The “Skinny” on Abdicating a Title During the Regency Era

Many times in Regency-based novels we have the situation where for one reason or another, the hero refused the title he has inherited and “abdicates” his new peerage. The question is whether this is a viable plot line. 

The answer is a bit more complicated that we might expect. Let us say we have an earl who wishes to abdicate his title. He would have the option of refusing the title, the properties, and the money, but he would still technically be the earl until he dies and another secedes him. To have the full title and the honors accompanying it, the man would need to be confirmed before Parliament. [In my recent release, “Courting Lord Whitmire,” part of the Regency Summer Escape anthology, there is a lengthy scene where Lord Andrew Whitmire appears before Parliament to claim the viscountcy after his father’s death.] Parliament demands that the person making the claim to the title present evidence of his right to it. If the man wishes to be styled as an earl, he must claim the title. He does not need to send in the Writ of Summons to the House of Lords, and he can refuse to use the title, but someone must care for the property, and no one else can have the title while he is alive.

If he wished to claim the privileges of the peerage, which included: Peers had some special privileges. The main one was the right to sit in the House of Lords, unless they were Roman Catholic, a minor, a female or a lunatic. They could not be arrested for debts. They had to advance the peerage as an affirmative defense. They did not have to sit on juries.  (This made sense as the House of Lords was in effect the supreme court and the last court of appeal). If arrested for a crime, they were allowed to be tried by the House of Peers. Their wives also claimed these privileges, except for sitting in the House of Lords. It was against the law to libel or slander a peer or to strike him. It was not until 1963 that anyone could walk away from a title.

When the Frederick Berkeley, 5th Earl of Berkley died, his oldest son applied for a Writ of Summons to the House of Lords. Berkeley and Mary Cole (who also passed under the name of Tudor), the daughter of a local publican and butcher, had seven sons and five daughters, but the disputed date of their marriage prevented their elder sons from succeeding as Earl of Berkeley and Baron Berkeley. The pair asserted their marriage had taken place on 30 March 1785, but the earliest ceremony of which there is incontrovertible proof was a wedding in Lambeth Church, Surrey, on 16 May 1796, at which date Mary was pregnant with their seventh child. Berkeley settled Berkeley Castle upon their eldest son, William FitzHardinge Berkeley, but William’s attempt to assume his father’s honours were disallowed by the House of Lords, who considered him illegitimate.

Therefore, the Committee on Privilege turned down the eldest’s request, saying he and the other brothers born before 1795 were illegitimate, and the earldom had fallen to the 16-year-old born in 1796. Berkeley’s titles devolved as a matter of law upon his fifth but first legitimate son, Thomas Morton Fitzhardinge Berkeley (1796–1882), but were never used by him and he did not take his seat in the House of Lords. Per his father’s will, he would have lost his small inheritance had he disputed his eldest brother’s claim to the titles. The boy was too young, for he had not reached his majority, to do anything about the matter, and his oldest brother and mother ran things. When he came of age, he still never put forth a claim to the earldom. However, he was, by right and law, the earl, so anything requiring the signature of the earl had to be signed by him. He signed responsibility over to his oldest brother, but the title itself went dormant until he died. 

Somewhere around 1945, men succeeding to a peerage were allowed to disclaim it. The title went dormant during the man’s life time. No one else could assume it. This was done mainly by men who had political power in the House of Commons and did not want to relinquish it. The current Duke of  Marlborough cannot pass over his heir for a more somber, younger son. The heir can not be disinherited. If there is a living person who is next in line, the succession cannot be changed. Earlier the  descent of the dukedom was changed because the Duke had no living son, and there was a slight chance of his having one. The succession was changed to allow his daughters to assume the title and then their sons. This was during the duke’s life time and was an exception to a general rule.  A man who is living and the lawful successor cannot have it taken from him except by being convicted of a crime. During the Regency, there was no way to disclaim a peerage except by not using it and not sending in a request for a seat in the House of  Lords. Once a man was seated in the House of Lords  under a title, the HOL would not take it back. Neither was he able to disclaim it.

For additional information, visit Nancy Mayer Regency Researcher’s site for Succession When a Peer Dies and Introduction of a New Peer: Fees for Promotion and Introduction of a New Peer to the House of Lords

For a good summary of what constitutes a “hereditary peer,” visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hereditary_peer

A man could be stripped of his title by the Crown if he committed treason, but not only would be tried and executed for his action, but his family would also be held “guilty.” The University of Michigan‘s website refers to Blackstone’s summary of the laws: 

“Since High Treason was, and arguably remains, the most serious capital crime, testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act was required to convict, and the punishment in the Eighteenth century was severe. Blackstone states that ‘the punishment of high treason in general is very solemn and terrible’:

  1. That the offender be drawn to the gallows, and not carried or walk: though usually (by connivance length ripened by humanity into law) a sledge or hurdle is allowed, to preserve the offender from the extreme torment of being dragged on the ground or pavement 
  2. That he be hanged by the neck and then cut down alive
  3. That his entrails be taken out and burned, while he is yet alive
  4. That his head be cut off 
  5. That his body be divided in four parts 
  6. That his head and quarters be at the King’s disposal. [Blackstone, Wm., Knight. Chase, George, ed. Chase’s Blackstone Commentaries on the Laws of England in Four Books. New York: Baker, Voorhis & Co., 1936. p889.]

“The punishment did not end with the personal suffering of the offender: the punishment extended to his or her family. The law states that a person who is found guilty of treason must also undergo “forfeiture” and “corruption of blood.” In forfeiture, the person is force to give all their lands and property to the Crown. Corruption of blood prevents the person’s immediate family and hereditary heirs from owning property or conducting business—in effect ruining the offender’s family forever.”

On the other hand, if the peer committed suicide, nothing happened to the title. The son inherited as usual. It would be a rare man of that time who did not want a title just because his father had disgraced it. He was not required to claim it, but he could not sit in the House of Lords if he did not. He could change his name either by sign manual, deed poll, or just by doing it. However, those are extreme measures, and he would be compounding the failure of his father by not attending to the estate, the workers, the servants and all the others who depend on the family in one way or another. [I use all this legal rigamarole in my upcoming book, The Heartless Earl, being released by Black Opal Books on October 16. The earl is accused of a crime that puts not only his life, but the earldom, in jeopardy.]

Obviously, we have had royalty abdicate in recent times. Edward VIII became king on his father’s (George V) death in early 1936. However, he showed impatience with court protocol, and caused concern among politicians by his apparent disregard for established constitutional conventions. Only months into his reign, he caused a constitutional crisis by proposing to Wallis Simpson, an American who had divorced her first husband and was seeking a divorce from her second. The prime ministers of the United Kingdom and the Dominions opposed the marriage, arguing a divorced woman with two living ex-husbands was politically and socially unacceptable as a prospective queen consort. Additionally, such a marriage would have conflicted with Edward’s status as the titular head of the Church of England, which, at the time, disapproved of remarriage after divorce if a former spouse was still alive. Edward knew the British government, led by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, would resign if the marriage went ahead, which could have forced a general election and would ruin his status as a politically neutral constitutional monarch. When it became apparent he could not marry Wallis and remain on the throne, Edward abdicated. He was succeeded by his younger brother, George VI.

After his abdication, he was created Duke of Windsor. Edward married Wallis in France on 3 June 1937, after her second divorce became final. Later that year, the couple toured Germany. During the Second World War, he was at first stationed with the British Military Mission to France, but after private accusations that he held Nazi sympathies, he was appointed Governor of the Bahamas. After the war, Edward spent the rest of his life in retirement in France. Edward and Wallis remained married until his death in 1972. [Edward VIII]

One final question that has likely occurred to some of you reading this: Is it possible for all lands to be lost save to pay debts? Or did lands always have to remain with the title?

It really depends on how the lands were acquired and what deeds, settlements, or entails control their disposition. While all of a man’s property could be sold to cover debts, entailed properties and hereditaments [In law, a hereditament (from Latin hereditare, to inherit, from heres, heir) is any kind of property that can be inherited.] and such came under a special provision. Now, there were special rules pertaining to peers and debts. Land did not always go with the title though the family seat was usually tied to it. Titles and property could go in different directions and often did.

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Posted in Black Opal Books, British history, Church of England, customs and tradiitons, estates, family, Georgian England, Georgian Era, history, Inheritance, kings and queens, legacy, peerage, real life tales, Regency era, research, titles of aristocracy, tradtions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“King of the Road” or the Cost of Traveling in the Regency Era

In nearly every historical book set in the Regency, we find characters traveling by coach from one destination to the next. The question is: How expensive was it to do so? 

The Hyde Park Gate in London, erected by the Kensington Turnpike Trust. This was the first toll point encountered along the Bath Road, upon leaving London. ~ Public Domain ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Turnpike_trusts#/media/
File:Hyde_park_turnpike_toll_
gate.jpg

First, the major roads during the Regency were TOLL ROADS. Readers should keep in mind that the person hiring or owning the carriage paid the toll. Many aristocrats trusted a footman with the task of actually paying the toll keeper, but it was the responsibility of the person letting or owning the carriage to see that the fee was paid. Turnpikes had been established with toll gates and tolls set by local parishes, who were responsible for maintenance of their stretch of road. Rates were variable, as were the distances between toll gates–could be anything from 10 miles apart to 30 miles apart. [I live in North Carolina. Our tolls are often determined my the number of cars using those lanes.]

Jane Austen’s World provides us this description of A View of London: Tottenham Court Road, 1812. “Inquiring readers, I had read about the closeness of rural areas near London during Jane Austen’s day. This image of Tottenham Court Road from the 1812 edition of Ackermann’s Repository shows the countryside beyond the toll gate. One imagines that Jane Austen was accustomed to such vistas when she visited her brother Henry in London. One moment she would be traveling through the countryside, the next moment she would be entering a teeming metropolis (Click here to see map):

“In the first years of the eighteenth century, pastures and open meadows began by Bloomsbury Square and Queens Square; the buildings of Lincoln’s Inn, Leicester Square and Covent Garden were surrounded by fields, while acres of pasture and meadow still survived in the northern and eastern suburbs outside the walls. Wigmore Row and Henrietta Street led directly into fields, while Brick Lane stopped abruptly in meadows.“World’s End” beside Stepney Green was a thoroughly rural spot, while Hyde Park was essentially part of the open countryside pressing upon the western areas of the city. Camden Town was well-known for its “rural lanes, hedgeside roads and lovely fields”where Londoners sought “quietude and fresh air.” – Extract from “LONDON The Biography”, by Peter Ackroyd. Published by Vintage, 2001.

Or, perhaps, you might find an earlier piece of mine entitled, The Beginning of the Turnpike Roads in Georgian England, helpful.  

Next, we must consider how much time was involved in the journey. I often research the distance from point A to B in current miles, and then I make appropriate adjustments for time of year of the story, proximity to the London Road or other major roads, etc., before I add the travel to the story. More than once, I have had to make major adjustments to my “time” profile of the story before I could finish writing it. Time for the journey depends on several things: weather (time of year), how much money do the characters have available (more money means more ability to hire horses, and the character can hire a team instead of a pair), and quality of the horses and carriage.

The stage and mail coaches generally took 2 days or about 20 to 30 hours of travel, depending on the coach and specific route taken. There were a couple of route options on the Great North Road. For a post chaise, the cost was about 1s 6d a mile for a pair of horses, and double that for four. So it was not really an economical method of travel. Tickets on the stage or the mail coach were cheaper, but travel was slower. (It is claimed that the highwayman Dick Turpin rode from London to York in less than 15 hours on his mare Black Bess. No idea if such was actually true, but a horseman can get over bad ground far easier and faster than wheels.) A trick I learned from another writer was to use Google Maps and set up one’s search for “traveling by bicycle” to estimate traveling by carriage during the Regency era. 

Snow and mud slows everything down. An author does not even need to write in a broken axle, just bad weather. Even rain that takes out bridges or flooded rivers that must be forded will put a stop to travel.

In estimating the speed of the travel, one must consider a number of factors. As mentioned above, the journey would be much slower in mud because horses can pull a tendon or a shoe in mucky ground. One must figure the average speed of a walk = 4 mph, trot – 4-12 mph, and that was the safest gait at which to travel. It is symmetric, meaning the horse is less likely to slip. We see movie images of stage coaches with horses cantering and galloping, but the post chaises–the fastest conveyances in Regency England–only averaged 11 mph, and that was in summer, when the roads were best. A galloping horse can do 35 mph, but not for long, especially not when hauling a load. 

An excellent source to consult is Following the Great North Road Then and Now: A Guide for the Modern Traveller, by Louise Allen. “From the Romans to the present day the Great North Road has carried travellers between London and Edinburgh. Roman emperors, Samuel Pepys, Dick Turpin and Jane Austen are only a few of famous and infamous travellers who passed along this iconic route. Despite bypasses, dual carriageways and concrete, the old road remains to be explored, and this guide is for any curious traveller who wants to break the monotony of a long drive by discovering the picturesque towns and curious byways on this route through British history. With it you can travel in the wheel tracks of coach passengers in the early 19th century, before the railway and the motorcar changed travel for ever.” The book describes the old road as it would have been in the coaching days, shows where the modern road diverges from it, lists a number of the inns along the way, and some description of the scenery as it would have been and various landmarks along the way.

A private light weight vehicle could go about 7 to 8 miles an hour for short distances on decent roads. “16 mile an hour tits” meant carriage horses could do 16 miles an hour. This would be a good, fit, well fed team. The trick was it was impossible to sustain this pace for miles and miles and miles. If one was going for speed, he would change horses every 10 miles, which is about once an hour.

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy tells Elizabeth Bennet that fifty miles of good road was “little more than half a day’s journey.”  And the roads were so good to Brighton that they were often used for setting speed records.

Much of the above information can be found at https://shannondonnelly.com/2009/06/14/horse-sense/

Poster advertising the letting of tolls, 1826.
Unknown – National Library of Wales ~ Public Domain ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turnpike_trusts#/media/
File:To_Be_Let_The_Tolls_Cribbin,_
Llanfihangel_and_
Pencader_Gates_1826.jpg

As to costs at an inn, those also varied, depending on the type of inn (is it a high class one or not) and services required. The American Joseph Ballard wrote in 1815: “Besides the fare in the coach you have to pay the coachman one shilling per stage of about thirty miles, and the same to the guard whose business it is to take care of the luggage, &c. &c. You must pay also, at the inns, the chambermaid sixpence a night, the “boots” (the person who cleans them) two pence a day, and the head waiter one shilling a day. The porter who takes your portmanteau up stairs moves his hat with ‘pray remember the porter, Sir.’  In fact, it is necessary in travelling through England to have your pocket well lined with pounds, shillings and sixpences, otherwise you never can satisfy the innumerable demands made upon a traveller by landlord, waiters, chambermaids, and coachmen, &c. &c.  My bill at Manchester for one supper, a dinner, a breakfast, and two nights lodging was five dollars. (About a pound).”

So…cost for inns were pretty expensive. A night on the road not so bad….several days due to whatever problems could quickly mount up.

Other Resources: 

https://wordwenches.typepad.com/word_wenches/2015/03/travelling-the-roads-of-regency-england-with-louise-allen.html

Thoughts on Travel in ‘Sense and Sensibility’

The Hyde Park Gate in London, erected by the Kensington Turnpike Trust. This was the first toll point encountered along the Bath Road, upon leaving London. ~ Public Domain ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Turnpike_trusts#/media/
File:Hyde_park_turnpike_toll_
gate.jpg

janeaustenslondon.com/tag/regency-travel

Posted in British history, commerce, Georgian England, Georgian Era, history, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, real life tales, Regency era, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mansfield Park, or the Dark Side of Jane Austen’s Characters, a Guest Post from Eliza Shearer

Every single Janeite I know, regardless of the degree of their crush for Mr Darcy, agrees that Pride and Prejudice is an enjoyable novel. Mention Mansfield Park, however, and dissent soon appears. Fanny is too quiet, too passive, too boring, say her detractors. I used to be one of them, but over the years, the novel has grown on me.

 

An acquired taste

Mansfield Park is Jane Austen’s equivalent of Marmite. For those of you who are not familiar with this most British of concoctions, Marmite is a dark, salty spread with the power to drastically divide opinion, best exemplified by its famous slogan, “love it or hate it”. Any mention of Marmite reminds me of my friend Amanda, who moved to the UK in her twenties. I was with her when she tried Marmite for the first time, spread over toast. She found it revolting. But back to Mansfield Park.

Mansfield Park is a bit like a visit to the hall of mirrors in an old-fashioned fun fair. Jane Austen distorted and stretched some of the archetypes we find in her novels to the point that they are barely recognisable. Looking at it from this perspective, Mansfield Park is like the dark side of her other works, almost a cautionary “what ift” in some cases. I am sure that the parallels are many, but below are my favourites.

 

Maria Bertram is Emma Woodhouse on the loose

Both Mansfield Park’s Maria Bertram and Emma’s protagonist are pretty, clever and rich. They think they know better than anyone else around them, but still, fail to see what’s right in front of their eyes when it comes to their own love life. However, where Emma’s worst instincts are reigned in on time, Maria’s are encouraged. Maria’s fate is like Emma’s ghost of Christmas’ Yet to Come, a show of what might have happened to Miss Woodhouse had she not learned from her mistakes and rectified her behaviour.

Mrs Norris is a poorer, older version of Fanny Dashwood

Fanny Dashwood’s name always appears in Janeite’s lists of their favourite baddies. She is the scheming and selfish wife of Mr Dashwood, Elinor and Marianne’s brother in Sense and Sensibility. Artfully, she convinces her weak husband to limit the financial assistance to his late father’s widow and her three daughters to little more than “presents of fish and game” during the hunting season. Fanny is a wealthy woman, but she is far from generous, even with her nearest. Quite the opposite: she is every bit as mean and tight as Mrs Norris, and equally disagreeable.

 

Mr Rushworth is a financially independent Mr Collins

At first sight, these two gentlemen only have in common the fact that they are not particularly bright, nor gifted in the art of conversation. But dig deeper, and you will see some interesting patterns emerge. Mansfield Park‘s Mr Rushworth and Pride and Prejudice‘s Mr Collins only pay attention to what interests them. They are utterly oblivious to the subtle female signals around them, even those that are obvious to everyone else. They also share the same deep respect towards an older woman, Mrs Rushworth in one case, Lady Catherine de Bourgh in the other. The only difference, and what fires up Mr Collin’s unsufferable obsequiousness, is their fortune.

Lady Bertram is the female equivalent of Mr Woodhouse

Lazy, indolent and selfish, Mansfield Park‘s Lady Bertram and Emma‘s Mr Woodhouse see everything under the filter of self-interest and agree that change is the worst possible evil. They also care little about what lies beyond their little obsessions. That’s pug for Lady Bertram, and his and everyone else’s state of health in the case of Mr Woodhouse. Mr Woodhouse’s sex and disposition mean that he gets to be a lot more outspoken than Lady Bertram, but dig deeper, and you will see two kindred souls resting on equally comfortable sofas.

Henry Crawford is a rich Wickham

Pride and Prejudice’s George Wickham and Mansfield Park’s Henry Crawford could not look more different. Where Wickham is handsome, Crawford is slight and not particularly good-looking. Ignore their physical appearance, however, and the similarities between them are striking. Both men are irresistibly attractive to some women, enjoy flirting with anyone who is game and have a tendency to land ladies in trouble. The big difference is that Henry has money and can enjoy creating havoc and then moving on. Wickham, on the other hand, has the unfortunate combination of a modest income and a gambling problem, meaning that he has a price – and so he ends up married to Lydia.

Mary Crawford is a (seriously) insolent Elizabeth Bennet

Mansfield Park’s Mary Crawford and Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet are witty, pretty and fascinating young women with a sense of fun and some serious sparkle. They don’t mince their words, are not afraid to stand her ground and are experts in the art of teasing. Perhaps that’s why they are magnets for socially awkward and introverted men. However, Mary takes sassiness to a whole new level with her flippant comments and double entendres. Lady Catherine de Bourgh should count herself lucky: she may think Elizabeth Bennet an insolent girl, but she would have a heart attack if she ever met Mary Crawford.

Edmund Bertram is Henry Tilney without a sense of humour

As well as their profession, Mansfield Park’s Edmund Bertram and Northanger Abbey’s Henry Tinley share a similar moral compass, a kind heart and an eagerness to educate their respective protegées. But that is pretty much it. Edmund’s approach to life is solemn, serious, moralistic even, whereas Henry prefers irreverence, irony and laughter. Just think of Mr Tilney’s delightful conversation with Catherine – his opinions on muslin are a personal favourite of mine – then compare them to Edmund’s talk about sermons, house approaches and old horses. No wonder Edmund never makes it to the top of the favourite Austen leading men lists.

Fanny Price is an uninvolved Anne Elliot

Readers of Miss Darcy’s Beaux are well aware of my soft spot for Jane Austen’s introvert characters, of which Mansfield Park’s Fanny and Persuasion’s Anne are excellent examples. Both heroines are strong in their beliefs, but they have a quiet, unassuming manner, that many Janeites consider to border on sheer passivity (and, in the case of the former, was fatally ignored in one of the most catastrophic casting mistakes in an Austen adaptation). However, compared to Fanny Price, Anne is like Wonder Woman. She is the person everybody turns to when things go awry, and she delivers, coming to the rescue of injured children and keeping her cool when everyone is hysterical at Lyme. Perhaps it is no wonder that so many people love Anne, but accuse Fanny of single-handedly dragging Mansfield Park into the heart of the Mansfield Park rocks/sucks debate.

In any case, remember my friend Amanda and her dislike of Marmite? After a few years in the UK, she finally challenged her own assumptions and tried it with an open mind. I can’t say she has become a fan of Marmite, but she appreciates its sharp, strong taste and will even have it on toast every once in a while.

 

What are your thoughts regarding Mansfield Park? Can you think of any other similarities or distortions amongst Austen characters?

Posted in Austen Authors, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Guest Post, historical fiction, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, reading, Regency era | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Celebrating the Winners of Recent Giveaway

and-the-winners-are.jpg

All these prizes have been delivered:

from The Tea Room – July 10, 2019

Becky Cherrington, Mary Anne Landers, and Molly Laird chose Regency Summer Escape.

Margaret Murray-Evans and Mary Ann Anderson chose Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep.

Patricia Sanford Addison chose Lady Joy and the Earl. 


 

from Swoonworthy Summer Reading – July 13, 2019 

Denis Austen and Karen M. Llanes chose Regency Summer Escape. 

Morse Dawn chose Lady Chandler’s Sister.

Anna Katherine Koehler chose Letters from Home. 


 

from the Austen Authors’ Blog – July 15, 2019

Caryl Kane, Jerilynn Rodriquez, Teresa Williams, Charlene Capodice, Susanne Barrett, Talia Sommers, Eva Edmonds, Mary Campbell, Teresa Broderick, Kayla Rose, and Virginia Kohl all received Regency Summer Escape. 


 

from Soiree with Sandra Masters – July 18, 2019 

Mary Ann Landers, Peggy Parker Martin, Roxane Twisdale, and Bobbie Gore chose Regency Summer Escape. 

Crystal Blake chose Lady Chandler’s Sister. 

Charlene Whitehouse chose In Want of a Wife. 


 

from my blog posts on July 19, 2019 and July 23, 2019

Luthien84, Glenda M, DarcyBennett, Cyndi Bennett, and Patricia Finnegan all received Regency Summer Escape. 

 

 

Posted in giveaway, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex: Two Illegal Marriages

 

 

Artist: G.E. Madeley (fl.1826–1841, date of death unknown). Photograph by User:Dr_pda – Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas (1799 – 1848) History’ of the Orders of Knighthood of the British Empire,of the order of the Guelphs of Hanover; and of the medals, clasps, and crosses, conferred for naval and military service, Volume iii, published in London, 1842. Photo taken by User:Dr_pda
Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex wearing the robes of a Knight Companion of the Order of the Thistle ~ wikipedia 

The sixth son and ninth child of King George III and Queen Charlotte, Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, was known to have convulsive asthma’; therefore, he did not join his brothers Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, and Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, in military service. He was tutored at home before being sent to the University of Göttingen in Germany, along with Ernest and Adolphus. He briefly considered becoming a cleric in the Church of England. In 1805, during the Napoleoinic War, he served at home in Britain as Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant of the “Loyal North Britons” Volunteers regiment. [The Complete Peerage, Volume XII, Part 1. St Catherine Press. 1953. p. 535.Edited by Geoffrey H. White.]

Augustus travelled extensively. He was something of a scholar, with a love for music and books. It is said he owned over 5000 bibles, all part of 50,000 books’ collection that he claimed. In Rome, Augustus met Lady Augusta Murray, the second daughter of John Murray,  4th Earl of Dunmore, and Lady Charlotte. Lady Augusta was five years older than the prince, was considered without countenance, being very plain of face, and was known to be as bossy, as was her mother. Augustus and Augusta married, without his father’s permission, on 4 April 1793. The King’s minister of Hanover affairs Ernst zu Münster was sent to Italy to escort him back to London. [T. F, Henderson, ‘Augustus Frederick, Prince, duke of Sussex (1773–1843)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.] Supposedly, the couple married a second time at St George’s, Hanover Square, on 5 December 1793. However, they did not disclose their complete identities to the cleric conducting the ceremony. Both marriages took place without King George III’s consent or knowledge.

Unfortunately, the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 said: “…no descendant of King George II, male or female, other than the issue of princesses who had married or might thereafter marry “into foreign families”, could marry without the consent of the reigning monarch, ‘signified under the great seal and declared in council.’ That consent was to be set out in the licence and in the register of the marriage, and entered in the books of the Privy Council. Any marriage contracted without the consent of the monarch was to be null and void. However, any member of the royal family over the age of 25 [Augustus was only 20 at the time.] who had been refused the sovereign’s consent could marry one year after giving notice to the Privy Council of their intention so to marry, unless both houses of Parliament expressly declared their disapproval. There is, however, no instance in which the sovereign’s formal consent in Council was refused.” [Royal Marriages Act 1772]

Artwork by August Grahl, Portrait of Lady Augusta Murray, Wife of H.R.H. Augustus Frederick ~ https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Portrait-of-Lady-Augusta-Murray–Wife-of/C1084E914277119F

In August 1794, the Court of Arches annulled the prince’s first marriage on the grounds that it contravened the Royal Marriages Act 1772, not having been approved by the King. 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), born in Essex, and who later became Deputy Ranger of St James’s and Hyde Parks and who unsuccessfully claimed the dukedom of Sussex on his father’s death, and Augusta Emma d’Este (1801-1855), born at Lower Grovsvenor Street, London, and who married. Thomas Wilde, 1st Baron Truro, (age 63 at the time and Augusta Emma was age 44) who served as Lord High Chancellor from 1850-1852.

Augustus d’Este is the earliest recorded person for whom a definite diagnosis of multiple sclerosis can be made. The course of his MS, which was not diagnosed during his lifetime, is known from the diaries he kept. D’Este left a detailed diary describing his 22 years living with the disease. Meanwhile, like her father, Augusta Emma also suffered from asthma. Upon her death, The Thanet Advertiser remembered her as: “a lady of strict business habits, and rather reserved in manner, of exceedingly good general information, living, while at Ramsgate, in a very quiet and unostentatious way”. Neither of Prince Augustus’s children had children of their own. 

Both parents were descended from the royal House of Este, therefore, the use of “d’Este”. In 1806, their mother, Lady Augusta, was given royal licence to use the surname “de Ameland” instead of Murray. With this she was styled as “Countess.” Prince Augustus was alienated from his parents and the Court for years because of his illegal marriage. Eventually, Augustus and Augusta became estranged. She died in 1830 at Ramsgate. 

Cecilia_Underwood_duchess_of_Inverness

Cecilia Underwood, duchess of Inverness and second wife of Augustus Frederick, duke of Sussex ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Cecilia_Underwood,_1st_Duchess_of_ Inverness#/media/File:Cecilia_ Underwood_duchess_of_Inverness.JPG

Prince Augustus again acted in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act 1772, not receiving his brother’s, William IV’s, permission, when he married Lady Cecilia Letitia Underwood in May 1831. Twelve years Augustus’s junior, Lady Cecilia was a widow, having lost her husband Sir George Buggin. She was the daughter of the Irish lord, Sir Arthur Saunders Gore, 2nd Earl of Arran. The pair sired no children. 

“As the marriage was not considered lawful, Lady Cecilia could not take the style and title Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex. Instead she assumed the name “Underwood”, her mother’s maiden name, by Royal Licence and was known as Lady Cecilia Underwood. The couple resided at the Duke’s apartments in Kensington Palace. However, Lady Cecilia was not accepted as a full member of the British Royal Family. Royal protocol restricted Lady Cecilia from being present at any functions attended by other members of the Royal Family, as she was unable to take a seat beside her husband due to her lower rank. To compensate for this, in 1840 Queen Victoria created her Duchess of Inverness, in her own right, with remainder to the heirs male of her body lawfully begotten. This recognised her husband’s subsidiary title of Earl of Inverness.”

With a morganatic marriage and a illegal marriage plaguing her, Lady Cecilia could not come to Court; therefore, she spent her time in Society, where she was welcomed by many a hostess. Meanwhile, Prince Augustus became a great supporter of the arts, science and literature. He was a favorite of Queen Victoria, when she came to the throne, and even did the honor of giving her away at her wedding to Prince Albert. 

Prince Augustus died of erysipelas on 21 April 1843. [Erysipelas is an infection typically with a skin rash, usually on any of the legs and toes, face, arms, and fingers. It is an infection of the upper dermis and superficial lymphatics, usually caused by beta-hemolytic group A Streptococcus bacteria on scratches or otherwise infected areas. Affected individuals typically develop symptoms including high fevers, shaking, chills, fatigue, headaches, vomiting, and general illness within 48 hours of the initial infection.] Because Cecilia’s body could not be accepted into the royal vault, Prince Augustus is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, north of Paddington. 

NOTE! “Lady Cecilia is portrayed briefly in the 2016 ITV series Victoria, Episode 6 “The Queen’s Husband” by Dais Goodwin, creator of the series and its main writer. The portion of this episode relative to Lady Cecilia is thus described: “Victoria curries favour with her uncle the Duke of Sussex, who is unable to present his wife at court because their morganatic marriage was in violation of the Royal Marriages Act 1772. Although his wife was the daughter of an earl, she was not a member of the royal family. Victoria uses her discretion to make her the Duchess of Inverness and welcomes her to court.” In this episode, Lady Cecilia’s last name is given as ‘Buggin’, her former married name, and is not cared for much by Victoria for its sound. But no mention is made later of Lady Cecilia’s taking her mother’s surname Underwood. Lady Cecilia’s husband, the Duke of Sussex, is portrayed by David Bamber.”

 

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24 July 1817: The Burial of Jane Austen at Winchester Cathedral, a Guest Post from Collins Hemingway

 Today, I have chosen to repeat one of Collins Hemingway’s beautiful pieces speaking to the burial of Jane Austen at Winchester Cathedral. 


July 18, 2017, marked the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen. With that date, the official commemoration begins. Tributes will flow through any number of activities, readings, evensongs, and events, leading to July 24, the date of her funeral. In the UK, public benches are being dedicated to Austen, and the “Rain Jane” program will have Austen’s words appear in public places throughout Hampshire whenever there is precipitation. These are just a few of the
many events scheduled throughout the year.

Winchester Cathedral, where she is interred, will be the focus of many of the activities. One of these will be the unveiling of the £10 note graced with her face (above). As she is also on the £2 coin, Austen will be the first person, other than a monarch, to appear on more than one form of British currency at the same time. Cathedral bells will toll 41 times to mark each of her years on this earth.

Her burial raises an interesting question: Why, when this comparatively obscure spinster died in 1817, was she buried in a cathedral which houses the bones of Saxon kings and saints? This, in fact, is the subject of a talk scheduled by Professor Michael Wheeler at the cathedral on July 21.

King Cnut (Canute) is one of the ancient kings and bishops interred at Winchester Cathedral, along with Jane Austen.

It seems highly unusual for an ordinary citizen to be buried in a place normally reserved for secular and religious leaders. According to Jo Bartholomew, curator and librarian at the cathedral, the mortuary chests hold such dignitaries as: Cynigils and Cenwalh, two Christian kings from the seventh century; Kings Egbert and Ethelwulf (grandfather and father of King Alfred); King Cnut (Canute) and his Queen Emma; two bishops, Alwyn and Stigand; and king William Rufus. Most had been originally buried in Old Minster, the predecessor to Winchester Cathedral, which was just to the north and partially beneath it.

Was it common for an ordinary citizen to be buried there in 1817, or was this an extraordinary honor? In those days, not so extraordinary after all. Indeed, Jane was the third and last person buried there that year. Cost, rather than rank, may have been the limiting factor for a cathedral interment. Jane’s funeral expenses came to £92, a significant amount for someone of her means. Clearly, she or her family was determined to make a statement—after all, none of her brothers, including Frank, who died the highest-ranking naval officer in England, received such a burial.

Elizabeth Proudman, vice chairman of the Jane Austen Society and an expert on Jane Austen, said in a letter that the location was likely Austen’s choice: “I believe that she is buried there, because she wanted to be. It was up to the Dean in those days to decide who could and who could not be buried in the Cathedral. Usually it was enough to be respectable and ‘gentry.’ This, of course, she was as her late father and two of her brothers were in the church.”

Jane’s father, George, had been the rector at Steventon, fourteen miles away, until he retired in 1801. He was succeeded by James, his oldest son, who still held that position in 1817. Henry, who had taken up the cloth after his bank collapsed in the recession of 1816, also had a clerical position nearby. It probably did not hurt that Jane’s brother Edward was the wealthy inheritor of the Knight estate, with extensive holdings in Steventon and Chawton, which was sixteen miles away. From his recent ordination, Henry knew the Bishop, according to Claire Tomalin; and the Dean, Thomas Rennell, was a friend of the important Chute family who were relatives of the Austens.

Having lived at Chawton for nine years, where she wrote or significantly revised her oeuvre, Jane was taken to Winchester for unsuccessful medical treatment. “She had been ill in Winchester for about two months, and I think her burial must have been discussed,” Proudman says. “I like to think that her family would have talked about it with her, and that they followed her wishes. … It may be that she had no particular attachment to the village [of Chawton]. We know that she admired Winchester Cathedral, and she knew several of the clergy. When she died she had some money from her writing, and her funeral expenses were paid from her estate. It was a tiny funeral, only 3 brothers and a nephew attended, and it had to be over before the daily business of the Cathedral began at 10.00 am.”

In fact, most funerals were relatively small in those days, and women did not attend. Cassandra, with their friend Martha Lloyd (James’ sister-in-law), “watched the little mournful procession the length of the street & when it turned from my sight I had lost her for ever.” In a letter to their niece Fanny in the days after Jane’s death, Cass added: “I have lost a treasure, such a Sister, such a friend as can never be surpassed,—She was the sun of my life, the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow, I had not a thought concealed from her, & it is as if I have lost a part of myself. … Never was [a] human being more sincerely mourned … than was this dear creature.”

Edward, Francis, and Henry were the brothers who attended. Charles was too far away to come. James was ill (he died two years later), but his son, James Edward, rode from Steventon to Winchester for the service. Thomas Watkins, the Precentor (a member of a church who facilitates worship), read the service. Jane was interred in a brick-lined vault on the north side of the nave.

While Jane is interred at a grand cathedral, her mother (left) and sister are buried in the churchyard at Chawton, close to where all three women lived.

Tomalin believes it was Henry who “surely sought permission for their sister to be buried in the cathedral; splendid as it is, she might have preferred the open churchyard at Steventon or Chawton.” One suspects it was Henry who pushed for the cathedral, and Jane would have been happy to be at rest anywhere. Yet, modest as she was in many ways, she understood the worth of her writing. She may have made the decision with a view to posterity. In any event, Cassandra was pleased with the decision. “It is a satisfaction to me,” she said, that Jane’s remains were “to lie in a building she admired so much—her precious soul I presume to hope reposes in a far superior mansion.”

Henry arranged for a plaque to be installed in the cathedral to commemorate Jane’s benevolence, sweetness, and intellect—but curiously enough, not her writing. As the popularity of her novels grew over time, officials were baffled by the pilgrims coming to visit the crypt of a woman the church knew not as a brilliant novelist but only as the daughter of a rural clergyman.

Meet Collins Hemingway: Whether his subject is literature, history, or science, Collins Hemingway has a passion for the art of creative investigation. Hemingway’s fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding regard for courage in the face of adversity.

For him, the most compelling fiction deeply explores the heart and soul of its characters, while also engaging them in the complex and often dangerous world in which they have a stake. He wants to explore all that goes into people’s lives, to creatively investigate everything that makes them what they are as complete but fallible human beings.

His approach is to dive as deeply into a character’s heart and soul as possible, to address the root causes of their behavior rather than to describe superficial attitudes and beliefs. This treatment, he believes, is at the heart of all good fiction, for it provides the only way to draw a complete, complex portrait of a human being that is rewarding to readers.

As a nonfiction book author, Hemingway has investigated topics as diverse as corporate culture and ethics; the Internet and mobile technology; the ins and outs of the retail trade; and the cognitive potential of the brain. Best known for the #1 best-selling book on business and technology, Business @ the Speed of Thought, which he coauthored with Bill Gates, he has earned a reputation for tackling challenging topics with clarity and insight, writing for the nontechnical but intelligent reader. His shorter nonfiction has won awards for topics ranging from general interest to business to computer technology to medicine.

 

 

Posted in British currency, British history, Georgian England, Guest Post, Jane Austen, kings and queens, Regency era, Regency personalities, research | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Celebrating the Release of “Courting Lord Whitmire” + an Excerpt & Giveaway

thejointblog.co

thejointblog.co

 

I have a new release which is part of the Regency Summer Escape anthology. In it illness we now call PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) plays a major role. The main character has spent 15 years in war, first as part of the Napoleonic Wars and then on the Canadian front. Naturally, we must assume he has memories of the battles. Yet, PTSD did not exist as we know it. So, what do we know of PTSD in history?

GotQuestions.org provides us with a summary of PTSD. “Post traumatic Stress Disorder develops in some people following a traumatic event. The event or “stressor” could be exposure to death or threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence. The sufferer may be directly exposed, indirectly exposed through a family member or close friend experiencing the event, or extremely or repeatedly indirectly exposed through his or her work (such as first responders, police officers, military personnel, or social workers). Common trauma experiences are combat, car accidents, natural disasters, abuse, rape, and mass violence. After such an event most people will show signs of stress such as feeling on edge, anxiety, fear, anger, feelings of depression, a sense of detachment, desire to avoid trauma-related reminders, flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, headaches, changes in appetite, irritability, self-blame, “survivor’s guilt,” or a sense of numbness. For most people, these reactions lessen and eventually subside with time.”

In the Bible, Job likely suffers from PTSD. Job loses his wealth, family, health, etc. Job says of his suffering: “For my sighing cometh before I eat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters./ I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.” (Job 3:25-26) In Job 7: 14-15, we find, “Then thou scariest me with dreams, and terrifies me through vision:/ So that my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life.”

From The History of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, we learn more of the history of the illness. In “Mahabharata, an epic tale in Indian mythology originally written by Sage Ved Vyas in Sanskrit, Mahabharata illustrates the Great War of Mahabharat between the Pandavas and the Kauravas that happened in 3139 B. C. […] The great epic Mahabharata describes vivid combat stress reactions exhibited by the ancient worriers.” (Sir Lanka Guardian

Examples in literature abound of the evidence of PTSD. The Illiad describes multiple battles scenes and combat suffering. Could Ajax in Homer’s tale suffer from the disorder? And what of Achilles? Was not Achilles devastated by the death of his comrade Patroklos? And what of the Trojan women who waited for their husbands’ return.

In the piece entitled “From ‘Irritable Heart’ to ‘Shellshock’: How Post-Traumatic Stress Became a Disease,” we have, “The Greek historian Herotodus writes a lot about PTSD, according to a presentation by Mylea Charvat to the Veterans Administration. One soldier, fighting in the battle of Marathon in 490 BC, reportedly went blind after the man standing next to him was killed, even though the blinded soldier “was wounded in no part of his body.” Also, Herotodus records that the Spartan leader Leonidas — yes, the guy from 300 — dismissed his men from combat because he realized they were mentally exhausted from too much fighting.” 

In Shakespeare, we find a description of PTSD in Henry IV, Part 2.
Tell me, sweet lord, what is’t that takes from thee
 Thy stomach, pleasure, and thy golden sleep?
Why dost thou bend thine eyes upon the earth,
And start so often when thou sit’st alone?
Why hast thou lost the fresh blood in thy cheeks,
And given my treasures and my rights of thee
To thick-eyed musing and cursed melancholy?

In Act 5, Scene 3 of Macbeth, we are provided:

“Macbeth: How does your patient, doctor?



Doctor: Not so sick, my lord, as she is troubled with thick-coming fancies that keep her from rest.



Macbeth: Cure her of that! Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, raze out the written troubles of the brain, and with some sweet oblivious antidote cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff which weighs upon her heart.



Doctor: Therein the patient must minister to himself.”

hilobrow.com

hilobrow.com

Charles Dickens speak of how a train accident affected him. He says he was ”curiously weak… as if I were recovering from a long illness,” after a traumatizing railway accident in which the front of the train plunged off a bridge under repair and 10 people died, with another 49 injured. Dickens wrote in letters to people: “I begin to feel it more in my head. I sleep well and eat well; but I write half a dozen notes, and turn faint and sick… I am getting right, though still low in pulse and very nervous.” Dickens admitted to continue to feel anxiety when train travel was necessary, even after the accident described above. (From ‘Irritable Heart’ to ‘Shellshock’)

CourtingLordWhitmire 5x7 copyAlthough in my story there is no real “word” or “diagnosis” to describe the effects of war, the early literature tells us that some sort of upheaval most assuredly did exist. So wether we call it melancholia, nostalgia, ester root, heimweh, malady du pays, soldier’s heart, neurasthenia, hysteria, compensation sickness, railway spine, shell shock, combat exhaustion, stress response syndrome, situational disorders, or PTSD, physical shock, accompanied by horrifying circumstances have haunted men since the beginning of time.

She is all May. He is December. But loves knows not time. 

Colonel Lord Andrew Whitmire has returned to England after spending fifteen years in service to his country. In truth, he would prefer to be anywhere but home. His late wife cuckold him, before he departed England. His daughter, who was reared by his father, enjoys calling him “Father” in the most annoying ways. However, his future is the viscountcy, and Andrew knows his duty to both title and child. He imagines himself the last of his line until he encounters Miss Verity Coopersmith, the cousin of his dearest friend. Miss Coopersmith sets Whitmire’s world spinning out of control. She is twenty years his junior, but all he can think is she is absolute perfection. 

You may purchase copies of Regency Summer Escape for $0.99 on Amazon or read it free on Kindle Unlimited. 

Enjoy this excerpt from “Courting Lord Whitmire,” where our hero, Colonel Lord Andrew Whitmire, acts instinctively to save the life of the one woman who fascinates him, Miss Verity Coopersmith. 

Andrew turned to look out over the groomed lawns and inhaled slowly, while praying for calm. How could anyone, most certainly a woman he had known but a matter of weeks, understand how many people he had failed in his life, especially her relation, Robert Coopersmith. “You cannot know of the kinship I held with your cousin,” he said, attempting to keep the irritation from his tone. He turned his head to permit her to see his sincerity, but he found himself lost in her steady gaze. “Although I hold nothing but honest respect for your uncle and your brother, it should have been my long-time friend, Robert Coopersmith, who sits in this house as the 16th Lord Coopersmith. If he had returned to Worcestershire after the Peninsular battles, he could have been long settled with a family and an heir. Instead, he stayed with me—because of my foolish pride—my fear of others knowing how my wife cuckolded me—Robert died in the last battle of the war, ironically, saving my life.”

“You are in error, my lord,” she said softly, never looking anywhere but into his eyes. “Over the years, Cousin Robert regularly wrote to my parents and to my aunt and uncle and even, occasionally, to me. In each letter, he praised you as the best of men, showering you with compliments for your ability to instill leadership in your men.” She stepped closer still, close enough that Andrew could bend his neck and kiss her if he so chose. “Whether you realized it or not, Robert depended upon you in so many ways.” Her words were infused with a bit of sadness.

“You are in error; it was I who depended upon him,” Andrew contested.

“Robert was afraid to return to the estate and to the assumption of his inheritance,” she continued as if he had said nothing. “He wished the role of baron to pass to my father, but the law would not permit a deviation in the entailment nor in the title.”

“You cannot know this,” he argued.

“Oh, but I do,” she countered. “When I was about ten, I overheard Uncle Theodore and my father discussing that very fact. It was some two years before my father’s death. Evidently, Uncle Theodore had encouraged my father to marry a second time in hopes of an heir who could run Cooper Hall. My Cousin Robert was the most likable of fellows, but he possessed no skills to run an estate. Do you not recall how miserable he was in school?”

“He was just a rambunctious fellow. All would have been fine if he had taken his studies more seriously,” Andrew declared.

“The family kept the secret that Robert could not read—that the letters danced around in front of him each time he attempted to do so. No matter how many punishments he endured, nothing solved his dilemma. He only passed his courses because he would converse with you and his fellow classmates, discussing what you had read in your studies. Such was enough for him to survive university.”

Andrew looked at her expression, searching for any signs of deceit. “His calculating?” he asked, remembering how Robert despised his classes in mathematics.

“The same as with the reading. He could sometimes do the figures in his head, but not if they were too complicated. Can you imagine Robert balancing estate books, ordering supplies, responding to correspondence?”

“He could have hired someone to handle the accounts,” he reasoned.

“And never be certain the person was not robbing him blind or that others would learn of his inability to govern the barony,” she contended. “He could follow orders, but not give them with any assurance of accuracy. How would he contend with the bills in Parliament? How could he form an opinion on what was right to do for his cottagers? For Worcester? For England? For the Commonwealth? If he had been a commoner, he could have simply not run for the Commons, but, as a baron, he could not bear to be thought of as a simpleton. If you think upon your years together, you will recall that during school and in the military, my cousin never asked for your assistance. He did not want anyone to know of what he thought to be his faults, and you were the most perceptive of his acquaintances.”

“Apparently not perceptive enough,” Andrew grumbled.

“Robert stayed in the service because he idolized you as his friend, but, more importantly, because he wished never to be found wanting.”

Before Andrew could respond to such a wild assertion, the unthinkable happened. From somewhere off to his right, an explosion occurred, and, instinctively, he dived for the hard floor of the balcony, taking Miss Coopersmith down with him. Covering her with his body, he clasped his hands on the back of his head to protect it and waited for the debris to rain down upon them. However, nothing happened. The ground did not tremble beneath him, nor did another round of explosions follow closely after the first.

He held his breath, fearing even to breathe. At length, a soft hand caressed his cheek. “My lord? Whitmire? My lord, do you hear me?”

Slowly, he opened his eyes to discover the concerned expression upon the face of the woman who had executed havoc upon his dreams. “Forgive me, Miss Coopersmith,” he murmured in embarrassment.

Again, the lady’s fingers stroked his cheek. “Forgive you, my lord? Should I forgive you for placing yourself between me and what you perceived as danger?”

Andrew attempted to make sense of what had occurred, but his heart still raced in anticipation. “There was an explosion,” he said lamely.

“I know.” She continued to speak in quiet tones. “You were very brave.”

“Perhaps today,” he spoke in sorrowful tones. “But I was not always brave. I was not the brave one at Waterloo,” he confessed. Odd that he would tell another—someone who was essentially a complete stranger what he had never spoken to anyone. Was not confession a weakness? And he had never considered himself weak. He had always thought to suffer his own punishment in silence, but he said, “I sidestepped a French officer charging at me, pulling him from his horse and dispatching him to his God. Then, I turned to view my end. I froze in place.” Despite his best effort, tears formed in his eyes. “Robert was close by, as he always was when we were in battle, literally, fighting all comers, back-to-back, and he knocked me from the way. A cannonball. Hit him, not me.” Again, he had no idea what had driven him to speak so intimately to her—of all people—of that fateful day. Without knowing the reason of it, he had accepted the fact she would not judge him. Looking into her eyes, he could do nothing less than to confess the secret of his soul.

“Oh, my darling,” she whispered, before tugging him into a loose embrace. She rested on the base of the balcony with him now bent over her. “You were not to blame. You simply did not recognize the vagaries of Robert’s personality. It is said within the family that Robert was excessively merry, followed by periods of equally excessive unhappiness.”

Andrew lifted his head a few inches, so he might look more fully upon her. “Are you saying Robert meant to die that day?” An image of Robert on that fateful day flashed before Andrew’s eyes. His friend had taken more than the usual number of chances during the battle. Andrew had always thought his friend was as sick of the fighting as was he, but Miss Coopersmith was suggesting something he had never considered. Part of him wished to permit himself absolution, while part of him rebuked the idea.

“No one will ever know, but even Uncle Spenser has considered the possibilities aloud. We all knew Robert did not wish to return to England. As the battle turned toward a British victory, perhaps he made his decision. My brother would be next in line: The title would not suffer. Then again, it might simply have been Fate, or his faithfulness to you, but my cousin’s death was not your fault.”

“I wish I could be so certain,” he murmured. He might have returned home after Waterloo if he had not set himself a penitence to pay for what happened on the battlefield. How could he claim both his title and happiness if he was the reason Robert Coopersmith was dead? He may have been able to salvage a relationship with Matilda and nurse his father during the former viscount’s last days, but he could not allow himself to assume a normal life when the world, as he knew it, was no longer normal.

“If it is forgiveness you seek, you will find it among those gathered at Cooper Hall,” she assured.

Unfortunately, before he could claim the lady’s hand in forgiveness and lift her from the floor, the sound of voices approaching from the distance had Andrew scrambling to his feet. Spotting Spenser Coopersmith leading a group of visitors toward the house restored his sensibilities. When Coopersmith waved, Andrew warned the lady, “Do not move until your uncle and his guests pass. It would not do for you to be seen in a disheveled state.”

“Am I disheveled?” she asked in that now familiar tone that said he was acting his age, which he most assuredly was.

He studied her and, for a moment, wished to see her thusly arranged beneath him. Nevertheless, he said, “You know my opinion of your comely face. Now, be still until they pass below us.”

He returned his attention to the party crossing the side lawn. From her place stretched out on the balcony floor, she said, “Uncle Spenser enjoys setting off one of the small cannons he secured from the days of Charles II.”

Andrew did not turn to look at her for fear of drawing the attention of those approaching the house; yet, he smiled. “I managed to draw that conclusion,” he said from the corner of his mouth. “Your uncle still carries the rammer.”

Miss Coopersmith giggled, a sound he found delightfully uplifting. “At least, my uncle only uses the small cannon for his lectures. He owns one of the large ones that some say required sixteen horses to move into place, but it remains at the smaller estate outside of Manchester. Can you imagine your reaction if he possessed cannonballs for such a weapon?”

Andrew waited until the last of the visitors were from view before he answered. He extended his hand to assist Miss Coopersmith to her feet. “I would have responded the same, except a man of my ‘advanced years’ might not have survived the shock of large guns being fired once again in Worcestershire.”

The lady brushed off her dress and moved a few curls into place. At length, she looked upon him to pronounce in a voice of reason. “I would never wish you to know troubles, my lord, but I would be proud to accept your protection any time you care to extend it.”

Regency Summer Escape 5x7.jpeg

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!! I have 2 ebooks of Regency Summer Escape available to those who comment below. The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on Friday, July 26. Winners will be contacted on July 28. 

Posted in book excerpts, book release, British history, eBooks, estates, excerpt, family, Georgian England, historical fiction, history, Living in the Regency, marriage, Napoleonic Wars, reading, real life tales, Regency era, Regency romance, research, romance, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments