James and Henry Austen and “The Loiterer” ~ Literary Influences on Jane Austen

Many of those around her influenced Jane Austen, but Henry Austen’s and James Austen’s influences were profound. Most of Austen’s biographers believe that Henry was Austen’s favorite brother and James her least favorite.


Jane Austen’s Brothers http://www.janeausten.co.uk James (1765-1819)

James Austen was the eldest of the Austen clan, a youth with a quick mind and a love of the classics. Matriculating to Oxford at age 14, James remained at the school for eleven years. James enjoyed writing poetry, and the Austen family encouraged him to do so.  As entertainment, the Austen family often acted out amateur theatricals. Reportedly, James composed metrical prologues and epilogues for these “family” plays. Many believe these efforts by the eldest Austen had a profound effect on one of the youngest, Jane. 

James’s poetry efforts dwindled as he settled into the life of a country clergyman. As the heir to his wealthy, childless uncle, James Leigh Perrot, James Austen’s future was solid. After leaving Oxford, James became Rector of Steventon (rather than his father’s curate at Deane). He married twice – the second marriage bringing him two children, but gave him a wife with whom he was generally thought to be disappointed. We have no records of James’s poetry from 1789 to 1805.

Six years James’s junior, Henry joined James at Oxford in 1788, and in 1789, the brothers began producing a weekly periodical, called The Loiterer, which contained a series of fashionable essays. James and his friends provided the majority of the essays; however, Henry became quite adept at the occasional piece of fiction. Henry used “stock” characters and situations – those commonly found in the fiction of the day. The brothers continued their efforts for 60 consecutive weeks – quite an undertaking for the time.

Henry Austen

Rev Henry Thomas Austen (1771 – 1850) – Find A Grave Memorial http://www.findagrave.com

Henry is well known among Austen scholars as Jane’s “man of business,” acting as her agent in arranging the publication of Austen’s novels. He managed to convince Thomas Egerton, who coincidentally had published the Austen brothers’ efforts with The Loiterer, to take a chance on a piece of fiction. Egerton specialized in pieces of military history, so this was a different track for the publisher. In 1811, Egerton published Sense and Sensibility, by a Lady. Henry likely advanced the £180 upfront fees for printing and advertising for the novel.

Despite these particular influences on Jane Austen, her brothers exercised other effects upon her career. One of those was their involvement in student periodicals. In the late 1700s several examples of student journalism sprang up. Eton College had its Microcosmopolitan, Westminster School had The Flagellant, St. Mary Magdalen College had Olla Podrida, St. John’s College had the Loiterer, etc. Three of these efforts were later collected into volumes: Microcosmopolitan, Olla Podrida, and the Loiterer (which was edited by James Austen). These periodicals covered a wide variety of topics: manners, drinking, epitaphs, superstition, fashion, entertainment, etc. Some serious topics appeared as well. There were pieces on Parliament, the war, education, religion, poetry, fiction, etc.


The Loiterer janeausteninfo.wix.com

Literary criticism was a staple of these periodicals. One often finds criticism of the novel as a literary form. There were serious discussions regarding the change in style = movement from the epistolary novel – the rise of sentimental fiction – the use of irony and satire. These young journalists were well read men. James Austen, for example, took offense at the predominance of sentimental fiction in the circulating libraries of the time. Henry Austen spoke out against the French influence upon the genre. “What I here allude to, Sir, is that excess of sentiment and  susceptibility, which the works of the great Rousseau chiefly introduced, which every subsequent Novel has since foster’d and which the voluptuous manners of the present age but too eagerly embrace.” (The Loiterer, No. 47

Some biographers suggest that Jane Austen wrote one of the letters published in The Loiterer. The letter expressed an objection to the lack of a female perspective in the articles published in the weekly periodical. It was signed “Sophia Sentiment.” It is said that the issue containing the letter supposedly written by Jane Austen (issue 9) was the only one to be advertised for sale in North Hampshire, where the Austen’s lived. The other issues were for sale at Oxford and in London. In the Cambridge University Press collection of Austen’s Juvenilia, Peter Sabor (2006, pages 356-362) suggests that the letter may have been inspired by Jane’s voice in her brothers’ ears rather than her actually writing the letter. The letter turns sentimental fiction upon its head. “Sophia Sentiment” encourages the editor (James Austen) to publish more sentimental fiction. 

“Let us hear no more of your Oxford Journals, your Homelys and Cockney: but send them about their business, and get a new set of correspondents, from among the young of both sexes, but particularly ours; and let us see some nice affecting stories, relating the misfortunes of two lovers, who died suddenly, just as they were going to church. Let the lover be killed in a duel, or lost at sea, or you may make him shoot himself, just as you please, and as for his mistress, she will of course go mad; or if you will, you may kill the lady, and let the lover run mad; only remember, whatever you do, that your hero and heroine must possess a great deal of feeling, and have very pretty names.” (The Loiterer, No. 9)

Ironically, in Henry evaluation of sentimental fiction he writes a tongue-in-cheek response: Let her avoid love and friendship as she wishes to be admired and distinguished. (The Loiterer, No. 27) Li-Ping Geng says in Persuasions, No. 31 (pages 167-168), “Sophia (meaning “wisdom” in Greek) is a pretty name but also an ironic one. Further, it si the name given to a protagonist, in Jane Austen’s “Love and Freindship,” who is “all Sensibility and Feeling,” a heroine who is recognized as “most truly worthy of the Name” by the equally sentimental Laura, herself possessed of “[a] sensibility too tremblingly alive.

“The spirited playfulness and the cheeky style, consistent with what we see in Juvenilia, seem to exclude James from the authorship. The letter’s somewhat crude irony resembles very much that seen in Henry Austen’s satirical contributions, but the charming temperament and feminine tone seem to point to the hand of Jane, who was more than capable of it at the precocious age of thirteen and who was at the time actively engaged elsewhere in mocking the rampant literary bias.”


Posted in British history, Georgian England, Georgian Era, history, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Living in the UK | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

His Majesty “Farmer George”

If one were to search history books, he would learn that King George III was King of England during the American Revolutionary War. He might also discover that the same King George “went mad” in his later years. Hopefully, the person would also learn the following, which is provided (in more detail than I have included below) by Royal.uk: 

**”George III became heir to the throne on the death of his father in 1751, succeeding his grandfather, George II, in 1760. He was the third Hanoverian monarch and the first one to be born in England and to use English as his first language.

**George III was devoted to his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. They had 15 children, 13 of whom reached adulthood.

**”George III was the first king to study science as part of his education (he had his own astronomical observatory), and examples of his collection of scientific instruments can now be seen in the Science Museum.

**”The American War of Independence ran from 1775 to 1783 and resulted in Britain’s loss of many its colonies in North America. France was eager to retaliate against Great Britain following their defeat during the Seven Years’ War. Various conflicts against Napoleonic France started in 1793 and led to the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

**”George III bought Buckingham House (now known as Buckingham Palace) in 1761 for his wife Queen Charlotte to use as a comfortable family home close to St James’s Palace, where many court functions were held. Buckingham House became known as the Queen’s House.

**”One of the most cultured of monarchs, George III started a new royal collection of books (65,000 of his books were later given to the British Museum, as the nucleus of a national library) and opened his library to scholars.

**”After serious bouts of illness in 1788-89 and again in 1801, George became permanently deranged in 1810. He was mentally unfit to rule in the last decade of his reign; his eldest son – the later George IV – acted as Prince Regent from 1811. Some medical historians have said that George III’s mental instability was caused by a hereditary physical disorder called porphyria.

**”During his reign, George III acquired the nickname ‘Farmer George’, in part due to his agricultural interests and in part as a playful pun. The survival of private papers offers one of the best opportunities to assess the true character and extent of George III’s agricultural interests including many notes made by him on agricultural books.”

It is said by many that George was a child who did not progress as fast mentally, as did others his age. He was a passionate young man, which made him difficult to teach or to command. Supposedly, he could not read properly until he was 11 years of age. When his father died, George, age 12 at the time, became the heir to the throne of England. Because he was aware of his “deficiencies,” George never thought himself worthy of the throne. Even so, he appeared determined to be successful, hiding his self doubt behind a facade of confidence. His method of screwing up his courage was to set himself an ideal of conduct. John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute became this ideal for George III. Bute became George’s inspiration, his teacher, and later his chief minister.

“Succeeding to his father’s earldom in 1723, Bute was known to remained aloof from politics until he met (1747) and won the favour of Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, son of King George II. Upon Frederick’s death in 1751, Bute became the constant companion and confidant of the prince’s son George, heir to the throne, whose tutor he had been. After his accession George III made the earl secretary of state (March 1761). The king appointed Bute in order to break the power of the dominant Whig leaders and to achieve a peace with France. From the first, Bute, as a Scotsman, was widely disliked in England. He aroused further hostility by ousting from his administration William Pitt (later 1st Earl of Chatham), creator of England’s successful strategy in the Seven Years’ War. Bute replaced Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle, as first lord of the Treasury (in effect, prime minister) in May 1762, and in February 1763 he signed the Treaty of Paris, which made peace with France but was extremely unpopular in England. After imposing a hated cider tax and becoming involved in the controversial elevation of Henry Fox to the peerage, Bute resigned (April 1763). Nevertheless, he maintained his influence with George III until the new prime minister, George Grenville, made the king promise (May 1765) that he would neither employ Bute in office nor seek his counsel.” 

One must not think of the nickname of “Farmer George” to be a disparaging one, for during George III’s long reign, England was very much an agricultural country, so referring to the King as “Farmer George” was a tribute of sorts. The Royal Collection Trust tells us: “During his reign, George III acquired the nickname ‘Farmer George’, in part due to his agricultural interests and in part as a playful pun – a nod toward nominative determinism given that his name, George, derived from the Greek geōrgos (γεωργός), meaning ‘farmer’ or ‘earth worker’. However, the extent to which this popular name arose from his reputation as an agriculturalist has been debated. The anecdotes and caricatures from the 1780s and 1790s tended to depict a friendly, homespun country gentleman, rather than a progressive, experimenting improver. The ‘farmer’ characterisation captured both his reportedly simple domestic life and his traditional paternalistic role as the nation’s father, as much as his zeal for the theory and practice of agriculture. Furthermore, it is difficult to reconstruct an accurate portrait of his engagements with farming from the accounts of contemporaries, whose compliments and stories are partly attributable to the honour owed to a patron and a king.”

In 1780, George III began to develop the parklands around Windsor Castle. The history of Windsor Castle on the internet tells us: “George I took little interest in Windsor Castle, preferring his other palaces at St James’s, Hampton Court, and Kensington. George II rarely used Windsor either, preferring Hampton Court. Many of the apartments in the Upper Ward were given out as “grace and favour” privileges for the use of prominent widows or other friends of the Crown. The Duke of Cumberland made the most use of the property in his role as the Ranger of Windsor Great Park. By the 1740s, Windsor Castle had become an early tourist attraction; wealthier visitors who could afford to pay the castle keeper could enter, see curiosities such as the castle’s narwhal horn, and by the 1750s buy the first guidebooks to Windsor, produced by George Bickham in 1753 and Joseph Pote in 1755. As the condition of the State Apartments continued to deteriorate, even the general public were able to regularly visit the property.

“George III reversed this trend when he came to the throne in 1760. George disliked Hampton Court and was attracted by the park at Windsor Castle. George wanted to move into the Ranger’s House by the castle, but his brother, Henry, was already living in it and refused to move out. Instead, George had to move into the Upper Lodge, later called the Queen’s Lodge, and started the long process of renovating the castle and the surrounding parks. Initially the atmosphere at the castle remained very informal, with local children playing games inside the Upper and Lower Wards, and the royal family frequently seen as they walked around the grounds. As time went by, however, access for visitors became more limited.”

Under George III’s orders, the parklands surrounding Windsor Castle were transformed from grounds for hunting to pristine parks and gardens. One major change was the conversion of the areas known as the Lower Park and the Upper Park into agricultural lands to be used by Frogmore farm. George III was known to have enjoyed overseeing the husbandry efforts at the farm. It is said, King George insisted that newer farming methods be practiced at Frogmore. A four-crop rotation was incorporated so as not to overuse the land.

Charles Townsend, 2nd Viscount Townsend, who served as Secretary of State under George I, used the four crop method on his estate in Norfolk. Townsend had learned of the method from farmers in Holland. It was also used in America and to a lesser extent in Scotland. Crops were rotated on a four-year basis. Townsend considered clover and turnips as two of the crops. The Open Door Website explains the The Four Field System, thusly: “Viscount Townshend successfully introduced a new method of crop rotation on his farms. He divided his fields up into four different types of produce with wheat in the first field, clover (or ryegrass) in the second, oats or barley in the third and, in the fourth, turnips or swedes. The turnips were used as fodder to feed livestock in winter. Clover and ryegrass were grazed by livestock. Using this system, he found that he could grow more crops and get a better yield from the land.

“If a crop was not rotated, then the nutrient level in the field would go down with time. The yield of the crop from the field decreased. Using the four field system, the land could not only be “rested”, but also could be improved by growing other crops. Clover and turnips grown in a field after wheat, barley or oats, naturally replaced nutrients into the soil. None of the fields had to be taken out of use whilst they recovered. Also, where animals grazed on the clover and turnip fields, eating the crop, their droppings helped to manure the soil. The four field system was successful because it improved the amount of food produced.”

Back at Frogmore, George III also set up a dairy. All together, more than 1,000 acres were used for farm purposes at Windsor. George may have been “slow” at reading when he was young, but he held a great deal of knowledge in the areas of animal husbandry and botany and agriculture. He imported sheep from Spain, a suggestion from Sir Joseph Banks, the President of the Royal Society. Those sheep became the ancestors of the Merino sheep found in New Zealand and Australia. 

George III wrote letters for the Annals of Agriculture under the pen name of ‘Ralph Robinson,’ the name of one of the shepherds he employed on the farm. He kept meticulous notes on the latest improvements in farming practices and animal husbandry. 

The Royal Collection Trust tells us: “The start of George III’s reign coincided with a new surge in agricultural publishing, such that by 1776 Lord Kames was moved to open his own treatise with a joke about the flood of texts: ‘Behold another volume on husbandry!’ It is, therefore, not entirely surprising that in the 1760s and 1770s a monarch concerned with the wealth of his kingdom and curious about the arts and sciences would collect and read books on agriculture. Indeed, George’s intellectual interest can be considered typical of many British gentlemen landowners at the time. Moreover, the surviving papers on agriculture form only a small proportion of the total number in the collection of George’s essays (around one to two per cent). We should therefore resist the temptation offered by his nickname to over-interpret the significance of such notes.

“The first point to make about George’s notes is that they are mostly taken from books published over a relatively short period, 1762–71. This may only be an effect of what survives, but it suggests that George was concerned with the latest ideas and debates, and it is not unreasonable to assume that his notes were made within a relatively short number of years following the publication of a new book or treatise. The exceptions are a short note on a book of 1775 and notes from volumes the periodicals Annals of Agriculture and Transactions of the Society of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce from the 1780s. We can roughly divide the surviving notes made by George into three general themes: the political economy of agriculture, the merits of old versus new husbandry methods and the cultivation of specific crops.”

ERP_15a_BOOK_19 083

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how one views history, George III’s keen interest in agriculture made him a “subject” of several cartoonists of the day. He was lampooned by the famous James Gillray on more than one occasion. John Wolcott satirized the King, just as he did members of the Royal Society. In Wolcott’s piece, King George explains how to make an apple dumpling to a farmer’s wife. 

In tempting row the naked dumplings lay, 

When lo! the monarch is on his usual way, 

Like lightening spoke “What’s this? what’s this? what? what?” 

“No!” cried the staring monarch with a grin, 

“How? how? the devil got the apple in?”

Posted in British history, buildings and structures, family, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, kings and queens, Living in the Regency, real life tales, Regency era, royalty, science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Second Shepherds’ Play, England’s “First Comedy”

41N5-tNbm2L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg  The Wakefield mystery play cycle included The Second Shepherd’s Play. The author is unknown, but the play is commonly attributed to the Wakefield Master. This play dates from the latter half of the 15th Century. It is written in Middle English. It is play number thirteen of thirty-two contained in the only surviving manuscript, currently held at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. The Second Shepherds’ Play is included in The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 1 (1993) and in The Towneley Plays (2001), Volume 1, edited by Martin Stevens and A. C. Cawley. The play’s title comes from the Towneley cycle of plays, and this one was the second one of two Shepherds’ plays. A. W. Pollard, bibliographer and scholar of English literature, suggested that in the Prima Pastorum, the author knew some success in telling the story, but in the Second Shepherds’ Play, he achieved the nation’s “first English comedy.” 

According to Encyclopedia.com, “Mystery plays, which are so named because they refer to the spiritual mystery of Christ’s birth and death, combine comic elements with biblical stories. For example, in The Second Shepherds’ Play, the author combines the Shepherds’ story of stolen sheep and a swindle involving the birth of a nonexistent infant with the biblical story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. The dual plot is designed to remind the audience of the two-fold nature of man’s existence—the real world on earth and the spiritual world of the afterlife. The play, itself, contains no divisions of act or scene, but there are three distinct scenes: the Shepherds’ soliloquies in which they lament their poverty, the oppressive natures of their lives, and the terrible weather; the scene with Mak and Gil in which they try to disguise the stolen lamb as their newborn child; and the adoration of the Christ-child in Bethlehem. The text shifts both time and place, referring to Christian saints and to the birth of Christ, although these things and events would have been separated by hundreds of years and reversed in time. Additionally, while the first half of the play takes place in Medieval England, the shepherds are easily able to walk to Bethlehem in a matter of hours, where events occurred fourteen centuries earlier. The audience, however, would have had no concern about such details, since The Second Shepherds’ Play easily mixes symbolism and realism with entertainment and biblical lessons.”

The manuscript was originally preserved at Towneley Hall, Lancashire, but was presented by the craft guilds of Wakefield, thus, the name of the piece. According to The English Drama (eds. E. W. Parks and R. C. Beatty, New York, W. W. Norton, 1935), “the cycle is a composite on: (1) a group of didactic-religious plays; (2) a group probably derived from an earlier version of the York plays; (3) a group of five by a single writer of marked dramatic power and bold humor. This final group was completed by 1420.”

wake2shep With no connection to Biblical incidents, many consider The Second Shepherds’ Play England’s first original comedy – a boisterous English farce. The only Biblical reference comes at the ending scene in which the English shepherds are “transported” to Bethlehem where they view the Christ child. Even in this scene, the shepherds’ speech is quite colloquial. One of shepherds even presents the Christ child a tennis ball as a gift. 

The play has many anachronistic phrases and oaths such as “for God that you bought” and “By him that died for us all” and “Christ’s cross me speed.” There is also a reference to Saint Nicholas, which sets up the theme of stealing, for Saint Nicholas was the patron saint of thieves. At line 626, the shepherds toss Mak in a sheet and then return to the fields. Tossing Mak in the sheet was a superstition in action. Being “tossed in a sheet” would allow Mak to have more children. Such phrases and actions may not “entertain” those of our time, but they would prove hilarious to those of medieval times. 

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Pulvis Lodge, I Presume? a Guest Post from Jann Rowland

This post initially appeared on the Austen Authors’ blog on 26 May 2021. Enjoy!

“Haye Park might do,” said she, “if the Gouldings could quit it—or the great house at Stoke, if the drawing-room were larger; but Ashworth is too far off! I could not bear to have her ten miles from me; and as for Pulvis Lodge, the attics are dreadful.” —Mrs. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 50

Pulvis Lodge is, as most of us know, mentioned exactly once in Pride and Prejudice, when Mrs. Bennet is discussing the possibility of the newlywed Wickhams living in the neighborhood. Ridiculous, of course, as Wickham does not possess the income of a gentleman and cannot afford to take any of the houses she mentions. Pulvis Lodge is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it is the one estate from that quote that just about everyone seems to remember. In fact, I dare say it is the one that gets the most airtime in Pride and Prejudice adaptations for the least reason. It seems to make an appearance in many, either as a place Darcy leases to be near Elizabeth, or for some other reason. Pulvis Lodge is also notable for one more factor—the fact that no one seems to know what the heck the name actually is.

Let me explain. First I will ask a question: how many of you are screaming at me through your computer right now? “It’s not Pulvis Lodge, it’s Purvis Lodge!” Or is it? There seems to be some disagreement over the name, and different sources disagree. Let’s go through some of those sources, shall we?

First, let me say that my recent interest in Pulvis Lodge is not the first time the subject has come up. Lelia Eye has an uncanny knack for pulling up emails between us that we exchanged years and years ago, when I have often forgotten we even spoke on the subject. When I asked her what her copy said, she pulled up an email from when we were writing A Bevy of Suitors together, where we spoke of this exact topic. The gist of the matter is that we both had copies that called it Pulvis Lodge, and that is what we had decided to go with.

As an aside, it’s interesting to note that my copy of P&P was lent out a few years ago, and I never did get it back. I replaced it with a three-book box set of P&PS&S, and Persuasion. That copy, when I looked at it, called it Purvis Lodge. Huh. The plot thickens.

The next step is to look at some online references. Let’s try Gutenberg, for example. The quote above was copied directly from Gutenberg without any edits. Thus, it seems Gutenberg agrees with Lelia and me. If you like, you can check it out here. Search for “pulv” and you will find it.


Surely there are others that agree, right? Yes, in fact there are several others that agree and spell it with an l. In fact, sparknotes, americanliterature.com, and other sites with which I was not familiar, such as novel12.com and cleavebooks.co.uk also agree. This was all on the first page of an internet search—though I did not make an exhaustive search, I’m certain there are many more. Furthermore, though from from definitive, Kitty and Mrs. Bennet both call it “Pulvis” Lodge in P&P 1995, unless I’m completely messing up the British accent.

Case closed, right? No so fast. A search for Purvis Lodge does not reveal similar archive sites that our other search did. I found a few bloggers, one in particular that does a sort of digital mock up of the estate. They did it with Ashworth too. I also found references to a Purvis Lodge on Purvis Street. Doesn’t say exactly where it is, but it was for rent a couple of years back. There’s also a masonic temple in Mississippi called Purvis Lodge. Cool.

But if you dig a little deeper, you can find plenty of references to Purvis Lodge too. One in particular I found was Wikisource’s version. There are several others.

So which is it? As you might have guessed from my writing and this blog, I lean toward Pulvis Lodge. There seems to be a greater number of sites that agree with this spelling. Could I be wrong? Could be! I suspect the only way to know for sure is if someone has access to an original 1813 print of Pride and Prejudice and can look. I assume Jane Austen knew what she wanted to call the estate, and ensured it was printed properly in her first edition. If anyone has access to a copy, please respond as I’d love to know what it says!

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Posted in Austen Authors, Georgian Era, Guest Post, Living in the Regency, Pride and Prejudice, Regency era, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pulvis Lodge, I Presume? a Guest Post from Jann Rowland

Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex’s Two Illegal Marriages

Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex wearing the robes of a Knight Companion of the Order of the Thistle – Wikipedia

Prince Augustus Frederick was the sixth son and ninth child of King George III and Queen Charlotte. He was born at Buckingham House on 27 January 1773. He was initially tutored at home. However, in 1785, along with his brothers, Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, and Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, he studied at Göttingen University in Germany.

Because of what was known, at the time, as “convulsive asthma,” he did not pursue an army or navy career. Reportedly, he briefly considered becoming a cleric in the Church of England. In 1805, during the Napoleonic War, he served at home in Britain as Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant of the “Loyal North Britons” Volunteers regiment.

Augustus supposedly had a great passion for music and literature, especially the classics, so he spent some time in Europe pursuing his studies. It is said that he had a library of some 50,000 volumes, including some 5,000 copies of the Bible. While studying in Rome, he met his first wife, Lady Augusta. Augusta was the second daughter of John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore and Lady Charlotte Stewart. She was 5 years older than Augustus. People claim she was very “plain” of countenance and had the tendency to be as “bossy” as her mother.

Without his father’s permission, Augustus secretly married Lady Augusta in Rome on 4 April 1793 in an Anglican ceremony conducted by the Reverend Gunn. The King’s minister of Hanover affairs, Ernst zu Münster, was sent to Italy to escort Augustus back to London. [Henderson, T.F. (2004). “Augustus Frederick, Prince, Duke of Sussex (1773–1843)”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. rev. John Van der Kiste. Oxford University Press.]

The couple married again without revealing their full identities at St George’s, Hanover Square, Westminster, on 5 December 1793. Both marriages took place without the consent, or even the knowledge, of his father, meaning they were in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act of 1772.

Angered by his son’s ignoring his wishes, George III had the marriage declared null and void by the Court of Arches on 3 August 1794. However, Prince Augustus Frederick continued to live with Lady Augusta until 1801, when he received a parliamentary grant of £12,000 and the couple separated. Lady Augusta retained custody of their children and received maintenance of £4,000 a year. Their two children were named Sir Augustus Frederick d’Este (1794-1848) and Augusta Emma d’Este (1801-1855), both parents being descended from the royal House of Este. In 1806, their mother, Lady Augusta, was given royal licence to use the surname “de Ameland” instead of Murray. [The London Gazette. 18 October 1806. p. 1364] She was then styled as “Countess” She died at Ramsgate in 1830.

Sir Augustus Frederick d’Este became Deputy Ranger of St. James’s and Hyde Park. He made an unsuccessful attempt to claim the dukedom (Duke of Sussex) upon his father’s death. Meanwhile, his sister, Augusta Emma d’Este, married Thomas Wilde, 1st Baron Truro. Truro became Lord High Chancellor from 1850-1852. Neither of the Prince’s children produced children of their own.

A year after the death of Lady Augusta D’Ameland (Lady Augusta Murray), the Duke of Sussex married a second time on 2 May 1831. This marriage occurred again in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act. He married Lady Cecilia Letitia Buggin (1793–1873), the eldest daughter of Arthur Gore, 2nd Earl of Arran, and Elizabeth Underwood. She was the widow of Sir George Buggin. She was 12 years Augustus’s junior. They had no children from the marriage. On the same day, Lady Cecilia assumed the surname Underwood by Royal Licence. She was never titled or recognized as the Duchess of Sussex. However, she was created Duchess of Inverness in her own right by Queen Victoria in 1840.

Lady Cecilia was popular in society, and Prince Augustus was known as a great patron of the arts and of science. At Queen Victoria’s wedding to Prince Albert in 1840, Augustus gave her away at the wedding ceremony.

Augustus died of erysipelas on 21 April 1843. He was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, a little north of Paddington. As Lady Cecilia could not be buried with him in the royal vault, Augustus chose Kensal Green instead. Lady Cecilia died at Kensington Palace on 1 August 1873.

Posted in British history, Church of England, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, history, Living in the Regency, Living in the UK, marriage | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Introducing “The Jewel Thief and the Earl” + a Giveaway

Tomorrow our latest summer anthology, Regency Mid-Summer Mischief, goes on preorder for $0.99. It will release on 20July 2021. In this anthology, all the stories have relatives/family members or friends up to some sort of hijinks and being extremely interfering: therefore, the “mischief” in the title.

My contribution to the grouping is entitled “The Jewel Thief and the Earl.” Permit me to introduce you to my hero and heroine.

Grandison Franklyn, 8th Earl Harlow, is a collector of artifacts from ancient civilizations. He also performs duties for the Home Office bringing him into the search for a missing necklace belonging to Queen Charlotte. He has earned the moniker “Grandison, the Great” for a variety of reasons: his well-honed attitude of superiority; his appearance; and a string of mistresses, most notably Lady Jenest, who created a “great” row when he cut her loose.

Miss Colleen Everley is the daughter of England’s most infamous thief, a man called “Brook’s Crook,” for Thomas Everley’s family estate is in Brook, a hamlet in the civil parish of Branshaw in Hampshire. Colleen has been taught many of her father’s skills of sleight of hand, along with an eye for the value of each item in a room. As Thomas Everley has been caught and transported, naturally, Lord Harlow must depend upon Miss Everley’s assistance in using a thief to catch a thief. Unfortunately, the lady has inherited Everley’s skills, but not necessarily his daring.

Enjoy this Excerpt:

(If you wish to read the beginning of Chapter One, you may read the first half on my post Austen Authors on July 12, where there is a second chance to win an eBook copy of the anthology, keeping in mind the Regency Mid-Summer Mischief, does not release until July 20. The deadline to enter here is midnight EST, next Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Do so by commenting below.)

Second Half of Chapter One

Grandison glanced about him as he stepped down from his carriage in the early afternoon sun. He could easily imagine his name being bandied about at a variety of soirées this evening if anyone of importance observed him entering this unassuming town house on Milk Street. Likely, many would think he had taken the woman within as his latest mistress, but, in truth, he chose his mistresses based on their circumspection equally as well as their ability to please him. That was a lesson he had learned at the hands of Lady Jenest. The notoriety associated with the woman within would not meet his exacting standards for his mistresses to be removed from the public’s eye. 

The house before him was unremarkable, as likely was its mistress, he told himself. Liverpool had sent his message saying the Prime Minister had secured the services of none other than the daughter of Brook’s Crook. 

“If the most notorious thief operating in England is on his way to a penal colony, we must satisfy ourselves with the likes of Thomas Everley’s daughter and pray the lady is as skilled in her father’s trade as Lord Hampton assures me she is. If nothing less, Miss Everley possesses connections we do not have.” 

“A woman,” Grand uttered the words as if they were a curse. “What connections to Lord Hampton does she possess?” The idea bothered him more than he would like, for he knew Hampton to be quite elderly. Surely the woman within was not Lord Hampton’s mistress. “What does that say of me if she is?” he argued aloud, as he approached the door. “You do not want her for your own. Lord, you have not even laid eyes upon her! And the idea that a woman might ‘assist’ me is ridiculous! What might she know, other than how best to steal a necklace, not how to return it!” He shook his head in disbelief. “She is no more than a plague upon my patience. I have no doubt that is exactly how she will prove to be.” With a sigh of resignation, he released the knocker on the door and waited. 

And waited. 

And waited. 

He was just about to pound on the door with his fist, when it swung open, and, like it or not, for the briefest of seconds, Grandison forgot to breathe. Before him stood the most handsome woman he had ever beheld. Tall, certainly taller than most, yet, still significantly shorter than he. Slender, though womanly curves were quite evident. Hair the color of burnt gold, worn in a heavy braid at the nape of her neck. Pale green eyes. 

A small frown lifted her brows and brought him from his stupor. His own frown formed when he realized she wore a simple dress of forest green. “Not the daughter, but rather a servant,” his mind announced. He never consorted with servant girls, no matter how fair of face they might be. 

He extended his hand, presenting the girl with his card. “Lord Harlow to speak to Miss Everley.” 

Her brows hitched higher, and a knowing smile graced her lips. “You were expected, my lord. Please follow me.” As he stepped inside, she brushed past him, briefly touching his elbow in an innocent movement that had him inhaling the fresh scent of lemons.

She turned on her heels and led the way along the passageway to a small room at the back of the house. Stepping aside to permit him to enter the room first, Grand expected to find Miss Everley waiting for him, but a quick scan of the room said it was empty. Turning to face the servant, his brows drew together as he said, “Might you fetch your mistress?”

“There is no need,” she said as she walked past him, only slightly bumping him as she came to stand before a comfortable-looking wing chair. “For I am she.” She gestured to a seat nearby. “Please be seated, my lord.”

Grand hesitated, and the lady lifted her eyes in a challenge, daring him to walk away. As he had never been the type to know fear when it presented itself to him, he flipped the tails of his afternoon coat from his way and sat, before placing his hat and gloves on a low table to the side. 

Immediately, the lady rang a tinkling bell resting on a side table. “I asked for water to be heated in preparation for tea,” she shared. “Although, if you prefer, I also have port and brandy available on the table near the window. I am told both are particularly fine.” 

“Tea is more than adequate, ma’am,” he said in response, before presenting her a practiced smile. “You had me at a disadvantage. I am familiar with your father’s countenance, and I expected you to favor him; otherwise, I would not have mistaken you for a servant. It is unusual for the mistress of the house to answer her own door.” 

She permitted herself the faintest hint of a smile, but Grand suspected the lady meant to mock him before she pronounced her response. “It is not as if many dare to call upon the daughter of Brook’s Crook. They fear to be tainted by the connection. Moreover, like you, I possessed two parents. After all, you did not think you were to meet with a queen bee or an ant or a lizard, did you? You could not have thought my father capable of ‘selfing.’ I assumed you to be more intelligent than that, especially as you are employed by Lord Liverpool in the government.”

Grand forced the reprimand rushing to his lips to remain silent, for, he supposed he deserved a bit of a set-down: He had offended her, and, so, she meant to return the offense. Even though he was unaccustomed to those below his standing in society speaking to him with anything but the highest deference, he knew a bit of approval for the lady before him. Few above his rank dared to cross him, but she had. 

“You appear to be very well-educated, Miss Everley,” he said through tight lips. 

“I am, my lord. My father believed a woman had the right to study science and languages and . . .” She paused for emphasis. “And, naturally, art and music.” 

“Naturally,” he said grudgingly. 

“One might say, in many ways I am more educated than many gentlemen sitting in the Lords and Commons,” she challenged a second time. 

Although Grandison enjoyed her deceivingly delicate features and admired the sheer force of will she displayed, he would prefer not to be tested by a mere miss. Unfortunately, for him, even through his annoyance, a visceral tug of attraction had him wondering if Miss Everley found him even half as attractive as he did her. Heat crackled between them, and it had nothing to do with her obstinacy. Ice versus fire, he thought. Despite himself, Grand smiled. “I would expect nothing less of Thomas Everley’s daughter, Miss Everley. From what I know of him, your father holds a variety of interests. That being said, if you do not mind, might we discuss the business that brings us together. Time is of the essence.” 

Before the lady could respond, a maid rolled in a tea cart. “Should I serve, miss?”

“Thank you, Caro. I shall pour. Please leave the door set ajar upon your exit.” 

“Yes, miss.” 

With the maid’s exit, the lady took up the strainer and the hot water. “Milk? Sugar, my lord?”

He waved off the offer and rose to accept the cup of tea from her. As their fingers brushed against each other, a frisson of heat crept up Grand’s arm. It was all he could do not to shake off the feeling and, therefore, spill the tea. 

He waited for her to pour her tea before he continued. “I am assuming Lord Liverpool has apprised you of the nature of my business.” 

“In truth, he did not. His lordship contacted a ‘friend,’ who arranged for our meeting,” she corrected. 

Grandison suddenly desired to know the nature of her friendship—whether the “friend” was another female, or a male—someone she held in affection. Naturally, he assumed from Liverpool’s orders that the friend was Lord Hampton, but he could not be certain. If so, perhaps, Lord Hampton had contacted her directly. The idea displeased him. He knew no man of his circle of society who would align himself with such a scandalous family as was hers, but a man could easily ignore her connections if he were of a lower class. Most assuredly, her “friend” could be the man to whom she showed her patronage, but the idea she could be some man’s mistress went against Grandison’s sense of rightness; therefore, he ignored the possibility that another might enjoy her body when he could not. 

“Would you speak of why you wished to take my acquaintance?” she asked after sipping her tea, and Grand belatedly realized he had not responded to her remark about her “friend.” 

He stalled a bit longer, also sipping his tea while deciding how much to share with her. At length, he said, “A sapphire necklace of great importance and value has gone missing. I was asked to examine the ‘usual suspects,’ so to speak, but there is no word of the necklace or a theft circulating through those quarters of London.” 

“And Lord Liverpool believes I have knowledge of this necklace because I am Thomas Everley’s daughter?” She regarded him with ill-disposed stillness. 

“If his lordship thought you involved, I imagine he would have had you arrested and questioned, rather than to order me to meet with you,” he corrected. 

The faintest glint of a mocking smile edged the corners of her mouth. “Then, if my assistance is required, I must be made aware of the particulars of the necklace and of the theft itself. Who is its owner?”

“I am not permitted to say,” Grandison replied. 

She sighed heavily. “I see you do not mean to make this easy. Might you inform me of where the necklace was being kept before it went missing?”

“Again, I am not at leisure to speak of the circumstances,” Grand said evenly. 

“Then, pray tell, how am I to assist you if I know nothing of the crime?” she demanded. 

Regarding her with remarkable self-possession, he said, “I do not believe Lord Liverpool considered your personal involvement in the investigation. It is my understanding, his lordship simply requires the names and locations of those likely to be involved in what can be called a crime ‘demanding’ his personal attention. I will take the initiative to locate and question the possible suspects.” 

The lady raised a sleek eyebrow. “I assure you, my lord, you would not last five minutes in the seamy underside of London that I suspect we must travel without my assistance. Where we must go, being an arrogant earl holds no standing. If you truly wish the necklace’s return, you will convince Lord Liverpool that he requires more than a list of possible suspects. You will require my personal assistance.” 

Annoyance came to rest fully on Grand’s shoulders. “If such is so, I suppose I will be required to detain you until you change your mind and cooperate with the investigation, Miss Everley.” 

Instead of responding to his threat, the lady asked, “Might I borrow your handkerchief, sir?”

Grandison frowned in confusion. “My handkerchief?”

She presented him a cursory glance. “Never mind,” she said with a too sweet smile. “I already possess it.” She pulled a handkerchief bearing his family crest in its corner from a pocket in her dress. “Along with your monogramed button cover.” She placed both on the low table beside the tea service. “And a note which either contains my directions or that of another.” A folded-over card followed the other items. “My education, as you observe, contained more than numbers and letters and history and science,” she explained. 

A simmering vexation arrived. Grand did not enjoy being made to appear the fool, but he knew Liverpool would expect him to place that emotion aside in order to return the queen’s necklace to the Prince Regent. “You have earned my attention, Miss Everley,” he grounded out through tight lips. 

“It is not your attention I require, your lordship, but rather your cooperation.” 

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The Importance of Brothers in Jane Austen’s Novels

In James Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women (1766), Fordyce says, “The world, I know not how, overlooks in our sex a thousand irregularities, which it never forgives in yours; so that the honour and peace of a family are, in this view, much more dependant on the conduct of daughters than of sons; and one young lady going astray shall subject her relations to such discredit and distress, as the united good conduct of all her brothers and sisters, supposing them numerous, shall scarce ever be able to repair.” 

In 1806, Jane West in her Letters to a Young Lady says, “A girl is, unquestionably, a more tender care than a boy; every error is more glaring, and comes more feelingly to our hearts and bosoms. A false step is here irretrievable.” 

But what of a brother’s duty to the family? Austen’s stories are peppered with a variety of ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly’ when it comes to brothers. Occasionally, she provides us insights into her opinion of brothers, of which she had six: James, George, Edward, Henry Thomas, Francis William (Frank) and Charles John. More often, they are a plot device to move the main story line forward.

There is brotherly competition, such as we find in Sense and Sensibility between Colonel Brandon and his brother, and, naturally, we have the Dashwood ladies’ opinion of their brother, as well as the Ferrars brothers. “For their brother’s sake too, for the sake of his own heart she rejoiced; and she reproached herself for being unjust to his merit before, in believing him incapable of generosity. His attentive behaviour to herself and his sisters convinced her that their welfare was dear to him, and, for a long time, she firmly relied on the liberality of his intentions.”

And what of the brother’s opinion of his half sisters: “One other short call in Harley Street, in which Elinor received her brother’s congratulations on their travelling so far towards Barton without any expense, and on Colonel Brandon’s being to follow them to Cleveland in a day or two, completed the intercourse of the brother and sisters in town;–and a faint invitation from Fanny, to come to Norland whenever it should happen to be in their way, which of all things was the most unlikely to occur, with a more warm, though less public, assurance, from John to Elinor, of the promptitude with which he should come to see her at Delaford, was all that foretold any meeting in the country.”

In chapter 31, we learn of the deceit Colonel Brandon’s brother: ““If I am not deceived by the uncertainty, the partiality of tender recollection, there is a very strong resemblance between them, as well in mind as person. The same warmth of heart, the same eagerness of fancy and spirits. This lady was one of my nearest relations, an orphan from her infancy, and under the guardianship of my father. Our ages were nearly the same, and from our earliest years we were playfellows and friends. I cannot remember the time when I did not love Eliza; and my affection for her, as we grew up, was such, as perhaps, judging from my present forlorn and cheerless gravity, you might think me incapable of having ever felt. Hers, for me, was, I believe, fervent as the attachment of your sister to Mr. Willoughby and it was, though from a different cause, no less unfortunate. At seventeen she was lost to me for ever. She was married—married against her inclination to my brother. Her fortune was large, and our family estate much encumbered. And this, I fear, is all that can be said for the conduct of one, who was at once her uncle and guardian. My brother did not deserve her; he did not even love her. I had hoped that her regard for me would support her under any difficulty, and for some time it did; but at last the misery of her situation, for she experienced great unkindness, overcame all her resolution, and though she had promised me that nothing—but how blindly I relate! I have never told you how this was brought on. We were within a few hours of eloping together for Scotland. The treachery, or the folly, of my cousin’s maid betrayed us. I was banished to the house of a relation far distant, and she was allowed no liberty, no society, no amusement, till my father’s point was gained. I had depended on her fortitude too far, and the blow was a severe one—but had her marriage been happy, so young as I then was, a few months must have reconciled me to it, or at least I should not have now to lament it. This however was not the case. My brother had no regard for her; his pleasures were not what they ought to have been, and from the first he treated her unkindly. The consequence of this, upon a mind so young, so lively, so inexperienced as Mrs. Brandon’s, was but too natural. She resigned herself at first to all the misery of her situation; and happy had it been if she had not lived to overcome those regrets which the remembrance of me occasioned. But can we wonder that, with such a husband to provoke inconstancy, and without a friend to advise or restrain her (for my father lived only a few months after their marriage, and I was with my regiment in the East Indies) she should fall? Had I remained in England, perhaps—but I meant to promote the happiness of both by removing from her for years, and for that purpose had procured my exchange. The shock which her marriage had given me,” he continued, in a voice of great agitation, “was of trifling weight—was nothing to what I felt when I heard, about two years afterwards, of her divorce. It was that which threw this gloom,—even now the recollection of what I suffered—”

Of course, there’s the betrayal of Robert Ferrars that sets up the happy ending for Elinor and Edward. “Lucy’s marriage, the unceasing and reasonable wonder among them all, formed of course one of the earliest discussions of the lovers;—and Elinor’s particular knowledge of each party made it appear to her in every view, as one of the most extraordinary and unaccountable circumstances she had ever heard. How they could be thrown together, and by what attraction Robert could be drawn on to marry a girl, of whose beauty she had herself heard him speak without any admiration,—a girl too already engaged to his brother, and on whose account that brother had been thrown off by his family—it was beyond her comprehension to make out. To her own heart it was a delightful affair, to her imagination it was even a ridiculous one, but to her reason, her judgment, it was completely a puzzle.

Edward could only attempt an explanation by supposing, that, perhaps, at first accidentally meeting, the vanity of the one had been so worked on by the flattery of the other, as to lead by degrees to all the rest. Elinor remembered what Robert had told her in Harley Street, of his opinion of what his own mediation in his brother’s affairs might have done, if applied to in time. She repeated it to Edward.

That was exactly like Robert,” was his immediate observation. “And that,” he presently added, “might perhaps be in his head when the acquaintance between them first began. And Lucy perhaps at first might think only of procuring his good offices in my favour. Other designs might afterward arise.”

In Northanger Abbey, Austen introduces us to the Tilney brothers, Catherine’s brother, James, as well as, Isabella and John Thorpe, who prove quite the pair of scoundrels. 

Isabella addresses Catherine: “My sweetest Catherine, how have you been this long age? But I need not ask you, for you look delightfully.  You really have done your hair in a more heavenly style than ever; you mischievous creature, do you want to attract everybody? I assure you, my brother is quite in love with you already; and as for Mr. Tilney–but that is a settled thing–even your modesty cannot doubt his attachment now; his coming back to Bath makes it too plain.” 

Catherine’s first impression of Captain Tilney: “Having heard the day before in Milsom Street that their elder brother, Captain Tilney, was expected
almost every hour, she was at no loss for the name of a very fashionable-looking, handsome young man, whom she had never seen before, and who now evidently belonged to their party.  She looked at him with great admiration, and even supposed it possible that some people might thin khim handsomer than his brother, though, in her eyes, his air was more assuming, and his countenance less prepossessing.  His taste and manners were beyond a doubt decidedly inferior; for, within her hearing, he not only protested against every thought of dancing himself, but even laughed openly at Henry for finding it possible. From the latter circumstance it may be presumed that, whatever might be our heroine’s opinion of him, his admiration of her was not of a very dangerous kind; not likely to produce animosities between the brothers, nor persecutions to the lady.  He cannot be the instigator of the three villains in horsemen’s greatcoats, by whom she will hereafter be forced into a traveling-chaise and four, which will drive off with incredible speed. Catherine, meanwhile, undisturbed by presentiments of such an evil, or of any evil at all, except that of having but a short set to dance down, enjoyed her usual happiness with Henry Tilney, listening with sparkling eyes to everything he said; and, in finding him irresistible, becoming so herself.”

After Eleanor Tilney manages to marry the man she loved, we learn how the pair assist Henry in winning Catherine’s hand: “The influence of the viscount and viscountess in their brother’s behalf was assisted by that right understanding of Mr. Morland’s circumstances which, as soon as the general would allow himself to be informed, they were qualified to give.  It taught him that he had been scarcely more misled by Thorpe’s first boast of the family wealth than by his subsequent malicious overthrow of it; that in no sense of the word were they necessitous or poor, and that Catherine would have three thousand pounds. This was so material an amendment of his late expectations that it greatly contributed to smooth the descent of his pride; and by no means without its effect was the private intelligence, which he was at some pains to procure, that the Fullerton estate, being entirely at the disposal of its present proprietor, was consequently open to every greedy speculation.”

In Mansfield Park, the brotherly love varies greatly. We have Fanny Price and her brother William, along with Mary and Henry Crawford, and, then, of course, the Bertrams: Tom, Maria, Julia, and Edmund. If interested, you might find this article from Marcia McClintock Folsom on the choices of the brothers and sisters in Mansfield Park, quite enlightening. 

When Edmund asks Fanny of her first impression of Miss Crawford, he is surprised by Fanny’s candor: “Oh yes! she ought not to have spoken of her uncle as she did. I was quite astonished. An uncle with whom she has been living so many years, and who, whatever his faults may be, is so very fond of her brother, treating him, they say, quite like a son. I could not have believed it!”

Mary welcomes her brother’s choice of whom to marry: “The surprise was now complete; for, in spite of whatever his consciousness might suggest, a suspicion of his having any such views had never entered his sister’s imagination; and she looked so truly the astonishment she felt, that he was obliged to repeat what he had said, and more fully and more solemnly. The conviction of his determination once admitted, it was not unwelcome. There was even pleasure with the surprise. Mary was in a state of mind to rejoice in a connexion with the Bertram family, and to be not displeased with her brother’s marrying a little beneath him.”

Mary Crawford declares: “What strange creatures brothers are!”

After Maria and Crawford’s elopement, the family is at sixes and sevens” “She was an altered creature, quieted, stupefied, indifferent to everything that passed. The being left with her sister and nephew, and all the house under her care, had been an advantage entirely thrown away; she had been unable to direct or dictate, or even fancy herself useful. When really touched by affliction, her active powers had been all benumbed; and neither Lady Bertram nor Tom had received from her the smallest support or attempt at support. She had done no more for them than they had done for each other. They had been all solitary, helpless, and forlorn alike; and now the arrival of the others only established her superiority in wretchedness. Her companions were relieved, but there was no good for _her_. Edmund was almost as welcome to his brother as Fanny to her aunt; but Mrs. Norris, instead of having comfort from either, was but the more irritated by the sight of the person whom, in the blindness of her anger, she could have charged as the daemon of the piece. Had Fanny accepted Mr. Crawford this could not have happened.”

In Persuasion, Captain Wentworth’s brother is a curate and his sister is Admiral Croft’s wife, Mrs. Musgrove’s nephew, Charles Hayter, is also a curate and is engaged to Henrietta Musgrove. Mrs. Musgrove is the sister of Charles’s mother, but as they often did in Austen’s time, Mrs. Musgrove refers to her brother-in-law as her brother Hayter. The Musgroves have their son Charles (the eldest), along with Louisa, Henrietta, and the late Richard (Dick) Musgrove. Meanwhile, Captain Harville is Fanny’s brother, such is the reason Captain Benwick resides with the Harvilles.

Mrs. Musgrove speaks of the engagement of Henrietta and Charles: “Mrs Musgrove was giving Mrs Croft the history of her eldest daughter’s engagement, and just in that inconvenient tone of voice which was perfectly audible while it pretended to be a whisper. Anne felt that she did not belong to the conversation, and yet, as Captain Harville seemed thoughtful and not disposed to talk, she could not avoid hearing many undesirable particulars; such as,
“how Mr Musgrove and my brother Hayter had met again and again to talk it over; what my brother Hayter had said one day, and what Mr Musgrove had proposed the next, and what had occurred to my sister Hayter, and what the young people had wished, and what I said at first I never could consent to, but was afterwards persuaded to think might do very well,” and a great deal in the same style of open-hearted communication:  minutiae which, even with every advantage of taste and delicacy, which good Mrs Musgrove could not give, could be properly interesting only to the principals.” 

Wentworth postpones his visit to his brother Edward in Shropshire once he has the chance to permit Anne Elliot to know regret as having refused him eight years earlier:  “Captain Wentworth was come to Kellynch as to a home, to stay as long as he liked, being as thoroughly the object of the Admiral’s fraternal kindness as of his wife’s.  He had intended, on first arriving, to proceed very soon into Shropshire, and visit the brother settled in that country, but the attractions of Uppercross induced him to put this off. There was so much of friendliness, and of flattery, and of everything most bewitching in his reception there; the old were so hospitable, the young so agreeable, that he could not but resolve to remain where he was, and take all the charms and perfections of Edward’s wife upon credit a little longer.”

Mrs. Musgrove asks her son Charles to speak to Wentworth to learn what the captain knew of Richard Musgrove’s passing. 

“And so then, I suppose,” said Mrs Musgrove, in a low voice, as if thinking aloud, “so then he went away to the Laconia, and there he met with our poor boy. Charles, my dear,” (beckoning him to her), “do ask Captain Wentworth where it was he first met with your poor brother. I always forgot.”

“It was at Gibraltar, mother, I know.  Dick had been left ill at Gibraltar, with a recommendation from his former captain to Captain Wentworth.”

“Oh! but, Charles, tell Captain Wentworth, he need not be afraid of mentioning poor Dick before me, for it would be rather a pleasure to hear him talked of by such a good friend.”

In Emma, we find several convoluted relationships to push the story forward, such as how Emma’s beloved governess Miss Taylor has now married Mr. Weston, who is the father of Frank Churchill from his first marriage. Frank is being raised by the late Mrs. Weston’s sister and brother-in-law. The only brothers mentioned that are of major importance to the plot are George and John Knightley. John just happens to be married to Emma’s older sister, Isabella. George is our “hero” in the tale.

After Emma and George have argued, in Chapter 12, she looks for a reconciliation when his brother and her sister are expected to come for a visit: “Mr. Knightley was to dine with them–rather against the inclination of Mr. Woodhouse, who did not like that any one should share with him in Isabella’s first day. Emma’s sense of right however had decided it; and besides the consideration of what was due to each brother, she had particular pleasure, from the circumstance of the late disagreement between Mr. Knightley and herself, in procuring him the proper invitation.”

Emma does not approve of anyone spending too much time with Jane Fairfax, including her brother-in-law: “The day came, the party were punctually assembled, and Mr. John Knightley seemed early to devote himself to the business of being agreeable. Instead of drawing his brother off to a window while they waited for dinner, he was talking to Miss Fairfax. Mrs. Elton, as elegant as lace and pearls could make her, he looked at in silence– wanting only to observe enough for Isabella’s information–but Miss Fairfax was an old acquaintance and a quiet girl, and he could talk to her. He had met her before breakfast as he was returning from a walk with his little boys, when it had been just beginning to rain. It was natural to have some civil hopes on the subject, and he said, ‘I hope you did not venture far, Miss Fairfax, this morning, or I am sure you must have been wet.–We scarcely got home in time. I hope you turned directly.'”

Emma belated realizes the brothers Knightley understood Mr. Elton’s intentions, when she did not: “To Mr. John Knightley was she indebted for her first idea on the subject, for the first start of its possibility. There was no denying that those brothers had penetration. She remembered what Mr. Knightley had once said to her about Mr. Elton, the caution he had given, the conviction he had professed that Mr. Elton would never marry indiscreetly; and blushed to think how much truer a knowledge of his character had been there shewn than any she had reached herself. It was dreadfully mortifying; but Mr. Elton was proving himself, in many respects, the very reverse of what she had meant and believed him; proud, assuming, conceited; very full of his own claims, and little concerned about the feelings of others.”

As to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, we discover the Fitzwilliam brothers, the charming Colonel Fitzwilliam and his elder unnamed brother, the heir to the earldom. There is also the pseudo “brotherly” connection between Darcy and Wickham, as well as Bingley being brother to Carolina and Louisa and Darcy being brother to Georgiana, and we know that Charlotte Lucas has MANY brothers and sisters.

Jane explains Caroline Bingley’s situation to Elizabeth: “Certainly not; at first. But they are very pleasing women when you converse with them. Miss Bingley is to live with her brother and keep his house; and I am much mistaken if we shall not find a very charming neighbour in her.”

As noted previously, Mr. Bennet refers to Mr. Gardiner as his “brother,” not “brother-in-law,” as we might nowadays. “When Mr. Bennet wrote again to his brother, therefore, he sent his permission for them to come; and it was settled that, as soon as the ceremony was over, they should proceed to Longbourn. Elizabeth was surprised, however, that Wickham should consent to such a scheme; and, had she consulted only her own inclination, any meeting with him would have been the last object of her wishes.”

Caroline’s letter to Jane boasts of Mr. Bingley’s preference for Georgiana Darcy: “Caroline boasted joyfully of their increasing intimacy, and ventured to predict the accomplishment of the wishes which had been unfolded in her former letter. She wrote also with great pleasure of her brother’s being an inmate of Mr. Darcy’s house, and mentioned with raptures some plans of the latter with regard to new furniture. Elizabeth, to whom Jane very soon communicated the chief of all this, heard it in silent indignation. Her heart was divided between concern for her sister, and resentment against all the others. To Caroline’s assertion of her brother’s being partial to Miss Darcy she paid no credit.”

Mr. Darcy’s functioning as a brother is a part of his nature that Elizabeth does not initially recognize. 

Wickham subtly speaks of Darcy’s brotherly pride as being a detriment: “He has also brotherly pride, which, with some brotherly affection, makes him a very kind and careful guardian of his sister, and you will hear him generally cried up as the most attentive and best of brothers.”

“What sort of girl is Miss Darcy?”

He shook his head. “I wish I could call her amiable. It gives me pain to speak ill of a Darcy. But she is too much like her brother–very, very proud. As a child, she was affectionate and pleasing, and extremely fond of me; and I have devoted hours and hours to her amusement. But she is nothing to me now. She is a handsome girl, about fifteen or sixteen, and, I understand, highly accomplished. Since her father’s death, her home has been London, where a lady lives with her, and superintends her education.”

Although she had heard Darcy speak of Georgiana’s “affectionate hear” and had noted how often he wrote to his sister, it was at Pemberley that Elizabeth begins to think more favorably on Darcy’s role as Georgiana’s brother: “There was certainly at this moment, in Elizabeth’s mind, a more gentle sensation towards the original than she had ever felt at the height of their acquaintance. The commendation bestowed on him by Mrs. Reynolds was of no trifling nature. What praise is more valuable than the praise of an intelligent servant? As a brother, a landlord, a master, she considered how many people’s happiness were in his guardianship!–how much of pleasure or pain was it in his power to bestow!–how much of good or evil must be done by him! Every idea that had been brought forward by the housekeeper was favourable to his character, and as she stood before the canvas on which he was represented, and fixed his eyes upon herself, she thought of his regard with a deeper sentiment of gratitude than it had ever raised before; she remembered its warmth, and softened its impropriety of expression.”

Yet, Darcy also describes himself as serving another role with Georgiana: “I joined them unexpectedly a day or two before the intended elopement, and then Georgiana, unable to support the idea of grieving and offending a brother whom she almost looked up to as a father, acknowledged the whole to me.” 

And Elizabeth explains to Georgiana how a wife may speak to her husband in a manner that sisters may not speak to their brothers: “Pemberley was now Georgiana’s home; and the attachment of the sisters was exactly what Darcy had hoped to see. They were able to love each other even as well as they intended. Georgiana had the highest opinion in the world of Elizabeth; though at first she often listened with an astonishment bordering on alarm at her lively, sportive, manner of talking to her brother. He, who had always inspired in herself a respect which almost overcame her affection, she now saw the object of open pleasantry. Her mind received knowledge which had never before fallen in her way. By Elizabeth’s instructions, she began to comprehend that a woman may take liberties with her husband which a brother will not always allow in a sister more than ten years younger than himself.”

Often, in Austen we observe the absence of fraternal affection, at least, not as we think upon the concept 200 years later (Colonel Brandon and his brother, the Tilneys, the Ferrars, etc.) Austen, like many writers of the period, dwells more on the “fallen” woman (Isabella Thorpe, Lydia Bennet, Maria Bertram) than she does on the men causing the downfall, likely because she writes from the “female” point of view.

The “brothers” we deem as poor examples are the ones that do not assist their siblings, i.e., Dashwood, Tom Bertram, Henry Crawford, etc. The “bad” brothers do not prove trustworthy. For example, Catherine Morland cannot speak to James of her growing affection for Mr. Tilney. Neither does Mary Crawford confide in Henry something of her interest in Edmund. The eldest son in a family was meant to be the protector of his younger siblings, especially the females. However, Charlotte Lucas’s brothers are “relieved from their apprehension of Charlotte’s dying an old maid,” essentially meaning they are happy not to have the responsibility of her in the future. John Dashwood’s denial of his obligation to Elinor and Marianne is probably Austen’s greatest fault. “What possible claim could the Miss Dashwoods, who were related to him only by half blood . . . have on his generosity to so large an amount?”

One thing that always bothered me about the brothers in Austen’s tales, and this is including our dearest Fitzwilliam Darcy (as mentioned above), along with James Morland and Edmund Bertram, is how they neglect those they should protect for the benefit of their own. Edmund’s fascination with Mary Crawford greatly reduces his appeal as the “romantic hero.” Moreover, he offers no “brotherly advice” to either of his two sisters nor does he continue to “protect” Fanny once he becomes infatuated by Mary, going so far as to use the horse belonging to Fanny to teach Mary Crawford to ride. When, after reading Henry VIII, Fanny attention switches to Henry Crawford, Edmund retreats to a corner and reads his newspaper, rather than to become involved, “earnestly trying to bury every sound of the business from himself in murmurs of his own, over the various advertisements.” 

To please Isabella Thorpe, James Morland ignores the rough manner in which John Thorpe treats James’s sister Catherine. In fact, James encourages Catherine to choose Thorpe.

For those who wish more on the topic, I would suggest:

Exactly What a Brother Should Be by Susan Allen Ford, whom I heard at the JASNA 2009 session entitled “Jane Austen’s Brothers and Sisters in the City of Brotherly Love.” Several of the ideas in this piece, I took from my notes on that presentation.  In that year, we also had…

Brothers of the More Famous Jane by Maggie Lane

Lady Susan, Individualism and the Dysfunctional Family by William Galperin

All of these are available online with a simple Google Search for the title.

Posted in Austen Authors, book excerpts, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, publishing, reading, research, Sense & Sensibility, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Importance of Brothers in Jane Austen’s Novels

The Practice of Enclosure of Open Lands in England and Wales

51Pi8uAkU3L.jpg In England and Wales from the 12th Century forward enclosure (or inclosure) was a common practice. Before enclosure, much of the land was only used during the growing season. Once the harvest took place, the was at the disposal of the community. People grazed their livestock freely upon the land. They also found other uses for it. Enclosure occurred when someone, usually the manorial lord, put up a fence or a hedgerow to separate open land and the land the lord chose to claim. This prevented common grazing rights. 

economic-disparity-in-victorian-england-13-638.jpgThe article on enclosure on Wikipedia says, “Enclosure (sometimes inclosure) was the legal process in England of enclosing a number of small landholdings to create one larger farm. Once enclosed, use of the land became restricted to the owner, and it ceased to be common land for communal use. In England and Wales, the term is also used for the process that ended the ancient system of arable farming in open fields. Under enclosure, such land is fenced (enclosed) and deeded or entitled to one or more owners. The process of enclosure began to be a widespread feature of the English agricultural landscape during the 16th century. By the 19th century, unenclosed commons had become largely restricted to rough pasture in mountainous areas and to relatively small parts of the lowlands.

Enclosure could be accomplished by buying the ground rights and all common rights to accomplish exclusive rights of use, which increased the value of the land. The other method was by passing laws causing or forcing enclosure, such as Parliamentary enclosure involving an Inclosure Act. The latter process of enclosure was sometimes accompanied by force, resistance, and bloodshed, and remains among the most controversial areas of agricultural and economic history…. During the Georgian era, the process of enclosure created a landless working class that provided the labour required in the new industries developing in the north of England.”


The movement for enclosure spread quickly from the mid 1400s to the mid 1600s. This process increased the full-time pasturage each manorial lord claimed. Common rights had included not just the right of cattle or sheep grazing, but also the grazing of geese, foraging for pigs, gleaning, berrying, and fuel gathering. During the period of parliamentary enclosure, employment in agriculture did not fall, but failed to keep pace with the growing population.From 1750 to 1860, the idea of enclosing the open land turned from manorial concerns to that of “agricultural efficiency.” The problem was how the open fields kept the agricultural fields low. There was no incentive for a man to improve his land with fertilizer or proper drainage. Such “foolishness” would only result in those who used the open land after the harvest repeating the benefits of a more productive field without paying any of the expenses. 


Alan Taylor tells us from an article on Facebook found in the British History: Georgian Lives Group, “Enclosure of common land was a process which produced much resentment by the rural poor who often depended on this land for grazing of cattle, horses etc and collection of firewood. Enclosure began in Elizabethan times as the old medieval manors were dismantled and replaced by fenced and walled fields owned by Freeholders or Copyholders who still paid homage to the Lord of the Manor. The effect of this major change in English landscape, accelerated in the 18th and early 19th Centuries by a series of Acts of Parliament, is usually only recorded by the literate new landowners who would benefit from the changes. Thus in a letter sent by a John Parker in 1812 he refers in a matter of fact way to an enclosure in a Manor in Essex: ‘ My son Comyns took a very active part as to the enclosures of the Common, it passed off extremely well, the Copyholders..appeared very well satisfied with their Allotments’. There is no sympathy here for the poor of the Manor who would have suffered greatly!

scene1765ad_gallery_1_full.jpg “Occasionally however rebellions took place against this loss of privilege. One such example was recorded in a letter of 1796 sent by a Thomas Swinnerton of Butterton Hall near Newcastle under Lyme. The letter was addressed to the agent of the Bishop of Lichfield who was Lord of the Manor in which Thomas had his estate. In the letter Thomas complained about a rebellion that had taken place when he decided to enclose common land adjoining the ‘green lane’ which ran through his property explaining why he had done so: ‘the great object of the enclosure..was to prevent the building of a Workhouse or the converting of..the land into Gardens for the Poor’. However the ‘poor’ had rebelled and convened a Manorial Court at a local pub during which : ‘the landlord..where the Court was held was a most principal party in exciting & encouraging the Mob to destroy the inclosure & …on return of the Mob gave them ale’.. Another agent provocateur was apparently ‘a man who hires out horses which may be found..in the night in the inclosures’. Again there was no sympathy at all for the poor some of whom were destitute needing accommodation and land to grow food. They had invoked an ancient custom by convening a Manorial Court at which their grievances could be aired but understandably this had ended in violence. I do not know whether the Bishop took any action as a result of this letter but the draft reply sent by his agent seemed more sympathetic to the ‘Mob’ than to Swinnerton!!”

Other Sources:

 The British Industrial Revolution: An Economic Perspective by Joel Mokyr

Encyclopedia Brittanica 

Efficiency, Equity and Agricultural Change with Special Reference to Land Tenure in Western Europe by G. H. PETERS AND A. H. MAUNDER 

Posted in Act of Parliament, British history, England, estates, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Living in the Regency, Regency era, Wales | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gwenllian, Last Princess of Wales

Gwenllian of Wales or Gwenllian ferch Llywelyn (June 1282 – 7 June 1337) was the only child of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last native Prince of Wales (Tywysog Cymru).

Born in the Gwynedd royal home in Abergwyngregyn near Bangor, Gwynedd, Gwellian’s mother died in childbirth. Gwellian’s mother was Eleanor de Montfort, Princess of Wales and Lady of Snowdon. Eleanor was the daughter of Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester and Eleanor of England. Descended from dual royal bloodlines: Gwellian was the daughter of the Prince of Gwynedd, but her maternal great-grandfather was King John of England.

In late 1282, northern Wales was surrounded by King Edward I’s army at a place called Climery, along the Welsh border. During this military engagement, Gwenllian’s father, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, became separated from his troops and was killed. Her uncle, Dafydd ap Gruffudd, attempted to protect her, but in June 1283, Dafydd ap Gruffudd and his family was captured at Nanhyslain. Dafydd was severely injured and eventually removed to Shrewsbury, where he was executed.

Dafydd’s children and Gwenllian were confined to the priories in Lincolnshire. She spent the next 54 years (in 1337) of her life at the Gilbertine Prior at Sempringham. [See my piece on St. Gilbert from Monday for more information of the man and the priory.] As Gwenllian was the Princess of Wales, her removal and being under King Edward’s oversight assisted the English king is keeping dissenters under control. Gwenllian could, obviously, not be permitted to marry and have sons that might lay claim to the Principality of Wales. Keep in mind what I said in the first paragraph. Gwenllian was not simply the heir to Wales’s principality, her maternal grandmother was Henry III’s sister Eleanor, providing Gwenllian a distant claim to the English throne, as well.

Upon her passing, she was buried somewhere in Sempringham, but no one knows the exact site. There is a Princess Gwenllian Society, and they have erected a memorial to mark the “supposed” burial place of The Last Welsh-Born Princess of Wales.

Having been taken from her native land so young, Gwenllian is unlikely to have remembered any Welsh she may have learned as a toddler, and perhaps never knew the correct pronunciation of her own name. The priory record-keepers listed her as “Wencilian” and was herself shown to have signed her name “Wentliane”

Memorial to Princess Gwenllian at Sempringham, England. ~ CC BY 3.0
File:Gwenllian memorial Sempringham.jpg
Created: 28 August 2008 ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwenllian_of_Wales#/media/File:Gwenllian_memorial_Sempringham.jpg

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Saint Gilbert of Sempringham in Lincolnshire


As one of my new stories is set in Lincolnshire, England, I have been researching “bits of history” from the shire. Today, I bring you Saint Gilbert.

At Sempringham, a bit north of Bourne, we find the Gilbertine Order, the only purely English Monastic Order. Its founder was born in Sempringham into a wealthy family 1083. Gilbert was the son of Norman knight. However he could not follow his father’s footsteps, for it is said he was born with a deformity of some sort. Sent to France for his higher education, he decided to pursue seminary studies.

He had not yet been ordained as a priest when he returned to England. After his father’s death, he inherited several estates. His study of religion presented him a different view of the world from many around him. Therefore, instead of living “high on the hog,” so to speak, Gilbert devoted himself to a simple life, sharing as much as possible with the poor. Following his ordination to the priesthood he served as parish priest at Sempringham.

“Among the congregation of the parish were seven young women who had expressed to him their desire to live in religious life. In response, Gilbert had a house built for them adjacent to the Church. There they lived an austere life, but one which attracted ever more numbers; eventually lay sisters and lay brothers were added to work the land. The religious order formed eventually became known as the Gilbertines, though Gilbert had hoped the Cistercians or some other existing order would take on the responsibility of establishing a rule of life for the new order. The Gilbertines, the only religious order of English origin founded during the Middle Ages, continued to thrive.” (Franciscan Media)

This was a “double order,” meaning it housed both monks and nuns. There were two facilities – two cloisters, two dormitories, two dining halls, etc. – so the sexes could live separately within the monastery.

The Gilbertine order spread quickly across England. Gilbert, himself, live to age 100, and by the time of his death, more than 700 brother and 1500 sisters resided in the monastery’s eleven buildings. Gilbert was buried beneath the church’s altar, and he was canonized in 1202.

But the order came to an end when King Henry VIII suppressed all Catholic monasteries. The monastery was pulled down at the Dissolution of Monasteries. Only the Norman church of St Andrew’s remains. This was the church to which the monastery was attached.

Seal of the master of Sempringham ~ Public Domain

Other Sources:

Catholic Encyclopedia

Franciscan Media

Saint Gilbert of Sempringham

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