Easter During the Regency


The Epping Hunt, or the ‘Cockney Hunt’ was traditionally held on Easter Monday. https://georgianera.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/an-early-19th-century-easter-miscellany/

According to many sources, for many years during the Regency (1811-1820), Parliament did not open its first session of the year until after Easter. But the list of dates, I have included below, contradicts that idea somewhat.

Generally, the new Season for young ladies to make their Come Outs and the doings of the Marriage Mart were closely associated with Easter. We must remember that for England during this period in history, Easter and Lent were still considered a religious celebration, and, although people had gotten away from the stricter celebration of years past, Lent, for example, was more closely observed than we find today. People refrained from eating cakes, pastries, dairy, fats, as well as avoided “meat” on Friday. 

Even when Parliament resumed early, the official London Season did not begin until after Easter Sunday. 

Meeting Dates for Parliament During the Regency ~ During the Regency, Parliament met at least once a year to vote on the military budget and various bills. Gleaning dates from a variety of sources, Parliament was in session during the following times:

  • 1 November 1810 to 24 July 1811
  • 7 January 1812 to 30 July 1812
  • General election: 5 October to 10 November 1812
  • 24 November 1812 to 22 July 1813
  • 4 November 1813 to 30 July 1814
  • 8 November 1814 to 12 July 1815
  • 1 Feb 1816 to 2 July 1816
  • 28 January 1817 to 12 July 1817
  • 27 January 1818 to 10 June 1818
  • General election: 15 June to 25 July 1818
  • 14 January 1819 to 13 July 1819, before the 16 August 1819 Peterloo Massacre
  • 23 November 1819 to 28 February 1820 (special session because of the massacre but ending early because of the death of George III)
  • General election: 6 March to 14 April 1820
  • 21 April to 23 November 1820 (including a special session beginning the third week of August for the trial of Queen Caroline).

Donna Hatch’s Blog tells us, “The day before Lent began was Shrove Tuesday, a day to confess sins to one’s priest (or to get “shriven”). According to Regency researcher and author, Regina Scott, it was also a day they referred to as “pancake Tuesday,” the last opportunity to eat all the foods forbidden during Lent. The custom might have begun as a way to use up any of these foods one had in the house so they wouldn’t spoil. Other cultures used their last day of anything goes to create events such as Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday.

“In England, a host of games accompanied Pancake Tuesday, including pancake races (flipping a pancake in a frying pan while running) and Street Foot Ball, or Hurling, which is a cross between soccer and American football. You can read more about those games here.”

Easter during the Regency: 

13th April 1800                  

5th April 1801                      

18th April 1802    

10th April 1803    

1st April 1804   

14th April 1805   

6th April 1806     

29th March 1807  

7th April 1808     

2nd April 1809    

22nd April 1810    

14th April 1811    

29th March 1812   

18th April 1813   

10th April 1814    

26th March 1815    

14th April 1816   

6th April 1817   

22nd March 1818 

11th April 1819    

2nd April 1820   

In the  early years of the 19th century, the date of Easter was quite important. Law courts, parliament, schools  — as well as the church calendar all based dates on that of Easter. Generally, the season in Town didn’t start until after Easter.

Even the theatres chose to acknowledge the Holy Season. Oratorios, rather than dramas, could be found, and the theatre district was, generally closed between Palm Sunday and Easter. Easter Monday and Tuesday were government holidays. The 

Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy ThursdayCovenant ThursdayGreat and Holy ThursdaySheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, among other names) is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the foot washing (Maundy) and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles, as described in the canonical gospels. Many theorize that the English name “Maundy Thursday” arose from “maundsor baskets” or “maundy purses” of alms which the king of England distributed to certain poor at Whitehall before attending Mass on that day. During the Regency, the Regent, acting in his father’s, George III’s, stead presented food and tunics to the poor. 

Jane Austen’s World tells us, “In her book, Jane Austen and the Clergy, Irene Collins writes: Clergymen in Jane Austen’s day were not expected to write original sermons every Sunday. “Henry Crawford, assessing Edmund Bertram’s commitments at Thornton Lacey, judged that ‘a sermon at Christmas and Easter ‘would be’ the sum total of the sacrifice.” Mr. Collins produced only two sermons between his ordination at Easter and his visit to Longbourn in November of the same year.- p. 96.

“Jane Austen herself mentions Easter, most notably in Pride and Prejudice:

In this quiet way, the first fortnight of her visit soon passed away. Easter was approaching, and the week preceding it was to bring an addition to the family at Rosings, which in so small a circle must be important. Elizabeth had heard, soon after her arrival, that Mr. Darcy was expected there in the course of a few weeks, and though there were not many of her acquaintance whom she did not prefer, his coming would furnish one comparatively new to look at in their Rosings parties, and she might be amused in seeing how hopeless Miss Bingley’s designs on him were, by his behaviour to his cousin, for whom he was evidently destined by Lady Catherine; who talked of his coming with the greatest satisfaction, spoke of him in terms of the highest admiration, and seemed almost angry to find that he had already been frequently seen by Miss Lucas and herself.

Ellen Moody noted that dating Sense and Sensibility presented a problem. It was revised several times and as a result the chronology remains inconsistent. Towards the book’s end, Easter is mentioned as occurring on March 31. This would have fallen in 1793, when the first draft of the novel was written. But, there is another reference to Easter in early April, which would have placed the novel in 1798 (the most likely), 1801, 1803, and 1809.”


The Regency Redingote Blog speaks to the superstitions of Easter in 1818, a fact I found absolutely fascinating. “In 1818, Easter Sunday fell on 22 March, the earliest possible date on which Easter could occur, based on the formula laid down by Christian fathers. This was just one day after the vernal equinox, as the first spring full moon coincided with both observances that year. Most people during the Regency, of all Christian sects, were well aware that this was the very earliest date on which Easter could fall. Many of them were also aware that Easter would not occur that early again for another 467 years, since Easter would not fall on 22 March again until the year 2285. [Author’s Note:

For those who might be interested, the very latest possible date for Easter Sunday is 25 April.]

“This very early Easter date created a rare coincidence which some people believed was a strong portent of some serious misfortune which would befall England. This coincidence not only caused Easter Sunday to fall very close to Lady Day, it actually caused Easter to come three days before Lady Day (25 March). (A very ancient tradition held that the Crucifixion took place on 25 March, the same date as Lady Day. Though this specific date is not recorded in scripture, there were many in England who were aware of the supposed date.) A doggerel couplet which was well known during the Regency captures the attitude of many people toward the fell portent of the juxtaposition of Easter and Lady Day:

When my Lord falls in my Lady’s lap,
England, beware of some mishap!

“Though no significantly terrible things took place in Britain in the spring of 1818, quite a number of highly superstitious people believed that this very close Easter Sunday/Lady Day occurrence was directly responsible for the death of Queen Charlotte, on 17 November of 1818. It must be noted that Queen Charlotte celebrated her seventy-fourth birthday, in May of 1818, and she had been in failing health since the unexpected death of her beloved granddaughter, Princess Charlotte, in early November of 1817. Even so, there were some very superstitious people who were convinced this early Easter, in close conjunction with Lady Day, hastened the Queen’s passing.”

Sources and Other Interesting Articles Worth Sharing:

All Things Georgian 

The Historical Royal Palace Blog

Historical Hussies

Jane Austen’s World

Lesley-Anne McLeod, Regency author blog, an article written by Regina Scott

The Regency Redingote

Gaelen Foley

Posted in British history, Church of England, England, George IV, Georgian England, Georgian Era, history, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Pride and Prejudice, Regency era, research | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Closer Look at “A Touch of Scandal, Book One of the Realm Series”

Until I wrote The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, all I had written were Jane Austen adaptations and retellings, including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation,Vampire Darcy’s Desire, The Phantom of Pemberley and Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion. I was very appreciative of Ulysses Press taking a chance on my first true Regency romance. What did not work out was before they could continue the series, Ulysses made the business decision to finish the fiction books under contract (including several of mine) to them and then switch to non-fiction only products. In truth, Ulysses was very much a non-fiction publisher when I joined them, so the decision was not surprising. However, that particular decision left my Realm series in limbo. It was impossible to sell the series to another traditional publisher for who would want to finish a series started by another publisher? Therefore, I ended up self publishing the series.

I must admit that it was liberating to write a story from beginning to end, without a preconceived framework already in place. When an author tackles an Austen storyline, he must stay somewhat true to the original characters or “suffer the ire” of Janeites. In my Austen books, I work in her original wording and use what I know of the lady and the times. With the Realm series, the characters and the conflict were part of me. 

A Touch of Scandal (formerly called The Scandal of Lady Eleanor) is the first book in the “Realm” series. 

The Realm is a covert group working for the British government during the Regency Period. They rescue British citizens, bring about diplomatic portals, etc. Its members are titled aristocrats and minor sons—therefore, the name “the Realm.” The members in this series number seven: James Kerrington, Lord Worthing (and future Earl of Linworth), who is the hero of A Touch of Scandal; Brantley Fowler, the Duke of Thornhill, from Book 2, A Touch of Velvet; Gabriel Crowden, Marquis of Godown, from A Touch of Grace; Aidan Kimbolt, Viscount Lexford, from A Touch of Mercy; Marcus Wellston, serving as the regent for his elder disabled brother, the Earl of Berwick, from A Touch of Cashémere; Lord John Swenton, a baron, from A Touch of Honor, and Carter Lowery, the youngest son of Lord Blakehell, from A Touch of Love. The series conclusion, A Touch of Emerald, features Kerrington’s son, Daniel. These men have served together for several years in India and Persia, and they possess a stout camaraderie. Each holds reason for fleeing his home and title, and each must reclaim his place in Society, while still occasionally executing a mission in the name of the government. Unfortunately, not only must these men fight their own demons, they must foil the plans of Shaheed Mir, a Baloch warlord, who believes one of them has stolen a fist-sized emerald; and Mir means to have it back.

In A Touch of Scandal. James Kerrington, the future Earl of Linworth and a key member of the Realm, never expected to find love again after the loss of his beloved wife, Elizabeth. But upon his return home, Kerrington’s world shifts on its axis when Lady Eleanor Fowler, literally, stumbles into his arms. Unfortunately, not all is as it seems with Eleanor, as she hides a deep secret. She had hoped the death of her father, William Fowler, the Duke of Thornhill, would offer her family a chance at redemption from their dark past, but when Sir Louis Levering produces proof of Eleanor’s father’s debauchery, she is thrown into a web of immorality and blackmail. It is up to Kerrington and his associates in the Realm to free Eleanor from Levering’s hold.

In writing this series, I chose to use “modern issues” throughout. Just because life appears “simpler” does not mean Regency England did not reek of scandal. Women lacked options. Even women of a wealthier class were the property of first their fathers and then their husbands. As such, Lady Eleanor Fowler is no exception. When her mother dies, her father’s debauched lifestyle invades her privacy, and she is sucked into a situation because she “loves” a parent who does not really understand the meaning of the word. Eleanor’s brother Brantley escaped the Duke of Thornhill’s hold on his household, but Eleanor is left behind to cope in the only way she knows how: Survive.

Readers always like to know who an author imagines when writing a book. So, I am going to indulge you on this matter.

First, let me say, I have been a Matthew Macfadyen fan long before he played Mr. Darcy in the 2005 film – back to his days in Wuthering Heights, Warriors, and The Way We Live Now. When I learned he was to be Darcy, I did a happy dance. He is always the Darcy in my head when I write my Austen pieces, and he is the man I see and hear (Does he not have the most mesmerizing voice?) in my other works. In this series, Macfadyen is James Kerrington. James Mcavoy is Carter Lowery; James Scott is Aidan Kimbolt; Matthew Goode is Brantley Fowler; Toby Stephens (as he was in Jane Eyre) is Marcus Wellston, and Alex O’Loughlin faces Gabriel Crowden (although I am not certain how O’Loughlin would look as a blonde).

As weird as it may sound, I do not have famous women in my head when I choose the females. I see their faces and recognize their movements, but they are ordinary women. In this series, Velvet Aldridge came to mind because I fondly remembered a former student named “Velvet.” I stole Brantley Fowler’s name from a young man I met at an Enterprise Rental Car outlet. I told him I would make him famous. I originally planned only 4 books and possibly 3 novellas bundled as one piece. As the series progressed, readers kept asking for the next character. Each book in the series starts with the same scene on the Persian border, where these men encounter their formal foe, Shaheed Mir. However, with each retelling of the scene, the reader learns more of what actually occurred, because he sees the action from a different point of view. 


A Touch of Scandal: Book 1 of the Realm Series

The men of the REALM have served their country, while ignoring their responsibilities to home and love, but now Bonaparte is defeated, they each mean to claim their portion of a new and prosperous England. However, their long-time enemy Shaheed Mir has other plans. The Persian warlord believes one of the Realm has stolen a fist-sized emerald, and the Baloch intends to have its return or his revenge.

JAMES KERRINGTON, the future Earl of Linworth left his title and his infant son behind after the death of his beloved Elizabeth, but he has returned to England to tend his ailing father and to establish his roots. With Daniel as his heir, Kerrington has no need to marry, but when Eleanor Fowler stumbles and falls into his arms, Kerrington’s world is turned upon its head. He will do anything to claim her.

LADY ELEANOR FOWLER has hidden from Society, knowing her father’s notorious reputation for debauchery has tainted any hopes she might have of a happy marriage. And yet, despite her fears, her brother’s closest friend, James Kerrington, has rekindled her hopes, but when Sir Louis Levering appears with proof of Eleanor’s participation in her father’s wickedness, she is drawn into a world of depravity, and only Kerrington’s love can save her.

The first fully original series from Austen pastiche author Jeffers is a knockout. – Publishers Weekly

Jeffers’s characters stay in the reader’s heart and mind long after the last page has been turned. – Favored Elegance

KIndle   https://www.amazon.com/Touch-Scandal-Book-Realm-ebook/dp/B00JBOA9PW/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Amazon   https://www.amazon.com/Touch-Scandal-Book-Realm/dp/1496180941/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Also Available to Read on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. 

Prologue (Excerpt):

“What do you plan to do?” James Kerrington asked as he leaned across Brantley Fowler, while pretending to reach for the bowl of fruit. Kerrington studied Fowler’s countenance as the man stared at where the Baloch warriors held the girl. Kerrington really did not need to ask. He and Fowler were the two of the original members of a group the British government “lovingly” referred to as the Realm. The unit ranged between the ages of nineteen and twenty-five. As he was the eldest, the others called Kerrington “Captain,” although no such military ranks existed between them.

The group often called Fowler “The Vicar” because the future Duke of Thornhill always wanted to “save” every soul they encountered, especially woman and children. Surprisingly, the baby-faced Fowler was also able to convince those their group captured to confess as readily as any clergyman. “Authoritative persuasion,” was the word they had coined for exacting information from those mean to defy the English government. Fowler had joined the group after a short stint with some shady seamen following the young man’s alienation from Thornhill and the dukedom, as well as a tumultuous time with Wellesley and the Spanish front. Fowler had never said exactly what had caused the rift between him and his infamous father.

Kerrington’s family knew something of Fowler’s. His mother, Lady Camelia Kerrington had made her Come Out with Fowler’s aunt, Agatha Braton, the Duchess of Norfield, and so Kerrington was familiar with some of the family history. Fowler’s father, the Duke of Thornhill, held a reputation for a lusty sexual appetite. Having viewed his friend’s multiple attempts to save more than one woman who suffered at the hands of a brute, Kerrington suspected there was truth buried in the gossip.

Fowler gritted his teeth, offering a grim smile to the Baloch warriors sitting about the low table, while Kerrington immediately assessed the situation. Fowler hissed, “Each man who enters that tent gives the girl a rupee because Mir says that is all she is worth — one rupee — one shilling and fourpence in England.” His friend’s breathing became shallow, obviously biting back anger. “She is not yet sixteen.”

“You cannot save the world, Fowler,” Gabriel Crowden, another of Realm numbers, cautioned.

Fowler insisted, “I can save her.”

Kerrington shot a glance about the tent to assure himself the others were aware of the change in their situation. He often regretted the fact he had shown more care with these men than he had ever shown to his son. Daniel resided with his parents at Linworth Hall. When he had walked away from his home after Elizabeth’s death, He had also deserted the child, who had cost his wife her life.

“Oh, Lord, here we go again,” Crowden grumbled as he slid the bench and slipped into the shadows. “Permit me time to assume a position.”

Kerrington stiffened in anticipation as he watched Fowler stand slowly and stretch. His friend pretended to exercise his legs. “I believe I will take a walk,” Fowler announced, but before James’s friend could execute more than five steps in the direction of the girl’s tent, a burly-looking soldier, under Mir’s command, blocked Fowler’s path. Without saying a word, the man had told Fowler to reconsider his choices, but James knew the Baloch would be sorry he had crossed the young duke.

Raising his hands in an act of submission, Fowler smiled largely and turned to Kerrington with a warning of what was to come. Fowler shrugged as if to agree with the warrior, but in a split second, he had struck the guard with an uppercut, sending the man reeling with a broken nose.

A heartbeat later, Kerrington and Fowler stood back-to-back, taking on all comers, delivering lethal thrusts after deadly jabs. “I have it,” Kerrington called as he parlayed a broken chair for a weapon. “Retrieve the girl. Take her to the Bombay safe house.” He shoved Fowler in the direction of the girl’s tent.

His friend did not look back; Fowler knew he count on Kerrington and the others in their group to break through Mir’s line of defense. Together, they would provide Fowler time to make a complete escape.

Preparing for the next assault, he wondered about his own sanity. How many times over the previous two years had Fowler staged “a fight to the death” in order to save some female? Somehow, Kerrington had accepted the future duke’s “need” to rescue the disadvantaged. It seemed only fair, if he was to die, he should do so in an effort to save some woman — an act of penitence, so to speak. He had had no skills to save the woman he love — Elizabeth Morris — the woman he had married and had promised to love and to honor and to protect “as long as ye both shall live.” Unfortunately, Elizabeth Morris Kerrington had live but two years, two months, and ten days before she had passed in childbirth — his child — their child. Mayhap by saving this woman, he might atone for for what he could not do for Elizabeth, and what he had done to Daniel — just walking away from the boy, unable to look upon his own child without seeing Elizabeth and experiencing the pain of her loss.

Turning his head, Kerrington noted how Fowler ran for the horses while pulling the scantily-clad girl behind him. Kerrington spun to the right, twirling a sword he had pulled from his walking stick, using the stick and rapier in tandem with swinging figure eights to ward off three Baloch soldiers. “Now!” he called above the battle’s clamor, and the Realm members synchronized their final strikes, leaving their opponents sprawled on the tent’s floor. They had dashed toward their tethered horses, swinging up into the saddles. They would distract pursuers, riding off in three separate directions — all in opposition to Fowler’s exit — to meet again in two days at their common house.

Racing toward the nearest hill, Kerrington pulled up the reins to take a quick look, making certain they had all made it out safely. He felt responsible, although each of his mean were quite capable and very menacing in his own right. “Let us depart, Captain,” Aidan Kimbolt called from somewhere behind him. Kerrington had seen all he had needed to see — they all were moving away from Shaheed Mir’s tents. Turning the horse in a complete circle, he nodded to Kimbolt, the group’s best horseman, to disguise Fowler’s hoof prints in the sand, before galloping away in the direction of the dying sunset.

Posted in book excerpts, British history, eBooks, Georgian Era, historical fiction, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Napoleonic Wars, Realm series, Regency romance, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Tax Day During the late Georgian and Regency Periods

Today is tax day in the U.S. I paid mine in March. My tax receipts are sometimes 5 inches deep in paper. As a self-employed author and retired teacher, I save receipts for lodging, mileage, advertising, home office, technology, insurance benefits, medical expenses, etc. But what were some of the taxes required in the Regency Period and when would they pay their taxes?

We know there were taxes upon hair powder, carriages and coaches, and carriage and saddle horses, windows, and male servants during the Regency.

In 1777, Lord North proposed a tax on male servants to help pay for the cost of fighting the Americans, and by 1808, when Britain was involved in an even more prolonged war against the French, the tax reached a little over £7 per year for each male servant if there were eleven or more in the household. For the servants’ tax, an estate owner would pay for those who performed non-essential services: “butlers, footmen, valets, grooms, coachmen, gardeners, park-keepers, game-keepers, masters-of-the-horse, whippers-in and other huntsmen, were all to be taxed. But farm laborers, day laborers, factory workers and the servants of tavern-keepers, shop-keepers and merchants were all to be exempted from the tax. So, too, were the servants of the royal family, official foreign ambassadors and the servants in the various Colleges. However, if an inn-keeper, shop-keeper or farmer were to employ one of their servants to perform personal or domestic services, such as scrubbing a floor, saddling a horse or cleaning boots, their masters would then be expected to pay the tax on that servant. Few would voluntarily pay the tax, but had to be careful about when and where their servants performed those prohibited tasks, as there was always the chance a rival or adversary might inform against them.” (Regency Redingcote) In 1843, the Earl of Ashburnham paid taxes for the half-year of £21 15s 9d for his male servants, another £11 for his four-wheeled carriages, and £1 4s for armorial bearings, plus a ten percent surcharge. (MS Ashburnham. 1814. East Sussex Record Office)

From 1785 – 1792, a tax was also levied on those employing female servants at the rate of one guinea on each one. This tax had nasty effects on the labour market and only lasted for seven years before it was repealed.

St_Helen,_Aswardby_-_geograph.org.uk_-_465342.jpg King William III levied a window tax beginning in 1696. The tax was to level the difference resulting from the clipping and defacing of silver coins, as well as to help pay for the various wars in Ireland and Europe. Initially, if a household had less than 10 windows, they were charged 2 shillings per year. 10-20 windows would cost 4 shillings. Those houses with over 20 would be 8 shillings. The window tax increased 6 times between 1747 – 1808, before a decrease came about. 

The Glass Excise tax was in existence for 100 years. It was first levied by Parliament in 1745. Taxes were levied upon window and bottle glass, as well as flint glass. (With respect to glass, the term flint derives from the flint nodules found in the chalk deposits of southeast England that were used as a source of high purity silica by George Ravenscroft, c. 1662, to produce a  potash lead glass that was the precursor to English lead crystal.) Initially, the tax was purely on materials, with flint and white glass, crown and plate charged at the highest rates. Green and other bottle glass was charged at a lower rates.

For 90 years, beginning in 1784, people paid taxes on pleasure horses (race horses, those let to hire or rode by bailiffs or butchers, horses exceeding 12 hands (height), but not work horses.

Charges varied for Horses for riding (£1.8s.9d). In 1785 an Act exempted those occupying a farm worth not more than £150 a year rent in which the horse was used only for riding to church or market. The yearly exemption rate was reduced to £20 in 1802 and thus many more owners were taxable.

An Abstract of the Principal Tax Acts from 1819’s Gentleman’s Pocket Memorandum Book, tells us that a man with one carriage would pay £12 per year in taxes. Two carriages would be £26, etc. Carriages drawn by one horse with less than 4 wheels (Taxed carts excepted) 6£ 10s if drawn by 2 or more horses, 9£ and every additional body used on the same carriage, 3£ 3s. Dog lovers who kept greyhounds, whether his property or not, would pay £1. For every other species of dog, where more than one is kept, 14s. Every person wears hair powder would pay 1£ 3s 6 d.

From 1695 to 1706, a “marriage tax” was assessed on bachelors, widowers, and childless couples. It was also charged for parish register entries of baptism, marriage, and burial.

Beginning in 1793, those who had an armorial bearing marking carriages, etc. paid two guineas for arms borne on carriages and one guinea if borne in any other way, as on a signet ring. This lasted until 1882.

From 1795 to 1861, those who used hair powder, (to keep wigs white), had to pay a guinea to £1.3.6 for a licence to do so. The tax included those servants required to wear wigs. Exemptions included the royal family and their immediate servants, army officers, clergymen, dissenting ministers, and any person in holy orders not possessing an annual income of £100. Wigs quickly went out of fashion in the early 19th century, although the tax was not abolished until 1861.

 How long before a tax lien would be placed on the property?  The delinquent tax payer would be taken before the  judges of the court of the Exchequer to have the debt filed formally and the order for property to be seized. The property of peers was handled different from that of commoners, though it was still seized. Theoretically, if a man’s taxes were delinquent in a particular calendar year, he would not be formally labeled as delinquent until after April 6 of the next calendar year. Attempts would then be made to collect the back taxes before seizure of the property would be made. More than likely it would take two, perhaps three, years for the seizure to take place. Meanwhile more taxes would be accumulating while the courts acted.

Again, however, it really depends on what taxes and to whom they were due and how they  were paid. Needless to say if a duke owed taxes, he would be treated differently than a merchant. 

There were hundreds of taxes and so a variety of dates on which they would be due. Some taxes were pay as you go. For others, the tax man came along and counted your windows and looked at your footmen and counted the crested carriages and other armorial bearings and wheeled vehicles and made his demand.  A person then had a stated amount of time to pay the tax. Some taxes were due on quarter days and some on cross quarter days. The quarter days were four dates in each year on which servants were hired, school terms started, and rents were due. They fell on four religious festivals, roughly three months apart. Leasehold payments and rents for land and premises in England are often still due on the old English quarter days. The quarter days ensured that debts and unresolved lawsuits were not allowed to linger on. Accounts had to be settled, a reckoning had to be made and publicly recorded on the quarter days.

The taxes were due in quarterly installments until the late 1800’s, and tax day was changed to 6 April in 1800.

In typical style, the Treasury ensured that there would be no loss of tax revenue and no concession to the populous by making the tax year 365 days. To complicate the matter, we have the New Style Calendar. The Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. It reformed the calendar of England and British Dominions so that the new legal year began on 1 January rather than 25 March (Lady Day); and it adopted the Gregorian calendar, as already used in most of western Europe. 

taxcart.jpg In England and Wales, the legal year 1751 was a short year of 282 days, running from 25 March to 31 December. 1752 began on 1 January. To align the calendar in use in England to that on the continent, the Gregorian calendar was adopted: and the calendar was advanced by 11 days: Wednesday 2 September 1752 was followed by Thursday 14 September 1752. The year 1752 was thus a short year (355 days) as well.

Several theories have been proposed for the odd beginning of the British tax year on 6 April. One is that from 1753 until 1799, the tax year began on 5 April, which corresponded to 25 March Old Style. After the twelfth skipped Julian leap day in 1800, it was changed to 6 April, which still corresponded to 25 March Old Style. And so the 1800 tax year was moved from 25 March to 5 April. Having done it once, the Treasury then decreed in 1800 that there would be another lost day of revenue, given that the century end would have been a leap year under the Julian calendar whereas it was not under the new Gregorian calendar. Thus 1800 was a leap year for tax purposes, but not for the purpose of the calendar and so the tax year start was moved on again by a single day to 6 April. However Poole thought that quarter days, such as Lady Day on 25 March, marked the end of the quarters of the financial year.] Thus, although 25 March Old Style marked the beginning of the civil year, the next day, 26 March Old Style was until 1752 the beginning of the tax year. After removing eleven days in 1752, this corresponded to 6 April New Style, where it remains today.


One has to be certain that the income tax was in force during the year in  question and that it was a tax due on the 6th and not on some other day.

For more information check out these sources: 

All Things Georgian 

England Taxation 1700 – 1900

The Regency Redingote 

Nancy Regency Researcher 

Vanessa Riley’s Regency Life

Posted in British currency, British history, buildings and structures, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, Inheritance, Living in the Regency | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

How Do We Know Jane Austen’s “Stuff” Actually Belongs to Her? a Guest Post from Collins Hemingway

This post originally appeared on Austen Authors on March 21, 2019. Enjoy!

A few weeks ago, Alexa Adams, one of our Austen Authors, wrote an interesting blog on the Rice portrait, which is believed by some to be a painting of a youthful, vibrant Jane Austen. Alexa was following up on an article in the Guardian newspaper claiming that a letter from Jane’s great-niece finally proves the painting is of Jane.

The newspaper article, and Alexa’s blog, brought a joyous reaction from many Janeites, who hoped that we finally have a good portrait of the author’s face. The puffy, dour image that “graces” the new ten-pound note and most books on Austen was not believed to be a good image of Jane by those who knew her. Alexa’s blog also received supportive comments from a member of the Rice family and from Ellie Bennett, a researcher who strongly supports the Rice claim. It also brought a not-so-fast response from a grumpy old man, namely me.

My point was not that the Rice family is wrong but that the evidence remains divided at best. I’d be tickled to death if the image of this animated and bright teenage girl is of our Jane. At present, the most knowledgeable Austen scholars and painting experts dispute the provenance of the Rice painting. In fact, in 2016 when I blogged about what Austen looked like, I did not even mention the Rice portrait because so many experts were lined up against it.

Nor am I here today to rehash that argument. Alexa’s blog has several good links, the comment section has a good back-and-forth, and a search on “Jane Austen Rice portrait” will lead to many more articles pro and con. (The Rice family has a website dedicated to their claims; the Guardian has more stories both positive and negative, Austen scholars weigh in, etc.)

My point was that with anything related to Austen, or any important historical figure, the provenance of an object must be significant and largely undisputed. This is because of the need for historical truth, of course. And for the emotional response when people believe an object is related to a certain figure. If we’re going to practice an innocent form of idolatry with “religious” relics, they ought to at least be real. The love of Austen is so powerful that both regular Janeites and Austen scholars wear modern reproductions of her turquoise ring on their fingers.

Provenance also has a major financial value. The original of that small, inexpensive ring sold for £152,450 ($232,836) a couple of years ago. The watercolor of Jane by her sister Cassandra (which does not show her face) sold for £164,500 a few years ago. In 2007, the Rice portrait was estimated to be worth between £400,000 and £800,000 if it was of Jane. It failed to sell at auction in 2007 because of the uncertainty of its authenticity.

The issue also got me thinking about provenance. What should we expect in the way of accuracy with regard to historical objects? Is it enough that something “probably” or “likely” or “could have” belonged to Jane Austen (or William Shakespeare or Charlotte Brontë)? Should the information supporting the claim be something like a “preponderance of evidence,” which is used in civil cases? Should it approach the level of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is used in criminal cases? Must the object’s history meet the forensic quality of an “unbroken chain of custody” required in criminal cases? (This legal requirement ensures that evidence is not tampered with anywhere along the way.)


There are not many objects coming down from Jane. The provenance for Jane’s ring (above, by headline) is very, very good. It came with a note from 1869 listing the successive owners. This information was provided by the auction house when it was sold:

“PROVENANCE: Jane Austen (1775-1817); her sister Cassandra (1773-1845); given in 1820 to her sister-in-law Eleanor Austen (née Jackson), second wife of Rev. Henry Thomas Austen (d. 1864); given in 1863 to her niece Caroline Mary Craven Austen (1805-1880, the daughter of [Jane’s brother] Rev. James Austen); her niece Mary A. Austen-Leigh (perhaps first to her mother Emma Austen-Leigh, née Smith); her niece Mary Dorothy Austen-Leigh; given to her sister Winifred Jenkyns on 27 March 1962; thence by descent.”

American rock star Kelly Clarkson bought the ring at auction in 2014. The resulting uproar led to private donors in England raising the money to keep it within the country. It is now on display at Jane Austen’s House Museum (JAHM) in Chawton. It might be possible to claim that another ring was substituted over the years, but it appears that the jewelry was a beloved remembrance of Jane and Cassandra from the earliest days and the family has cared for it for 240-plus years.

Another Austen item is the two topaz crosses given by Charles Austen to his sisters Jane and Cassandra with naval prize money in 1801. According to JAHM, the provenance of the crosses is significant but not as clear-cut as it is for the ring.

The crosses were  presented to the Jane Austen Society (UK) by an American professor, Charles Beecher Hogan, in 1974, following his address at the AGM. Hogan was an expert on Austen and a collector of Austen first editions. He had purchased the crosses, along with Jane’s letter about them, from a bookseller. He gave them to his wife, CC, as a wedding present. When they visited renowned Austen scholar R. W. Chapman, his first words to her were: “In case of divorce the crosses and letter stay together.”

The two crosses are now at JAHM, on loan from the Society, along with the Jane Austen letter of 26-27 May 1801 in which they are mentioned. This is the letter in which, writing to Cassandra, Jane playfully admonishes their youngest brother Charles for spending his prize money on gifts to his sister. “He must be well-scolded,” she says.

When Hogan announced his donation of the crosses to the Jane Austen society, he casually pulled them out of his pocket to wow the audience. No heavy security here! The museum has a letter from Hogan to Sir Hugh Smiley that states: “I bought them (the crosses) a great many years ago, along with the letter that corroborates them. The bookseller told me that he had acquired them from a member of the family of Charles Austen, the original donor.”


Charles Austen bought a topaz cross for each of his sisters. For years, this one, the shorter and “fatter” of the two, was believed to be Jane’s. Now, it’s not clear which sister received which cross.

There’s not, technically, an unbroken chain of references for the crosses, nor apparently any written authentication from the family member who sold it. However, the fact that it comes with the original letter in which the crosses are mentioned is also “probative,” as a lawyer might say—providing proof.

It’s also noteworthy that the crosses came to Hogan via Charles’s family. It would have made sense that Cass, who survived Jane—and like Jane was childless—would have bequeathed the crosses back to one of Charles’s descendants. Cassandra destroyed most of Jane’s correspondence, but the letters she kept were given back to the family members whom they involved. For example, Jane and Cass wrote each other regularly when one or the other was staying with their brother Edward’s family at Godmersham in Kent. Cass left a large selection of those letters to Edward’s daughter, their niece Fanny. This correspondence was eventually published by her son, Lord Brabourne, in 1884. These letters, plus several others previously published in the family Memoir of 1870 by the Steventon branch of the family, form the core of what now totals 161 known Austen letters.

With the topaz crosses, we have a contemporary reference to the topaz crosses as gifts in Jane’s letter—in her handwriting. After the death of Jane and Cass, we have two crosses that match the description of the simple topaz crosses ending up in Charles’s family. We also have a photo at JAHM of one of the Austen descendants wearing what appears to be the shorter, “fatter” cross of the pair. For many years, it was thought to be Martha Lloyd, the lifelong friend of Jane and Cass who eventually married their brother Frank. Thus, Martha may have received the cross first, after Jane’s death; further, that meant the “short, fat” cross was Jane’s. However, it was discovered a couple of years ago that the photo had been made with technology that did not exist until after Martha’s death, so the woman was a later relative. This fact means that the museum now has no way of knowing which cross belonged to which sister—the shorter, fatter cross and the longer, slimmer cross.

In summation, the provenance of the crosses has a clear starting point in 1801 from Charles in Jane’s own hand. Both the crosses and the original letter “corroborating” the crosses came down through Charles’s family. We have them being sold to and through a bookseller specializing in Austen material, which is a logical connection, to an expert in Austen. The price is not known, but Jane was not the rock star that she is today. It likely was not ridiculously high.

Jane’s ring shows an unbroken chain of possession through the family descendants. The provenance of the crosses begins during Jane’s life, but there are also “gap years,” when the ownership is not documented. The assumption is that it stayed in the family until being sold to the bookseller. If that’s true, it’s likely that no one bothered to write down each handoff. Having the original letter in which Austen herself mentions the topaz crosses, the family may not have felt any more proof was necessary.

It seems that the information supporting the crosses meets the standard of a “preponderance of evidence.” Do we have enough information to believe there was also an “unbroken chain of custody”? Would that matter here, since we also have the corroborating letter? Should we require the evidence to be “beyond a reasonable doubt”? Do the topaz crosses meet that requirement?


The Trilogy is also available in a single “boxed set” e-book:

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The Rice Portrait of Jane Austen? a Guest Post from Alexa Adams

This post originally appeared on Austen Authors on January 25, 2019. Enjoy! 


The “Rice Portrait” by Humphry, claimed to be Jane Austen ca. 1790-1810 ~ public domain ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rice_portrait#/media/File:RicePortrait.jpg

How clearly I recall writing this blog post in March of 2011. I was six months pregnant with my daughter and spent the bulk of the morning at a lab getting my second glucose test for gestational diabetes. I whiled away the hungry hours devouring the new evidence that Jane Odiwe, author, artist, and friend, had brought to my attention concerning the authenticity of the Rice portrait.

For decades, experts have debated whether the portrait is or is not of Jane Austen, the crux of the naysayers’ argument relying on both the date of the portrait and a lack of proof of provenance. Would Jane Austen have been young enough to be the sitter, and why, if it is Austen, is there no mention of the portrait by her descendants for almost 100 years after it was painted? Some of the biggest names in Austen scholarship stand on opposite sides of the fence on this issue, but I have always wanted so very much to believe it is a portrait of Jane. My complete bias now on the table, you can imagine my excitement (possibly aided by glucose overload – turns out I did have GD) that early spring morning in 2011, as I delightedly detailed the history of the controversy and presented the new evidence that the painter was Ozias Humphry and not Johan Zoffany, as previously believed. I was too busy with new parenthood to properly follow up a few years later when new, high image photographs revealed a date on the canvas of seventeen eighty something (Claudia Johnson had already said it was proof of authenticity in this article, so what more could I really add, anyway?). Happy to live in a world where I knew just what my favorite author looked like, I proceeded through the next several years content the matter was closed, even as the National Portrait Gallery continued to stubbornly refuse to authenticate the portrait. So it was with chagrin and abject disappointment that I read on another March morning in 2017 the Financial Times article that discredited the portrait. My emotions were something like Elizabeth Bennet’s in reaction to Mr. Darcy’s letter: at first I refused to believe it, but gradually the truth took hold. There was a stamp on the back of the Rice portrait that proved the canvass had to be made after 1800. I rushed over www.janeaustenriceportrait.com, where the Rice family keeps the world informed about their quest to authenticate the portrait, and saw their inability to reply to this blow with dismay. It was like a dear friend had died.

Since that day, I have come to accept that I love the portrait regardless of the sitter’s identity. It can still represent my idealized image of who Austen was, even if it isn’t actually her. Then yesterday I read this headline from The Guardian: Jane Austen? Family says note establishes disputed portrait’s identity. By the time I reached the end of the article, hope had blossomed anew.

Even without any relevance to the Rice portrait controversy, the discovery of a previously unknown note by Fanny Caroline Lefroy, Austen’s great-niece, would create buzz in the Janeite community, but the fact that this note explicitly establishes the provenance of the Rice Portrait makes it a bombshell. The handwriting matches Lefroy’s, of which there are many existent examples. It was somehow, seemingly miraculously, suddenly found in Austen’s writing desk.

Now, some of this feels just a bit too convenient. However was the note overlooked for so long? I’d like to see testing done on the paper to establish its age. There is a lot of information missing, but nevertheless, the claim is absolutely tantalizing. It certainly calls into question the dating of the stamp. Another explanation will need to be provided for its existence, but if it can be rationally accounted for, pressure for the National Gallery to finally recognize the portrait (and hopefully acquire it, saving it from its current fate in a storage locker) will certainly increase. What that would do to the value of the beloved but inadequate portrait by Cassandra Austen, currently the only verified portrait of her face, is an interesting question, as well as how that consideration might influence the NPG’s position.

Also worth noting is that the authentication of the Rice portrait may have implications for another, unverified portrait, the knowledge of which is confined to a photograph in a Christie’s catalog from an estate sale at Godmersham Park in 1983, its current whereabouts being unknown. You can read more about it in that original blog post from 2011, but the long and short of it is is that this could be a portrait of the Austen family. If so, Jane is the very young girl, positioned third from the left. Bears something of a resemblance to the girl in the Rice portrait, doesn’t she?

You can see a much better image of the restored Rice portrait at the family’s website: http://www.janeaustenriceportrait.com/latest-news/4581084461. It’s gorgeous!

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A Fight for Inheritance: James Innes-Ker, 5th Duke of Roxburghe and the Release of “Lady Chandler’s Sister”

One of the minor characters in my latest release, Lady Chandler’s Sister, was inspired by James Innes-Ker, 5th Duke of Roxburghe, whose tale I came across when doing research on a piece on primogeniture and inheritance laws. At the time, I thought the contest for the dukedom more than interesting, but had not thought to use the real life character in one of my stories. However, Roxburghe’s life and the location of his home, Floors Castle, fit perfectly for my story line, but I did not wish to name the actual person, for the Roxburghe line continues. Moreover, in the rewrites, I realized Roxburghe’s real-life tale, did not fit with my fictional one. Therefore, I kept the character, and, in the rewrites, left out Roxburghe’ history. Instead, I made the location less specific and made the character the godfather to the hero, but it was the Roxburghe legacy I had in mind while writing. 


coat of arms of the duke of Roxburghe Arms. uarterly, 1st and 4th grandquarters: quarterly, 1st and 4th, Vert on a Chevron between three Unicorns’ Heads erased Argent armed and maned Or as many Mullets Sable (Ker); 2nd and 3rd, Gules three Mascles Or (Weepont); 2nd and 3rd grandquarters: Argent three Stars of five points Azure (Innes). Crest. 1st: A Unicorn’s Head erased Argent armed and maned Or (Ker); 2nd: A Boar’s Head erased proper langued Gules (Innes). Supporters. On either side a Savage wreathed about the head and middle with Laurel and holding in his exterior hands a Club resting on the shoulder all proper. Motto. 1st, Pro Christo Et Patria Dulce Periculum (For Christ and country danger is sweet); 2nd, Be Traist. Cracroft’s Peerage Saltspan – This file was derived from: Royal Hanover Inescutcheon.svg Coronet of a British Duke.svg Coat of Arms of the College of Arms.svg Wildman Supporter (Heraldry).svg Badge of the Snawdoun Herald.svg White Boar Badge of Richard III.svg Torse of a British Gentleman.svg Coat of Arms of John of Austria (1545-1578).svg ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_of_Roxburghe#/media/File:Coat_of_arms_of_the_duke_of_Roxburghe.png


Derived from the royal burgh of Roxburgh in the Scottish Borders, the title was originally created as Earl of Roxburghe in 1616. Before the title was elevated to that of “duke,” other subsidiary titles, all part of the peerage of Scotland, except one) were held, including Marquess of Bowmont and Cessford (created 1707), Earl of Kelso (created 1707), Earl Innes (1837 – the exception, for it was a title belonging to the peerage of the United Kingdom), Viscount Broxounth (1707), Lord Roxburghe (1600), and Lord Ker of Cessford and Cavertoun (1616). The Duke’s eldest son bears the courtesy title of Marquess of Bowmont and Cessford.

The dukedom and its associated titles descend to heirs who shall inherit the earldom which in turn had a very specific line of descent. On the death of the 4th duke the titles became dormant as no one could prove their claim. In 1812 the House of Lords ruled in favor of Sir James Innes-Ker, 6th Baronet, of Innes, rejecting claims by the heir female of the second earl and heir male whatsoever of the first earl. The Duke of Roxburge is considered the Chief of Clan Innes, but cannot be so recognized as he retains the name Innes-Ker. 

The line of succession for the period in which I write had the eldest son of Sir Henry Innes, 5th Baronet, James Innes succeed to the baronetcy upon his father’s death. He was a descendant of Robert Ker, 1st Earl of Roxburghe, and in 1812 placed a claim to the vacant Scottish Duke of Roxburghe title. 

According to Wikipedia:

It took seven years of litigation for the dukedom to be secured by James Innes-Ker. As indicated above, the 3rd Duke never married. The title then devolved upon William Bellenden-Ker, who died within a year of assuming the title. He had no heirs. The succession was contested by Major-General Walter Ker and the Right Honorable William Drummond; and only at vast cost decided, on 11 May 1812, in favour of Sir James, as descended from Lady Innes, the third daughter of Hary, Lord Ker, son of the first Earl of Roxburghe.

Encyclopedia Britannica gives us the following explanation: “John, 3rd duke of Roxburghe (1740-1804), the famous bibliophile. John was betrothed to Christiana, daughter of the duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; but when the princess’s sister Charlotte was affianced to George III., reasons of state led to the rupture of the engagement, and he died unmarried on the 19th of March 1804. The duke’s library, including a unique collection of books from Caxton’s press, and three rare volumes of broadside ballads, was sold in 1812, when the Roxburghe Club was’ founded to commemorate the sale of Valdarfer’s edition of Boccaccio. Roxburghe’s cousin William, 7th Lord Bellenden (c. 1728-1805), who succeeded to the Scottish titles and estates, died childless in October 1805, and for seven years the titles were dormant. Then in 1812 Sir James Innes, bart. (1736-182 3), a descendant of the 1st earl, established his claim to them, and taking the name of Innes-Ker, became 5th duke of Roxburghe. Among the unsuccessful claimants to the Roxburghe dukedom was John Bellenden Ker (c. 1765-1842), famous as a wit and botanist and the author of Archaeology of Popular Phrases and Nursery Rhymes (1837), whose son was the legal reformer, Charles Henry Bellenden Ker (c. 1785-1871).

“The 5th duke’s great-grandson, Henry John Innes-Ker (b. 1876), became 8th duke in 1892. The duke of Roxburghe sits in the House of Lords as Earl Innes, a peerage of the United Kingdom, which was conferred in 1837 upon James Henry, the 6th duke (1816-1879).”

Lord Bellenden, mentioned above,  was descended from the second Duke; General Ker claimed to be heir male of the first, and Mr. Drummond heir male of the second Earl, so that the issue turned on the construction of an entail, which gave the right to the female line. One can understand why it took seven years to sort out who was who. “Other claimants included John Bellenden Ker (c. 1765–1842), famous as a wit and botanist and the author of Archaeology of Popular Phrases and Nursery Rhymes (1837), whose son was the legal reformer Charles Henry Bellenden Ker (c. 1785–1871). It is notable that 25 years later, Walter Ker’s daughter Essex Ker was involved in litigation against her father’s lawyers in connection with bonds issued to cover the costs of the succession litigation.” [James Innes-Ker, 5th Duke of Roxburghe]

James Innes-Ker married twice. His first wife, Mary Wray, died in 1807, a mere ten years after they had married. The same year of Mary’s death, Innes-Ker married Harriet Charlewood. His son, James Henry Robert Innes-Ker, delivered by Harriet, succeeded to the Dukedom upon his death.

LCS eBook Cover-01

Lady Chandler’s Sister: Book 3 of the Twins’ Trilogy [March 23, 2019]

Sir Alexander Chandler knows his place in the world. As the head of one of the divisions of the Home Office, he has his hand on the nation’s pulse. However, a carriage accident  on a deserted Scottish road six months earlier has Sir Alexander questioning his every choice. He has no memory of what happened before he woke up in an Edinburgh hospital, and the unknown frightens him more than any enemy he ever met on a field of battle. One thing is for certain: He knows he did not marry Miss Alana Pottinger’s sister in an “over the anvil” type of ceremony in Scotland.

Miss Alana Pottinger has come to London, with Sir Alexander’s son in tow, to claim the life the baronet promised the boy when he married Sorcha, some eighteen months prior. She understands his responsibilities to King and Crown, but this particular fiery, Scottish miss refuses to permit Sir Alexander to deny his duty to his son. Nothing will keep her from securing the child’s future as heir to the baronetcy and restoring Sir Alexander’s memory of the love he shared with Sorcha: Nothing, that is, except the beginning of the Rockite Rebellion in Ireland and the kidnapping of said child for nefarious reasons.

An impressive ending to the beautifully crafted Twins’ Trilogy – Starr’s ***** Romance Reviews

Love. Power. Intrigue. Betrayal. All play their parts in this fitting conclusion to a captivating, romantic suspense trio. – Bella Graves, Author & Reviewer

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PVT5GQ9/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=lady+chandler%27s+sister&qid=1553390378&s=gateway&sr=8-2

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1091376581/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=lady+chandler%27s+sister&qid=1553430979&s=gateway&sr=8-2

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/lady-chandler-s-sister

Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1131002644?ean=2940161421314

NOTE!!! Black Opal Books has graciously lowered the price of the eBooks 1 and 2 of the trilogy to $2.99 each. Those are Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep and The Earl Claims His Comfort. I have placed Lady Chandler’s Sister on sale for $1.99 until April 15. Grab your copies now! 

Posted in Black Opal Books, book release, books, British history, eBooks, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, Inheritance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baptism and Christenings in the Regency Period + a Giveaway of “Lady Chandler’s Sister”

Today, we think of the recording of a birth as automatic. At most hospitals, the staff record such details, and they are passed on to the proper authorities. The birth announcement appears in the local newspaper usually within a week of the actual birth. This was not so for the Regency. Birth announcements were not recorded during the Regency Era. Births were not always recorded in the parish registers. Generally, only the Baptism/Christening was recorded. Some clergymen listed the child’s age or birth date  when recording the  baptism, but most did not. Usually the child had to be breathing to be baptised and  given a name for the parish records, but that was not an “absolute” in the practice of recording births. [Note! Today the terms (baptism and christening) are interchangeable by many. A Christening is a naming, but the church believes baptism is to save the soul of the infant  and to enroll him in the church of believers. The secular name is incidental and just for records.]

According to Nancy Mayer Regency Researcher, “Most of the evidence upon which today’s perceptions of the era are founded is faulty.  St Martin-in-the-Fields was probably the most fastidious of the parishes in those days, with the sextons recording in minute detail, everything about those they buried – and that included stillborns, abortives, infants (those who’d lived to draw breath), etc., etc.  Name, date of birth, date of death, address, sex, etc., etc.  No detail was missed.  But even in this parish there were anomalies based on the structure of burial fees – abortives were the cheapest burials. Chrisom’s came next.  Stillborns were the third cheapest, and from there, the fees increased the longer the individual lived.  So many infants who had lived through the first crucial week only to succumb to the infections that so beset newborns, were buried as stillborns because the family could not or did not want to pay the higher fees. But even with the stillborns and the Chrisoms, the father’s name was recorded by the sextons.  It was not until well after the Regency that the mother’s name was included.” Although it rarely happened, in reality, the parents did not need to present for the baptism. 

No ecclesiastical law forbid the baptism of a stillborn child. It was the expense of doing so that prevented many from recognizing their child’s existence.

I understand the confusion and grief following the lost of a child for I lost two children before I had my son. It bothered me deeply not to have access to the ones I lost early on. I could not shake the idea that it would never have a name or a place in our family’s recorded history. However, many in the early 19th Century were developing what we now associate with the British public as a whole: the stiff upper lip. Grief was not shown in public. 


Other parishes were not as meticulous as St Martin-in-the-Fields. Generally, the person requesting the recording of the birth was at the “mercy” of the clergyman overseeing the parish. The clergyman’s opinions or those of the aristocrat providing his living could differ greatly from parish to parish. Some clergy would look poorly upon an abortive situation. An aristocrat might privately have a stillborn child baptised, but a public announcement of such would not occur. The recording of a child’s birth, or the lack thereof, is a major plot plot point in Book 2 of my Twins’ Trilogy, The Earl Claims His Comfort. Any “public” records, such as Debrett’s The New Peerage, would simply include the line stillborn daughter or stillborn son.

41VA23GR86LWe find an example of such in Chapter 1 of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Sir Walter Elliot picks up the Baronetage to read of his family history, “”ELLIOT OF KELLYNCH-HALL.
“Walter Elliot, born March 1, 1760, married, July 15, 1784, Elizabeth, daughter of James Stevenson, Esq. of South Park, in the county of Gloucester; by which lady (who died 1800) he has issue Elizabeth, born June 1, 1785; Anne, born August 9, 1787; a still-born son, Nov. 5, 1789; Mary, born Nov. 20, 1791.”

Many times the private family records, such as the family Bible, contained the name of the stillborn child. Parish records and private records did not always hold the same details. Often, especially in the male line, one might find two male offsprings with the same name in a private record, but the names of the children were listed as several years apart – the first one died at birth or shortly thereafter. 

As with everything else, there were those members of the clergy who accepted payment to record stillborns. Parents might, for example, argue that the Bible does not speak to forbidding the naming of stillborns. Babies could be baptised at home by any member of the household as long as water was used and the child was baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This was a valid baptism  in most cases. 

431184283c0ccbfe915e11bf06d3477a Anciently, a chrisom, or “chrisom-cloth,” was the face-cloth, or piece of linen laid over a child’s head when he or she was baptised or christened. Originally, the purpose of the chrisom-cloth was to keep the chrism, a consecrated oil, from accidentally rubbing off. With time, the word’s meaning changed, to that of a white mantle thrown over the whole infant at the time of baptism. The term has come to refer to a child who died within a month after its baptism—so called for the chrisom cloth that was used as a shroud for it. Additionally, in London’s Bills of Mortality, the term chrisom was used to refer to infants who died within a month after being born. (Chrisom)

ATOHCrop2 In A Touch of Honor, Book 8 of the Realm Series, I used a different plot point associated with the recording of births and deaths. In that book, Lady Satiné Swenton dies in a terrible accident and the child she carried is also lost. The surgeon tending the body asks Lord Swenton if he wishes to have the stillborn buried with his mother. The mother and stillborn infant could be buried together as it was with Princess Charlotte’s child.  In that case the child was not named. However, in this time, the father could insist on having the child listed in the  death register and could have a name etched in the grave marker to recognize publicly the birth. The woman’s husband could have his wife and child buried in a private cemetery and act as he thought best for his family. 


The Church of England provides this tutorial for the ceremony: 

What Happens at a christening?

At a christening a child is baptized with water. This is the heart of a christening. There are several moments in the service which have a special meaning too. Follow each step to see what happens.

“…I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”


The vicar will welcome everyone and especially the child who will be christened and their family. There will be a Bible reading, and the vicar will also talk about what a christening means.

The promises

You and the godparents will make some important promises for your child in the service. You can see the full order of service here.  Everyone promises to continue supporting the child from this moment.

The vicar says: “…People of God will you welcome this child and uphold them in their new life in Christ?”

Everyone present says: “…With the help of God, we will.”

The sign

Often, this is the point in the service when parents and godparents will be invited to come out to stand at the front with the child. In many churches, a special oil may be used to make the sign of a cross on your child’s forehead. It’s a significant moment, which marks your child as belonging to God.

The vicar will say: “…Christ claims you as his own. Receive the sign of the cross.”

The water

Water which is blessed in the church’s font will be poured over your child’s head by the vicar. This is your child’s baptism. It’s a sign of a new beginning and becoming a part of God’s family.

The vicar says: “…I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Prayers and welcome

The vicar, or perhaps even someone else from the church, will pray for the child and for all those who will support them in their path of faith. Everyone present welcomes the child into the family of the church with words given in the service.

A candle

A candle will be given to the child at the end of the service.

The vicar says: “…Shine as a light in the world to the glory of God.”

Godparents play a special role in the ceremony and in the child’s life. The godparents were the ones to take the child to church, make the vows in his/her name, and say the name of the child for all the world to know. The godmother customarily holds the child during the ceremony. The child can be dipped into the baptismal font–first one side and then the other, but often water was poured on his head. Occasionally water was just sprinkled on or a damp cloth is used.  A cross is made with oil on the baby’s head to anoint the child. The rite in the Book of Common prayer of the day was used.

A female child was to have two female and one male godparent or sponsor, while a male child was to have two male and one female godparent or sponsor. Although they could serve the role, godparents were NOT automatically the child’s legal guardian of the child(ren) with the passing of a parent(s). A will would designate the legal guardian in such a scenario. 

During the Regency and beyond, royalty were often asked to be godparents to the children of peers, such as dukes or men who had positions at Court or were at Court often or were ranking members of Parliament. Quite often the royal godparents employed proxy stand-ins. When the child is 12 years of age, he/she would be confirmed; he/she would renew the promises made at his/her baptism for himself/herself.

You might wish to check out: 

10 Ways Christening Has Changed

LCS eBook Cover-01

Sir Alexander Chandler knows his place in the world. As the head of one of the divisions of the Home Office, he has his hand on the nation’s pulse. However, a carriage accident  on a deserted Scottish road six months earlier has Sir Alexander questioning his every choice. He has no memory of what happened before he woke up in an Edinburgh hospital, and the unknown frightens him more than any enemy he ever met on a field of battle. One thing is for certain: He knows he did not marry Miss Alana Pottinger’s sister in an “over the anvil” type of ceremony in Scotland.

Miss Alana Pottinger has come to London, with Sir Alexander’s son in tow, to claim the life the baronet promised the boy when he married Sorcha, some eighteen months prior. She understands his responsibilities to King and Crown, but this particular fiery, Scottish miss refuses to permit Sir Alexander to deny his duty to his son. Nothing will keep her from securing the child’s future as heir to the baronetcy and restoring Sir Alexander’s memory of the love he shared with Sorcha: Nothing, that is, except the beginning of the Rockite Rebellion in Ireland and the kidnapping of said child for nefarious reasons.

An impressive ending to the beautifully crafted Twins’ Trilogy – Starr’s ***** Romance Reviews

Love. Power. Intrigue. Betrayal. All play their parts in this fitting conclusion to a captivating, romantic suspense trio. – Bella Graves, Author & Reviewer

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PVT5GQ9/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=lady+chandler%27s+sister&qid=1553390378&s=gateway&sr=8-2

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1091376581/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=lady+chandler%27s+sister&qid=1553430979&s=gateway&sr=8-2

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/lady-chandler-s-sister

Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1131002644?ean=2940161421314


Now for the Giveaway!!! I have two eBook copies of Lady Chandler’s Sister available to those who comment below. 

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