Regency Bicentennial:   "Flowering" in Ayrshire

Though it was certainly not his intention, by abdicating the throne of France in April of 1814, Naploeon Bonaparte set in train a series of events which would make it possible for thousands of women in southwestern Scotland to earn extra money to support their families for several decades. Many Scots had supported Bonaparte in principal, seeing him as the enemy of their enemy, the English. Perhaps it was simply poetic justice that his actions led to a source of desparately needed funds for an entire Scottish shire.

How the stones "flowered" in Ayrshire, two hundred years ago . . .

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Posted in Apparel & Grooming | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Regency Bicentennial:   Steam By Stealth

Two hundred years ago, tomorrow, John Walters II, publisher of The Times of London, walked into the pressroom of his newspaper and told the men preparing to print the paper for that day that there was no need. That day’s newspaper had already been printed, on brand new steam presses which he had installed at another, secret, location. By Walter’s action, steam power achieved a toe-hold in the print world and its expansion would be inexorable. Printing would never be the same.

How The Times was steamed …

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Regency Bicentennial:   Sir John Lade Liberated

Though the exact date is unknown, it was two centuries ago, in 1814, that the infamous and notorious Sir John Lade was released from debtor’s prison, where he had spent several months. Though he had been heir to an enormous fortune in his youth, Sir John Lade had managed to burn through it over the course of a wild and unconventional life. Eventually, he was unable to continue putting off his creditors, and they had him incarcerated for his many debts. But despite his reckless life, Lade had made a number of loyal friends, and they were able to convince one of the most powerful men in the country to come to his aid.

Sir John Lade’s path to prison . . .

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The Regency:   On the Cusp of Cuff Links

As with so many other things which have been discussed here, with regard to a new kind of men’s, and occasionally, women’s, clothing accessory, the term cuff link was just coming into use during the Regency. However, that garment accessory had actually been in use for more than a century, though for most of that time it was known as the sleeve button. But a "sleeve button" was no ordinary button, it had a special form all its own.

How the sleeve button crept off the coat and onto the shirt . . .

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The Way of Duty:   A Biography of Mary Fish

The woman about whom this biography was written died near the end of the Regency, and she never set foot in England in her life. Despite its rather dour title, this is one of the most vivid and intimate biographies of anyone I have ever read. Yet Mary Fish was not a prominent citizen or a powerful public figure. Nor was she married to one. Mary was an ordinary woman who lived among ordinary people. The kind of woman about which very little is known, because few such women left behind any record of their lives. But, unlike many other women of her era, a great deal is known about Mary because her youngest son did become a prominent man. He revered his mother, and kept her private papers, ensuring their survival into modern times.

The Way of Duty: A Woman and Her Family in Revolutionary America was researched and written by the husband and wife team of Joy Day and Richard Buel, Jr. Sadly, Joy Buel has since passed away, but this biography still remains as a testament to her scholarship and skill as a writer.

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Halloween in the Regency

Or not.   In fact, it depended upon the part of the British Isles in which one lived whether, or how, that particular holy day eve was recognized and/or celebrated.

Halloween has ancient roots as a pagan new year and harvest celebration which was later combined with Christian holy days to create the autumn season which came to be known as Allhallowtide. But where, and by who, was Halloween or Allhallowtide celebrated during the Regency? And how appropriate were many of those celebrations to romance?

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The Regency Way of Death:   Origins of Night Funerals

During the Regency, there were still some wealthy aristocrats, and quite a few royals, whose funerals were held after dark. But those night-time funerals had their origins in the seventeenth century and actually began as a revolt by a number of Scottish aristocrats against the overbearing authority of the College of Arms. They persisted into the Regency in large measure as a status symbol, by which they demonstrated to the community the wealth and social superiority of the family of the deceased.

When artificial light was a statement of rank and power . . .

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Posted in Decorum | Tagged , | 5 Comments