Introducing the Tragic Characters in Classic Literature Series + the Release of “I Shot the Sheriff” + a Giveaway

Public Domain ~ Rhead, Louis. “Bold Robin Hood and His Outlaw Band: Their Famous Exploits in Sherwood Forest”. New York: Blue Ribbon Books, 1912, page 129

More than a year ago, a group of us joined together to create a new series of Regency-based stories. The premise behind the project was to take a “tragic figure” from classic literature and present him or her a happy ending. We would be moving the story, no matter the original setting, into the late Georgian to early Victorian era, roughly 1790 to 1840. The chosen characters are found in public domain stories, and the series is entitled “Love After All.” Releases will be staggered and published by each individual author. The idea is to present the “tragic character” a happy ending.

Earlier in November (November 7), Lindsay Downs released The Monster Within,The Monster Without, which is based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

November 30, 2020, will see my release of I Shot the Sheriff, with a tale of the Sheriff of Nottingham.

December 8, 2020, will bring Audrey Harrison’s The Colonel’s Spinster, featuring Colonel Fitzwilliam from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

December 29, 2020, brings Alina K. Field and her tale of Lancelot and Guinevere, entitled, Fated Hearts.

January 1, 2021, will bring us Alanna Lucas’s tale of Catherine and Heathcliffe from Wuthering Heights from Emily Brontë.

January 11, 2021, has the retelling of Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert tale from the pen of Nancy Lawrence. It will be entitled The Company She Keeps.

I will be back again on February 19, 2021, with the tale of Miles Standish from Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish.” It will be entitled Captain Stanwick’s Bride.

Louisa Cornell will brings us the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice in Glorious Obsession, which will arrive on February 26, 2021.

NOTE: Additional stories will be added as they are arranged.

As most of you realize the Sheriff of Nottingham is the main antagonist in the Robin Hood stories—stories upon which I grew up reading on a regular basis. In fact, I still own a copy of 25 collected tales of Robin Hood, which my grandfather had received from his father when he was but 11 years of age. It has a 1912 copyright date, making it over 100 years old. The Sheriff is generally depicted as an unjust tyrant who mistreats the local people of Nottinghamshire, subjecting them to unaffordable taxes. Robin Hood fights against him, stealing from the rich, and the Sheriff, in order to give to the poor; a characteristic for which Robin Hood is best known. I grew up despising the Sheriff and adoring Robin Hood, so taking on this challenge was initially a bit daunting. Then I remembered how as a tongue-in-cheek moment, I added the Sheriff in book 6 of my Realm series, A Touch of Love, to see if anyone caught it. Ironically, if anyone did, he/she did not comment on my moment of brilliance some five years before this project fell into my lap. Little did I realize when I wrote A Touch of Love that it would serve as the basis for this new novel.

In I Shot the Sheriff, the reader will encounter several characters from the Realm series, most particularly, Mr. Aristotle Pennington, Aidan Kimbolt, Lord Lexford, and Mr. Henry Hill. This new story actually starts with a scene from A Touch of Love. As I said previously, I was simply wondering if any of the loyal readers of this Regency series would note I had used William de Wendenal, the suspected name of the Sheriff of Nottingham of the Robin Hood tales, in this new story? Now, I can do the reverse. Will readers of I Shot the Sheriff recognize the characters from my Realm series? 

In the Realm series, Sir Carter Lowery, an agent for the Home Office, is hunting for a group of men involved in an art theft ring. In chapter eleven, we find the following mention of de Wendenal: 

Carter met with the local sheriff regarding the attack. With McLauren’s assistance, he convinced Lord de Wendenal to leave the stranger in Carter’s custody overnight, but the effort proved fruitless. His assailant refused to provide his name or the reasons for the attack. What troubled Carter the most was he still held no idea whether he or Mrs. Warren was the shooter’s target.

Later, in Chapter Twenty-Four, when several of those involved in the theft ring have been caught, we find: 

Pennington agreed and placed the finishing touches to their plans.

“If none of you object, I believe it might be best to have Lord de Wendenal involved in transporting our prisoners.” 

“Why do we require the Sheriff of Nottingham?” Worthing asked. “Is there not someone closer?”

“First, de Wendenal’s auspices also covers Derbyshire. Moreover, my reports say some eight years prior, his lordship had several dealings with Ransing. At the time, I had no reason to think Ransing involved in stolen art, but I did think him connected to a smuggling ring in Kent. De Wendenal’s involvement in the case will provide the man the opportunity to turn over any stolen goods he might have acquired, setting an example for other members of the aristocracy,” Pennington explained. 

“Do you think de Wendenal honest enough to respond as you wish?” Lexford inquired with a lift of his eyebrows in suspicion. 

“I think Lord de Wendenal serves his office to the Crown well, and I do not place merit in the rumors of his dealings with the Earl of Sherwood. As to whether de Wendenal deals in stolen goods, I would say no more so than the average peer considers the brandy he drinks as contraband. Much of the so-called luxuries, we as a social class enjoy, are smuggled into the country. I am well aware of de Wendenal’s reputation, but I am not convinced he is corrupt. Unwise, very much so. Made many poor decisions in his youth, absolutely. But none worse than those owned by the Duke of Thornhill, and we all know Brantley Fowler’s true worth.” 

They all nodded their agreement. “You know best in such matters,” Godown assured. 

“I will have Henderson and Van Dyke accompany the sheriff and the prisoners to London. Give the event a more official look with local magistrates and the Home Office working together. I will send another of our men to take possession of Woodstone’s associates later in the week. From what Lexford and Worthing shared, I suspect the two who assisted with Mrs. Warren’s abduction were nothing more than a pair of unemployed lackeys.”

Finally, in Chapter Twenty-Six, two of the leaders of the theft ring stage an attack on Prince George, heir to the British throne. It is this attack which sets the beginning of I Shot the Sheriff. We read: 

“Remain with me, my boy,” Prinny said through tight lips and a fake smile. 

Through the champagne glass’s shine, Carter noted how Lord Worthing had crossed the musicians’ raised dais to stand some ten feet behind the prince’s attacker, and Swenton approached slowly from the man’s right. Surprisingly, Lord de Wendenal, the Sheriff of Nottingham, edged forward on the left.

In the original Robin Hood tales, we do not upon the sheriff’s character is based. More likely is a composite character, a mix of the stock characters at the time and the real people who served as the High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and the Royal Forests. As most of the Robin Hood tales are set during the absence of King Richard I of England during the Third Crusade, the character of the Sheriff is likely based on the little-known William de Wendenal, which is what I have done in my tale.

The real William de Wendenal was the High Sheriff of Nottingham and Derbyshire from 1190 to 1194. We know little of his life. He assumed his duties in 1190 from baron Roger de Lizoures. However, when King Richard the Lionheart returned to England in March 1194, William de Ferrers, 4th Earl of Derby succeeded William de Wendenal as the High Sheriff. After that, de Wendenal disappears from the historical record. That is, until I brought him back to life (so to speak) in I Shot the Sheriff.

I Shot the Sheriff: Tragic Characters in Classic Literature Series Novel 

William de Wendenal, the infamous Sheriff of Nottingham, has come to London, finally having wormed his way back into the good graces of the Royal family. Yet, not all of Society is prepared to forgive his former “supposed” transgressions, especially the Earl of Sherwood. 

However, when de Wendenal is wounded in an attempt to protect Prince George from an assassin, he becomes caught up in a plot involving stolen artwork, kidnapping, murder, and seduction that brings him to Cheshire where he must willingly face a gun pointed directly at his chest and held by the one woman who stirs his soul, Miss Patience Busnick, the daughter of a man de Wendenal once escorted to prison. 

I Shot the Sheriff is based on the classic tales of Robin Hood, but it is given a twist and brought into the early 19th Century’s Regency era. Can even de Wendenal achieve a Happily Ever After? If anyone can have the reader cheering for the Sheriff of Nottingham’s happiness, it is award-winning author Regina Jeffers. 

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY: I HAVE 2 eBOOK COPIES OF “I SHOT THE SHERIFF” AVAILABLE TO THOSE WHO COMMENT BELOW. WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED AND PRIZES DELIVERED WHEN THE BOOK RELEASES ON NOVEMBER 30, 2020.

Posted in book excerpts, book release, British history, eBooks, Georgian England, Georgian Era, historical fiction, Living in the Regency, publishing, real life tales, Realm series, Regency romance, romance, Vagary, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Art of Dressmaking During the Regency Era

I had another author recently ask me if I knew the time frame for a dressmaker to complete a gown. In the scenario explained to me, the gown was already embroidered and an initial fitting had occurred. So it is really be just a matter of making small adjustments after a final fitting. I said 3-5 days. However, the other author’s editor thought that was too short of a time, saying it would take two weeks, at a minimum.

In truth, the number of days would depend on a variety of issues: Is the modiste located in London? Or in a provincial town or village? Is the client one of the leaders of Society or a simple younger sister of a gentleman? A duchess, for example, would command more service than somebody unknown among the haut ton.  How many other clients is the modiste servicing at the time? Is it the beginning of a new Season in London? Or is it off season? When the London Season starts, everyone requires new gowns, so modistes are overrun with business.

Small adjustments after a final fitting can take less than an hour, depending on the amount of work that must be done—all measurements would have been made before starting the gown, so there would be only tiny adjustments.  A reputable, and, likely, a not so reputable, London modiste would have many seamstresses working for her.  In an emergency, they could put together a simple gown for an important client in less than a day from scratch. More than likely, they would work late into the night or through the night, if need be, to please a good client or a client of which they were very fond or they were being paid handsomely to product the gown in a short period of time.

The amount of work a dressmaker has and the number of seamstresses employed would determine how long it takes to make a garment. Of course, the trimming and such also matters.  A court dress could well take five days if the seamstresses worked on nothing else. If one required a garment made expeditiously, one could pay extra, and it could usually be done.

A London dress maker could usually make one faster than a village  seamstress, though even a village seamstress could finish a simple dress in three days, if she had no other work.

One must recall, there were no printed patterns, so the lady and the dressmaker would have to confer on which style dress she wanted and then choose the fabric. If the lady had never been to the store before, she would be measured  and a unfinished muslin or linen mock up dress made and fitted to her. The most skilled part of the procedure was drawing off the pieces and then cutting them properly. The dressmaker had to be able to see the pattern behind the fashion illustrations.

The muslin pieces would be used as pattern pieces when the material was cut. Then the fabric pieces would be pinned together. Next, someone would baste the seams. All this is the time consuming part. The customer was supposed to come for the final fitting wearing the stays she would wear with the dress. Dress makers did not usually make the stays. Usually, the mock up dress served as the lining for the actual finished product.

The dress would be tried on and any final adjustments made. Then seamstresses would sew all the seams and add any trimmings and tidy up the gown.

A slightly out-of-period side note. Around the middle of the 19th century, the average Parisian modiste employed 20 seamstresses. By 1870, when his business was really taking off, Charles Worth employed 1200, turning out thousands of extremely elaborate dresses a year. Even the most elaborate gowns I’ve seen in prints from the Regency era are nothing like as complicated as Worth gowns from the 1870s.

So, as to the answer to my friend’s question, the time for the finished dress could be adjusted to fit the plot and the circumstances. If it means that the adjustments are minor and the dressmaker employs half a dozen seamstresses, the dress could be finished the next day. 

Posted in British history, customs and tradiitons, fashion, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Regency era | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Purchasing Commissions During the Napoleonic Wars

We often read of a young gentleman purchasing a commission in either the militia or the regulars during the Regency era, but did conditions exist when a commission could not be secured? The answer is “Yes,” but there were conditions and exceptions.

Not all regiments were open to purchase of rank!

According to the “History” section of the British Army website, “The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) was formed in 1947. It was descended from two older institutions, the Royal Military Academy (RMA) and the Royal Military College (RMC).

“The RMA had been founded in 1741 at Woolwich to train gentlemen cadets for the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers, and later for the Royal Corps of Signals and some for the Royal Tank Corps. It remained there until it was closed on mobilisation in 1939.

“The RMC began in 1800 as a school for staff officers which later became the Staff College, Camberley. A Junior Department was formed in 1802, to train gentlemen cadets as officers of the Line. A new college was built at Sandhurst, into which the cadets moved in 1812. After 1860, the RMC succeeded the East India Company’s Military Seminary as the establishment where most officers of the Indian Army were trained. Following the abolition of the purchase system in 1870, attendance at Sandhurst became the usual route to a commission. The college was enlarged in 1912, when New College was built.”

The purchasing of an officer commission in the British Army was a common practice throughout British history. Originally, the commission served as a cash bond guaranteeing the man’s good behavior, and it was forfeited if he acted with cowardice, gross misbehavior, or deserted his position. The practice began as early as the reign of Charles II and continued until it was officially abolished on 1 November 1871 by the Cardwell Reforms. 

Commissions in cavalry and infantry regiments were the only ones available, and officer ranks could only be purchased up to the rank of colonel. Those who graduated from a course at the Royal Military Academy at Woolrich were presented commissions in the Royal Engineers and the Royal Artillery. These men were subsequently promoted by seniority. This was a means for those of the middle class or the trade class to enter the “gentlemen ranks” as officers, but they were still shunned by many as being “not quite gentlemen” by those of the Army of the British East India Company and those of the aristocratic class who purchased their commissions. 

The British Royal Navy never entertained the idea of the sale of commissions. Officers of the Navy advanced by merit and/or seniority. Even so, nepotism was not dead among British officers. A young gentleman could advance quicker if he was fortunate enough to have an admiral or vice admiral in his family, assuming he passed the relevant exams/tests.

According to Wikipedia’s article on the Purchase of Commissions, “There were several key reasons behind the sale of commissions:

  • It preserved the social exclusivity of the officer class.
  • It served as a form of collateral against abuse of authority or gross negligence or incompetence. Disgraced officers could be cashiered by the crown (that is, stripped of their commission without reimbursement).
  • It ensured that the officer class was largely populated by persons having a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, thereby reducing the possibility of Army units taking part in a revolution or coup.
  • It ensured that officers had private means and were less likely to engage in looting or pillaging, or to cheat the soldiers under their command by engaging in profiteering using army supplies.
  • It provided honourably retired officers with an immediate source of capital.

The official values of commissions varied by regiment, usually in line with the differing levels of social prestige of different regiments. 

In 1837 for example, the costs of commissions were:

Rank Life Guards Cavalry Foot Guards Infantry Half pay difference
Cornet (or)

Ensign

£1,260 £840 £1,200 £450 £150
Lieutenant £1,785 £1,190 £2,050 £700 £365
Captain £3,500 £3,225 £4,800 £1,800 £511
Major £5,350 £4,575 £8,300 £3,200 £949
Lieutenant Colonel £7,250 £6,175 £9,000 £4,500 £1,314

PWAssaulton0theBreechatSanSebastian.jpgThese prices were not incremental. To purchase a promotion, an officer only had to pay the difference in price between his existing rank and the desired rank. [Goldsmith, Jeremy (May 2007), “A gentleman and an officer – Army commissions”, Family Tree Magazine, 23 (7), pp. 10–13.]

If an officer wished to sell out his commission, he could do so, but only for the official value of the commission. He had to offer it to the next highest ranking officer of his regiment. Unfortunately, some of the lower ranks could not afford the commission, for there were also other costs operating among the officers. These were known as the “over-regulation price” or the “regimental value.” Occasionally, the commissions were auctioned off, especially those in the “more fashionable” regiments. As many officers were second or third sons and would have little beyond their “pensions” to live upon once they exited service, they often drove up the price. It was not unknown for officers who incurred or inherited debts to sell their commission to raise funds.

Colonels of fashionable regiments were also known to refuse the sale of commission if the person purchasing it were not of the colonel’s social status or to his liking. “This was especially the case in the Household and Guards regiments, which were dominated by aristocrats. Elsewhere however, it was not unknown for Colonels to lend deserving senior non-commissioned officers or warrant officers the funds necessary to purchase commissions.

19th-LD-RS

20th Light Dragoons at the Battle of Vimeiro on 21st August 1808 in the Peninsular War

“Not all first commissions or promotions were paid for. If an officer was killed in action or was appointed to the Staff (usually through being promoted to Major General), this created a series of “non-purchase vacancies” within his regiment. (These could also arise when new regiments or battalions were created, or when the establishments of existing units were expanded.) However, all vacancies arising from officers dying of disease, retiring (whether on full or half pay) or resigning their commissions were “purchase vacancies”. A period, usually of several years, had to elapse before an officer who succeeded to a non-purchase vacancy could sell his commission e.g. if a Captain were promoted to Major to fill a non-purchase vacancy but decided to leave the Army immediately afterwards, he would receive only the value of his Captain’s commission.” [Purchase of Commissions in the British Army]

Regulations required minimum lengths of service for the various ranks. These restricted officers from selling or exchanging their commissions to avoid active service. This would be in the case of the militia. Exceptions were at the discretion of the Commander in Chief. In 1806, Mary Anne Clarke, the mistress of the Duke of York, the acting Commander in Chief at the time, brought scandal to the York’s door when she was accused of selling commissions to plump up her own purse.

“The worst potential effects of the system were mitigated during intensive conflicts such as the Napoleonic Wars by heavy casualties among senior ranks, which resulted in many non-purchase vacancies, and also discouraged wealthy dilettantes who were not keen on active service, thereby ensuring that many commissions were exchanged for their face value only. There was also the possibility of promotion to brevet army ranks for deserving officers. An officer might be a subaltern or Captain in his regiment, but might hold a higher local rank if attached to other units or allied armies, or might be given a higher Army rank by the Commander-in-Chief or the Monarch in recognition of meritorious service or a notable feat of bravery. Officers bearing dispatches giving news of a victory (such as Waterloo), often received such promotion, and might be specially selected by a General in the field for this purpose.” [Purchase of Commissions in the British Army]

Additional Resources:

Allen, Douglas. “Compatible Incentives and the Purchase of Military Commissions.” 

Goldsmith, Jeremy (May 2007), “A gentleman and an officer – Army commissions”, Family Tree Magazine, 23 (7), pp. 10–13.

Holmes, Richard. “The Soldier’s Trade in a Changing World,” BBC – History.

Military Officers in the Napoleonic Wars,” Reddit – Ask Historians 

“Purchase of Commissions in the British Army,” Wikipedia

 

 

 

Posted in British history, British Navy, Georgian England, military, Napoleonic Wars, war | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Women’s Rights to Property During the Regency Era

 

This issue plays out in my Work in Progress, Captain Stanwick’s Bride, therefore, I went searching for minute details regarding whether women could inherit property after their husband’s demise. Although I thought I knew the answer, I wanted to check for some of the more obscure points in such a scenario.

Unfortunately, “informal” and “instructional” type blogs all over the web continue to proclaim that women in the time of the Regency, and decades after, had NO legal rights. It is repeated over and over that while a woman could inherit property, she could not control it. It is even said that if a woman inherits property that a male had to be in charge of it and could sell it or lose it, say in a gaming debt.

In reality, property laws were some of the strictest laws around, and even guardians of minors could be held responsible for what they did to a minor’s estate.

A female, who had reached her majority, meaning twenty-one years or older had as much right to own and control property as her brother.  It is true, however, that  legacies left to females often were further protected by conditions. This was not done in every case, but was executed in many. These conditions were not in place because the female could not have a say in her property, but, rather, to protect it from a MAN.  The worse condition of females at the time was that they almost ceased to exist after they married. Married women’s ability to own and control property was severely limited. Whereas, widows often had a very free hand. Such is the situation in my story mentioned above. The hero’s late wife despised the idea that her father could direct her to whom she should marry, and she despised asking for additional pin money from her husband, but she would have enjoyed the freedom being a widow would have brought her. Her brother says he “will protect her,” but the late Mrs. Stanwick refused. She wanted her freedom.

Most of the restraints placed on property inherited or deeded to women were not placed there because it was thought a female could not handle all there is to oversee any property, but to protect the property from a husband or brother or uncle, etc. 

There was no legal  process that would allow a man to take charge of an adult spinster’s property and sell it. The courts would have returned the property to woman and make the man disgorge the money.

Legally, when it was determined that the guardian exceeded his authority, property sold by the guardian of a minor—male or female—had to be returned and the money refunded after the minor came of age.

The situation and conditions of females was restricted and bad enough without presenting it as worse.

The Married Women’s Property act was not passed until 1870’s. There had been agitation about this matter throughout the century. Caroline Norton did much to  change matters, but the story of Catherine Tilney Long (or Tylney-Long)—a great heiress–—probably  had as much influence. 

“Caroline Sheridan was born in London on 22 March 1808 into a grand but impoverished family. She was the granddaughter of the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Her father died when she was eight years old, leaving the family with serious financial problems. So when George Norton, who was Tory member of parliament for Guildford at the time, asked to marry Caroline only eight years later, Caroline’s mother was keen for the match to succeed. Against her wishes, but fearing for the well-being of her family, Caroline conceded.

“The marriage was an extremely unhappy one and Caroline was the victim of regular and vicious beatings. She found solace in her writing and the publication of her verses ‘The Sorrows of Rosalie’ (1829) and ‘The Undying One’ (1830) resulted in her appointment as editor of ‘La Belle Assemblée’ and ‘Court Magazine’. With these appointments and publications came a taste of financial independence.

“In 1836, she finally left from her husband who, despite previously encouraging the friendship, now claimed that Caroline was guilty of adultery with the home secretary Lord Melbourne and sued Melbourne for seducing his wife. Norton lost the case but Caroline’s reputation was ruined. Norton refused Caroline access to her three children and her subsequent protests were instrumental in the passing of the Infant Custody Bill of 1839.

“Norton later attempted to take the proceeds of her writing. Her campaign to ensure women were supported after divorce included an eloquent letter to Queen Victoria, which was published. Caroline’s efforts were influential in the passing of the Marriage and Divorce Act of 1857.” (BBC History)

“[Catherine Tilney Long] was the eldest daughter of Sir James Tylney-Long, 7th Baronet, of Draycot, Wiltshire. Her only brother James had inherited their father’s fortune but died just short of his eleventh birthday in 1805, meaning that the vast estates gathered by the 7th Baronet in Essex, Hampshire, and Wiltshire and financial investments in hand worth £300,000 devolved to Catherine. These estates were said to bring in total annual rents of £40,000. She thus became known in fashionable London society as “The Wiltshire Heiress” and was believed to be the richest commoner in England.

“Her suitors included the Duke of Clarence, later King William IV, keen to pay off his great debts. She eventually chose William Wesley-Pole (b. 1788), who on 14 January 1812 assumed the additional surnames of Tylney-Long, changing his name by Royal Licence. The couple married on 14 March 1812, but his extravagance meant the marriage was an unhappy one.

William gained an appointment as Gentleman Usher to George IV in 1822 (rendering him immune to arrest for debt) and left Britain to escape his creditors around 1823. Whilst on the continent he began a relationship with Helena Paterson Bligh, the wife of Captain Thomas Bligh of the Coldstream Guards, eventually abandoning Catherine entirely. She died in 1825, leaving her children in the care of her two unmarried sisters, Dorothy and Emma. William had only had a life interest in Catherine’s property, although he was responsible for the demolition of Wanstead House in 1825 to pay off some of his debts and also unsuccessfully tried to gain custody of their eldest child William, on whom Catherine’s fortune had devolved.” (Catherine Tylney-Long)

Sarah Lady Jersey inherited a large part of her grandfather’s interest in a bank. She attended the board meetings. There  is no record of Lord Jersey taking any part in the affairs of the bank, though his son did when he came of age. 

Property left to a woman as dowry was meant to be given to the husband when she  married. It was never expected to be hers. If the property was included in the dowry, it often had a condition attached that it return to her father’s (or mother’s) family if she died without legitimate children. The husband could not legally sell or give away this property. It was being held to protect her future, providing her a home and income when her husband passed, and she must make way for son’s wife. 

 All property and all money left to a female was not expected to be used as a dowry.

One of the purposes of a marriage settlement was to “protect” any unprotected property from being wasted, sold, or otherwise dealt with by  the husband.  He was supposed to be content with the income and any money his wife had.

I must say that one very weak point in this protection was that the husband seldom received more than a slight slap on the wrist for violations.

 

Caroline Norton

Catherine Tilney-Long

Posted in British history, family, Georgian England, Georgian Era, history, Inheritance, Regency era, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Very “Real” Estate: Vicars’ Close, Wells, Somerset, England

The oldest purely residential street in England is known as Vicars’ Close, which is located in Wells, Somerset, England, and dates from the mid 14th Century.  Planned by Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury, at one time it was 42 separate houses, built of stone from the Mercia Mudstone Group, a rock strata found in plenty in the English midlands. 22 houses were on the east side of the street and 20 on the west side. They line a quadrangle, which is visual delight because it appears longer than it actually is because the houses at the northern end of the quadrangle and nearest the chapel are nine feet closer together than those at the lower/southern end, which is closer to Vicars’ Hall. 

Wells_somerset_vicarsclose.jpg

Each house had two storeys, both approximately 20 x 13 feet. Both storeys had sport a fireplace. The latrine is outside the back door.  The date of some of the buildings is unclear but it is known that some had been built by 1363 and the rest were completed by 1412.

The street is comprised of Grade I listed buildings, nowadays consisting of 27 residences (some of the originals were combined when the clergy were permitted to marry), a chapel and library at the north end, and a hall at the south end, over an arched gate. It is connected at its southern end to the cathedral by way of a walkway over Chain Gate.  

audition-chorister

Choristers walking down Vicars Close – Wells Cathedral School ~ https://wells.cathedral.school/audition-chorister/

“The Close is about 460 feet (140 m) long, and paved with setts. Its width is tapered by 10 feet (3.0 m) to make it look longer when viewed from the main entrance nearest the cathedral. When viewed from the other end it looks shorter. By the nineteenth century the buildings were reported to be in a poor state of repair, and part of the hall was being used as a malt house. Repairs have since been carried out including the construction of Shrewsbury House to replace buildings damaged in a fire.

“The Vicars’ Hall was completed in 1348 and included a communal dining room, administrative offices and treasury of the Vicars Choral. The houses on either side of the close were built in the 14th and early 15th centuries. Since then alterations have been made including a unified roof, front gardens and raised chimneys. The final part of the construction of the close was during the 1420s when the Vicars’ Chapel and Library was constructed on the wall of the Liberty of St. Andrew. The south face includes shields commemorating the bishops of the time. The interior is decorated with 19th century gesso work by Heywood Summer and the building now used by Wells Cathedral School.”

800px-The_Vicars_Hall,_Wells

The Vicar’s Hall ~ commons.wikimedia.org

Wells Cathedral‘s website tells us, “The first building of the new College was the Hall, with its kitchen and bakehouse, where the vicars met and ate their meals. This was in use before the end of 1348, because, in her will dated 7 November 1348, Alice Swansee bequeathed a large brass pot for the use of the Vicars, together with a basin with hanging ewer and a table for the Hall, in memory of her son, Philip, a Vicar who had just died, probably of plague; the Black Death was raging in 1348. The east window, the fireplace and the lectern were added about a hundred years later.

495122d5bc24e5418132b19e09ec2722.jpg

“On 30 December 1348, Bishop Ralph made over to the vicars ‘the dwellings newly built and to be erected by us for the use of the vicars, and ‘quarters with appurtenances built and to be built’. The houses were built in two rows running north from the Hall, and were completed by the time of Bishop Ralph’s death in 1363. The quadrangle was finally completed with the building of the Chapel at the north end in the early fifteenth century. The Chapel was dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Katherine, and it is first mentioned in a charter of 1479, but shields on the Chapel door carry the arms of Bishops Bubwith and Stafford, suggesting that the chapel was begun in the episcopate of the former and finished under the latter, giving it a date of c.1424-30. A room over the Chapel served as the Vicars’ Library.” 

2.-Retroquire-437x327.jpg

105611611.1mABl6G0.5955VicarsCloseWells.jpg

travelling-back-in-time.jpg db89cf47f31ca7446e8930e3aa355f1d.jpg

 

Resources: 

Bush, Robin.  (1994). Somerset: The complete guide. Wimborne, Dorset: Dovecote Press. pp. 221–222.

Wells Cathedral 

Posted in architecture, British history, buildings and structures, customs and tradiitons, England, Great Britain, history, medieval, research | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Kinks” in the Peerage Laws in Great Britain

First, and foremost, one must understand the creation of peerages is a royal prerogative. Letters patent are used exclusively now for this task, but this was not always so. Letters patent are a form of open or public proclamation and a vestigial exercise of extra-parliamentary power by a monarch. Prior to the establishment of Parliament, the monarch ruled absolutely by the issuing of his personal written orders, open or closed. They can be contrasted with an Act of Parliament, which is in effect a written order by Parliament involving assent by the monarch in conjunction with its members. However, we must understand, there is no explicit government approval contained with letters patent, only a seal or signature of the monarch.

Parliament today tolerates only a very narrow exercise of the royal prerogative by issuance of letters patent, and such documents are issued with prior informal government approval, or indeed are now generated by government itself with the monarch’s seal affixed as a mere formality. In their original form they were simply written instructions or orders from the sovereign, whose order was law, which were made public to reinforce their effect. For the sake of good governance, it is of little use if the sovereign appoints a person to a position of authority but does not at the same time inform those over whom such authority is to be exercised of the validity of the appointment.

Wikipedia provides a chart as to the wording of a letters patent for dukes/duchesses, marquesses/marchionesses, earls/countesses, viscounts, hereditary barons, life barons, etc., for those who are interested in the subject.

The patent bears the Great Seal but no signature. It describes how the title may descend after the death of the person who has been ennobled. This is called the “remainder.”

“. . . unto him and the heirs male of his body lawfully begotten and to be begotten. Willing and by these Presents granting for Us Our heirs and successors that he and his heirs male aforesaid and every of them successively . . .”

Customarily, the title is limited to the male heirs of the body, legally begotten, but some patents contain what is known as a “special remainder,” meaning other members of the family (daughters, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, etc.) may inherit the title.

Usually there is a limitation on the remainder, i.e. the title is limited to the male heirs of the body, legally begotten (i.e. legitimate), but some patents contain a special remainder, whereby other members of the family (for example, daughters, brothers or sisters or their children) may inherit the title.

The letters patent created for Charles Portal, 1st Viscount of Hungerford, Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (Prince Philip’s uncle), Edmund Allenby, 1st Viscount Allenby, and the like were all created peers with a special remainder as none had male issue to inherit. Having the letters patent worded, as such, allowed the peerage to survive beyond the peer’s life span.

In contrast to letters patent, the earliest peerages, meaning the English baronies, were created by writ of summons to Counsel or Parliament. Successors of the more important baronies received a like summons, creating what we now know as a hereditary barony, rather than a life baron.

Life peers are appointed to the peerage, but their titles cannot be inherited. Modern life peerages, always given the rank of “baron,” are created under the Life Peerage Act 1958. They provide the holder a seat in the House of Lords, as long as the person meets the qualification of age and citizenship. Their children cannot inherit a Life Peerage, but they can style themselves with the prefix “The Honourable.”

“The remainders of baronies by writ, having no patent, are not limited to ‘heirs male’, but to heirs-general. So, for instance, if such a baron died without leaving a male heir, but leaving a sole daughter, this daughter would be permitted to inherit the barony.

“Should there be more than one daughter, the title will fall into abeyance between the co-heirs. The co-heirs should come to an honourable agreement (ie without bribery or corruption) as to which of them is to claim the title, and then the claimant may petition The Crown to have the abeyance terminated. A claimant must represent at least a third share of the abeyant title, and the title must not have been in abeyance for more than a hundred years. The Sovereign may terminate an abeyance by exercise of the royal prerogative.

“If, in the fullness of time, the co-heirs to an abeyant peerage diminish to a single heir, the claimant may assume the title without petition to The Crown. Recent examples of peerages being called out of abeyance include Strange 1986, Grey of Codnor 1989, Berners 1995, Arlington 1999 and Howard de Walden 2004.

“Historically, there was also a doctrine of baronies by tenure. These were feudal titles which were held by possession of land and castle (most famously Fitzalan of Arundel Castle, who successfully petitioned to be considered Earl of Arundel in 1433). Most claims to baronies by tenure, however, were challenged in the House of Lords and, in 1861, the Committee for Privileges of the House of Lords decided that, irrespective of whatever might have been the position in the past, baronies by tenure no longer existed.” [Creation and Inheritance of the Peerage]

Keep in mind the Peerage of Scotland and the Peerage of Ireland do not follow the same rules. There are variations, dictated by the “limitation.”

The legal definition of peerage is an artificial dignity associated with nobility, in accordance to the words of limitation contained in the grant (of peerage).

Map of the historic counties of England showing the percentage of registered Catholics in the population in 1715–1720. ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recusancy#/media/File:Catholics_in_England_1715-20.svg

Another kink not mentioned previously is the idea of “dissenters.” In the Regency, in which I write, any one who had the right pedigree could inherit a title. However, not every peer could sit in Parliament. Those who had an English or UK peerage, not being female or under age, had to take an oath, essentially swearing they abjured the Pope. Catholics peers, therefore, could not sit in the House of Lords.

For example, the Duke of Norfolk, is the premier duke in the peerage of England and the premier earl as the Earl of Arundel. In addition to the ducal title, the dukes of Norfolk also hold the hereditary position of Earl Marshal, which has the duty of organizing state occasions such as coronation and the opening of Parliament. For the last five centuries, save some periods when it was under attainder, both the dukedom and earl-marshalship have been in the hands of the Howard family. Even today, due to the duties of Earl Marshal, Norfolk is one of two hereditary peers automatically admitted to the House of Lords, without being elected by the general body of hereditary peers.

Additionally, in the State of Opening of Parliament, the Duke of Norfolk is one of four individuals who precede the monarch and one of the two who walk facing backwards, meaning facing the monarch (although in recent years, we have not seen this tradition carried forward). The Duke of Norfolk also is head of the College of Arms, through which he regulates all matters connected with armorial bearings and standards. He is one of three claimants to the title of Chief Butler of England

Charles Howard, 11th Duke of Norfolk by Thomas Gainsborough ~ Public Domain

The Duke of Norfolk (1746 – 1815) for a time had to do his ceremonial duties as Earl marshal of England through a Protestant because he was a  Catholic. One of the Dukes became a Protestant until the law changed. That duke was Charles Howard, 11th Duke of Norfolk. Norfolk renounced his Catholicism to start his political life, but remained a staunch supporter of Catholic Emancipation, as well as opposing the war with the American colonies. He sat in Parliament from 1780 to 1784 and became a lord of the treasury in the Portland cabinet in 1783. He succeeded to the title of 11th Duke of Norfolk in 1786 upon the death of his father. Eventually he was dismissed from the lord lieutenancy of the West Riding in 1798 for toasting “Our sovereign’s health—the majesty of the people” in terms displeasing to George III. [Charles Howard, 11th Duke of Norfolk]

Charles Howard was followed by his cousin. Bernard Howard, 12th Duke of Norfolk, was an ardent Roman Catholic, like most of his family. He strongly supported Catholic Emancipation, giving offence to his Protestant neighbours by hosting a banquet to celebrate the passage of the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829.

After the English Reformation, from the 16th to the 19th century those guilty of such nonconformity, termed “recusants”, were subject to civil penalties and sometimes, especially in the earlier part of that period, to criminal penalties. Catholics formed a large proportion, if not a plurality, of recusants, and it was to Catholics that the term initially was applied. Non-Catholic groups composed of Reformed Christians or Protestant dissenters from the Church of England were later labelled “recusants” as well. Recusancy laws were in force from the reign of Elizabeth I to that of George III, but not always enforced with equal intensity. However, if a Dissenter could take the oath and the 39 articles, he could take a seat in Parliament. If he objected, depending upon the time period in which he lived, he could be charged with treason.

To become more familiar with the Oath of Supremacy – quick overview from Wikipedia.

Posted in British history, Church of England, customs and tradiitons, Elizabeth I, England, estates, Georgian England, Georgian Era, history, Inheritance, Living in the Regency, Living in the UK, real life tales, Regency era, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pirates of the Barbary Coast, a Guest Post from Jann Rowland

This post originally appeared on the Austen Authors’ blog on July 22, 2020. Enjoy! 

Among the most fearsome historic raiders of the seas were the Barbary Pirates, corsairs who operated from ancient times until the early nineteenth century.While their predations included such acts as seizing shipments of goods and wealth, their main purpose was to secure slaves to fund the slave trade, slaves which were sold as far away as China. Though the pirates operated mainly in the western Mediterranean Sea, their activities extended down the west coast of Africa and as far north as Iceland, as they raided villages and carried away slaves for the markets in northern Africa.

The Berbers themselves, from whom the term “Barbary Coast” derives, are an ethnicity indigenous mostly to North Africa, though some live in parts of West Africa. While they had at times been subject to the Ottoman Empire, the Barbary Coast states, including people based in modern day Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Morocco, were largely autonomous in that they chose their own leaders and lived off the booty they took from other powers. The pirates did not seem to care much who they took prisoner as long as it brought them profit—members of every race, creed, or religion were targets for plunder.

It is interesting to note that while most European powers as well as the Ottomans had abandoned the oar-driven vessels of antiquity, the Barbary Pirates continued to employ such vessels, which were often crewed by as many as one hundred fighting men armed with swords and pistols. In many ways, the Barbary ships were the direct descendants of triremes of the ancient world. This led to a distinct advantage for the heavily-armed European navies that sported potent cannons and heavy arms. The Barbary Pirates knew this and their fleets were not built for battle; they were raiders that attacked vulnerable targets and fled at the sight of armed ships of war.

At times, the piracy problem became so great that some states began campaigns to purchase slaves back from the traders. Money was collected at various churches, and at times ships were taxed to add to the fund, which was then used to purchase back slaves. Of course, though this effort was laudable, the numbers of slaves they returned to their homelands through this process was nothing more than a trickle compared with those taken away.

Various expeditions were mounted to attempt to curb the threat, counter-raiding the Barbary Coast states, at times carrying captives away, while at other times destroying facilities in retaliation. A notable such action was the sacking of Bona in 1607 by the Knights of Saint Stephen. Others, such as the Dutch bombardment of Tripoli in 1670 slowed the pirates’ activities for a time. However, it did little to halt the predations of the corsairs and in some ways spurred them on.

The attacks of the pirates reached their peak in the early seventeenth century, though they began to wane late that same century due to the increased naval capacity of those states ravaged by the Barbary Pirates. Some, such as the United States, negotiated treaties with the Barbary States to avoid their ships being targeted, but as a result were forced to pay heavy tributes in exchange. By some estimates, 20% of the United States federal governments’ expenditures in 1800  were in the form of such tributes.

By the nineteenth century, the flow of slaves through raids slowed to a trickle. The United States fought two Barbary wars, the first from 1801 – 1805, the second in 1815, to protect their merchant fleets from the raiders. But it was not until the French conquered Algiers in 1830 that the pirates were defeated and their raiding halted. There are some estimates that during a one hundred year period from the late sixteenth century to the late seventeenth, almost one million slaves were carried into captivity. The total number during their centuries-long existence must have numbered in the millions.

This is just a taste of the history of the Barbary Pirates, for there is much more that could be discussed if we had the time and space to do so. By the nineteenth century and the time of Jane Austen, much of the power of these raiders had been reduced, their effectiveness diluted. That did not stop them entirely, for there are other means of obtaining slaves by the use of men of few morals and an unscrupulous lust for wealth.

Thus, I will leave you with this post. Remember, this is part of a series of posts discussing some of the themes of my upcoming duology, which now has a title! The series name will be called The Bonds of Life, and the first volume The Bonds of Friendship. Thanks to J. W. Garrett for both the suggestion of the title and the original idea! I hope I haven’t painted too dark a picture—there will be a happily ever after. Have no fear of that!

Posted in Austen Authors, Guest Post, history, real life tales, research, writing | Tagged , , , , , ,

How Did Debrett’s Come By The Information Listed in “The New Peerage”?

I had an author friend send me an email question recently. She wanted to know if a man (her hero) had been married for some time, how well known would the marriage be to others in Society? Could he go about without anyone knowing? (Definitely a interesting plot point)

Today, Debrett’s is a professional coaching (meaning instructional) company, publisher, and authority on etiquette and behaviour. It was founded in 1769 with the publication of the first edition of The New Peerage. The company takes its name from its founder, John Debrett. 

John Debrett (8 January 1753 – 15 November 1822) was the London-born son of Jean Louys de Bret, a French cook of Huguenot extraction and his wife Rachel Panchaud. As a boy of thirteen, John Debrett was apprenticed to a Piccadilly bookseller and publisher, Robert Davis. He remained there until 1780, when he moved across Piccadilly to work for John Almon, bookseller and stationer. John Almon edited and published his first edition of The New Peerage in 1769 and went on to produce at least three further editions. By 1790, he had passed the editorship on to John Debrett who, in 1802, put his name to the two small volumes that made up The Correct Peerage of England, Scotland and Ireland. Despite twice being declared bankrupt, Debrett continued as a bookseller and editor of the Peerage; the last edition edited by him was the 15th edition, which was published in 1823. He was found dead at his lodgings on 15 November 1822, and was buried at St James’s Church, Piccadilly. [Debrett’s]

Now, back to the question at hand: During the early 1800’s, did Debrett’s list marriages?  Would others know of a person’s marriage, even if he does not mention it?

Debrett gathered the published information for his volumes from the deaths, births, and marriage columns in the newspaper and from  announcements sent to it; therefore, if no one reported the marriage, the information would not automatically be included. The 1802 Debrett’s did not, for example, know that Lord Byron had died in 1798. Upon his death, the barony passed to Byron’s cousin George Anson Byron, a career naval officer. The poet we know as Lord Byron, George Gordon Noel, sixth Baron Byron, was born on 22 January 1788 in London. His father died when he was three, with the result that he inherited his title from his great uncle in 1798. (BBC History)

The second part of my friend’s question dealt with how to address the hero, as he also had a military commission. 

The answer is rather simple: The hero could be addressed by whichever designation he prefers:  Captain Lord So-and-so or just Lord So-and-so.

From Debrett’s 1816 we find …  

If an officer has a title, or a courtesy title or style, he is addressed in the opening of a letter and in speech in exactly the same way as any other title-holder. It should be noted, however, that some titled officers prefer to be addressed by their Service rank.

If Admiral Sir Guy Jones expresses his preference to be addressed ‘Dear Admiral Jones’ instead of ‘Dear Sir Guy’, this should, of course, be observed.

On an envelope the service rank appears before the title, except in the case of ‘His Excellency’.

The one aspect of Debrett’s that has to be taken into account (in the historical sense as far as authoring historical novels goes), is that Debrett’s has updated its etiquette in relation to modern day rules of engagement. Take mediaeval and early post mediaeval forms of address – verbal and written – and one can see a differing theme in respect of titles. After all, a prince was referred to as “his grace,” so, too, monarchs who were also referred to as Sire/Majesty, et al.  Slowly changes came about as mediaeval squires (servants) seemingly vanished somewhere along the way and county squires (landowners) who had their own servants are the only reference to squires. What a turn-around in social standing that is?

Prior, during, and post the English Civil Wars and stretching to the Georgian era, names came before title, and in many aristocratic circles remained, thus, until the reign of William IV & the Victorian era, i.e. Charles Standish, Duke of Wherever. Letters were  addressed to the duke by fellow aristocrats as “Charles Balderdash, The Duke of Wherever.” Whilst lesser persons in society (knowing their place) would address a letter to “The Duke of Wherever,” and head the letter with “Dear Duke.” On the other hand, in private letters between aristocrats, one may address the duke as “Dear Balderdash,” and if close or related another may use, “Dear Charles,” or plain “Charles.”

By the Georgian era Squires (county gentlemen) had become magistrates wielding lesser judicial power than county court circuit judges, but nonetheless, these squire magistrates were greatly feared by poachers and livestock rustlers. I do not think I need to enlighten my readers as to why that was so, except local knowledge added greatly to a squire’s intelligence networking. What other interesting aspects of Historical Britain post English Civil Wars strikes a note with you?

Posted in British history, estates, Georgian England, Georgian Era, history, peerage | Tagged , , , ,

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Esq. (Esquire). . . Correct or Not?

According to etymonline.com, the work “Esquire” is a noun. It came to use “in the late 14C., from Middle French esquier “squire,” literally “shield-bearer” (for a knight), from Old French escuier “shield-bearer (attendant young man in training to be a knight), groom” (Modern French écuyer), from Medieval Latin scutarius “shield-bearer, guardsman” (in classical Latin, “shield-maker”), from scutum “shield” (see escutcheon). For initial e-, see e-. Compare squire (n.). Originally the feudal rank below knight, sense broadened 16c. to a general title of courtesy or respect for the educated and professional class, especially, later, in U.S., regarded as belonging especially to lawyers.

In our own dear title-bearing, democratic land, the title of esquire, officially and by courtesy, has come to include pretty much everybody. Of course everybody in office is an esquire, and all who have been in office enjoy and glory in the title. And what with a standing army of legislators, an elective and ever-changing magistracy, and almost a whole population of militia officers, present and past, all named as esquires in their commissions, the title is nearly universal. [N.Y. Commercial Advertiser newspaper, quoted in Bartlett, 1859]

Meanwhile, Wikiquote tells us: “Esquire (abbreviated Esq.) is a term of British origin (ultimately from Latin scutarius in the sense of shield bearer via Old French “esquier”). In Britain, it is an unofficial title of respect, having no precise significance, which is used to denote a high but indeterminate social status. Esquire is cognate with the word squire, which originally meant an apprentice or assistant to a knight. Relics of this origin can still be found today associated with the word esquire. For example in the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, “Esquire” is today the most junior grade of membership. In the United States, the suffix Esq. most commonly designates individuals licensed to practice law, and applies to both men and women (in more modern times).”

Historically, in the UK, “esquire” was a title of respect, sometimes referred to as a courtesy title, accorded men of higher social rank, especially those members of the landed gentry who were above the rank of “gentleman,” but below the rank of “knight.” William Blackstone, a renown judge and jurist and author of Commentaries on the Laws of England said of the subject, “The title should be limited to those only who bear an office or trust under the Crown and who are styled ‘esquires’ by the king in their commissions and appointments; and all, I conceive, who are once honoured by the king with the title of ‘esquire’ have a right to that distinction for life.”

The Complete English Gentleman (1630), by Richard Brathwait, shows the exemplary qualities of a gentleman.

A gentleman was considered to be any man of good and courteous conduct. Originally, it was the lowest rant of the landed gentry of England, ranking below both “esquire” and “yeoman.” The rank of gentleman was comprised of the younger sons of the younger sons of peers and the sons of a baronet, a knight, and an esquire, in what is known as perpetual succession. A gentleman was not only courteous and law abiding, but he could display a coat of arms, which was a right he shared with members of the peerage, as well as some of the gentry. These groups equaled the British nobility.

In the 17th century, in Titles of Honour (1614), the jurist John Selden said that the title gentleman likewise speaks of ‘our English use of it’ as convertible with nobilis (nobility by rank or personal quality) [Selden, John (1614). Titles of Honour (1st ed.). London: William Stansby for Iohn Helme] and describes the forms of a man’s elevation to the nobility in European monarchies. In 1827, James Henry Lawrence explained and discussed the concepts, particulars, and functions of social rank in a monarchy, in the book On the Nobility of the British Gentry, or the Political Ranks and Dignities of the British Empire, Compared with those on the Continent. [Lawrence, Sir James Henry (1827) [1824]. The Nobility of the British Gentry or the Political Ranks and Dignities of the British Empire Compared with those on the Continent (2nd ed.). London: T.Hookham — Simpkin and Marshall.]

Esquire was not in general use for solicitors. More likely to be used by barristers. It was the form used by all those grandsons of peers without any other titles.

The rules of precedence of the Regency period put “esquire” and “gentlemen” in different categories. Landed men, especially those related to peers, like Fitzwilliam Darcy in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” would be an “esquire.” He was the grandson of an earl. All the sons of younger sons of the peerage would be an “esquire” as would be sons of knights and baronets. Their sons would be gentlemen as would those with the king’s commission as an officer and a gentleman. The lines between esquire and gentleman were often hard to distinguish for all except the College of Heralds, and they charged a fee to make the decision.

“Esquire” was a status on the table of precedence.

An “esquire” was also a barrister or a judge who had not been given a peerage or even a knighthood. Younger sons of younger sons of dukes and marquesses or sons of earls, viscounts, and barons might be presented “esquire” after their names. Professors usually used their academic degrees, but would probably be seated with the esquires. The sons of a baronet ranked there.

A knight is a title senior to “esquire” for a barrister, for example. William Garrow was both. He was Sir William Garrow, PC, KC, FRS. (No “esquire.) Once knighted, he would be called Sir William. [On a side note and of interest to me with 40% of my ancestral DNA being from Scotland, Garrow was descended from the Garriochs of Kinstair, a Scottish royal line.]

“Esquire” was not used in speech, but, more so, perhaps, in addressing a formal letter.

If this topic interests you, please consider reading In Britain, who is entitled to the suffix of “Esquire” (“Esq.”)? It is MUCH more detailed than what I have attempted to cover here.

Posted in British history, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Living in the UK, Pride and Prejudice, real life tales, Regency era, titles of aristocracy, word play | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Celebrating the Release of “A Regency Christmas Together” Anthology + a Giveaway

I have again joined forces with several authors for another Christmas-themed anthology. This one is entitled A Regency Christmas Together. The idea behind it is the hero and heroine are “trapped” together at Christmas. The “trapping” could be anything from being snowed in to being in a dangerous situation. My story Lord Radcliffe’s Best Friend is something of the latter nature, for those who regularly follow me know I adore a bit of drama in my tales. 

Hendrake Barrymore, Lord Radcliffe, is a typical male, a bit daff when it comes to the ways of women, especially the ways of one particular woman, Miss Adelaide Shaw, his childhood companion, a girl who plays a part in every pleasant memory Drake holds.

Yet, since he failed to deliver Addy’s first kiss on her fifteenth birthday, his former “friend” has struck him from her life just at a time when Radcliffe has come to the conclusion Adelaide is the one woman who best suits him.

This tale is more than a familiar story of friends to lovers for it presents the old maxim an unusual twist.

Below, you will find a short excerpt from Chapter One. If you are interested in reading more, swing over to Austen Authors for the first part of the chapter and for a second chance to win an eBook copy of A Regency Christmas Together

When news had arrived at the manor that Sultan could not be located, Adelaide knew exactly where the horse had gone. She had quickly changed into her riding habit and set out for the border between her father’s property and that of Lord Radcliffe. Addy suspected Sultan’s natural instinct to mate might be the needle’s prick in the continuing estrangement between the earl and her family. 

She reached a gloved hand down to pat her gelding’s neck. “Might as well face the Devil while the sun is up,” she murmured. She motioned to the grooms, who had accompanied her, to fetch Sultan. “Take him home. I will speak to Radcliffe and discover what restitution will be required. Do not mention any of this to my father. I shall discuss the matter with the baron upon my return. Also, send men out to repair our side of the fence. It appears someone has removed the rails we set atop of the brick wall. For what purpose, I have no idea. Yet, the removal permitted Sultan an easy jump.” 

“Yes, miss,” the men chorused. 

Looking to the opposing ridge, she spotted Radcliffe studying her. Without even a nod of her head in greeting, she nudged her horse forward. Quietly, she questioned, “Why must the man be the handsomest man of my acquaintance?”

Alcon shook his head as if in response. 

“I know,” she said softly. “I should ask the opinion of another female. Perhaps the mare below has taken note of his lordship’s appearance. Mayhap she holds an opinion of her owner that could prove mine in error.” 

She made her approach as Radcliffe had descended his side of the ridge to meet her in the middle. If only they could again find a similar “middle territory” in their relationship, then, she could, perhaps, go on with her life. Yet, Adelaide knew it would take more than this brief meeting to make her whole again. Bringing Alcon to a halt, she schooled her expression before greeting the earl. “Your lordship.” 

“Miss Shaw.” Why was it that the sound of his voice did odd things to her composure? It had been six years since she had displaced him from her world, and so much had changed within both their lives that should have made a difference, but hadn’t. However, anytime her eyes fell upon the man or someone mentioned his name or her father complained about the expense of having a well dug to use for the stock and the crops, she was right back where she always had been: in love with Hendrake Barrymore. 

If she could discover another man she could tolerate for more than an hour, maybe, then, she could marry and move away to her husband’s home. Distance, she had reasoned often, would aid in forgetting the ease which once had existed between her and the young man who had been her best friend when they were children. 

“I apologize for Sultan, my lord,” she said through tight. lips. “I shall speak to my father regarding restitution to Lord—”

“Shelton,” he supplied. 

“To Lord Shelton,” she continued. “I realize Sultan’s actions cost you the sale of the foal, and in these trying times, such business can assist in maintaining the land.” 

“Your father requires the fee, as well,” he said, keeping his steady gaze upon her and making Addy want to fidget. 

“I assure you, my lord, Sultan’s presence here today was not purposeful,” she argued, completely ignoring his gesture of goodwill. 

“I did not think the stallion’s actions purposeful,” he corrected. A frown marked his brow. “But certainly inconvenient.” 

She made to concentrate on the task at hand, rather than the bluest eyes she had ever beheld. “It appears someone has removed the wooden rails my father had placed on the brick wall marking the border between our properties. Sultan can easily clear the brick one without the railing.” 

His lordship eyed the wall suspiciously. “Like you, I would not name what remains of the wooden barrier a detriment to a horse of Sultan’s stature.” 

Addy kept her gaze upon the sad state of the wall. Such was safer where interactions with Radcliffe were concerned. From where she sat, the wall was in worse shape than she had originally thought. “It appears someone required . . . required the wood . . . to warm their cottages.” 

He dismounted, crossed to where she sat and lifted his hands to her to assist her to dismount. Obviously, he meant to make more of this encounter than was necessary. The fact she could not dismount or remount, for that matter, without his assistance, was something she was reluctant to admit, even to herself, for she did not want to consider the exquisite warmth of his hands upon her, for if he was to touch her, she would not be responsible for her actions. Despite his having betrayed her, even after six years, the man still held a power over her. 

“May I assist you down?” he questioned, but he did not step away from her.

Reluctantly, she nodded her agreement. “Step back so I might release my foot from the stirrup.”

“With your permission, I will do it,” he suggested with a slight lift of his brows, as if he meant to challenge her, something he had always done—something she desperately missed of having him in her life. 

Biting her bottom lip in frustration, she nodded her agreement. 

The subtle warmth of his hand on her leg above her half boots did crazy things to her most private place; yet, she swallowed her desire by reminding herself of his betrayal. Instead, she carefully shifted her weight to lift her right leg from around the pommel without exposing more of her person to him or tumbling off the saddle into his arms. A woman without the experience upon a horse she held would have not been able to release her leg and swivel in the seat without a spill. 

Both legs free, she leaned forward to place her hands on his broad shoulders and permitted him to assist her to the ground. The process was quite awkward, not the way one reads of it in the novels she adored, but possible, nonetheless.

At length, he set her before him, catching her hand in his. “We will inspect the wall together.” 

Using his hand for support, she bent to catch the loop on the skirt of her riding habit to avoid tripping upon it and to provide herself a few extra seconds to control the sudden racing tempo of her heart. “Such is not necessary, my lord,” she said tartly as she rose. It was important for her to keep her resentment in place, for she was too susceptible to the man. 

“I insist,” he said, setting her hand upon his arm.

Addy reluctantly fell into step beside him. “I assure you, my lord, my father is capable of seeing to the repair without your input.” 

He stopped suddenly, causing Addy to stumble. His hand again caught her about the waist to prevent her from falling, and Adelaide felt her heart jump with the same pleasant surprise she had known when he had been her best friend in the world and thought to share something with her. 

“Why is it you continue to despise me, Adelaide? I made a foolish mistake. Have you never erred in your judgement?”

The fact her body still touched his in two places—her hand rested upon his arm and his hand rested upon her waist—made it difficult for her to concentrate fully. She purposely stepped back to break their connection in order to clear her thinking. She retorted, “Most assuredly I have erred in my estimation of more than one ‘so-called’ gentleman.” 

“I refuse to apologize for my actions of six years past,” he growled. “I am not the same callow youth I was then.” 

“If I recall correctly, you refused to apologize then, as well. You offered your excuses, but no honest apology,” she countered. 

“This is ridiculous, Addy. We are wasting our lives arguing over something that cannot be changed,” he insisted. 

“As you say, my lord.” She walked away toward the wall. Purposely, studying it, she said, “Evidently, my father must ask Mr. Bowden to design a better barrier.” She fingered the two boards left behind. “This is unacceptable. Someone will take up the task in the morning. You have my word on the matter, my lord.” Without waiting for his opinions, she returned to where Alcon stood munching on the grass. Knowing she could not mount without Radcliffe’s assistance, she caught the animal’s reins to lead it home. “Come, Alcon.” She gave a little tug. “We must return to the manor.” 

Radcliffe stood where she had left him by the wall. From the corner of her eye she noted how he shook his head in what appeared to be disbelief. “You are the most stubborn woman of my acquaintance!”

She kept walking, slowly climbing the hill. It was a good mile to the house, but it would not be her first time walking that distance, nor would it likely be her last, although, she would admit, if only to herself, she wished she had worn more comfortable boots. Yet, she would never voice that particular complaint aloud. 

“You do not mean to allow me to assist you to the saddle?” he called. “Be reasonable, Addy!”

“Miss Shaw!” she declared without looking back to judge his reaction. “I am Miss Shaw.” She hid the pain such a declaration caused her. “My father will be in touch, my lord.” 

“Hendrake!” He stormed toward her, but thankfully did not attempt to prevent her retreat. “I am Hendrake! Drake! Not ‘my lord’ or ‘your lordship,’ not even ‘Radcliffe’! Say my name, Adelaide,” he demanded. 

Tears filled her eyes; yet, she did not slow her pace, nor did she look back to him. Instead, she stiffened her resolve, pulling her posture straighter and lifting her chin. She had a mile to allow herself another good cry. She had had plenty of them in the last six years, and, each time, she prayed it would be the last tears she shed over a man who had allowed his friends to attempt to deliver the kiss he had promised her—who had not thought to protect her from such manhandling—who had not even noticed the redness marking her cheek from where Lord French had slapped her when she had used a fireplace poker to fend off the man’s advances—who had only thought of the kiss she had denied him from a mere maid when Addy had been prepared to present him her whole heart. 

Now, for the GIVEAWAY. I have FIVE eBook copies of A Regency Christmas Together available to those who comment below. The Giveaway ends at midnight EST on Thursday, November 5. The winners will be announced on Sunday, November 8. Prizes will be delivered on November 11, when the anthology releases.

A Regency Christmas Together Anthology is on preorder until November 11, 2020, for only $0.99. It can also be read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited. https://www.amazon.com/Regency-Christmas-Together-Anthology-ANTHOLOGIES-ebook/dp/B08M3BR1Q9/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=a+regency+christmas+together&qid=1603978288&sr=8-3

A delightful anthology of Regency Romance Christmas stories from best selling authors! Fall in love at Christmas, with these wonderful romantic reads! Seven novellas, some sweet, some steamy, to keep you reading all through Winter, each centered around Christmas, and situations where people find themselves unexpectedly trapped together.

Lord Radcliffe’s Best Friend by Regina Jeffers
She’s been his friend since childhood – but he’s only just realised that he wants her to be more. It’s a pity that she’s decided he’s not her friend anymore…

Christmas with THAT Duke by Arietta Richmond
Ten years after betrayal tore them apart, they see each other again, for the first time. Trapped together by a blizzard, will they unravel the truth of the past and reclaim their love?

Mistletoe Magic by Janis Susan May
The daughter of a disgraced peer, now companion to a wealthy merchant’s widow, lady Serena did not expect, when there was a pounding on the door in a snowstorm, that what would fall through that door was her past, come to reclaim her.

Sleigh Bells and Slander by Summer Hanford
The least noticed sister, a gentleman pretending to be someone else, an interfering mother, love found despite it all.

The Merry Widow’s Snowbound Christmas by Sandra Masters
Unexpectedly back together, as the snow piles up outside, the heat rises inside, until long denied love overcomes all resistance.

Julie’s Christmas Joy by Victoria Hinshaw
Time has a habit of passing, and children grow up. When childhood companions meet again, neither is as the other remembered them – they have become far more interesting. When you add the well-meaning plotting of a grandmother and a great-aunt, their Christmas in Bath produces very unexpected results.

Me and Mr Jones by Ebony Oaten
A lady in need of a business partner, a man with a secret, an association that becomes far more than either of them intended.

If you love Regency Historical Romance, you’ll love these!

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