Costs of Living During the Regency Period

For those of us who write Regency-based novels, the cost of items periodically comes up. How much would would a lady’s gown cost for her Come Out? What was the cost of bread or cheese? For a better understanding of British money, see my post from Tuesday

51VMT9uf8TL._SX260_.jpg We can make some viable assumptions on the cost of items. There are several period books that give us insight into the costs of gowns, for example. One of the MANY fabulous reasons to adore Judy Gayle’s Fashions in the Era of Jane Austen: Ackermann’s Repository of Arts   …is the listing of actual proprietors/dressmakers AND their addresses!

It could cost a father between a hundred pounds to several hundred guineas bring his daughter out into Society. Keep in mind, this amount does not just include the gown for her formal Presentation to the Queen. It includes all the gowns worn throughout the Season. A girl would not wear the same dress to several different balls, for example. There are shoes, stocking, jewels, fan, gloves, headdress, possibly a cloak or an appropriate outer garment. The costs add up. The Court gown could usually only be worn once (like a woman’s wedding dress in the modern era), but sometimes it might be constructed to be adapted and reused. To determine the cost, one can basically look at costs for materials and then add in an extra ten or twenty percent for production.

1a8654685cea393e6c66dcd5be4006d4.jpg For a full Season, there would be walking dresses, morning dresses, evening gowns, riding habits, shoes, boots, half-boots, gloves, stockings, undergarments, bonnets, shawls, muffs (when in fashion), parasols (when in fashion), fans, dominos, spencers, cloaks, pellises, reticules, more jewelry, and all made to match or create an ensemble. A family would pretty much spend what they could afford. There would also be ribbons, handkerchiefs, perfumes, creams, powders, and all sorts of fribbles the young lady might wish to purchase during her Season. And then entertainments–subscriptions, theater seats, lending libraries, ices at Gunters or the cost of a dancing master or music lessons. Is it no wonder that many gentlemen bemoaned the births of daughters? The costs were often charged against the estate.

Cost of gowns would depend not just on the modiste, but the materials–gold and silver netting and embroidery, expensive laces, spangles, seed pearls, velvets, etc. Then, of course, there was the actual cost of a season (a house rental if the family did not have a house in Town, the costs for holding a ball or two, servants, horses, etc, etc.) It has been estimated that a court dress could run anywhere up to £500 and even beyond. I think the lowest amount was something like £ 200.  Her bride clothes could run a couple thousand.


Empress Josephine’s court dress from around 1800.

Jane Austen’s World tells us, “Female gowns worn at court during the Regency era looked ungainly. Instead of the lovely columnar silhouette of the Grecian-inspired draped gown, court gowns at this time made their wearers resemble the upper half of an extravagantly decorated apple or a pregnant cake topper.

“These custom creations, made with sumptuously expensive materials, adhered to the rules laid down by Queen Charlotte, who presided over the royal drawing rooms until her death.Earlier Georgian gowns flattered a lady’s waist, with corsets that made the waist seem miniscule. As waists rose, the silhouette of the gowns became grotesque, swallowing a lady’s figure in a ball of fabric. Young ladies presented at court for the first time wore white gowns. Married ladies could wear a variety of colors.The gowns’ narrow trains looked out of proportion to the wide-hooped skirts. Head-dresses consisted of a diamond encrusted bandeau and from three to five to seven to more feathers. A variety of feathers were used for head ornamentation – heron, ostrich (the favorite), Bird of Paradise, pheasant, and macaw.”

Dress shops would be places where a young lady could have her fittings and select fabric for the various dresses, but not purchase a ready-made dress. Linen drapers were more apt to be patronized than “dress shops” as women of this era were skilled needlewomen.

As to practical things, most people of any means would have staff to bake the bread required of the household. Bread, during the period, was regulated. The size and cost was pretty much set by law. Bread cost between 3 penny and a shilling six. A 4 pound 6 oz loaf of bread ( weight) cost around 13 pence. The Corn laws were passed in 1815 because the cost of the loaf of bread went over 14d. The cost of bread fluctuated according to the price of wheat (which they called “corn” to include all grain, but not the “corn” as we think of it, meaning “corn on the cob.”) The price was higher after 1815. Also, the prices were higher in 1816 due to the weather. That was the year known as the “Year Without Summer.” In 1815, a pound of bread was quoted at over 4 shillings and predicted to rise to over 5 shillings. This is many times the price in 1813, but such details are difficult to find. 

What of the “bread” for the mind? What was the cost of books? A Minerva Press novel cost 6 shillings, but other books would be more expensive. What kind of books? A volume of an encyclopedia type book cost 3 13 6. A novel in 3 volumes cost 15 shillings. 14 shillings for 2 volumes of criticism of scripture. Another book cost 10s 6d. 2 volume set. A book Essays in Rhyme by Jane Taylor was 6 shillings. One book cost 7 £ 7 s for imperial 4 to but 10£ 10s for the same book in large paper.

In the Regency,  there were twenty shillings in a pound so she had 60 shillings.

240 Pence to a Pound.

20 Shillings to a Pound.

12 Pence to a Shilling.

5 Shillings was a Crown (a silver dollar sized coin in Jane Austen’s time).

4 Crowns was a Pound.

Guinea (always gold) was 21 Shillings (a super pound).

Guineas were replace by sovereigns ( 20 shillings)  in 1817, but high end stores continued  to price items in guineas.

Jane Austen has some prices for inexpensive fabric but it could run up to a couple pounds an ell and the dresses needed several.

In Sense & Sensibility, the Dashwood family lived on 500 pounds a year while keeping two servants.

The post was from 2008, so it’s that year’s conversion amounts, when it was nearly $2/£1.

 51mvL3GneQL.jpg A very good reference for cost of fabrics, shoes, hats , gloves and more is this invaluable book by C. Willett Cunnington: English Women’s Clothing in the Nineteenth Century: A Comprehensive Guide with 1,117 Illustrations. It is an excellent source for things such as hairstyles. The author does comment that the prices listed are those he discovered in advertisements and, therefore, were street or average prices. Fine modistes would charge much more.

To convert to the Regency era, with 5 shillings to the crown, that would make the silk stockings a little over two crowns. You can find a complete explanation of Old English Money (post 1066 but pre-1971) at British Life and Culture. There’s even a conversion calculator to take pence, crowns, and two bob bits to modern currency (just to give you an idea of how much something comparatively cost).

In creating my post on converting British money, I  found a post that listed prices for various items during Jane Austen’s time. Two sources are cited, so there is a documentation trail. (What the Heck is a Pelisse?)

Silk stockings — 12 shillings (£20.38 or $40.24 in today’s currency!)
Woolen stockings — 2 shillings 6 pence (£4.25 or $8.39)
A white silk handkerchief² — 6 shillings (£10.19 or $20.12)
A pair of gloves² — 4 shillings (£6.79 or $13.41)
A simple white dress — 5 shillings (£8.49 or $16.77)
A fan — 5 shillings (£8.49 or $16.77)
Simple shoes 6-11 shillings (£10.19-18.68 or $20.12-36.89)
Walking boots 2 pounds (£67.92 or $134.12)
Cotton fabric — 1 shilling per yard (£1.70 or $3.36)
Enough cotton fabric for a dress — 6 shillings ($20.12)
Velveteen fabric — 2 shillings 10 pence (£4.81 or $9.50)
Enough silk fabric for a dress — 1 pound 6 shillings (£44.15 or $87.18)

**Shawls — if real silk or Kashmir could run £200-300

Shoes  — men’s shoes went from 10 /6 to several pounds for boots so I

think the ladies shoes will  be in the same range.

A silk purse– a coin purse sort of thing–  2 s

some gloves 2/6

A 1998 article (How Wealthy is Mr. Darcy – Really? Pounds and Dollars in the World of Pride and Prejudice, James Heldman, Department of English, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY) from the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) gives us this table for costs: 

Some good references:

I also recommend the books Candice Hern references:

Posted in British currency, British history, business, Georgian England, Jane Austen, Regency era | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Fight Against Slavery Carried on Beyond Austen’s Life, a Guest Post from Collins Hemingway

This piece is Part I of a two-part series from my fellow Austen Author, Collins Hemingway. In this one Collins takes a closer look at the slavery issue during Jane Austen’s time. 

Slavery was one of the most contentious issues of Jane Austen’s time. Some scholars claim that she ignored the issue or even accepted the legitimacy of the practice. Others claim that Mansfield Park serves as an anti-slavery tract. For certain, Austen would have tackled the complex issue in a complex way.

The fight to abolish the slave trade—the buying and selling of slaves—had been raging since 1787, when Thomas Clarkson, who had won an essay contest at Cambridge condemning slavery, helped form the Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Another founding member was Josiah Wedgwood, the pottery magnate, who created the official emblem of the group, an image of a chained slave (see image with headline) with the plaintive cry “Am I Not a Man and a Brother?”

Soon after, Clarkson gave William Wilberforce a copy of his pamphlet. Shortly after that came the famous meeting under the oak tree on William Pitt’s estate in which Pitt and William Grenville, two future prime ministers, convinced Wilberforce to take up abolition as his main political cause in the House of Commons. In Pitt’s fabled words, “We were too young to realize that certain things are impossible, so we will do them anyway.”

It was Grenville who shepherded the final bill through after Pitt’s death in 1806. Ironically, Pitt had become a (temporary) opponent to abolition because the cause made it harder for him to keep his pro-war political coalition together against France.

The climactic vote to end the slave trade came in March 1807, when Jane Austen was at the peak of her authorial powers. It took another generation before England abolished slavery entirely—six months after the death of Wilberforce in July 1833. Three days before he died, Wilberforce is said to have been assured of the passage of the bill. The end to slavery in all English possessions was phased in over six years, beginning in 1834, and slave owners received twenty million pounds in recompense.

William Wilberforce spent his life seeking to abolish slavery. He succeeded in ending the buying and selling of slaves, but died six months before slavery itself began to be phased out.

It is not surprising that it took twenty years to end the purchase of human flesh and another twenty-six to end slavery itself. In the early years, the focus was to end the misery of the capture, sale, and transport of slaves, though abolitionists assumed the end to slavery would come eventually. There was the hope that, if slave holders could not buy more, they would treat their current slaves better: It was cheaper to buy a new slave than to feed an old one.

Slavery is perniciously difficult to eliminate once it is in place, for free labor has an addictive effect on the beneficiaries. The slave trade represented 5 percent of the British economy, with a slave ship departing England every day. When everything is tallied—manufactured goods, tools, and rum to Africa; slaves to America; rum, sugar, tobacco and cotton to England—the Triangular Trade represented 80 percent of England’s overseas trade. Liverpool and Bristol were the two largest slave-related ports, which gives us the hint that Mrs. Elton’s family was involved in Emma.

Its tentacles stretched far enough to ensnare the Austen family. Mr. Austen’s half-brother, William Hampson, owned a Jamaica plantation, and Jane’s father was also a trustee of a slave plantation in Antigua for friend, James Nibbs. Nibbs was godfather to Jane’s brother, James. It does not appear that Mr. Austen ever did any work related to the trust.

Aunt Leigh-Perrott was heir to a plantation in Barbados, meaning that any inheritance from that side of the family—which the genteelly poor Austens desired—would have been tainted. The family received none, though, until Aunt Leigh-Perrot’s death in 1836, after slavery itself had been voted out.

What of Jane Austen’s own point of view? We know that her favorite authors opposed slavery, including the poet William Cowper, who penned the famous lines celebrating Lord Mansfield’s freeing of a black slave in England in 1772: “Slaves cannot breathe in England; if their lungs/Receive our air, that moment they are free;/They touch our country, and their shackles fall.”

Jane’s niece Fanny had an anti-slavery story in her diary in 1809; it’s likely her views would have been shaped by Jane, Cassandra, and others of her aunts’ generation. Frank Austen is the only Austen sibling known to have actively denounced slavery; his views likely shaped Jane’s.

In a letter home in 1808, Frank compared the relatively “mild” form of slavery practiced at St. Helena in the eastern Atlantic with the “harshness and despotism” practiced in the West Indies. In St. Helena, a slave owner could not “inflict chastisement” on a “refractory” slave; he must apply to the magistrate for relief. Frank concluded with characteristic honesty: “This is wholesome regulation as far as it goes, but slavery however it may be modified is still slavery. [No] trace of it should be found … in countries dependent on England, or colonized by her subjects.”

In her letters, Austen indirectly praises Thomas Clarkson by saying she was “as much in love” with Charles Pasley as she ever was with Clarkson—a reference to Clarkson’s book, History of the Abolition of the Slave Trade (1808).

Mansfield Park has a number of references to slavery, from the title itself—Lord Mansfield having freed the slave Somersett and by extension all slaves in England—to Mrs. Norris, evidently named for a slaver who tormented the abolitionists, particularly Clarkson. Whether the novel itself stands opposed to slavery is a matter of dispute; personally, I believe Austen was too much of an artist to telegraph her own views.

All of these references, however, come after the end to the slave trade in early 1807. Barring the discovery of new family letters, it’s unlikely we’ll know Austen’s true views during the years leading up to 1807. Her beliefs likely evolved along with those of England in general, with little thought early on and a growing realization of the horrors of slavery.

Given her respect for her older brother, Frank’s ardent opposition to slavery likely galvanized her own opposition as she matured.

There’s poetic justice that the Royal Navy, which had earlier protected slaving ships making the Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas, now enforced the ban on slave traffic. Two generations of Austen men, beginning with Frank and Charles and continuing through their self-named sons, intercepted slavers on the open seas.

41LI51lIsGL._UX250_.jpg Meet Collins Hemingway: 

Collins Hemingway … is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, Phi Beta Kappa, with a major in English literature and a minor in science. He has a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Oregon, with concentrations in Eighteenth Century literature, Renaissance literature, and modern literature. While his high-tech career gave him a practical understanding of science and business, Hemingway also carried on his passion for the art of storytelling, for the rich history of Georgian-Regency England and the Napoleonic wars, and for Jane Austen’s literature. His own fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding regard for courage in the face of adversity.

51k4Q2+0v6L.jpg The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, a Novel by a Gentleman, Volume I 

Tradition holds that Jane Austen lived a prim and proper life as a single woman. But what if she wed a man as passionate and intelligent as she—and the marriage remained secret for 200 years?
The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen is a trilogy that resolves the biggest mysteries of Austen’s life, the “lost years” of her twenties—a period of which historians know virtually nothing.
– Why the enduring rumors of a lost love or tragic affair?
– Why, afterward, did the vivacious Jane Austen prematurely put on “the cap of middle age” and shut herself away to write her books?
– Why, after her death, did her beloved sister destroy her letters, journals, and diaries from this period?
The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy presents an original love story, based on actual history, to put forth a believable, compelling, and plausible answer to Austen’s lost years.
See why critics call this historical fiction about England’s most beloved author “an imaginative journey of the soul.”
Go with Jane Austen as this thinking woman, and sensitive soul, seizes the opportunity for meaningful love with a man who inspires her and understands her independent spirit—the one man worthy of her mind, heart, and soul.

51oN94cQrlL.jpg The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, Volume II

Jane Austen Lived a Quiet, Single Life—Or Did She?

Tradition holds that Jane Austen lived a contemplative, unmarried life. But what if she wed a man as passionate and intelligent as she—and the marriage remained secret for 200 years?

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen resolves the biggest mystery of Austen’s life—the “lost years” of her twenties—of which historians know virtually nothing.

Posted in history, Jane Austen, Regency era | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Ladies of Llangollen, a Romantic Friendship, from Guest Author Sue Wilkes

The post originally appeared upon Austen Authors. I know you find it an exceptionally well researched and compelling tale. 

It’s clear from Jane Austen’s novels and letters that female friendships played a very important role in her life. In Northanger Abbey, inexperienced Catherine Morland is delighted when she makes a new friend, Isabella Thorpe, so soon after she arrives in Bath: ‘Catherine and Isabella, arm in arm…tasted the sweets of friendship in an unreserved conversation’.

When Jane Austen was a little girl, a passionate female friendship shocked the families involved and caused much gossip.

On 30 March 1778, in the dead of night, 23-year-old Sarah Ponsonby, disguised in men’s clothes and armed with a pistol, jumped from a downstairs window and left her home.

An elopement was not an uncommon event in those days of arranged marriages and strict parents. But Sarah was hurrying to meet 39-year-old Eleanor Butler, her intimate friend. The two Irish ladies hoped to escape to England, but their relatives, soon in hot pursuit, found them hiding in a barn. Their plan to live together seemed doomed.

Both ladies had problems at home. Sarah Ponsonby (1755–1831), was related to the powerful Bessboroughs, who formed part of Ireland’s Protestant ruling class. Sarah was a penniless orphan. A kind relative, Lady Betty Fownes, and her husband Sir William, of Woodstock, took charge of the lonely girl and sent her to Miss Parke’s boarding school, Kilkenny. Here in 1768 she met Eleanor Butler – an event which changed her life.

Eleanor (1739–1829) was the daughter of Catholic aristocrats, Sir Walter and Madam Eleanor Butler of Kilkenny Castle. Eleanor, who had been educated at the English Benedictine Convent in Cambrai, France, was extremely well-read. She loved the works of writers like Rousseau and Voltaire. Her family thought she was a ‘blue-stocking’. Eleanor felt isolated and lonely.

Sarah and Eleanor’s friendship blossomed at school. Eleanor’s knowledgeable conversation and fondness for French literature made her an object of awe to Sarah. They discussed living together in peaceful retirement, à la Rousseau. When Sarah finished school and went back home, they wrote to each other secretly.

At first Sarah was happy at home; she attended balls and assemblies at Dublin Castle. But Sarah was pestered by Sir William. His wife was poorly, and he wanted a male heir.

Meanwhile Eleanor was being pressured by her family to ‘take the veil’. They did not want to maintain a spinster. Eleanor’s letters to Sarah became increasingly frantic.

Their thwarted escape in spring 1778 left Eleanor distraught and Sarah ill after sleeping in the barn. Eleanor’s parents were more determined than ever to send their daughter to a convent abroad. Sarah was very poorly, and terrified she would never see Eleanor again.

Sarah gradually recovered. In desperation, Eleanor fled her family again and hurried to Sarah’s home at Woodstock, where she was smuggled into her room by a sympathetic housemaid Mary Caryll.

After many arguments, the families surrendered; Sarah got her wish to live with Miss Butler.  Eleanor’s family arranged a small financial allowance for her.  In May 1778, they sailed from Ireland and began a tour of North Wales, with Mary Caryll in tow.

After exploring Crow Castle on the summit of Dinas Bran, and the ruins of Valle Crucis Abbey, they continued their jaunt. The ladies originally planned to settle in England, but the beautiful Welsh countryside and the cheap cost of living there changed their minds. After lodging in the post office in Llangollen, in spring they were offered the tenancy of Pen-y-Maes cottage. Renaming it Plas Newydd (New Hall), they at last began their new life together. 

The Old Post Office, Llangollen. The two ladies stayed here before they moved into Plas Newydd in 1780. © Sue Wilkes

The Ladies of Llangollen lost no time in beautifying their house and gardens; improvements they could ill afford on their tiny income. Luckily a friend obtained an annual pension from the King for Sarah; but they had constant money worries and often borrowed from friends. They kept four servants, their ‘family’: Mary Caryll, more friend than servant, who drew no wages; a kitchen-maid, footman and a gardener.

The two friends adopted a singular mode of dress. They wore blue riding habits, men’s neckcloths, cut their hair very short, and wore tall hats. But they were free to enjoy their ideal life of seclusion and self-improvement. They studied Latin and Italian; collected a huge library; stitched and sketched, and wrote to friends.

Inevitably, complete isolation was impossible. As their acquaintance grew, they visited the Myddletons at Chirk Castle and friends the Barretts at Oswestry, borrowing the carriage from the nearby Hand inn. The restoration of the Ormonde family titles meant Miss Butler became Lady Eleanor in 1791, but her unforgiving family kept all their money to themselves. To make ends meet, the Ladies kept cows and chickens, grew fruit and vegetables, and rented land for growing crops.

Eleanor was fiercely protective of their lifestyle. Imperious and haughty, she could be downright rude; the more tranquil Sarah often smoothed over her outbursts. But as reports of their Romantic friendship, ‘Gothick’ home and wonderful gardens (with over forty kinds of roses) spread, lots of eminent people came to see them.

Plas Newydd, Llangollen, the ladies’ home for nearly half a century. Our Own Country Vol. I, Cassell & Co., c.1898. Author’s collection.

Sheridan and Lady Caroline Lamb arrived at their door; Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington) became a firm friend; writer Madame de Genlis stayed, her slumbers disturbed by the Aeolian harp positioned under her window.

Harriet Bowdler, (writer and sister of Thomas, the ‘improver’ of Shakespeare) visited, and corresponded frequently. She gave the Ladies a cow, named Linda; this redoubtable animal walked (the only affordable method) all the way from Bristol to Llangollen. Another literary friend was Anna Seward, ‘the Swan of Lichfield’, who. wrote many gushing letters to them, and composed Llangollen Vale in their honour.

Other literary stars who came to the Vale were Thomas De Quincey, Robert Southey, and Wordsworth and his family, who came to tea in 1824. Wordsworth wrote a sonnet on the Ladies’ Romantic retreat, and declared that Llangollen was ‘the Vale of Friendship’.

Eleanor and Sarah took great care of the parish’s poor people, despite their own limited means. In their turn, the people of Llangollen repaid their kindness. One old man nursed their sick cow; a little boy brought them white foxgloves for their garden; the whole village helped when their chimney caught fire. John Lockhart, Sir Walter Scott’s son-in-law, accompanied the writer on a visit to the Ladies. Lockhart wrote unkindly about their eccentric mode of dress, but confessed: ‘They have long been the guardian angels of the village, and are worshipped by man, woman and child’.

Eleanor and Sarah died two years apart. But they are forever united in the peaceful churchyard. The exact nature of Eleanor and Sarah’s romantic friendship is still controversial. But it was no-one else’s business, and it took great courage to defend their love and pursue their ideals despite the family pressures and conventions of their day.

Meet Sue Wilkes 

Born in Lancashire and now living in Cheshire (since 1981), Sue Wilkes has been a fan of Jane Austen’s works since she was a little girl. At school, Sue read Physics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She is a member of the Society of Authors. Her latest release, Regency Spies( Pen & Sword, 2015) uncovers the world of state spies, informers and secret societies in late Georgian Britain.
Sue’s first book Narrow Windows, Narrow Lives (History Press, 2008) recreates everyday life for working families in Victorian Lancashire during the Industrial Revolution. Regency Cheshire (Robert Hale, 2009), tells the story of county life during the age of Beau Brummell, Walter Scott and Jane Austen. The Children History Forgot (Robert Hale, 2011) explores children and young people’s working lives during the late Georgian and Victorian eras.
Tracing Your Ancestors’ Childhood (Pen & Sword, 2013), Tracing Your Lancashire Ancestors (Pen & Sword, 2012) and Tracing Your Canal Ancestors (Pen & Sword, 2011) are guides for family historians.
A Visitor’s Guide to Jane Austen’s England (Pen & Sword, 2014) explores daily life for the middle and upper classes in late Georgian and Regency England.
Sue writes for adults and children and contributes regularly to magazines in the UK and USA. Her specialities are social and industrial history, literary history, and family history. Sue is also a creative writing tutor specialising in non-fiction. She is married, with two grown-up children. Sue is a Jane Austen fan. She loves country walks and exploring Britain’s history.
Read Sue’s blogs at and 

Follow her on Facebook ( and Twitter: @austensengland and @SueWilkesauthor.

Immerse yourself in the vanished world inhabited by Austen’s contemporaries. Packed with detail, and anecdotes, this is an intimate exploration of how the middle and upper classes lived from 1775, the year of Austen’s birth, to the coronation of George IV in 1820. Sue Wilkes skillfully conjures up all aspects of daily life within the period, drawing on contemporary diaries, illustrations, letters, novels, travel literature and archives.
Were all unmarried affluent men really ‘in want of a wife’?
Where would a young lady seek adventures?
Would ‘taking the waters’ at Bath and other spas kill or cure you?
Was Lizzy Bennet bitten by bed-bugs while traveling?
What would you wear to a country ball, or a dance at Almack’s?
Would Mr Darcy have worn a corset?
What hidden horrors lurked in elegant Regency houses?
Put on your dancing gloves and embrace a lost era of corsets and courtship!
This is an ingenious volume. The author, who has written extensively on social history and on genealogy, provides us with a detailed guide book to the habits, facilities, sights and values of Southern England in the early 19th century. Her walk-through of the territory is attractively supported by extensive quotations from the works of Jane Austen herself and from contemporaries. The text is lively and well arranged and the anecdotes relevant and illuminating. This is a book which Janites will enjoy and which will provide an informative context to the novels.

An Age of Revolutions:
Sue Wilkes uncovers the hidden histories of Regency spies and the men they hunted. Eavesdrop on the secret meetings of Britain’s underground political societies of the 1790s and early 1800s. Discover the true stories behind the riots, rebellions, and treason trials in late Georgian Britain.
Regency Spies explores the plots, intrigues and perils of those thrilling times:
* Wolfe Tone’s ambitious plan to free Ireland from British rule
* Luddites incite arson and machine-breaking in Britain’s industrial heartlands
* The doomed Pentrich uprising of 1817
* The race to stop the 1820 plot to murder cabinet ministers and seize control of the capital 

Sue Wilkes reveals the shadowy world of Britain’s spies, rebels and secret societies from the late 1780s until 1820. Drawing on contemporary literature and official records, Wilkes unmasks the real conspirators and tells the tragic stories of the unwitting victims sent to the gallows. In this ‘age of Revolutions’, when the French fought for liberty, Britain’s upper classes feared revolution was imminent. Thomas Paine’s incendiary Rights of Man called men to overthrow governments which did not safeguard their rights. Were Jacobins and Radical reformers in England and Scotland secretly plotting rebellion? Ireland, too, was a seething cauldron of unrest, its impoverished people oppressed by their Protestant masters. Britain’s governing elite could not rely on the armed services – even Royal Navy crews mutinied over brutal conditions. To keep the nation safe, a ‘war chest’ of secret service money funded a network of spies to uncover potential rebels amongst the underprivileged masses. It had some famous successes: dashing Colonel Despard, friend of Lord Nelson, was executed for treason. Sometimes in the deadly game of cat-and-mouse between spies and their prey suspicion fell on the wrong men, like poets Wordsworth and Coleridge. Even peaceful reformers risked arrest for sedition. Political meetings like Manchester’s ‘Peterloo’ were ruthlessly suppressed, and innocent blood spilt. Repression bred resentment – and a diabolical plot was born. The stakes were incredibly high: rebels suffered the horrors of a traitor’s death when found guilty. Some conspirators’ secrets died with them on the scaffold…

Posted in books, British history, Church of England, Georgian England, history, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, marriage, marriage customs, real life tales, romance | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pounds, Shillings, Pence, and Guineas: Understanding British Currency Used in the 19th Century

Okay, I admit it. When it comes to understanding the British system of currency in the books I read, even I am sometimes confused. So, I set out to learn more of the currency. 

The common currency was created in 1707 by Article 16 of the Articles of Union.

Here is a guide to British currency:

Pound: This was the basic unit of currency. One could find possess a “pound” in the form of a paper note or in the form of a sovereign (a gold coin). Sometimes it was also called a “quid,” but this was more of a slang term. Another slang term found in the period was a “monkey,” which was equal to £500. Meanwhile, a “pony” was £25. The pound sign (£) represents Libra, a pound weight in Latin. “The symbol derives from a capital “L”, representing libra, the basic unit of weight in the Roman Empire, which in turn is derived from the Latin name of the same spelling for scales or a balance. The pound became an English unit of weight and was so named because it originally had the value of one tower pound (~350 grams) of fine (pure) silver.” (Pound Sign)

In 1066, after the Norman Conquest, the pound was divided into twenty shillings or 240 pennies. It was as such until the decimalization on 15 February 1971. Prior to that time, money was divided into pounds (£ or 1), shillings (s. or/-) and pennies (d.). 

lima_shilling_giiShilling: The most popular coin of the period was a shilling. It was used to purchase food, coal, soap, cloth, etc. There are 20 shillings to a pound and twelve pennies to a shilling. The symbol s. or /- came from the Latin solidus. The slang term for a shilling was “bob.”

“The word shilling comes from scilling, an accounting term that dates back to Anglo-Saxon  times, and from there back to Old Norse, where it means ‘division.’ One abbreviation for shilling is s (for solidus). Often it was informally represented by a slash, standing for a  long s or ʃ thus 1/6 would be 1 shilling and sixpence, often pronounced “one and six” (and equivalent to 18d; the shilling itself was valued at 12d). A price with no pence was written with a slash and a dash: 11/–. Quite often a triangle or (serif) apostrophe would be used to give a neater appearance, such as 1’6 or 11’–. During the Great Recoinage of 1816, the mint was instructed to coin one troy pound (weighing 5760 grains) of standard (o.925 fine) silver into 66 shillings, or its equivalent in other denominations. This effectively set the weight of the shilling, and its subsequent decimal replacement 5 new pence coin, at 87.2727 grains or 5.655 grams from 1816 to 1990, when a new smaller 5p coin was introduced.” (Shilling)

150px-Aethelred_obv2150px-Aethelred_rev2Penny: This was the smallest unit of currency. The plural of “penny” is “pence.” There were 12 pence for each shilling and 240 pence for each pound. “The earliest halfpenny and farthing (¼d.) thus found date to the reigns of Edward I and Henry III, respectively. The need for small change was also sometimes met by simply cutting a full penny into halves or quarters. In 1527, Henry VIII abolished the Tower pound of 5400 grains, replacing it with the Troy pound of 5760 grains and establishing a new pennyweight of 1.56 grams. The last silver pence for general circulation were minted during the reign of Charles II around 1660. 

Cartwheel_Penny“Throughout the 18th century, the British government did not mint pennies for general circulation, and the bullion value of the existing silver pennies caused them to be withdrawn from circulation. Merchants and mining companies began to issue their own copper tokens to fill the need for small change. Finally, amid the Napoleonic Wars, the government authorized Matthew Boulton to mint copper pennies and twopences. Typically, 1 lb. of copper produced 24 pennies. In 1860, the copper penny was replaced with a bronze one (95% copper, 4% tin, 1% zinc). Each pound of bronze was coined into 48 pennies.” (Penny)

If I have not lost you completely at this point, we must also address coins that a reader might encounter in an historical document or novel. There were also special coins that were used that spoke of “multiples” and “fractions” of shillings and pence. For example…

Guinea = one pound, one shilling (Slang word for a guinea was “yellowboy.”) You will read in historical novels where a gentleman paid for his business transactions in guineas. 

farthing_queenanneOther coins in multiples and fractions are…

Florin = 2 shillings
Crown = 5 shillings
Half-crown = 2.5 shillings
Tuppence = 2 pence
Thrupence = 3 pence
Groat = 4 pence
Tanner6 pence
Ha’penny = 1/2 of a penny
Farthing1/4 of a penny
Mite 1/8 of a penny

For a more detailed explanation visit The Proceedings of Old Bailey, which also addresses questions on wages and the cost of living at time, or British Life and Culture.



Posted in Act of Parliament, British currency, British history, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Anthony William Hall, the Man Who Would Be King

In 1931, a former Shropshire police inspector claimed to the rightful heir to the British throne. He was determined to be King Anthony and to displace King George V. His declaration provoked panic at the palace when two doctors refused to silence him by quietly certifying him insane. Hall claimed to have explosive evidence capable of overthrowing the Royal Family in the biggest shake-up in British history. If he had been successful, King George V would have been beheaded while the descendant of a common police inspector would be occupying the throne today. King Anthony I would have been known as a former export trader and author of a vehicle law manual.


imgres-1.jpg King George V of Great Britain was born on June 3, 1865, the unpromising second son of Edward VII. Initially, he sought a career in the British Navy, but the untimely death of his brother, Albert, placed him on the throne. He became king in 1910 (serving until 1936) and played an active role supporting the troops during World War I. Though lackluster in personality, he won the loyalty of the middle class and many in Great Britain with his steadfast dedication to his country.

Anthony Hall caused widespread panic amongst the authorities, stretching to the King himself.  A Special Branch of the British government tracked Hall as the man toured cities with his claim to be the rightful heir to the throne as the descendant of an illegitimate love-child by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn before they wed. Hall even wrote directly to King George V in February 2, 1931, accusing him of being a German with no claim to the Crown. He wrote: ‘The whole world has been hoodwinked for 328 years. You have no connection with the British Royal Family. You are an outsider.
Therefore leave the country. I claim the Crown.’

He threatened to arrest the King for treason, saying that even if he went to the Prime Minister and ‘pulled his beard,’ King George V would still be chucked out of Britain.
Astonishingly, his scurrilous claims were not only taken seriously by the public, but also the police, Home Office and the King himself.

HALL_344x450.jpg “Details have emerged from the National Archive of the royal family’s anxiety at the way Anthony Hall, who was said to be tall and always impeccably dressed, drew crowds of up to 800 people to hear his claims of direct lineage from Henry VIII. Across the West Midlands, he used his 1931 campaign meetings to denounce King George, the Queen’s grandfather, as a ‘pure blooded German’ with no right to rule Britain. According to a Home Office file, Hall traced his ancestry back to Thomas Hall, a ‘bastard son’ of Henry VIII who died in 1534. To add to his claim to the throne he argued that the real James I of England had been murdered as an infant and his remains lay in a coffin in Edinburgh Castle. His place was taken by an ‘impostor and changeling,’ James Erskine, whom he dubbed ‘goggle-eyed Jim.’ Hall argued that Erskine could not have been the rightful heir, not only because he was goggle-eyed but also his head was too large for his body and his rickety legs meant he couldn’t ride a horse. ‘Having proved he is an impostor it is obvious that all the kings who claim and have claimed to be descendants of his are not entitled to their jobs and are not part of the blood royal,’ he thundered to one large crowd.

“At the height of the great depression, his nightly rants at open air meetings in the Bull Ring, Birmingham, and other West Midlands towns, against the German occupants of Buckingham Palace drew large, approving crowds. But they left the police alarmed. However, King Anthony, a nephew of the high sheriff of Herefordshire, blew hot and cold in his strategy to win back the throne. In one speech he calmly argued that he did not want to start a rebellion or fight a new civil war and the whole matter could be settled in the courts. King George knew that he was an outsider without any connection with the British royal family, Hall claimed, and therefore should face facts and leave the country.

“But Hall, who had driven an ambulance on the Somme during the first world war, occasionally took a far stronger, more violent, line, telling one of his meetings in Birmingham that he would have no hesitation in shooting the king as he would shoot a dog. ‘The King is a German, a pure bred German … I want to become the first policeman to cut off the King’s head.’

“Buckingham Palace asked for him to be declared insane. ‘Would it not to be possible to keep him under observation with a view to his final detention in an institution without actually putting him in prison,’ King George’s private secretary, Sir Clive Wigram, asked the Home Office. So King Anthony was remanded in custody and two doctors called in to examine him. But both refused to certify him as insane. Dr Walter Jordan, a member of the Birmingham public assistance committee and an expert on lunacy, said, to the disappointment of the police and the Home Office: ‘His claim that he is entitled to the kingship of this country is not the mere autogenic delusion of the usual man who says ‘I am king’ but is a case of a sort.’

“At the palace, Sir Clive lamented that locking Hall away in an institution was no longer going to be a practical or effective way of dealing with him: ‘It is true that he is eccentric and wrong-headed, but he is not so obviously demented or insane that he could be dealt with without recourse to court proceedings.’ Sir Clive was convinced that unless something was done Hall would ‘continue with his scurrilous campaign.’ King George was consulted. He agreed that the full force of the law should be used to ‘put a stop to the effusions of the impostor,’ as long as the monarch’s involvement was kept secret and it did not end in Hall’s imprisonment. Buckingham Palace told the Home Office to go ahead ‘so long as it is quite understood that His Majesty is in no way responsible for the initiation of them.’ Hall was arrested and tried for using ‘quarrelsome and scandalous language.’ He was fined £10 and bound over to keep the peace with a surety of £25 or the alternative of two months’ imprisonment with hard labour. The chief constable of Birmingham reported to the palace that, after a swan song meeting in the Bull Ring, Hall finally left the city, ending the public campaign of the last Tudor claimant to the throne. Hall is believed to have died in 1947 leaving no male heirs.



The Daily Mail 

The Guardian 


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Do You Know These Words and Phrases?

Inexpressibles ~ Etymology Compare to unmentionables ‎(“underwear”). Geri Walton at her Unique Histories from the 18th and 19th Centuries tells us “That part of the dress which it is now unlawful to name, seems of old to have had the singular virtue of discomfiting witches and demons. Every one may have heard how the bare vision of St. Francis’ inexpressibles put the devil to flight.” This was one nineteenth century description of men’s trousers, known as inexpressibles, and they likely acquired the name because they were extremely erotic and fit so tightly they showed every nook and cranny of a man’s sexual organs, posterior, and muscular legs. In fact, they would have accentuated a man’s sexual organs even more if extra room had not been allowed in one thigh, which created a pocket where a man could position them.

“Even with the pocket, inexpressibles left nothing to the imagination. Wearers created the image of a naked Greek God, as inexpressibles were usually pale in color. At least one person noted inexpressibles were a natural evolution:

“‘[They emanated from] small clothes to tights, from tights to inexpressibles, from inexpressibles to unspeakables, and from unspeakables to unmentionables, from unmentionables to shorts, from shorts to etceteras, from etceteras to continuations, and so on through antifeminines, remainders, masculines, and nether integuments down to the Quaker periphrase lower garments!'”


broadcast-television-collection-of-old-television-sets-of-the-50s-cpnawe.jpgThe Free  Dictionary tells us that Mingle-Mangle is a motley assortment of things (other closely related words include farrago, gallimaufry, hodgepodge, hotchpotch, melange, mishmash, oddments, odds and ends, omnium-gatherum, ragbag assortment, miscellanea, miscellany, mixed bag, motley, potpourri, salmagundi, smorgasbord, etc.).


A Mare’s Nest is a much vaunted discovery, which later turns out to be illusory or worthless.

The Phrase Finder tells us, “There are two unrelated meanings of ‘mare’s nest’ in circulation, and there’s little to connect them. The first, and ‘proper’ meaning, has it that finding a mare’s nest is imagining that one has found something remarkable when in fact one has found nothing of the sort. The second meaning, which is more widespread today, is that a mare’s nest is a confused mess – more on that later. The earlier ‘misconception’ meaning has been in use since at least the 16th century, when Robert Peterson published a version of the Italian John Della Casa’s Galateo. This was ‘done into English’, that is, translated, by Peterson in 1576:

Nor Stare in a mans face, as if he had spied a mares nest.

“Animals are often alluded to in phrases of this sort, for example, lion’s share, dog’s breakfast, bird’s-eye view etc. Of course, this one is different, in that mares don’t make nests – the allusion was meant to be comically ironic. That humour is reflected in several of the early citations of ‘mare’s nest’ (or horse’s nest, as some early references have it), which refer directly to laughter, for example, John Fletcher’s Jacobean tragedy Bonduca, circa. 1613

Why dost thou laugh? What Mares nest hast thou found?

The joke was pushed further by Dr. [Jonathan] Swift, in the play Miscellanies, 1751:

What! Have you found a mare’s nest, and laugh at the eggs?

“Back to the second, ‘muddle’ meaning, which didn’t begin to be used until the mid-19th century. It appears to have come into being as the result of a simple misunderstanding. To someone who was unfamiliar with the original meaning, and that meaning is hardly intuitive, ‘a mare’s nest’ would seem very much like the earlier 19th century phrase ‘a rat’s nest’. In reality, rats make rather neat nests, but the phrase was certainly meant to mean a disordered tangle (see also haywire) and the currently widespread meaning of ‘mare’s nest’ was copied from that.

“The transition from the earlier meaning to the later one was gradual and appears to have been well underway by the 1920s, when Agatha Christie wrote The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Christie managed there to use both meanings in the same story:

a misunderstanding… “In my opinion the whole thing is a mare’s nest of Bauerstein’s! … Bauerstein’s got a bee in his bonnet. Poisons are his hobby, so of course he sees them everywhere.”

and, a muddle… “A pretty mare’s nest arresting him would have been.”


Fly into a Pelter was more difficult to define. Wordnik provides these definitions and sources:

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who pelts.
  • n. A pinchpenny; a mean, sordid person; a miser; a skinflint.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One who or that which pelts.
  • n. A shower of missiles; a storm, as of falling rain, hailstones, etc.
  • n. A passion; a fit of anger.
  • n. A dealer in skins or hides; a skinner.
  • n. A mean, sordid person; a pinchpenny.
  • n. A fool.
  • n. In poker, a hand which has no card higher than a nine and no chance for a flush or straight: sometimes called Chicago pelter. Also, kilter.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a heavy rain
  • n. a thrower of missiles

Some examples provided were 

  • Mary Jane and I have been wet through once already to-day; we set off in the donkey-carriage for Farringdon, as I wanted to see the improvements Mr. Woolls is making, but we were obliged to turn back before we got there, but not soon enough to avoid a pelter all the way home. (Jane Austen, Her Life and Letters: A Family Record)

  • Colonel Boone had but to hear him out and bare his shoulders for such other blows which Judge Wright sought to pelter him, and we will hear with what blow he was driven from his post as Indian Agent. (The Second William Penn: A True Account of Incidents That Happened Along the Old Santa Fe Trail)

  • A tremendous storm brewing to windward, cut short our intended drive; and, putting the nags to their best pace, we barely succeeded in obtaining shelter ere it burst upon us; and such a pelter as it came down, who ever saw? (Lands of the Slave and the Free Cuba, the United States, and Canada)


Merriam Webster tells us Diablerie is black magic or sorcery; a representation in words or pictures of black magic or of dealings with the devil or demon lore; or mischievous conduct or manner

The Unofficial White Wolf Fandom Page gives a definition in vampiric terms.
“The aggressor, dubbed the diablerist, automatically loses some of its humanity and is branded by black streaks in their aura that may persist for several years. Still, the practice holds a great deal of allure, for it is said to bestow the greatest pleasure imaginable to the diablerist, greater than the Kiss, and can also grant him or her greater power. Diablerie involves the consumption of another Indred’s vitae to the point of Final Death, but as the “heart’s blood” is consumed, the aggressor might devour it’s victims very soul. Most vampires consider it a heinous act, akin to cannibalism.

“Diablerizing the soul of a Cainite of significant age is one of the few ways of lowering one’s Generation, for if the victim possessed more potent blood then the diablerist’s, the diablerist’s Generation drops by one, possibly more if the victim was of notably lower Generation. However, there is the risk of some portion of the victim’s soul living on within the diablerist. Rumors abound of diablerists taking on the mannerisms of their victims, and even stranger tales speak of the victims consuming their assailants from within and taking over their bodies. Some Antediluvians and Methuselahs are believed to have survived their death  in this manner.”

Fury: The Reference Desk adds this to the vampiric discussion: “There is one thing that elder Kindred dread even more than fire or the light of the sun. This is the sin known as diablerie, or the Amaranth. Among Camarilla society, diablerie is the ultimate crime; those who practice it are subject to the harshest punishments imaginable. It is as loathed and feared as cannibalism is among mortal society. The vampires of the Sabbat, as well as the warriors of Clan Assamite, are said to indulge in diablerie freely, which is yet another reason why the elders hate them so.

“Quite simply, diablerie is the act of feeding on a vampire in the way that a vampire feeds on a mortal. In so doing, not only does the murderer consume the victim’s blood (and vampire blood is far, far sweeter than even the tastiest mortal’s), but the victim’s power as well. By stealing the life of a vampire closer to Caine, the vampire can permanently enrich his own vitae. In this manner can even the youngest vampire gain the power of the elders, should he have the strength and daring to wrest it from them.”


Purlieus, according to the Free Dictionary is environs or neighborhoods; a place where one may range at large; confines or bounds; a person’s haunt or resort; an outlying district or region, as of a town or city; or a piece of land on the edge of a forest, originally land that, after having been included in a royal forest, was restored to private ownership, though still subject, in some respects, to the operation of the forest laws.

Wikipedia tells us “Purlieu is a term used of the outlying parts of a place or district. It was a term of the old Forest Las, and meant, as defined by John Manwood,  Treatise of the Lawes of the Forest (1598, 4th ed. 1717),

a certain territory of ground adjoining unto the forest [which] was once forest-land and afterwards disafforested by the perambulations made for the severing of the new forests from the old


Shops in Beaulieu Road, Dibden Purlieu

“The owner of freelands in the purlieu to the yearly value of forty shillings was known as a purlieu-man or purley-man. The benefits of disafforestation accrued only to the owner of the lands. There seems no doubt that purlieu or purley represents the Anglo- French pourallé lieu (old French pouraler, puraler, to go through Latin perambulare), a legal term meaning properly a perambulation to determne the boundaries of a manor, parish, or similar region. The word survives in place names. Examples include Dibden Purlieu in Hampshire,  on the border of the New Forest and Bedford Purlieus, once part of Rockingham Forest. ” 


Merriam Webster defines Farouche as wild or marked by shyness and lack of social graces. “In French, “farouche” can mean wild or shy, just as it does in English. It is an alteration of the Old French word forasche, which derives via Late Latin forasticus (“living outside”) from Latin foras, meaning “outdoors.” In its earliest English uses, in the middle of the 18th century, “farouche” was used to describe someone who was awkward in social situations, perhaps as one who has lived apart from groups of people. The word can also mean “disorderly,” as in “farouche ruffians out to cause trouble.”


If you’re known as being Pawky, you’ve got a sly, mischievous sense of humor. The pawky one in your group of friends is probably good at making everyone laugh while barely cracking a smile. You’re most likely to encounter the word pawky in Scotland, but it’s a good way to describe someone who’s got a sardonic wit, wherever you happen to be. You might surprise people with your pawky wit if you’re usually quiet and retiring. Pawky is Scots, and it’s also used in Northern England, from the Northern English pawk, or ‘trick.'” (


il_340x270.711669650_83yj.jpg Wikipedia tells us that Pinchbeck is a form of brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, mixed in proportions so that it closely resembles  gold  in appearance. It was invented in the 18th century by  Christopher Pinchbeck, a London clockmaker. Since gold was only sold in 18-carat quality at that time, the development of pinchbeck allowed ordinary people to buy gold ‘effect’ jewellery on a budget. The inventor allegedly made pinchbeck jewellery clearly labelled as such. Pinchbeck jewellery was used in places like stagecoaches   where there was a risk of theft. Later dishonest jewellers passed pinchbeck off as gold; over the years it came to mean a cheap and tawdry imitation of gold.  Pinchbeck is typically composed of copper and zinc in ratios of 89% copper to 11% zinc; or 93% copper to 7% zinc.

Also check out Pinchbeck at World Wide Words for a more complete telling of its origins. 


From World Wide Words, we learn that Rodomontade is a mass noun meaning boastful talk or behavior. The term is a reference to Rodomonte, a character in Italian Renaissance epic poems Orlando innamorato and its sequel Orlando furioso.  

  • A 17th-century example of the term exists in Don Tomazo by Thomas Dangerfield, with a slight alteration of spelling. As the titular protagonist heads towards Cairo with a number of stolen treasures, he is informed by an acquaintance that:
. . . he could, in that heathenish city, command a thousand pound – which was at that time no rodomontado, in regard the jewels were worth above four times the value. 
  • A 19th-century example of the use of the term can be found in The Adventures of Captain Bonneville by Washington Irving. Irving used it to describe the behavior of “free trappers”, fur trappers who worked freelance and adopted the manner, habits, and dress of the Native Americans. When free trappers visited Bonneville’s camp, he welcomed them and ordered grog for everyone:
They [the free trappers] pronounced the captain the finest fellow in the world, and his men all bon garçons, jovial lads, and swore they would pass the day with them. They did so, and a day it was, of boast, and swagger, and rodomontade.
  • Another 19th-century example can be found in Thomas Carlyle’s 1829 essay Signs of the Times:
We have more Mathematics than ever; but less Mathesis. Archimedes and Plato could not have read the Mécanique Céleste; but neither would the whole French Institute see aught in that saying, “God geometrises!” but a sentimental rodomontade.

“English borrowed the word rodomont in the sixteenth century as a way to describe an extravagant boaster or braggart. Our form appeared in the following century. At first it meant a single brag or boastful act, so that one could speak in the plural of rodomontades. In that form, the first known user was John Donne, in 1612: “Challengers cartells, full of Rodomontades.” Later it became both an adjective and a verb and a mass noun that refers to the whole business of making your point by laying it on rather too thick.

“In that sense, it turns up in many works of literature, including The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë: ‘She knows what she’s about; but he, poor fool, deludes himself with the notion that she’ll make him a good wife, and because she has amused him with some rodomontade about despising rank and wealth in matters of love and marriage, he flatters himself that she’s devotedly attached to him.'”


ham-getty-images-ftr.jpg Gammon has several meanings. First, gives us the game of backgammon; a victory in which the winner throws off all his other pieces before the opponent throws off any; verb (used with object) to win a gammon over. Next we have a smoked or cured ham or the lower end of a side of bacon. Origin 1480-90; Old French gambon ham ( French jambon), derivative of gambe; see jamb Finally, deceitful nonsense; boshto talk gammon;to make pretense; or (verb)to humbug.

Gammon is the hind leg of pork after it has been cured by dry-salting or brining.  It may be sold on-the-bone or without bone, or as steaks or rashers. It differs from ham in that ham is cured after being cut from the carcass but not cooked, and the curing process for ham may be different. Gammon hock (or knuckle) is the foot end of the joint, and contains more connective tissue and sinew. Joints of cooked gammon are often served at Christmas or Boxing Day. 

“Gammon is often purchased to be further cured into ham – this is carried out by immersing the joint in water, then adding sugar, salt, spices, and other ingredients, and bringing it to the boil. The words gammon, ham and bacon are sometimes used interchangeably. Particularly in the U.S., the word ‘ham’ may refer to raw, uncured hind leg of pork. The word ‘gammon’ is related to the French word jambon, meaning ham, which in turn is derived from Late Latin gamba, meaning leg.” [W K H Bode; M J Leto. The Larder Chef. Routledge; 25 June 2012. p. 178.]


800px-Travellers_attacked_by_brigands.jpg “Brigand refers to the life and practice of brigands: highway robbery and plunder. A brigand is a person who usually lives in a gang and lives by pillage and robbery. The brigand is supposed to derive his name from the Old French brigand, which is a form of the Italian brigante, an irregular or  partisan soldier. There can be no doubt as to the origin of the word bandit, which has the same meaning. In Italy, which is considered the home of the most accomplished European brigands, a bandito was a man declared outlaw by proclamation, or bando, called in Scotland “a decree of horning” because it was delivered by a blast of a horn at the town cross. The brigand, therefore, is the outlaw who conducts warfare after the manner of an irregular or partisan soldier by skirmishes and surprises, who makes the war support itself by plunder, by extortion, by capturing prisoners and holding them to  ransom, who enforces his demands by violence, and kills the prisoners who cannot pay.

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The Places We Visit in Jane Austen’s Novels

Oh, the Places We Will Go…in Austen Novels

Through Jane Austen’s novels, I was first introduced, at the age of 12, to beautiful English estates and a land beyond my imagination. I fell in love with the time, the homes, the heroes and heroines, and I have spent a lifetime admiring Austen’s works. Do you know the many places found within Austen’s novels?

from Persuasion

Lyme Regis – where Louisa Musgrove falls from the Cobb; later falls in love with Captain Benwick

Uppercross – the Musgroves’ family home

the ancient Roman baths in Bath, UK

– city where the Elliots retrenched and where Anne and Captain Wentworth are reunited

Kellynch Hall – Sir Walter Elliot’s ancestral home



from Northanger Abbey

Putney, London – from where the Thorpes hail

Oxford University

Oxford – where James Morland attends university

Bath – the city Catherine Morland visits; she meets Henry Tilney there

Northanger Abbey, Gloucestershire – the family seat of the Tilney family

Fullerton, Wiltshire – the village from which the Morlands hail


from Emma

Bath – where Mr. Elton travels to secure a wife Brunswick Square in Camden - London

Brunswick Square, London – home of John and Isabella Knightley

Donwell Abbey, Surrey – Mr. Knightley’s estate

Randalls, Surrey – where Mr. and Mrs. Weston reside

Hartfield, Surrey – where the Woodhouses live; Emma’s home

Highbury, Surrey – the village near the estates of Hartfield, Randalls, and Donwell Abbey


from Mansfield Park

Sotherton – Mr. Rushworth’s estate


Stoneleigh Abbey, the inspiration for Sotherton


Portsmouth – the place from where Fanny Price hails; her family resides there

Antigua – Sir Thomas owns a plantation there

London – from which Maria and Julia elope

Thornton Lacey – the clerical living Edmund will receive as part of his orders

Mansfield Parsonage – where first Mr. and Mrs. Norris reside; later it is the home for the Grants; Mary and Henry Crawford visit at the Parsonage

Mansfield Park – the home of the Bertram family and of Fanny Price


from Pride and Prejudice

Brighton, Sussex – where George Wickham is stationed; from which he and Lydia Bennet elope

Gracechurch Street, London – home of Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Elizabeth Bennet’s maternal uncle and his wife

Hunsford, Kent – Mr. Collins’ parsonage

Rosings Park, Kent – the estate of Lady Catherine De Bourgh; Darcy’s aunt

Chevening House, likely the inspiration for Rosing Park

Chatsworth House, likely the inspiration for Pemberley

Netherfield, Hertfordshire – Mr. Charles Bingley’s let estate

Lucas Lodge, Hertfordshire – home of Sir William Lucas’s family

Meryton, Hertfordshire – the village nearest to Longbourn

Longbourn, Hertfordshire – home to the Bennet family

Pemberley, Derbyshire – Fitzwilliam Darcy’s estate


from Sense and Sensibility


Cleveland, Somersetshire – the Palmer’s estate; where Marianne Dashwood falls ill

Allenham, Devonshire – the estate Willoughby is to inherit

Berkeley Street, London – Mrs. Jennings’ London address

Combe Magna, Somersetshire – Willoughby’s estate

Delaford, Devonshire – Colonel Brandon’s home

Barton Park – the home of Sir John Middleton

Barton Cottage – the home for the Dashwood sisters and their mother

Norland Park, Sussex – the Dashwood ancestral home

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