A Bit on the History of The British Imperial System of Weights and Measures

weights-and-measures.jpg In 1965, the British Imperial System of Weights and Measures was replaced by the metric system, used in Europe since the days of Napoleon in the 19th Century. The change has been a gradual one for the UK, and, today, most weights, lengths, and volumes are measured and labelled metrically. The United States Customary System of weights and measures is derived from the British Imperial System.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “The British Imperial System evolved from the thousands of Roman, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, and customary local units employed in the Middle Ages. Traditional names such as pound, foot, and gallon were widely used, but the values so designated varied with time, place, trade, product specifications, and dozens of other requirements. Early royal standards established to enforce uniformity took the name Winchester, after the ancient capital of Britain, where the 10th-century Saxon king Edgar the Peaceable kept a royal bushel measure and quite possibly others. Fourteenth-century statutes recorded a yard (perhaps based originally on a rod or stick) of 3 feet, each foot containing 12 inches each inch equaling the length of three barleycorns (employed merely as a learning device since the actual standard was the space between two marks on a yard bar). Units of capacity and weight were also specified. In the late 15th century, King Henry VII reaffirmed the customary Winchester standards for capacity and length and distributed royal standards (physical embodiments of the approved units) throughout the realm. This process was repeated about a century later in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. In the 16th century the rod (5.5 yards, or 16.5 feet) was defined (once again as a learning device and not as a standard) as the length of the left feet of 16 men lined up heel to toe as they emerged from church. By the 17th century usage and statute had established the acre, rod, and furlong at their present values (4,840 square yards, 16.5 feet, and 660 feet, respectively), together with other historic units. The several trade pounds in common use were reduced to just two: the troy pound, primarily for precious metals, and the pound avoirdupois, for other goods sold by weight.”

fabric-measurements-guide-by-buyandcreate.png Ironically, the British still use “pint” and “mile” as they once were considered, but most other weights and measurements have been changed to metric. The British Imperial System was based on the human form. I recall so easily when my mother was measuring fabric and determining a yard how she would hold the one end of the fabric between her finger and thumb and stretch out her arm to her side. She would bring the other end of the fabric to her nose after she turned her face in the opposing direction of her stretched out arm. That was her “yard.” The 5th Century philosopher Protagoras reportedly said, “Man is the measure of all things.” Many took this statement quite literally. 

The basic unit of length for the English was the yard, which was originally set as the distance between Henry I’s nose and the tip of his outstretched arm. I Never Knew That About London by Christopher Winn tells us, ” In the 14th century many items in the markets in and around St Paul’s were sold by the ‘St Paul’s foot,’ a measurement based on the length of the foot of St Algar, carved on the base of one of the columns near the cathedral entrance. This soon became a standard measurement and was the origin of one ‘foot’ (12 inches or 30.48 cm).” When the Romans occupied England, they brought with them the concept of 1000 paces equalling a mile. A pace was FIVE Roman feet. A Roman mile, therefore, became 5000 paces. It was Elizabeth I who changed the mile to 5280 feet (or eight furlongs). 

The furlong was based on the length of a long furrow in a plowed field. A rod was based on the accepted length of the ox goad or prod used by medieval farmers. An acre was set as one furlong by one rod. An agreement of the national standard of weights and measures can be found as far back as the Magna Carta. But it was during the reign of George IV that the Weights and Measures Act came into effect. This act, along with the another in 1878, established the British Imperial System. This system was based on precise “understandings” of existing units of measure. “The 1824 act sanctioned a single imperial gallon to replace the wine, ale, and corn (wheat) gallons then in general use. The new gallon was defined as equal in volume to 10 pounds avoirdupois of distilled water weighed at 62 °F with the barometer at 30 inches, or 277.274 cubic inches (later corrected to 277.421 cubic inches). The two new basic standard units were the imperial standard yard and the troy pound, which was later restricted to weighing drugs, precious metals, and jewels. A 1963 act abolished such archaic measures as the rod and chaldron (a measure of coal equal to 36 bushels) and redefined the standard yard and pound as 0.9144 metres and 0.45359237 kg respectively. The gallon now equals the space occupied by 10 pounds of distilled water of density 0.998859 gram per millilitre weighed in air of density 0.001217 gram per millilitre against weights of density 8.136 grams per millilitre.


The former Weights and Measures office in Seven Sisters, London (590 Seven Sisters Road). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_units#/media/File:Weights_and_Measures_office.jpg

“While the British were reforming their weights and measures in the 19th century, the Americans were just adopting units based on those discarded by the act of 1824. The standard U.S. gallon is based on the Queen Anne wine gallon of 231 cubic inches and is about 17 percent smaller than the British imperial gallon. The U.S. bushel of 2,150.42 cubic inches, derived from the Winchester bushel abandoned in Britain, is approximately 3 percent smaller than the British imperial bushel. In the British system, units of dry and liquid capacity are the same, while in the United States they differ; the liquid and dry pint in Britain both equal 0.568 cubic decimetre, while the U.S. liquid pint is 0.473 cubic decimetre, and the U.S. dry pint is 0.551 cubic decimetre. British and American units of linear measure and weight are essentially the same. Notable exceptions are the British stone of 14 pounds, which is not used in the United States, and a divergence in definition of the hundredweight (100 pounds in the United States, 112 in Britain) that yields two different tons, the short U.S. ton of 2,000 pounds and the long British ton of 2,240 pounds. In 1959 major English-speaking nations adopted common metric definitions of the inch (2.54 cm), the yard (0.9144 metres), and the pound (0.4536 kg).” (British Imperial System)

In another Christopher Winn book, I Never Knew That About the English (Ebury Press, ©2008, pages 115-116), Mr. Winn tells us, “Weights were even more complicated, but were based on multiples of a grain of barley, except when it came to money, and then it was a grain of wheat. Money was based on weight and hence 240 pennies, which made up one pound in weight, became one pound in money terms as well…. Some old units have quietly died away. A guinea was one pound, one shilling, and was widely used as a conventional method of payment in auctions or transactions where a percentage was to be paid to a third party…. A league was three miles, the distance a man could comfortably walk in one hour.”

From Encyclopedia Britannica

unit abbreviation
or symbol
equivalents in other units
of same system
Avoirdupois1 avdp    
short ton   20 short hundredweight, or 2,000 pounds 0.907 metric ton
long ton   20 long hundredweight, or 2,240 pounds 1.016 metric tons
hundredweight cwt    
short hundredweight   100 pounds, or 0.05 short ton 45.359 kilograms
long hundredweight   112 pounds, or 0.05 long ton 50.802 kilograms
pound lb, lb avdp, or # 16 ounces, or 7,000 grains 0.454 kilogram
ounce oz, or oz avdp 16 drams, 437.5 grains, or 0.0625 pound 28.350 grams
dram dr, or dr avdp 27.344 grains, or 0.0625 ounce 1.772 grams
grain gr 0.037 dram, or 0.002286 ounce 0.0648 gram
stone st 0.14 short hundredweight, or 14 pounds 6.35 kilograms
pound lb t 12 ounces, 240 pennyweight, or 5,760 grains 0.373 kilogram
ounce oz t 20 pennyweight, 480 grains, or 0.083 pound 31.103 grams
pennyweight dwt, or pwt 24 grains, or 0.05 ounce 1.555 grams
grain gr 0.042 pennyweight, or 0.002083 ounce 0.0648 gram
pound lb ap 12 ounces, or 5,760 grains 0.373 kilogram
ounce oz ap 8 drams, 480 grains, or 0.083 pound 31.103 grams
dram dr ap 3 scruples, or 60 grains 3.888 grams
scruple s ap 20 grains, or 0.333 dram 1.296 grams
grain gr 0.05 scruple, 0.002083 ounce, or 0.0166 dram 0.0648 gram



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Lessons Learned from Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey”

northanger-abbey-jane-austen-paperback-cover-artIn Northanger Abbey, Henry Tilney chastises Catherine Morland for romanticizing foreign settings (from the Gothic romances she reads) and forgetting her “nationalism.” 

Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature if the suspicions you have entertained. what have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing? Where every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies and where roads and newspapers lay everything open?

Catherine responds by thinking upon her national duty. 

imagesHer thoughts being still chiefly fixed on what she had with such causeless terror felt and done, nothing could shortly be clearer than that it had been all a voluntary, self-created delusion…Among the Alps and Pyrenees, perhaps, there were no mixed characters…[but] among the English, she believed, in their hearts and habits, there was a general though unequal mixture of good and bad.

This passage is from Volume II, Chapter X. It shows that Catherine has learned something from her wild speculation about General Tilney and her subsequent scolding by Henry for thinking such a terrible thing. “The Alps and the Pyrenees” refers to the settings of the Gothic novels that Catherine reads. Here Catherine recognizes the fact that in those novels, people are either all good or all bad, and a bad-tempered widower is an obvious murder suspect. But in the real world of England, Catherine realizes, people can be both good and bad. The real world Catherine refers to is actually a fictional world created by Austen, who suggests that even in fiction, characters need not be purely good or purely evil. In this passage, Austen makes it clear that her project is to create fiction that accurately reflects the world as it is.

We know that Henry himself has made attempts to be as actively concerned as his father over politics. General Tilney stays up late to study the latest political pamphlets. We are never told which party the general prefers, but it obvious that General Tilney is a “party man.”Likely, he represents the Whig oligarchy, which would be opposing the Morland’s Toryism.  Austen has been described as the “Tory daughter” of a “Tory parson,” who wrote “Tory pastorals.” She never mentions political parties in her novels, but there are signals within the novels. The gentry of the time were VERY devout and patriotic. She came from a rural, Anglican background. Her books express the need for moral accountability. Patriotism is an element we find in Austen. Most experts on the novel think that Catherine’s marrying Henry will bring a sense of moral reclamation (of a Whig). 

In Patrick Parrinder’s Nation and Novel: The English Novel from its Origin to the Present Day (page 182-183), we find, “There was an intense loyalist reaction to the French Revolution and the threat posed by Napoleon’s armies ‘orchestrated by the rich’, as one historian writes, but spreading to all classes. Jacobin novelists like Charlotte Smith tried to warn their readers against the dangers of nationalism, balancing England against France and Royalism against republicanism. The heroine of Smith’s Marchmont studies English history and concludes that, for one who has gone beyond the abridged histories written for children, since the reign of Elizabeth I ‘there is hardly an interval that can be read with pleasure’. Jane Austen’s outspokenly Royalist teenage History of England, admittedly a burlesque, reveals the ‘strong political opinions’ which later mellowed into her family’s moderate Toryism.”  

Henry, on the other hand, expresses only complacency when he attempts to engage a group of females with a “short disquisition on the state of the nation.” Henry also remarks on the inferiority of women, in general. 

The advantages of natural folly in a beautiful girl have been already set forth by the capital pen of a sister author; and to her treatment of the subject I will only add, in justice to men, that though to the larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there is a portion of them too reasonable and too well informed themselves to desire anything more in woman than ignorance. But Catherine did not know her own advantages — did not know that a good–looking girl, with an affectionate heart and a very ignorant mind, cannot fail of attracting a clever young man, unless circumstances are particularly untoward. In the present instance, she confessed and lamented her want of knowledge, declared that she would give anything in the world to be able to draw; and a lecture on the picturesque immediately followed, in which his instructions were so clear that she soon began to see beauty in everything admired by him, and her attention was so earnest that he became perfectly satisfied of her having a great deal of natural taste. He talked of foregrounds, distances, and second distances — side–screens and perspectives — lights and shades; and Catherine was so hopeful a scholar that when they gained the top of Beechen Cliff, she voluntarily rejected the whole city of Bath as unworthy to make part of a landscape. Delighted with her progress, and fearful of wearying her with too much wisdom at once, Henry suffered the subject to decline, and by an easy transition from a piece of rocky fragment and the withered oak which he had placed near its summit, to oaks in general, to forests, the enclosure of them, waste lands, crown lands and government, he shortly found himself arrived at politics; and from politics, it was an easy step to silence. The general pause which succeeded his short disquisition on the state of the nation was put an end to by Catherine, who, in rather a solemn tone of voice, uttered these words, “I have heard that something very shocking indeed will soon come out in London.”

And listen to what Henry says of history, children, and reading. 

“Yes, I am fond of history.”

“I wish I were too. I read it a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all — it is very tiresome: and yet I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention. The speeches that are put into the heroes’ mouths, their thoughts and designs — the chief of all this must be invention, and invention is what delights me in other books.”

“Historians, you think,” said Miss Tilney, “are not happy in their flights of fancy. They display imagination without raising interest. I am fond of history — and am very well contented to take the false with the true. In the principal facts they have sources of intelligence in former histories and records, which may be as much depended on, I conclude, as anything that does not actually pass under one’s own observation; and as for the little embellishments you speak of, they are embellishments, and I like them as such. If a speech be well drawn up, I read it with pleasure, by whomsoever it may be made — and probably with much greater, if the production of Mr. Hume or Mr. Robertson, than if the genuine words of Caractacus, Agricola, or Alfred the Great.”

“You are fond of history! And so are Mr. Allen and my father; and I have two brothers who do not dislike it. So many instances within my small circle of friends is remarkable! At this rate, I shall not pity the writers of history any longer. If people like to read their books, it is all very well, but to be at so much trouble in filling great volumes, which, as I used to think, nobody would willingly ever look into, to be labouring only for the torment of little boys and girls, always struck me as a hard fate; and though I know it is all very right and necessary, I have often wondered at the person’s courage that could sit down on purpose to do it.”

“That little boys and girls should be tormented,” said Henry, “is what no one at all acquainted with human nature in a civilized state can deny; but in behalf of our most distinguished historians, I must observe that they might well be offended at being supposed to have no higher aim, and that by their method and style, they are perfectly well qualified to torment readers of the most advanced reason and mature time of life. I use the verb ‘to torment,’ as I observed to be your own method, instead of ‘to instruct,’ supposing them to be now admitted as synonymous.”

“You think me foolish to call instruction a torment, but if you had been as much used as myself to hear poor little children first learning their letters and then learning to spell, if you had ever seen how stupid they can be for a whole morning together, and how tired my poor mother is at the end of it, as I am in the habit of seeing almost every day of my life at home, you would allow that ‘to torment’ and ‘to instruct’ might sometimes be used as synonymous words.”

“Very probably. But historians are not accountable for the difficulty of learning to read; and even you yourself, who do not altogether seem particularly friendly to very severe, very intense application, may perhaps be brought to acknowledge that it is very well worth–while to be tormented for two or three years of one’s life, for the sake of being able to read all the rest of it. Consider — if reading had not been taught, Mrs. Radcliffe would have written in vain — or perhaps might not have written at all.”

MV5BMjAzMTQ2ODMxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDg2MjA1MQ@@._V1_UY268_CR3,0,182,268_AL_We also have this passage early on regarding “reading” and writing of novels. 

And what are you reading, Miss—?” “Oh! it is only a novel!” replies the young lady…in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the min are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humor are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language.

This passage comes from Volume I, Chapter V, when the narrator gives a long and fervent defense of novel-reading. In Austen’s time, novels were looked down upon by many people, especially people of the upper classes. The young Jane Austen, writing her first novel, likely felt she had to launch a preemptive strike against critics who would disparage her work. This passage is one of the few places where the narrator makes a long address to the reader. By the second half of the novel, the narrator will have given over to Austen’s famous free indirect discourse style of narration.

But what other lessons do we learn from Austen’s spoof of the Gothic novels of her day?

northanger-abbey-bannerThere is the theme of “wealth” having its privileges, one found in all Austen’s novels. For example, although the Thorpes hold strong opinions of the prideful Tilneys, they scramble to be noticed by them. John Thorpe says of General Tilney, “A very fine fellow; as rich as a Jew.” Isabella Thorpe says of the Tilney family, “…all pride, pride, insufferable haughtiness and pride,” but she succumbs to Captain Frederick Tilney’s seduction for she wishes to align herself with the rich rather than the provincial such as James Morland. General Tilney boasts himself to be the owner of “as considerable a landed property as any private man in the county.” char_lg_frederick

John-Thorpe-period-drama-villains-31635816-149-231We also find the reoccurring appearance of the “bounder,” this time in the form of John Thorpe. [We have seen the type in Mr. Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility, Frank Churchill in Emma, Tom Musgrave in The Watsons, etc.] Each causes the heroine a great deal of pain and a lesson in humility. The heroine is wooed by the bounder, but ends up giving her heart to the prig [Mr. Darcy, Colonel Brandon, Mr. Knightley, and Lord Osborne, respectively].  


Fuller, Miriam. “Let me go, Mr. Thorpe; Isabella, do not hold me!”: Northanger Abbey and the Domestic Gothic. JASNA.

Merrett, Robert. Consuming Modes in Northanger Abbey: Jane Austen’s Economic View of Literary Nationalism. JASNA.

Schaub, Melissa. Irony and Political Education in Northanger Abbey. JASNA

Spark Notes 

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The Village of Ewelme and Alice Chaucer, Duchess of Suffolk

Alice de la Pole, from her tomb at Ewelme Parish Church, Oxfordshire ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Chaucer,_Duchess_of_Suffolk#/media/File:Alice_de_la_Pole.jpg

In the wooded village of Ewelme in Oxfordshire, we discover an elaborate church monument incorporating a cadaver tomb at St Mary’s Church. An alabaster tomb, remaining essentially undamaged by time, is the resting place of Alice Chaucer, granddaughter of Geoffrey Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales. Alice was the last of the Chaucers. She lies beneath a stone canopy. She wears the Order of the Garter on her arm, one of the few women to be so honored. It is said Alice’s effigy was examined by Queen Victoria’s commissioners in order to discover how a lady should wear the Order of the Garter. Inside the cabinet is an emaciated figure covered by a shroud and looking up at a frescoed roof, which can only by seen by visitors brave enough to lie down on the floor next to the tomb.

According to Christopher Winn in I Never That About the English (Ebury Press, ©2008, pp. 224-226), Geoffrey Chaucer’s sister-in-marriage, Katherine Swynford, became the third wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, third surviving son of Edward III. Chaucer’s oldest son, Thomas, was favored by Henry V and fought at Agincourt. Thomas married an heiress, Matilda Burghersh, who purchased the manor of Ewelme for them. Alice was their only child. At age 11, Alice married Sir John Philip. She was Sir John’s second wife. The couple lived briefly at Donnington Castle, but Sir John died within a year, having been killed at Harfleur. Others say, Sir John, a close personal friend of  Henry V, died of dysentery after the successful 22 September 1415 capture of the fortress of Harfleur in Normandy. [The siege of Harfleur (18 August 1415 – 22 September 1415) was successfully undertaken by the English in Normandy, France, during the Hundred Years’ War. It was the first major military action in the Lancastrian War, the third and last phase of the century-long conflict. The siege ended when the French port of Harfleur surrendered to the English.]

Next, Alice married (1421) Thomas Montacute, 4th Earl of Salisbury, who died in 1428. Salisbury died at the siege of Orleans. The siege of Orléans (12 October 1428 – 8 May 1429) was the watershed of the Hundred Years’ War between France and England.  It was the French royal army’s first major military victory to follow the crushing defeat at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, and also the first while Joan of Arc was with the Army. The siege took place at the pinnacle of English power during the later stages of the war. The city held strategic and symbolic significance to both sides of the conflict. The consensus among contemporaries was that the English regent, John of Lancaster, would have succeeded in realizing Henry V’s dream of conquering all of France if Orléans fell. For half a year the English and their French allies appeared to be winning, but the siege collapsed nine days after Joan’s arrival. [Siege or Orléans]

Finally, in 1430, she married William de la Pole, Earl and later Duke of Suffolk, by whom she had a son John in 1442. In 1444, Suffolk negotiated a marriage between Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou. William and Alice traveled to France to escort the new Queen to England, where she stayed as a guest in their palace at Ewelme.  

Alice was known to be a patron of the arts. “She ordered the making of a series of tapestries depicting the life of St Anne. The tapestries were in the room in her Ewelme house where Alice would have greeted visitors. She outlived her husband for a number of years and dwelled at Ewelme as the mistress of the house for a decade (during which times the tapestries were commissioned). She is a rare and important example of an autonomous woman patronising art works depicting empowered historical female characters. St Anne, mother of Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus, was a saint who was enjoying increasing popularity amongst female worshippers and was of particular pertinence to Alice as Anne, like Alice, also had had three marriages and was pregnant later in her life. Images of St Anne teaching the Virgin Mary to read was a popular image of Anne at this time, implying perhaps a contemporary reverence for literacy and education for women, how Alice is frequently overlooked as an historical figure of significance because of patriarchal assumptions about the subservience of women in history. Alice was a woman of intelligence and her life reveals information about the late medieval experience of women. She possessed a large library.” [Alice Chaucer, Duchess of Suffolk]

Led on by the criticism of the Duke of York, William, who served as the Lord High Chamberlain for King Henry, took the blame for the loss of English land in France. William acted as steward of the household to Henry VI,, and from 1447 to 1450 was the dominant force in the council and chief minister to the king; as such he was particularly associated with the unpopular royal policies whose failures culminated in the anti-court protest and political violence of Cade’s Revolt in 1450. York wished to place his own son Edward (later Edward IV) on the throne and he advocated for William de la Pole’s banishment to the Continent. In 1450, William was impeached by the Commons in Parliament, but Henry VI intervened to exile his favourite rather than have him tried by the Lords. On his way across the Channel his vessel was intercepted by The Nicholas of the Tower whose crew subjected him to a mock trial, after which he was beheaded and his body thrown overboard.William, Duke of Suffolk, was hustled into a small boat, where he was “beheaded with six strokes of a rusty sword, and his body dumped on the beach near Dover.” [page 225] William’s remains were recovered from a beach at Dover, and Alice had her husband buried at the Carthusian Priory in Hull, founded in 1377 by his grandfather, Michael de la Pole, first Earl of Suffolk. 

“After William was killed, his properties, including the castle and Honour of Wallingford and St Valery, passed to Alice. She lent the Crown 3500 Marks and the king spared the family from attainder of title. She survived many challenges to her position, including a state trial in 1451. Whilst she had benefited from Lancastrian  connections, she switched to supporting the House of York during the Wars of the Roses. In 1455 she was custodian of the Duke of Exeter at the castle. She was officially castellan at Wallingford until at least 1471 and possibly until her death in 1475. In 1472, Alice became custodian of Margaret of Anjou, her former friend and patron. A wealthy landowner, Alice de la Pole held land in 22 counties, and was a patron to poet John Lydgate.” [Alice Chaucer, Duchess of Suffolk]

“Chapel of St. John the Baptist within St. Mary’s Church, Ewelme” by Edward Lever at PicturesofEngland.com

Alice continued to live at Ewelme. She left a group of medieval buildings “without parallel in an English village. They owe their superb state of preservation to the fact that they are built of brick, a new and costly material at the time, and also because Ewelme has been left largely undisturbed over the years, being far from any main roads and well concealed in its own valley. 

“The schoolroom, put up by Alice in the 1430s, is still used as a school and is THE OLDEST SCHOOL IN THE STATE SYSTEM STILL HOUSED IN ITS ORIGINAL BUILDING. Most other schools established at that time, notably Eton, founded in 1440 under the Earl of Suffolk’s supervision for Henry VI, became private schools. 

“Next door are the superb cloistered almshouses, designed for 13 poor men and fashioned around a square, flower-filled courtyard. They are still run as almshouses by the Ewelme Trust. 

“A steep, covered stairway leads to St Mary’s Church, which shows signs of William de la Pole’s Suffolk influence with space, light, a high roof and flint walls. The interior retains its screen and high, pinnacled oak front cover, and is rich with monuments and carving because, according to the villagers, Cromwell’s rampaging soldiers couldn’t find the village. In St John’s Chapel are the simple tombs of Thomas and Mildred Chaucer, their portraits picked out in bronze on top.

“Of Alice’s grand home, where Henry VIII honeymooned with Catherine Howard, and Queen Elizabeth stayed, little remains, just a few bits of wall embedded in the Georgian manor house which stands on the site.” [pp. 225-227]



Alice Chaucer, Duchess of Suffolk

History Refreshed 

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Fairy Tales, Royal Weddings and HEAs! a Guest Post from Nancy Lawrence

Nancy Lawrence joined Austen Authors on May 19, 2018, the day of Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle. However, she reminds us other fabulous weddings in this piece on fairy tales, royal weddings, and living happily ever after. Enjoy! 

Hello! I’m so excited to be making my first official blog post as an Austen Author; and I’m especially glad to do so on such a special day.

After all, it’s a royal wedding day, and as you read this, I’ll be parked in my favorite chair, sipping tea and nibbling on scones as I watch America’s Meghan Markle and Britain’s Prince Harry exchange their wedding vows. I have to admit, I’m a little ga-ga over the whole thing.

An invitation to the royal wedding, sent, not by the bride’s family, but by the Prince of Wales (Prince Harry’s father).

With the time difference, I’ve been awake since Oh-Dark-Thirty this morning, taking in every little detail of the processions, the famous guests, the ladies’ hats, the gentlemen’s suits, and everything else that makes a royal wedding special.

After centuries of practice, British royals have learned how to add a fairy-tale element to all their wedding ceremonies, from the bride’s story-book arrival at the church in a state carriage . . .

Lady Diana Spencer, riding to her wedding in the royal glass coach.

. . . to her dramatic walk down the aisle on her father’s arm.

Kate Middleton’s walk down the aisle on her father’s arm at Westminster Abbey in 2011.

It’s no wonder that the British people love a royal wedding, and I’m happy to join my ooh’s and aah’s to theirs as we watch the entire event unfold together.

And since a fair share of royal marriages occurred during Jane Austen’s lifetime, I have to wonder if, like me, Jane got caught up in the spectacle of those moments, too.


A Royal Marriage in 1795

Jane was 19 years old when Caroline of Brunswick married George, Prince of Wales on April 8, 1795. The marriage itself was a disaster, but the wedding was magnificent. Jane would have read details of the wedding day in the newspaper.

This is a portion of an article that appeared in the London Times on April 9, 1795.

As was the custom at the time for royal brides, Princess Caroline wore a gown of silver tissue and enough dazzling jewels to signal her and her home country’s wealth. Her gown was styled in the classic Georgian “sack-back.”

Caroline of Brunswick in her wedding dress (1795).

Her train was made of lace and ermine-lined velvet; and next to her heart, Caroline wore a painted miniature of her intended husband, the Prince of Wales.

The marriage of Caroline of Caroline of Brunswick and the Prince of Wales in 1795.

The ceremony took place at night in the chapel at St. James Palace. Under the candlelight, Caroline’s gown must have glowed and sparkled.

On her way to the palace, Caroline drove through cheering crowds. After the ceremony, the mobs pressed close to the couple’s carriage to wish them joy in their life together—a wish that, unfortunately, did not come true.


A Royal Marriage in 1816

Jane Austen was forty years old when the next major royal wedding took place.

Princess Charlotte Augusta

On May 2, 1816 Princess Charlotte—daughter of the aforementioned Princess Caroline and Prince George (and by then Prince Regent)—married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg.

Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg.

The ceremony was held in the Crimson Drawing Room at Carlton House, the Regent’s London residence.

The Crimson Drawing Room at Carlton House.

Even though Jane didn’t attend the ceremony (she was probably at Chawton at the time), she had a special knowledge of the location because she had been a guest at Carlton House only five months before.

It was during Jane’s tour of the Prince Regent’s library at Carlton House in November 1815 that she received an invitation to dedicate a future work to the Prince Regent—an invitation she accepted. Her 1816 novel Emma includes a proper dedication to the Prince at the front of the book.

The dedication page from Jane Austen’s novel Emma, published in 1816 (from the Royal Collection).

No doubt Jane Austen read the newspaper articles about the royal wedding of Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold.

A depiction of Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold’s wedding ceremony.

The newspapers were filled with accounts of the day, including descriptions of the crowds that gathered outside St. James’s Palace, hoping for a glimpse of the royal bride or groom on their way to the ceremony:

From the Times of London, May 3, 1816.

The crowds showed particular affection for Prince Leopold. The Times described how the crowds of people cheered for him, and thronged about his carriage, impeding his progress. The crowd even tried to free his horses and pull the prince’s carriage to Carlton House themselves.

A newspaper account of Prince Leopold’s ride through London streets on his wedding day. From The Times of London, May 3, 1816.

Prince Leopold endured their enthusiasm with patience and indulgent good humor.

Naturally, newspapers described Princess Charlotte’s wedding gown in great detail. Like her mother’s gown, Princess Charlotte’s dress was silver, and sparkled with her every move.

Princess Charlotte’s wedding gown.

The May 1816 issue of La Belle Assembleé described the princess’ dress this way:

Her dress was silver lama [lamé] on net, over a silver tissue slip, embroidered at the bottom with silver lama in shells and flowers. Body and sleeves to correspond, elegantly trimmed with point Brussels lace. The manteau was of silver tissue lined with white satin, with a border of embroidery to answer that on the dress, and fastened in front with a splendid diamond ornament.

This detail of the bodice on the princess’ gown shows how it must have sparkled like diamonds on her wedding day.

And like her mother before her, the princess wore a wealth of diamonds—in her necklace, at her wrists in bracelets, in earrings, and in diamond rosebuds arranged in her hair.

The Archbishop of Canterbury performed the ceremony, and as soon as it was complete, the happy couple kissed their family members good-bye, changed their clothes, and immediately set off, unchaperoned, to begin their married life together.

An 1816 souvenir engraving of the royal wedding, available for purchase by the public.

By today’s standards, those royal weddings were surprisingly simple. In our modern times we’ve come to expect British royal weddings to be magnificent in scope, with many nods to traditions and precedents.

Modern Royal Weddings

The first royal wedding I saw (on television, along with 750 million other viewers around the world) was the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. I was enthralled by the pageantry.

I remember hearing the roar of the crowd when the bride arrived at the church and stepped from her glass-paneled carriage onto the pavement.

Lady Diana Spencer’s brides’ maids work to unfurl her wedding gown train from the carriage, in one of many memorable moments from her 1981 wedding.

And I recall hearing the crowds cheer even louder when—inch by inch—Lady Diana’s attendants unfurled her incredibly long train as she slowly ascended the steps of the cathedral. It was one of many show-stopping moments that day.

The wedding itself was, as the Archbishop of Canterbury famously said:

“. . . the stuff of which fairy tales are made.”

I’ve been an ardent watcher of royal weddings ever since, including the story-book wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William in 2011.

The newly-married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge drive past cheering crowds in a procession to Buckingham Palace after their wedding ceremony in 2011.

I expect today’s wedding will have a little bit of the fairy tale magic, too. That’s why I’ll be among the millions of people watching when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrive at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle; and I’ll be watching when they exchange wedding vows, and leave the chapel for their reception.

A modern touch to a traditional wedding. The Cambridges leave their wedding reception at Buckingham Palace in 2011.

The truth is, I enjoy watching that special brand of fairy tale the British royals are so adept at creating; it feeds the romantic streak in me, and inspires me to create stories with happily-ever-afters.

What about you? Will you be watching the royal wedding? If you have a favorite royal wedding moment, please share it!


Nancy Lawrence is the author of Mary and the Captain, Pride and Prejudice continuation in which Miss Mary Bennet receives the romantic happily-ever-after she was always meant to have. Nancy’s next Jane Austen inspired novel will be released this summer.



Posted in Austen Authors, British history, family, George IV, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Guest Post, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Pride and Prejudice, publishing, Regency era, Regency romance, romance, Vagary | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Mirror, Mirror on the Wall” – The Employment of Filmic Devices to Tell a Story in Austen Adaptations

image11.jpg Often in the visual representations of Jane Austen’s works, the media employs props or artifacts as visual cues to Austen’s themes of flawed impressions, misconceptions, and false interpretations. For example, in Austen’s Emma, Harriet’s sketch serves as a means to reveal how the other characters feel about Emma’s friend. Mr. Elton flatters Emma’s representation of her subject rather than remark on Harriet. Mr. Woodhouse’s sensibility and his need for fires in all the hearths shows through when he says Harriet has been subjected to the elements when she is portrayed without a shawl. Even Mr. Knightley gives the viewer a clue to how he feels about Emma’s efforts to raise Harriet up in Society. Upon observing the sketch, he says Emma has made Harriet “too tall.”

The resetting of the miniature of Captain Benwick in Persuasion serves as a the perfect symbol for Captain Harville’s and Anne’s “debate” over the constancy of females and males in love. In Mansfield Park, the distorted and mistaken impressions of the characters plays out in theatricals. Edward Ferrars’ ring is a prime example. In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor Dashwood mistakenly believes it is a lock of her hair encased within. In truth, the lock belongs to Lucy Steele.

These “mistaken interpretations” and many more of Austen’s subtle thematic layers appear in the film versions of Austen’s works in the form of a mirror. It is a bit of irony that Austen never uses the prop as part of her story lines (except in the case of Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion). Yet, Hollywood loves a good prop, and a mirror can tell the viewer so many unspoken tales. The mirror is often used in film to double a shot’s space or to display a character’s feelings or even to take on metaphorical dimensions. Film history gives up multiple examples of the use of the mirror as important role (Orson Welles’s 1948 The Lady from Shanghai; Walt Disney’s 1939 Snow White, etc.). ladyfromshangai

A mirror in its stillness reflects a “fundamental absence,” as Christian Metz terms the prop’s use. It is a reflection within a reflection. Ariane Hudelet says in “Deciphering Appearances in Jane Austen’s Novels and Films” that “To look at a heroine looking at herself transforms the character into a self-spectacle, a motif we could link with the emphasis on interiority in Austen’s novels. The mirror objects can thus stand for conflicting notions of blindness or introspection, vanity or revelation, according to the films and sequences. Whether it is used as a symbol to reflect the characters’ thoughts or nature, or as a metaphor of the relationships between the characters which can sometimes contrast with the contents of the dialogue and reveal ironic distance, the mirror image constitutes a privileged example of the way Austen’s very modern questioning of the perception of reality can become a post-modern questioning of the reception and distortion of images.”ppmirror

So, when we as viewers encounter a filmic scene in which the director has used a mirror, we immediately translate the prop’s use to represent introspection on the part of the character. Or we may immediately interpret the character’s self-absorption. Or we may recognize the illusory blindness of the character. In Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, the scene where Elizabeth Bennet “reflects” on Mr. Darcy’s letter is a very poignant one in the film. She discovers her own misconstructions. Those are summarized by Elizabeth’s response to Charlotte Lucas’s inquiry to her mindset. “I hardly know.”

pride_prejudice09Wright’s film relies on stillness to create the conflict. Following the proposal scene in the pouring rain, the viewer follows Elizabeth’s slow progression through Hunsford cottage to stand before the mirror. We, the viewers, are on the inside of the mirror, looking back at Elizabeth’s inner journey. The scene begins with Elizabeth sitting on her bed. This is what is known as a medium close shot. She does not move. It is a back lit shot to create a claire-obscure effect. Elizabeth moves along a narrow corridor to stand before the mirror. In his commentary on the DVD, Joe Wright says, “We are her,” in referring to the viewing audience becoming Elizabeth’s reflection.

Time progresses behind Elizabeth, but she remains still and expressionless. Darcy appears behind her to deliver his letter. Images are purposely blurred to tell the viewer that these characters have often misconstrued the other.

Elizabeth is learning about Mr. Darcy but also about herself. Her “vision” is both blurred and clear. She turns around to find what she now sees clearly as having disappeared. When she can finally recognize Darcy for the man he is, he is no longer available. Wright uses the mirror as an image of revelation. In the novel, Elizabeth looks long and hard at an image of Darcy in the Pemberley gallery. She recognizes the man she should have seen from the beginning.

Now, it is your turn. Tell me other instances of when the mirror is used as a prop in an Austen adaptation. I, personally, can think of several others, but I’ll leave it to you to list some before I pour forth others. We can even explore the use of the mirror in other modern films if you like.

Posted in acting, Austen actors, drama, film, film adaptations, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Mansfield Park” and Conduct Novels, a Guest Post from Lona Manning

“There is a great deal more for you to learn:” Mansfield Park and Conduct Novels

It was once a truth universally acknowledged that parents had a moral duty to raise their children to be industrious, virtuous, charitable, and pious, to prepare their offspring for a happy and useful life on earth and salvation thereafter.

Parents were expected to examine and develop the personality traits of their children. For example, Jane Austen’s parents said of their daughters: ‘Cassandra had the merit of having her temper always under command, but that Jane had the happiness of a temper that never required to be commanded.’”

Or we may recall Mrs. Morland in Northanger Abbey, afraid that her daughter Catherine has “been spoilt for home by great acquaintance,” because of her time in Bath. She hurries upstairs to find an improving essay in The Mirror, “anxious to lose no time in attacking so dreadful a malady.” Parents like Mrs. Morland would often turn to written essays with which to exhort their children.

A conduct book–such as Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women, with which Mr. Collins bores Lydia in Pride & Prejudice–was typically a collection of essays, sometimes written in letter form, giving advice on conducting a virtuous life. The topics included good manners, education, forming friendships, courtship and so on.

Other examples of popular conduct books for young ladies are: Essays on Various Subjects Principally Designed for Young Ladies, by Hannah More, and A Father’s Legacy to his Daughters, by Dr. John Gregory. These books were best-sellers. No doubt they were often bought by older relations and godparents for the young girls in their lives. Perhaps they were purchased and gifted more often than they were actually read, but at any rate, Hannah More died a wealthy woman!

Her best-selling conduct novel, Coelebs in Search of a Wife, is about a young man’s search for a virtuous wife. Coelebs and other conduct novels take the moral lessons of the conduct book and place them into the mouths of characters in a novel, who embody various virtues, vices and sins.

In another conduct novel, The Two Cousins, by Elizabeth Pinchard, a spoilt young city cousin comes to live with her intelligent, good-hearted and virtuous country cousin, and is reformed.

Academics such as Professor Mary Waldron have suggested that Mansfield Park is Jane Austen’s answer to the conduct novel. Austen had the ability to create a novel which tackled moral issues without being preachy or stilted. Conduct novels are straightforwardly didactic. Unlike Coelebs or Two Cousins, however, Mansfield Park explores its moral lessons in a realistic setting with exquisite prose and compelling dialogue. And, unlike the conduct novels in which the characters are little more than animated points of view, a device with which to address the reader, Mansfield Park’s characters are unique and well-rounded. Maria Bertram marries a man she doesn’t love. Henry Crawford tries to reform to win Fanny’s love, but falls back in to his old seductive ways. Edmund Bertram is beguiled by the witty but superficial Mary Crawford. Lady Bertram neglects her children and Mrs. Norris is an avaricious, judgmental, busybody.

There are some passages in Austen which echo some of the popular conduct novels. In The Two Cousins, there is a scene where the wise, loving mother and her young daughter talk about a spoilt little girl they met at a dinner party.

“Oh indeed yes, Mama,” exclaims little Constantia. “I was quite astonished to hear Miss Selwyn use such an expression!”

After a dinner party at Mansfield Park, of course, Edmund and Fanny discuss Mary Crawford:

“But was there nothing in her conversation that struck you, Fanny, as not quite right?”

“Oh yes! she ought not to have spoken of her uncle as she did. I was quite astonished.”

Elsewhere, the mother of The Two Cousins advises her niece: “Own your conviction, my dear Alicia, and you will have gained a great victory over your pride and prejudice, [emphasis added] for which you are not so blameable as your education and companions.

An abiding preoccupation in conduct novels was the proper education of girls. In Coelebs, the topic is canvassed several times; the speakers lament the superficial education being given to young girls in England at that time, with its emphasis upon “accomplishments” instead of solid education or even practical home economics, to say nothing of a good moral education.

In this passage in Mansfield Park, Jane Austen shows us, with a subtle humour you won’t find in Coelebs, that the young Bertram girls are receiving much information, but very little self-awareness, in their education:

“…[M]y cousin cannot put the map of Europe together—or my cousin cannot tell the principal rivers in Russia—or, she never heard of Asia Minor—or she does not know the difference between water-colours and crayons!—How strange!—Did you ever hear anything so stupid?”

“My dear,” their considerate aunt would reply, “it is very bad, but you must not expect everybody to be as forward and quick at learning as yourself.”

“But, aunt, she is really so very ignorant… How long ago it is, aunt, since we used to repeat the chronological order of the kings of England, with the dates of their accession, and most of the principal events of their reigns!”…

“Very true indeed, my dears, but you are blessed with wonderful memories, and your poor cousin has probably none at all… And remember that, if you are ever so forward and clever yourselves, you should always be modest; for, much as you know already, there is a great deal more for you to learn.”

“Yes, I know there is, till I am seventeen…”

In An Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex, Thomas Gisborne strongly discouraged young ladies from participating in amateur theatricals; it encouraged vanity, and “unrestrained familiarity with the other sex.” Jane Austen makes masterful use of the “dangerous intimacy” of the amateur theatricals at Mansfield Park.

Or here is Hannah More, moralizing about household management and small-minded women:

Economy, such as I would inculcate, and which every woman, in every station of life, is called upon to practise, is not merely the petty detail of small daily expenses, the shabby curtailments and stinted parsimony of a little mind, operating on little things; but it is the exercise of sound judgment… the narrow minded vulgar economist is… perpetually bespeaking your pity for her labours and your praise for her exertions; she is afraid you will not see how much she is harassed. Little wants and trivial operations engross her whole soul.

At the beginning of that paragraph, we have the busy-body Mrs. Norris. At the end, we have her hapless, disorganized sister, Mrs. Price. Jane Austen illustrates these faults through her characters, showing rather than telling.

Hester Chapone, in her conduct book, warned against forming friendships with those who are not devout:

“The woman who thinks lightly of sacred things, or is ever heard to speak of them with levity or indifference, cannot reasonably be expected to pay a more serious regard to the laws of friendship…”

Austen brings this woman to life in Mary Crawford, described as “careless as a woman and as a friend,” laughing and joking in the chapel at Sotherton.

One significant difference between Mansfield Park and Coelebs and Two Cousins, is that in the conduct novels, someone (a neglectful husband and a spoilt girl, respectively) is saved from their dissolute ways by the steadfast Christian example of a virtuous person. But as Waldron pointed out, “Mansfield Park deliberately rejects this stereotype; good example fails to avert a shipwreck.” Henry Crawford explicitly asks Fanny for advice and guidance when he visits her in Portsmouth, and she refuses him:

“I advise! You know very well what is right,” [says Fanny.]

“Yes. When you give me your opinion, I always know what is right. Your judgment is my rule of right.”

“Oh, no! do not say so. We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.”

That short exchange, Waldron says, is “the pivot upon which the novel finally hums toward its calamitous conclusion.”

Henry goes to London and starts flirting again with Maria, rather than going to his estate and sorting out his corrupt manager; leading to, in Mary Waldron’s words, the “almost unmitigated disaster of the ending,” with severe justice meted out to Maria Bertram Rushworth, and Edmund and Fanny married, and a great many readers of Mansfield Park left unsatisfied and unconvinced.

Perhaps Jane Austen rejected the idea of Fanny ‘saving’ Henry Crawford as unrealistic. Perhaps she thought Henry Crawford was responsible for saving himself.

In the concluding chapters of Mansfield Park, Sir Thomas Bertram realizes he has failed in his duty as a parent:

He feared that principle, active principle, had been wanting; that [his daughters Maria and Julia] had never been properly taught to govern their inclinations and tempers by that sense of duty which can alone suffice. They had been instructed theoretically in their religion, but never required to bring it into daily practice. To be distinguished for elegance and accomplishments, the authorised object of their youth, could have had no useful influence that way, no moral effect on the mind…

Jane Austen, First Edition of “Mansfield Park”

These personal moral struggles and failings are at the heart of the story. (Mansfield Park is not, I would argue, an anti-slavery tract, but that is another subject).






In conclusion, some familiarity with conduct books and conduct novels helps us understand the context in which Mansfield Park was written. I think the evidence is strong that Austen intended to write a new type of conduct novel; one with real, believable characters, plot and outcomes, which still told its moral story.

In Mansfield Park, Austen knew she had written something important, something different, something rich and complex, and she was disappointed with the lack of response to it. Certainly Mansfield Park didn’t challenge the sales of the conduct novels. No newspapers or journals reviewed it, unlike her previous novels.

But today, even as the least-popular of her novels, Mansfield Park has acquired a fame and immortality greater than all of the conduct novels of her day, put together.

More Reading:

Waldron, Mary. “The Frailties of Fanny: Mansfield Park and the Evangelical Movement,” in Eighteenth-Century Fiction 6 (1994): 259–81  Essay available here [pdf]


Meet Lona Manning: Lona Manning loves reading, choral singing, gardening and travel. Over the years, she has been a home care aide, legal secretary, political speech writer, office manager, vocational instructor and non-profit manager until deciding (in her late 50’s) to get an ESL teaching certificate and teach in China. Manning and her husband divide their time between China and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. In addition to her novels, she has written true crime articles for http://www.CrimeMagazine.com.


Lona Manning is the author of A Contrary Wind: a variation on Mansfield Park. A sequel,  A Marriage of Attachment, is available for pre-order. To celebrate the release of A Marriage of AttachmentA Contrary Wind ebook is on sale this week for $0.99.




A Contrary Wind: Fanny Price, an intelligent but timid girl from a poor family, lives at Mansfield Park with her wealthy cousins. But the cruelty of her Aunt Norris, together with a broken heart, compel Fanny to run away and take a job as a governess. Far away from everything she ever knew and the man she secretly loves, will Fanny grow in strength and confidence? Will a new suitor help her to forget her past? Or will a reckless decision ruin her life and the lives of those she holds most dear?

This variation of Jane Austen’s novel includes all the familiar characters from Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, and some new acquaintances as well. There are some mature scenes and situations not suitable for all readers.




A Marriage of Attachment: A Marriage of Attachment continues the story of Fanny Price as she struggles to build her own life after leaving her rich uncle’s home. Fanny teaches sewing to poor working-class girls in London, while trying to forget her first love, Edmund Bertram, who is trapped in a disastrous marriage with Mary Crawford. Together with her brother John and her friend, the writer William Gibson, she discovers a plot that threatens someone at the highest levels of government. Meanwhile, Fanny’s brother William fights slavery on the high seas while longing for the girl he loves.

Filled with romance, suspense and even danger, A Marriage of Attachment takes the familiar characters from Mansfield Park on a new journey.





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July 4, 1776 – Meet the Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Today, I am catching up on some writing time, but I thought some of you might wish a second chance to explore my pieces on the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. It took me a little over a year to compile these stories. Enjoy! 


Signers of the Declaration of Independence

John Adams (MA), John Adams, American Founding Father and the “Atlas of Independence”


Samuel Adams (MA), Samuel Adams, “Poster Boy” of the American Uprising and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Josiah Bartlett (NH), Josiah Bartlett, “President” of New Hampshire and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Carter Braxton (VA), Carter Braxton, Father of 18 and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Charles Carroll (MD), Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the Last of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence to Pass


Samuel Chase (MD), Only U. S. Supreme Court Judge to Face Impeachment Charges and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Abraham Clark (NJ), Signer of the Declaration of Independence and “The Poor Man’s Counselor” https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com/2016/02/15/abraham-clark-signer-of-the-declaration-of-independence/

George Clymer (PA), Captain of the “Silk Stockings” and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


William Ellery (RI) What Does a Popular Party Game Have in Common with William Ellery, Signer of the Declaration of Independence?


William Floyd (NY) So What Do President Abraham Lincoln and Rock Legend David Crosby Have in Common? William Floyd, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Benjamin Franklin (PA) Benjamin Franklin, Genius and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Elbridge Gerry (MA) Eldridge Gerry, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Source of “Gerrymandering” https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com/2016/07/18/elbridge-gerry-signer-of-the-declaration-of-independence-and-the-source-of-gerrymandering/

Button Gwinnett (GA), A Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Who Died in a Duel


Lyman Hall (GA), Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Founder of the University of Georgia


John Hart (NJ), John Hart, a Man Who Sacrificed Everything as a Signer of the Declaration of Independence


John Hancock (MA), “Put Your John Hancock on the Line!” ~ Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Benjamin Harrison (MD), Congressional “Falstaff” and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


John Hart (NJ), a Man Who Sacrificed Everything as a Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Joseph Hewes (NC), the Bachelor Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Thomas Heyward, Jr. (SC) Thomas Heyward, Jr., Patriotic Songwriter and Signer of the Declaration of Independence https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com/2016/07/28/thomas-heyward-jr-patriotic-songwriter-and-signer-of-the-declaration-of-independence/

William Hooper (NC): “Prophet” and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Stephen Hopkins (RI), Surveyor, Astronomer, and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Francis Hopkinson (NJ), Francis Hopkinson, Designer of the U. S. Flag and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Samuel Huntington (CT), Signer of the Declaration of Independence and First President of the United States


Thomas Jefferson (VA), Thomas Jefferson, the Signer Who Wrote the Declaration of Independence


Francis Lightfoot Lee (VA), Francis Lightfoot Lee, Part of Virginia’s Lee Family Dynasty and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Richard Henry Lee (VA), Signer of the Declaration of Independence and the “Cicero” Who Advocated for a Bill of Rights


Francis Lewis (NY), a founder of the Sons of Liberty and a Signer of the Declaration of independence


Philip Livingston (NY), Signer of the Declaration of Independence and “Lord of the Manor”


Thomas Lynch, Jr. (SC), Thomas Lynch, Jr., the Youngest of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence to Meet His Death


Thomas McKean (DE), The “Last” Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Arthur Middleton (SC) (or is it Andrew Marvell?), Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Lewis Morris (NY), Lewis Morris, Lord of Morrisania Manor and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Robert Morris (PA), Signer of the Declaration of Independence and America’s First True Capitalist


John Morton (PA), the “Keystone” Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Thomas Nelson, Jr. (VA), Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Descendant of Edward III


William Paca (MD), William Paca, Rabble Rouser and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Robert Treat Paine (MA), “The Objection Maker” and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


John Penn (NC), A Man Who Aided in Cornwallis’s Defeat and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


George Read (DE), George Read, the Only Signer Who Voted Against the Declaration of Independence, But Still Signed It


Caesar Rodney (DE), Caesar Rodney, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence, and His Famous “Midnight Ride”to Save a Nation


George Ross (PA), Defender of States’ Rights and Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Benjamin Rush (PA), Signer of the Declaration of Independence and “Father of American Psychiatry” https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/benjamin-rush-signer-of-the-declaration-of-independence-and-father-of-american-psychiatry/

Edward Rutledge (SC), Youngest Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Roger Sherman (CT), Roger Sherman, Signer of the Articles of Association, Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the U. S. Constitution


James Smith (PA), Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Congressional “Cut-Up”   https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/james-smith-signer-of-the-declaration-of-independence/

Richard Stockton (NJ), Richard Stockton, A Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Who Was Reviled for Recanting His Allegiance


Thomas Stone (MD), Thomas Stone, A Man Who Loved His Wife and a Signer of the Declaration of Independence


George Taylor (PA), From Indentured Servant to Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Matthew Thornton (NH), President of New Hampshire and Signer of the Declaration of Independence https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/matthew-thornton-president-of-new-hampshire-and-signer-of-the-declaration-of-independence/

George Walton (GA), the Orphaned Signer of the Declaration of Independence


William Whipple (NH), Signer of the Declaration of Independence, a Man Whose Slaves Fought Along Side Him


William Williams (CT), “I have signed the Declaration of Independence. I shall be hung.”


James Wilson (PA), James Wilson, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence Who Spent Time in Debtor’s Prison


John Knox Witherspoon (NJ), Signer of the Declaration of Independence and Author of a Colonial Blockbuster


Oliver Walcott (CT), the Signer of the Declaration of Independence who Melted King George’s Statue for Revolutionary Bullets


George Wythe (VA), a Signer of the Declaration of Independence Who Was Poisoned by His Heir


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