian must have appeared as coachman of the Duke of Devonshire’s Droshky. Portrait by David Dalry; Scarborough Collections

He is habited in the costume of his country, which consists of a large coat, generally green, which is gathered in folds round the waist, crimson sash, with an ample flow of black beard.

Dandy in a Droshky, Russia, 1820s.
Dandy in a Droshky, Russia, 1820s; The State Hermitage Museum

The Russian Coachman is one of the subjects in Bolton Abbey in the Olden Time by Sir Edwin Landseer, the original of which hangs in Chatsworth. The image below is a very good copy of the painting in tapestry; there are three men with beards but Peter the Russian is the one in the foreground, kneeling with the stag.

Tapesty of Bolton Abbey in the Olden Time
Tapestry of Bolton Abbey in the Olden Time; Massachusetts Collection Online

In 1832, Princess Victoria visited Chatsworth.

[Saturday 20th October, 1832] … we went to the stables where we saw some pretty ponies and a Russian coachman in his full dress, and the only Russian horse which remained reared at command; there were 3 other horses, English ones, but trained like the other.

A Russian Droshky (light horse-driven carriage) from the 1820s
A Russian Droshky (light horse-driven carriage) from the 1820s; The State Hermitage Museum

[Sunday 21st October, 1832] … Mamma and me drove in front in the pony phaeton and the Duke and Lady Cavendish behind; Lady Catherine and Lehzen going in another little phaeton; while Lord Morpeth and Mr Cooper went in the Russian drotchky. This curious carriage is drawn by one horse (which was the piebald one) in the shafts with a houp over its head, and the harness is golden without and winkers, and the horse in the shafts always trots, while the other, a pretty chestnut one, always gallops and puts its head on one side; the coachman, called Peter, sitting in his full dress on the box and driving the horses without any whip.

Princess Victoria by Henry Collen, 1836.
Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

Peter the Russian married a girl named Sarah from Clowne, Derbyshire by whom he had at least eight children, one of whom was disabled. He fell foul of the duke’s Steward, George Spencer Ridgway, who forbade Peter from taking beer from the cellar, a disagreement which seems to have culminated in Peter leaving the duke’s service.

Peter, the Duke of Devonshire's Russian Coachman, portrait painted soon after his arrival in England
Peter the Russian Coachman, portrait painted soon after his arrival in England;

In the early 1840s (certainly after the 1841 census when Peter was living with his family at the Chatsworth stables), the duke broke up his Russian establishment and granted a liberal pension to Peter who subsequently lived – rent-free – on a 10 acre farm at Nether Handley near Staveley where, in 1851, he described himself as a ‘retired gentleman’. One the 1861 and 1871 census returns his occupation was that of a farmer of 10 acres. Peter died on Saturday 4th May 1878 at the age of 82 years, having been a pensioner ‘on the bounty of the Dukes of Devonshire for nearly forty years’.

South west view of Chatsworth House, 1812.
Southwest view of Chatsworth House, 1812. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Sources for all three of our blogs on Chatsworth’s staff and servants not referenced in the relevant articles are:

The Eighteenth-century Woman by Olivier Bernier (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1981)

Queen Victoria’s Journals (online resource)

Chatsworth: Historic Staff and Servants database

Chatsworth blog: The Russian Coachman’s Beard

Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald, 18 May 1878

Carlisle Patriot, 15 March 1817

If you want to explore the database of staff and servants further, you can find it by clicking here. It lists those who have worked at Chatsworth or on the Cavendish estates going back to 1700, and will be added to over the coming years.

The excellent Chatsworth servants and staff database and associated blog posts on the Chatsworth website were created by Lauren Butler (@HistoryButler), Hannah Wallace (@hwallace24) and Fiona Clapperton (@feeclapperton) as part of a collaborative PhD with the University of Sheffield and is the culmination of many years work.

Sir Joseph Banks’ fishing trips in Lincolnshire

Sir Joseph Banks, Bt by Joshua Reynolds
Sir Joseph Banks, Bt by Joshua Reynolds; National Portrait Gallery, London

Just in case you weren’t aware of Sir Joseph Banks, he was born in London, but when he was 21 he inherited the impressive estate of Revesby Abbey in Lincolnshire from his father.  After leaving university, minus a degree, he became a renowned British naturalist, patron of the natural sciences, travelling the globe, ultimately he became president of the Royal Society from 1778 until his death in 1820.

Weighing the fish after a haul. The tall gentleman in the foreground of the people is Sir Joseph Banks with a net full of fish. Boston Stump in the background. Yale Center for British Art.
Weighing the fish after a haul. The tall gentleman in the foreground of the people is Sir Joseph Banks with a net full of fish. Boston Stump in the background. Yale Center for British Art.

In March 1779, Banks finally settled down and married Dorothea Hugessen. The couple spent most of their time in  London, however, each autumn they made a trip back to Banks’ ancestral Lincolnshire.

Cookery near Langrick Ferry, Lincolnshire. Yale Centre for British Art
Cookery near Langrick Ferry. Yale Centre for British Art

During these visits, apart from numerous other things that he had to attend to on his estate, Banks, his wife Dorothea and his younger sister, Sarah Sophia, who lived with them, made several fishing trips to survey the fish in the river Witham.

A page from the journal detailing Sir Joseph Banks' fishing trip in Lincolnshire. Yale Center for British Art
A page from the journal showing that they set off from Kyme Eau at 9.15.  Yale Center for British Art

A record of these trips was brought to my attention so, naturally, I had to find out more. A copy of the book itself is available via the Yale Centre for British Art, ‘Sir Joseph Banks’s fishery book of the River Witham in Lincolnshire, 1784-1800’.

The book itself contains records of the number of fish in the river along with their measurements, which unless you’re interested in fishing it isn’t terribly exciting, but it also contains information about the weather and any unusual events, such as the eclipse of 5th September 1795.


Sadly, there’s only enough space here, to include some of the sketches in this post, so for more information, I would recommend checking out the book itself on the Yale website (it has been scanned page by page, so it’s not the easiest of books to navigate, so a little patience is required).

The windmills at Chapel Hill, Lincolnshire. Yale Center for British Art.
The windmills at Chapel Hill. Yale Center for British Art.

By far the most fascinating aspect of this book are the sketches, although I doubt they were meant for public viewing, but simply a reminder and a way of describing their trip to friends and family – very much the way we do today with our mobile phones and cameras, but for historians, they provide a fascinating snapshot of life during that period.

T. Wilsons house, near the Witham, Lincolnshire taken during an eclipse of the sun. You can just make the woman looking up towards the sky. Yale Centre for British Art
T. Wilsons house, near the Witham, taken during an eclipse of the sun. You can just make the woman looking up towards the sky. Yale Centre for British Art

On their travels, they took along a large number of friends who ate with them on the river bank or on the boat. Note the canopy in this next image, which was used to shelter under when it rained, which it often did!

Going to dinner near Coppin Sike (Copping Syke, Lincolnshire). Yale Centre for British Art. Note the formality of the occasion, the lady, quite possibly Lady Banks, on the right being escorted onto the boat.
Going to dinner near Coppin Sike (Copping Syke). Yale Centre for British Art. Note the formality of the occasion, the lady, quite possibly Lady Banks, on the right being escorted onto the boat.

They also took along some ‘would be’ artists who drew sketches along the route they were travelling, which ran from the Kyme Eau, which runs through the centre of the tiny village of South Kyme, and is a few miles from the town of Sleaford), when it became the Witham, for a distance of around 15 miles through neighbouring villages of Dogdyke, Langrick Bridge, Anton’s Gowt until it reached the outskirts of the port of Boston.

The Kyme Eau, at South Kyme, Lincolnshire as it looks today meandering through the countryside to where it joins the Witham at Chapel Hill. ©Sarah Murden
The Kyme Eau, at South Kyme, as it looks today meandering through the countryside to where it joins the Witham at Chapel Hill. ©Sarah Murden

A scramble for fish. Yale Centre for British Art
A scramble for fish. Yale Centre for British Art

The book contains sketches of the routes taken on each occasion plus 26 colour illustrations of places and people.

One name kept recurring in the sketches, ‘Eno’s House’. At first, I thought perhaps it was a reference to an acquaintance until I tracked it down to being the name of the landlord, Edward Eno, who, with his wife Rosamond, was the landlord of The Monson Arms, near Anton’s Gowt, on the bank of the river. His son, Hildred Eno, took over as the landlord in the 1850s. The pub no longer exists as such, but there is a house on the bank of the river which could just possibly be it.

Eno's house on Frith Bank. Yale Centre for British Art
Eno’s House on Frith Bank. Yale Centre for British Art

Frith Bank, Lincolnshire.
Frith Bank, Lincolnshire. Google Maps

The book is well worth taking a look at to give you an idea of how rural Lincolnshire looked back in the late 1700s.

List of pictures and their respective artist from the journal of Sir Joseph Banks' fishing trip in Lincolnshire.
List of pictures and their respective artist

Featured Image

Tattershall from the Witham September 1794

Landscape with Carriage and Horses by William Ashford (1746-1824).

The Georgian Landau

It has been announced that HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have chosen to use the Ascot Landau carriage at their wedding, assuming the weather stays fine, so we thought we would take a very quick look at the Landau, as it was first used in Britain in the 18th-century, but  was named after the German city of Landau in the Rhenish Palatinate where it was first produced. Today, the royal family presently have five Landau’s, all of which are post-Georgian.

Miseries of human life, 1808.
Isaac Cruikshank c1808. Lewis Walpole Library

A Landau is a coachbuilding term for a four-wheeled luxury convertible carriage. Its main feature was that it had a low body which gave maximum visibility of the occupants and their clothing, so ideal for processions and for the gentry in all their finery to be seen by onlookers.

1827-1828 Landau. British Museum
1827-1828 Landau. British Museum

The earliest reference to a Landau being used in England that we have found dates to July 1738 in the London Evening Post.

Last night his Grace the Duke of Marlborough, accompanied by Lord Hervey, Henry Fox Esq and another person of distinction, arrived in town in a landau and six, from Sir Robert Walpole’s seat at Houghton Hall in Norfolk.

Princess Amelia (1711-1786) by Christian Friedrich Zincke, c.1729-30.
Princess Amelia (1711-1786) by Christian Friedrich Zincke, c.1729-30. Royal Collection Trust

Clearly even in the 1750s the public enjoyed catching a glimpse of members of the royal family as this report from Bath in August 1752 describes.

Princess Amelia, (daughter of George II) arrived here in an open Landau, attended by a large retinue, and escorted by some of the Oxford Blues. Her Royal Highness passed through the city and went on to the seat of Ralph Allen Esq. The bells rang, the cannon were fired, and the flag was displayed on the Tower. Her Royal Highness walked publicly about on Saturday and yesterday, and numbers of people flocked from all parts of the country to see her.

1809 - Patent Landau - Ackermann's Repository
1809 – Patent Landau – Ackermann’s Repository

Ascot, was, as it is today, the place to see and to be seen. Amongst others was have a report from June 1786 in the London Chronicle that ‘their majesties were yesterday on the Ascot race ground, in an open Landau, with the younger branches of the Royal family. They partook of a cold repast in their carriage, consisting of ham and chicken’. It seems highly unlikely that Prince Harry and his new bride will be dining in theirs, to be honest!

One clearly had to be looking at one’s best when on display as the comment about the Prince of Wales showed in this report from the Whitehall Evening Post of May 1800 ‘The Prince of Wales, on Friday, took an airing in his open landau and looked considerably better than his Royal Highness has been for some months past.’

The Vis-a-Vis Bisected

It was quite common for the newspapers to report when a member of the aristocracy had a new landau built as can be seen here in this advertisement in the Morning Post, 4th November 1818.It was quite common for the newspapers to report when a member of the aristocracy had a new landau built as can be seen here in this advertisement in the Morning Post, 4th November 1818.

This one gives you an idea of how much they cost from The Suffolk Chronicle; or Weekly General Advertiser & County Express. 13 April 1816


A very handsome Landau Barouche, town-built, nearly new, the property of a gentleman going abroad. Price 80 Guineas.

1816 Landau, wind-up side windows and fore-runner to the convertible car
1816 Landau, wind-up side windows and fore-runner to the convertible car

That was a cheap one in comparison to this one in the Hampshire Chronicle of July 1816 for a Landaulet, which was a cutdown or coupe version of the Landau


A handsome Landaulet, nearly as good as new on its first wheels; cost 320 guineas – lowest price 200 guineas.

It seems that no expense was spared when a new landau was required.

It seems that no expense was spared when a new landau was required.

Our final image is a sketch of  Landau by the coachbuilders Hooper & Co. Unfortunately, this sketch is not dated, but the company was founded in 1805. The seal says that by then they were ‘coachbuilders to her Majesty and the Prince of Wales’.

Carriage Design: A Square Landau undated Pen and black ink, watercolor and collage Sheet: 5 1/2 × 10 1/4 inches (14 × 26 cm) Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Carriage Design: A Square Landau undated Pen and black ink, watercolor and collage Sheet: 5 1/2 × 10 1/4 inches (14 × 26 cm) Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Sources used

London Evening Post (London, England), July 20, 1738 – July 22, 1738

General Advertiser (1744) (London, England), Thursday, August 13, 1752

Featured Image

Landscape with Carriage and Horses – William Ashford – Ulster Museum

Cheltenham High Street, Gloucestershire; Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum

18th Century ‘Flying Machines’

No, not aeroplanes – coaches. The concept of flying coaches seems to date back to the late 1600s when there were advertisements in the newspapers for lengthy journeys being undertaken by means of these. Looking at these adverts there must have been coaches crisscrossing the country all day every day, so we thought we would share a few with you.

City Mercury, Monday, July 4, 1692

Post Man and the Historical Account, June 21, 1698

Nottingham Flying Coach in two days twice every week. Sets out from Nottingham every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 4 o’clock and will be at the Ram Inn West Smithfield, London the next day, and set out from The Ram Inn, West Smithfield, every Tuesday and Thursday.

Performed if God permit, by Charles Hood, Richard Tuffin and Edward Wilkinson.

Miseries of Travelling
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole

Daily Post, Saturday, April 3, 1731

Daventry Flying stage-coach in one day with three sets of able horses. Begins on Saturday 17th April from The Ram Inn in West-Smithfield, London to Mr James Pratt’s at The Black Boy, Daventry; and returns to The Ram Inn in West-Smithfield on Mondays and will continue all the Summer Season, at Fifteen Shillings each passenger. The coach sets out at Two in the morning precisely. Performed, if God permit, by Thomas Smith.

Francis Blewitt's Coach 'The Abingdon Machine' on its first journey from London, 1767 (although the first journey was actually made in 1761)
British (English) School; Francis Blewitt’s Coach, ‘The Abingdon Machine’, on Its First Journey from London; Abingdon Town Council;  Dated 1767, however, according to this advert below, the first journey was in fact made in 1761.

1761  – The Abingdon coach began flying on Wednesday 8th April according to the Oxford Journal

Sets out from the New Inn, in Abingdon every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 5 o’clock in the morning, to the Black Bull in Holborn; and returns every Monday. Wednesday and Friday. The far to and from Abingdon –

Ten Shillings: children in lap and outside passengers Five Shillings. Inside passengers are allowed to carry Fourteen Pounds in weight, all above to pay for.

N.B No plate, jewels, writings or other things of great value to be paid for, if left, unless entered and paid for as such.

Performed, if God permits by Francis Blewitt.

The Henley Coach Ten Miles from London
British (English) School; The Henley Coach Ten Miles from London; Henley Town Council;

On the same day, the same newspaper also carried this advert –

 Bew’s flying machine to London was advertised, again travelling three time a week. Sets out from The Bear Inn, in the High Street, Oxford, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, to The Black Bull Inn, in Holborn; and returns to Oxford every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Sets out at six o’clock in the morning.

Performed by John Bew

The London to Birmingham Stage Coach
Cordrey, John; The London to Birmingham Stage Coach; Science Museum, London

These coaches were built to carry four passengers inside and no more than six riding on top, but like public transport today there was over crowding, so a contraption was added to the rear, which was a type of basket, known as the rumble tumble that designed to carry the luggage. It was not meant to carry passengers, but as you can see from this picture by Hogarth perhaps it did, but it would have been extremely uncomfortable, worse than riding inside with no springs or on top where you would have been exposed to the elements.

The Stage Coach, or Country Inn Yard, by Hogarth, 1748
The Stage Coach, or Country Inn Yard, by Hogarth, 1748. Courtesy of the Met Museum


Featured Image

Cheltenham High Street, Gloucestershire; Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum

Lunardi's balloon

Early ballooning in 18th Century France and England

We are delighted to hand you over to a returning visitor to our blog, the lovely Regan Walker who has been busy carrying out her usual, meticulous research for her latest romantic Georgian romance, Echo in the Wind (to find out more about her latest book, check out the end of this post).

In France

The Montgolfier brothers

In November of 1782, Joseph Montgolfier, a French manufacturer of paper began to wonder if rising smoke might be used to carry a balloon aloft. With his brother Etienne, he experimented, and by June 1783, the brothers Montgolfier built a balloon made of silk and lined with paper that was 33 feet in diameter. They launched it, unmanned, from the marketplace in Annonay, France. The balloon rose 5,200-6,600 feet and stayed aloft for ten minutes. History was made.

Word of their success quickly spread. The French king, Louis XVI, who was known to dabble in science and a great friend of Benjamin Franklin, desired a demonstration.

For this flight, the Montgolfier brothers constructed a balloon about 30 feet in diameter made of taffeta and coated with a varnish of alum for fireproofing. The balloon was decorated with golden flourishes, zodiac signs, and suns symbolizing King Louis XVI.

On September 19, 1783, the brothers made an unmanned flight before a crowd of 130,000 at Versailles, including King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. This flight was also unmanned. The next step, of course, would be a manned flight.

Montgolfier balloon

The first balloon flight with humans aboard, a tethered flight, was performed in October 1783 by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, a French chemistry and physics teacher, and the Marquis François d’Arlandes, a French military officer. Mindful of the dangers, Louis XVI wanted to use prisoners, but de Rozier persuaded the king to let him and the marquis have that honor. The flight was successful.

About a month later, in November 1783, de Rozier and the d’Arlandes made the first free ascent in a balloon, flying from the center of Paris to the suburbs, a trouble-free journey of two hours.

The crowd watching the take off of de Rozier and d'Arlandes in Paris, 1783.

Benjamin Franklin, the diplomatic representative of America, then in France, witnessed the balloon taking off and wrote in his journal:

We observed it lift off in the most majestic manner. When it reached around 250 feet in altitude, the intrepid voyagers lowered their hats to salute the spectators. We could not help feeling a certain mixture of awe and admiration.

The Montgolfiers believed they had discovered a new gas (which they called Montgolfier gas) that was lighter than air and caused the inflated balloons to rise. In fact, the gas was merely air, which became more buoyant as it was heated. The balloon rose because the air within was lighter and less dense than the surrounding atmosphere, which pushed against the bottom of the balloon.

The limitations of using air were soon realized. As the air cooled, the balloon was forced to descend. Keeping a fire burning meant the risk of sparks setting the bag on fire. Other methods were explored, including hydrogen.

On December 1, 1783, Jacques Alexandre César Charles launched a balloon containing hydrogen from the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris before vast crowds.

Jacques Alexandre César Charles launches his balloon on the 1st December 1783.

Jacques Charles and his co-pilot, Nicolas-Louis Robert, ascended to a height of about 1,800 feet and landed at sunset after a flight of just over 2 hours. It is believed 400,000 spectators witnessed the launch. Hundreds paid one crown each to help finance the construction and receive access to a “special enclosure” for a close-up view of the lift off. Among the “special enclosure” crowd was Benjamin Franklin, who had become quite a fan of the aerostatic globes, as he called them. In my new Georgian novel, Echo in the Wind, this new love of Franklin’s is remembered and his thoughts at the time recalled.

In England 

The first person in Britain to ascend in a balloon was a Scot, James Tytler, an apothecary and the editor of the second edition of Encyclopædia Britannica.

James Tytler, a Scot, the first person in Britain to ascend in a hot air balloon.

Notwithstanding Tytler’s achievement, “Balloonomania” swept Britain due largely to the exploits of an Italian, Vincenzo (“Vincent”) Lunardi, who, quite the showman,  styled himself as “the Daredevil Aeronaut”.

Vincenzo (“Vincent”) Lunardi, who, quite the showman, styled himself as “the Daredevil Aeronaut”.

Following in the footsteps of the Montgolfier brothers in France, Lunardi arrived in London from Italy in the early 1780s determined to demonstrate the wonders of balloon-powered flight.

On the morning of September 15, 1784, nearly 200,000 people watched as Lunardi launched a hydrogen balloon into the air from the Artillery Ground on the northern outskirts of London. The envelope of the balloon was made of oiled silk, and had a diameter of 33 feet.

For the flight, Lunardi was accompanied by three companions: a dog, a cat and a pigeon. A special stand had been erected for George, the Prince of Wales, who tipped his silk hat in deference as the balloon began to rise. The balloon drifted north for 24 miles before landing safely in Hertfordshire.

Lunardi's balloon

Lunardi’s balloon was later exhibited at the Pantheon on Oxford Street. Lunardi made five sensational flights in Scotland in 1785, creating a ballooning fad and inspiring ladies’ fashions in skirts and hats. (The “Lunardi bonnet” is mentioned in the poem To a Louse by Robert Burns.)

The age of the hot air balloon had arrived and mankind was forever committed to the sky.

Echo in the Wind by Regan Walker. “Walker sweeps you away to a time and place you'll NEVER want to leave!” ~ NY Times Bestselling author Danelle Harmon.
“Walker sweeps you away to a time and place you’ll NEVER want to leave!” ~ NY Times Bestselling author Danelle Harmon

England and France 1784

Cast out by his noble father for marrying the woman he loved, Jean Donet took to the sea, becoming a smuggler, delivering French brandy and tea to the south coast of England. When his young wife died, he nearly lost his sanity. In time, he became a pirate and then a privateer, vowing to never again risk his heart.

As Donet’s wealth grew, so grew his fame as a daring ship’s captain, the terror of the English Channel in the American War. When his father and older brother die in a carriage accident in France, Jean becomes the comte de Saintonge, a title he never wanted.

Lady Joanna West cares little for London Society, which considers her its darling. Marriage in the ton is either dull or disastrous. She wants no part of it. To help the poor in Sussex, she joins in their smuggling. Now she is the master of the beach, risking her reputation and her life. One night off the coast of Bognor, Joanna encounters the menacing captain of a smuggling ship, never realizing he is the mysterious comte de Saintonge.

Can Donet resist the English vixen who entices him as no other woman? Will Lady Joanna risk all for an uncertain chance at love in the arms of the dashing Jean Donet? 

Echo in the Wind On Amazon: 

US – click here

UK – click here

Canada – click here

 And on Regan’s website


Sources Used:

Ballooning: A History, 1782-1900, by S.L. Kotar, J.E. Gessler

The First Hot-Air Balloon | The Greatest Moments in Flight

History of Transport and Travel

A Short History of Ballooning

The History of Hot Air Ballooning

Wikipedia: History of Ballooning

Wikipedia: James Tytler

Vincenzo Lunardi’s Hydrogen Balloon 1784

Vincenzo Lunardi – First man to navigate the skies over England

Wikipedia: Vincenzo Lunardi