The Cheesecake House, Hyde Park.

The Cheesecake House in Hyde Park

Today we are going to take a look at a building which stood in Hyde Park, on the north side of the Serpentine next to the Ring (a circular track around which the nobility could drive in their carriages). It was known as the Cheesecake House, (among other names) and was a place where refreshments could be purchased.

The Cheesecake House in Hyde Park by Paul Sandby, 1797.
The Cheesecake House in Hyde Park by Paul Sandby, 1797. Royal Collection Trust

An ancient building, made of timber and plaster with a flat tiled roof, the Cheesecake House stood in the park from at least the reign of Charles II (and perhaps even earlier). To gain access to the front door, the visitor had to cross the small stream which ran in front of the building via a rudimentary wooden bridge. Samuel Pepys was a visitor; in 1669 he took his wife for a visit and they sat in their coach and ate ‘a cheesecake and drank a tankard of milk’.

The Cheesecake House, Hyde Park by Thomas Hearne, c.1795.
The Cheesecake House, Hyde Park by Thomas Hearne, c.1795. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

In the time of Queen Anne, it was known as the Cake House or Minced-pie House and later was called Price’s Lodge (later sources say after Gervase Price, chief under-keeper of Hyde Park). By the late seventeenth-century Price’s Lodge was run by a widow named Frances Price.

St James’s Park is frequented by people of quality; who, if they have a mind to have better and freer air, drive to Hyde Park, where is a ring for the coaches to drive around; and hard by is Mrs Price’s where are incomparable syllabubs.

A Journey to London in the year 1698 by Dr William King (1663-1712)

But, it is best remembered as the Cheesecake House, after one of the delicacies which could be bought there as cheesecakes, custards, tarts and syllabubs were all on the menu.

Detail of syllabubs from A Sense of Taste by Philippe Mercier.
Detail of syllabubs from A Sense of Taste by Philippe Mercier.

Mrs Price was still the landlady in 1712 when a famous duel was fought literally on her doorstep in Hyde Park between James Hamilton, 4th Duke of Hamilton and Charles Mohun, 4th Baron Mohun on 12th November 1712.

Lord Mohun’s coach was stopped by the keeper of Hyde Park but, telling him they were headed for Price’s Lodge, he allowed it to pass. Mohun and his second, an Irish officer named George Macartney, got out of the coach and walked away, bidding the coachman to go into the lodge and ask John Reynolds, the Drawer, to get some ‘burnt-wine’ ready for when they returned. Reynolds was wise to their tricks. He said he would not do so, ‘for very few came thither so soon in the morning but to fight…’.

The Cheesecake House, Hyde Park, 1786.
The Cheesecake House, Hyde Park, 1786. © The Trustees of the British Museum

The duel was fought with swords and the seconds joined in too; both Hamilton and Mohun were wounded, Mohun fatally but the Duke of Hamilton only received a cut on his arm, at least at that point. Accounts differ, but it was claimed that the duke then dropped his sword and Macartney, Mohun’s second, delivered a fatal blow to him. John Reynolds came out and tried to help the duke walk to the house but before they reached the bridge, Hamilton said ‘he could walk no further’ and died on the spot.

With both the main protagonists dead, the two seconds, Macartney and the duke’s man, Colonel Hamilton were charged with manslaughter; Macartney fled to Hanover but Hamilton stood trial and was found guilty.

The Cheesecake House, Hyde Park.
The Cheesecake House, Hyde Park. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Frances Price died around 1719 and her will, written seven years earlier, left Price’s Lodge to her grandson, John Price. However, Frances’ will stipulated that, if she wanted to take over the management, her widowed daughter, Anne Silver, who lived with her mother in Hyde Park, should be allowed to do so, paying John Price an annual sum of £10 a year for the use thereof. Sadly, Anne Silver was to predecease her mother.

By 1801 the Cheesecake House was in use as a boat-house and in the nineteenth-century was demolished altogether. Except when there was a fair, for around a hundred years no refreshments were allowed to be sold in Hyde Park, a situation which caused many complaints. Finally, on 1st April 1909, the Ring Tea House was opened, a newly built Georgian rustic style circular building which catered for the park’s visitors.

You might be interested to know that cheesecakes of the period contained no cheese and were akin to a Yorkshire curd tart. In our next blog post, we will take a look at some Georgian era recipes for cheesecakes, custards, tarts and syllabubs.


Edward Walford, ‘Hyde Park’, in Old and New London: Volume 4 (London, 1878), pp. 375-405. British History Online

The Gentleman’s Magazine, May 1801

London Past and Present: Its History, Associations, and Traditions by Henry Benjamin Wheatley and Peter Cunningham, Cambridge University Press, 2011

Daily Telegraph and Courier (London), 9th April 1909

The Original Works in verse and prose of Dr William King, vol 1, 1776

The substance of all the depositions taken at the coroners’ inquest the 17th, 19th, and 21st of November, on the body of Duke Hamilton. And the 15th, 18th, 20th, and 22nd, on the body of my Lord Mohun, 1712

National Archives:

PROB 11/573/157, Will of Frances Price, widow of Hyde Park, 19 March 1719/1720

PROB 11/542/334, Will of Anne Silver, widow of Hyde Park, 25 October 1714

The Dipping Well in Hyde Park, engraving by James Godby after Francis Wheatley, 1802.

The Dipping and Drinking Wells at Hyde Park

In the early eighteenth-century, the Serpentine in Hyde Park was no large and ornamental lake, but rather a series of ponds described as consisting of dirty and stagnant water which were supplied by the Westbourne, a river which originated in the Hampstead and which, before entering Hyde Park, was joined by the ‘Cool Bourne’ (Kilburn) and a tributary called the Tyburn Brook or Stream. The Westbourne carried on under Knightsbridge to meet the Thames near Chelsea Hospital but, in Hyde Park, it ‘wandered about in a series of ponds’ until in 1730 Queen Caroline, the wife of George II, ordered that it be banked, forming the artificial lake we know today as the Serpentine.

Queen Caroline of Ansbach
Queen Caroline of Ansbach; Warwick Shire Hall

St Agnes’ Well was at the northern end of the lake (it was located about where the statue of Edward Jenner now stands). In the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries the springs of this well had two distinct uses.

The Drinking Well in Hyde Park by William Pickett c.1812.
The Drinking Well in Hyde Park by William Pickett c.1812.

St. Agnes’s Well, Hyde Park, considered one of the holy wells, existed as late as 1804, near the head of the Serpentine on its east bank, in a part of Hyde Park formerly known as Buckden Hill. There were two springs: one was used for bathing the eyes, and for the immersion of children, and is mentioned by Dr. Clippingdale in his paper on West London Rivers, as the ‘Dipping Well’; the water of the other, said to be medicinally potent, was sold in glasses by an attendant to visitors, amongst whom were many children of the richer classes, sent by their parents. The water was also taken away in jugs or bottles for consumption at home. It was probably mildly chalybeate.

The Drinking Well in Hyde Park, engraving by James Godby after Maria Spilsbury, 1802.
The Drinking Well in Hyde Park, engraving by James Godby after Maria Spilsbury, 1802. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

The image above of the drinking well, showing a paid attendant allowing women and children to fill glasses from the small trough like well is an engraving from an original by the artist, Maria Spilsbury (1776-1820), who lived immediately opposite the site at her family’s house, 10 St George’s Row. Maria would have known this scene well.

The Illustrated London News, in 1908, contained an advert for Pears soap (invented in 1789) which waxed lyrical on the pastoral charms of old Hyde Park.

The spot was one of sweet sylvan beauty, to which mothers and nurses resorted in the morning hours with their infant charges, for the purpose of washing and bathing them in the fresh bubbling spring, caught at its source in a rustic open well. What more delightful mode of having a bath could be imagined than here in the pure open air, with the luxuriant glades dissolving into the distance behind, and deer loitering in the leafy shade? It is, indeed, a scene of grace, natural beauty, and enjoyment.

The Dipping Well in Hyde Park, engraving by James Godby after Francis Wheatley, 1802.
The Dipping Well in Hyde Park, engraving by James Godby after Francis Wheatley, 1802. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

The dipping well may also be depicted in the painting Juvenile Tricks by Joseph Mallord William Turner, c.1808. The notes on the Tate website suggest that, as there appears to be a level of organisation in the boys’ activities in Turner’s depiction, that it might represent an apprentices’ initiation rite.

Juvenile Tricks by Joseph Mallord William Turner, c.1808. The scene may depict the Dipping Well in Hyde Park
Juvenile Tricks by Joseph Mallord William Turner, c.1808. The Tate


Illustrated London News, 20th June 1908

Old London’s spas, bath, and wells by Septimus Sunderland, 1915

Maria Spilsbury (1776-1820): Artist and Evangelist by Charlotte Yeldham, Routledge, 2017

Two Engravings (dated 1802) of the Drinking and Dipping Wells in Hyde Park by Sir StClair Thomson, M.D. (from the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine)

The Fleet on the Serpentine River, Commemoration of the Battle of the Nile, August 1st 1814.

The Grand Jubilee of 1814

We will be taking our usual summer blog break until the end of August when we’ll be back with more Georgian stories for you, but in the meantime, we’ll leave you with this one.

Monday, 1st August 1814 was both the anniversary of the Battle of the Nile and the centenary of the ascension to the throne of the Hanoverian monarchs; to celebrate these and the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which ended hostilities between Britain and France, the day was chosen for a grand national Jubilee. (British weather being what it is, in the run-up to the event it was advertised that the date was moveable, depending on predicted rainfall but all went to plan and the 1st August proved to be dry.)

London virtually shut up shop for a day out at the three parks chosen to host the celebrations, Green Park, St James’s Park and Hyde Park, and people journeyed from miles around to witness the spectacle.

The Fair and Naumachy or sham sea fight in Hyde Park was in honour of the Peace.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Thomas Smith of Marylebone, in his Historical Recollections of Hyde Park, left us a detailed account of the day.

Many hundreds of workmen had been employed for several weeks in making the necessary preparations, while a numerous body of artists from the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich were occupied in arranging the fire-works under the superintendence of Sir W. Congreve, in temporary buildings erected for that purpose in the Green Park. The most judicious precautions were adopted to prevent accidents from the pressure of the crowd, by taking down the iron railings and part of the wall in several places, thus affording free access to the immense multitude that had been attracted from all parts of the country. It is an indisputable fact, that such a number of persons were never brought together on any former occasion of public rejoicing.

In St. James’s Park, the principal object was a bridge thrown across the canal on which an elegant Chinese pagoda of seven stories was erected, profusely ornamented and hung with lamps, with fire-works affixed to various parts, the interior of the enclosure being appropriated to those who paid for admission; numerous booths and tents were pitched, while boats filled with elegantly dressed females on the canal, presented to the eye a scene of enchantment not easily to be imagined or described.

The Chinese Bridge and Pagoda previous to the fire, 1st August 1814.
The Chinese Bridge and Pagoda previous to the fire, 1st August 1814. King George III Topographical Collection, British Library

The illuminations formed a complete blaze of light, the trees in the Mall and Bird-cage walk, being encircled with lamps, and Chinese lanterns fancifully painted, glittered among the foliage. Her Majesty and the Princesses entertained a party of 250 of the nobility at dinner in Buckingham House, the front of which was also brilliantly illuminated, in uniformity with the Royal Booth in the Green Park, the devices exhibiting the names of our most celebrated military and naval heroes.

The fortress (which inclosed the Grand Pavillion) in the Green Park, with the ascent of the balloon (1814).
The fortress (which inclosed the Grand Pavillion) in the Green Park, with the ascent of the balloon (1814). Prints, Drawings and Watercolors from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.

In the early part of the evening Mr. Sadler ascended with his balloon from the space in front of Buckingham House to the great gratification of the royal party, who had taken a lively interest in witnessing the preparations for the ascent; at a later period of the evening, an unfortunate accident happened which threw a damp over the whole proceedings at this point, the fire-works having set fire to the pagoda; two of the men employed were so seriously injured that they expired on the following day; and before the fire could be got under, five stories of the pagoda were consumed.

View of the Chinese bridge and pagoda over the canal in St James's Park, as it appeared at midnight during the firework display, the pagoda in flames, 1st August 1814.
View of the Chinese bridge and pagoda over the canal in St James’s Park, as it appeared at midnight during the firework display, the pagoda in flames. © The Trustees of the British Museum

A revolving temple was erected in Green Park. This edifice was the work of Sir William Congreve, Baronet, of Congreve’s Rockets fame. Not surprisingly, a very loud and impressive display of artillery and fireworks was planned for the evening’s entertainment.

The Temple of Concord in Green Park, 1814.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

At ten o’clock a long and continued discharge of artillery announced the commencement of the pyrotechnic display; a grand discharge of fire-works from the battlements and walls continued for two hours, when the metamorphosis of the fortress was effected during the prevalence of a dense cloud of smoke created for the purpose of concealing the method by which it was accomplished. The smoke having cleared off, the Temple of Concord, brilliantly illuminated, and ornamented by numerous transparent allegorical paintings burst forth to the delighted gaze of the multitude. By an ingenious contrivance the Temple was rendered moveable on an axis, each face being presented at intervals and in succession to every point of the compass.

A View of the Temple of Concord in Green Park, 1814.
The Met Museum

In Hyde Park booths were erected for a Great Fair (which descended, after nightfall, into a scene of drunken dissipation); the highlight of the day at this location was a mock sea-battle, to be held on the Serpentine.

The entertainments in Hyde Park although of a different description, were not the less interesting, the whole space being converted into an extensive fair; between 400 and 500 booths were erected, where every delicacy that could please the eye or suit the taste of the most fastidious gourmand might be obtained. The liberty of the press was here also proudly recognised, a number of printing presses being set up, whence issued with great rapidity engraved views of the Temple, Pagoda, &c. and random records of great variety, which were eagerly purchased by the visitors as mementos of the pleasurable sensations they experienced. Many shows and theatres were also to be seen where the heroes of the sock and buskin, afforded infinite amusement to His Majesty’s lieges.

The View of the Fair in Hyde Park, August 1st 1814
© Cambridge University Library

Unusual anxiety was however evinced to witness a mimic naval engagement on the Serpentine river; this splendid sheet of water, presented the singular spectacle of two hostile fleets, viz. an English and American, riding in proud defiance on its bosom, both shores being lined with a dense mass of people assembled to witness this novel scene.

The Fleet on the Serpentine River, Commemoration of the Battle of the Nile, August 1st 1814.
© Cambridge University Library

Built at Greenwich out of timber from old ships, each miniature frigate was manned by three sailors; they fired blank ammunition at each other.

About six o’clock the action commenced by a cannonading by the ships in the van of the opposing fleets, until the whole line gradually neared each other; after a severe struggle the Americans were ultimately driven on shore; at dark, however, the British line formed and bore down upon the American fleet then lying at anchor, and set fire to the whole of their ships which were burnt to the water’s edge. The effect of this conflagration was surprizingly magnificent, indeed the whole of this exhibition was calculated to afford infinite gratification to the middling and lower classes of a maritime nation like Great Britain. The entertainment terminated at this point by a display of fire-works, among which the water-rockets, a new species of combustible, attracted much notice.

The action between the British and American frigates on the Serpentine, Hyde Park, 1st August 1814
King George III’s Topographical Collection; British Library/SPL Rare Books

This day all business appeared to have been suspended in London and the suburbs, and John Bull, Mrs. Bull, and their numerous progeny, seemed to have thrown themselves with perfect good humour into the vortex of public rejoicing and festivity, and in spite of the eccentricities of his nature, gave vent to feelings and expressions of joy and gladness, at the restoration of peace and harmony to his native land.

The fair was allowed to continue during the whole of the week; the park being cleared by order of the Secretary of State on Monday the 8th, and such was the injury done to this beautiful spot by the influx of so many visitors, that a lapse of two years passed away ere it recovered its pristine beauty.

18th-century business women – trade cards

We have looked at trade cards in a previous blog and if we’re honest this post is slightly self-indulgent as we’re fascinated by them. Today we thought that we would focus on the trade cards for those women who chose to run their own business or were forced out of necessity to continue running their husband’s business after his death as they would most likely have no other source of income.

There is an assumption that all women in the eighteenth and early nineteenth-century needed or wanted a husband to secure their position in society, although for some this was not the case. Whether they succeeded on not we may never know, but they certainly tried to be self-supporting.

We have previously looked at Eleanor Coade, businesswoman extraordinaire, a force to be reckoned with and we have our very own ‘Georgian Heroine’ Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs, who, whilst not running a business in the way you would expect, lived life on her own terms in a male-dominated world. She was paid by the government for her work as a sort of spy, reporting back to them about life in France around the time of the French Revolution and organising the major event of the golden jubilee for George III, almost single-handedly such. So, women were not all sitting around gossiping and drinking tea, looking pretty and waiting for ‘Mr Right’ to sweep them off their feet.

Women have always run businesses and in the eighteenth-century having your own business card and advertising in the newspapers was an excellent way of self-promotion, so we’re going to take a look at some such cards.

Our first and the earliest and most unusual card we found is for Dorothy Pentreath (1692-1777), known as Dolly, as her trade card states; she was ‘the last person who could converse in the Cornish language’ – she also sold fish for a living.  Dolly was apparently not averse to cursing people in her native language when annoyed, oh and was possibly a witch! So multi-talented – quite a woman it would seem.

Dorothy Pentreath of Mousehole, Cornwall. Wellcome Library
Dorothy Pentreath of Mousehole, Cornwall. Wellcome Library

There are many for occupations traditionally associated with women, such as fabric and frock sellers, but we wanted to look at the unusual ones, so our next offering is a seller of plates for coffins, near Newgate, London.

Bodleian Library. John Johnson Collection
Bodleian Library. John Johnson Collection

Susanna Passavant took over a going concern from the late William Willdey, jeweller and toyman, Plume of Feathers, Ludgate Hill, opposite the Old Bailey.

Trade card for Susanna Passavant. British Museum
Trade card for Susanna Passavant. British Museum

Next, we have one for Mrs Wood, a midwife in 1787, whilst a common occupation, this is the only trade card we have come across to date, for a midwife offering her services.

British Museum
British Museum

Sarah Greenland, tobacco and pipe maker, who was possibly also an exporter of her goods.

British Museum
British Museum

We love this next one, Mary Wiggett, chimney sweep. Mary took over the business after her husband died and remained at ‘The Broom ‘. Her unique selling point was that she would ‘make foul chimneys clean, and when on fire, puts them out with all expediency’.

Trade card for Mary Wiggett, chimney sweep. British Museum
Trade card for Mary Wiggett, chimney sweep. British Museum

This next one is quite sad. This was dated 19th June 1830, Martha Banting of Bampton, Oxfordshire was notifying people that her son John was no longer a part of the business, but that she would continue trading alone. On the 26th June 1830, Martha wrote her will – it was proven on the 28th July 1830. Despite her demise, her children inherited the business, so hopefully, they continued trading under the Banting name.

Bodleian Library. John Johnson Collection
Bodleian Library. John Johnson Collection

Our final offering is Dorothy Mercier, printseller, stationer. Dorothy née Clapham was the widow of the artist Phillipe Mercier (1689- 1760). She would buy and sell old prints and frames. She also sold writing paper, vellum, drawing paper, lead pencils, chalks, paintbrushes, watercolours, so she would have been very popular with the artists of the day. Oddly she also sold ladies fans. She was also something of an artist as she was selling her own paintings of flowers too. Quite the entrepreneur.

Victoria and Albert Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum
A humorous scene at the regatta, 1775

The first Thames Regatta, 23rd June 1775

A proposal was made in April of 1775 to hold a Regatta or Water Ridotto on the Thames. It was scheduled to run on a day between the 20th and 24th June, weather dependent. An event to see and to be seen at although, according to the Morning Chronicle of 20th June 1775, the Duchess of Devonshire expressed concerns about ‘being mixed with the mob and asked the Duke why he couldn’t hire the Thames for the day’. True or not, said in jest or not, we’ve no idea!

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Thomas Gainsborough, 1787
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Thomas Gainsborough, 1787; Chatsworth House

Nonetheless, plans were made for the event and they went as follows:

Between twelve and thirteen hundred tickets were to be issued and the parties were to supply their own boat or barge and were to congregate under Westminster Bridge early evening.

The centre arch to be left open for the race boats manned by watermen, twelve of which, with rowers each were to start to fix-row against the tide to London Bridge and back again; the three boats which first clear the centre arch of Westminster bridge on their return to claim the prize which would be proportioned accordingly as they came in.

First prize was 10 guineas each, with coats and badges

Second prize seven guineas each, with coats and badges of inferior value

Third prize – five guineas each with coats and badges

Also, every successful waterman would be given an ensign to wear for one year on the Thames, with the word REGATTA, in gold characters inscribed and the figures 1,2, or 3 according to the order in which he arrived at the end of the race.

After the race, the whole procession in order would move on to Chelsea and land at the platform of Chelsea Hospital and from there proceed to the Rotunda at Ranelagh in which an excellent band of vocal and instrumental music would be ready to perform as the company arrived. Boats with musical performers would also be stationed at Westminster bridge and attend the procession on the Thames.

Westminster Bridge by Antonio Joli
Westminster Bridge by Antonio Joli; Parliamentary Art Collection

Applications had to be made to the manager of the Regatta for seats in the public barges which were being loaned for the event by city companies.

The rowers of the private barges were to be uniformly dressed and in such a manner as to accord with someone of the three marine colours, chosen by the marshals of the Regatta – the white, the blue or the red. The blue division was to take the four northern arches of Westminster bridge; the red division to take the four arches next to the Surrey shore and St George’s division, the two arches on each side of the centre.

Ticket for the Regatta Ball at Ranelagh, 1775. Francesco Bartolozzi.
Ticket for the Regatta Ball at Ranelagh, 1775. Francesco Bartolozzi. Yale Centre for British Art

The whole procession to move up the river, from Westminster bridge at seven o’clock in the evening with the marshal’s division rowing ahead about three minutes before the second division; and the same interval of times before the second and third divisions.

The company would embark, using the several sets of stairs adjacent to Westminster bridge, as well on the Lambeth side between five and six o’clock, ready to begin at seven o’clock. The marshal’s barge of twelve cars, carrying St George’s ensign (white field, with red cross) would be to the west of centre.

The Interior of the Rotunda, Ranelagh, London; Canaletto; Compton Verney
The Interior of the Rotunda, Ranelagh, London; Canaletto; Compton Verney

A circular arrangement of tables, with proper intervals, would be placed around the Rotunda at Ranelagh on which supper would be prepared in the afternoon, and the doors were to be thrown open at eleven o’clock. The several recesses on the ground floor to serve as sideboards for the waiters and for a variety of refreshments.

A band of music consisting of one hundred and twenty vocal and instrumental performers would play in the centre of the rotunda during supper time. The garden of Ranelagh was to be lit up and a temporary bower erected and decorated around the canal for dancing. The platform of Chelsea hospital to be open for the great convenience of those disembarking.

The Royal Hospital, Chelsea by Daniel Turner
The Royal Hospital, Chelsea by Daniel Turner; Kensington and Chelsea Local Studies

The plan at this stage was that the event should take place on the 20th June, but a signal would be given by the committee to confirm the weather was suitable for it to go ahead. A red flag would be displayed at ten o’clock over the centre arch of Westminster bridge and the bells of St Margaret’s would ring from ten o’clock until one o’clock. Without such notification, it was to be understood that due to inclement weather it would not take place and would be postponed until the 21st of June. If the weather continued to be unsuitable then it would be postponed until the following day, i.e. 22nd June.

A humorous scene at the regatta, 1775
A humorous scene at the regatta, 1775. Lewis Walpole Library

Despite the inclement weather, the event took place on Friday 23rd June 1775, with the flag being finally raised at 10 o’clock and yes, despite the earlier report, the Duchess of Devonshire did attend.


How to manage your servants in the 18th century

For this post, we are revisiting a book we’ve used before, The Art of Conducting a Family with Instructions to Servants to take a look at some of the guidance for employing servants at the end of the 1700s.


Servants are an invaluable acquisition, but they have no interest at heart but their own. The more extravagant a family is, the better they fare. Economy they hate. Service, they say, is no inheritance.

Maidservant; British School
Maidservant; British School; The National Trust for Scotland, Brodie Castle;


Servants like to see their masters and mistresses spending their money and servants enjoy wasting it for them regardless of whether it can be afforded or not.  A good servant should be as careful and frugal of their master’s property as they would be if it their own.

The Careless Servant; Francis Wheatley
The Careless Servant; Francis Wheatley; Walker Art Gallery


A servant owes his master respect and should never answer back and only speak when spoken to. Whether servants are hired by the week or the year, their whole time is their master’s; and if they wilfully waste that time, by idly omitting what they are ordered to do, or by staying longer on messages or errand, it is as bad as picking their master’s pocket; for it is robbing the master of that time the servant has contracted to give him, and for which he is paid.

The Scullery Maid; Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin
The Scullery Maid; Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin; Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow;


If a servant asks permission to take leave and it is declined, under no circumstances should he/she take it regardless but wait until a more convenient time.

A Game of Quadrille by Hubert-François Gravelot, 1699–1773, French, active in Britain (1733–45) c1740. Yale Center for British Art
A Game of Quadrille by Hubert-François Gravelot, 1699–1773, French, active in Britain (1733–45) c1740. Yale Center for British Art


If the master and mistress have any disagreements the servant must never interfere.

An Old English-Gentleman pester'd by servants wanting places.
An Old English-Gentleman pester’d by servants wanting places. British Museum


As a wife is bound in duty to obey the injunctions of her husband, should it so happen that a master gives a servant one direction, and the wife or mistress contradicts it, or gives counter-orders, it is the duty of the servant to tell his mistress, when she gives those counter-orders, that his master has ordered otherwise; and that it is his duty to obey the master rather than his wife or mistress.

Displeased with servants. Lewis Walpole Library
Displeased with servants. Lewis Walpole Library

No Singing or Romping

No servant should ever sing, whistle or talk loudly in the hearing of any of the master’s family, nor make any other noise about the house, so as to disturb, nor particularly should the men and maids romp in the kitchen.

A Master Parson with a Good Living by Carington Bowles
A Master Parson with a Good Living by Carington Bowles. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Tread lightly

When a servant enters the room where the master or mistress is, they should tread lightly and never speak but in a quiet voice. They should equally go up and down stairs lightly.

Tight Lacing. Lewis Walpole Library
Tight Lacing. Lewis Walpole Library


When entering a room, if the door is closed, they should close it after them and close it again when they leave. Whilst speaking to the master they should not keep the door open and fiddle with the knob of the lock, but shut it gently, by turning the bolt, and opening it again, when they retire. Nothing is more insolent, or gives more offence, that slamming a door.

Silence is golden

Quietness adds to the comfort of every family and the more quiet and orderly servants are, the more they are valued.

Answering back

Servants should never answer their master or mistress back.

No Spitting

A servant should neither blow his nose or spit in his master’s presence and, if possible, neither sneeze nor cough.

Answering the bell

Attentive servants will always come at the first ring of the bell. Tread lightly and speak in an under-voice, yet so as to be heard distinctly, and will whisper to their master or mistress. They will not thrust their heads in the face of their master or mistress nor poison them with offensive breath.  To avoid anything disagreeable on this score, such as attend the room, servants will be clean of their person and will on no account eat onions, garlic or shallots.

Taking instructions

When a servant is receiving directions, he should be attentive, look in his master’s face, and not leave the room until the master has finished giving his instructions. If this was always done, there would not be so many mistakes nor would the ignorance of servants be so much complained of.

A Trusty Maid; Geroge H Hay; Hospitalfield Arts
A Trusty Maid; Geroge H Hay; Hospitalfield Arts

Books and Papers

A servant should not presume to take a book out of a master’s room or library to read, nor take away or remove any paper that may lie about, without first asking whether it is of any use. Many a valuable paper has been destroyed by the ignorance and carelessness of servants.

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

The Duties of a Georgian Footman

A Couple of Antiques or my Aunt and my Uncle.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

A while ago we took a  look at the below stairs roles of the household maid, the laundry maid and the cook, now we come to the role of the footman. Once again, we’re using the information provided by a certain Mrs William Parkes.

Charming well again.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

She firstly explains that the role of the footman varies greatly dependant upon the size of the household and its position within society. In a small household employing only one footman his typical morning would commence with the rougher part of the work of his department such as cleaning cutlery. Next, he would clean the household shoes and brush clothes.

He would also be required to assist the housemaid with cleaning the polished furniture in the library, dining and drawing room.

He would then prepare to serve breakfast by first making himself ready, then by setting the breakfast table, making sure that everything was ready on the table; seeing that the water was on the fire at the proper time so that no delay would arise when the family gathered in the breakfast room.  He would also be responsible for ensuring that crockery was clean by washing the china and ensuring that glassware was as bright as possible. After the family had eaten it was his role to clear everything away and ensure that the breakfast room was tidy. That would largely take up most of his morning, but he also had to be ready to answer the bells in the house and to open the hall door.

The Card Party or the Utility of Paper
© The Trustees of the British Museum

His next job was to wait at table. It was the footman’s responsibility to lay the dinner-cloth, set each place with the correct cutlery, a tumbler, wine-glass and a chair. He also had to announce dinner once everyone was present at the table.

He should remain quiet at all time but be ready to assist as soon as required. Bread, wine or water, when handed round, should be presented with the left hand and upon the left side of the person served. The footman should take care never to reach across the table, nor to put his hand or arm before anyone. He should tread lightly and speak quietly when answering a question.

The Last Gasp; or, toadstools mistaken for mushrooms.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

As great care was required when cleaning cutlery with ivory, ebony or silver handles this role also fell to the footman – there’s nothing more disagreeable than carelessly cleaned cutlery!

A good steady servant will keep his clothes and person clean and neat; he will be particularly careful in washing his hands, being called upon constantly to wait and hand so many various things. In many families, the footman, is very properly, not allowed to deliver any small thing, not even a card or letter, except on a waiter.

© The Trustees of the British Museum
The Favourite Footman; or, Miss Well Mounted. © The Trustees of the British Museum

A good footman, when sent out, will not waste his time but will execute his errands quickly, and return to his business. Punctuality is a very important quality in the footman, who must be ready to serve his master or mistress at any time required.

Within a large establishment, the footman would be under the constant watch of either the housekeeper or the steward and would probably never be seen by the master or mistress.

Kentish Gazette, 20 September 1780.
Kentish Gazette, 20 September 1780.

The newspapers of the day were full of adverts from people seeking employment as a footman and others from employers seeking a footman. The key attributes required appeared to be honesty, cleanliness and sobriety and for the prospective candidate to have worked for their previous employer for at least a year.

Featured Image

Taking an airing at Brighton, the donkies, or the humours of fashion. British Museum

Eighteenth Century Agony Aunts, Part Two

We continue our look at the replies to questions by our eighteenth-century agony aunts, we hope you enjoy them. We have to confess, the first one caused much hilarity here at All Things Georgian, both in terms of the question and its response!

Be not over hasty to bury those who die from an apoplexy

Question: A friend of mine was watching her friend who was busy making cheese when he suddenly fell head first into the vat of curd with just his feet sticking out. Someone went to fetch help and managed to get him out. The doctor tried to bleed him, but to no avail, so he was put to bed to get warm, but nothing would revive him, so he was pronounced dead. When it came time to bury him, a knocking could be heard on the coffin. The coffin was opened, and he was alive. Could you tell me how he managed to stay so still as to be presumed dead?

Answer: This must have been a very strong apoplectic fit during which time spirits entered his body, chiefly into his heart, making it seem to have stopped. Our advice is not to be too hasty to bury someone, make sure they are in fact dead first.

The Dead Alive!
The Dead Alive! Lewis Walpole Library

A young woman will not bed with her husband

Question: We have been married for a while now and my wife promised she would never change once married, but now we are married she won’t sleep with me. Can she lawfully do this?

Answer: NO! she entered a contract with you in the presence of God,  ‘to obey, to serve, honour and keep you, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, as long as you both shall live’, so she is in breach of that contract.

Scene in a Bedchamber; British School, c.1700
Scene in a Bedchamber; British School, c.1700; V&A

A gentleman of 500 pounds a year keeps me company

Question: I am a young woman with about 500 pounds in my account. A very charming young man of about the same wealth keeps me company, but he is adamant that he won’t marry. I love him very much but I’m not sure it is reciprocated. What should I do?

Answer: – Get rid of him, he’s not worth the trouble, look for someone worthy who will love you and marry you.

A beau desires to make himself acceptable to the ladies

Question: You give such wise advice that I simply had to write to you to ask what I need to do to create a good impression of myself amongst the Beau Monde. Please help me.

Answer: From the tone of your question it does sound as if you need some assistance. We would recommend that you are brisk in your repartee; let every action captivate the air, the flourish when taking snuff, the twirl of the wig will work wonders. Be witty, but not impertinent. Make sure that you are right on point when following the fashion of the day. Make sure you write your letters neatly and fold them nicely and ideally add a drop of scent to them. We hope these suggestions will be of assistance to your future happiness.

A young lady with 800 pounds pines for a husband

Question: I live in the country but do visit the town. I have 800 pounds, but I still can’t find myself a husband, why is that?

Answer: We see two issues with this –  firstly, you live in the country so unless you are able to spend more time in the town you will never meet a suitable husband as he will need time to get to know you. Secondly, 800 pounds really isn’t enough to catch a good husband, you need at least 1,000 pounds, so get saving.

In Fashion, Out of Fashion.
In Fashion, Out of Fashion. Lewis Walpole Library

Love more difficult to conceal than reveal

Question: There is a young lady that I am in love with, but I don’t think she even realizes it, she doesn’t know me, and I am not acquainted with anyone in her household. I am going abroad shortly, and I would like her to know before I depart. What should I do?

Answer: It is harder to conceal your feelings than to reveal them, so if she isn’t aware by now of your existence or your feelings by now then we feel that she isn’t worth your trouble.

Lovers in a Landscape by Pieter Jan Van Reysschoot, 1740
Lovers in a Landscape by Pieter Jan Van Reysschoot, 1740

 A wife desires to know if she should live with her husband

Question: My husband has been cheating on me and now has an illegitimate child with the other woman which he denies. He has also had other affairs and has acquired something worse. He says he is sorry and it won’t happen again, so should I forgive him? Your speedy answer is sincerely sought.

Answer:  We would recommend keeping him on a tight rein. If he truly reforms then maybe remain with him, if not, you need a ‘plan B’.

Husband discovered in act of kissing a maid . Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library
Husband discovered in the act of kissing a maid. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

An ugly old maid

Question: What is unhappier than an ugly old maid?

Answer: It is possible for a handsome young maid, to be unhappier than an ugly old one; for happiness consists in our own mind and not in the opinion of others. Therefore, an ugly old maid, who thinks she neither looks old or ugly is happier than a handsome young maid, who is not content with the beauty nature has given her and is continually trying to improve it.

An Old Maid on a Journey by James Gillray


The Misses Van by Lady Salisbury, 1791.

Eighteenth Century Agony Aunts

We came across the following publication which caused us more than a little amusement, so we thought we would share a few snippets with you. The Gentleman and Lady of Pleasure’s Amusement published 1759. The book is a series of questions about eighteenth-century dilemmas with the author(s) offering replies – something akin to agony aunts of the day.

For ease of reading, we have updated the questions and their replies into today’s language. So, here below is a sample of the 80 questions in the book, with more to follow next week.

A woman swearing a child.
A woman swearing a child. Lewis Walpole Library

A young lady is pregnant and not sure how it happened.

Question: I am in the prime of life and not unattractive, one of two daughters to a loving and industrious father. I now think I am pregnant, not sure how or when it happened, but I’m worried that my father will disinherit me.  My question being, is it possible for me to have become pregnant whilst asleep as that is the only way it could have happened, and didn’t know about it? Also, is it legal for me to kill the embryo so that my father doesn’t find out?

Answer: It is highly unlikely that you could have become pregnant without knowing it unless you were very drunk or having a swooning fit. Given that neither of these seem likely, we are sure that you will be fine, so stop worrying about it. In answer to your second question – that would be murder and treated accordingly.

A gentleman in love with two sisters.

Question: I’ve been dating two sisters, both equally beautiful and talented. I know I can’t have them both, what should I do?

Answer: As you appear to love them both, you can’t pretend to either, as we presume you expect a whole heart in return for only half of yours!

The Misses Van by Lady Salisbury, 1791.
The Misses Van by Lady Salisbury, 1791. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

A young gentleman twice married to one lady

Question: Before I reached the age of consent (21) I married a young lady, without telling my family. Now that I am of the age of consent, can I lawfully marry her a second time in the presence of my parents?

Answer: Yes, effectively you are renewing your vows, it is not illegal to marry the same person twice, it is only illegal to marry someone else whilst still married to the first person.

The Village Wedding, Thomas Falcon Marshall
The Village Wedding, Thomas Falcon Marshall; Fylde Borough Council

An Old Maid has an inclination for a young man

Question: I’m an old maid and going grey, but I’d like to marry a ‘toy boy’, but I’m not sure he would want me, although I have plenty of money, but … there’s a wretched old bachelor in the way who declares his love for me – or perhaps just my money. What should I do?

Answer: As you’re grey already, speed is necessary for any decision, so we’ll reply with haste. Whichever appears first, lock them in, throw away the key and keep them there – haste is paramount.

An advertisement for a husband! Lewis Walpole Library
An advertisement for a husband. Lewis Walpole Library

The Devil

Question: What sex is the devil?

Answer: By his roughness one assumes male, but as he often appears in petticoats, we believe him a hermaphrodite.

A wife wants to read her husband’s mail

Question: Is it acceptable for me to read his mail without his consent?

Answer: Goodness, if you opened his mail once, where could that lead? But seriously, a good husband wouldn’t object to you reading his mail – once opened by him, of course.

Anonymous Letter by Thomas Rowlandson
Anonymous Letter by Thomas Rowlandson. Lewis Walpole Library

I promised to marry her

Question: I made a promise to marry a young lady whilst under the influence of drink, although I didn’t really mean it. My uncle, who is my guardian expects me to marry a young, wealthy widow, what should I do as the young lady says I’m committed to her and that I can’t go back on my promise which I did repeat again when sober?

Answer: Whilst it wasn’t very clever to have proposed to her when under the influence, you did repeat it when sober. Hard luck, you’ve made the commitment, so you must follow it through.

The Proposal by Thomas Clater
The Proposal by Thomas Clater; Stockport Heritage Services

An apprentice to trade for himself

Question: I’m not asking for myself, but, an acquaintance of mine is an apprentice to a surgeon and a friend of his contracted a disease from a young girl. He approached the apprentice for a cure for the condition. The apprentice provided the cure and was paid for it. Is it acceptable for him to keep the payment or should it belong to his master?

Answer: Whilst employed by the master they are duty bound to give it to their master or to advise their master what has occurred and find out how the master wishes to deal with it.

We do hope you have enjoyed some of these anecdotes from our eighteenth-century agony aunts.

Her First Dance, William Quiller Orchardson

A guide to entertaining in Regency London

Social Meetings

The social meetings of the fashionable world consist of balls, musical parties, and routs. The latter appear to be formed on the model of the Italian conversaziones; except that they are in general so crowded, as entirely to preclude conversation. Cards, upon these occasions, are usually provided for the senior part of the company.

An evening party, George Cruikshank.
An evening party, George Cruikshank. The Met

General Expense of these Entertainments

The expense attendant on these entertainments depends entirely on the species of amusement which is provided. If balls are given, the expense is very considerable, as it is usual to give a supper to the company; and if in the early part of the season, April and May, the fruit is necessarily very scarce, and of high price. It is said, that a ball given by the Marquess of Anglesea [sic] cost 1,500l. These repasts are generally provided by some confectioner of repute, at a stipulated sum, (from 400l. to 1,000l.) who also provides chairs, glasses, and plates. The most celebrated of these are Gunter and Grange.

Elegant Company Dancing by Thomas Rowlandson.
Elegant Company Dancing by Thomas Rowlandson. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

General Time of Assembling

The time for assembling is generally from ten to twelve o’clock, or even later, as many persons visit several of these places in one evening. The hours of departure are various and uncertain; but from balls, the latest being sometimes seven or eight o’clock in the morning before the whole have separated. In this case, it is usual to cause coffee, tea, &c. to be handed to the company.

The Next Dance, George Goodwin Kilburne,
The Next Dance, George Goodwin Kilburne, Wikimedia Commons


The dress for these entertainments is that of the most reigning fashion. The persons who provide most fashionable for ladies on these occasions, are Mrs Gill, Cork Street; Mrs Griffiths, Little Ryder Street; Mrs Lacon, Albermarle Street; Miss Steward, &c. &c. The principal hairdressers and perfumers are, Woodman, in Piccadilly; Marshall, Wynne, Smyth, Rigge, &c.

Her First Dance, William Quiller Orchardson
Her First Dance, William Quiller Orchardson; Tate

Sunday Parties

Parties on Sundays are not very common. The Marchioness of Salisbury, however, has always a conversazione during the season on that day. It is usually attended by great numbers of persons of rank and distinction, and frequently some eminent musical professors are attendant on the occasion. The Countess St Antonio also sometimes gives musical parties on Sundays.

The Rehearsal, George Goodwin Kilburne
The Rehearsal, George Goodwin Kilburne

Sunday Dinners

Many grand dinners are constantly given on this day.

Regency dinner table.
Image sourced via Pinterest.


Leigh’s New Picture of London: or, a view of the political, religious, medical, literary, municipal, commercial, and moral state of the British Metropolis: presenting a brief and luminous guide to the stranger, on all subjects connected with general information, business, or amusement. 1818

Wagers at White’s

White’s is the oldest gentleman’s club in London. It was founded in 1693 when it was a chocolate house where people visited to drink hot chocolate and have a chat. Towards the end of the 1700s White’s took rooms on St. James’s at which time they limited membership to a certain number of male subscribers and remains exclusive today.

In the second half of the Eighteenth Century, the passion for making wagers reached its height, in those days many members of White’s were almost addicted to chance. Men would stake their guineas lavishly on any chance that might occur to them, bets ranged from a few shillings to hundreds of pounds.

White's Club Coat of Arms by Grignion, Charles, 1721-1810, printmaker. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library
White’s Club Coat of Arms by Grignion, Charles, 1721-1810, printmaker. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Never failing subjects for wagers were the duration of a person’s life, the increase of a lady’s family right through to which raindrop on a window pane would reach the bottom first, but curiously enough the Betting Book contained very few wagers on legitimate matters such as sport and athletics. We thought we would share with you some of the bets placed.

William, the 5th Lord Bryon’s love affairs always proved a popular topic for discussion and therefore an obvious choice to place a wager on. Who would he marry?

September 12th, 1746 – Mr James Jeffreys bets Mr John Jeffreys one hundred guineas that Lord Byron is married to Miss Shaw before Michaelmas 1748. If Lord Byron or Miss Shaw die or either of them marries any other person Mr James Jeffreys loses his hundred guineas.

A kick-up at a hazard table! Rowlandson. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library
A kick-up at a hazard table! Rowlandson. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

October 20th, 1746 – Mr James Jeffreys bets Mr Fanshaw fifty guineas that Lord Byron is married to Miss Shaw on or before Lady-day next.  A Captain Draper also went five guineas with Mr Jeffreys in this bet.

It appears that Mr James Jeffreys won his bet as Lord Byron did, in fact, marry Miss Elizabeth Shaw, the daughter and heiress of Besthorpe, Norfolk on March 28th, 1747.

A Worn Out Debauchée. Duke of Queensbury. Courtesy of Yale Center for British Art
A Worn Out Debauchée. Duke of Queensbury. Courtesy of Yale Center for British Art

March 3rd, 1784 – The Duke of Queensbury bets Mr Grenville ten guineas that Mr Fox does not stand a poll for Westminster if the parliament should be dissolved within a month from today. If a coalition takes place between Mr Pitt and Mr Fox this bet is to be off.

A more curious bet Mr Talbot bets Mr Beau Brummell five guineas that one of the editors of the three papers, the Examiner, the British Press and the Chronicle, is committed to prison for libellous matter contained in one of the said three papers before March 29th, 1812.

November 18th, 1817 Mr Bouverie bets Ld. Yarmouth a hundred and fifty that H.R.H the Duke of Clarence has not a legitimate child within 2 years of this day.

Mr Bouverie must have won, as the Duke of Clarence, who became King William IV had no legitimate children.

William IV, when Duke of Clarence (1765-1837). Signed and dated 1791 by Richard Cosway. Courtesy of Royal Collection
William IV, when Duke of Clarence (1765-1837). Signed and dated 1791 by Richard Cosway. Courtesy of Royal Collection

On November 4th, 1754, is entered the following wager, Lord Montfort wagers Sir John Bland one hundred guineas that Mr Nash outlives Mr Cibber. This refers to two very old men, Colley Cibber the actor, and Beau Nash. Below this entry is written in a different hand ‘Both Lord M. and Sir John Bland put an end to their own lives before the bet was decided’.

The first of these tragedies took place on New Year’s Day, 1755. Lord Montfort’s death and the circumstances of it attracted great attention.  He had come to the end of his fortune and had spent vast sums of money on his house, lived in extravagance and no doubt lost heavily at White’s.

The final blow seems to have been the loss of sixteen hundred a year by the deaths on the same day of the Earl of Albemarle and Lord Gage, who presumably paid him annuities during their lives. After this, he became reckless and even staked his life on receiving a government appointment. He hoped to be appointed as the governor of Virginia or to be granted Mastership of the Royal Hounds – he received neither. Immediately after this, he enquired of his friends as to the easiest mode of self-destruction. He allayed these suspicions by asking the same friends to dine with him at White’s that evening. He and his friends saw in the new year together. The following morning Lord Montfort sent for his lawyers and witnesses and having made a will, asked if it would hold good even though a man should shoot himself. He was informed that it would. On receiving this, he asked the lawyer to wait for a minute, stepped into an adjoining room and shot himself.

In September of the same year, the second party to this wager, Sir John Bland of Kippax Park, found himself in financial difficulties reputed to be due entirely to gambling. Walpole said that he had flirted away his whole fortune and that during a single sitting had lost about thirty-two thousand pounds. Sir John shot himself on the road from Calais to Paris.

It could be argued that given members ability to bet on virtually anything that possibly they found it difficult to amuse themselves!

Sources Used

London Evening Standard 22 September 1892

Bourke, Algernon Henry, 1854-1922. The history of Whites [with the Betting Book from 1743 to 1878 and a list of members from 1736 to 1892]

Featured Image

A Club of Gentlemen. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

The Staymaker c.1745; William Hogarth; The Tate

Frith Street, Soho: Mozart’s London Tour

One Wolfgang Mozart, a German Boy, of about eight Years old, is arrived here, who can play upon various sorts of Instruments of Music, in Concert, or Solo, and can compose Music surprisingly; so that he may be reckoned a Wonder at his Age.

The Mozart family made a grand journey around Europe during the 1760s and early 1770s which became a concert tour in which Wolfgang and his elder sister Maria Anna (Nannerl) performed under the supervision of their father.

Portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart playing in Paris with his father Léopold and his sister Maria Anna by Louis Carrogis Carmontelle, 1763, Musée Condé.
Portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart playing in Paris with his father Léopold and his sister Maria Anna by Louis Carrogis Carmontelle, 1763, Musée Condé.

After visiting various German towns, Brussels and then Paris, the Mozarts arrived in London in April 1764. It was something of an impromptu addition to the schedule: the family had not planned on performing in the British capital but after calls to do so after their performances in Paris, they hastily crossed the Channel.

An advertisement for these concerts announced that “the girl, in her twelfth year, and the boy, in his seventh will not only play on the harpsichord or the fortepiano, the former playing the most difficult pieces by the greatest masters, but the boy will also play a concerto on the violin, accompany symphonies on the keyboard and play with the keyboard completely covered by a cloth as well as though he could see the keyboard; he will also name, most accurately, from a distance, any note that may be sounded for him, singly or in chords on the keyboard, or on any conceivable instrument, including bells, glasses or clocks. Finally, he will improvise out of his head, not only on the fortepiano but also on the organ (for as long as anyone wants to listen, and in all the keys, even the most difficult, that he may be asked).”

Leopold wrote that he was ‘in a city that no-one from our Salzburg court has yet dared visit and to which perhaps no-one ever will go in the future’. He had high hopes of making a fortune while in the city but it did not go as planned. The London season was all but over and the nobility were retreating from the capital to their country estates, but Wolfgang appeared before the king and queen and made his debut in the concert rooms at Spring Gardens. Wolfgang and Nannerl then played at Ranelagh and Vauxhall: Leopold was awestruck at the sheer size of London and the multitude of people living in the city. One thing that did not impress Wolfgang’s father was, however, the English weather: Leopold fell ill with a ‘kind of native complaint, which is called a cold’. By the beginning of August, the Mozart family were lodging at a house in Ebury Row, Chelsea so that Leopold could recover in the country.

Childhood of Mozart; Ebenezer Crawford; Jersey Heritage
Childhood of Mozart; Ebenezer Crawford; Jersey Heritage

The London season began again in November and so, in anticipation of that, the family relocated during September back to London and took rooms in the house of Thomas Williamson and his wife, Jane, in Frith Street, Soho.

Frith Street, at the time, was known as Thrift Street and bounded at one end by Monmouth House, beyond which lay Soho Square, or King Square as it was then known. The Williamsons house, no. 15, was a brick built dwelling, three or four storeys high and dating from the 1720s. (Following the demolition of Monmouth House in 1773, the houses on Frith Street were renumbered: no. 15 is no longer standing, but its site is now occupied by no. 20 which is the back of the Prince Edward Theatre and opposite Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club.)

King Square in Soho, looking towards Monmouth House beyond which, to the right of the building, is Frith Street. © The Trustees of the British Museum
King Square in Soho, looking towards Monmouth House beyond which, to the right of the building, is Frith Street.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Thomas Williamson followed the joint and somewhat incongruous professions of staymaker and wax and spermaceti candle chandler, trading as Williamson & Tonson in the latter capacity by 1777.

The Staymaker c.1745; William Hogarth; The Tate
The Staymaker c.1745; William Hogarth; The Tate

Spermaceti candles – made from a waxy substance found in the head cavities of sperm whales – were preferred by those who could afford them as they were odourless: Thomas had royal patronage as two of George III’s younger brothers purchased their candles from him, Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn. A Daniel Williamson in Hull, East Yorkshire appears to have manufactured the candles and sold them from his premises. Possibly he was Thomas’ brother, the two siblings running a joint operation.

Trade receipt of Williamson & Tonson, Wax Chandlers. © The Trustees of the British Museum
Trade receipt of Williamson & Tonson, Wax Chandlers.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

The London season normally began when parliament reconvened but that winter, due to tensions between King George III and his government, the opening was delayed until 10th January, a further setback for the finances of the Mozarts, additionally so when their concerts during the rest of their stay were not as well attended as they had hoped they would be. They performed at private houses and their final public concert was on 13th May 1765: thereafter they continued performances for which the public was charged admission at their rooms in Frith Street until June.

Leopold and Wolfgang Mozart; Royal College of Music
Leopold and Wolfgang Mozart; Royal College of Music

The family left London at the end of July and sailed for France on 1st August 1765. Thomas Williamson continued his joint professions from Frith Street until his death in the summer of 1778. By his will, he left his businesses and stock in trade to his wife and to his son, John.

The blue plaque on the site of the house in Frith Street where Mozart lodged.
The blue plaque on the site of the house in Frith Street where Mozart lodged.

The subject of our latest biography, Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs owned two houses on Frith Street in the early 1800s, inherited from her father. They stood about where Ronnie Scott’s is, so opposite the house in which Mozart had lodged. A relation had lived on Frith Street in the 1780s, so it is entirely possible that our Mrs Biggs had heard tales of the child prodigy’s stay in Soho from someone who had personally known the Williamson family.


Oxford Journal, 23rd February 1765

Newcastle Chronicle, 14th May 1768

Mozart, Stanley Sadie, Oxford University Press, 2006

National Archives, PROB 11/1041/84

Merry Christmas: Reviews, Guest Blogs and More

We’re now ending yet another year of blogging. It’s true, as you get older time goes faster. It feels like five minutes ago that we were wishing everyone a Happy 2017 and we’re now almost at the end of it. We’re taking our usual break until January to spend time with our families and to draw breath, but of course, we’ll  be back next year with even more stories from the Georgian era – we already have plenty in the pipeline.

We have just launched our third book, so if you’re still looking for that last-minute Christmas present or just a treat for yourself, then you may wish to check out A Georgian Heroine. There’s also a direct link on the right-hand side of the blog to all our books.

The bizarre but true story of an astounding woman persevering in a man's world. A Georgian Heroine: The Intriguing Life of Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs.

We are delighted with the first reviews of A Georgian Heroine. Regan Walker, author of Georgian, Regency and Medieval romances had this to say:

We authors try and cast our heroines as noble women who overcome great odds to lead significant lives and win the hero’s love. Though she never found true love, Charlotte was just such a woman. I could not recommend a more delightful heroine to you than Charlotte. The authors have done a thoroughly researched job of bringing her story to light in a fast-paced narrative. I recommend it!

You can read the full review on Regan’s website.

We’ve been guest blogging to promote A Georgian Heroine so, if you’d like to discover more about this truly amazing woman, the links you need are below.

Charlotte, as our Georgian Heroine preferred to be known, suffered a tortured existence at the hands of a man she should have been able to trust when she was in her late teens. On Naomi Clifford’s blog, we discuss Abduction and Rape in 18th Century London: The Multiple Misfortunes of Charlotte Williams.

Robert Lovelace preparing to abduct Clarissa by Francis Hayman, Southampton City Art Gallery.
Robert Lovelace preparing to abduct Clarissa by Francis Hayman, Southampton City Art Gallery.

Charlotte grew up in Lambeth on the banks of the River Thames and her close neighbour was the Georgian era businesswoman, Eleanor Coade, a lady we looked at in more detail in our post on Sue Wilkes’ site.

Coade Stone Factory, Narrow Wall, Lambeth, anonymous, 1790s.
Coade Stone Factory, Narrow Wall, Lambeth, anonymous, 1790s.

Finally, we headed over to Anna M. Thane’s website, Regency Explorer for a look at a daring scheme to end Napoleon Bonaparte’s life, The Plot of The Infernal Machine, which Charlotte had links to. You can find out more in The Lady is a Spy.

Hortense de Beauharnais - Rijksmuseum
Hortense de Beauharnais – Rijksmuseum

In other news, our first book, An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott is now a bargain £4.99 in eBook format for a limited time (click here for more).

Before we leave you for the year,  we would like to say a huge ‘Thank You’, to all our lovely readers who have taken the time to read our stories and to comment on them and to wish you a very Happy Christmas. We’ve had some lovely comments from people so hopefully, we’re writing things that interest or intrigue you, our lovely readers. We must also say a massive ‘Thank You‘ to our guest writers who have provided us with yet more amazing stories from the Georgian era.



Blackfriars Bridge and St. Paul's by Francis Nicholson, c.1790.

French Misadventure: Alexander and William Walker

As Lewis Troughton, the Beadle of Christ Church, Southwark walked along Blackfriars Road one crisp, fine November day in 1817, his attention was taken by a crowd gathered around two young and frightened boys who were dressed ‘in the French costume’. Only two years after the Battle of Waterloo, the youngsters garb might have excited some suspicions but when they began to explain their predicament the mystery only deepened. The younger of the two, aged around nine or  ten years, was sitting in the road crying, his feet blistered and his legs swollen and no matter how much the elder lad, who looked to be about twelve, begged him to get up he refused; he could not, he cried, walk another step.

Blackfriars from Southwark, London; Daniel Turner; City of London Corporation
Blackfriars from Southwark, London; Daniel Turner; City of London Corporation

The beadle intervened and took the boys to Mr Evance, the Surrey magistrate where they were asked to give their names and the elder of the two, an intelligent lad, told their sorry tale, which was then reported in the newspapers as follows.

The two boys were brothers, Alexander and William Walker; their father had been an officer in a dragoon regiment and lived in County Tyrone, Ireland. Their maternal grandfather was a Frenchman who lived near to Amiens and, some four months earlier, the family had received news that the old man was dying and wanted to see his daughter one last time. Mrs Walker set off for her former homeland, taking her two sons with her, and they made it in time to pay their respects. However, a fortnight after her father’s death, Mrs Walker was taken ill and also died. The two boys were left all alone in a strange country, with no other relatives to care for them.

French School, 19th Century. Amiens, St. Luc Neighborhood and Cathedral
French School, 19th Century. Amiens, St. Luc Neighborhood and Cathedral. Via Expertissim.

A French lady who had known their grandfather sold the clothes left by their mother, presumably fine ones, and dressed the two boys in poorer clothes. She then gave them a small sum of money, told them that it was all that was left and pointed them towards the road that led to Boulogne. Did she see an opportunity and cheat them or was this the best way she could provide for their journey home? However it came about, the brothers were destitute when they reached Boulogne but luckily they found a kindly captain of a Dover packet who took pity on them and allowed them to sail on board his ship.

Sands near Boulogne by William Clarkson Stanfield, 1838. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Sands near Boulogne by William Clarkson Stanfield, 1838. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

From Dover, the boys decided to walk to London, begging their way and hoping to find a way to travel from there to Dublin where they had friends who would take them home to their father. And so they had been found, with their money spent and their legs so swollen that they could go no further. Luckily for them, the officers of Christ Church were charitable and, once the pair were recovered, they were helped to get back to Ireland and their home.

The Beggar Boy; John Opie; Falmouth Art Gallery
The Beggar Boy; John Opie; Falmouth Art Gallery

So, who was their father? Although the newspapers which reported on the story said he was an officer in a dragoon regiment, we do wonder if he was not the William Walker who was a private in the 8th (The King’s Royal Irish) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons? William Walker was born in Ballygreenan (Baile an Ghrianáin) in County Tyrone, c.1769, and enlisted at the age of nineteen. He was discharged in December 1814, at the age of 45, due to ill-health and in consequence of:

Asthma of long standing, worn out and lately returned from France where he has been a Prisoner several years.

This dragoon regiment had seen action at Bousbecque on the French/Belgian border in 1794 as part of the Flanders Campaign and had returned to England the following year. After that, they went to Africa and on to India where they remained until 1819. Had Private Walker been held a prisoner in northern France since the skirmish at Bousbecque until 1814? And had he met and married his French wife during that time, fathering two sons despite his status as a prisoner of war?

Finally in 1794 the 8th moved to the low countries for eighteen months of conflict. The first battle they fought on the continent in May surpassed even “The Charge of the Light Brigade” for bravery and devotion to duty. Two squadrons of the 8th charged a body of French infantry supported by four guns well positioned in a churchyard in the village of Bousbecque. The 8th Light Dragoons routed the infantry, jumped the churchyard walls and captured the guns. The casualties were staggering, of the 200 men who engaged the French, 186 were killed, wounded or captured. Lesser skirmishes followed for a year as the allies were pushed back into Germany and then left for England in November 1795.

NB: Private Walker’s discharge papers gave his birthplace as Ballygrina, Co. Tyrone, Ballygreenan is the closest approximation to this that we could find.


Evening Mail, 5th November 1817

The Queen’s Royal Hussar’s Association – click here for more

National Archives, British Army Service Records WO 97 – Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760-1913, WO 97/137/100

Header image:

Blackfriars Bridge and St. Paul’s by Francis Nicholson, c.1790. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

Remember, Remember the 5th of November

Remember, Remember the 5th of November, Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.

So, how, in the Georgian Era did England celebrate this failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament?  Well, it seems that things have changed little since then, bonfires, burning effigies and setting off fireworks were the order of the day, just as they are today. We thought we would take a look at a few reports from the newspapers. The first thing we should just point out is the spelling of his name has evolved from Guy Faux as he was known in the Georgian Era to the name by which we know him today –  Guy Fawkes.

Guy Vaux or Fox blowing up the Parliament House.
Guy Vaux or Fox blowing up the Parliament House. courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

In the 1600’s Popish books and pictures were burnt and from the early 1700’s the event was celebrated with the ringing of church bells and bonfires. This is the earliest reference we have come across regarding the symbolic creation and burning of an effigy.

Flying Post or The Post Master , November 4, 1712 - November 6, 1712
Flying Post or The Post Master, November 4, 1712 – November 6, 1712

Even royal residences joined in, as demonstrated in an etching by Paul Sandby which depicts a view of the festivities in the lower court of Windsor Castle during Guy Faux Night, showing the gathering near the bonfire and fireworks in the sky.

Windsor Castle from the lower court on the 5th of Nov[embe]r by Paul Sandby, 1776. British Library.
Windsor Castle from the lower court on the 5th of Nov[embe]r by Paul Sandby, 1776. British Library.
According to the Derby Mercury, 15th November 1792:

On the 5th of November, a number of people, at least five hundred, assembled in St George’s Field’s, carrying at their head an exceedingly elegant dressed figure, with a crown upon its head, which as occasion required they denoted Guy Faux or the Duke of Brunswick; this was preceded by a man carrying a long pole, on the top of which was a board, with the inscription’ Universal Liberty and no Despots’. This figure, after they sufficiently paraded it about the streets, they carried to Kennington Common, when a large gallows was erected, upon which, after burning the crown, they hung it, and then burnt it, gallows and all, the mob dancing round signing.

A completely different approach to the day was taken in Hampshire in 1801, it was a far more sedate occasion, with the day being ushered in by the ringing of bells and at twelve o’clock the guns on the platform and at one o’clock the ships at Spithead fired a salute.

In 1801, The Stamford Mercury, however, carried the following news:

Among the different effigies of Guy Faux which were exited in this city [Lincoln] on the 5th November, we could not but notice one in the habit of an honest farmer, with the characteristic emblems of a sickle, smock frock etc which was hung up near the toll bar. While we can smile at such a piece of harmless wit, we are happy to congratulate the more peaceable inhabitants on a second year passing over without the horrid practice of bull baiting; the enormity and cruelty of which, we should hope, the populace themselves are at last fully sensible of, and will in future discontinue.

Execution of two celebrated enemies of old England and their dying speeches Novr. 5 1813.
Execution of two celebrated enemies of old England and their dying speeches Novr. 5 1813. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

In 1802 a great annoyance was occasioned to the public by a set of idle fellows going about previous to, and on, the fifth of November, with a figure dressed up as Guy Faux and, after assembling a mob, was the cause of many depredations and disorders. The magistrate determined to punish all such offenders in the future and, therefore, five men and a boy were apprehended in St. Martin’s Street, with a cart, in which was a rude figure as the effigy of Guy Faux. One of the party was dressed as a priest, habited in a white smock-frock, with a large wig, the boy riding on horseback as the sheriff conducting the offender to the place of execution. They were immediately taken before Mr Graham, at Bow Street; and it being proven on oath, that the prisoners were seen to beg and receive money, they were all, except the boy, committed to prison as idle and disorderly persons.

Guy-Vaux discovered in his attempt to destroy the King & the House of Lords : his companions attempting to escape. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library
Guy Vaux discovered in his attempt to destroy the King & the House of Lords: his companions attempting to escape. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

In 1814, a most melancholy accident happened in Northampton Street, Clerkenwell, where some boys had a bonfire to celebrate the annual burning of Guy Faux, and throwing squibs; a wagon and horses passing at the time, the horses took fright and ran off, when a young man ran in front to stop them, he was pushed down by the foremost horse and the wagon passed over his boy and killed him on the spot.

London celebrated relatively peacefully in 1821, as The Morning Post reported that:

The anniversary of the gunpowder plot, which has caused so many scenes of painful confusion here, passed off last night, with the hissing explosions of a few squibs and crackers, here and there a bonfire, with Guy Faux in flames and with but little inconvenience or damage to anyone. The constables were commendably on the alert.

In The Globe of 1812, we learnt that:

Ever since the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, when Guy Faux meant to blow up the Parliament House, it has been the custom, on the first day of the session, for certain officers to examine the cellars under the House, and ascertain that all is right. Accordingly, at eleven o’clock, on Tuesday morning, Lord Gwydir, the officiating Great Chamberlain of England; Sir Thomas Tyrwhitt, the Usher of the Black Rod; Mr Curtis, Exon of the Yeoman of the Yeoman of the Guard, attended at the House of Lords to examine the premises. For this purpose, the table in (the House of Peers was removed, the trap door under it was taken up, and the passages underneath were closely inspected. They also inspected the vaults under the House of Commons, which are filled with excellent wines, of which the inspectors tested, that they might be sure they were not gunpowder.

Just in case you weren’t aware, this tradition still takes place today.

Featured Image

The Fairs or Guy Fawkes a Print made by Rowney & Forster, active 1820–1822,  after John Augustus Atkinson, 1775–1831. Courtesy of the Yale Centre for British Art

A visit to Uppark House, Sussex

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to pay a visit to Uppark House, near Petersfield, Sussex and thought I would share a little information from my trip.

Tillemans, Peter; A View of Uppark; National Trust, Uppark;  A view of the house as it would have looked around 1720.
Tillemans, Peter; A View of Uppark; National Trust, Uppark;  A view of the house as it would have looked around 1720.

In 1747 Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh and his wife Sarah Lethieullier purchased Uppark House and estate in Sussex.

Sarah Lethieullier (1722-1788), Lady Fetherstonhaugh, with the Branch of a Pear Tree; Pompeo Batoni; National Trust, Uppark
Sarah Lethieullier (1722-1788), Lady Fetherstonhaugh, with the Branch of a Pear Tree; Pompeo Batoni; National Trust, Uppark
Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh (1714-1774), 1st Bt, MP, with Wreaths of Fruit and Corn; Pompeo Batoni; National Trust, Uppark
Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh (1714-1774), 1st Bt, MP, with Wreaths of Fruit and Corn; Pompeo Batoni; National Trust, Uppark

For around ten years the couple redecorated the house and spent much of their time travelling in France, Italy and Austria on lavish shopping trips, purchasing a wide variety of antiquities for their new house.

Dolls house, Uppark House
Dolls house, Uppark House

The couple only had one child, Henry, known as Harry, who was ‘safely delivered’ at Uppark on 22nd December 1754 according to the newspaper report in the Newcastle Courant just less than one week later. He was baptized at the local church in Harting, Sussex a few weeks later, on January 14th, 1755.

Matthew was to die before Harry reached his majority but fortuitously wrote his will just before he died in March 1774, appointing his widow Sarah and her brother Benjamin Lethieullier as guardians to their only son Harry.

Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh (1754-1846), 2nd Bt; Pompeo Batoni; National Trust, Uppark
Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh (1754-1846), 2nd Bt; Pompeo Batoni; National Trust, Uppark

Like his father, the educated and extremely wealthy Harry also undertook the Grand Tour and added to the antiquities that his parents had purchased.

He also commissioned the renowned Humphry Repton to add a new pillared portico, a dairy and to landscape the garden, creating some spectacular views from the house.

Portico at Uppark House, the entrance used by visitors
Portico at Uppark House, the entrance now used by visitors

Harry was a good friend of the Prince of Wales who stayed at Uppark during the mid-1780s. In 1780, Harry had a short-lived affair with Emma Hart, later to become Lady Emma Hamilton, he even provided her with a cottage on the estate.

The stable block and gothic seat at Uppark House
The stable block and gothic seat at Uppark House

After this he became something of a confirmed bachelor and recluse until that is, at the ripe old age of 71 he happened to hear the head of the milking parlour, Mary Ann Bullock singing and fell in love with her immediately.

Gothic Seat, Uppark House
Gothic Seat, Uppark House

Mary Ann was a mere 21 years of age. A marriage licence was issued 9th September 1825 and the couple married a few days later, despite such a massive age gap. Harry also arranged for Mary Ann to be educated in Paris. Upon his death in 1846, he left the entire estate to her.

Mary Ann’s family moved to the village from Streatham, Surrey, where Mary Ann was born on 16th December 1804 (her parents were William and Ann Bullock). The couple had several children baptized in Surrey, prior to moving to Harting, Sussex at which point they produced several more children including Frances (1817) who lived at Uppark with her sister and was sole executrix of her sisters will in 1874. Despite being a scandalous marriage in its day, the union lasted some 21 years, so perhaps the age gap didn’t matter after all.

A summer reading selection: green men, sovereigns, moles and bawds

We are taking our annual summer holiday from blogging and so this will be our last post until September when we will be back with plenty of new posts and some exciting news (CLICK HERE for a teaser and there’s a little more to be found at the end of this blog!). In the meantime though, we have taken a look back at a few of our favourite blogs from this year, in a summer reading recap for our readers, old and new.

We invite you to discover Henry Cope, the Green Man of Brighton. He dressed in ‘green pantaloons, green waistcoat, green frock, green cravat… He eats nothing but greens, fruits and vegetables; has his apartments painted green, and furnished with a green sofa, green chairs, green tables, green bed and green curtains. His gig, his livery his portmanteau, his gloves and his whips, are all green. With a green silk handkerchief in his hand and a large watch chain with green seals, fastened to the green buttons of his green waistcoat he parades every day on the Steyne, Brighton’.

Henry Cope, the Green Man of Brighton, 1806. © National Portrait Gallery, London

What rake is ignorant of King’s Coffee House? Moll King was the proprietress of King’s Coffee House in Covent Garden and she counted Hogarth, Henry Fielding, Alexander Pope and John Gay amongst her customers. Separating fact from fiction, we present the true account of her life in our blog post.

The Four Times of the Day: Morning by Hogarth.

Back in March, we were guest-blogging on the subject of the Allied Sovereigns’ Visit to England in 1814, when the Tsar of Russia, the King of Prussia and other European sovereigns were hosted by the Prince Regent to celebrate the Peace of Paris and the abdication of Napoléon Bonaparte, who had been exiled to Elba.

The Allied Sovereigns at Petworth, 24 June 1814

We have a post on folklore next: Fortune Telling Using Moles. No, not the small, furry creatures! Find out why a round mole is luckier than an angular one and whether your mole denotes a good marriage, health, wealth and wisdom or a testy contention and ungovernable spirit.

A Fortune-Teller by Joshua Reynolds: Kenwood, English Heritage

Upon stumbling across a painting of two children which captured our interest, we turned art detectives and delved into the history behind it, discovering the family of Captain Richard Davison Pritchard of the Royal Navy.The Children of Captain R. D. Pritchard (1827) by Philip August Gaugain (1791–1865)<br /> Walker Art Gallery

We hope that you enjoy your summer and we’d like to thank all our readers for their continued support of our blog and for your comments. When we come back in September, we will begin to share with you the incredible but true story of a woman who history has largely forgotten, a woman whose story has to be read to be believed and which proves the old adage that fact is often much stranger than fiction. If you haven’t already subscribed to our blog, please do give us a follow to be kept updated and – if you’re too impatient to wait until September – CLICK HERE for a little ‘spoiler’ and be one of the first to find out more…



Featured image:

Outskirts of a Town (detail from), British (English) School, Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries

Robert Dingley, founder of The Magdalen Hospital

Having already written about The Magdalen Hospital we thought it would make an interesting article to provide a little more information about one of its founders – Robert Dingley. Robert was later referred to by Mary Ann Radcliffe in ‘The Female Advocate‘ as ‘the first humane proposer of the charity‘.

Robert Dingley was born around 1710 , the eldest surviving son of Susanna and Robert Dingley, a prosperous jeweller and goldsmith of Bishopsgate Street, London and a descendant of Sir John Dingley of Wolverton Manor, Isle of Wight.

Robert Dingley by John Dixon, after William Hoare, 1762 (National Portrait Gallery)
Robert Dingley by John Dixon, after William Hoare, 1762 (National Portrait Gallery)

Robert was an extremely busy man, with fingers in many pies it appears. He took a keen interest in the arts and was an active member of  The Society of Antiquaries from 1734 and ‘dabbled in architecture’ ; became a Fellow of the Royal Society in November 1748; was also founder member of the Society of Dilettanti, along with Sir Francis Dashwood about whom we have previously written in connection with The Dunston Pillar; held a lifelong career with the Russia Company and was also Director with the Bank of England and according to The Whitehall Evening Post of March 30th, 1749 he was appointed Governor of the Foundling Hospital.

On December 30th, 1744 Robert married into another affluent family, his first wife being Elizabeth Thomson, daughter of Henry Thomson Esq, of Kirby Hall, Yorkshire.

Stamford Mercury 03 January 1745

The couple had three children Susanna (born November 22nd, 1745) and Robert Henry Dingley in 1746. A later child Elizabeth who was born 19th June 1748 did not survive infancy.

In 1759 his first wife Elizabeth died leaving Robert to raise two teenage children.

There is an obelisk and bust of Elizabeth at St Luke’s church, Charlton, Kent.

With this in mind, Robert wasted no time and married his second wife, Esther Spencer, sister and heir of Thomas Spencer, the following year, on 21st March 1760.

For someone who led such a public life the newspaper report of his death was succinct to say the least –

St. James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post, August 9, 1781 – August 11, 1781

Died yesterday at Lamb-Abbey. Near Eltham, aged 72, Robert Dingley Esq.

However, there is a memorial for both Robert and Esther in the same church. Esther died 1784.

An interesting piece appeared some years after his death in Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, Saturday, September 9, 1786, just after the death of Jonas Hanway.

So what became of Robert’s children, well his daughter, Susanna Cecilia (1743–1795) of Lamb Abbey, near Eltham, Kent, married Richard Hoare (d.1778) of Boreham House, Essex, a partner in Hoare’s bank, in 1762.

Richard Hoares’ marriage to Susanna in 1762 in the presence of her father Robert. The marriage was carried out by none other than Rev. William Dodd.
Mrs Susanna Hoare and Child by Joshua Reynolds
Reynolds, Joshua; Mrs Susanna Hoare and Child; The Wallace Collection

Susanna and Richard had five children, and the present picture probably depicts their eldest child, called Susanna Cecilia after her mother, who died young in 1768. In 1765 Mrs. Hoare paid 70 guineas for the picture, which was probably painted 1763–1764.

His son, Robert Henry took holy orders and became the rector of Beaumont cum Mose and south Shobury, Essex until his death in March 1793.

Robert Henry followed in his father’s footsteps and became a governor of Magdalen Hospital, as did Robert’s second wife, Esther.


Featured Image

Courtesy of the British Museum

Portrait, three-quarter length seated wearing velvet suit and long white wig, directed to right holding a book open on right knee to show the title-page of ‘An Account of the Rise, Progress and Present State of the Magdalen Charity’ faced by a picture of a woman, his left arm on arm of his chair beside a table on which are papers bound with ribbons; after Hoare.


Sources Used


The Ipswich Journal 19 November 1748

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent, Volume 2 By Edward Hasted

An Account of the Rise, Progress and Present State of the Magdalen Hospital By William Dodd


Views in the Levant: Paestum, c.1785.

An Italian honeymoon ends in tragedy, 1824

Caroline Isham, the eldest daughter of the Reverend Charles Euseby Isham, married Thomas Welch Hunt, the Squire of Wadenhoe in Northampton on 9th February 1824. The marriage took place at Polebrook where Caroline’s father was rector of the parish.

Caroline Hunt, née Isham, painted to commemorate her marriage in 1824.
Caroline Hunt, née Isham; British School, 1824; Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery

The couple were both young; Caroline was 22 years old at the time of her wedding and Thomas was 27. Moreover, Thomas Welch Hunt was a wealthy and amiable gentleman. Their future looked bright.

Thomas Welch Hunt, painted to commemorate his marriage in 1824.
Thomas Welch Hunt; British School, 1824; Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery

A short time after the marriage, the new Mr and Mrs Hunt took an extended Grand Tour of a honeymoon on the continent, heading for Italy. The Napoleonic Wars were at an end and British tourists were once more able to travel across mainland Europe. They made first for Rome and then travelled south, stopping at the coastal town of Salerno in the Kingdom of Naples before, in early December, continuing on to the small town of Eboli in order to visit the ruins of the three Greek temples at Paestum. They were in wild and dangerous countryside where banditti roamed and English visitors were warned to carry pistols.

Journal des Dames et des Modes, 1824.
Journal des Dames et des Modes, 1824. Rijksmuseum.
Perhaps Mr and Mr Hunt were dressed similarly when they visited Paestum?

The hills became less picturesque as the Hunts carriage travelled from Salerno but Eboli itself was a handsome town, built on the slope of the hills. Beyond Eboli was the plain of Paestum, with large tracts of dark green shrubs which had a dismal and desolate appearance when viewed from the higher ground of Eboli but which were myrtles, ten feet high, standing in a pasture which fed water buffalo (kept for making cheese from their milk). A traveller in 1822 was to recall that there ‘was something solemn and imposing in the silent loneliness of this monstrous expanse… [our driver] pointed out to us a spot, where, about two years since, two Englishmen had been stopt… [and] robbed of everything, even to their shirts, and sent literally naked back to Eboli, where these travellers had been so incautious as to exhibit diamond pins, and gold watches and seals’.

A View of Paestum by Antonio Joli, 1759.
A View of Paestum by Antonio Joli, 1759 (via Wikimedia).

There were three groups of English tourists visiting Paestum; the Hunts, a Mrs Benyon and her two daughters and three midshipmen from the Revenge, Charles Alex Thorndike, a Mr Hornby and Mr Thompson. Thomas and Caroline Hunt spent the night at a ‘miserable little inn at Eboli’, and unwittingly placed themselves in mortal danger.

Between Salerno and Eboli by John Robert Cozens, 1782.
Between Salerno and Eboli by John Robert Cozens, 1782. Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.

The landlord was a rogue and a villain, in league with the lawless men who terrorised the vicinity. Naples had changed hands a few times during the Napoleonic wars but, from 1823, was – for the second time – under the control of the Bourbon, King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies and maintained by an Austrian garrison. A Corps of sixty pardoned highwaymen had formed part of the king’s troops in Sicily under the command of a Chef de Brigade named Costa, also a former criminal and a fervent anti-Jacobin. They had not received their pay for some time and – it was rumoured – had reverted to their old trade, roaming the plains of Paestum and preying on visitors to the ancient ruins. Unbeknown to the Hunts, their landlord at the inn alerted the banditti. Mr Hunt had been careless – or imprudent – in putting his expensive travelling accoutrements on display. The eagle-eyed landlord had noted their value.

…the landlord, observing that he [Mr Hunt] had silver mounted cruets, and silver backed brushes in his dressing-case (a wedding present he had received), communicated with a band of brigands that infested the neighbourhood.

The next day – Friday 3rd December 1824 – the banditti were stationed, ready to pounce on the unwary tourists. Mrs Benyon and her daughters were their first victims. As they left the ruins at around one o’clock in the afternoon they were held up, threatened and relieved of their valuables but allowed to continue on to Salerno where they were expecting to meet up with the other two English parties. By nightfall, Mrs Benyon was convinced that misfortune had befallen her fellow travellers and penned a hasty and unfortunately prophetic letter to the Minister at Naples, ‘it is much to be feared that resistancemay have led to dreadful results’.

Travellers Attacked by Banditti by Philip James De Loutherbourg, 1781.
Travellers Attacked by Banditti, 1781 by Philip James De Loutherbourg. The Tate

Thomas Welch Hunt and his wife Caroline were the next victims of the troop of brigands. They set off in their carriage from Paestum but had only travelled about half a mile when a man jumped out from behind a hedge and stopped the horses; another man leaped on to the footboard of the carriage and demanded money from the servant travelling on the box before throwing him to the ground and holding him fast there. In all, there were six highwaymen, all masked and armed; one pointed his musket at Mr Hunt (who was unarmed) and another targeted Caroline. Mr Hunt gave the men his purse but repeatedly asked for at least two or three carlins (a Sicilian silver coin worth about fourpence) to be returned to him, perhaps trying to convince them that he had no other money or valuables with him. Caroline – terrified – begged her husband to just hand over everything; the men knew there was a box in the carriage containing the silverware and they wanted more than just Mr Hunt’s purse. But Thomas Welch Hunt was obstinate and imprudent; he was also deaf to his wife’s pleas and bravely contemptuous of the threats made by the men pointing their muskets at the couple. “If you do not immediately give up everything, we will shoot you”. “You dare not do that”, responded Mr Hunt. Caroline recalled the fatal moment:

The words were no sooner uttered than we were both unfortunately shot. I wish he had not been so obstinate, and I am sure they would not have acted so rashly – but pray do not tell my husband I said so. They all made their escape without delay without taking a single article from us.

The servant who had been on the box took one of the horses and galloped as fast as he could back to the ruins at Paestum to find the three midshipmen. The carriage, with the wounded couple inside, headed back the same way.

Views in the Levant: Temple Ruins at Paestum, c.1785.
Views in the Levant: Temple Ruins at Paestum, c.1785. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Mr Hunt and his wife were gently carried into the ruins and it was clear that they were both mortally wounded. A ball had passed through Mr Hunt’s right breast, and another had passed clean through Caroline’s left hand and left breast. Medical aid was sent for and a message also sent to Mr John Roskilly, an eminent English surgeon resident at Naples (who had treated Percy Bysshe Shelley a few years earlier). Thomas Welch Hunt was too injured to be moved and he died amid the ruins of the Greek temples at seven o’clock that evening; Caroline had been taken to a nearby farmhouse where she was tended to but not told of her husband’s death. The next morning (Saturday) she was able to tell Mr Thorndike what had happened but after that she became weak and she died in the early hours of the Sunday morning. Mr Roskilly arrived at noon on the Sunday, too late to be of use but it was he who discovered what had become of Thomas Welch Hunt’s body. It had been taken to the church and the local surgeon had opened the body before placing it – upright – in a narrow closet, unclothed and with the body still open. Roskilly was able to prevent Caroline’s remains suffering the same fate.

The young, newly married couple were buried side-by-side, and a tablet to their memory is located nearby in the churchyard of Christ Church in Naples; another was placed back in the church at Wadenhoe.

The memorial plaque at Naples to Thomas Welch Hunt and his young bride, Caroline.
The memorial plaque at Naples to Thomas Welch Hunt and his young bride, Caroline. The Phraser

The brigands were rounded up, accused and found guilty of the Hunts murder.


NAPLES, APRIL 28, 1825

The assassins of the unfortunate Mr. and Mrs. Hunt, whose case excited so deep and extensive an interest, were executed last Saturday, 23d inst. The Neapolitan journal, which, as you may remember, avoided making any mention of the distressing affair at the time it happened, and which only alluded to it lately, when the malefactors were discovered, inserted yesterday a long article on the subject. It appears, that immediately after committing the crime, the villains had kept themselves closely hidden, and by means of the wife of one of them, who denounced certain innocent individuals, misled for some time the pursuits of the police. At last, however, the whole mystery was cleared up, and the following individuals secured: – Felice Solito, aged 32, a peasant; Biagio Manzo, 32, a colono, (or little farmer); Liberato Letteriello di Vincenzo, aged 26, a peasant; Pietro Antonio di Pasquale, aged 28, a wine seller, or tavernajo; Maria Vittoria Calabrese, aged 39, wife of Biagio Manzo; Marianna Cirmo, aged 30, wife of Liberato Letteriello, Raffaele Frasca, aged 30, a guardiano campestre, (or man armed for taking care of country property); and Nicola Maria Petrelli, whose condition is not mentioned, aged 38. These persons were brought before the Military Commission of the Province at Salerno, according to a decree of King Ferdinand, dated 3d October, 1822, which orders that all briganti, or companies of robbers, be tried by martial law, and executed immediately after conviction. The Commission… declared Solito, Manzo, Letteriello, and Di Pasquale, guilty, recommending, however, Solito to Royal mercy, as his evidence had principally discovered the secrets of the crime, in which also he had taken the least part. Of the other individuals, accused of being privy to the desperate projects of the assassins, and of having lent them arms and assistance, one, viz. Cirmo, was acquitted in toto, and the other three detained in prison for further examination.

The three ordered for execution were carried down to Eboli and shot, at three o’clock in the afternoon of Saturday. The brutal ruffians, the sanguinary destroyers of defenceless youth and beauty, died like dastardly villains as they were. Those hearts which had the baneful energy to arrive at the excess of crime, which could dictate the cruel blow that was to send to a premature grave two beings rich in merit, in love, and in happiness; and that was to wound the hearts of thousands of the just and virtuous, trembled and sunk at their own sufferings. They moaned, they shrieked, nor could all the consolations of religion give them strength to face their punishment.

It appeared on the trial that the criminals took to the road, for the first time, the day before our unfortunate country people fell into their hands.

Probably the last likeness of Caroline Hunt née Isham which survives is a plaster cast medallion, done by Neri while she was in Rome and which was in the possession of a descendant of the Isham family, Gyles Isham, in 1950. Intriguingly, either the original or a second copy was bought at an antique show in Massachusetts and was in a fragile box alongside a similar one of Rosa Bathurst, another young Englishwoman who also died in Italy in 1824 (Rosa drowned in the Tiber). It is not known how their two medallions ended up together, but you can read more about them by clicking here.

Cameos of Caroline Hunt née Isham (left) and Rosa Bathurst (right).
Medallions of Caroline Hunt née Isham (left) and Rosa Bathurst (right).


Sources not referenced above:

Scots Magazine, 1st September 1822

London Courier and Evening Gazette, 20th May 1825

The Story of Wadenhoe by the Wadenhoe History Group

Tragic Honeymoon by Gyles Isham; Northamptonshire Past and Present, 1950


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Views in the Levant: Paestum, c.1785. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Making a sailor a free mason Piercy Roberts 1807, Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Signs & signals used by the members of the Society of Freemasons 1724

As part of our research for our next book, we briefly delved into the secret world of the Freemasonry, specifically, Bartholomew Ruspini and his acquaintances.

Bartholomew Ruspini, Wellcome Library
Bartholomew Ruspini. Stipple engraving by W. S. Leney.
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images

So, today we thought we would share with you some information from a book we came across from 1724, The secret history of the free-masons. Being an accidental discovery, of the ceremonies made use of in the several lodges.  The book contained a dictionary explaining the private signs or signals used by the members of the Society of Freemasons and though there were too many for us to include all of them, we thought you might find this selection interesting.

unknown artist; Portrait of a Freemason; The Library and Museum of Freemasonry; 

As to the truth or accuracy of these, we couldn’t possibly comment, but it seems highly unlikely that any of these are in use today. How on earth people remembered all these discreet codes remains a mystery, so we’ll be testing you later just to be sure you’ve learnt them all!

Back. To put the right hand behind him, fetches a member down from any edifice that is not built to a Holy use and to put the left hand behind him, signifies that the member must come to the public-house nearest the place where he is at work, whether it be tavern, alehouse or the like.

Belly. To put the right hand on it, is a sign for the member to be in the Mall in St. James’s Park in an hour. And to put the left hand upon the belly, is a sign for his being in Westminster Abbey in two hours.

Westminster Abbey; British School | Bowles, Thomas, Government Art Collection.
Westminster Abbey; British School | Bowles, Thomas; Government Art Collection

Breast. To clap the right hand upon the right breast is a signal for a member to meet him makes it in St Paul’s Cathedral at the time of morning prayer. And to clap the left hand upon the left breast, signified you will be at St Paul’s Cathedral at the time of evening prayer.

Button. To rub the right hand down the coat buttons is a sign for a member to be upon the Royal Exchange at the beginning of change time. And to rub the left hand down the coat buttons signifies he shall be at the Sun Tavern in Threadneedle Street, as soon as change is over. Also, to rub the right hand down the waistcoat buttons signifies he must be at The Horns Ale House in Gutter Lane at nine of the clock the next morning. And to rub the left hand down the waistcoat buttons signifies that you must be at the same alehouse at eight of the clock next night.

Cheek. To scratch your right cheek with either hand signifies the member must be in Lincoln’s Inn Walks at eight of the clock next morning. And to scratch his left cheek with either hand signifies he must be walking under the chapel of the same Inn next day about dinner time.

Dog. If the member that makes the sign has a dog with him and calls him to him to stroke him, it signifies that the member to whom the sign is made must be in the long Piazza in Covent Garden, at two of the clock in the afternoon.

Covent Garden, British School, Government Art Collection.
Covent Garden; British School; Government Art Collection

Eye. To rub the right eye with either hand signifies the member must come to his house that makes the sign, at seven of the clock next morning. And to rub the left eye with either hand signifies that he must go to the same place at dinner time.

Heel. To touch the heel of either shoe, with either hand, by lifting it up, signifies that the member must be at the King’s Arms in Southwark, precisely by noon.

View in St James's Park; British School; Government Art Collection
View in St James’s Park; British School Government Art Collection

Knee. To touch either knee, with either hand, signifies the member must be walking upon the Parade in St. James’s Park, about four of the clock in the afternoon.

Paper. To send a piece of paper done up like a letter, tho’ there is nothing writ in it, signifies the member to whom it is sent must be at the Bussler’s Head Tavern by Charing Cross at four of the clock in the afternoon.

Sword. To put either hand upon the hilt of the sword signifies the member must be at The Half Moon Tavern in the Strand by eight of the clock at night.

Buckingham House, c1754. Courtesy of British Museum
Buckingham House, c1754. Courtesy of British Museum

Watch. To pull a watch out of the fob signifies the member must be walking by Buckingham House, in St. James’s Park about one of the clock in the afternoon.

Youth. To send a letter with the word Youth writ in it signifies the member must be walking behind the Banqueting House in White-Hall at four of the clock in the afternoon.

Banqueting House in Whitehall (1723-1724) Courtesy of British Museum
Banqueting House in Whitehall (1723-1724) Courtesy of British Museum

Zachary. To send a letter with only the word Zachary writ in it signifies the member must be at the Sun Tavern in King’s Street in Westminster, at eight of the clock at night.

Chevalier Ruspini, the founder of the first school, leading the pupils into Grand Lodge in the presence of HRH George, Prince of Wales.
Chevalier Ruspini, the founder of the first school, leading the pupils into Grand Lodge in the presence of HRH George, Prince of Wales. Courtesy of Freemasonry Today, 13 March 2013

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Making a sailor a freemason, Piercy Roberts 1807, courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library.

18th century paper and snuff box making

Today the majority of us rely on computers, tablets, mobile phones etc. for communication, but obviously, such things did not exist in the eighteenth-century when – shock horror – they used paper and hand-wrote everything. So once again we dip into a most useful book The London Tradesman for today’s article.

Beechey, William; Filmer Honywood; Parliamentary Art Collection;
Filmer Honywood by William Beechey; Parliamentary Art Collection

The process of manufacturing paper

The use of paper is an ancient invention so the writer of this book has provided a description of how paper was made in the mid eighteenth-century.

Our paper in Europe is made of linen rags; the rags are then picked, separated into parcels, according to their fineness, washed and whited; then they are carried to the paper mills, where they are pounded amongst water till they are reduced to a pulp. When they are beat to a due consistence, they are poured into a working tub where there is a frame of wire, commonly called the paper mould, which is composed of so many wires laid close to one another, equal to the dimensions of the sheet of paper designed to be made; and some of them disposed in the shape of the figure which is discovered in the paper when you hold it betwixt you and the light.
Drying Loft. From Diderot’s Encyclopedia

This frame the workman holds in both his hands and plunges it into the tub and takes it quickly up again. The water runs through the spaces between the wires and there remains nothing on the mould but the water pulp, in a thin coat which forms the sheet of paper.

A flannel cloth is laid upon the top of the mould as the paper turned off upon it; then they dip it as before and continue to supply the vessel with fresh matter as it decreases. The flannel cloth sucks up the remaining moisture and the paper, after some time will suffer to be handled and hung up to dry in place properly suited for the purpose.

British (English) School; Benjamin Tomkins; Abingdon Town Council;
British (English) School; Benjamin Tomkins; Abingdon Town Council

Snuff Boxes

The writer then describes the process of manufacturing of a French invention, snuff boxes.

Snuff boxes are made of the same material as paper; are to be had at Paris of any colour, but are most commonly black, as ebony and are actually as hard and durable as any made of wood, horn or tortoise-shell. They are made of linen rags, beat to a pulp, as if intended for paper. A large quantity of pulp is put into a vessel and the water allowed to drain off; the pulp is dried and coheres together in a hard vessel, and the water allowed to drain off; the pulp is dried and coheres together in a hard, uniform lump, out of which they turn upon the leath (lathe), boxes or any other kind of toys which for their novelty fetch a large price.
Rare late 18th Century French large papier mache & mother of pearl snuff box, c.1790. Courtesy of Selling Antiques website.

He ends his article with a complaint about how much money is spent in the UK on paper purchased from France, Holland and Genoa who, according to the writer produce the best paper. The French excel in writing-paper and the Genoese in printing paper.

Basically, he is saying that the UK needs to ‘get its act together‘ and to produce a better quality of paper so that it stops buying from abroad!


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Collier, John; Trompe l’oeil Painting; The Fitzwilliam Museum.

The Easter Hunt at Epping Forest by Henry William Bunbury, Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Collection

How did the Georgians socialize at Easter?

With Easter almost here, we would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter and share with you some snippets about the way Georgians spent their Easter with some extracts from the newspapers of the day – partying being the most obvious!

Dandies and dandizettes dressing for the Easter ball. Lewis Walpole Library
Dandies and dandizettes dressing for the Easter ball. Lewis Walpole Library

We begin with a letter of complaint, clearly, from someone who didn’t appreciate many of the celebrations that took place during the year and felt it appropriate to vent his/her annoyance to the editor of the Whitehall Evening Post, we’re only focusing on a snippet from it about Easter though…

Whitehall Evening Post (1770), August 2, 1783 – August 5, 1783

Some things customary refer simply to the idea of feasting, according to the season and occasion. Of these, perhaps, are lambs-wool on Christmas eve; furmety on Mothering Sunday; Braggot (which is a mixture of ale, sugar and spices) at the festival of Easter … lamb at Easter to the Paschal Lamb. This, perhaps, may be the case also with respect to pancakes on Shrove Tuesday; unless that shall be supposed to allude to ‘the egg at Easter’ an emblem of the rising up out of the grave; in the same manner as the chick, entombed as it were in the egg, is in due time brought to life. So also the flowers, with which many churches are ornamented on Easter-day, are most probably intended as emblems of the resurrection having just risen from the earth during the severity of winter, they seem to have been buried.

A custom, which ought to be abolished as improper and indecent, prevails in many places of lifting, as it is called, on Easter Monday and Tuesday. Is this a memorial of Christ being raised from the grave? There is, at least some appearance of it; as there seems to be trace of the decent of the Holy Ghost on the heads of the Apostles in what passes at Whitsuntide fair in some parts of Lancashire; where one person hold a stick over the head of another, whilst a third, unperceived, strikes the stick, and thus gives a smart blow to the first. But this, probably is only local.

The Hampshire Chronicle, Sunday, March 31, 1788

Of the multitude of customs and ceremonies which formerly commanded attention at this season, but very few are preserved; it is however, universally considered as a time appropriate to recreation and innocent festivity. Amongst the common people it is even now a custom in the North to rise early, in order to see the sun dance. We suppose this o have arisen from some metaphorical expression in the sacred writings. Boys carry a vessel of water into the fields, that the sun may seem to dance from the tremulous motion of the water.

Paper eggs, properly pasche eggs, are stained of different colors and covered with gold leaf, and given to young children in the North of England as a fairing. This is a relic of Popish superstition; an egg being considered a type of the resurrection. This custom prevails in Russia; a long account may be seen in Hackluyt’s voyages. Dr. Chandler also in his travels in Asia Minor says ‘they made us presents of coloured eggs and cakes of Easter bread’.

Durand says, that on Easter Tuesday wives used to beat their husbands, on the day following husbands beat their wives.

Thomas Girtin (1775ー1802) Durham Cathedral and Castle(c.1800)
Thomas Girtin (1775ー1802) Durham Cathedral and Castle(c.1800)

In the city of Durham the following custom is still preserved: On one day the men take off the women’s shoes, which are only to be redeemed by a small present. On another day the women take off the men’s in a like manner.


In Yorkshire tansy puddings and cakes are made, which custom Seldon, in his ‘Table Talk‘, has referenced to the bitter herbs which the Jews greatly use at this season.

At Newcastle, on Easter Monday a great match is always played at hand ball for a great tansy cake.

Many other incidents might be enumerated, most of which are obsolete, and many generally forgotten; we sincerely however regret, that the memory of anything should be lost, which, by introducing innocent merriment, strengthens the sweet bond of social life.

The Hampshire Chronicle, Monday, April 28, 1794

Westminster Abbey and Bridge from Horseferry, Lambeth, British School; Government Art Collection
Westminster Abbey and Bridge from Horseferry, Lambeth, British School; Government Art Collection


The belles and beaux, from the fineness of the weather, exceeded far, very far, any number that ever were seen at that favourite spot. From six to eight o’clock, on their return to London, it was one continued throng of holiday people of all ranks and descriptions, from Greenwich park to Westminster bridge. There was no resisting the torrent; and many an honest young woman who was so yesterday morning, will have fatal cause to repent, before this day twelvemonth, the frolic of tumbling down the hill in the park – drunkenness, riots, battles and thefts, as usual, dignified the proceedings. Not less than one hundred thousand persons were present.

Londoners Gypsying (The Family Holiday Party, in Epping Forest, near London) by Charles Robert Leslie, 1820; The Geffrye, Museum of the Home
Londoners Gypsying (The Family Holiday Party, in Epping Forest, near London) by Charles Robert Leslie, 1820; The Geffrye, Museum of the Home

Epping Forest

At ten in the morning, at least ten thousand equestrians and pedestrians were upon the forest: every species of vehicle from the hand cart and buggy to the light waggon and splendid chariot was there. At one, the stag, bedecked with ribbons was turned out on Fairmaid Bottom – and then the fun began, with running, riding, crossing, jostling, tumbling, hooting, shouting, screaming and howling; which formed the scene that may be seen, but cannot possibly be described, and that indeed never before was exhibited but in a nation of madmen. At four, the stag was at bay in a thicket, near the Royal Oak and was taken and put in a cart and with continual shouts was brought to the starting house in order to afford fresh sport in future.

Easter Monday, or, The cockney hunt Rowlandson 1807 Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library
Easter Monday, or, The cockney hunt Rowlandson 1807 Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library


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The Easter Hunt at Epping Forest by Henry William Bunbury, Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Collection

How to set up a school in 1770

We came across this book published anonymously in 1770 with containing full instructions for someone who wished to set up their own academy – a sort of ‘how to‘ guide. It was very lengthy but we thought you might find some of the instructions below quite interesting, the link highlighted above will take you to the full book.

Are you desirous of engaging in the management of an Academy? Are you in low circumstances? Are you a broken attorney, or excise-man? A disbanded Frenchman, or superannuated clerk? Offer your service for a trifling consideration; declaim on the roguery of requiring large sums, and make yourself amends in the inferior articles; quills, paper, ink, books, candles, fire, extraordinary expenses, taylors and shoe-maker’s bills, are excellent items in academy-accounts. You may charge them as amply as you please, without injury to your reputation.

Twenty-five pounds is the least you can ask. Nor are you to neglect to avail yourself of the preceding items; but deem it a general rule that your extraordinary advantages are to bear a direct proportion to your stated terms.

Keating, George; The School Door; Museum of English Rural Life;
Keating, George; The School Door; Museum of English Rural Life


If you have promised to confine your attention to a trifling number by advertising that one or two are still wanting, or by decreasing your terms, attempt immediately to retract this promise.

Apply to your first benefactors; hope they will permit you to accommodate a few pretty little masters, sons of Mr. Such-a-one, who may be of the greatest service to you. They will not deny you; they will consider it as a proof of your rising reputation.

When advertising for boys does not answer, advertisements for servants may probably succeed. The following is an approved copy.

Wanted at an academy near London three domestics; A complete penman, accomptant, and mathematician, with an undeniable character: A steady careful person capable of teaching the English language grammatically, and willing to attend the children to bed:  A cleanly sober wench to look after the children’s linen, and do other occasional work

By properly publishing advertisements like this, you will seldom fail of attracting the attention of the public.

If you are at any time desirous of enlarging your terms, expostulate plentifully on your intended improvements, and the large stipends your assistants require. Your expenses are extremely great, and the business above measure fatiguing; you have been long accustomed to children, and are fond of seeing them about you; and indeed, otherwise the business would be insupportable.


Among the first articles enquired after, both by parents and children, are those of the table.

You cannot therefore be too early instructed in the desirable art of giving all reasonable satisfaction in this matter, at the least possible expence.

  1. Remember then always, to see the fruit-basket amongst your boys before dinner. Fruit is least prejudicial to an empty stomach; and if the children will indulge themselves with biscuit and gingerbread, who can help it.
  2. If your number of boys or their allowances deserve not a fruit-woman’s attendance, then your wife may properly enough engage in the office; it will prevent the boys from being cheated, and be a proof of her humility.
  3. If there be no considerable parish work-house near you, it will be your interest to secure the stale loaves and neck-beef; the former is excellent in boiled milk or plumb-pudding, the latter in boullie for a Saturday’s dinner. The butchers and bakers you must remember have been time immemorial the best academy-ticks.
  4. The worse your fresh joints are dressed the better for you; the boys will eat the less, and it is always the cook’s fault.
  5. Whenever the boys find fault with the quality of your meat, appear at the head of your table, declare the extraordinary price you have given for it, and call your servants to witness that you sent for the best in the market.
  6. I allow of no pies except a little before the holidays. Delicacies and dainties are not to be expected in a school.
  7. The less salt, vinegar, pepper, &c. at dinner upon the table, so much the better; boys want no such provocatives.
  8. If you oblige your boys to eat all you send them, it will prevent the frequent return of their plates, and learn them an excellent custom; if not, what they leave will make excellent hashes, and seem more indulgent: in this point I find few who are agreed.
  9. If you are afraid they will eat more than you have provided, say grace.
van Host, P.; The Village School; Fairfax House;
The Village School by P van Host; Fairfax House


  1. Few instructions may suffice on this head. The lighter the boys are covered, and the harder the bed, the more natural and more healthy.
  2. The fewer chamber-pots the better; it will prevent the boys catching cold by rising in the night, and make them unwilling to drink much beer at supper.
  3. The more you put in the bed the better also; it will endear them to each other, and prevent their playing wicked tricks.
  4. Lodge the great boys always farthest from you, it will prevent them disturbing you in the night. If they lie near the maids, so much the better; the maids may give you proper notice of their behaviour.
  5. Your usher must always be stowed amongst the little boys, to prevent them from tumbling out of bed, and to help them in the night.
  6. If you allow the occasional use of a close-stool, let it be locked up in the garret that they may not abuse it. But I rather approve of their easing themselves in some corner of the room, that they may have the less pleasure in resorting thither in the day-time, and tumbling the bed-clothes about; and that their mothers, who always pay a visit to the bed-chambers, may be sensible what trouble you have with them.
  7. Let the beds be always to be made, at the time of undressing. Going to bed is a thing the boys dislike. This little respite, therefore, will please them mightily, and they will please the maids.
The schoolmasters return. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library


  1. The more holidays the better; it will give the boys an opportunity of feeding themselves at their own expence, and, by tasking them well, you will prevent the complaints of their parents.
  2. Give a holiday always on public rejoicing-days; it will be considered as a proof of your loyalty; and let that day of the month on which your predecessor died, be always a feast for the boys; it is a tribute due to his memory.
  3. Send your boys always on a holiday to see something or other in the neighbourhood; it will please both them and their parents, prevent their lurking about the pantry, and employ your ushers.
  4. Boys commonly endeavour on these days to dispatch a letter or two privately. It will be your business to intercept them; they may be negligently written; there may be solecisms in them, or misrepresentations of facts, which might be displeasing to their friends.
A droll thought of Tom the school boy, or Two heads are better than one. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library


  1. Remember always to exercise your first severity on poor people’s children, and day-scholars. The first floggings are a perpetual disgrace, and it is but reasonable that they should bear it, by whom you are least profited.
  2. Never punish the favourite of a family, if he have any younger brothers.
  3. Boys who bear flogging best are commonly those who most deserve it. If four be accused, therefore, he who bears flogging best is always in the fault.
  4. If a father gives you full power over his son’s posteriors, be not afraid to use it, but make him the scape-goat of the school as often as convenient.
  5. No good to be done with a boy who has not a good opinion of his master. If a boy, therefore, accuses you, or your ushers, of ignorance or incapacity, take the first opportunity to expel him, especially if he be clever, and likely to make a progress, in which you may be ill-qualified to accompany him.
  6. Severe discipline is never to be inflicted immediately before the school breaks up, or very soon after the return.
  7. Setting a maid upon her head, or pissing upon a mistress’s new gown, is a flogging matter, no more; it might look like partiality.
  8. The best punishment for idleness is confinement and short commons.



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Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Georgian warming pans and foot warmers

We thought that given how chilly it’s been that we’d look at one method used during the eighteenth-century to keep warm at night or when travelling; warming pans (for the bed) and foot warmers for everyday use and for when travelling.

During our research, we came across a blog post in which the writer set out to correct the misnomer about these warmers using coal.  The writer personally tested out warmers and concluded that coals wouldn’t have worked and that in fact hot stones would have been used in them. Whilst this makes far more sense, not only from the perspective of mess but arguably, more importantly from the angle of safety it doesn’t appear to have been the case in the Georgian era as these newspaper extracts show.

London Chronicle or Universal Evening Post, May 19, 1774

On Monday last the following accident happened at Spalding as an elderly gentleman was going to bed, attended by her servant maid. Near the top of the stairs her foot slipped, when she fell upon the girl who was so terribly burnt by the coal in the warming pan, that she expired in 24 hours.

St. James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post, April 17, 1762

On Wednesday the 7th instant a dreadful fire broke out at Capel St. Andrew’s near Oxford, occasioned by  boy 14 years of age carrying some coals in a warming pan into a field where cows were kept, and going through a barn yard in his way the pan burnt him so that he was obliged to let it drop amongst the straw, which soon took fire and communicated itself to the barn with so much fury, that in a short time it was consumed, together with two stables, a granary and cart lodge. The fire flew so far that it burnt down the house a quarter of a mile away.

3rd December at Much Wenlock, the burial of Elizabeth James – burnt to death

Public Advertiser, Saturday, December 15, 1787

On Sunday last the following incident happened at Much-Wenlock: Elizabeth James, about twelve years an apprentice to Mr Lea of that place, after having warmed her master’s bed the preceding night went downstairs to deposit the cinders out of the warming pan: and it is supposed fell asleep near the fire. About three o’clock in the morning she awoke with her clothes all ablaze; in this situation, the poor girl ran upstairs into her master’s room, and alarmed him, who seeing the unhappy state she was in, immediately arose and administered every assistance in his power to relieve her, but all in vain, she being so desperately burnt that she expired about two o’clock in the afternoon the same day.
Courtesy of Skinner, Auctioneers and Appraisers

Clearly both the benefits and worries about the use of coal in such appliances was of concern to people as these adverts show for new and safer types of pan

General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer, Friday, January 15, 1779

By the King’s Patent

Steel warming pans made and sold by Thomas Howard (inventor and patentee) at his warehouse No. 11 St Paul’s Church-yard and nowhere else in London.

The inconveniences arising from the use of copper and brass warming pans have long been so obvious, that this invention needs only making public, to introduce in into general use.

It is well known that copper or brass, when heated emit a ‘pernicious effluvia’, which, as well as the Sulphur arising from the coals, are not only very offensive, but exceedingly prejudicial, particularly so to persons of asthmatic or delicate conditions. All which complaints are (by this invention) totally removed. They are likewise more cleanly, smooth and durable than any other warming pans.

NB Price from twelve to sixteen shillings.

Now this option sounds perfectly feasible and safe.

Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal, Saturday, January 6, 1787

Mr. Redman, an ingenious tin-man of Salisbury says that, ‘two quarts of sand, heated in an iron pan until red hot, and put into a warming pan, will warm a bed equally with live coals, without their ill effects; and that a bag of heated sand put in the bottom of a coach will keep it agreeably warm a long time’.
Foot Warmer (Courtesy of EBay)

Whitehall Evening Post, December 22, 1785

At this season of the year when the excessive damps, produced from the vapours of the earth have such a visible effect on the human body generating colds and putrid disease of the most fatal kind; the following, which has been tried in the circle of a few families, would doubtless have its use if more generally adopted, as it is not only a specific preventive, but is the surest palliative in asthmatic and consumptive constitutions. When the air is thick, foggy or moist, let small lumps of pitch be thrown into your first in such degree and so frequent, as to keep up an almost constant smell of bitumen in the apartment. In rooms where fires are not frequently used, a warming pan throwing into it small lumps of the same particularly before going to bed, might be applied with conveniency. Houses newly painted are best purified in this manner, and the more so as neither injures nor soils.

St. James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post, October 19, 1769


Globes were all the rage in 18th century

Today we’re so used to using the internet to plot routes for us wherever we’re travelling, or if you have no internet available, then there’s always the ‘old fashioned’ paper maps – perish the thought! In the 18th century, there were pocket-sized maps but globes were so ‘in vogue’ that many affluent homes would own a pair – one terrestrial and one celestial.

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

The Georgians, as well as their love of all things pleasurable, were also fascinated by new developments in the field of science.

unknown artist; Reynolds Family Group; Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust;
unknown artist; Reynolds Family Group; Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust

To depict their interest in a science, many of the paintings of the day would include a globe, usually with the subject in question pointing at a globe or with one strategically placed close by.

British School; Francis Williams (1702-1770), the Scholar of Jamaica; Paintings Collection;
British School; Francis Williams (1702-1770), the Scholar of Jamaica; Paintings Collection

Globes came in a variety of sizes, but the most useful ones were those of nine, twelve, eighteen and twenty-one inches in diameter and reputedly, the best makers of the day were Barding and Carey.

POCKET GLOBE; NEWTON, SON & BERRY. Newton’s New and Improved Terrestrial Globe. London: Newton Son & Berry, 66 Chancery Lane, c.1830. A 3 inch (7 cm) diameter pocket globe in original fishskin covered wood case with two brass hook-and-eye clasps. 12 hand-colored engraved gores, signed in northern portion of Pacific Ocean, inside of case with 12 engraved hand-colored celestial gores depicting the northern and southern hemispheres signed Newton’s Improved Pocket Celestial Globe. Provenance: Christie’s South Kensington, lot 79, October 26, 2006 . Globe with Meridian of London and graduated equatorial and ecliptic, the oceans showing various explorers tracks with notes and dates. Case with graduated equatorial, ecliptic and colures, as well as the constellations depicted as mythical beast and scientific instruments. “The Newton family were one of the most important globe making firms in England in the early 19th century. The founder, John Newton (1759-1844), was apprenticed to Thomas Bateman (fl. 1754-1781), who in turn, had been a pupil of Nathaniel Hill … The firm changed to Newton, Son & Berry when they were joined by Miles Berry, a civil engineer and patent agent…” (Globes and the Mechanical Universe p 56). Courtesy of Bonhams

We came across a fascinating book online ‘A Companion to the Globes by R.T Linnington, a Private Teacher, written at the end of the Georgian era, 1829, which provides the most fascinating information about globes and their uses. It was described as invaluable to both teachers and pupils. For those with an interest in the subject, we would recommend having a read through it.



In another book on the subject, ‘A Treatise on astronomy‘,  we came across a description of a globe being constructed by a Dr Long, Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, eighteen feet in diameter, and large enough to contain conveniently forty persons, who entered it over the south pole.

Roger Long’s Great Sphere. Courtesy of Pembroke College, Cambridge

When visiting this globe in 1801, the author of the book, Olinthus Gregory says:

I cannot conclude this note without expressing the grief and disappointment I felt, on seeing this sphere in the beginning of the present year 1801. Instead of beholding the new constellation painted thereon, and tracing out many improvement since the time of Dr. Long, as I naturally expected to do; I could hardly find anything but strong tokens of long neglect, and change in the atmosphere, by reason of a large window being constantly left open, and the glass in the other windows being broken in several places : some of the constellations could scarcely be discerned, for dust and cobwebs, the planetarium had but few vestiges remaining, by which one might ascertain whether it ever existed or not; and the wires about the zodiac were, in many places corroded through with rust!!

MINIATURE GLOBE; BAUER, CARL. [Terrestrial Globe.] [Nuremberg: Carl Bauer, c.1825]. 1.5 inch (4.3 cm) diameter miniature terrestrial globe in card box, with accordion book attached to inside of box, consisting of 28 hand colored engraved figures of people from around the world. A few small dents, and chips, some brown spots and wear to varnish, box wanting lid. Provenance: Contemporary manuscript note to bottom of box, possibly in a child’s hand, noting the name change of New Holland to Australia. “Various globes from Nuremberg were engraved by members of the Bauer family … This tiny terrestrial globe … is signed ‘C.B.’ and is almost certainly by Carl Bauer. The globe sits in a small box made of board, containing a great number of coloured engravings of costumes of human races” (Dekker Globes of the Western World p 98). Courtesy of Bonhams
 * One of our lovely readers very kindly sent us a link to a Youtube clip about globe making – it’s well worth a look.

Featured image – Family Group by Reynolds

Seasons Greetings and Happy 2017

Here we are again rapidly approaching the end of another very busy year, we can’t believe how quickly this year has gone. As well as all the research for our blog posts we have also managed to get two books published: it’s been a pretty amazing, if incredibly busy time for us and the year has simply flown by.

Although a little early, we’re taking a ‘blog break’ now until January to spend some time finishing those last minute Christmas preparations and to celebrate the festivities with our much neglected family and friends.

We thought we would leave you with some of our most popular posts from 2016 and we very much look forward to resuming our posts in January. We wish all our readers ‘Seasons Greetings and a very Happy 2017‘ and would also like to say a very big ‘thank you‘ to all our guest bloggers who have provided us with some amazingly informative posts, and also to those bloggers who have been kind enough to invite us to write for them.

If you’re still looking for that last minute Christmas gift, may we suggest our books which are available directly from our publisher (see sidebar or below) or via all other retailers including Amazon and the Book Depository (who also offer free worldwide postage).

Pen & Sword are presently offering all three of our books at the discounted price of £44.99, effectively buy 2 get 1 free, making this an incredibly good deal.


18th Century Riding Habits

Lady Worsley

Sweet dreams: meddlesome mice and 1770s ‘big’ hair

The extravaganza, or, The mountain head dress of 1776. Lewis Walpole Library
The extravaganza, or, The mountain head dress of 1776.
Lewis Walpole Library

18th Century Tax on Gloves

18th c gloves MFA Boston

Extreme Longevity in 1700s


A case of 18th Century Witchcraft in Silsoe Bedfordshire


18th Century Beds and Bedding

Houghton Hall
Houghton Hall

A closer look at Colonel Mordaunt’s Cock Match

Colonel Mordaunt's Cock Match c.1784-6 by Johan Zoffany 1733-1810
Colonel Mordaunt’s Cock Match c.1784-6 by Johan Zoffany 1733-1810

Women in Music and Art in the Georgian Era

Lady Frances Seymour Conway (1751–1820), Countess of Lincoln by William Hoare (c) The University of Nottingham; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Lady Frances Seymour Conway (1751–1820), Countess of Lincoln by William Hoare
(c) The University of Nottingham; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Curious 18th Century Cats

Young Girl with a Kitten by William Mulready (attributed to) (c) Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Young Girl with a Kitten
by William Mulready (attributed to)
(c) Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

18th Century Female Bruisers

Collet, John; The Female Bruisers; Museum of London;
Collet, John; The Female Bruisers; Museum of London;

And finally, if you’re looking for some Christmas recipes maybe take a look at these!

A Miscellany of Christmas Pies, Puddings and Cakes

Xmas day 1800

Sketches of the Fair Sex

So what were the women of the eighteenth-century like? Well, we came across this publication ‘Sketches of the Fair Sex’ written about eighteenth-century women, so we thought we would share with you a few extracts about the author’s view of women across Europe, although the book provides descriptions and anecdotes from around the world in 1799 plus much, much more!  It is not clear as to whether the author was male or female, the author simply described themself as being ‘a friend of the sex’. Please remember these are the author’s views alone and were probably meant to be complimentary when written over 200 years ago!

French Women

Portrait of Marie Gabrielle de Gramont, Duchesse de Caderousse , 1784 Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun

No women upon earth can excel, and few rival them, in their almost native arts of pleasing all who approach them. Add to this, an education beyond that of most Europeans ladies, a consummate skill in those accomplishments that suit the fair sex and the most graceful manner of displaying that knowledge to the utmost advantage.  Such is the description that may be safely given of the French ladies in general. But the spirit, or rather the evil genius of gallantry, too often perverts all these lovely qualities and renders then subservient to very iniquitous ends. In every country, women have always a little to do and a great deal to say. In France, they dictate almost everything that is said and direct everything that is done. They are the most restless beings in the world. To fold her hands in idleness and impose silence on her tongue would be to a French woman worse than death. The sole joy of her life is to be engaged in the prosecution of some scheme, relating to either fashion, ambition or love.  Among the rich and opulent, they are entirely the votaries of pleasure, which they pursue through all its labyrinths, at the expense of fortune, reputation and health. Giddy and extravagant to the last degree, they leave to their husbands’ economy and care, which would only spoil their complexions and furrow their brows.

When we descend to tradesmen and mechanics the case is reversed: the wife manages everything in the house and shop, while the husband lounges in the back shop, an idle spectator or struts about with his sword and bag-wig.

Matrimony, among the French, seems to be a bargain entered into by a male and female to bear the same name, live in the same house, and pursue their separate pleasures without restrain or control.

Italian Women

Pietro Rotari (Italian, 1707-1762) Portrait of a Young Woman, ca. 1760 Courtesy of Indiana University Art Museum

Almost every traveller, who has visited Italy, agrees in describing it as the most abandoned of all the countries of Europe.  At Venice, at Naples and indeed in almost every part of Italy, women are taught from their infancy the various arts of alluring to their arms the young and unwary, and of obtaining from them, while heated by love or wine, everything that flattery and false smiles can obtain, in these unguarded moments.

The Italian ladies are not quite so fay and volatile as the French, nor do they so much excite the risibility of the spectator; but, by the softness of their language and their manner, they more forcibly engage the heart.

They are not so much the chameleon or the weathercock, but have some decent degree of permanency in the connections, whether of love or friendship. With regard to jealousy, they are so far from being careless and indifferent, in that respect, as the French are, that they often suffer it to transport them to the most unwarrantable actions.

An Italian female of birth and fortune, bred in the prison of a cloister, is brought forth when marriageable to receive her sentence; and conducted like a victim to the altar, there to be made a sacrifice of to a man whom she hardly knows the face. Among them, we find none of those antecedent homages of a lover, none of those engaging proofs of attachment, which only can secure a reciprocation. In short, no medium of courtship intervenes, and therefore no opportunity is given to create an affection on either side.

Spanish Women

Charles IV of Spain and His Family, 1800 by Francisco Goya – Museo del Prado

As the Spanish ladies are under greater seclusion from general society, than the sex is in other European countries, their desires of an adequate degree of liberty are consequently more strong and urgent. A free and open communication being denied them, they make it their business to secure themselves a secret and hidden one. The Spanish women are little or nothing indebted to education. But nature has liberally supplied them with a fund of wit and sprightliness, which is certainly no small inducement, to those who have only transient glimpses of their charms, to wish every earnestly for a removal of those impediments, that obstruct their more frequent preference.

Unlike French women, their affections are not to be gained by a bit of sparkling lace or a tawdry set of liveries. Their deportment is rather grave and reserved, and on the whole, they have much more of the prude than the coquette in their composition.

Something more than a century ago, the Marquis D’Astrogas having prevailed on a young lady of great beauty to become his mistress, the Marchioness hearing of it, went to her lodgings with some assassins, killed her, tore out her heart, carried it home, made a ragout of it, and presented the dish to the Marquis “it is exceedingly good” said he. “No wonder” she answered, “since it is made of the heart of that creature you so much doted on”. And, to confirm what she had said, she immediately drew out her head all bloody from beneath her hoop and rolled it on the floor, he eyes sparkling all of the time with a mixture of pleasure and fury.

English Women

Portrait by George Romney, Young Woman in Powder Blue c1777

The women of England are eminent for many good qualities both of the head and of the heart. There we meet with that inexpressible softness and delicacy of manners which cultivated by education, appears as much superior to what it does without it, as the polished diamond appears superior to that which is rough from the mine. In some parts of the world, women have attained so little knowledge, and so little consequence, that we consider their virtues as merely of the negative kind. In England the consist not only in abstinence from evil but in doing good.

There we see the sex every day exerting themselves in acts of benevolence and charity, in relieving the distresses of the body, and binding up the wounds of the mind; in reconciling the differences of friends and preventing the strife of enemies; and, to sum up all, in that care and attention to their offspring, which is so necessary and essential a part of their duty.

The English women are by no means indifferent about public affairs. Their interesting themselves in these gives a new pleasure to social life. The husband always finds at home somebody to whom he can open himself, and converse as long and as earnestly as he thinks proper, upon those subjects which he mad most at heart.

Russian Women

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

It is only a few years since the Russians emerged from a state of barbarity. A late Empress of Russia, as a punishment for some female frailties, ordered a most beautiful young lady of a family to be publicly chastised, in a manner which was hardly less indelicate than severe.

It is said that the Russian ladies were formerly as submissive to their husbands in their families, as the latter are to their superiors in the field; and that they thought themselves ill-treated if they were not often reminded of their duty by the discipline of a whip, manufactured by themselves, which they presented to their husbands on the day of their marriage.

18th Century Lottery

A Lottery is a taxation Upon all the fools in creation;

And Heav’n be prais’d It is easily rais’d. . . The Lottery

Henry Fielding

We have come across this question in the newspaper, posed to the legal profession on 20th May 1770 about a woman’s right to retain her winning from the state lottery for herself questioning whether her husband had any right to a share of it. So far, we have not found a response to it in the newspapers, so the challenge to our readers is this – does anyone know how such an issue would have been dealt with? any help gratefully received.

john and mary 25 may 1770

John marries Mary, and agrees that part of her fortune, which is in the funds, shall be settled upon her the said Mary, for her own separate use. Mary, from the interest of her money, buys a ticket in the lottery, and gets a ten thousand pound prize. Query, Has John any right, in law, over this ten thousand pounds: or has Mary any obligation, in conscience, to give her it to her husband? A solution of this question will end all disputes, and quiet the much disturbed minds of

John and Mary Somebody

With the question of lotteries in mind we thought we would take a look at 18th century lotteries and see whether it was as popular then as it is today. The answer in short is – yes, very much so.

The lottery ticket, or, The sunshine of hopeThe ticket a blank, or, The clouds of despair 1792

As today, the lottery then had the potential to make massive change to people’s lives. We tend to think that things like the national lottery are very modern, but this is far from the truth.

State lotteries began as early as the 1690s and were established by the Bank of England. In the 1700s, as well as generating money for ‘good causes’ it also generated money which enabled Britain to go to war, for example it was reported that just over a quarter of money raised was used in fighting Napoleon. In the mid-1700s the lottery assured potential punters that they would not lose and that at a minimum they would receive their stake back and potentially win a large life changing amount of money. There was usually one prize winning ticket for every four blanks.

The Lottery’ by William Hogarth 1721 Courtesy of The Met Museum
‘The Lottery’ by William Hogarth 1721 Courtesy of The Met Museum showing the lottery wheels

Apart from individuals many borough corporations also bought lottery tickets for the benefit of poor children; the church was also involved with many parish clerics gambling. The tickets were quite expensive, but then so were the prizes, this led to people who couldn’t afford to buy a full ticket purchasing a share. People even place advertisements in the newspapers for people to share with –

Daily Advertiser (London, England), Wednesday, September 24, 1777
Daily Advertiser (London, England), Wednesday, September 24, 1777

Below is one of numerous examples of what you could win when buying a share.

Lloyd's Evening Post (London, England), January 31, 1794
Lloyd’s Evening Post (London, England), January 31, 1794

It was reported that in 1798 four low paid workers shared a winning ticket valued at £20,000 (approximately £1.2m in today’s money), a female servant from Holborn, a servant of the Duke of Roxburgh, a keeper of a fruit stall and a vegetable carrier from Covent Garden.

gardener greengrocer
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

It was even possible for gamblers to insure themselves against drawing a blank.

To the subscribers to the Lottery Magazine for 1777 : this plate (representing the four favourites of fortune who receiv’d the four hundred guineas for last years Lottery Magazine) is most gratefully inscribed by their obliged humble sert. E. Johnson

The Coroner’s Verdict is final

Life expectancy was much lower in the Georgian era mainly due to lack of medicine, poor diet, hygiene and sanitation but, looking back through the newspapers of the day, Health & Safety and personal injury/accident lawyers would have had a high old time with many accidents and deaths resulting from guns accidentally discharging and killing people, fires in the home, deaths as a result of falling off horses and accidental drownings due to due to excessive alcohol intake appears to have been a common cause, as does being run over by a waggon … the list goes on. The eighteenth-century was clearly a dangerous time to live in, as demonstrated by this example

Whitehall Evening Post or London Intelligencer, December 14, 1754 – December 17, 1754

Reading, Dec 14. On Monday last an Inquisition was taken at Beaconsfield in Bucks, on the body of a woman, well known in that part of the county to be a common prostitute, who meeting with one William Clarke, at the Hare and Hounds at Red Hill in the said county, who was driving a cart, she got into the cart and calling at several places to drink gin, they were both intoxicated, and about half a mile from Beaconsfield the woman fell out of the cart when the man was asleep, and about two in the morning she was found dead on the road, several carriages having run over her head and body, but unknown to anyone who they belonged to. The jury brought in their verdict of accidental death.

The remainder of our post looks at some more unusual instances of death which were recorded by the Coroner as ‘accidental’.  There are certainly some verdicts which, if viewed today, could quite easily be regarded as murder or at least manslaughter, but the Coroner’s Verdict was recorded as accidental and his decision was final.

Coroners inquest Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library Banner

We begin with the Daily Advertiser, Friday, November 7, 1777

On Tuesday a pack of goods, weighing about three hundred and a half, fell from the Bengal India Warehouse, in New Street, Bishopsgate upon Mr. Netherhood, belonging to the above house, by which accident his back, thigh and both legs were broke and he died on the spot. On Wednesday the Coroner’s Inquest sat on the body of Mr. Netherhood, at the Magpye, a public house in the above street, and brought in their verdict – Accidental Death.

Lloyd’s Evening Post, November 21, 1798

Wednesday evening, a Coroner’s Inquest sat at the parish church of St. Laurence, Cateaton Street on the body of Norman, a private in the West Yorkshire Militia, who was unfortunately killed by a fall from the roof of the Manchester Coach the preceding day.

The 'King's Harms', British (English) School (a painting of the 'King’s Arms' inn in Manchester. As the sign on the façade shows, the artist misspelt the name of the establishment, hence the title of the picture). Compton Verney
The ‘King’s Harms’, British (English) School c.1800 (a painting of the ‘King’s Arms’ inn in Manchester. As the sign on the façade shows, the artist misspelt the name of the establishment, hence the title of the picture).
Compton Verney

Whitehall Evening Post, September 1, 1798

On Friday morning last Mr. Benjamin Hale, a soap-boiler in Goswell Street, having been up all night at work, unfortunately lost his light, and, shocking to relate he fell into a pan of lees then boiling, by which he was so much scalded and mortification coming immediately on, that he died in the afternoon of the same day. The coroner’s Inquest was held on the body on Monday.

Bone House - Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library
Bone House – Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Star, Friday, September 7, 1798

On Tuesday an Inquisition was taken at Stone, Bucks, before Mr. Burnham, his majesty’s Coroner, on view of the body of Edwin Smith, a boy about eight years old, who, as he was climbing upon the spokes of the wheel of a harvest cart, with an intent to get up and ride in the same, in consequence of the horses suddenly moving forward, he fell to the ground, the wheel passed over his boy and killed him on the spot.

The Harvest Wagon by Francis Wheatley, 1774. Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery
The Harvest Wagon by Francis Wheatley, 1774.
Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery

St. James’s Chronicle or the British Evening Post, August 4, 1774 – August 6, 1774

On Wednesday night died, of a mortification in this thigh, Mr. Edward Paget, many years Master of the Queen’s Head Alehouse in Marsham Street, Westminster. His death was occasioned by being shot in the back part of his thigh, by standing too near one of the cannons going off on Millbank at the time of the boats passing by for the rowing match on Monday for Doggett’s Coat and Badge, which immediately mortified. The Coroner’s Inquest on Thursday morning brought in their verdict – Accidental Death.

The Race for Doggett's Coat and Badge by Thomas Rowlandson. © The Trustees of the British Museum
The Race for Doggett’s Coat and Badge by Thomas Rowlandson.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

True Briton, Thursday, October 4, 1798

On Thursday se’nnight, Joseph Beight, a well-cleaner of Damerham, undertook to clean a well in Mr. Coomb’s yard at Milford, near Salisbury, and when about to descend, a rope was procured, which Mr.  Coombs wished him to fasten round his body, that me might be pulled up in case of accident, which was rather to be apprehended, as the well was about 30 feet deep, narrow and very foul; he, however, unfortunately rejected this advice and was let down in the bucket, holding the rope in his hand only.

When about half way down, he called to the people above to let him go faster; but when they had turned three rounds more, he called ‘stop!’ and presently after, ‘pull up’, it was immediately discovered that he had let go the rope, and, overcome by the foul air, his body sunk by the side of the bucket, and obstructed its passage as it was drawing up. More assistance was then called, but from the exertion that was used, a link of the chain gave way and the man’s body sunk precipitately to the bottom of the well. Another man was let down, with the rope fastened round him, but he felt himself so strongly affected by the noxious effluvia, that he was obliged to be drawn up when he had reached half way.

Grappling irons were then resorted to and near an hour was spent in their efforts to draw the body up. No hope could be entertained of restoring animation and account of the time that had elapsed and the sad bruises the body had received. Mr. Whitmarsh held an Inquest on the body the next day, Verdict – Accidental Death. The unfortunate man was 54 years of age and has left a widow and eight children to lament the loss of an industrious husband an affectionate father.

Middlesex Journal and Evening Advertiser September 6, 1774 – September 8, 1774

On Saturday a chimney-sweeper went up a baker’s chimney, near the Maze Pond, Southwark, when the chimney was so hot that he had not the power to get down again, but was suffocated in a few minutes. The Coroner’s Inquest brought in their verdict – accidental death.

Taxed from head to toe

We have previously looked at hair powder tax, glove tax and now for the next installment we have, drum roll please –  you’ve guessed it – shoe and boot tax. So far as finding ways to generate much needed revenue the government of the day were completely unstoppable.

John Sawbridge, Alderman of London. © The Trustees of the British Museum
John Sawbridge, Alderman of London.
© The Trustees of the British Museum

We came across an article in the General Advertiser May of 1785 in which Alderman Sawbridge put to William Pitt the Younger another possible tax that had been bought to his attention, the idea of taxing shoes as an alternative to the planned shop tax.

‘a paper had been put into his hands and he had been desired to ask the question; and, with leave of the House he would state the particulars of the proposed tax. It was made on a supposition of there being eight millions of persons in this country, and that four millions of them were either children or poor persons, whose shoes were under the prices meant to be taxed; then, the remaining four millions were calculated as follows: –

Two millions of persons, who wear two pair of shoes per annum of between four and five shillings value, on each paid a stamp duty of two-pence was to be paid which would produce £33,333, 6 shilling and 8 pence.

One million, who wear three pair of between five and six shillings value, on them four-pence each £50,000

One million, who wear three pair, value six shillings and upwards, on them six pence per pair £75,000.

One million pair of boots at 1 shilling per pair £50,000

The whole tax to produce £208,333 6 shilling and 8 pence’.

Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

A week later it appears that this proposal had initially been suggested to Mr Pitt by a Dr Jones, who made it quite clear at the time to Pitt that he wished to

‘have himself concealed as the projector; at the same time, he avows that he shall be the Minister’s friend to the last’.

Well, that went well, as his name was plastered across the newspapers as the potential instigator of yet another levy on the public who were already struggling with all the other taxes that had been imposed.

For some reason it took a further 18 months before implementation but sure enough on 26th January 1787 the shoe tax was implemented courtesy of Dr Jones (how popular must he have been with the average person, one wonders?) and by this time the tax was expected to generate around £400,000, quite an increase in predicted revenue. It was at the time reported as being ‘neither obnoxious, nor unproductive’.

shoe tax

Quite how much it raised in reality or how long it existed for we’ve no idea, so far we can find no evidence of it being repealed unless over time it was amended and became known as the leather tax. If anyone can shed any light on this we would be most interested in hearing from you.

We finish with an observation made in 1790 which just about sums up the taxation that was taking place at that time:

In everybody’s mouth, in and out of doors, the conversation is tax dogs, tax shoes, tax boots, tax heads, tax everything eatable, drinkable, wearable or moveable; in short, the curse of Ernulphus is nothing in comparison of the calamities which a set of Gentlemen are ready to impose on their country.



General Advertiser (1784), Tuesday, May 31, 1785

Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser, Tuesday, June 7, 1785

World and Fashionable Advertiser, Friday, January 26, 1787

Morning Chronicle, Saturday, December 18, 1790

Reports of seismic activity in 18th century England

As our regular readers will, by now be aware, we blog about everything and anything from Georgian times so, with that in mind, we have ventured, somewhat bizarrely, into the realms of seismology (the study of earthquakes) and thought we would take a look at some we came across in the newspapers of the day.  There appear to have been quite a few major earthquakes around the world during that time, the largest taking place in Lisbon in 1755, but we’re going to take a look at a few closer to home in the United Kingdom.

Aertbeevinge tot Jedo (Earthquake at Jedo). © The Trustees of the British Museum
Aertbeevinge tot Jedo (Earthquake at Jedo).
© The Trustees of the British Museum

Oct 10, 1731. At Aynhoe, Northamptonshire.

Oct 25, 1734. At Arundel and Shoreham

Dec 10, 1738. At Hallifax [sic] and Huddersfield, Yorkshire

June 15, 1745. In Somersetshire

Feb 14, 1749. At Leadhills in Scotland when the people were so frightened that they left their houses.

Aug 23, 1750. A smart shock in Nottinghamshire.

Sept 30, 1750. In Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Leicester and Derby. At Kelmarsh an old woman was thrown out of her chair and people ran out of the church. At Barton Overy, a child was shaken out of a chair into the fire. According to the General Advertiser:

The letters which give accounts of the late earthquakes felt in Lincolnshire in the latter end of last month seem to confirm the notion advanced of rains falling after very hot weather being the nearest cause of them and that they are immediately occasioned a real ‘convulsion in the bowels of the earth‘.

Feb 8, 1750.

In London and Westminster and many of the adjacent towns and villages. The gentlemen of the long robe in Westminster Hall were so alarmed, that they expected the building to fall, several chimnies and part of a house were thrown down.

March 8, 1750.

Another quake, still more violent than the former, was felt in London and its environs. The people ran from their houses and beds almost naked. A maid servant in Charter-House square was thrown out of bed by the shock and broke her arm. A lady in Piccadilly, a curios collector of old china which she piled in stands, had it thrown down and broken.

So strong an impression did the two shocks of the earthquake that they were felt at London on the 8th of February and 8th of March, 1750, make on the credulous in that populous city, that a life-guardsman having predicted another and more fatal one on the 5th of April, an incredible number of people left their houses and walked in the fields or lay in boats that night. Many people of fashion sat in their coaches in the neighbouring villages till day break. Others went to a greater distance, so that the roads were never more thronged and lodgings were hardly to be procured at Windsor.

Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

April 2, 1750. At Liverpool and the country adjacent, for about 40 miles N. and S. and thirty leagues E. and W.

Gazetteer and London Daily Advertiser, Tuesday, January 13, 1756:

On Wednesday, December 31, 1755 betwixt one and two o’clock in the morning, a small shock of an earthquake was felt at Greenock and several places in that neighbourhood, as well as at Dumbarton, Inchinnan and Glasgow; the truth of this, as it seems confirmed by the concurring reports of numbers of people in all those places, we cannot doubt of.

Extract of a letter from the parish of Kilmacolm (about ten miles west of Glasgow), dated Jan 1.

Yesterday about one o’clock in the morning, being awake in bed, I felt about seven or eight shocks of an earthquake, all succeeding one another. The whole shocks were over in the space of half a minute. The second shock was the greatest and so violent, that it fairly lifted me off the bed, jolted me to the head of it, and in a moment down again to where I lay before. I believe three or four such shocks would have laid this house (tho’ a very strong one) in ruins. The second shock jostled a large chest with such violent along the side of the wall in another room, that it wakened a gentleman who was sleeping there.

Extract from a letter by someone living at Sandwich, Kent, February 18 1756, was reported in the Public Advertiser of February 27, 1756 which stated that:

… a shock of an earthquake was perceived in this town about a quarter before eight this morning it was just heard, that it was slightly felt by two or three persons at Margate. Its direction seem’d to be East or West.

June 8, 1753. At Manchester, and several other places in the North West of England.

April 19, 1754. In several parts of Yorkshire.

July 31, 1755. In Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire. At Frodingham it shook the walls of several houses so much, that most of them fell.

Copper engraving showing the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Via Wikimedia.
Copper engraving showing the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
Via Wikimedia.

Nov 1, 1755.

The dreadful earthquake at Lisbon happened, by which above 70,000 persons lost their lives. On the 3rd of this month a violent agitation was perceived on the sea shore in many parts of England. And on the 5th of the month the tide was so high in the river Carron, in Scotland, that it overflowed its banks and broke down a dam-head which had never before given way in the memory of man.

June 24, 1756. At Ashford in Kent and neighbouring villages.

Nov 18, 1756. in Argyleshire and Rothesay.

Jan 11 1757. At Norwich and Yarmouth.

June 9, 1761. In Somersetshire and Dorsetshire

According to a letter dated May 21, 1768 from Newcastle sent to Lloyd’s Evening Post:

On Sunday afternoon last, a little after four o’clock, two slight shocks of an earthquake at about half a minute’s distance of time from each other, were felt in this town, and we have accounts of their being felt, at the same time, in different parts of the country; particular at Kendal, where they had one shock which lasted nearly two seconds and happened during the time of a divine service, which greatly terrified the people in church. At Middleton, near Lancaster it was also felt at the same time.

And finally,  this would have been quite a shocker!!

The Middlesex Journal or Chronicle of Liberty, January 9, 1772

A Welsh lady, not far from Abingdon Buildings, on Monday morning was so much alarmed at what she thought an earthquake, that she jumped out of bed, flew downstairs, ran across the street and knocked at a neighbour’s door, with her shirt on only, which she tacked around her waist in fright.

Header image: Vue de la Ville de Regio dil Messinae et ces alentour detruite par le terrible tremblement de Terre arrivée le Cinq Fevrier de l’annee 1783, Gallica – Bibliothèque nationale de France

Top Tips for Cleaning Clothes – Georgian style

So, just how did those Georgians cope with cleaning delicate fabrics? They couldn’t simply nip along to a dry cleaner to have them chemically cleaned. Well, we came across this wonderful little book from 1753, packed with all types of useful information including top tips for cleaning clothes, ‘Madam Johnson’s Present: Or, Every Young Woman’s Companion in Useful and Universal Knowledge’ so we thought we would share some of them with you. We have no idea as to how effective some of these methods are so ‘approach with caution’. Some of them sound very dubious, so please do be careful if you try them one at home as we accept no responsibility!

A Lady's Maid Soaping Linen by Henry Robert Morland
A Lady’s Maid Soaping Linen by Henry Robert Morland; Tate

To take iron mould and all sorts of spots and stains out of linen

These are removed by holding the linen, where they are, round a silver or stone mug containing boiling water, and by rubbing them with a slice of lemon. In the middle of summer, when the sun is very hot, the soaping them on both side will take them out; and if the linen be soaped all over it will be very white. Rubbing the stained places with juice of sorrel, or dipping them in the hot juice will take out the spots. The same may be done by rubbing them with salt and vinegar and squeezing; or by dipping them a few times in sharp vinegar boiling in an earthern, tin or silver pipkin over the fire; after which they should be well rubbed with soap, dried before the sun or fire and washed. Boiling milk will take the stains of fruit out of linen.

Morland, Henry Robert; Domestic Employment: Ironing; Lady Lever Art Gallery;
Morland, Henry Robert; Domestic Employment: Ironing; Lady Lever Art Gallery

To take paint out of linen

Stains of that kind are extracted by rubbing them over with butter, hanging them in the sun, or before some heat to dry and then washing them.

To wash thread and cotton stockings

Let them have two lathers and a boil, having blued the water well. Wash them out of the boil, but don’t rinse them. Turn the wrong sides outwards and fold them very smooth and even, laying them one upon another and a board over them, with a weight of press them smooth. Let them lie thus about a quarter of an hour, after which hang them up to dry and when thoroughly so, roll them up tight without ironing by which means they will look as new.

2010EE8115_jpg_ds- pink stocking V and A

To clean gold and silver lace

This is performed by taking some Talk, finely pounded and moistened with the spirit of wine, and then rubbing it with a brush over the lace every way. The same will do also for gold and silver stuffs highly raised, but lace turns black, if rubbed with Talk by itself.

Courtesy of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

How to make starch for small linen

Having wetted a quarter of a pound of starch, mixed with a little Powder Blue, so as it will bruise, add it to half a pint of water, and then pour them into a quart of water boiling on the fire. Stir well, and let the starch boil at least quarter of an hour, for it cannot be boiled too well, neither will the linen iron or look well, unless the starch be thoroughly boiled. After the starch is strained, dip the linen into it and then squeeze it out. Dip first those things you would have stiffest, but do not rub them in the starch; and as you want the starch stiff or thin, add or diminish. Some put Gum Arabic, Allum and Candle into the starch as it boils, but these are prejudicial; and if anything be added let it be Isinglass, about an ounce to  quarter of a pound of starch, for that will help to stiffen and make them clear, but not to be used for laces. A kettle of Bell-Mettle is the properest vessel to boil starch in.

Mercier, Philippe; Lady Mary Fairfax; Fairfax House;
Mercier, Philippe; Lady Mary Fairfax; Fairfax House

To take dirt from any silk

This is done by wetting it with a cloth dipped in clear water, and then wiping it, till the stain is out; then rubbing it first with a wet cloth, and next with a dry one and afterwards rolling it up dry in another clean cloth; but no air must come to it, for it would change the colour or crumple it. If the pieces of dirt be thick, they should be let dry and then shaken off; after which the silk should be rubbed with crumbs of bread and then with a clean cloth. If it be stained with coffee, rubbing with milk and then with fair water and a cloth will clean it.

How to take out spots of oil or any grease spots in silk

Let the spot be covered with French chalk, scraped and then rubbed well with a clean cloth. Pure spirit of lemon, without the essence, will extract any stain; but spirit of Sal Ammoniac is though preferable; for although the silk be all over stained with oil, it will take it out, at least on the second application if the silk be dry.

Silk, linen, silk thread; hand-woven damask, hand-sewn. c1743. Courtesy of V&A Musuem
Silk, linen, silk thread; hand-woven damask, hand-sewn. c1743. Courtesy of V&A Museum

To take spots out of thin silk

Dip a piece of black cloth in a pint of white wine vinegar, pretty well heated and rub it over the stain; after which scrape Fuller’s Earth on the stain and putting dry woollen cloths above and below, place and iron, moderately hot on the upper part and the spot will vanish.

The Camp Laundry, 1782, British Museum
The Camp Laundry, 1782, British Museum

To clean satins and Damasks

A suit of these may be cleaned by rubbing them with the crumb of a three-penny loaf, two days old, mixed with a quarter of an ounce of Powder-Blue.

And, to finish, we couldn’t resist a Thomas Rowlandson caricature, courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library.



Madam Johnson’s Present: Or, Every Young Woman’s Companion in Useful and Universal Knowledge

Rehab for 18th century prostitutes – The Magdalen Hospital

So you’ve sinned and need rehabilitation in eighteenth-century London; where would you go? Well, that was easy, you applied to The Magdalen hospital in London. The hospital was established by laymen rather than the clergy, in particular a Robert Dingley (*see end of article for more information) who, with a committee including Rev. William Dodd, referred to it as a hospital but who insisted that it be more akin to a home.

by John Dixon, after William Hoare, mezzotint, (1762) by John Dixon, after William Hoare, mezzotint, (1762)
by John Dixon, after William Hoare, mezzotint, (1762)

It was to be a safe place for girls and women in eighteenth-century London (similar hospitals were sent up around the world too) where they could be rehabilitated and resume a good and honest life.

Saint Mary Magdalene reading in a landscape, Correggio, Bonhams
Saint Mary Magdalene reading in a landscape, Correggio. Courtesy of Bonhams

The first general meeting to discuss setting up such a place took place on the 1st of June 1758 and it was agreed that:

There was to be a ‘superiority of ward, the lower wards to take ‘inferior person’ or those ‘degraded for misbehaviour’.  The women might be promoted to higher wards.

The matron was to inspect the inmates’ correspondence.

Inmates were to be known by their Christian names alone. If further differentiation were needed, the name of the ward, or a number, should be added.

Various kinds of employment were suggested

We then have the most poignant sentence at the end:

… always observing in this and every other circumstance the utmost care and delicacy, humanity and tenderness; so that this establishment, instead of being apprehended to be a house of correction, may be gladly embraced as a safe, desirable and happy retreat from their wretched and distressful circumstances.

It took very little time to raise the funds required and secure appropriate premises.  Staff were duly appointed.

Staff appointed

The first admission was Ann Blore, a native of Ashbourne, Derbyshire. Two other women were promised admission as soon as they were cured of disease. One was admitted as servant to the matron and Mary Truman was rejected as she wasn’t a prostitute.  Admissions day was the first Thursday of the month at 5pm and women were not permitted to be either pregnant or suffering from any disease.

Petition for AdmissionThe house was divided into parts in order to make total and distinct divisions of the objects, and the rooms were distinguished by being numbered.  The women were classed in each ward. A proper number of women were appointed to perform all the domestic business of their respective wards and the household and to keep the chapel clean. Each woman lay in a separate bed and had a box for her clothes and linen, under lock and key which was kept by herself. Strict regard was had by the matron and her assistants to ensure that the wards were kept completely ventilated and the air pure – they visited the chambers and working rooms frequently each day to ensure this. Friends or relations of the women could apply to visit and visits were held under the supervision of the matron.

Upon admission their clothes are taken from them and returned to them when they leave. They are issued with grey shalloon gowns, all women worn the same ‘uniform’. Their diet/meals were agreed by the overseeing committee with a copy of the meals being hung on a board in each ward.

A Magdalen in 1760

All women are actively employed in tasks suiting their ability predominantly sewing, any occupation that will aid employment when they leave.

From Lady-day to Michaelmas they rise at six and go to bed at ten; and from Michaelmas to Lady-day rise at seven and in bed at nine; and after that time no fire of candle are allowed, except in the sick ward.

Breakfast was taken at 9 o’clock and they were allowed half an hour, they dined at one o’clock and were allowed one hour, and left off work at six in the winter and seven in the summer.

Magdalen by Thomas Rowlandson
Magdalen by Thomas Rowlandson

The hospital had opened on 10th August 1758 and by its 10th anniversary, some 1,036 women had been admitted.

509 had been reconciled to and received by their friends or placed in services in reputable families and to trades

38 proved lunatics, and afflicted with incurable fits

28 died

150 were uneasy under restraint and dismissed at their own desire

37 never returned from hospitals, to which they were sent to be cured

201 were discharged for faults and irregularities

73 were still present

Total 1,036

Did this method of reform work? Well seemingly so, if you believe the statistics, it did. To correct and to train rather than to punish seemed to be the order of the day. The hospital adapted to change over the years and finally closed its doors in 1966.

For anyone wishing to find out more about the Magdalene laundries in Ireland which were set up a few years after the one in London, you may find wish to follow the link here.

Image of the hospital


*  More about Robert Dingley

Robert Dingley was born around 1710, the eldest surviving son of Susanna and Robert Dingley, a prosperous jeweller and goldsmith of Bishopsgate Street, London. Robert took a keen interest in the arts and became a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was also founder member of the Society of Dilettanti, held a lifelong career with the Russia Company and was also Director of the Bank of England and trustee at the Foundling home.

On December 30th, 1744 Robert married Elizabeth Thomson, daughter of Henry Thomson Esq, of Kirby Hall, Yorkshire.

Elizabeth was to die in 1759 and Robert married his second wife, Esther Spencer the following year, on 21st March 1760. Esther died 1784.

Robert died 1781 and there is a memorial for both Robert and Esther in the same church.

There is an obelisk and bust of Elizabeth (Thompson) Dingley at St Luke’s church, Charlton, Kent
There is an obelisk and bust of Elizabeth at St Luke’s church, Charlton, Kent.

They had a daughter, Susanna Cecilia (1743–1795) of Lamb Abbey, near Eltham, Kent, who married Richard Hoare (d.1778) of Boreham House, Essex, a partner in Hoare’s bank, in 1762.

Richard Hoares' marriage to Susanna in 1762 in the presence of her father Robert. The marriage was carried out by none other than Rev. William Dodd.
Richard Hoares’ marriage to Susanna in 1762 in the presence of her father Robert. The marriage was carried out by none other than Rev. William Dodd.
Mrs Susanna Hoare and Child by Joshua Reynolds; The Wallace Collection
Mrs Susanna Hoare and Child by Joshua Reynolds; The Wallace Collection

The couple had five children, and the present picture probably depicts their eldest child, called Susanna Cecilia after her mother, who died young in 1768. In 1765 Mrs Hoare paid 70 guineas for the picture, which was probably painted 1763–1764.

Robert and his first wife also had a son Robert Henry Dingley.

There is no trace of Robert having left a will, but his second wife Esther left a will in which she made provision both of Robert’s children.

Sources Used:

The Magdalen Hospital: The Story of a Great Charity, 1917

An account of the rise, progress, and present state of the Magdalen Hospital, for the reception of penitent prostitutes. Together with Dr. Dodd’s sermons…, 1770

The Environs of London: Counties of Herts, Essex & Kent

Featured Image:

Courtesy of British Museum

Love and Marriage – Georgian Style

lwlpr07752 Here's songs of love & maids forsaken
‘Here’s songs of love & maids forsaken.’ Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library.

Samuel Johnson described a second marriage as a:

triumph of hope over experience

So what about a first marriage, how did you find a soul mate? Well, at the start of the Georgian era marriage, especially if you happened to be wealthy, was very much akin to an arranged marriage, with landed and gentry families arranging the marriage of their children to other wealthy families in order to build their empire and to keep the money in the family. Children were sometimes betrothed during their childhood and love took virtually no part in marriage. The situation was very different for working class people who were free to marry for love. Things began to change as a result of couples running away to Gretna Green and the like who wanted to marry for love, and by doing so they managed to cheat their parents out of such a financial union. The result of these runaway marriages being the 1753 Marriage Act which standardized marriages in England for the first time, meaning that couples under the age of 21-years had to seek parental permission. This, however, meant that couples under that age continued to runaway to Scotland.

British School; The Elopement; Paintings Collection;
British School; The Elopement; Paintings Collection

What if you couldn’t manage a first marriage, let alone a second one – where did you look? Well, there was always the ‘lonely hearts’ column. Today we have online and speed dating, back in Georgian times both men and women who were seeking love used the newspapers to look for a suitable partner, so we thought it might be fun to take a look at the advertisements placed for those seeking a suitable spouse.

The World Friday, March 21, 1788
The World Friday, March 21, 1788

So, what did men look for in a wife? Well in this case only tall women need apply! He really should have defined ‘tall’!

Public Advertiser 8th June 1774


A gentleman, lately arrived in England, and who is void of acquaintance, wishes to enter into the State of Matrimony. A fortune is not his object. He should be glad, were a lady about twenty-one years of age, rather tall than otherwise, of an affable and lively temper. Any one answering these particulars would have a carriage at her command and every other indulgence might tend to her happiness.

In the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser 14th November 1776, this gentleman basically tells would be ‘timewasters’ to ‘jog on’!

To the fair candidates for Matrimony

A young gentleman, genteelly settled and possessed of three thousand pounds real and 400l per annum wishes to meet with an agreeable partner for life whose will and fortune is independent of others control; her fortune a thousand pounds; no objection to more; the beauty of the mind which is lasting will be preferred to the charms of the face; and favours are requested for Mr. Price to be left at the Penny Post House, Charles Street, Oxford Road.

NB Those insignificant jades whose characters won’t bear inquiry and in consequence are ashamed to appear to their appointment are desired not to trouble the author to no purpose.

Clater, Thomas; The Proposal; Stockport Heritage Services;
Clater, Thomas; The Proposal; Stockport Heritage Services

Seemingly the lonely hearts advertisements were not restricted to men – women also placed adverts such as this one in the Morning Post and Daily Advertiser, 12th October 1775.

A young gentlewoman that has met with some disappointments in life, has never been from home, and in expectation of some fortune, but chooseth to see genteel life, has a good education, and speaks French would be glad to superintend a single Nobleman or Gentleman’s house; no objection to age, town or country, or to go abroad, on terms agreed on at an interview.

NB Prefers a genteel independence to matrimony.

© The Trustees of the British Museum
© The Trustees of the British Museum

At the other end of the spectrum we discovered quite a number of people who marriage multiple times. One woman, Lydia Hall who according to ‘The World’ died in 1787, had been:

Tried at the Old Bailey nine times and was seven times marriage; three of her spouses were long ago executed and two of them transported.

In 1797, according to The Morning Herald of 30th December:

Thomas Lonfield Esq. who died at Bath last week was married six times, and by each of his wives received a large fortune: having no children, he has left the principal part of his immense possessions to his widow.

Courtesy of Lewis Walpole


Feature image: Hogarth, William; After; The Fitzwilliam Museum

How to find your Valentine – Georgian style

Well, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching so it’s the perfect time to find your soul mate. The Georgians were no different – they believed that they had to pull out all the stops to find the person of their dreams, so forget internet dating and give some of these a go! Please feel free to let us know if you tried them with success!

(c) The National Trust for Scotland, Hill of Tarvit Mansionhouse & Garden; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
The Love Letter by Francis Wheatley (c) The National Trust for Scotland, Hill of Tarvit Mansion House & Garden; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

These suggestions come courtesy of a Miss Arabella Whimsey (draw your own conclusions on that one) who apparently wrote to the editor Mr Town on the 17th February 1755, despite our best attempts we have not managed to locate such a young lady!

Dear Sir!

You must know I am in love with a very clever man, a Londoner; and as I want to know whether it is my fortune to have him, I have tried all the tricks I can hear of for that purpose.

(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

I have seen him several times in coffee-grounds with a sword by his side, and he was once at the bottom of a tea-cup in a coach and six with two footmen behind it.

I got up last May morning and went into the fields to hear the cuckoo; and when pulled off my left shoe, I found a hair in it, exactly the same last Midsummer Eve.

Dumb Cake
The Dumb Cake (Victorian genre), 1841. Courtesy of Ancestry

I and my two sisters tried the Dumb Cake: you must know of it, two must make it, two bake it, two break it and the third put it under each of their pillows (but you must not speak a word all the time). This we did, and to be sure I did nothing all night but dream of Mr Blossom.

The same night, exactly at twelve o’clock, I sowed hempseed in our backyard and said to myself ‘Hempseed I sow, Hempseed I hoe, and he that is my true love, come after me and mow’. Will you believe me? I looked back and saw him behind me, as plain as eyes could see him.

After that I took a clean shirt, and turned it, and hung it upon the back of a chair; and very likely my sweetheart would have come and turned it right again (or I heard his step) but I was frightened and could not help speaking, which broke the charm.

I likewise stuck up two Midsummer Men, one for myself and one for him. Now if he had died away, we should never have come together: but I assure you he bowed and turned to me.

(c) The Bowes Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
A Young Girl Attended by a Chaperone, giving a rose to her lover secretly C de Blay (c) The Bowes Museum

Our maid Betty tells me that if I go backwards without speaking a word, into the garden upon Midsummer’s Eve and gather a rose and keep it in a clean piece of paper until Christmas day, it will be as fresh as in June and then if I stick it in my bosom then he who is to be my husband will come and take it out.

Last Friday, Mr Town, was Valentine’s Day and I’ll tell you what I did the night before.

bay leaves

I got five bay-leaves and pinned four of them to the four corners of my pillow and the fifth to the middle; and then if I dreamt of my sweetheart, Betty said we should be married before the year out.

But to make it more sure, I boiled an egg hard and took out the yolk and filled it up with salt; and when I went to bed I ate it shell and all, without speaking or drinking after it and this was to have the same effect as the bay leaves.

We also wrote our lovers names upon bits of paper and rolled them up in clay and put them in water and the first that rose up was to be our Valentine. Would you think it?

Mr Blossom was my man: and I lay in bed and shut my eyes all the morning, till he came to our house, for I would not have seen another man before him for all the world.

Dear Mr Town, if you know any other ways to try our fortune, do put them in your paper. My Mamma laughs at us and says there is nothing in them; but I am sure there is, for several Misses at our boarding school have tired them and they have all happened true.

Your humble servant


Arabella Whimsey.


Connoisseur (Collected Issues), Thursday, February 20, 1755


The Lover, or Cupid’s Mirror


We realize that some of the pictures are slightly out of our usual time frame, but we simply had to include them.

Pancake Day in the Georgian Era

We all like a good pancake so we thought we would take a trip back in time to look at some eighteenth-century recipes as well as some newspaper articles about pancakes. And like now, people didn’t just eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.

Caledonian Mercury, 13th August 1724

London, August 6. We hear from Harrow-weel, near Stanmore in Middlesex, that a Labourer’s Wife in that Parish, having been delivered on the Wednesday of a fine Child, was found the next Day by the Midwife, with her Stays lac’d on, frying Pancakes for her Husband’s Dinner.

 Salisbury and Winchester Journal, 23rd March 1767


Cork, March 5 – Monday last, at Mallow fair, a man choaked himself by excess of eating. He had laid a bet with his companion that he would eat three pennyworth of new bread and two pounds of cheese, while the other could sip two quarts of ale with a table spoon; and while the deceased was taking the last bit, he declared he had never before got such a delicious feast of the kind, but he was afraid it would spoil his meal of pancakes the next day. [Shrove Tuesday fell on the 3rd March that year.]

The Pancake Woman by Willem van Mieris c.1710-19 (c) Paintings Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
The Pancake Woman by Willem van Mieris c.1710-19
(c) Paintings Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

 Stamford Mercury, 1st April 1773

Extracts of a letter from Exeter, March 19.

Wednesday last Matthew Hutton, an ostler in this city, was committed to the gaol of this city for the murder of his wife; it appeared upon examination before the coroner, that on Friday last he came home and ordered his wife to get some pancakes for supper, which she did, and when she had fryed one, he took it to his plate, and then sent her out for some beer, during which time it is supposed he put some arsenic in the batter, as he ate no more, and she died the next morning at eight o’clock in great agonies; and on opening the body some arsenic was found, and several symptoms to corroborate the suspicion, and influence the Jury to bring in their verdict, wilful murder.

What adds to the general opinion that he is guilty is, that he endeavoured to poison her about a month ago in coffee, and never came home till the above evening for a long time past, keeping company with another woman. The remainder of the batter is taken care of, and is intended to be analysed.

[NB he was named Robert Hutton in a report of him being committed to gaol in the Bath Chronicle, 25th March 1773.]

Woman Baking Pancakes, Adriaan de Lelie, c. 1790 - c. 1810 Rijksmuseum
Woman Baking Pancakes, Adriaan de Lelie, c. 1790 – c. 1810

Perthshire Courier, 16th August 1810

The warm approbation and applauses given by the generous inhabitants of the City of Perth, to the Exhibitions now in the Theatre here, are extremely flattering to Mr HERMAN BOAZ, and highly honorable to his labours; he seeks not to conceal that the love of public fame, more than private interest, is his chief thirst, and the applauses which every spectator have bestowed on his Performances, have amply gratified his expectations and wishes; he therefore, begs leave to render his unfeigned thanks to the numerous audiences who attended him the three first evenings, and begs leave to inform the Public, that he exhibits again on FRIDAY Evening, the 17th inst. August.

N.B. MR BOAZ begs leave to observe, that on the above evening, he will Fry Hot Pancakes, in a Gentleman’s Hat, without the assistance of Fire, or damage to the Hat. The Performance will conclude with the Grand Coup de Main.

The Doors will be opened each Evening, at half-past Seven o’clock, and the operations begin precisely at Eight, and finish at Ten.

PIT, 2s. – GALLERY, 1s.

Chester Courant, 26th February 1811

SHROVE TUESDAY – The following account of the origin of frying pancakes on this day, is copied from Mr Gale’s Recreations:- One Simon Eyre, a shoe-maker, being chosen Lord Mayor of London, instituted a pancake feast on Shrove Tuesday, for all the apprentices in London; and from that it became a custom. He ordered that, upon the ringing of a bell in every parish, the apprentices should leave off work, and shut up their shops for that day; which being ever since yearly observed, is called the Pancake Bell. In that same year he built Leadenhall, viz. 1406, so that the present Shrove Tuesday will be the 365th since its institution.

Chester Chronicle, 14th February 1812

Shrove Tuesday was celebrated in this city with the usual solemnities – pancakes, cockfighting, and fuddling, were the orders of the day; and scarce a snip or a snob were to be found within the hills of mortality – at work: it was a holiday for them, as it always has been from time immemorial – all the close pits in the neighbourhood were thronged with eager spectators of the royal pastime! As night spread around her dusky mantle, the participators in the festivities of the day staggered towards home, with head and pockets ‘light as air,’ many of them ornamented in the most luminous part of their person.

Kitchen-sene with a Girl frying Pancakes, Louis Aubert, 1740 - 1780 Rijksmuseum
Kitchen-sene with a Girl frying Pancakes, Louis Aubert, 1740 – 1780

And we thought we would end with a few recipes, should you fancy trying something a little different this Pancake Day.

A recipe for Rice Pancakes (from the Oxford Journal, 20th February 1796)

Boil a quarter of a pound of ground rice in a quart of milk till the rice is tender, then strain it; put to the Rice four or six eggs, leaving out half the whites; cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar to your taste, and a large spoonful of flour; mix it some time before you fry them. Great attention must be given whilst frying them, lest they burn.

To make fine Pancakes

Take a pint of cream, eight eggs (leave out two of the whites) three spoonfuls of sack or orange flower water, a little sugar, if it be agreeable, a grated nutmeg; the butter and cream must be melted over the fire: mix all together, with three spoonfuls of flour; butter the frying pan for the first, let them run as thin as you can in the pan, fry them quick, and send them up hot.

To make a pink coloured Pancake

Boil a large beet root tender, and beat it fine in a marble mortar, then add the yolks of four eggs, two spoonfuls of flour, and three spoonfuls of good cream, sweeten it to your taste, grate in half a nutmeg, and put in a glass of brandy; beat them all together half an hour, fry them in butter and garnish them with green sweetmeats, preserved apricots, or green sprigs of myrtle. – It is a pretty corner dish for either dinner or supper.

Apple Pancakes – this recipe certainly sounds like one worth trying from William Ellis’s Country Housewife’s Family Companion!

Apple Pancakes for Gentry

We have even managed to find a Youtube ‘how to’ for pancakes using recipes in the book

Sources not mentioned above:

The experienced English house-keeper, consisting of near 800 original receipts by Elizabeth Raffald.

Street Scene, Newcastle upon Tyne; British School; National Trust, Cragside

The Newcastle Eccentrics of Hell’s Kitchen

Eccentric Characters of Newcastle by Henry Perlee Parker (after) (c) Laing Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Eccentric Characters of Newcastle by Henry Perlee Parker (after)
(c) Laing Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

In the taproom of The Flying Horse public house in the Groat Market, colloquially known as Hell’s Kitchen, various of the Newcastle Upon Tyne ‘Eccentrics’ were to be seen, many of them mentioned in popular local ballads and folk-songs. They were well known on the Newcastle streets and on the quayside, and in the ale-houses. Fourteen of them were painted by the artist Henry Perlee Parker around 1817, shown in Hell’s Kitchen, immortalising their images. The original has been lost, but engravings have survived.

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


Old (or Aud) Judy Dowlings was the keeper of the Newcastle upon Tyne ‘hutch’, a form of strongbox used by the City Treasurer. She was a formidable guard, wielding a hefty stick in its defence and is also depicted in another painting by Henry Perlee Parker. You can read more about Old Judy in one of our previous posts by clicking here. Peering over Old Judy’s shoulder is Jenny Ballo and beside her Whin Bob, or Robert Cruddace. The dog is Timour, belonging to Doodum Daddum.

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




Next is Jacky Coxon who is mentioned in a song written by Robert Emery (a Scot living in Newcastle) called ‘The Pitman’s Dream – or a description of the North Pole’. The others are Pussy Willy, Cull (or Cully) Billy and Donald. Cully (also known as Silly Billy) was really William Scott and lived in St John’s poorhouse and was the subject of various local folk songs. He lived with his diminutive mother who was only 4ft tall and who made her living as a hawker. Both mother and son were often cruelly ridiculed but Cully was a gentle man with a good nature and a quick sense of humour. He died in the poorhouse on the 31st July 1831 at the age of 68 years. Donald, obviously a Scotsman from his tartan tam o’shanter, also revelled in the name Lousy Donald.

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

The four gentleman here are Bugle-Nosed Jack, Hangy (or Hangie), Bold Archy (or Airchy) and Blind Willie. Bugle-Nosed Jack was also known as Cuckoo Jack and Bold Archy was really Archibald Henderson, a huge, well-built man but absolutely a gentle giant, devoted to his mother who often had to lead him away from fights as he was a magnet for trouble due to his size. He died, on the 14th May 1828, at the age of 86 years. Blind Willie, or William Purvis, was probably the best known of the Newcastle Eccentrics. Born in Newcastle, and baptised at All Saints’ Church on the 16th February 1752, his father John was a waterman and his mother Margaret lived to a grand old age, dying in All Saints poorhouse at well over 100 years of age. Blind Willie (blind from birth or from very early in his childhood) was a fiddler, song writer and performer, often to be found in ale houses where he asked for a drink and entertained the regulars. He was a great favourite on the streets of Newcastle, renowned for never wearing a hat, no matter what the weather, having got fed up of it being stolen from his head by idle boys. Like his mother, he ended up in the All Saints poorhouse where he died on the 20th July 1832 aged 80.

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

Finally, we have Shoe-tie Anty, ‘Captain’ Benjamin Starkey and Doodem Daddum, owner of Timour the dog. Benjamin Starkey, extremely short in stature, had pretensions to grandeur, hence his appellation of ‘Captain’, and certainly had some education as he was noted as a very neat writer. In his youth he had been an usher at a school, William Bird’s Academy in Fetter’s Lane in Holborn, London (where the essayist Charles Lamb remembered him from). He was born around 1757 and died on the 9th July 1822, and was an inmate of both Freeman’s Hospital and the poorhouse. Doodum Daddem is identified as John Higgins in an eprint from Nottingham University, a jack-of-all-trades and also the Town Crier or Bellman of Newcastle Upon Tyne. However, from census records, John Higgins would appear to be too young to be the man in the painting.

Woodcuts of Blind Willie and ‘Captain’ Benjamin Starkey appear in Allan’s Illustrated Version of Tyneside Songs, in which many of the Newcastle Eccentrics are named. It also provides an engraving of the Hell’s Kitchen portrait with a key underneath to the identities of the people within it.