Presenting My New Book Baby: Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor

My latest book, Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor is available today. Enjoy chapter one below (There are 22 more to tempt you. LOL!). Then hurry over to Amazon to claim your copy before the price changes.

Book Blurb:

When Elizabeth Bennet’s eldest sister is named as the granddaughter of Sir Wesley Belwood, the Bennet family’s peaceful world is turned on its ear. Over Mr. Bennet’s objections, when Sir Wesley orders Jane to Stepton Abbey, Mrs. Bennet escorts her daughter to meet Jane’s true grandfather, a man who once turned the former Frances Gardiner Belwood out without even a widow’s pension. Elizabeth accompanies the pair, in hopes of protecting both from a man none of them truly know.

Fitzwilliam Darcy travels to Stepton Abbey with his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, whose Uncle Wesley has summoned the colonel to the abbey to meet the baronet’s granddaughter. Sir Wesley is the Countess of Matlock’s brother, and the man wishes for a marriage between the colonel and Jane Bennet (née Belwood) in order to keep the abbey in the family, while Darcy means to be in a position to protect his cousin from being forced into a marriage of convenience.

When Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy meet sparks of self-righteousness fly between them, but soon they join forces to protect their loved ones from Sir Wesley’s manipulations. Moralizing soon turns to respect and then to trust and then to love. This is a friends to lovers tale turned upon its head with unexpected consequences for all.

Chapter One 

“In spite of the scowl sometimes marking his features, Mr. Darcy has not an ill-natured look. On the contrary, there is something pleasing about his mouth when he speaks, and there is something of dignity in his countenance that would not give an unfavorable idea of his heart.” 

– Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 43

“It is decided,” Sir Wesley declared, “your eldest will marry my nephew.” 

“Jane cannot marry him! A complete stranger! Mama, tell him. Tell Sir Wesley he has no right to determine Jane’s future!” Elizabeth argued. 

Sir Wesley’s letter to Mrs. Bennet had taken all at Longbourn by surprise. Naturally, her parents were well aware of the situation in which Jane now found herself, but Mr. and Mrs. Bennet had kept the specifics of Jane’s birth a “secret” until Sir Wesley’s letter had arrived a month earlier. 

Unmistakably, the whole Bennet family knew something of Sir Wesley Belwood and Stepton Abbey, for the property, which was some twelve miles removed from their beloved Longbourn, was one of the most historic estates in Hertfordshire and the Belwood family could trace its time in England back to the Norman conquest; however, what neither Elizabeth nor any of her sisters had known was, Jane was not one of Thomas Bennet’s daughters, although Mr. Bennet had raised the girl as his own. The difference in Jane’s coloring and her figure made sense in light of the news, but it still had ripped out all their hearts to acknowledge a part of the family history, best kept hidden. To all their shock, Miss Frances Gardiner had originally been married to Mr. Stewart Belwood, Sir Wesley’s second son.

Evidently, from what her parents finally shared, Sir Wesley had not approved of his son’s marriage to the daughter of a wealthy merchant, and the baronet had, for all intents and purposes, disowned his youngest son, although Stepton Abbey remained in the man’s hands. Unfortunately for the man’s young wife, Stewart Belwood passed away some six months into his marriage, and, as the child Mrs. Frances Belwood carried had been a daughter rather than a male to inherit the estate, Mrs. Belwood had been removed to her family home, where she later met and married Mr. Thomas Bennet, a true gentleman, who had accepted Mrs. Belwood’s infant daughter as his own. 

Elizabeth looked to her customarily animated mother to find Mrs. Bennet pale and wan, and Elizabeth quickly realized her pleas were falling on deaf ears. No matter how much Mrs. Bennet wished to deny Sir Wesley, she would not. Elizabeth knew, as well as her mother, if Mrs. Frances Bennet placed a daughter as the mistress of Stepton Abbey and wife to a perfectly respectable gentleman associated with the aristocracy, an unspoken dream would come true. A woman who had delivered five daughters, all of whom would require husbands, could not do better than to place the eldest in a position to marry the son of a powerful earl and the nephew of Sir Wesley. 

Instead of opposing Sir Wesley, Mrs. Bennet shook her head in the negative and shot Elizabeth a begging look, asking Elizabeth not to rile the baronet further. Instead of responding, her mother concentrated on her needlework with an intensity Elizabeth had rarely observed. 

Sir Wesley tapped his cane sharply against the floor to emphasize his displeasure with Elizabeth. “Mrs. Bennet permits you too much latitude, Miss Bennet,” he said in critical tones. “However, I will not tolerate your insolence under my roof!”

Elizabeth valiantly declared, “I am ‘Miss Elizabeth.’ Jane is ‘Miss Bennet.’”

Sir Wesley sat forward and pointed his cane at Elizabeth to place an accent on his response. “Your step-sister Jane is ‘Miss Belwood,’ my granddaughter, and she will do as she is instructed by her mother and by me. If my youngest son had married the woman his family had chosen for him—a woman from a well-placed family—instead of aligning himself with a woman who brought him only misery, he might still be alive and well.” 

Elizabeth immediately looked to her mother for a response: Instead of a rebuttal, Mrs. Bennet looked up in dismay, gasped, and ran quickly from the room, a heartfelt sob echoing in her wake. 

Fed up with Sir Wesley’s innate mean streak, Elizabeth stood to confront him. “I understand you still grieve for the passing of your son, but attacking my mother will not resolve your loss nor will it promote my family’s cooperation in this endeavor. Your son died in a carriage accident. His fate could happen to anyone. A rain storm and slick roads contributed to his death, not marriage to my mother.” 

“How do you know Stewart was not racing away from the greatest mistake of his life?” Sir Wesley argued. 

“How do you know Mr. Belwood was not racing home to spend time with his loving wife?” Elizabeth countered. 

“You speak nonsense,” Sir Wesley declared. 

“Foolish, I may be, sir, but I am not vindictive. From all my mother has shared of her short-lived relationship with Mr. Belwood, your son would not wish to press his daughter into a marriage she does not desire. After all, he remained strong against your edicts, despite the fact you withdrew support of his household. I doubt Mr. Belwood would stand idly by and permit you to demand his daughter marry your choice for Stepton Abbey’s new master.” 

“You are warned, Miss Elizabeth, or whatever you choose to call yourself, I will not tolerate your interference in this endeavor. I will send both you and that tart you refer to as ‘mother’ packing. I do not require your opinion or hers—only my granddaughter’s acceptance of my nephew’s marriage proposal will suffice.” 

* * *

Darcy’s coach turned off the main road onto a lane covered in wood chips and pea-sized gravel. 

“We must be nearing Stepton Abbey,” his cousin Colonel Edward Fitzwilliam, said with a slight snarl of disapproval.

“There is no need for you to go through with this charade,” Fitzwilliam Darcy declared. 

“Easy for you to say. You inherited Pemberley. There is little arranged for a second son in English society.” 

“I thought you were to inherit the estate in Oxfordshire,” Darcy reasoned. “The one from your mother’s portion of the marriage settlements.” 

“Only after my mother’s cousin passes, and Lawrence Petty is but a few years younger than my father,” Fitzwilliam explained. “He is certainly not prepared to stick his spoon in the wall any time soon.”

Darcy did not remark on Fitzwilliam’s accounting of his future inheritance. Instead, he noted, “We must be nearing the abbey. The lane has narrowed.” 

“I pray we reach the abbey soon, so I can foil my uncle’s plans for a marriage. I do not mind the idea of inheriting the property, but a marriage is out of the question. Moreover, I am to return to my regiment at the end of the next fortnight. I would prefer a more enjoyable pastime than arguing with my mother’s elder brother over whether he has the right to choose my bride for me.” The colonel sat in silence for a less than a minute, before he said, “Now I fully understand how you must despise the trappings Lady Catherine sets for you each year at Lady’s Day to force you to speak your proposal to our cousin Anne.” 

Darcy nodded his sympathy. “After all the times you have diverted Lady Catherine’s attention away from her stratagems, I thought it only fair to place myself between you and Sir Wesley. From what your father has said of his brother-in-marriage, the baronet is not one who is easily swayed.” 

“Neither am I,” Fitzwilliam declared. 

“A family trait both the Fitzwilliams and the Belwoods share,” Darcy said with a smile.

“As do the Darcys,” Fitzwilliam remarked. “Let us pray this ‘duty call’ proves to be a better entertainment than what we traditionally discover at Rosings Park each year. Perhaps, if we are fortunate, Miss Belwood will be a beautiful siren calling my name, or, at a minimum, a woman who is proficient on the harp or some other instrument, who can keep us entertained in the evenings.” 

Darcy said with a lift of his brows in jest, “Even if the lady’s skills are lacking, she will be more proficient in a knowledge of music than Lady Catherine and more entertaining than poor Anne, whose potential is dwarfed by her sickly manner.” 

In truth, Darcy prayed the situation at Stepton Abbey would not be as volatile as he anticipated it would be, but some “gut”—some visceral feeling—told him otherwise, and he meant to stand between Sir Wesley and Fitzwilliam, if such proved necessary. 

The idea pleased Darcy, for his older cousin had always been Darcy’s protector. Two years Darcy’s senior, Edward Fitzwilliam had always been the strongest and, ironically, most amiable man of Darcy’s acquaintance. It was a real shame Edward was a second son, for he would have made a better future Earl of Matlock than his older brother Rowland. 

Sir Wesley, the colonel’s uncle, held the reputation of being a man who ruled his family with an iron fist, which meant a confrontation with Fitzwilliam was inevitable, for the colonel was not built to stand aside, such was Fitzwilliam’s success as a military leader, a quality Darcy admired in the man.

“Hertfordshire is proving quite beautiful,” Darcy remarked as he studied the scenery. “Nothing along the order of our beloved Derbyshire, but it has its grassy hills and its deep foliage. I enjoyed the brief time I spent in the area.” 

“I had forgotten you visited Hertfordshire some months back with Bingley,” Fitzwilliam observed. “You wrote of it when I was away.” 

“Nearly a year removed,” Darcy shared. “I was here less than a sennight.” 

“How far removed is Bingley’s estate?” the colonel inquired. “If not too far, perhaps when Sir Wesley becomes more than we can stomach, we can spend the evening with Bingley.” 

Darcy admitted, “I am uncertain, but I imagine we can ask at the abbey. Surely someone will know the distance to Meryton, the nearest village to Bingley’s estate. It is not as if Hertfordshire is so large.” 

“Is the structure ahead the house?” Fitzwilliam questioned as he leaned forward for his first view of the estate, which could become his, if he agreed to marry Sir Wesley’s granddaughter. 

“Must be.” Darcy looked around his cousin’s head for a glimpse of the manor house. “It is in better shape than I expected. Some of the facade has crumbled away, but such is nothing unusual in maintaining a house.” 

When the coach came to a halt, Darcy stepped down first, while the colonel gathered his hat, gloves, and sword. He looked around quickly before saying, “I would wager . . .”

“Do you wager often, sir?” a very feminine voice off to his right asked. Darcy turned to look for the source of the voice, but did not view the woman until she stepped from behind a large oak tree. She daringly eyed him with more disdain than he obviously deserved from a complete stranger, but the cause of her displeasure was not readily discernible. Therefore, he simply watched her as intently as she watched him. 

She was more petite than most women who interested him, but Darcy would admit she was uncommonly pretty—several auburn curls surrounded her face, but most were tucked beneath her bonnet. Darcy assumed her tresses would entice many men, for there was a spark of fire touching her hair when the sun came out from behind a cloud. Her appearance certainly made his fingers itch to run a brush through her hair for her and then, perhaps, kiss behind her ear, which was a totally uncharacteristic thought for him. Her body proved to be a bit buxom, with each of her breasts appearing to be more than a handful. Her complexion was speckled by a few delicate freckles, but not so many as to distract the viewer, but her most compelling feature were her eyes: Hazel. Sometimes green and then with a blink, they were brown. Intelligent eyes. Pathways to her soul. And sparking with unexplained disdain directed at him. 

* * *

So, this was the man Sir Wesley had summoned to Stepton Abbey to claim both an inheritance and her sister Jane. Elizabeth had no doubt his appearance proved him to be a libertine, and she instantly decided she disliked him. The words from his mouth spoke of a wager. Was he a man who placed a bet on the turn of a leaf as easily as he did a turn of a card? No wonder he wished to claim both the abbey and Jane. 

Although there was nothing she could do to prevent Sir Wesley from turning the abbey over to a man from his extended family, Elizabeth would never permit the baronet and Mrs. Bennet to force her sweet sister into a marriage of convenience. Jane deserved love. She and all her sisters did. 

Elizabeth stood tall or as tall as her five feet and three inches would allow. She had the fleeting notion the gentleman’s eyes were the most compelling ones she had ever viewed. Over the distance separating them, they appeared gray—the color of unpolished silver. Elizabeth meant to prove she would not be intimidated by him or his uncle, so she returned his steady gaze with one of her own.

“You will never do, sir,” Elizabeth warned. “I will not stand idly by and permit Sir Wesley his manipulation.” 

“Most assuredly,” the fellow said. A smile turned up the corners of his lips as if they conversed at a tea party or while waiting for the sets to form at a country assembly. 

“Do not mock me, sir. I am not the type to be trifled with. Do not doubt my resolve, for I am not easily moved.” 

“Such is excellent news,” the stranger said. “I am most pleased to know you are my gallant.” He offered her a very proper bow. 

“With whom in the devil do you converse, Darcy?” an unknown man asked as he stepped to the ground. The man’s head turned in Elizabeth’s direction, while the first gentleman simply continued to stare at her. 

Like it or not, realization arrived upon her features, along with dismay mixed with anger. 

The man in the uniform glanced first to her and then to his travel mate. “What transpires, Darcy?” he asked. 

The stranger nodded to her. “Evidently, Cousin, you possess a kindred soul. The lady does not appear to wish for a marriage to occur. Unfortunately, she briefly thought me to be you.” The first gentleman turned to her. “Permit me to give you the acquaintance of Colonel Edward Fitzwilliam, the man you wish to deny a marriage. I am simply the colonel’s humble cousin, here in Hertfordshire for moral support.” 

Elizabeth thought the colonel was not as handsome as was his cousin, but he appeared to be more amiable than was the other gentleman, with whom she had taken an instant dislike. 

Make me appear a fool, she thought. You will rue the day, sir.

To the colonel she said, “I am Miss Elizabeth Bennet, colonel, and I pray, sir, I may convince you to assist me in thwarting Sir Wesley’s plan to engage my sister to you.” 

* * *

“Welcome, Colonel Fitzwilliam,” the butler spoke in reverent tones. “I am Mr. Shield. I remember when your mother married your father. It was a grand day, sir.” 

“You have been the Belwood butler for more than thirty years?” Edward questioned. 

“I was a messenger boy and then footman and then under butler and finally butler on the Belwood estate. More than forty years of service, sir.” 

Edward apparently noted how Mr. Shield eyed Darcy, for the colonel said, “This is my cousin, Mr. Darcy. He will be staying with us.” 

“Naturally, sir.” Shield bowed. “Might you wish to join Mrs. Bennet in the main drawing room while I have a room aired out for Mr. Darcy?”

“Mrs. Bennet?” Edward asked. 

“The former Mrs. Stewart Belwood,” the butler explained, “and mother of Miss Belwood. Mrs. Bennet has brought her daughter to Stepton Abbey at Sir Wesley’s request.” 

Edward remarked, “Likely the same style of ‘request’ I received. From what I recall of my uncle, he rarely makes a ‘request.’ He issues orders.” 

“As you say, sir.” The butler shot a glance to a room along the hall. “A tea service has recently been delivered to Mrs. Bennet. I will see fresh water is brought up.” 

Without other options, Edward gestured for the butler to lead the way. “And my uncle?” the colonel asked. “Will he join us for tea?” 

“The baronet is with his man of business and left specific instructions not to be disturbed. Yet, I will venture in to inform him of your arrival, as Sir Wesley has been most desirous of your presence at Stepton.” 

“Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mr. Darcy, ma’am,” Mr. Shield announced as Edward and Darcy were shown into a drawing room no respectable hostess of the aristocracy of today would tolerate. It was greatly out of date and reminiscent of the previous century. It even smelled moldy. At least someone had thought to open the windows. 

The woman who sat behind the tea service stood quickly. She appeared agitated, wiping her hands down the front of the day gown she wore. “Colonel. Sir,” she said through a squeak in her voice. “We are most pleased to host you. Are we not, Lizzy?”

It was then Darcy realized the woman who had moments earlier announced him to be “unsatisfactory” had somehow managed to appear in the drawing room with Mrs. Bennet. The woman must have run to a side entrance to appear before them now. He would have enjoyed viewing her scampering across the abbey’s lawn.

“Yes. Yes, indeed. Please. Please have a seat, Colonel. Mr. Darcy.” The woman glanced around uncomfortably. “I assume we still wait for Sir Wesley.” 

The colonel explained, “I understand my uncle is with his man of business. Forgive us for interrupting your tea time, ma’am.” 

As the woman resumed her seat, Darcy said as casually as he could while he sat, “We were fortunate to have encountered your daughter briefly outside, but I fear I must have misunderstood when she presented us her name. I believe you gave us the name ‘Bennet.’ Is your daughter not a ‘Belwood’?”

The woman suspiciously glanced to said daughter and frowned; yet, the young lady took up the response. “The story is truly not mine to tell,” she admitted, “but as Mama worries regarding Sir Wesley’s displeasure, I assume a basic explanation should be made, as the colonel is Sir Wesley’s relation.” 

Darcy’s cousin said, “I rarely recall being in Stewart Belwood’s company, for Stewart was much older than I. I was a mere child the last time we encountered each other.” 

The young woman nodded her gratitude for the information. “My mother married Stewart Belwood despite Sir Wesley’s disapproval. The baronet’s objection cut off Stewart’s income, except this estate could not be ripped from Mr. Belwood’s hands.” 

“Such explains much of the missing family history,” the colonel confirmed. 

“As my younger sisters and I are new to the idea, sir, we commiserate with your wishing to understand who holds which cards in the game.” 

The older woman said softly, “I married Elizabeth’s father within a year of Stewart’s passing. I was a young widow with an infant.” 

“Miss Belwood?” the colonel asked. 

“Jane was christened a ‘Bennet,’” Miss Elizabeth declared. “She is not ‘Miss Belwood.’”

“If your Bennet family expects to use my family’s name to better themselves, then my granddaughter must learn to embrace the idea of being a ‘Belwood,’” an angry voice declared loudly into the silence crowding the room.

You may order the eBook copy HERE.

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The Origin of Chasing + the Upcoming Release of “Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor” + a Giveaway

Steeplechase has its origins in an equine event in 18th-century Ireland, as riders would race from town to town using church steeples — at the time the most visible point in each town — as starting and ending points (hence the name steeplechase). Riders would have to surmount the various obstacles of the Irish countryside: stone walls, fences, ditches, streams, etc.

As the name might suggest, that very first race took place in 1752 between two steeples in rural county Cork in the south of Ireland. These types of races are often called “point-to-point” races. At that time, church steeples were among the tallest buildings in the landscape. Two men, Cornelius O’Callaghan and Edmund Blake, made a bet between them, to race from Saint John’s Church in Buttevant to Saint Mary’s Church in Doneraile, which was approximately 4 miles. However, it was 4 miles across the countryside, crossing rivers and streams and walls, etc. Although we do not know the winner’s name, he was to earn a prize of 600 gallons of port.

Castle Buttevant
St Mary’s Church

In 1839, the British Grand National race at Aintree was established, a race that is still run today over roughly the same distance of around 4 miles.

In my newest Austen-inspired story, Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor, Bingley has taken Netherfield for the customary reasons of a “gentleman” owning an estate, but he is also developing a line of thoroughbreds (his real passion, not farming). He has had some hard times, of late, of which you must read the story to know something of their nature, for they are essential to the plot, but he has a chance to turn things around if his Arabian mare can win a race designed for fillies. In the scene below, Darcy and Elizabeth are “teaching” a young groom something of how the race will be conducted. The boy is secretly Bingley’s new jockey, but they cannot let on to everyone who is about, so he is Elizabeth’s servant, serving as a chaperone as she and Darcy ride the course for pleasure a few days before the actual race. This one is not a steeplechase race, but Darcy explains it all to the youth. 

Other Sources:

About Steeplechasing 


The Course of Chasing

Queen’s Cup


Book Blurb: 

Elizabeth Bennet will not tolerate her dearest sister Jane being coerced into marriage. Yet, how she will prevent the “inevitable”? Jane, after all, has proven to be the granddaughter of Sir Wesley Belwood, a tyrannical baronet, who means to have his say in Jane’s marriage in order to preserve the family bloodlines. When Colonel Fitzwilliam appears at Stepton Abbey as the prospective groom, Elizabeth must join forces with the colonel’s cousin, a very handsome gentleman named Mr. Darcy, to prevent the unwanted betrothal. 

Lacking in fortune and unconventionally handsome, Elizabeth Bennet is willing to risk everything so her beloved sister may have a happily ever after, even if Elizabeth must thwart all of Sir Wesley’s plans, as well as those of Mr. Darcy. 

Fitzwilliam Darcy meant to flirt with the newly named Miss Belwood himself to prevent the girl’s marriage to his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, but one glance to Miss Elizabeth Bennet has Darcy considering everything but his cousin’s fate. Miss Elizabeth thought him a wastrel, but when incidents throw them together, they must combine forces to fight for love for the colonel, for Jane, and maybe, even for themselves.

Excerpt from Chapter 15 

The colonel and Miss Mary had decided to walk about the town and enjoy tea together instead of joining Miss Elizabeth and Darcy on the course. It was obvious to all, Elizabeth’s sister was not the natural rider Miss Elizabeth was. In reality, it pleased Darcy to have the lady all to himself, despite the fact slowly riding the course set out for the race along with another fifty or so horsemen and women did not constitute “all to himself.” Moreover, the groom rode nearby. Yet, the lady’s attention belonged to him, and, for that, Darcy was quite thankful. 

Before they began their ride, Darcy explained a few “givens” to Toby. “I am certain Mr. Bingley has spoken of the horse’s characteristics prior to our outing, but I mean to speak to the obvious.”

“Yes, sir,” the boy said in serious tones. 

Darcy wished there was another Arabian available for him to use as an example, but he continued, nonetheless. “Bingley’s T is an Arabian mare, and I assume you have noted her slightly smaller head, finely chiseled lines, dished face, long arching neck, and high tail carriage.” 

“Yes, sir, she be magnificent.” 

“She also has a small muzzle, dark eyes, which are well set apart, and small ears with the tips tilted slightly inward. More importantly, for the race, she possesses large nostrils, which extend when in action.” 

“So noted, sir.” 

Darcy continued, “Unlike the other horses you have encountered, Bingley’s T has one less vertebra than is common in other breeds. She also possesses perfect balance and symmetry, a deep chest, well-sprung ribs, long legs, and a more horizontal pelvic bone position.” 

“Mr. Bingley be explaining all these points and fancy words to me, sir.” The youth looked about him and said, “I wish ‘T’ be here now, so I kin sees how she performs with so many people about.” 

“I agree,” said Darcy, “but it is too dangerous for now. To protect both you and the horse, we must keep ‘mum’ on what we plan. However, when you return to Netherfield, you might ask Mr. Bingley to arrange people along the rails to yell and wave hats and make noise and the like to allow the horse to become accustomed to some of the sights and sounds she will encounter here.”

“I’s do what ye suggest, sir.” 

Elizabeth instructed, “According to both Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, Bingley’s T is the superior mount, but you must permit her to run her race. Control, but do not attempt to master her.” 

Toby said, “I’s learnt that lesson already. ‘T’ nearly tooken off my knuckle ‘til she gets to know me when I be feeding her.” 

Darcy added, “We will not have you dress as Mr. Bingley’s rider until the last minute. We have spread the word about to say the hired rider is traveling in from the north.” 

“Understand, sir. If they knows, the other riders not be afeared of me,” the boy declared. 

Miss Elizabeth said with a protective squeeze of the boy’s arm, “You must use that particular fact to your advantage.” 

“I mean to, Miss Elizabeth,” the boy said eagerly. 

Darcy was quick to add, “Such will not keep the other riders from attacking both you and Bingley’s T, if the opportunity arises. Your horse’s strength is the race, not the jumps over the barricades. When you must jump, remember ‘T’ leads with her left leg and will, therefore, require a five-step approach. You may be required to swing a bit wider to accommodate the horse’s natural gait.” 

Toby nodded his understanding, but Darcy knew the boy had not considered the jumps prior to today. 

“We will jump a few of the barricades today just so you have the feel of them. You will jump with Miss Elizabeth, which would be natural for you to protect her as part of her family’s estate. Moreover, your doing so will confuse those who cannot determine if you are employed by Mr. Bennet or Mr. Bingley as a groom.” 

Darcy continued, “When I observed riders on the Continent who chose an Arabian mount, the more consistent successful horsemen found it profitable to lay out along the horse’s neck rather than to sit upright as do most Englishmen.” 

The boy swallowed hard, but said, “Lots of lessons to learn, but I’ll do me best, sir.” 

Finished with the basics, they mounted and prepared to ride the course. As they leisurely walked their animals, Darcy spoke loud enough to Miss Elizabeth to ensure the trailing Toby could hear him also. “It is a three-miles’ course. Outriders will be posted along the route to assure none of the riders choose a shorter course. There are five hurdles or walls, a half mile between each. They will not be as high as one might find in, say, a fox hunt. In fact, I heard one of the course officials say they were thinking of removing all but the one board. The boards are meant to represent the type of obstructions a person might discover when out on a pleasure ride.” 

“But not at such frequency,” the lady said to emphasize the necessity of Toby jumping each of them. “I do so appreciate your suggestions, sir. Most useful. Might we attempt the first jump now, Mr. Darcy?” she asked. 

“Are you accustomed to jumping, my dear?” he said loud enough for others on the course to hear, but also to assure himself she was not in danger. 

“Not as assured as others of your acquaintance, I imagine, but certainly I can manage to stay on the horse, if such is what you fear,” she responded in a tone Darcy thought could reflect real irritation. 

“I will ask Toby to follow, and I will lead you across each to assure your safety. Neither of us wishes to see you harmed. Heh, Toby?” he asked the boy. Darcy meant to provide Elizabeth information on each barricade, so he might also instruct the groom. 

“Aye, sir.” 

Miss Elizabeth appeared to understand his purpose and nodded her agreement. 

“According to Mr. Bingley and all those I have asked, none of the horses in the race are steeplechased trained, and no one wishes them injured,” he continued. 

“Naturally,” Miss Elizabeth declared as another pair of riders passed them. 

Darcy stopped his horse and waited for her and the groom to join him. “Do you know what I mean by ‘steeplechase,’ Toby?”

The boy looked shamefaced. “Not exactly, sir.” 

“Now is the time to learn,” Darcy said, “especially if you are expecting employment with Bingley.” He nodded toward the surrounding countryside. “The steeplechase-style racing originated in Ireland during the last century. In contrast to a flat course race, of which you may have some basic knowledge, the idea was the horses would race from one church steeple to the next. The first such race of any notice was between two men named Cornelius O’Callaghan and Edmund Blake, who raced four miles cross-country from Buttevant Church to Saint Leger Church in Doneraile, Ireland. That is in county Cork. The first ‘English’ steeplechase took place only a few years back in Bedford, although the one in Newmarket has been happening since the 1790s, but it was not as structured as the one in Bedford. The Newmarket race is only a mile long, but it has five-foot bars every quarter mile. Obviously, because the horses in this race are trained for cross-country, only one bar is being used, and, truthfully, I expect even that bar will no longer be required by the time of the race. Even so, I imagine each rider will still be required to go through the gates as part of the course. You will need to be flexible and make changes as they come.” 

Toby appeared a bit in awe at Darcy’s knowledge of the sport. “I nevers thought all this be required.” 

“The reason I know this is not a steeplechase is what Mr. Bingley described of the rider he had hired before you came along. A flat course horse carries a lighter weight than do steeplechase animals. Riders for steeplechase races tend to be taller and heavier than those on flat runners.”

Miss Elizabeth teased, “If you keep growing Toby, we may be required to train you on a different type of horse.” 

“Yes, ma’am,” he said with a smile. “Me father will be surprised when I tells him all I’ve learned.”

Afterwards, they jumped the first barricade twice, circling around the second time once they set their horses at a faster pace, with Miss Elizabeth and Toby jumping together to provide the boy the feel of having another rider so close. Then they rode on to the second jump. 

They waited for the area to clear before permitting Toby to jump the stallion he rode. Afterwards, Darcy instructed the boy as they looked on and Miss Elizabeth executed the jump. “As we said previously, do not think to impose your will on the horse, for it has been bred for this purpose. Set a steady gallop. In the race, permit Bingley’s T to choose what is comfortable for her. As I understand it, she is the only Arabian mare in the race. There are supposed to be five and twenty horses in the mix, although I expect a couple will not run, for one reason or another, but, at this point of the race course, you and ‘T’ should be in the top eight or nine.” 

They rode steadily over the second of the three miles, stopping to jump the barricade several times. Darcy jumped with Toby when there was no one about and purposely attempted to cause the boy to make a mistake. With each jump, he crowded the boy to provide the lad the feel of the race. However, Toby appeared confident in his ability to read the hazards correctly, and Darcy was impressed with the lad’s overall knowledge, as well as Toby’s determination. 

“Some will attempt to unseat you over the walls,” Darcy warned. “You are likely to feel the sting of some unscrupulous rider’s crop, but, if you lay out along the horse as I showed you, it will be harder to dislodge you.”

Toby swallowed hard, but he nodded his understanding of what Darcy suggested. 

They stopped at the second mile marker and the fourth barricade while Darcy pretended to adjust Elizabeth’s stirrups. “Many of the initial contenders will have fallen behind by this point,” he said as both Elizabeth and Toby remained silent and attentive. “Many of the horses will be lathered and struggling to finish. You will be able to pass them easily if you have not ridden ‘T’ too hard. However, do not yet permit ‘T’ to break away. You will require all her speed the last three-quarters to half mile. Keep a steady pace, but stay within striking distance of the front runners. They should hear you, but not see you.

“I would imagine with a mile remaining, you must begin to edge her forward. Lightly whipping the reins from side to side would be advisable, but no actual whip. I do not believe in whipping an animal which has given you all he or she has. Catch a good hold on ‘T’s’ mane, for she may disagree with you, as most spirited females do.” Darcy chuckled when Miss Elizabeth presented him a scowl. “Meanwhile, it might be a sound idea to reassure ‘T’ how splendid she is,” he said as he looked up into Miss Elizabeth’s lovely face. “I have been led to understand, it is the established custom of the female of the species to reject a fellow’s request on the first application. Therefore, be prepared to apply to ‘T’s’ finer qualities more than once.” He then returned her booted foot to the stirrup before teasingly saying, “Of course, one must recall, a mare is a lady, and, as such, her modesty rather adds to her perfections.” 

Elizabeth immediately kicked his arm away, and Darcy burst into laughter, while Toby appeared perplexed by what just occurred. Darcy said to her, “Just wished for assurances you, too, paid, attention to my instructions, my dear.” 

Her chin hitched a notch higher. “Upon my word, sir, your hope is rather an extraordinary one. Now, if you have completed your warnings to Toby, may we continue?”

“As you wish, Miss Elizabeth.” Darcy mounted quickly. “Naturally, you must read the competition in your own manner, Toby. You must stay aware of what is transpiring around you. By this point in the race, you will be hit with a wall of sound which will only grow louder the closer you come to the finish line. People will be shouting their encouragements and their curses. The thunderous stomping of hooves will lodge in your chest and make you wish to turn Bingley’s T loose too soon. You must be disciplined, Toby. If you are disciplined, so will be ‘T.’ She will take her cues from you.” 

“Yes, sir,” the boy said in awe. 

When they reached the final jump, Darcy paused. “Hopefully, by this point, you will be in a position to steal away the race from the others. You must be with the leader or leaders of the race in order to win, whether such be one horse or a trio. You should be matching them stride for stride, and all your senses must be in tune, heart by heart, with your horse. As you pass the others, you will be able to smell your opponent’s fear.” 

The boy laughed nervously. 

“It is true,” Darcy insisted. “When your opponent fears losing, you will smell his emotions and know the victory is yours. 

“I believe you, sir.” 

“Just remember that said fear will make him desperate, and, so, this will be the point when your opponent may even think to attack you. He will likely make an effort to unseat you.” 

“What should I do, sir?” Toby asked in a breathy voice, as if he could feel the race himself, which is exactly what Darcy hoped he would experience.

“Dig into your strength, boy. Miss Elizabeth would not have recommended you as Mr. Bingley’s groom if the lady did not believe you possessed the talent to win. You must believe as she believes. As Mr. Bingley believes. Use your instincts. You have experiences with horses many of the riders do not, for they only ride them, not train them. Clear the last barricade, whatever form it takes and then provide Bingley’s T her head and her heart. Be one with the horse. Feel her strength beating in your chest. Permit her to know when her heart falters, she can claim a piece of yours to sustain her. Feel her head and her heart in your every bone. If you do so, I guarantee you a win.” 

Darcy heard Miss Elizabeth expel a sigh of satisfaction. “We are each free to write our own stories, Toby. Stories just like the tales I read to you as a boy. Be the hero you always wanted to be. The ending you always sought is within your grasp.” 

As she and the lad rode side-by-side toward the finish line, Darcy wondered what story Miss Elizabeth Bennet would choose for herself. He would be sorry not to remain in Hertfordshire to learn her fate.

GIVEAWAY: I have two eBook copies of Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor to share with those who comment below. The books will be presented to readers on October 6, the day after the book’s release. 


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Kimpton and the Dacre Family + Celebrating the Upcoming Release of “Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor” + a Giveaway

Arriving October 5 is my latest Pride and Prejudice vagary. PreOrders of Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor continue. If you have not done so previously, claim it while you may, before the price goes up. 

Okay, here are the parameters of the tale… 

Darcy came to Hertfordshire a year earlier to assist Bingley in letting Netherfield, but he did not stay long and never met the Bennets. 

Bingley permitted his sisters to lead him away from Jane and Netherfield, and he does not immediately return, just as before, his return is due to several legitimate reasons, which I will not disclose at this time. 

Although Bingley still carries on with his father’s business, one of his true passions is horse breeding and thoroughbreds. He has expanded his stables at Netherfield. 

Jane Bennet is NOT Mr. Bennet’s biological daughter, although she has been christened as a “Bennet,” and, during the Regency, the record of the church was the official one. 

Mrs. Bennet was previously married to Stewart Belwood, the youngest son of Sir Wesley Belwood, a baronet from Hertfordshire. Stewart died in a carriage accident before Jane was born. 

Stepton Abbey is one of the properties belonging to the baronetcy, but was owned free and clear by Stewart Belwood. Thus, as Stewart’s only child, Jane is to inherit it. 

Sir Wesley is brother to Lady Matlock, and, in order to keep the abbey in the family, he wants his nephew, Colonel Fitzwilliam, to marry Jane. (There are more nefarious things going on, but you will learn of those when you read the story.)

Elizabeth means to protect Jane from being “forced” into a marriage not of her sister’s choosing. 

Darcy places himself in a position to do the same for the colonel. 

They all end up together at the abbey. And then . . . 

Book Blurb

When Elizabeth Bennet’s eldest sister is named as the granddaughter of Sir Wesley  Belwood, the Bennet family’s peaceful world is turned on its ear. Over Mr. Bennet’s objections, when Sir Wesley orders Jane to Stepton Abbey, Mrs. Bennet escorts her daughter to meet Jane’s true grandfather, a man who once turned the former Frances Gardiner Belwood out without even a widow’s pension. Elizabeth also travels with the pair, in hopes of protecting both from a man none of them truly know. 

Fitzwilliam Darcy travels to Stepton Abbey with his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, whose Uncle Wesley has summoned the colonel to the abbey to meet the baronet’s granddaughter, a woman few in the family knew existed. Sir Wesley is the Countess of Matlock’s brother, and the man wishes for a marriage between the colonel and Jane Bennet (née Belwood) in order to keep the abbey in the family, while Darcy means to be in a position to protect his cousin from being forced into a marriage of convenience.  

When Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy meet sparks of self-righteousness fly between them, but soon they join forces to protect their loved ones from Sir Wesley’s manipulations. Moralizing soon turns to respect and then to trust and then to love. This is a friends to lovers tale turned upon its head with unexpected consequences for all. 

Historical Background: 

Most of my latest Austen vagary takes place in Hertfordshire; therefore, it was necessary for me to work in some of the places in the area and relate them back to the original Pride and Prejudice. One way I did so was to introduce my readers to a place called “Kimpton,” a village in Hertfordshire (with only a little over 2000 residents today), some seven miles north of St Albans. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book, which you will learn something of in the excerpt below. The manor house associated with the village’s founding was later held by the Hoo-Keate family and then, by marriage to the “Dacre” family. 

I dearly love it when little links fall into place and become part of the story line.

Do you not think the real-life “Kimpton” sounds something of the imaginary “Kympton,” where Wickham was to be clergyman? And what of the “Dacre” family? Could they be distant relations to Fitzwilliam Darcy? Spellings varied greatly at the time. LOL! 

In truth, the title Baron Dacre was created three times in the Peerage of England, every time by writ. (You may read about the various times the barony was created and forfeited HERE.) Ralph (or Ranulph) Dacre, 1st Baron Dacre, was summoned to the House of Lords as Lord Dacre in 1321. Ten years later, he was appointed High Sheriff of Cumberland and Governor of Carlisle. [Remember: By some accounts, Carlisle is none other than Camelot, the mythical seat of King Arthur’s court, based on the idea Sir Gawain, one of the Knights of the Round Table, stayed at the Castle of Carlisle on a hunting expedition in the haunted Inglewood Forest, as related in a poem of the period. These events parallels another 14th century poem, “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” [Sorry! Former English teacher geeking out again!]

If one looks at the list of Governors of Carlisle, he will see a number of the Dacres were named so, including William de Dacre (appointed by Henry III), Ralph Dacre, 1st Baron Dacre (appointed by Edward III), Thomas Dacre, 2nd Baron Dacre (appointed by Henry VII), William Lord Dacre of Gillesland (appointed by first Henry VIII and also by Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I). Yet, a closer look shows us one Ralph Fitzwilliam, Baron of Greystoke, who was appointed by Edward II. “Fitzwilliam”??? Now, where have we heard that surname before?

Enough of my teasing. In this excerpt, Darcy has let horses from Bingley so Darcy, Elizabeth, Jane, and the colonel can all go riding out together. Bingley tags along in hopes of an opportunity to apologize to Jane Bennet AGAIN for not returning to Hertfordshire when the lady thought he should. At this point, the colonel is “ignorant” of the former connection between Jane and Bingley. 

Earlier in the book, Elizabeth realized Darcy was the same man of whom Wickham had spoken. They have a mighty argument (as would be expected of ODC), but the colonel has set Elizabeth straight on Wickham’s true character. In this scene from the end of Chapter Five and the beginning of Chapter Six, she explains something of her confusion to Darcy. ENJOY!  

Elizabeth greatly enjoyed the banter between the gentlemen, but she would wish, just once, to be thought equal to Jane’s attractiveness. Her sister’s blue riding habit made Jane’s eyes appear bluer and her complexion fairer. Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s sometimes green and sometimes brown eyes knew no complementary color, at least, not one which did not make her feel “drab” and “insignificant.” She had never been one to be jealous of Jane; yet . . . 

“As to your cousin’s observations, I shall answer for myself, Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth responded. “Better to be called ‘sensible’ than ‘insensible.’” 

Mr. Darcy appeared to ignore her defense. Instead, he said, “If you are prepared, allow me to provide you a hand up, Miss Elizabeth.” 

Elizabeth reluctantly nodded her agreement. First, she fished in her pocket to provide the bay a sliver of sugar. “Permit me to spoil you, my beauty. No one can look upon you and not see your exquisiteness.” 

Mr. Darcy stepped behind her. “No man worth his salt could think you anything but exceptionally handsome,” he said softly and for her ears only. 

She turned slowly to look up at him. “Sometimes I wish . . .” 

She was not permitted the opportunity to confess her deepest wish, for the colonel called, “Do you require my assistance, Darcy?” 

The gentleman shook off his cousin’s teasing. “Miss Elizabeth is simply pampering the bay.” He caught her elbow and directed her toward the animal’s side. Rather than asking her to place her foot in his interlocked fingers, he lifted her with ease—his hands about her waist—to the saddle, to set her in the seat and brace her until she could wrap her knee about the “horn,” before adjusting the strap holding the stirrup iron. 

Afterwards, the gentleman strode to the dappled grey stallion awaiting him and mounted easily. Elizabeth admired his seat. The man obviously knew his way about a horse. She could give no credence to his naming her as “handsome,” but his praise had been what she had required at the moment. It was nice to think he understood her just a bit. 

Naturally, she would not latch her hopes on the man, but she was not completely immune to his charms. “He will only be in Hertfordshire for another sennight,” she murmured. “Then he will return to London. Do not become too attached to him.” Yet, she feared her warnings had been spoken too late.

* * *

Darcy had never viewed a woman so in tune with the horse she rode. Certainly, he was acquainted with any number of women who rode in London’s parks and even a few who rode with men at a fox hunt. His own sister was a fair hand with the ribbons, and his mother was said to be a superb rider, but watching Miss Elizabeth and the bay was as if he watched how God imagined a horse and a human could communicate. 

He knew without being told Miss Elizabeth Bennet thoroughly enjoyed the freedom the ride provided. He, too, felt the pressures of the last few days leaving his stiff muscles as the miles sped by. He glanced over his shoulder to view his cousin, Bingley, and Miss Belwood further and further behind. 

The wind upon his face felt as if it cleared his thinking, and he was one with nature. Hertfordshire certainly could not compete with his blessed Derbyshire, but the shire possessed its own unique beauties, one of which rode the little bay some twenty feet ahead of him. He should not have taken note of the lady’s perfectly formed le cul d’une femme—her derriere, but he had, and his hands still tingled from the pleasure of holding her about her waist. 

* * *

Elizabeth smiled as she rode ahead of her little party. It was not because they had, by silent consent, permitted her to lead, but, rather, it was simply being seated upon a spirited horse, as well as still indulging in the compliment Mr. Darcy had provided her. Although it would have been an impossible task, she was relatively certain the gentleman had read her thoughts, and, even if his declaration was false, she would cherish his compliment and his kindness forever. 

They had permitted the horses to gallop for a good period of time. Breathing in the clean Hertfordshire air, she guided the bay around the cluster of Holm oaks surrounded by a field of sedum, still in bloom. 

At length, she pulled up on the reins and looked down upon the village of Kimpton. Within seconds, Mr. Darcy drew up beside her. “This was always one of Papa’s favorite places,” she explained as they waited in companionable silence for the others to join them. The gentleman appeared to be of a like nature, not wishing to speak unless absolutely necessary; yet, Elizabeth knew from his quietness he, too, appreciated the view. 

Within minutes, the others joined them, and Elizabeth swallowed the twinge of regret at losing the feeling of “closeness” she had experienced with Mr. Darcy. 

“One of our father’s special places,” Jane said. 

“As we waited, I told Mr. Darcy something similar,” Elizabeth admitted. “The village below is Kimpton, and it is mentioned in the Domesday Book. It says, ‘In the Half-Hundred of Hitchin 24 Ralph holds Kimpton from the Bishop. It answers for 4 hides. Land for 10 ploughs. In Lordship 2; a third possible. 2 Frenchmen and 12 villagers with 2 smallholders have 7 ploughs. 3 cottagers; 5 slaves. Meadow for 6 oxen; woodland, 800 pigs; 1 mill at 8s. The total value is and was £12; before 1066 £15. Aelfeva, mother of Earl Morcaz held this manor.’” 

“You know the passage word for word?” Mr. Darcy asked in awe. 

“Not as accurately as I would hope,” Elizabeth admitted with a blush. 

“Do not believe her, Mr. Darcy,” Jane teased. “Elizabeth possesses a remarkable memory.” 

Feeling self-conscious, Elizabeth shrugged her response. “Not so remarkable,” she declared. “Unless for a bit of history.” 

Jane added, “Some of the houses from what is called ‘High Road’ date back to the 1500s.”

The colonel asked, “Does the village possess an inn or an ale house?”

“Yes, I will show you,” Jane said. “Follow me.” 

Her sister led Mr. Bingley and Colonel Fitzwilliam down the gentle hill. By silent consent, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy followed. She glanced to the man beside her. “Might I share a revelation of sorts with you, sir?”

The gentleman sounded curious. “More history, Miss Elizabeth?” he asked as he nudged his horse forward so they might follow the others at a sedate pace.

“My observation involves Mr. Wickham,” she cautioned. 

She did not look at him. Even so, she knew a frown marked his brow, and he sat very tall and straight in the saddle, as if he expected her to strike him. “If you must, madam,” he said through stiff tones. 

“I would not wish to injure you, sir,” she admitted. 

They remained in silence for several seconds before he offered assurances. “I will trust you, Miss Elizabeth.” However, his facial expressions, when she looked upon him, told her he would prefer not to hear her tale. 

Yet, Elizabeth was certain Mr. Darcy would find her story “amusing,” or perhaps the word might be “enlightening.” Therefore, she claimed the trust he had presented her and carefully spoke what she thought was important for him to know. “When Mr. Wickham spoke of the living he thought had been denied him, he spoke of ‘Kympton.’ With his northern accent, at first, I kept thinking the lieutenant was saying ‘Kimpton.’ They sound so similar and possess a close spelling. I kept wondering where a church for his services existed in Kimpton, for I was relatively assured those in Kimpton go into Harpender and attend the church at St Nicholas.” 

Thankfully, Mr. Darcy smiled at her. “Did not Mr. Wickham tell you I held the living for Kympton?”

“Naturally, he did,” Elizabeth shared. “But, you see, the Earl of Morcar’s manor—the earldom I mentioned from the Domesday listing—was later held by the Hoo-Keate family and then, by marriage, to the Dacre family. When Mr. Wickham was saying ‘Darcy,’ through his somewhat strong Derbyshire accent, my mind was conjuring up all the tales of the Dacres I could recall from my father’s stories of the family.”

“I have warned Mr. Wickham on multiple occasions,” he shared, “those in London speak with a different intonation than do those in the shires.” He looked off to where his cousin’s party rode ahead of them. “Were the Dacres notorious?” he asked with a gentle smile, and Elizabeth knew she had not offended him. 

“Just in the fact they were styled as barons in three different generations, and, perhaps,” she teased, “for a sundry of other offenses.” 

“How so?” he inquired.

“In 1321, Ralph Dacre was summoned to the House of Lords as Lord Dacre. Later, he became High Sheriff of Cumberland and Governor of Carlisle.” 

“A member of my mother’s family, the Fitzwilliams, also served as Governor of Carlisle, and, ironically, he, too, was a ‘Ralph.’ Ralph Fitzwilliam, Baron of Greystoke. He served under Edward II.” 

“Ralph Dacre served under Edward III,” she clarified before continuing. “Lord Dacre married Margaret de Multon, Baroness Multon of Gilsland, but he did so without Edward III’s permission, for, you see, Margaret was the King’s ward. Ralph stole her away in the night.” 

“Was he not hanged for his offense? Many have hanged for a lesser crime,” he observed. 

“Pardoned, for the lady was of age.” 

“Fortunate for him,” Mr. Darcy remarked. “Being drawn and quartered would have placed a period on his barony.” 

Elizabeth was quick to say, “Oh, there were those in the Dacre family who were murdered and one, in particular, who was accused of murder. As to the second creation of the title, another Ralph, son of Thomas Dacre, the sixth baron, became Lord Dacre of Gilsland, but the title did not continue through that Ralph’s line. Thomas Dacre’s fifth son, Humphrey, became Lord Dacre in the third creation.” 

“I suppose for family history, it was advantageous for Thomas Dacre to father multiple sons,” he summarized. 

“Yet, can you see why I thought so lowly of you with Mr. Wickham’s tale of your perfidy? In my uninformed opinion, you were just another ‘Dacre’ whose sordid past brought about sometimes ill-gotten gains.” 

“I have forgiven you, Miss Elizabeth,” he said as he dismounted to assist her to the ground before a small inn. “There is no need for further explanation.” 

“For your kindness, I am truly blessed, but I wished you to know how much of our previous misunderstanding came about. I do not wish us to be at loggerheads.” She did not totally comprehend why she had confessed her tale, for the gentleman would soon be gone from her life forever, but, while he was here, she wished for his good opinion. 

“We will not argue, at least, not over someone as insignificant as Mr. Wickham,” he assured as he turned their steps toward the inn. 

“Yet, you may argue over something ‘significant,’” she asked. 

“I am counting on it, Miss Elizabeth,” he said with a grin. “I find you quite delightful when you mean for us to ‘discuss’ a topic upon which you are certain we will disagree.” 

TIME FOR A GIVEAWAY!!! I have 2 eBooks of Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor available for those who comment below. Winners will be contacted via email October 6, the day after the book goes live.

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St Albans in Hertfordshire, Setting for my Latest JAFF Novel, “Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor” + a Giveaway

Today is a continuation of my celebration for my newest Austen-inspired book, Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary. The book is on preorder now and will release on October 5. Grab your copy before the price change kicks in. 

Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Albans, St Albans, Hertfordshire, UK ~ Wikipedia

Much of the action of Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor takes place in or near St Albans in Hertfordshire. St Albans is a cathedral city, some 20 miles northwest of London. It was the first major town on the old Roman road of Watling Street for travelers heading north and became the Roman city of Verulamium. Nowadays, it is within the London commuter belt. 

St Albans takes it name from the first British saint, Alban. The most elaborate version of Alban’s story appears in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. In the tale set in the 3rd or 4th century, Alban provided shelter for a Christian priest fleeing his persecutors and sheltered the man in his own home. In speaking extensively to the man, Alban is converted to Christianity. When the authorities searched his house, he dressed himself as the Christian and accepted the persecutors’ punishment in the man’s place. He was beheaded, and it is said a well sprang up where his head came to a stop. 

Before the 20th century, St Albans was a rural market town, a Christian pilgrimage site, and the first coaching stop of the route to and from London, which accounts for its numerous old inns. 

St Albans High Street in 1807, showing the shutter telegraph on top of the city’s Clock Tower ~ Public Domain ~ Original print is annotated “Engraved from a Drawing by G. Shepherd”, “for the Beauties of England and Wales.”

“The mixed character of St Albans and its proximity to London have made it a popular filming location. The Abbey and Fishpool Street areas were used for the pilot episode of the 1960s ecclesiastical TV comedy All Gas and Gaiters. The area of Romeland, directly north of the Abbey Gateway and the walls of the Abbey and school grounds, can be seen masquerading as part of an Oxford college in some episodes of Inspector Morse (and several local pubs also appear). Fishpool Street, running from Romeland to St Michael’s village, stood in for Hastings in some episodes of Foyle’s WarLife Begins was filmed largely in and around St Albans. The Lady Chapel in the Abbey itself was used as a location for at least one scene in Sean Connery’s 1995 film First Knight, whilst the nave of the Abbey was used during a coronation scene as a substitute for Westminster Abbey in Johnny English starring Rowan Atkinson. The 19th-century gatehouse of the former prison near the mainline station appeared in the title sequence of the TV series Porridge, starring Ronnie Barker. The 2001 film Birthday Girl starring Ben Chaplin and Nicole Kidman was also partly filmed in St Albans.

“More recently, several scenes from the film Incendiary, starring Michelle Williams, Ewan McGregor and Matthew Macfadyen, were filmed in St Albans, focusing in particular on the Abbey and the Abbey Gateway. It has also been used in the setting for the fictional town Waltringham, in the TV show Humans. As well as this, in late 2021 celebrities such as Timothee Chalamet and others were spotted in Verulanium Park filming the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, though the release date has only been speculated at, rather than being released officially by the filmmakers.”

Book Blurb 

When Elizabeth Bennet’s eldest sister is named as the granddaughter of Sir Wesley  Belwood, the Bennet family’s peaceful world is turned on its ear. Over Mr. Bennet’s objections, when Sir Wesley orders Jane to Stepton Abbey, Mrs. Bennet escorts her daughter to meet Jane’s true grandfather, a man who once turned the former Frances Gardiner Belwood out without even a widow’s pension. Elizabeth accompanies the pair, in hopes of protecting both from a man none of them truly know. 

Fitzwilliam Darcy travels to Stepton Abbey with his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, whose Uncle Wesley has summoned the colonel to the abbey to meet the baronet’s granddaughter. Sir Wesley is the Countess of Matlock’s brother, and the man wishes for a marriage between the colonel and Jane Bennet (née Belwood) in order to keep the abbey in the family, while Darcy means to be in a position to protect his cousin from being forced into a marriage of convenience.  

When Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy meet sparks of self-righteousness fly between them, but soon they join forces to protect their loved ones from Sir Wesley’s manipulations. Moralizing soon turns to respect and then to trust and then to love. This is a friends to lovers tale turned upon its head with unexpected consequences for all. 

Excerpt from Chapter Twelve . .

When Lindale learned of the upcoming horse race, the viscount had insisted they all go into St Albans and enjoy the amusements already pouring into the market town. Fearing Sir Wesley’s return and the baronet finding an empty house, Mrs. Bennet “regrettably” remained at the abbey, charging each of her girls, especially the two youngest, to remember they were in the company of “two very distinguished gentlemen and a future earl.” They were each to be on her best behavior, but Darcy overheard the woman warn the two eldest not to permit Miss Lydia and Miss Katherine out of their sights. 

The men had ridden in Lindale’s town coach, while Darcy permitted the ladies the use of his larger traveling carriage, even though he would have preferred to have sat beside Miss Elizabeth and enjoyed the scent of lavender wafting off her skin and the conversation he had become accustomed to share with the lady. He would, unquestionably, regret losing her company when this adventure knew completion. 

At last, they reached St Albans without incident. If the rest of the day had gone as smoothly, Darcy would have been on his knees with words of thanksgiving. Such was not to be. 

Lindale had claimed Miss Belwood on his arm, with Miss Lydia demanding to join them. Darcy thought Lindale should have seen Fitzwilliam and Miss Belwood together, but his eldest cousin would, naturally, wish to be seen with the so-called “beauty” of their group. Darcy could tell Rowland Fitzwilliam was not best pleased by Miss Lydia’s forwardness, but he tucked the girl in on his other side and led the way down the busy street. The colonel followed with Miss Mary and Miss Kitty, leaving Darcy and Miss Elizabeth to walk together. 

In truth, he did not mind having the lady all to himself; even so, he prepared himself for more of her astute observations. 

“I suppose Jane told you of her aversion to a reconciliation with Mr. Bingley,” she said as they followed the others. 

“She did,” he said, “As Bingley’s friend, I had hoped she would agree to forgive him, but she assures me, she cannot. I explained why he delayed his return, and your sister grudgingly admitted she understands his predicament. However, she cannot forgive his lack of effort in informing her of his intended return: He did not consider the situation in which he left her to face the shame and mocking of others.”

Miss Elizabeth admitted, “Dozens of our neighbors commented on Jane losing yet another suitor, but I thought once we encountered Mr. Bingley at Longbourn again, all would be forgiven. Even I did not realize the depths of her despair. It makes me very sad to realize I failed her and nearly as bad as did Mr. Bingley.” 

“I doubt Miss Belwood sees you as anything less than a loving sister who wants only the best for her,” Darcy assured.

“Will Colonel Fitzwilliam agree to a marriage to Jane?” Miss Elizabeth asked. “Your cousin appears less than enthusiastic about marrying her. How could he object to Jane? She is both lovely and kind.” 

Darcy did not respond immediately. At length, he said, “No doubt Fitzwilliam would agree regarding Miss Belwood’s many fine attributes, but, in order to marry her, my cousin would be giving up a career in the military, one he has crafted over the last eight years, with a look forward to what he will do as an occupation after the war. Fitzwilliam hopes to join Whitehall and earn his living in government service. Did you realize he may soon be made a brigadier?” 

Miss Elizabeth said, “I had no idea. I never considered how much he might lose if he married Jane. I simply thought of the advantages of their joining.” 

“Fitzwilliam will eventually inherit a small estate in Oxfordshire when another relation passes; therefore, though it would be an asset, Stepton Abbey does not have the draw it might have for another man. My cousin has known his destiny all his life, and he has purposely crafted connections over those years since university with individuals who would aid him in a life of his own choosing. Just as Miss Belwood has been forced into a life not designed for her, so will be my cousin if he agrees to marry your sister. It truly worries me for the success of such a joining, for each will have given up his or her dreams for a ‘whim’ of a man of Sir Wesley’s nature. Pardon me, but if I am required to agree Miss Belwood should have a say in this matter, I must insist we apply the same standards to the colonel.” 

Miss Elizabeth was quick to say, “I agree. I just assumed, as a second son, he would embrace the opportunity to claim an estate and a comely wife.” 

“You do not think Miss Mary is comely?” Darcy asked cautiously. 

Miss Elizabeth looked to where the colonel walked with two of her sisters. “You have previously suggested a connection between the colonel and Mary, but I never considered it seriously, even though Mary asked Kitty to assist in making her appearance more appealing, something Mary has never done previously. As the colonel is proving to be Mary’s ‘first flirtation,’ I just assumed he would leave, and she would know a broken heart. My father and I briefly discussed how such might be devastating for her, at first. But . . .” She did not finish, simply watched the ease with which the colonel and Miss Mary conversed, viewing it with “new” eyes. 

“A man, especially a man who has often looked Death in the eye and walked away, wants something different in a woman than does a man who has never worked a day in his life,” Darcy confided. “Previously, you said, Miss Mary tends to be more religious than, say, even yourself. Can you not imagine a man who questions God’s hand in the destruction to which Fitzwilliam has stood witness requires a mate who can quietly speak to God’s love and the Lord’s benevolence in keeping the colonel alive when others have died—a woman—perhaps not an enchantress on the outside, but one who possesses a deeply beautiful and caring soul? Equally as important, I know Fitzwilliam will claim he possesses a less than  handsome countenance, for I have heard him say so often, though I can think of no finer gentleman. Yet, I have never viewed him singling out the beauty at a ball. He often chooses those looked over the first time, for he says they are essentially more interesting than the diamonds of the first run. Despite holding an allegiance to Lord Lindale, I must say Fitzwilliam is the truest companion of my life. Obviously, one cannot judge a book or a person upon first glance.”

Before Miss Elizabeth could respond, Lindale stopped up ahead, and, when Darcy noted who was to greet them, he instinctively nudged Miss Elizabeth closer to his side. 

“Darcy,” Lord Samuels said, “I should have known you would be around.” 

“Would not wish to disappoint you, Samuels,” Darcy said blandly. He and Samuels had competed for top honors, as well as competitive rowing while at university, and Samuels did not enjoy being second in either. 

Lindale was saying, “Samuels, Coppersmith. Permit me to introduce my cousins. This is Miss Belwood, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, Miss Mary Bennet, Miss Katherine Bennet and Miss Lydia Bennet.” He nodded to each lady in turn as they bobbed a curtsey. “Ladies, may I present Lord Samuels and Mr. Coppersmith.”

Coppersmith asked, “Is there no Miss Bennet. You have Miss Elizabeth, Miss Mary, Miss Katherine, and Miss Lydia?”

Miss Lydia responded before any of them could form a proper explanation. “Jane is also Miss Bennet.” 

“Jane?” Samuels asked. 

Lindale must not have approved of the lecherous look in Samuel’s eyes. “It is a long story.” Darcy’s cousin offered the baron no further explanation. “You must pardon us. We promised the ladies new ribbons for their bonnets and a proper meal before we return to the abbey.” 

“The abbey?” Samuels inquired.

“One of my uncle’s homes. We are visiting with him for a few days,” Lindale said with a touch of impatience. 

“Will we see you ‘all’ at the race?” Samuels persisted with a knowing tone. 

Thankfully, Miss Belwood caught her youngest sister’s arm before Miss Lydia could again provide information no one wished her to share. “Come along, before the gentlemen change their minds about the ribbons, Lydia.” She tugged the girl away from where they all still stood. Immediately, the other three ladies dipped a parting curtsey and followed, with Miss Elizabeth keeping the Misses Mary and Kitty close to her side.

“Explain yourself,” Samuels demanded. 

“Nothing to explain. Miss Belwood is the daughter of my mother’s nephew, Stewart Belwood, who passed before she was born,” Lindale spoke in bored tones, indicating his impatience with Samuels. “Her mother remarried and produced additional children for her husband, a country squire from Hertfordshire. Now you know my family’s history and should be excessively glad I do not pester you to chronicle your own family lines. I assume even you are reasonably capable of repeating mine accurately, if anyone else is foolish enough to ask something of the Matlock family.” Lindale pulled himself up in a manner reminiscent of his father when someone taxed Matlock’s patience one time too many. He gestured for both the colonel and Darcy to precede him. 

Samuels, evidently, did not know when to cut his losses. “Will you return to St Albans for the race?”

Darcy and Fitzwilliam turned to view Lindale’s response. 

“I do not recall a need to ask for your approval of my plans,” Lindale said in displeasure. 

“We should go,” Coppersmith tugged slightly on Samuels’s arm. 

“All I meant,” Samuels persisted, “was to tell Lindale not to bet on the filly from the Netherfield estate.” 

Darcy’s interest had returned. “And why is that, Samuels?” he asked. 

The baron appeared to be satisfied to know Darcy was game for some gossip. “Last evening, I overheard two shabby-looking men talking about making certain the Netherfield horse would not be able to run.” 

“Is such all they said? Nothing on what they planned to do?” Darcy pressed. 

“No more,” Coppersmith assured. “They left the inn shortly afterwards.” 

“Are you planning to bet against the odds, Darcy?” Samuels taunted. 

Darcy’s mind was already planning on how to protect Bingley’s investment. “You of all people should know I never lose,” he said cryptically. “Come along, Lindale, we should not keep the ladies waiting.” 

Giveaway: I have 2 eBook copies of the Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor available to those who comment below. The eBooks will be presented to winners on October 6, after the book’s release.

Preorder the eBook HERE.

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Marriage A-la-Mode and the Upcoming Release of “Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor” + a Giveaway

My latest Austen-inspired tale, Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor, goes on preorder today. It is a friends to lovers to tale, but with more than one twist to mess with your minds. LOL! Part of it was inspired by William Hogart’s The Marriage Settlement.

The Marriage Settlement is the first in the series of six satirical paintings known as Marriage A-la-Mode painted by William Hogarth. (Wikipedia)

The plot of the painting is the unmitigated greed of the two fathers, the Alderman and the Earl. The Alderman is wealthy to excess, and the Earl is heavily in debt but still retains his ancient title. The Alderman is desirous of becoming the grandfather to a noble son, and the Earl wants to ensure his line is carried on, and is willing to put up with the common Alderman for the sake of his money.

Meanwhile, the soon to be married two are completely ignoring each other, and the bride is being courted by the lawyer. Myriad details show the true natures of the characters present, especially the Earl and his son.

In my tale the couple ignoring each other are Colonel Fitzwilliam and Jane Bennet, but, if you know anything of my writing, you know I love to twist a tale, sometimes turning it on its head and giving it a good shake.

Book Blurb:

When Elizabeth Bennet’s eldest sister is named as the granddaughter of Sir Wesley  Belwood, the Bennet family’s peaceful world is turned on its ear. Over Mr. Bennet’s objections, when Sir Wesley orders Jane to Stepton Abbey, Mrs. Bennet escorts her daughter to meet Jane’s true grandfather, a man who once turned the former Frances Gardiner Belwood out without even a widow’s pension. Elizabeth accompanies the pair, in hopes of protecting both from a man none of them truly know. 

Fitzwilliam Darcy travels to Stepton Abbey with his cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, whose Uncle Wesley has summoned the colonel to the abbey to meet the baronet’s granddaughter. Sir Wesley is the Countess of Matlock’s brother, and the man wishes for a marriage between the colonel and Jane Bennet (née Belwood) in order to keep the abbey in the family, while Darcy means to be in a position to protect his cousin from being forced into a marriage of convenience.  

When Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy meet sparks of self-righteousness fly between them, but soon they join forces to protect their loved ones from Sir Wesley’s manipulations. Moralizing soon turns to respect and then to trust and then to love. This is a friends to lovers tale turned upon its head with unexpected consequences for all. 

Excerpt from Chapter Three 

Elizabeth had waited, somewhat impatiently, for the gentlemen to retire for the evening. Supper had been a very stifled affair, even more so with Sir Wesley’s edicts and Mrs. Bennet’s continued silence, although her mother must have bitten off the end of her tongue many times over, for the baronet continued to insult all except his nephew and his granddaughter. If nothing else became of this chaos, Mrs. Bennet would, incontestably, own a renewal of her appreciation of Mr. Bennet’s generally kind nature. 

Mr. Darcy had kept his comments directed to his cousin and the baronet, and Elizabeth had felt the sting of his “silence” most poignantly; therefore, she had tacitly pledged to issue an apology as soon as possible, which, for her, meant counting the minutes until she heard Mr. Darcy and the colonel talking softly as they made their way to their quarters. 

As they drew near, she stepped into the soft light of the hallway. “Mr. Darcy, would you do me the honor of permitting me a moment of your time?” 

The gentleman glanced to his cousin, who said, “We may require the lady’s assistance, Darcy.” With those words, the colonel left his cousin and her alone in a semi-dark corridor. 

Elizabeth waited until the colonel entered his quarters before she said, “I wish to confess I have acted despicably in my dealings with you. I find myself quite off kilter in my thoughts of late. My dearest sister is being ripped from the bosom of her family, and I am being expected to stand alone and permit it to happen.

“Moreover, your announcement of Mr. Wickham’s true nature was another blow to my previous view of the world. I have always prided myself on my discernment until now.” She avoided looking directly into his steely grey eyes. She played with her lower lip a moment before asking, “Is there a means of earning a bit of your forgiveness?”

He leaned closer and spoke in hushed tones. “You are not the first woman to be taken in by Mr. Wickham’s half-truths and lies, and my cousin reminded me you had no point of reference to discern the truth. I, too, acted in a prideful manner. However, Fitzwilliam says our conversation was fortunate because, now, you will be less prone to accept any other lies Mr. Wickham offers you. In such a manner, our acquaintance has likely saved you from an imprudent choice.” 

“Are there other lies of which I should be made aware?” she asked in concern. 

The gentleman’s face screwed up in obvious self-chastisement. “You and I speak to each other in a different manner than do many new acquaintances. Why do you suppose such is true?”

She pulled a grimace at him. “I imagine it is because we care deeply for our loved ones and do not wish to view them injured by Sir Wesley’s manipulations. Consequently, we set aside some of the strictures society would have us practice.” 

“On that point, I can agree.” 

She opened the subject again. “You did not respond to my question regarding Lieutenant Wickham’s other schemes. What else should I know of the man?”

For an elongated pause, Mr. Darcy remained tight-lipped before saying, “Mr. Wickham wishes to live a life of luxury, never comprehending even a small estate demands constant care and labor. He, generally, how should I phrase this, searches out the wealthiest woman upon whom to share his ‘charms.’”

“Miss King,” Elizabeth whispered. 

“Pardon?” Mr. Darcy asked. 

“Miss King. The lady recently received an inheritance of ten thousand pounds. Mr. Wickham calls often on the girl,” Elizabeth explained. 

“I have viewed his efforts along those veins many times,” Mr. Darcy commented, “and I personally know three women who foolishly considered eloping with him.” 

“Three?” Elizabeth asked in amazement. 

Mr. Darcy replied, “I will explain all at a more opportune time, for now, it is late, and I am keeping you from your bed. Are we each forgiven for our earlier testiness?”

“I am willing if you are, sir,” she said with a small smile. 

“I am willing, Miss Elizabeth.” He caught her hand and brought it to his lips, placing a gentle kiss on her knuckles. The sensation sent her heart pounding a quick tattoo. “Good night,” he whispered. 

Releasing her hand, he turned and walked away, pausing briefly to nod to her before entering his quarters. Even so, Elizabeth did not move beyond bringing the spot on her hand where he had kissed it to caress her own cheek. “Oh, my . . .” she whispered. 

* * *

Darcy found her in the gallery the next morning. Like it or not, he had had several very “specific” dreams of Miss Elizabeth Bennet last evening, and the memory of how he shared himself with her still clung to him, even though he knew nothing was possible between them. He assumed it had something to do with how quickly their relationship had progressed and the sincerity with which they spoke to each other. “I thought we might go down to breakfast together. It would be good to prove to the others we have resolved our differences.” 

“Certainly,” she murmured in distraction. “Permit me a moment to return these engravings to their rightful place.” 

Darcy glanced to the collection. “Hogarth?” he questioned. 

“Yes, reportedly, Sir Wesley purchased the set when they were offered to subscribers back in the middle of the last century. According to my mother, Sir Wesley presented them to his son a year or so before Stewart Belwood married my mother. When the baronet drove her from the abbey, my mother wished to take them with her as something to give to Stewart’s child when it was older, but Sir Wesley adamantly refused her, going so far as placing the blame of his son’s death squarely on my mother’s shoulders. A guinea was all these items had cost him; yet, he would not permit my mother even one memory of her marriage.” 

“A bit of irony, do you not think?” Darcy asked as he looked closer upon the grouping. “Especially as the first one in the series is called ‘The Marriage Settlement.’”

Miss Elizabeth smiled up at him. “Yes, it depicts Hogarth’s opinion of the disastrous consequences of marrying for money rather than love.” 

Darcy agreed. “Just look. There are the two self-seeking fathers—one a spendthrift nobleman requiring a fortune to keep his estate alive and the other a wealthy London tradesman who desires to see his daughter move in aristocratic circles.” 

“Irony indeed,” the lady remarked. “See how the unhappy couple sit with their backs to each other and are obviously bored by the negotiations when it is their future being discussed.” 

“Perhaps Sir Wesley thought the image hit a little too close to home,” Darcy summarized, “although he likely presented the engraving to Stewart long before the man made your mother’s acquaintance.” 

“Mama says otherwise. She claims they were in a package presented to Stewart from his father some weeks before the wedding. Sent from the family estate along with other items belonging to her late husband and left behind when Stewart departed the family estate. I think it was a last minute reminder of what Stewart should expect in his marriage. As to my mother, she claims to have held Stewart Belwood in affection and he likewise with her, but I cannot help but to think it more than a coincidence how Stewart was disowned by Sir Wesley and my mother was the daughter of a wealthy London merchant. Perhaps ‘the father’ shared the engravings with his son as a warning rather than a gift from the heart.”

“I thought Sir Wesley disowned Stewart before the wedding,” Darcy observed. 

“He did, but only days before, not months, as one would assume. When he received word of Stewart’s intentions, the baronet made his objections known.” She shrugged her indecision. “Hogarth created art which imitated life.”

“Do you believe the engraving was an effort to prevent Stewart from pursuing a woman for whom the baronet held disdain?”

“You must have observed how much contempt Sir Wesley holds for my mother. He blames her for his son’s death. I assume, although the baronet already owned the engraving set, he chose to share it with Stewart when his arguments against the marriage did not prevail.” 

Darcy found he enjoyed the quickness of the lady’s mind as she discussed her points, as well as the myriad of emotions crossing Miss Elizabeth’s features. He thought he might seriously miss her when this adventure was over; yet, it was too soon to say. He asked with a smile and an offer of his arm, “We could speculate forever on the workings of Sir Wesley’s mind. For now, breakfast, Miss Elizabeth?”

“Gladly, Mr. Darcy,” she responded with the most compelling smile he had ever seen. He knew in that instant she would change his life in ways he had not anticipated.

GIVEAWAY: I have 2 eBook copies of Elizabeth Bennet’s Gallant Suitor available to those who comment on this post. The winners will be notified by email on October 6, 2022.

PREORDER the ebook HERE.

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Annuities in the Regency as Basis for “Mr. Darcy’s Bargain”

Much of the action of my Mr. Darcy’s Bargain, is based around a scam perpetrated by Mr. Wickham upon the citizens of Meryton, as well as Mr. Darcy’s attempts to thwart him. Wickham convinces many in Hertfordshire to invest in an annuity scheme. But how exactly did annuities work during the Regency?

First, if you are like me, your eyes blur over when people in other fields start tossing around the “jargon” associated with their occupations. I do not pretend to be an expert in such matters as annuities, but I will attempt to keep my description of public funds at the time as simple as possible.

First, there were Navy five percent annuities that were produced from about fifty millions of stock, partly formed out of navy bills and converted in 1784, into a stock bearing interest at five percent, whence the name.

Four percent consolidated annuities were popular at the time. They were produced from a like stock as was the Navy five percent funds. They offered a profit of 4% as the title indicated. They originally carried a higher percentage rate.

Three percent consolidate annuities were produced by above four hundred millions of stock, in part formed by the consolidation of several stocks, bearing interest at 3%. When the word “console” is indefinitely used, it is always understood to mean these annuities. Three percent Irish annuities were produced by about two millions of stock formed by loans for use of Ireland, before the union with England.

The type of annuity Wickham presents to the Meryton citizens was one of bank stock, specifically the Bank of England. Bank stock was a capital of nearly 12 million with which the company of the bank has accommodated the government with various loans, and with which they carry on the banking business, purchase bullion, etc. The dividends on bank stock were at one time ten percent, so that the profits of the company were near twelve hundred thousand pounds per annum. This situation was the perfect scam. Who would not like to earn 10% interest.


Book Blurb:

When Elizabeth Bennet appears on his doorstep some ten months after her refusal of his hand in marriage, Darcy uses the opportunity to “bargain” for her acceptance of a renewal of his proposal in exchange for his assistance in bringing Mr. Wickham to justice. In Darcy’s absence from Hertfordshire, Wickham has practiced a scheme to defraud the citizens of Meryton of their hard-earned funds. All have invested in a Ten Percent Annuity scheme, including Mr. Bennet, and her family and friends are in dire circumstances. Elizabeth will risk everything to bring her father to health again and to save her friends from destitution, but is she willing to risk her heart? She places her trust in Darcy’s thwarting Wickham’s manipulations, but she is not aware Darcy wishes more than her acquiescence. He desires her love. And what will happen if Darcy does not succeed in bringing Mr. Wickham to justice? Will such end their “bargain,” or will true love prevail?

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Excerpt: (Mr. Gardiner has called Wickham’s bluff and demanded a stock certificate as proof of the investment. Wickham brings one to Mr. Bennet, who is recovering from a spell with his heart.)

Already apprehensive over Mr. Bingley’s news, when Mr. Wickham again appeared upon their threshold, Elizabeth was sore to keep her composure. “If it would not upset Mr. Bennet, I would prefer to present him the certificates you requested,” the lieutenant announced after they exchanged greetings. 

It had been three days since his last visit. Elizabeth could not help but wonder if Lieutenant Wickham had actual certificates available. She shot a quick glance to her uncle. “Lizzy will call upon Mr. Bennet to see if my brother is awake. Doctor Doughty still provides my him with several powders. While Elizabeth tends her father, come join me in the small drawing room.”

Elizabeth reluctantly followed her uncle’s instructions. Tapping lightly upon Mr. Bennet’s door, she was gladden to observe his sitting before the window and reading a book. Such was one of her favorite memories of her father—always with a book in his hand. “Ah, Lizzy,” he called when she peeked in. “Come to keep your old papa company?”

“Anytime, sir,” she said with a true smile. “If I had known you were awake, I would have happily made an appearance.”

Her father’s cheeks claimed a bit of color. “Then join me. Surprisingly, I am in need of gossip from the lower levels of my house. With Mrs. Bennet still claiming the periodic role of invalid, unless, of course, she deems it her role to oversee Jane’s return to Mr. Bingley’s side, I possess no one to keep me abreast of the comings and goings under my roof. I feel somewhat bereft of the tattling, but do not speak a word of this to Mrs. Bennet, otherwise my lady will fill my remaining days with her chattering.”

“I fear I shall not deliver the latest news of Mr. Hill’s carbuncle with the same enthusiasm as does Mrs. Bennet, but I am certain I can present you with the abbreviated version,” she said with bemusement.

“Come sit with me,” her father instructed.

Elizabeth bit her bottom lips in indecision. “Actually, sir, Lieutenant Wickham has called and has asked to speak to you. When the gentleman last called upon Longbourn, uncle inquired of stock certificates. Mr. Wickham says he would prefer to present yours to you personally.”

Her father’s expression hardened in disapproval. “Gardiner has kept me informed of the latest developments. I wish you were not so deeply involved in this madness.”

“I am no longer a little girl upon your knee,” she argued.

“And more is the pity,” her father countered. “I would prefer the adoring eyes of my dearest Lizzy rather than the assessing gaze of Miss Elizabeth Bennet.”

“Are you well enough to speak to Lieutenant Wickham? If you are too tired, I will ask Uncle Gardiner to continue to act in your stead,” she asked in concern.

Her father sighed deeply. “I have avoided this chaos my foolishness has created long enough. See Mr. Wickham up.”

Elizabeth was not happy with this choice, but she nodded her acceptance. “I shall return in a few moments, sir.”

Her father reached for her hand as she turned to go. “Elizabeth, leave the door to my dressing room open so Mr. Gardiner may hear my conversation with Lieutenant Wickham. I wish I possessed Gardiner’s aplomb in business. I will require his advice after Mr. Wickham’s departure. I would also prefer you remain in the room. Mayhap your presence will remind me of all I will lose if Gardiner and Darcy cannot catch Mr. Wickham in the act of fraud.”

“I shall tell the gentleman I mean to record some of what he says to assist your memory.”

On her way downstairs she called upon her aunt’s room to explain, “Lieutenant Wickham is below. He wishes to speak to Mr. Bennet. Father requests Uncle Edward secret himself away in Mr. Bennet’s dressing room to listen to the conversation. Could you relay the message while I see Mr. Wickham to father’s quarters?”

Aunt Gardiner agreed to use the servants’ stairs so as not to draw Mr. Wickham’s interest. Within a few minutes, Elizabeth directed the lieutenant into the small sitting room attached to her father’s bedchamber. In her absence, Mr. Bennet had moved his chair to face the open dressing room door with an empty chair backing the door behind which Mr. Gardiner would hide. He had placed a blanket across his lap and mussed his hair. He appeared less robust than previously.

“You will forgive me, Wickham,” her father said jovially, “for not rising. I fear struggling to my feet is still quite tedious.”

“I understand, sir,” Wickham repeated in practiced respect. “I shan’t keep you long.” He glanced to Elizabeth. “I am assuming your daughter has explained the purpose of my call.”

“She did,” her father acknowledged. “I asked Elizabeth to remain. I pray you hold no objections. My grip on a pen is not what it once was. Nor is my memory as sharp.” Her father demonstrated the tremble of his hand. The realization of his infirmity shook Elizabeth to her core. Tears rushed to her eyes. Had she missed that infirmity somehow?

“No objection, sir.” Mr. Wickham’s “show” of agreement opened her eyes further to how well the man could perform to his audience. The idea the lieutenant saw her as insignificant crossed her mind. Whereas Wickham looked upon her as a conquest, Mr. Darcy valued her intelligence. He would seek her opinions, as her father often did. The acknowledgment only proved how her earlier judgments of the man were faulty.

Once seated, Mr. Wickham reached into a leather satchel to remove a rolled document. “I have brought you the official certificate of annuities.”

“Annuities?” her father asked. “I thought we discussed investing in canals in both Surrey and Lancashire or shipping fleets to the West Indies.”

Wickham’s obsession with lint upon his uniform had returned. “We did, sir,” he confessed with an easy smile, “but after conferring with Kiernaugh, it was decided the funds would do better in an annuity. I would have discussed the change with you, but with your illness, I did not have the heart to disturb you further. Moreover, I spoke to Sir William and several others within the neighborhood, and each assured me you would hold no objections. I pray I did not err in securing your investment, sir.”

Elizabeth studied her father’s customarily animated features. The fact she could read none of his thoughts in his expression worried her.

“I should learn more of these annuities before I comment,” Mr. Bennet said evenly. He folded his hands upon his lap, a sign indicating his displeasure. Obviously, Mr. Wickham did not understand her father’s unconscious gesture.

Wickham cleared his throat in importance. “I do not pretend expertise in the matter, but I have learned much of government annuities of late. Over the years under King George’s rule, for example, we have seen stocks created by loans to Germany and Ireland before the union. Some of the annuities are called consols, or consolidated, from the stock having been informed by the consolidation of several debts of government.”

Elizabeth scratched out notes with a pencil of which she hoped her uncle could make sense.

Wickham continued, “Consolidated annuities are formed by the consolidation of several stocks bearing the same interest. In the past there have been three, four, and five percent stocks.”

Mr. Bennet observed, “I doubt there are many ten percent consolidated annuities.”

Lieutenant Wickham returned to the invisible lint, and Elizabeth bit her bottom lip to hide her smile. She wished she had recognized his habit earlier on.

“Not as many as we would like, but there are a few.” His voice sounded stiff with what was likely false pride for he did not expect her father to question his actions. “What we have chosen as investments are a form of bank stocks with which the bank has accommodated the government with various loans and with which to conduct banking business, such as purchasing bullions. The dividends on the bank stock are now ten percent, which could easily prove twelve hundred pounds per annum for the steady investor.”

Her father asked, “And this is the Bank of England of which you speak?”

“Most assuredly,” Wickham declared. “I think I should point out the India stock, which forms the trading capital of the East India Company, produces an annual dividend of more than ten percent.”

Mr. Bennet had yet to express his favor or disapproval. “I suppose I should see this certificate.” Lieutenant Wickham passed the rolled paper to her father. “Come here, Lizzy,” he instructed. “I will require your steady hand and your clear eyes.”

Elizabeth knelt beside her father, unrolled the paper, and held it where he could study it.

“Read it for me, Lizzy,” Mr. Bennet said with what sounded of exhaustion. She shot him a look of concern, but she did as he asked.

Swallowing back her tears, she read aloud, “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Ten Per Cent Annuities. Received this 26th day of January of 1813, of Thomas Bennet the sum of one thousand pounds being the consideration for one thousand pounds. Interest or share in the capital of joint stock of the Ten Per Cent Annuities, (erected by an Act of Parliament of the 53rd year of the reign of His Majesty King George III Entitled, and all for granting annuities to satisfy certain Navy, Victualling and transportation bills, and ordnance debentures, and by other subsequent acts) transferable at the Bank of England, together with the proportional annuity attending the same, by Jasper Kiernaugh this day transferred to the said Thomas Bennet. There are also the names of the witnesses, as well as when dividends are paid, etcetera.”

Her father winked at her, and Elizabeth breathed easier. She had not known until that moment he pretended to be an invalid. To Wickham he said, “Everything appears in order. Most assuredly, I should have my solicitor look at this.”

“I assure you Mr. Philips approves of the investment,” Wickham said in confidence.

Her father motioned her to roll the certificate again and place it on the table. “I am pleased to hear Philips has examined the document.” He coughed heavily and then rested his head against the cushion of the chair back. “If you will pardon me, Lieutenant,” he said breathlessly. “I find my energies are thin. Lizzy, ring for Mrs. Hill to show Mr. Wickham out. I will require your assistance, child.”

“Certainly, sir,” Wickham said as he rose. “If you have additional questions, do not hesitate to send word. I remain your servant, sir.”

Mr. Bennet nodded genially, but as Wickham made his way to the door, her father said nonchalantly, “I am surprised Kiernaugh chose a loan to the English government. I thought the man an American. Are we not at war with the country?” He had not raised his head from the cushioned back.

Mr. Wickham stumbled to a halt as his expression betrayed how his mind raced to form a response. “I must have misspoke,” he said in what sounded of earnestness. “Kiernaugh has been in America for the better part of ten years, but his loyalties remain with England, as do all who serve His Majesty.”

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Recording of Births in the Church of England During the Regency

Previously, I spoke of Churching of Women for how woman were treated after childbirth in the Church of England in many Western religions. “Churching” involved a celebration welcoming women back into the church/religion after they had given birth, even if the child was stillborn or passed shortly after birth or with no christening.

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. Chrisoms 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 one I lost early on. I could not shake the idea 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 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.

41VA23GR86L We 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 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 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 the 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, 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 also held the option of having 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

Posted in British history, Church of England, Georgian England, Living in the Regency, Regency era | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Billiards in the Regency Era

Here I am again, answering a question from another reader on what I know of the game of billiards in the Regency era. Specifically, the person wanted to know whether the billiard balls were solid colored, striped, numbered? From the research I have done, thus far, (I would welcome any who know more than I to chime in.) I know the balls were made from ivory (female tusk was preferable for some reason,) and they plugged the hole where the nerve ran through the tusk with ebony.

The article from Wikipedia speaks to many of the rules, and, in truth, it has been many years since I have played billiards. I used to be quite good. A former beau was a superb player so he taught me a few tricks. LOL! If you never have played the game, the rules and terminology can be a bit confusing, especially for the traditional game of billiards. English billiards

“Dating to approximately 1800, English billiards, called simply billiards in many former British colonies and in Great Britain where it originated, was originally called the winning and losing carambole game, folding in the names of three predecessor games, the winning game, the losing game and the carambole game (an early form of straight rail), that combined to form it. The game features both cannons (caroms) and the pocketing of balls as objects of play. English billiards requires two cue balls and a red object ball. The object of the game is to score either a fixed number of points, or score the most points within a set time frame, determined at the start of the game.

“Points are awarded for:

Two-ball cannons: striking both the object ball and the other (opponent’s) cue ball on the same shot (2 points).

Winning hazards: potting the red ball (3 points); potting the other cue ball (2 points).

Losing hazards (or “in-offs”): potting one’s cue ball by cannoning off another ball (3 points if the red ball was hit first; 2 points if the other cue ball was hit first, or if the red and other cue ball were “split“, i.e., hit simultaneously).

One might find this piece especially helpful. A Practice Treatise on the Game of Billiards:

The game of billiards in England was not standardized in Regency England. There were a number of variations on how the game was played. In addition, billiard tables, cues and balls were all custom-made. Also, it might be useful to know English billiard tables had pockets, while billiard tables on the Continent did not.

Billiards in Regency England did not use as many balls as are used in the game today. In most cases, there was a single red “object” ball and two white “cue” balls (one for each player), with one of the white cue balls marked with a black dot, to distinguish it from the plain white ball. As the game evolved, to propel the players made use of the opposite side of the stick to get better results which came to known as “cue.” As the tip of the cue were, generally, very smooth, it was difficult to control where the ball went once it was struck. Someone around 1807 (do not know who) thought to place a small piece of leather on the tip of the cue, giving the player more control of the ball.

The use of several multi-colored balls was not introduced until 1819, with a table game known as “pool.”  So, if the story is set before 1819, the characters only have to deal with three balls on their billiard table, two white and one red. One might find this article on Regency Redingote helpful: You can find it here:

Other Sources:

Billiards During the Regency and Victorian Era

Entertainment in the Georgian Era

The History of Billiards

An Odd History of Billiards and Pool

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September 17, 1787, the U. S. Constitution Was Signed ~ 235 Years Ago

On September 17, 1787, 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the Constitution of the United States. The next step was to have nine of the 13 U. S. states ratify it, but that process was not so easy.

Prior to this document being written, the U. S. had accepted the Articles of Confederation. “The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was the first written constitution of the United States. Written in 1777 and stemming from wartime urgency, its progress was slowed by fears of central authority and extensive land claims by states. It was not ratified until March 1, 1781. 

“Under these articles, the states remained sovereign and independent, with Congress serving as the last resort on appeal of disputes. Significantly, The Articles of Confederation named the new nation “The United States of America.” Congress was given the authority to make treaties and alliances, maintain armed forces and coin money. However, the central government lacked the ability to levy taxes and regulate commerce, issues that led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 for the creation of new federal laws under The United States Constitution.” (

As the Articles of Confederation did not prove to be a strong enough document to keep the fledging country together, in 1786, five states’ delegates met in Annapolis, Maryland. After long and often heated discussions, the other states were ask to send delegates to a new convention in Philadelphia, one meant to create a more important and more powerful centralized government.

At the first meeting in May 1786, all states were represented, except Rhode Island, which chose not to participate in the initial process. The group quickly determined the Articles of Confederation were not strong enough to meet their needs; therefore, they began to draft a new document. George Washington served as the elected president of the convention.

The delegates designed a government with a system of checks and balances. One of the main sticking points was how many representatives would be chosen to serve in Congress for each state. Naturally, the states with the most population preferred to have the number of delegates chosen based on population. the lesser populated states wished for the same number of delegates from each state (equal representation).

“On May 29, 1787, Edmund Randolph of the Virginia delegation proposed the creation of a bicameral legislature. Under his proposal, membership in both houses would be allocated to each state proportional to its population. Candidates for the lower house would be nominated and elected by the people of each state, while candidates for the upper house would be nominated by the state legislatures of each state and then elected by the members of the lower house. This proposal was known as the Virginia Plan.

“Less populous states like Delaware were afraid such an arrangement would result in their voices and interests being drowned out by the larger states. Many delegates also felt that the Convention did not have the authority to completely scrap the Articles of Confederation, as the Virginia Plan would have done. In response, on June 15, 1787, William Paterson of the New Jersey delegation proposed a legislature consisting of a single house. Each state was to have equal representation in this body, regardless of population. The New Jersey Plan, as it was called, would have left the Articles of Confederation in place but would have amended them to somewhat increase Congress’s powers.[Yale Avalon Project]

“At the time of the convention, the South was growing more quickly than the North, and southern states had the most extensive Western claims. South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia were small in the 1780s, but they expected growth and thus favored proportional representation. New York was one of the largest states at the time, but two of its three representatives (Alexander Hamilton being the exception) supported an equal representation per state, as part of their desire to see maximum autonomy for the states. New York’s two other representatives departed the convention before the representation issue was voted upon, leaving Alexander Hamilton, and New York State, without a vote in the issue.”

“James Madison and Hamilton were two of the leaders of the proportional representation group. Madison argued that a conspiracy of large states against the small states was unrealistic as the large states were so different from each other. Hamilton argued that the states were artificial entities made up of individuals and accused small state representatives of wanting power, not liberty. For their part, the small state representatives argued that the states were, in fact, of a legally equal status and that proportional representation would be unfair to their states. Gunning Bedford Jr. of Delaware notoriously threatened on behalf of the small states, “the small ones w[ould] find some foreign ally of more honor and good faith, who will take them by the hand and do them justice”. Elbridge Gerry ridiculed the small states’ claim of sovereignty, saying “that we never were independent States, were not such now, & never could be even on the principles of the Confederation. The States & the advocates for them were intoxicated with the idea of their sovereignty.” [Yale Avalon Project]

On June 19, 1787, the delegates rejected the New Jersey Plan and voted to proceed with a discussion of the Virginia Plan. The small states became increasingly discontented, and some threatened to withdraw. On July 2, 1787, the Convention was deadlocked over giving each state an equal vote in the upper house, with five states in the affirmative, five in the negative, and one divided.

What was to become known as the Connecticut Compromise saved the day, so to speak. The Connecticut Compromise (also known as the Great Compromise of 1787 or Sherman Compromise) was an agreement reached during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that in part defined the legislative structure and representation each state would have under the United States Constitution. It retained the bicameral legislature as proposed by Roger Sherman, along with proportional representation of the states in the lower house or House of Representatives, and it required the upper house or Senate to be weighted equally among the states; each state would have two representatives in the Senate. [Connecticut Compromise]

With all those details complete, on September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States was signed. It still was not yet a binding document, for Article VII required nine of the 13 states must first ratify it to make it legal.

In early December of 1787, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Georgia ratified the document. Five states of the nine required were in place.

Massachusetts barely ratified it because, as written, the constitution did not protection the rights we Americans felt important at the time: those of freedom of speech, religion, and press. A compromise was reached in which amendments would be added to cover what had been previously omitted. Therefore, in February 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the Constitution.

Maryland and South Carolina followed suit. In June 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document. Enough had agreed to proceed. The government under the U. S. Constitution officially began on March 4, 1789.

Other states also ratified the document.

June 1789 – Virginia was the 10th state added.

July 1789 – New York was the 11th state added.

September 25, 1789 – the first Congress of the United States adopted 12 amendments to the Constitution. The first Ten are what we in the U. S. called The Bill of Rights. Ten amendments were ratified in 1791.

November 1789 – North Carolina was the 12th state added.

Rhode Island was the only state remaining who did not agree to the ratification. Rhode Island was concerned with federal control of currency and remained unsatisfied with the compromise on the issue of slavery. After the U. S. government threatened to sever commercial enterprise with the state, Rhode Island agreed to the ratification by barely two “yes” votes more than the “nays.” This occurred in May 1790. All thirteen states were joined together.

The U. S. Constitution is the oldest written constitution in operation in the world.

The Bill of Rights

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Balls in London During the Georgian Era

We often read in Regency romances of the hero and heroine meeting at a ball, but how often was that activity actually a reality?

One thing we must keep in mind how large the actual house was depended upon the era in which the house was built. Was the house built when there was lots of land available, such as Grosvenor House?

Grosvenor House was one of the largest townhouses in London, home of the Grosvenor family (better known as the Dukes of Westminster) for more than a century. Their original London residence was on Millbank, but after the family had developed their Mayfair estates, they moved to Park Lane to build a house worthy of their wealth, status and influence in the 19th century. The house gave its name to Upper Grosvenor Street and Grosvenor Square.

The site was originally occupied by a small house named ‘Gloucester House’ (after Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, who owned it), with the front entrance on Upper Grosvenor Street. This house was purchased by Robert Grosvenor, 1st Marquess of Westminster, in 1805 for £20,000. He spent £17,000 on extending the house to make it more fashionable. In 1821, a large picture gallery 50 feet (15 m) long was added to the west of the house.

Grosvenor House, c. 1828. ~

Chesterfield House was another such structure. Chesterfield House was a grand London townhouse built between 1747 and 1752 by Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694–1773), statesman and man of letters. The exterior was in the Palladian style, the interior Baroque. The house was built on land belonging to Richard Howe, 1st Earl Howe by Isaac Ware. In his “Letters to his Son”, Chesterfield wrote from “Hotel Chesterfield” on 31 March 1749: “I have yet finished nothing but my boudoir and my library; the former is the gayest and most cheerful room in England; the latter the best. My garden is now turfed, planted and sown, and will in two months more make a scene of verdure and flowers not common in London.”

Chesterfield House in 1760, published in Walford’s Old & New London (1878) ~,_Westminster#/media/File:ChesterfieldHouse1760.jpg

So the employment of a ballroom would depend on how old the family is, how rich, and if they built in an era in which there was lots of land available to spread out, or are they in one of the newer parts of town with one of the row townhouses.

Other possible sources:

In the Regency, Mayfair contained about 30 mansions set in grounds that had been enveloped as London grew westward. Those probably had ballrooms. The larger town houses set around the oldest squares might have had ballrooms but were certainly large enough to fold back walls to create a ballroom out of two or three regular rooms. But the majority of large balls held during the Season were held in rented space such as Almacks, and few houses other than the mansions already mentioned had garden space suitable for outdoor excursions since most town houses used that space for storing ashes and other sorts of trash, for personal mews space, for raising chickens, and for the servants’ privy. The average town house in Mayfair outside of those on squares was 24′ wide.

Other places with private ballrooms were the villas along the Thames out toward Richmond — close enough to town to hold evening entertainments. A villa was along the lines of a country manor house but without agricultural land to support it. They were detached homes set in grounds and could be quite large. And there were other country manors just west of Mayfair which remained rural, but were close enough to use for entertaining. Holland House was one of these and still exists, now fully enclosed by London just west of Kensington Gardens.

By the way, did you know many of the best hostesses had chalk drawings created on their ballroom floors. This was a very practical measure, as one might understand. The floors used for the ballrooms were highly polished and the shoes of the dancers were leather. The combination could be quite comical or very dangerous. To read more on chalking floors, especially if you wish to add it to your next Regency novel, check out Donna Hatch’s piece on the subject or visit the one by Kathryn Kane on the Regency Redingote.

You might also find these sites helpful when researching the goings on at a ball:

Assembly and Ballroom Culture

How to Behave at a Ball

** “Having a Ball” ~  Watching this is as if one is within one of Jane Austen’s novels.
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