Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A gentleman's servants

From Lord Chesterfield's letters to his son, which are an excellent insight into the life of
a gentleman in the mid 18th century, just a little earlier than the Malloren novels. 
"I would neither have that man, nor him whom you 
have already, put out of livery, which makes them both 
impertinent and useless. 
I am sure that, as soon as you 
shall have taken the other servant, your present man will 
press extremely to be out of livery, and (become) valet de chambre ; 
which is as much as to say, that he will curl your hair, and 
shave you, but not condescend to do anything else. 
I therefore advise you never to have a servant out of livery ; 
and though you may not always think proper to carry the 
servant who dresses you abroad in the rain and dirt, behind 
a coach or before a chair, yet keep it in your power to do 
so, if you please, by keeping him in livery."
Interesting distinctions that they take for granted. The valet de chambre was a high-ranking
servant and almost a companion. He would dress in style, and if he accompanied his employer
he would travel in the coach, or have a sedan chair of his own. Livery placed him closer to a footman. 
Not Georgian, but Regency -- RITA winning An Unwilling Bride is newly available now.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Arson in London

The book I'm finishing now, A Scandalous Countess, takes place in 1765, mostly in London, mostly in June.

I thought this event from the time had an unfortunate echo of current events. "A most desolating species of villainy seems to gain ground among the abandoned crew, that infest this metropolis, who, by setting fire to old buildings, sheds, and work-shops, burn down dwelling houses, and thereby facilitate the meant of robbery, on the profits of which they subsist. No lest than 7 or 8 discoveries of trains laid for this desperate putpose have been discovered and defeated within a few weeks. It is hoped, therefore, that sime severe law will be made to prevent a crime, which, one would think, the most profligate wretch in the world would tremble at the consequences of committirg."
The Gentleman's Magazine, 1765

Friday, March 04, 2011

Grosvenor Square

London Online has many interesting articles about London in the past.

There's a whole section about Grosvenor Square, a fashionable place in the 18th century and now.

There's a list of the residents in 1751
" the Rate Books for 1751 show that the Marchioness of Blandford, the Earl of Halifax, Sir James Dashwood, Lord Guernsey, the Duchess of Somerset, the Countess of Thanet, Lord Maynard, Peter Delmé, Lord Carpenter (who probably moved from Hanover Square where he was living in 1725), Dudley North, Lord de la Warr and the Earl of Jersey all resided here, all paying rental rates varying from £130 to £140. "

The section also says, "The earliest mention of any individual house in the Square is in 1739, when, according to the Gentleman's Magazine, the centre house on the east side, which had been built by a Simmons, was raffled for and won by two people named Hunt and Braithwaite. The possessors valued it at £10,000, but two months later they sold it to the Duke of Norfolk for £7,000."

So raffling off houses isn't a new thing.

Explore and enjoy!

An Unlikely Countess has absolutely no scenes set in London, never mind Grosvenor Square, but it is out now.

Jo :)

Monday, February 28, 2011


Inspired by the Oscars*G* I created a video over the weekend, mostly as a way to show some of the locations of An Unlikely Countess, though giving them context turned it into a bit of a book trailer.

Anyway, it was fun. If you want to do something with still images, I recommend Photo Story. It's an old programme, but it's a free download it from Microsoft, and once you learn its fairly simple ways, it's easy to use.

If you like it, I'd be delighted if you passed it on via Facebook, Twitter, and the usual places.
 Here's the link.

As you'll gather, my new book, An Unlikely Countess, is out soon. Like... tomorrow!

There's an excerpt here.

The cover is there, too. Google/blogger seems to have done something that means I can't post pictures.



Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Valentine's poem

Is this some other odd mating ritual?

Below we have dreadful poetry, even dreadful doggerel, but it shows the traditions of the past. The one referred to is when the names of unmarried men were put in one bowl and of unmarried women in another. Then each picked a name from the opposite bowl.

Verses to a young Lady in Hull, presented on
Valentine-Day. (1755)

Since Valentine, that Saint benign,
To all the Sons of Adam,
Did leave this Day, as who should lay,
Let each Man chuse his Madam.

Then blame who can, since I'm the man.
As much as is my daddy ;
If I persue, and wish for you,
More than sot other lady.

You are my right, for yesternight,
With scrips of paper rolled
I drew your name, which made my flame,
Too high to be controlled.

Now every night, your image bright,
A moment leaves me never ;
O that it wou'd, be still so good,
With joy I'd sleep for ever.

Grant then, dear miss, some hopes of bliss.
If I deserve your notice ;
If not be free, and let me see,
My chance, not worth a groat is.

But if you frown, or tell the town,
My passion then is over;
For if you be, not kind to me,
At once you lose a lover.

But should you fear, my plaint to hear,
Nor e'er intend to do it,
There's, no such man, prove it who can,
As Valentine or poet.

May you enjoy St. Valentine's Day, however you mark it.


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A little bit more on coach travel.

From a letter by Benjamin Franklin re December 1764
"You wonder how I did to travel 72 Miles in a short winter Day...But the Roads here are so good, with Post Chaises and fresh Horses every ten or twelve Miles, that it is no difficult Matter. A Lady that I know has come from Edinburgh to London, being 400 Miles, in three Days and half"

Ben Franklin on breakfast

He's not specifically talking about breakfast, but there's interesting information there about the range of foods eaten.

 This is from  History Caper

I've added the paragraphing to make it easier to read.

The Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser

January 1766

"Homespun" Celebrates Indian Corn

VINDEX PATRIAE, a writer in your paper, comforts himself, and the India Company, with the fancy, that the Americans, should they resolve to drink no more tea, can by no means keep that resolution, their Indian corn not affording "an agreeable, or easy digestible breakfast."

Pray let me, an American, inform the gentleman, who seems quite ignorant of the matter, that Indian corn, take it for all in all, is one of the most agreeable and wholesome grains in the world; that its green ears roasted are a delicacy beyond expression; that samp, hominy, succatash, and nokehock, made of it, are so many pleasing varieties; and that a johny, or hoe-cake, hot from the fire, is better than a Yorkshire muffin --

But if Indian corn were as disagreeable and indigestible as the Stamp Act, does he imagine we can get nothing else for breakfast? -- Did he never hear that we have oatmeal in plenty, for water-gruel or burgoo; as good wheat, rye, and barley as the world affords, to make frumenty; or toast and ale; that there is every where plenty of milk, butter, and cheese; that rice is one of our staple commodities; that for tea, we have sage and bawm in our gardens, the young leaves of the sweet white hickery or walnut, and, above all, the buds of our pine, infinitely preferable to any tea from the Indies; while the islands yield us plenty of coffee and chocolate? --

Let the gentleman do us the honour of a visit in America, and I will engage to breakfast him every day in the month with a fresh variety, without offering him either tea or Indian corn.

-- As to the Americans using no more of the former, I am not sure they will take such a resolution; but if they do, I fancy they will not lightly break it. I question whether the army proposed to be sent among them, would oblige them to swallow a drop more of tea than they chuse to swallow; for, as the proverb says, though one man may lead a horse to the water, ten can't make him drink. Their resolutions have hitherto been pretty steadily kept.

They resolved to wear no more mourning; -- and it is now totally out of fashion with near two millions of people; and yet nobody sighs for Norwich crapes, or any other of the expensive, flimsey, rotten, black stuffs and cloths you used to send us for that purpose, with the frippery gauses, loves, ribbands, gloves, &c.;thereunto belonging. --

They resolved last spring to eat no more lamb; and not a joint of lamb has since been seen on any of their tables, throughout a country of 1500 miles extent, but the sweet little creatures are all alive to this day, with the prettiest fleeces on their backs imaginable.

Mr. VINDEX's very civil letter will, I dare say, be printed in all our provincial news papers, from Nova Scotia to Georgia; and together with the other kind, polite, and humane epistles of your correspondents PACIFICUS, TOM HINT, &c.;&c. contribute not a little to strengthen us in every resolution that may be of advantage, to our country at least, if not to yours. HOMESPUN.
The Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, January 2, 1766