Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Looking at a hamlet

This is the data from the 1851 census for the village of Wressle or Wressell in Yorkshire. Some of the Beverleys come from there, though the ones below don't seem to directly connect to our family tree.

It's also an interesting glimpse into a hamlet. Most of the people are agricultural labourers, though there are a few tradesmen -- blacksmith, carpenters, brick and tile makers (was there clay nearby?) and a cordwainer. That's a leather worker.

Though the composition of the inhabitants has doubtless changed a lot, the place hasn't changed much in size. (I don't guarantee the transcription of names is always accurate.) I have made some comments about this data on the Word Wenches blog.

William Devill 53 Farmer
Elizabeth 47
William 10
Thomas 9
Ann Elizabeth 5
George Smith 19
Robert Fyeat 14
Mary Maclair, 21 (From Ireland)

William Climes 49 Plate Layer (Laying tracks for railways.)
Mary 42
Sarah 1
John 8
Richard 6
Ann 3
Mary 1

George Pecett 52 Ag Labourer
Hannah, 39
Eliza 10
Mary Jarratt 1 Granddaughter

Ann Gott, 51, widow, charwoman

George Hind 34 Farmer
Ann 33
John 27, brother, working on farm.

Joseph Laycock 49 Ag Lab
Jane 49 dress maker
Elizabeth 16 dress maker
Ann 81 widowed mother, pauper, ag Lab
George 38, brother, ag lab

Thomas Williamson 32 Ag Lab
Ann 25
Harriet 4
Ann 2
Charlotte 2month

William Fletcher, 41 Ag Lab
Elizabeth 40 ditto
Ellen 11
Thomas 8
Robert 5
William 2
Elizabeth 2 (twins)

William Thompson 52 Cordwainer
Elizabeth 64
Sarah Charles, 15 niece, servant
Robert Beverley, 16 Apprentice

John Beverley 62 Ag Lab
Ann 59 ditto
John 35 ditto
Jane Horne, 83,mother in law, widow,

William Harrison 41 Ag Lab
Hannah 39
Elizabeth 10,
Jane 8
William 5
Mary 3
George 7m

William Carr, 74 Farmer
Ann 64
Joseph 42

Charles Leak 28 Brick and Tile maker
Hannah 28
George 9
James 6
John 5
William 4
Marry Ann 2
Foster 4m

William Bristow 40 Grocer and Ag Lab
Elizabeth 43
John 11
Ann 8
Thomas 3
Mary 10
Elizabeth Ward, 48, widow, lodger, charwoman

Joseph Fenton 53 Ag Lab
Hannah 55
Elizabeth 20 Dress maker
John Albert Bulmer, 2 grandson

William Thompson 27 Carpenter
Ann 21
William 2m
Richard Milner 22 journeyman carpenter
John Dunn Glover22 ditto
Robert Wilson, Apprentice 16
James Thompson 18, brother, carpenter
Mary Bothy, 12 Servant

Elizabeth Tuke 61 widow Ag Lab
Thomas, 29 Ag Lab

Thomas Eckels 51 Ag Lab
Mararet 50
George 18 Ag Lab
John Lazenby 27 lodger, Ag Lab

William Maskile 67 Ag Lab
William Simes 27 grandson railway lab.
Mark Turping 21 railway lab
Hannah Turping 23 wife
William 3 great grandson

John Sherbourn 63 Annuitant (means that they have an annuity, or pension of some sort.)
Mary 62
Elizabeth 4 Granddaughter
Amelia Beville 79, lodger Annuitant

William Markham 38 Blacksmith
Hannah 37
William 10
Mordecai 7
Ann 3
William Powercraft 36 Blacksmith

John Hawkswell 51 Tile Maker
Maria 52
William 12

Ann Hardwick 63 widow Pauper, Ag Lab

Margaret Pears, 67 widow Pauper, Ag Lab.

Mary Hutchinson, 75 widow, Farmer
William 44
Hannah Watson 22 niece, house servant.

Ann Williamson 60 widow cottager
George, 26 Ag Lab
John Stanfield, 62 Lodger, widower, Ag Lab
Mary Stanfield 14 lodger
Charles Williamson 38 son cordwainer
Sarah W d-in-l 28
Ann 13
Robert 6
Hannah 5
Nancy 4
John, 1 grandson

John Jackson 55 Bricklayer
Ann 54
Fanny 16
Richard Middleton 22 Journeyman
Edwin Holmes 16 Apprentice

Martin Markham 36 Master of a Sloop (that seems to be what it says.)
Harriet 33
Robert 10
Thomas 8
Henry 6
Stephen 3
Francis 1
George Binnington 17 Apprentice

Robert Wilson 64 Ag Lab
Martha 53
William 16 Ag Lab
William Buckle 25 widower bricklayer visitor
Thomas Turley 20 bricklayer

Robert Johnson 52 Grocer
Elizabeth 52
Louisa J Sherbourn niece 8
William Tree 70, widower, visitor, blacksmith

Wressle Castle
Ruin, probably belonging to the Earl of Egremont.
John Hutton 33 Farm Bailiff 270 acres
Martha 32
Ann 8
Sarah 2
George Ellingworth, 22 Farm servant
Mark Ballance 16 ditto

Wressle Grange
George Adkinson 60 Farmer of 325 acres
Eleanor 51
Peter 22
William 19
John 17
Louisa 14
Anthony 7
Hannah 5

Thomas Hodgson 32, Farmer of 193 acres
Elizabeth Bunington, 46 Housekeeper
George Denby, 16, Farm servant
William Hunt 132 Farm servant.

Information for genealogists.

1840 there was a coal dealer, corn miller, and wheelwright not recorded on the 1851 census, but they might not have their homes in the hamlet. In 1823, a vicar and curate are recorded and as there is a church there, there must have been clergymen. But again, he must have lived elsewhere.

You can find out more about the village here.


Various details.


Happy Christmas,


Monday, November 26, 2007

People in Sheffield in 1781

My MIP involves industrial Sheffield in 1764 (not too much, don't worry!) and I was looking for a likely street for my heroine's family to have lived on.

Wonderfully, I found a list from 1781 on an Australian genealogy site. Not only does it give me likely streets, it gives a snapshot of the occupations and industries of the time. Note, for example, the ink pot maker. That was a business that would eventually die out. Sheffield, of course, was mostly known for making items from iron and steel and then for silver plate, especially knives and such.(a cutler, hence cutlery)

Isn't there something ominous about the address Truelove's-gutter?

The available list is only the beginning.

Abbot Eli, silk dyer, Westbar-green
Abdy John, cutler, Howard-street
Addy William, cutler, Westbar-green
Alcard James, grocer, Scotland-street
Alcock John, and Co. inkpot makers, Bailey Field
Aldham William, grocer, Change-alley
Allen George, and Robert, linendrapers and tea dealers, New-street
Allen Widow, lantern light, & comb maker, Scargill Croft
Allen Thomas, snuffer maker, Bailey Field
Allen Thomas, master of the charity school, Church-yard
Almond James, manufacturer of plated goods, Westbar
Almond John, victualler, Townhead Cross
Almond Roger, victualler, Blind-lane
Alsop George, victualler, Ponds
Alsop Luke, cutler, Coalpit-lane
Alsop Samuel, founder and anvil maker, Sheffield Moor Amory
Amory George, roper, flaxdresser, and linendraper, Hartshead
Amory Widow, victualler, High-street
Anderton John, dealer in flour, Pea Croft
Antt Joseph, and Son, factors, Lambert Croft
Ant James, dealer in cloaths, & c. Burgess-street
Appleby, Scholfield and Co. founders, Gibralter
Ardron John, grocer, Truelove's-gutter
Armfield William, linendraper, King-street
Ash Richard, cutler, Young-street
Ashforth, Ellis, Wilson, and Hawksley's, manufacturers of silver and plated goods, Angel-street
Ashforth Samuel, cutler, Park
Ashmore John, victualler, Park
Ashton Adam, carpenter, and overseer of the water-works, Brinsworth's Orchard
Aslin Widow, victualler, Bullstake
Atherton John, whitesmith, Millsands
Bacon Thomas, dealer in milk, Silver-street
Badger Joseph, carpenter & joiner, Brinsworth's Orchard
Bagnall John, dyer, Ponds
Bailey and Eadon, scissorsmiths, ironmongers, and factors, Westbar
Banks William, button maker, Porto Bello
Barber and Genn, saw and fender makers, Spring-street
Bardwell John, auctioneer, Norfolk-street
Barker Joseph, baker, Scotland-street
Barlow, and Co. scissorsmiths, Meadow-street
Barlow, Longden, and Co. scissorsmiths, Scotland-street
Barlow William, baker, Truelove's-gutter
Barlow John, cutler, Campo-lane
Bardsley James, pawnbroker, Westbar
Bamsley George, victualler, Truelove's-gutter Barnes
Barnes Isaac, cutler, Campo-lane
Barnes Thomas, cutler, Smithfield
Bartram James, horn turner, Scotland-street
Bateman George, cutler, Smithfield
Bates Samuel and George, filesmiths, Spring-street
Bates James, malt and cheese factor, Truelove's-gutter
Batty Widow, cooper, Townhead Well
Battie James, watchmaker, Wain-gate
Bayley Robert, and Richard, ironmongers, and hardwaremen, High-street
Bayliffe Rev. George, curate of Ecclesall, New-street
Bayliffe Rev. Wm. assistant curate of the New Church, do.
Beal Richard, shopkeeper, Coalpit-lane
Beard Samuel, victualler, Furnace-hill
Beard James, victualler, Coalpit-lane
Beardshaw William, cutler, Silver-street
Beardshaw John, victualler, HolIes Croft
Beardsall Francis, Hotel Inn, top of Wain-gate
Beatson Thomas, victualler, Coalpit-lane
Beatson Benjamin, sheather, Park
Beely Thomas, cutler, Ponds .
Beely John, victualler, Smithfield
Beet and Senyer's, cutlers, Pea Croft
Beet Widow, and Sons, cutlers, Broad-lane
Beet John, cutler, Norfolk-street
Beet Edward, cutler, Lambert Croft
Beet Jeremiah, victualler, Norfolk-street
Beldon, Hoyland, and Co. silver cutlers, Burgess-street
Bell's and Shepherd, scissorsmiths, Gibralter
Bell Benjamin, victualler, Back-lane
Bell Widow, victualler, Copper-street
Bellamy John, innkeeper, King-street
Bennet Edward, sugar baker, Union-street
Bennet Thomas, factor, Pinston-lane
Bennet George, plumber and glazier, Far-gate
Berry Joseph, vigo button maker, Pond-lane
Berry Noah, dye-sinker and button maker, Scargill Croft
Bincks William, porter and brandy merchant, Pea Croft
Bingley John, currier, Jehu-lane .
Binney Joseph, cutler, Broad-lane End
Birks William, and John, cutlers, Union-street
Birks Isaac, butcher and victualler, Truelove's-gutter
Birkinshaw Francis, cutler, Silver-street
Birtles Abraham, bricklayer, Young-street
Birtles Abraham, victualler, Burgess-street
Bishop George, fon. edgetool maker, Brinsworth's Orchard
Bishop Samuel, blacksmith, Bailey Field
Bishop George, jun. do. do.
Bishop Thomas, cutler, China-square
Blackburn Joseph, dyer, Bonds
Blain John, surgeon and man-midwife, York-street
Blake Thomas, filesmith, Green-lane
Bland Thomas, factor, Queen-street
Bland James, cafe maker, Queen-street
Bland John, victualler, Snig-hill ,-
Blonk, and Son, scissorsmiths, Norfolk-street
Booth, Binck's, Hartop, and Co. founders.
Bower George, victualler, Silver-street
Bowker William, barber, High-street
Bowker Jonathan, hatter, Wain-gate
Bradbury Thomas, baker, Wain-gate
Bradbury Daniel, assay-master, Pond-lane
Bradwell Thomas, flaxdresser, Far-gate -
Brailsford William, upholsterer, Norfolk-street :
Brailsford Thomas, do. High-street
Brammall Nicholas, cutler, White Croft
Brammall George, scissorsmith, Pinston-lane.
Bramhall James, cutler, Porto Bello
Brammall John, filesmith, Westbar-green.
Briddock Martin, cutler, Lambert Croft.
Bright Thomas, gent. Hawley Croft
Bright James, barber, Westbar
Bright Widow, cutler, HolIes Croft
Bright Widow, victualler, top of Silver-street
Brittain, Wilkinson, and Brownell, factors, and manufacturers of cutlery wares, Arundel-street
Brittain Benjamin, cutler, Hawley Croft
Brittlebank Abraham, Hermitage bowling-green
Broadbent Thomas, and Joseph, merchants, Brinsworth's Orchard
Broadbent Samuel, factor, and agent to the Lombard-street Fire-Office, Castle-green-head
Broadbent Dennis, scissorsmith, Brinsworth's Orchard
Broadbent Roger, butcher, Norfolk-street
Broadhead Joseph, grocer and malster, Snig-hill
Broadhead William, cutler, Bailey Field
Broadhead Jonathan, victualler, Bullstake
Brookes John, and Son, factors, Far-gate
Brookes Francis, cutler, New-street
Brookes James, turner, Far-gate
Brookfield John, attorney,
Brookfield William, scissorsmith, Trinity-street
Brookfield John, victualler, Church-lane
Brookfield George, victualler, Campo-lane
Broomhead Benjamin, and Joseph, factors, and manufacturers of cutlery wares, Far-gate
Broomhead, Hinchsliffe, and Co. merchants, and manufacturers of cutlery wares, Brinsworth's Orchard
Broomhead and Ward, cutlers, Eyre-street
Broomhead Joseph, cutler, Lambert Croft
Broomhead John, victualler, Park
Broomhead Richard, butcher, Westbar
Brown, Wheat and Co. manufacturers of white and red lead, Pond-lane
Brown Revel, inkpot maker, Truelove's-gutter
Brown Cornelius, dealer in toys, hardware, & c. Market-place
Brown Mrs. milliner, Change-alley
Brown George, cutler, Coalpit-lane
Brown Joseph, shoemaker, Coalpit-lane
Brownell John, ironmonger and factor, Westbar-green
Brunt Jonathan, printer, King-street
Bryant Rev. Thomas, minister of the dissenting chapel, in Scotland-street
Bullhouse William, victualler, Park
Bullock John, anvil maker, Smithfield
Burch George, cutler, Spring-street
Burditt John, clasp and collar maker, Pond-lane
Burgen Thomas, vigo button maker, Hawley Croft
Burnand Robert, linendraper, and dealer in furniture and cloaths, Market-place
Burton Michael, attorney, Paradise-square
Burton William, surgeon and man-midwife,
Butler William, cutler, Trinity-street
Butler John, dealer in flour, & c. Townhead Well
Butler Stephen, cutler, Townhead Well
Butterworth John, edgetool maker, Pea Croft
Cadman Peter, and Co. cutlers, Norfolk-street
Cadman Luke, cutler, Norfolk-street
Cadman David, cutler, Longstone-lane
Cadman Benjamin, filesmith, Lambert Croft
Cadman George, cutler, Bank
Calack William, butcher and victualler, Campo-Ian
Cam James, filesmith, Norfolk-street
Cam Widow; victualler, Far-gate

Thursday, November 22, 2007


LERY left this interesting comment on my transportation post below, but I thought people might miss it, plus it came across a bit unformatted, so I'll try to clean it up. Thanks, LERY. :)I've copied the picture of a diligence that was with my original post.

(Note from Jo. This account below is from a mid 19th century book, but Louis Simon records something similar earlier in the century. He puts it in England, but I've never heard of such a vehicle in England. However, the concept is interesting enough that it would be surprising if someone hadn't come up with a larger passenger vehicle. It would have to be slower, however, and perhaps travelers in England weren't interested in that. Anyone have more to share on the subject?)

A diligence is a sort of stage coach used in France and Switzerland, and generally on the continent of Europe. It is constructed very differently, however, from an American stage coach, being divided into four distinct compartments. Rollo had seen a diligence in Paris, and so he could understand very easily the conversation which ensued between himself and his uncle in respect to the seats which they should take in the one in which they were to travel to Berne. In order, however, to enable the reader of this book to understand it, I must here give a brief description of this kind of vehicle.

The engraving on page 77 is a very faithful representation of one of them. There are three windows in the side of it. Each of these windows leads to a different compartment of the coach. In addition to these three compartments, there is, over
the foremost of these, on the top of the coach, another, making four in all. This compartment on the top is called the _banquette_.

These coaches are so large that they have a conductor. The man who drives sometimes sits on a small seat placed in front of the banquette, and sometimes he rides on one of the horses. In either case, however, he has nothing to do but to attend to his team. The passengers and the baggage are all under the conductor's care.

The compartment immediately beneath the banquette, which is the front compartment of the body of the coach, is called the _coupe_. The coupe extends across the whole coach, from one side to the other; but it is quite narrow. It has only one seat,--a seat facing the horses,--with places upon it for three passengers. There are windows in front, by which the passengers can look out under the coachman's seat when there
is a coachman's seat there. The doors leading to the coupe are in the sides.

The compartment immediately behind the coupe is called the _interior_. It is entirely separate from the coupe. There are two seats, which extend from one side of the coach to the other, and have places upon them for three passengers each, making six in all. The three passengers who sit on one of these seats must, of course, ride with their backs to the horses. The doors leading to the interior are in the sides. In fact, the interior has within exactly the appearance of a common hackney coach, with seats for six passengers.

Behind the interior is the fourth compartment, which is called the _rotonde_. It is like a short omnibus. The door is behind, and the seats are on the sides. This omnibus compartment is so short that there is only room for three people on each side, and the seats are not very comfortable.

Very genteel people, who wish to be secluded and to ride somewhat in style, take the coupe. The seats in the coupe are very comfortable, and there is a very good opportunity to see the country through the front and side windows. The price is much higher, however, for seats in the coupe than in any other part of the diligence.

The mass of common travellers generally take places in the interior. The seats there are comfortable, only there is not a very good opportunity to see the country; for there are only two windows, one on each side, in the top of the door.

People who do not care much about the style in which they travel, but only desire to have the best possible opportunity to view the country and to have an amusing time, generally go up to the banquette. The places here are cheaper than they are even in the interior, and very much cheaper than they are in the coupe.

The cheapest place of all, however, is in the rotonde, which is the omnibus-like compartment, in the end of the diligence, behind. This compartment is generally filled with laborers, soldiers, and servants; and sometimes nurses and children are put here.

The baggage is always stored upon the top of the diligence, behind the banquette, and directly over the interior and the rotonde. It is packed away very carefully there, and is protected by a strong leather covering, which is well strapped down over it. All these things you see plainly represented in the engraving.

We now return to the conversation which was held between Rollo and Mr. George at the close of their breakfast.

"I have got some letters to write after breakfast," said Mr. George, "and I should like to go directly to my room and write them. So I wish you would find out when the diligence goes next to Berne, and take places in it for you and me."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Those messy marriages

Having just finished A Lady's Secret,(out in April)

I'm poking around research for the next and came across this interesting analysis of a messy legal situation connected to marriage in the early 18th century.

Read the article here.

It's worth noting the emotional level acceptable in a man back then. Sure, he was probably lying, but he can't have felt it made him ridiculous.

"Your Letter lies now before me; I have not words to Express my Agony of Soul upon reading of it. I sunk from my Chair to the floor, void of all manner of sense and when I came to myself there was no body to pity me. Oh had my dearest Madie been there and heard my Groans,"

Let's see, a modern writer of Georgian romances has her hero, Rafe, the Duke of Blackcastle, receive a letter from the woman he loved and abandoned...

"Rafe slid off his chair in a dead faint. When he came to, he groaned, unable to bear the thought that he was all alone with none to pity his suffering, that..."

Nah, not seeing it!


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Debunking bad archeology

This is an interesting site. Bad Archeology and such places are very useful. There's so much bunkum around.

However, I always treat authoritorial sites with caution, too, because every profession develops elements of religion, or even cultishness. There are things that are true and things that are not true, and sometimes trying to argue against the dogma can lead to a low-grade degree, an unacceptable doctorate, or a wrecked career.

And yet, all the time, we have professionals -- scientists, doctors, engineers etc -- who have to say, "Gosh, perhaps we shouldn't have burned XX at the stake for saying that."

I suppose we could try to take this illustration literally, or interpret the symbols and colorsl, and our interpretations might change with the times.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Autism in Jane Austen

And now for something completely different (though it's a copy of a post to Jo Talk), as they used to say in Monty Python. I just heard about a book called So Odd a Mixture: Along the Autistic Spectrum in 'Pride and Prejudice' by Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer

I haven't read this, though I will, but it's intriguing. I quote from the Publisher's Site

"So Odd a Mixture looks at eight seemingly diverse characters in Austen's classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, who display autistic traits. These characters - five in the Bennet family and three in the extended family of the Fitzwilliams - have fundamental difficulties with communication, empathy and theory of mind. Perhaps it is high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome that provides an explanation for some characters' awkward behaviour at crowded balls, their frequent silences or their tendency to lapse into monologues rather than truly converse with others."

Off the top of my head, I'd want to compare P&P with the other Austen novels and others by her contemporaries, for this might have simply been a style of the times. But I also had another thought.

IMO, Jane was not autistic or Asperger's, but I wonder if Cassandra was. I hadn't thought about it before, but we have many letters from Jane telling Cassandra about the balls and parties she attends, but Cassandra seems to rarely go to such events. That would be typical of someone who found it difficult to communicate easily with or even understand others.

Interesting to think about , eh what?


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Casanova on highway robbery

I've been rereading Casanova's memoirs about his visit to England in the 1760s, and is so often the case, it gives a picture of the time that's hard for our modern mind to really understand. Take this, for example.

"What do you think of highway robbers, then?"(he asks Sir Augustus Hervey, who may be this one, much later in life as Earl of Bristol.)

"I detest them as wretches dangerous to society, but I pity them when
I reflect that they are always riding towards the gallows. You go
out in a coach to pay a visit to a friend three or four miles out of
London. A determined and agile-looking fellow springs upon you with
his pistol in his hand, and says, 'Your money or your life.' What
would you do in such a case?"

"If I had a pistol handy I would blow out his brains, and if not I
would give him my purse and call him a scoundrelly assassin."

"You would be wrong in both cases. If you killed him, you would be
hanged, for you have no right to take the law into your own hands;
and if you called him an assassin, he would tell you that he was no
assassin as he attacked you openly and gave you a free choice. Nay,
he is generous, for he might kill you and take your money as well.
You might, indeed, tell him he has an evil trade, and he would tell
you that you were right, and that he would try to avoid the gallows
as long as possible. He would then thank you and advise you never to
drive out of London without being accompanied by a mounted servant,
as then no robber would dare to attack you. We English always carry
two purses on our journeys; a small one for the robbers and a large
one for ourselves."

What answer could I make to such arguments, based as they were on the
national manners? England is a rich sea, but strewn with reefs, and
those who voyage there would do well to take precautions. Sir
Augustus Hervey's discourse gave me great pleasure."
I could paraphrase that. The past is a rich sea, but strewn with reefs, and
those who write there would do well to be very wary.

Jo :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Becoming Jane

I'm blogging today at Word Wenches about the movie Becoming Jane. If you have opinions, come on over and share them. The picture is of the real Jane.

Word Wenches is here.

Remember, there's always my web site. Click here.
And my general blog where I mostly copy posts from elsewhere, like here.
Jo Talk

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Review and domino

My most glowing review for Lady Beware is up on
this blog.

Interesting idea, to put up the best reviews for books.

That's a picture of a Venetian domino, if you've ever wondered what that masquerade costume looked like. The hat, mask, and veil were important to disguise a person. Later, "domino" often meant only a concealing hooded cloak, which is why Thea in Lady Beware thought it a timid option.


Travel, 1819

Image from this French blog.

I stumbled across this from 1819p

"A Monopolylogue." I assume that means many voices for one voice, and it's a script for a ventriloquist. I can't quite figure out where it takes place. It seems to be in Paris going to Calais, but in the end they're going to Paris?

But within the farce, there are snippets about travel in 1819. A diligence was a French stage or mail coach, and as you'll see above, large. That one seems to be divided into three separate compartments.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

CBC alert

Ill be on CBC on Friday, August 10th at 10:30 am in each Canadian time zone on a program called Sounds Like Canada. I'll be talking about why romance doesn't get respect, but I think it's upbeat. Kevin Sylvester, the host is a fabulous interviewer.

If you can't get CBC, you can listen on the internet.

I don't know if it'll be podcast later. If you have comments about romance novels and the way readers are treated, you can always contact them on the site above.



Pub signs

A brief note copied from my chat list. (

The idea of inn signs lingers from when city houses were identified that way. Street numbering was a late invention (mid 18th century.) Before that, people hung signs or painted pictures on their front wall, so they could tell people to come to the Red Cock on Pyment Street, or the Pig with Two Tails on Wapping Road.

This confused me a lot at one time, because I thought everyone was living in a pub!

When they started street numbering, they went up one side and down the other. Probably seemed reasonable at the time. The idea of odd on one side and even on the other came later.

More about pub signs here.

You could always get your own pub sign made.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Chance vagaries of war

Just a little curiosity.

"By the end of the Great War, the Editors of the OED were struggling somewhat. Their inspiring leader, Sir James Murray, had died in 1915, still doggedly working on the letter T. Most of the younger and abler members of staff had been sent away on active service, or to do other war work, and in June 1918 even Charles Onions, one of the remaining Chief Editors, was summoned to the Admiralty. As early as 1916, William Craigie had noted that the project was in need of someone with expertise in Old and Middle English. Fortunately, one of his former students was to return to Oxford in late 1918 in search of work. Recovering from the illness which had forced him home from the trenches, and with a wife and small child to support, he was understandably grateful for the offer of employment on the staff of the OED, and his linguistic credentials were well known to Craigie, who had tutored him in Old Norse. His name was Ronald Tolkien."

There's more here.

I find dictionary compilers fascinating and alien. Though I love words and wordplay, I just can't imagine doing that.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Longevity again

I was looking for info on 18th century Milan and stumbled across this in a review of a book.

It's interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, note that half the women (all women, not just nuns) born between 1700 and 1743 lived to 67 or older. A quarter lived to over 74. Remember that if anyone tries to tell you people were lucky to live to over 35, especially women.

It's also interesting to think that nuns might live longer because of having a community, and it emphasizes the fact that convent life was often chosen in the past as a way of enjoying a long, healthy life.

"Throughout the period she studied, roughly half of the nuns lived to age 70, and a quarter to their late 70s. By contrast, of the Milanese married women born between 1600 and 1649, half died by age 54 and another quarter by age 68. Half of the Milanese women born between 1700 and 1743 died by age 67 and another quarter by age 74. So although the married women's
longevity improved over a century, Brown said, they still died, on average, at younger ages than the nuns.

There is no reason to think that Florentine nuns were unusual among Italian women religious in their longevity, Brown said. At one convent in Venice, for example, the nuns had a mean age at death of around 70, with a third of the nuns living to their late 70s.

Given the extreme dangers of childbirth before the 20th century, it is not surprising that the mortality rates of nuns would be lower than those of married women during the childbearing years, Brown said. But even among women who survived to the post-menopausal years, the nuns outlived the married women, she said.

It is quite possible, Brown said, that the married women suffered long-term deleterious effects from repeated pregnancies and births. The data on the Milanese women show that those who at age 20 had only one or two children were more likely to survive to all ages than their sisters who had more children. Similarly, Brown said, those who at age 25 had one to three children had a greater probability of surviving to all ages than those women who had more children by that age.

The nuns also lived longer than their male contemporaries, both married men and those in religious communities. "


Monday, July 23, 2007

Jest talking

I don't have a snippet of research to pass on. I'm merely repeating what I said in a reply to a recent comment. I'm having trouble getting in here since Google took over. My password just doesn't seem to work except with one browser on my laptop. I gather I'm not the only one. I don't know why they had to fiddle.

::grumble, grumble, grumble....::


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Novelty food

Somehow this blog keeps coming back to food.

But I came across this reference to a Tahitian feast in 18th century England. Captain Cook brought back a Tahitian called Omai, and he was a big hit. One of Cook's patrons was the Earl of Sandwich, of other food novelty fame. Hence....

"Omai arrived at Portsmouth on 14 July 1774 as a crew-member on board HMS Adventure, captained by Tobias Furneaux. He was taken immediately to meet Lord Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty. Captain Cook described Omai as "dark, ugly and a downright blackguard" but this did not prevent Omai from becoming the fashionable exotic person to be seen with. Sandwich hosted him at Hinchingbrooke [his country seat in Huntingdonshire], where Omai's native barbecue cooked over hot stones proved a popular novelty."

You can read more about Omai here.

There are even movie clips, but I couldn't get them to play. But apparently there was a BBC programme about him, and that's where they come from.

Why did I find this? Because the hero in my MIP is an earl from Huntingdon, and this is Georgian, set in 1764. Too early for Omai, alas.

And while I'm blogging, my new book is out and doing splendidly. Thanks to everyone who's bought it early to help it make the lists. In the first week it hit #66 on the USA Today list.

#15 on the Publishers Weekly mass market paperbac list, and that's a big deal because they only print the top 15.

And #3 on the Borders/Waldenbooks romance list. (It's showing at 4 here, but it'll move up when they update.)

So thank you again!

I'm sorry I'm slow to respond to comments here, but since Google took over Blogger I find it hard to sign in, and can only do it with IE on my laptop, which is the browser I keep most bells and whistles on but for that reason, hardly ever use. That's on top of all the snarl ups with the logins and password. I generally like Google, but they've messed up this one.

Grouch over.

I do have a spot at My Space now, but I'm going to be copying most posts there as I reckon it's a different readership. Also at Facebook. (This is an experiment, plus my university Alumni group is on Facebook. I seem to be the youngest there by decades, but I thought I'd show willing.)

With Facebook I'm not quite sure what the URL is for my page. Very new there. But if you're on there you'll find me by searching.



Thursday, June 07, 2007

Interesting book

This is a copy of my recent blog at Word Wenches, but I recommend going there to read it because the formatting and pictures didn't translate and I don't have time to fiddle just now. Book coming out, you know.
Whoa, that cover came out big, but I don't have time to fix that either. Sorry!
Er, Word Wenches.


It's very like Egan's LIFE IN LONDON but travels farther affield and contains many anecdotes of real people and has great coloured pictures. Like Egan, the style can be hard reading, but what bits I paused on were fascinating. Here are some bits. Unfortunately, it often moves into verse. Whence came the passion for writing long books in verse? I confess I find it most peverse. But in descrbing a venture into London -- strange to have it called Cockney Land -- we get this.

'Twas morn, the genial sun of MayO'er nature spread a cheerful ray,When Cockney Land, clothed in her best,We saw, approaching from the west,And 'mid her steeples straight and tallEspied the dome of famed St. Paul,Surrounded with a cloud of smokeFrom many a kitchen chimney broke;A nuisance since consumed belowBy bill of Michael Angelo.{1}' 1 M. A. Taylor's act for compelling all large factories, which have steam and other apparatus, to consume their own smoke.

Now isn't that interesting? That effort must have failed, or most of Northern England wouldn't have been black when I was growing up there. In fact, I think we're still working on emmisions today. Then what about this description of a woman in Hyde Park? Very interesting for the rest of the fashionable round. Mrs. S———, a most voluptuous lady, the discarded chère amie of the late Lord F-1-d, said to be the best carriage woman in the park: she lies in the Earl of H———- —'s cabriolet most delightfully stretched out at full length, and in this elegant posture is driven through the park. Then we have this variation on the famous Brummell story. I'd not heard the Big Ben reference. (The A is for Alvanley.) Lord A———y, the babe of honour—once the gayest of the gay, where fashion holds her bright enchanting court; now wrinkled and depressed, and plucked of every feather, by merciless Greek banditti. Such is the infatuation of play,that he still continues to linger round the fatal table, and finds a pleasure in recounting his enormous losses. A—-y, who is certainly one of the most polished men in the world, was the leader of the dandy club, or the unique four, composed of Beau Brummell, Sir Henry Mildmay, and Henry Pierrepoint, the Ambassador, as he is generally termed. When the celebrated dandy ball was given to his Majesty (then Prince of Wales), on that occasion the prince seemed disposed to cut Brummell, who, in revenge, coolly observed to A———y, when he was gone,—"Big Ben was vulgar as usual." This was reported at Carlton House, and led to the disgrace of the exquisite. Shortly afterwards he met the Prince and A———y in public, arm in arm, when the former, desirous of avoiding him, quitted the baron: Brummell, who observed his motive, said loud enough to be heard by the prince,—"Who is that fat friend of yours?" This expression sealed his doom; he was never afterwards permitted the honour of meeting the parties at the palace. The story of "George, ring the bell," and the reported conduct of the prince, who is said to have obeyed the request and ordered Mr. Brummell's carriage, is, we have strong reasons for thinking, altogether a fiction: Brummell knew the dignity of his host too well to have dared such an insult. The king since generously sent him 300L. when he heard of his distress at Calais. Brummell was the son of a tavern-keeper in St. James's, and is still living at Calais. I'm curious as to the meaning of the Big Ben reference. The bell, Big Ben, wasn't in exisltence then, and I can see no connection between Ben and the Prince Regent. Does anyone have any ideas? Then, after our naked blog, where we debated swimming and bathing, I couldn't resist this. And we are about to present the reader with a right merry scene, one, too, if he has any fun in his composition, or loves a good joke, must warm the cockles of his heart. Who would ever have thought, in these moralizing times, when the puritans are raising conventicles in every town and village, and the cant of vice societies has spread itself over the land, that in one of our most celebrated places of fashionable resort, there should be found baths where the young and the old, the beauteous female and the gay spark, are all indiscriminately permitted to enjoy the luxurious pleasure together. That such is the case in Bath no one who has recently participated in the pleasures of immersion will dispute, and in order to perpetuate that gratification, Bob Transit has here faithfully delineated the scene which occurred upon our entering the King's Bath, through the opening from the Queen's, where, to our great amusement and delight, we found ourselves surrounded by many a sportive nymph, whose beauteous form was partially hidden by the loose flannel gown, it is true; but now and then the action of the water, produced by the continued movements of a number of persons all bathing at the same time, discovered charms, the which to have caught a glimpse of in any other situation might have proved of dangerous consequences to the fair possessors. The baths, it must be admitted, are delightful, both from their great extent and their peculiar properties, as, on entering from the Queen's Bath you may enjoy the water at from 90 to 96 degrees, or requiring more heat have only to walk forward, through the archway, to obtain a temperature of 116. The first appearance of old Blackstrap's visage floating along the surface of the water, like the grog-blossomed trunk of the ancient Bardolph, bound up in a Welsh wig, was truly ludicrous, and produced such an unexpected burst of laughter from my merry companions, that I feared some of the fair Naiads would have fainted in the waters from fright, and then Heaven help them, for decency would have prevented our rushing to their assistance. The notices to prevent gentlemen from swimming in the baths are, in my opinion, so many inducements or suggestions for every young visitor to attempt it. Among our mad wags, Horace Eglantine was more than once remonstrated with by the old bathing women for indulging in this pleasure, to the great alarm of the ladies, who, crowding together in one corner with their aged attendants, appeared to be in a high state of apprehension lest the loose flannel covering that guards frail mortality upon these occasions should be drawn aside, and discover nature in all her pristine purity—an accident that had very nearly happened to myself, when, in endeavouring to turn round quickly, I found the water had disencumbered my frame of the yellow bathing robe, which floated on the surface behind If you go to explore the book for yourself, bring back a choice sample for us. But here's a question. It's clear to me from this, Egan, and other writers, that the early decades of the 19th century could be very different from Jane Austen's world. In the manly circles, they were often rough and even crude, and I've certainly come across writing to indicate that even worthy souls plunged into roistering wildness with ease. (Which could still be true.) What do you think about that? And would you want it shown in historical novels?

And yes, Lady Beware is in stores now.-- Out now. *LADY BEWARE* "...delightful, vintage Beverley... a fast-paced, unforgettable, wickedly sensual romance." Romantic Times

Castle pictures

I came across this site which gives short camera pan views of interesting places.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Don't be mean

Came across this in the Memoirs of de Joinville, 13th century France.

"Artauld of Nogent was the burgher whom the King most trusted, and he was so rich, that he built the castle of Nogent l'Artauld with his own money. Now it chanced that Count Henry came down out of his hall at Troyes to go and hear mass at Saint Stephen on the day of Pentecost; and at the foot of the steps there knelt a poor knight, who thus accosted him: " Sir, I beseech you for the love of God, to give me out of your wealth the wherewithal to marry my two daughters whom you see here."

Artauld, who was walking behind him, said to the poor knight, " Sir Knight, it is not courteous in you to beg from my lord; for he has given away so much, that he has nothing left to give."

The generous Count turned round to Artauld, and said to him: "Sir Villein, you speak untruly when you say, that I have nothing left to give, why, I have you yourself! Here, take him, Sir Knight! for I give him to you, and will warrant him to you."

The knight was in no wise abashed, but took him by the cape, and told him: That he would not let him go until he had come to terms with him; and before he could get away, Artauld had made fine with him for five hundred pounds."

Love it!


Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I came across this extraordinary document which describes childbirth procedures in detail, for the 16th century, at least. It was written to prove the legitimacy of the baby, if a son, because the father was already dead. Pity such scrupulous attention wasn't paid to the birth of "the Old Pretender."

It also confirms that the birthing stool was the usual situation, and interestingly that a man's support was common enough not to be commented on as strange here, even though the man clearly isn't her husband. I've used this in a number of stories, such as Secrets of the Night.

"And the aforesaid Isabel de la Cavalleria, complaining about the pains of her labour, lying down on her back in the arms and legs of the aforesaid lord Martin de Palomar y de Gurrea, lord of Argavieso, who was sitting in a chair holding her with strength, the aforesaid Isabel having some relics on her belly and many blessed candles lit around, and the midwives were there, Aina on her knees in front of the aforesaid Isabel and the aforementioned Catalina Salinas was between the legs of the aforesaid Isabel de la Cavalleria, sitting on a stool with a cloth laid out in her knees to administer the labour and to receive the baby who was about to be born, and there was a clean brass pot between the legs of the aforesaid Isabel, as we could see, where I, the notary and the witnesses saw and heard fall in the blood and the water which were coming out from the body of the aforesaid Isabel de la Cavalleria while in labour pains. "

Sentence breaks were unpopular at the time, it seems!

You can read it all at the link.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bits and pieces

I'm back. Last year was crazy. I'm sure writing Lady Beware necessitated some spot research - in fact I know it did -- but I never had time to post anything here.

I'm beginning something new, however, so...

Have I said how much I love the google book search? There are some fabulous old resources there. I'm looking at travel in France in the mid 18th century. (Yes, I'm back to the Malloren world. I went first to Lawrence Sterne's travel book. Just the right period.)

From the google search thus far I've downloaded a 19th century road book from Calais to Naples, and an 18th century one called The American Wanderer. In that I came across a little bit that interested me in general.

Among writers of 18th and 19th century fiction we sometimes debate the use of pencils. Well, in the latter book the traveller mentions one. "I recollected my lead pencil, by the medium of which we held a kind of disjointed conversation."

More, probably, at other times.