Being a Widow in Regency England + Release of “A Regency Missives and Mischief” and a Giveaway

Regency Missives and Mischief released Friday! My tale in the anthology is entitled “His Christmas Violet,” a tale of an older couple — in their fifties. Both have lost their spouses in the last five years. Both have been true to their spouses, despite having once thought to marry each other. The hero, Sir Frederick Nolan, has waited patiently to marry Lady Violet Graham, but her ladyship is much harder to convince than he first suspects. Lady Graham has channeled her natural spontaneity to bend to her late husband’s wishes. She does not relish the idea of once again being a man’s property. Her widowhood has provided her a certain sense of independence.

What did it mean to be a widow in Regency England? As the widow of a peer, Violet is now the Dowager Lady Graham, for her eldest son has married. Lord Jeremiah Graham’s wife, Ruth, is Lady Graham. When they are together, such is how they are designated; otherwise, Violet is also addressed as “Lady Graham.” The distinction was not added to a woman’s title until the new holder of the title married. The definition of “dowager” states, “Until the new heir married, an aristocratic widow retained the title she acquired on the day of her wedding.”

I modeled my Lady Violet character’s desire for “freedom” on the character of Lady Russell in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Lady Russell was a woman of independence. My characterization of Violet in this tale has her marrying Lord Graham when she is but sixteen. Her husband became somewhat her “teacher,” instructing her on what he expected of her conduct as the wife of a baron and what opinions she might express. He is never openly cruel to her, but he proves to be a hard man, one with very strict standards for his wife and his family. Therefore, like Lady Russell, my Violet would prove a fool to remarry. She would lose the funds set aside for her by her dower rights by her first husband and would be back at “square zero” again—back under the control of a man. All a woman in such a position would retain if she remarried was her dowry and any property she received through her mother. Everything belonging to her father went to his son, his heir, and, likewise, from her husband to his heir, in this case her eldest son, Jeremiah.

As I have explained in previous posts, a widow would receive a “dower share” of her husband’s estate. This money could provide her a certain sense of independence or, if she is not careful or if the funds provided are not sufficient, she might find herself quite poor.Upon the heir marriage, the dowager would move from the estate into a house of her own or into the dower house upon the estate itself. This would allow the wife of the heir what was due her as his wife. In my tale, Lady Ruth Graham has asked her mother in marriage to stay longer at Graham Hall to allow Ruth time to learn something of managing a household. However, Jane Austen’s World provides us with an example of how this “unspoken” arrangement might go awry. “As Amanda Vickery made clear in her fascinating book, Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England, some brides needed to summon a great deal of patience and cunning when their mamas-in-law dragged their heels in moving to the dower house. In real life, the Dowager Duchess of Leinster chose to live at Number 14 Harley Street in London. She would leave town occasionally to stay in her cottage in Wimbledon. Eleanor Percy, the Dowager Duchess of Northumberland, was the childless widow of the 4th Duke. The dowager moved into Stanwick Park following her husband’s death in 1865, and after the 5th Duke had moved into Alnwick Castle, the ducal estate. Eleanor lived a productive life at Stanwick Park, creating elaborate gardens and cultivating fruits and flowers. Sadly, Stanwick Hall no longer stands today due to lack of fortune. – Stanwick Hall: England’s Lost Country Houses

Jane Austen’s World also explains one key point about elopements. “The dowry was one of the reasons that it was more than foolhardy for a young woman of fortune to elope to Gretna Green. Upon marriage all her worldly goods were legally handed over to her husband. An unscrupulous man could spend every single one of her pennies – except the amount her father had settled upon her. A young woman who eloped had no such protection, for her family, caught unawares, would not have had the time to provide for her personal welfare. Her husband could go through her fortune (and his) with impunity, leaving her penniless and without recourse after his death.”

GIVEAWAY: I have two eBook copies of Regency Missives and Mischief available to those who comment below. The giveaway will end at midnight on Wednesday, November 10, 2021. (I will contact the winners through email.)

Seven delightful Regency Christmas stories from best selling and award winning authors.

Each one of these stories involves, in some way, a letter – letters which set in train a series of events that lead to unexpected adventures and, of course, eventually to love and Happy Ever Afters!

Seven delightful Regency Christmas stories from best selling and award winning authors.

Each one of these stories involves, in some way, a letter – letters which set in train a series of events that lead to unexpected adventures and, of course, eventually to love and Happy Ever Afters!

This anthology contains

Lady Augusta’s Letters by Arietta Richmond

A letter misplaced, a ship wrecked on foreign shores, a love thought lost, a journey through terrible hardship, faith rewarded by love regained.

When letters written are not always delivered as they should be, fate can intervene in the best and worst of ways.

His Christmas Violet by Regina Jeffers

They have loved each other since they were children, but how does Sir Frederick Nolan convince Lady Violet Graham to marry him, when she is most determined never again to permit any man dominion over her person?

Heartache and Holly by Summer Hanford

For seven years, Roslyn has carried on a secret engagement with the love of her life, William, with only the letters they exchange to sustain her. Now, William is back on English soil but the letters have stopped. With their time to be together at hand, has he suddenly changed his mind?

The Letter by Janis Susan May

Two correspondences intercepted and diverted, ten years apart, create a tangle which destroys lives. Can Antonia’s well intentioned intervention save them all, or will it make the situation worse?

A Letter for Miss Brixton by Emma Kaye

Miss Brixton has fallen in love. There is just one small difficulty standing between her and happiness. The entire courtship has been carried out through letters – and both she and her love have, from the start used pseudonyms. And to make matters worse, his letters have stopped coming…. How can she find him? Is there no hope for their love? Or has there been a secret plan behind it all, from the start?

Miss Remington’s Steely Resolve by Ebony Oaten

Ladies of the quality do not engage in anything approaching trade. Well, unless they have the camouflage of a widowed aunt to be the face of an enterprise, and grant it respectability. Amelia believes that she will continue as she has been, helping others find the perfect match, and never marrying herself. It is a belief which is sorely challenged by a most unusual customer, and a series of events which begin to unravel everything she has built for herself. Can she trust the solution she is offered? Or is love too much to risk?

The Marquess’ Christmas Match by Olivia Marwood

Becoming a governess seems the best way to save her family from penury, and allow her sisters a Season, as well as allowing Georgiana to avoid the unwanted advances of the cousin who inherited her father’s title. Except… the unpleasant new title holder continues his pursuit. Can the Marquess whose sisters she cares for help her unravel the puzzle, and win her heart? Or will ruin come to everything she cares for?

If you love Regency Romance, and Christmas, then this is the holiday read for you!

Only $0.99 on Kindle. The book can also be read on Kindle Unlimited.



About Regina Jeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
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7 Responses to Being a Widow in Regency England + Release of “A Regency Missives and Mischief” and a Giveaway

  1. darcybennett says:

    I love anthologies and Violet sounds like an interesting character. I don’t blame her for being hesitant to remarry as I wouldn’t want to give up my independence either.

    • Violet has “survived” a marriage where her husband was not cruel, but, as she was but 16 when wed, he has always treated her more as “his student,” one he meant to shape into the woman he wanted. One cannot blame her for wanting her freedom after 35 years.

  2. The plight of widows who faced the prospect of raising their children with insufficient funds after the untimely death of their husbands is a fascinating subject.This happened to Jane Austen’s own great-grandmother, which is the subject of my newly released novel. Please enter my name for this impressive giveaway. Thanks!

    • We who love the Regency era often gloss over the technicalities of actually living during those years. Women who married a man who protected them after his death were not so common place as one might expect.

  3. Eva E says:

    The cover for your story is beautiful. It would be hard to marry after being a wealthy woman in Regency England. One would want their personal and economic freedom rather than becoming “property” once again without one’s money. I like that you wrote a story about a woman in her fifties. Christmas anthologies are always a delight to read to get one in the mood for the holidays. Thank you for the giveaway.

    • Finding a cover image for the tale that did not show some 20-something female was difficult. I chose the image because the reader cannot see her face. She was originally in red, but I changed out the dress color and the lettering. I put her in purple because her mother named her “Violet” and always dressed her in shades that reflected her name. The purple was remarked upon in the tale. I like for my covers to speak to the plot of the book rather than to be a man and woman clutching at each other.

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