Tax Day During the late Georgian and Regency Periods

Tuesday is tax day in the U.S. I paid mine in March. My tax receipts are sometimes 5 inches deep in paper. As a self-employed author and retired teacher, I save receipts for lodging, mileage, advertising, home office, technology, insurance benefits, medical expenses, etc. But what were some of the taxes required in the Regency Period and when would they pay their taxes?

We know there were taxes upon hair powder, carriages and coaches, and carriage and saddle horses, windows, and male servants during the Regency.

In 1777, Lord North proposed a tax on male servants to help pay for the cost of fighting the Americans, and by 1808, when Britain was involved in an even more prolonged war against the French, the tax reached a little over £7 per year for each male servant if there were eleven or more in the household. For the servants’ tax, an estate owner would pay for those who performed non-essential services: “butlers, footmen, valets, grooms, coachmen, gardeners, park-keepers, game-keepers, masters-of-the-horse, whippers-in and other huntsmen, were all to be taxed. But farm laborers, day laborers, factory workers and the servants of tavern-keepers, shop-keepers and merchants were all to be exempted from the tax. So, too, were the servants of the royal family, official foreign ambassadors and the servants in the various Colleges. However, if an inn-keeper, shop-keeper or farmer were to employ one of their servants to perform personal or domestic services, such as scrubbing a floor, saddling a horse or cleaning boots, their masters would then be expected to pay the tax on that servant. Few would voluntarily pay the tax, but had to be careful about when and where their servants performed those prohibited tasks, as there was always the chance a rival or adversary might inform against them.” (Regency Redingcote) In 1843, the Earl of Ashburnham paid taxes for the half-year of £21 15s 9d for his male servants, another £11 for his four-wheeled carriages, and £1 4s for armorial bearings, plus a ten percent surcharge. (MS Ashburnham. 1814. East Sussex Record Office)

From 1785 – 1792, a tax was also levied on those employing female servants at the rate of one guinea on each one. This tax had nasty effects on the labour market and only lasted for seven years before it was repealed.

St_Helen, King William III levied a window tax beginning in 1696. The tax was to level the difference resulting from the clipping and defacing of silver coins, as well as to help pay for the various wars in Ireland and Europe. Initially, if a household had less than 10 windows, they were charged 2 shillings per year. 10-20 windows would cost 4 shillings. Those houses with over 20 would be 8 shillings. The window tax increased 6 times between 1747 – 1808, before a decrease came about. 

The Glass Excise tax was in existence for 100 years. It was first levied by Parliament in 1745. Taxes were levied upon window and bottle glass, as well as flint glass. (With respect to glass, the term flint derives from the flint nodules found in the chalk deposits of southeast England that were used as a source of high purity silica by George Ravenscroft, c. 1662, to produce a  potash lead glass that was the precursor to English lead crystal.) Initially, the tax was purely on materials, with flint and white glass, crown and plate charged at the highest rates. Green and other bottle glass was charged at a lower rates.

For 90 years, beginning in 1784, people paid taxes on pleasure horses (race horses, those let to hire or rode by bailiffs or butchers, horses exceeding 12 hands (height), but not work horses.

Charges varied for Horses for riding (£1.8s.9d). In 1785 an Act exempted those occupying a farm worth not more than £150 a year rent in which the horse was used only for riding to church or market. The yearly exemption rate was reduced to £20 in 1802 and thus many more owners were taxable.

An Abstract of the Principal Tax Acts from 1819’s Gentleman’s Pocket Memorandum Book, tells us that a man with one carriage would pay £12 per year in taxes. Two carriages would be £26, etc. Carriages drawn by one horse with less than 4 wheels (Taxed carts excepted) 6£ 10s if drawn by 2 or more horses, 9£ and every additional body used on the same carriage, 3£ 3s. Dog lovers who kept greyhounds, whether his property or not, would pay £1. For every other species of dog, where more than one is kept, 14s. Every person wears hair powder would pay 1£ 3s 6 d.

From 1695 to 1706, a “marriage tax” was assessed on bachelors, widowers, and childless couples. It was also charged for parish register entries of baptism, marriage, and burial.

Beginning in 1793, those who had an armorial bearing marking carriages, etc. paid two guineas for arms borne on carriages and one guinea if borne in any other way, as on a signet ring. This lasted until 1882.

From 1795 to 1861, those who used hair powder, (to keep wigs white), had to pay a guinea to £1.3.6 for a licence to do so. The tax included those servants required to wear wigs. Exemptions included the royal family and their immediate servants, army officers, clergymen, dissenting ministers, and any person in holy orders not possessing an annual income of £100. Wigs quickly went out of fashion in the early 19th century, although the tax was not abolished until 1861.

 How long before a tax lien would be placed on the property?  The delinquent tax payer would be taken before the  judges of the court of the Exchequer to have the debt filed formally and the order for property to be seized. The property of peers was handled different from that of commoners, though it was still seized. Theoretically, if a man’s taxes were delinquent in a particular calendar year, he would not be formally labeled as delinquent until after April 6 of the next calendar year. Attempts would then be made to collect the back taxes before seizure of the property would be made. More than likely it would take two, perhaps three, years for the seizure to take place. Meanwhile more taxes would be accumulating while the courts acted.

Again, however, it really depends on what taxes and to whom they were due and how they  were paid. Needless to say if a duke owed taxes, he would be treated differently than a merchant. 

There were hundreds of taxes and so a variety of dates on which they would be due. Some taxes were pay as you go. For others, the tax man came along and counted your windows and looked at your footmen and counted the crested carriages and other armorial bearings and wheeled vehicles and made his demand.  A person then had a stated amount of time to pay the tax. Some taxes were due on quarter days and some on cross quarter days. The quarter days were four dates in each year on which servants were hired, school terms started, and rents were due. They fell on four religious festivals, roughly three months apart. Leasehold payments and rents for land and premises in England are often still due on the old English quarter days. The quarter days ensured that debts and unresolved lawsuits were not allowed to linger on. Accounts had to be settled, a reckoning had to be made and publicly recorded on the quarter days.

The taxes were due in quarterly installments until the late 1800’s, and tax day was changed to 6 April in 1800.

In typical style, the Treasury ensured that there would be no loss of tax revenue and no concession to the populous by making the tax year 365 days. To complicate the matter, we have the New Style Calendar. The Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. It reformed the calendar of England and British Dominions so that the new legal year began on 1 January rather than 25 March (Lady Day); and it adopted the Gregorian calendar, as already used in most of western Europe. 

taxcart.jpg In England and Wales, the legal year 1751 was a short year of 282 days, running from 25 March to 31 December. 1752 began on 1 January. To align the calendar in use in England to that on the continent, the Gregorian calendar was adopted: and the calendar was advanced by 11 days: Wednesday 2 September 1752 was followed by Thursday 14 September 1752. The year 1752 was thus a short year (355 days) as well.

Several theories have been proposed for the odd beginning of the British tax year on 6 April. One is that from 1753 until 1799, the tax year began on 5 April, which corresponded to 25 March Old Style. After the twelfth skipped Julian leap day in 1800, it was changed to 6 April, which still corresponded to 25 March Old Style. And so the 1800 tax year was moved from 25 March to 5 April. Having done it once, the Treasury then decreed in 1800 that there would be another lost day of revenue, given that the century end would have been a leap year under the Julian calendar whereas it was not under the new Gregorian calendar. Thus 1800 was a leap year for tax purposes, but not for the purpose of the calendar and so the tax year start was moved on again by a single day to 6 April. However Poole thought that quarter days, such as Lady Day on 25 March, marked the end of the quarters of the financial year.] Thus, although 25 March Old Style marked the beginning of the civil year, the next day, 26 March Old Style was until 1752 the beginning of the tax year. After removing eleven days in 1752, this corresponded to 6 April New Style, where it remains today.

One has to be certain that the income tax was in force during the year in  question and that it was a tax due on the 6th and not on some other day.

For more information check out these sources: 

All Things Georgian 

England Taxation 1700 – 1900

The Regency Redingote 

Nancy Regency Researcher 

Vanessa Riley’s Regency Life

Posted in British currency, British history, buildings and structures, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, Inheritance, Living in the Regency | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Quem Quaeritis Trope, the Roots of Liturgical Drama

413ZV9RH8FL.jpg The first Easter or Quem Quaeritis trope had its beginnings in the Benedictine Abbey of St. Gall, Switzerland. (The script of this first trope and an accompanying translation can be found below.) The Easter trope became the model for similar tropes associated with Christmas and the Ascension. 

Melodies connected with the Mass were sung with vowel sounds alone, and these were the beginnings of the liturgical dramas, which grew into the English Miracle and Morality plays. Originally the Quem Quaeritis trope was an Introit trope at the beginning of the Easter mass. Later, it became part of the Sepulchrum, an Easter drama, which began on Good Friday and the “creeping of the cross,” known as Adoratio Crucis. The Good Friday Communion known as Depositio Crucis and then on to the Elevatio Crucis on Easter morning. This ceremony varied greatly depending upon the country in which it was performed. 


Triduum, a Liturgical Drama in Three Acts

In England there was Quem Quaeritis held at Winchester Cathedral. The manuscript used then was copied in about 980 A.D. At the Winchester ceremony they placed the Quem Quaeritis in the middle of the performance instead of at the beginning of the Easter Mass. It was part of the third Nocturn at Matins on Easter morning. E. K. Chamber in The Medieval Stage (Vol. II, p. 15) says that in the Quem Quaeritis that the “Dialogued chant and mimetic action have come together and the first liturgical drama is, in all its essentials, complete.” 

Angelica de Christi Resurrectione

Quem quaeritis in sepulchro, Christicolae?

Sanctarum mulierum responsio:

Ihesum Nazarenum crucifixum, O caelicola!

Angelicae vocis consolatio:

non est hic, surrexit sicut praedixerat,

ite, nuntiate quia surrexit, dicentes:

Sanctarum mulierum ad omnem clerum modulatio:

alleluia! resurrexit Dominus hodie,

leo fortis, Christus filius Dei!

Deo gratias dicite, eia!

Dicat angelus:

venite et videte locum ubi positus erat Dominus,

alleluia! alleluia!

Iterum dicat angelus:

cito euntes dicite discipulis quia surrexit Dominus,

alleluia! alleluia!

Mulieres una voce canant iubilantes:

surrexit Dominus de sepulchro,

qui pro nobis pependit in ligno, alleluia!


The Angel After Christ’s Resurrection

Whom seek ye in the sepulchre, O Christians?

Response of the Holy Women:

Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified, O heavenly one.

The Angel in a voice of consolation:

He is not here, he is risen as he fore-told.

Go, announce that he is risen, saying:

Chant of the Holdy Women:

Alleluia! The Lord is risen today,

The strong lion, Christ the son of God,

Unto God give thanks, eia!

Let the Angel say:

Come, and see the place where the Lord was laid.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let the Angel say again:

Go quickly, tell to the disciples that the Lord is risen.

Alleluia! Alleluia!

The women with one voice sing joyously:

The Lord is risen from the sepulchre,

Who for us was hanged on the cross, Alleluia!

(Translated by Edd Winfield Parks)

Posted in acting, Church of England, customs and tradiitons, drama, medieval | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Courts of Chancery, Barristers, and Solicitors


Court of Chancery, Lincoln’s Inn Hall, 1808 ~ public domain

In the 15th Century, the Court of Chancery or of “equity” developed. It was under the lord high chancellor and provided an outlet for cases where results were not obtainable in the courts of common law. The courts of common law were the principal paths of royal justice by the 14th Century, making the common law rigid and inflexible. Relief customarily took the form of payment of damages and to the recovery of the possession of land and chattels. More complex situations were not addressed beyond the above-mentioned relief, often not treating complainants fairly and equitably. Moreover, during the 15th Century, powerful lords often bribed juries or defied court orders. 

“Disappointed litigants consequently turned to the king and council with petitions for justice. These petitions were referred to the lord chancellor, who by the 15th century had begun to build up a series of equitable remedies, together with policies governing their operation. In the exercise of his equitable jurisdiction, the chancellor initially was not bound by precedent, as were the common-law judges. He had wide powers to do justice as he saw fit, and he exercised them with a minimum of procedural formality. The chancery was relatively cheap, efficient, and just; during the 15th and 16th centuries, it developed spectacularly at the expense of the common-law courts. During the 17th century, opposition developed from the common-law judges and Parliament; they resented chancery’s encroachment upon the province of the common-law courts, and the chancellor was forced to agree not to hear any case in which there was adequate remedy, such as damages, at common law. 

“By the early 16th century, the development of a system of precedent exercised another restrictive influence on the continued growth of equitable remedies. Although most of the early chancellors had been clerics, the later ones were usually lawyers who used the newly initiated reports of cases to begin shaping equity into an established set of rules. By the middle of the 17th century, the equity administered by the Court of Chancery had become a recognized part of the law of the land. By the Judicature Act of 1873, the competitive, separate common-law law and equity courts in England, with their attendant delays, expense, and injustice, were abolished.” (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Therefore, the Court of Chancery was meant to settle cases involving trusts, wills, inheritance, and mortgages. Unfortunately, the the Regency Period, it was a mess of rules and regulations that could drag out for decades. Charles Dickens in Bleak House painted a picture of a good idea gone astray. A person who brought forth a suit had to be prepared for fees from solicitors and fees to the Commissioners, office fees, and the purchase of copies of the documents. Supplemental bills became necessary to reconstitute the circle of litigants after a death. Moreover, there were often fees to corrupt officials and clerks. “The documents in Jarndyce and Jarndyce were the stuff of legend.  Dickens wrote that upon the announcement of the Jarndyce case in court there was a ‘bringing in of great heaps, and piles, and bags full of papers’ and that once the ‘twenty-three gentlemen in wigs’ had argued for a bit and had the case ‘referred back, t’he copious documents were ‘bundled up again before the clerks had finished bringing them in.’ To top it all off, the process by which the court functioned was so technical and its procedures were so slow that ‘the length of time taken to decide even uncontested cases amounted to a denial of justice.’  This was a system ripe for abuse and certainly in need of reform.” (Law Meets Literature)

Chancery and the equity side of the Exchequer were the major courts of equity of the 18th Century. The work of barristers in these courts were not fundamentally different from common law practices. Teams of senior and junior barristers argued at major hearings, while single counsel would defend minor disputes. In suits of Chancery, where “Justice leaves Time the arbitor of all disputes and litigants leave their heirs more land than land to manage,” cases might last for years and create hundreds of rulings. 

As both Chancery and Exchequer met at Westminster Hall (and at Rolls and Lincoln’s Inn during holidays), they addressed issues not acceptable for the King’s Bench of Common Pleas courts. Therefore, by the 19th Century, barristers who practiced at Chancery were not required to “go on the circuit.” Chancery was not formally a court of record. It depended upon the opinions of the lord chancellor and his judges. It supposedly meant to deal with common sense and reason, rather than arbitrary laws.

Okay, what was the difference between a solicitor and a barrister in the Regency?


Lincoln’s Inn (Old Hall, Chapel, and Chancery Court), 1830 by Thomas Shepherd. ~ public domain

Nowadays, the basic difference between barristers and solicitors is that a barrister mainly defends people in court and a solicitor mainly performs legal work outside court. This was true also of the Regency, with some minor differences. 

Generally, to be a solicitor, a proctor, or an attorney, the man had to be an apprentice to a man practicing in the field in which he wished to practice: Common law, Chancery, or Civil law courts. Solicitors were regulated by parliamentary law while all the barrister/pleaders were regulated by their inns and the judges of the  courts to which they were admitted for practice.

There were different sorts of lawyers who practiced in different courts and required different training. Solicitors  were regulated by parliamentary law, while barristers were governed by the benchers of their Inn of Court.

Both solicitors and barristers had to have several years of training. Solicitors were to have five years as an apprentice, all with the same man,  so if his “tutor” died,  it was problematic for the apprenticed solicitor. At the end of five years, he could apply for recognition and admittance to practice as a solicitor. After his studies, he had to be recommended by the one who was training him and provide proofs of dates, etc. Sometimes they were given an exam on various aspects of the work required of them. If a man attained a university degree in civil law, he could be entered without the five years apprenticing. Most who attended university thought of becoming  barristers. They had to study at inns of court for four years after  university, where they called it “eating their dinners” and worked in the office of a barrister while they learned the law. When the barristers of their inn thought them ready, they were called to the bar. Solicitors dealt directly with clients, while barristers had contact only with the solicitor and depended on the solicitors for an adequate presentation of the case. Both had to be admitted to practice in the  different courts. King’s Bench and Common Pleas were common law courts as were Criminal court. Chancery was a court of equity and the church courts were for marriages and wills  were under civil ( Roman) law. Many solicitors became very wealthy, though it was usually the barristers who went on to the peerage.

It took about seven years to become a good solicitor. Solicitors had a lower social standing than did barristers, for the most part, because they did the work and  money into their hands. However, they often became very rich. The man needed someone to recommend him for the study of law. He must read law for seven years if he did not go to university. It was better for him if he attended university and studied law there, but universities only taught civil law and the courts were mainly common law courts. However, going to university would cut his time at an inn of court down to about three years of working with someone (apprenticing) and eating his dinners there. The solicitors, proctors, and attorneys spoke with clients and drew up proper forms and created deeds, wills, and contracts. Some solicitors acted as men of business for large landowners.

The barristers, advocates, and sergeants (higher level barristers)  were the ones who could speak in the higher courts and present the case. Quite often they only spoke to judges  and not to juries. These men were not supposed to converse with the client at all.

Criminal practice was just coming in as a area of practice as it wasn’t yet common for all accused  or even the prosecution to have a lawyer. Barristers, sergeants, and advocates could also just be asked a point of law, even if it would not be necessary for them to defend or prosecute a case.

Could a foreigner be a barrister? Almost every profession required an oath of allegiance to the Church of England  and at least a show of having taken Communion. 


Lincoln’s Inn, Holborn Interior view of Lincoln’s Inn old hall

Bright Knowledge explains the current differences between solicitors and barristers: “When people talk about going to see their lawyer, it is usually a solicitor that they will contact. Solicitors can work for a big range of organizations, including” commercial or non-commercial law firms, the government, private businesses, banks, and corporations. They have specialized knowledge of different areas of the las such as family, crime, finance, property and employment. Most of the time solicitors advise clients, undertake negotiations and draft legal documents. It is primarily a desk job, but does involve traveling to see clients and representing them in court. In the past, a solicitor’s advocacy work was restricted to magistrates’ courts (where less serious cases are dealt with) and minor cases in county courts, but now there are a few solicitor advocates who work in the higher  level courts.

“Barristers can be distinguished from a solicitor because they wear a wig and gown in court. They work at higher levels of court than solicitors and their main role is to act as advocates in legal hearings, which means they stand in court and plead the case on behalf of their clients in front of a judge. They also have specialist knowledge of the law and so are often called on to give legal advice. Barristers do not come into contact with the public as much as solicitors. They are given details of a case by a solicitor and then have a certain amount of time to review the evidence and to prepare what they are going to say in court (a pleading). Most barristers are self-employed and work in Chambers with other barristers so they can share costs of accommodation and administrators. They can also be employed in-house as advisors by banks, corporations, and solicitors firms.”


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Princess Helena’s Marriage Splits Queen Victoria’s Family


Princess Helena and her fiancée, Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein (1865)

Princess Helena chose to marry Prince Christian, one of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburgs. On the maternal side, Prince Christian held ties to a Danish noble family, as well as to the British royal family. His grandmother was the granddaughter of Frederick, King George II’s son. He was 15 years Helena’s senior. Unfortunately, the prince appeared older than he actually was, a fact that Victoria remarked upon on numerous occasions. Moreover, Christian was not the most intelligent of men (certainly nothing in the manner of Victoria’s “dear Albert”). He was not sophisticated or ambitious or very amiable. Nor did he possess a fortune worthy of Victoria’s daughter.

(For more on Helena’s path to marriage, see Princess Helena Escapes Queen Victoria’s Heavy  Thumb.)

According to Jerrold M. Packard in his Victoria’s Daughters (New York. St Martin’s. 1998. pages 112-113, the Prusso-Danish war “… would have a profound impact on Queen Victoria’s third daughter as the Augustenburg family became a second casualty of all this Realpolitik. A younger son of the Augustenburgs, who were a branch of the Schleswig-Holstein family, Christian recognized that his family were no longer practical candidates for a throne of the duchies. This signified that his own future was pretty much bereft of recognizable landmarks, and specifically that he was free from any dynastic responsibility at home. Yet even with the issue of Christian’s political liabilities largely obviated by his family’s loss to Bismark’s scheming and Prussia’s strength, his own personal lack of desirability would drive a wedge between members of Lenchen’s family.” 

When Bismarck gained control of the provinces of Schleswig and Holstein (at Denmark’s expense), he transformed his military into one of the world’s greatest and himself into an adversary the rest of the world needed to beware. The Danish king had owned Schleswig since 1815. Meanwhile, the duke of Augustenburg claimed both Schleswig and Holstein. . The duke was the personal friend of Frederick tIII, Princess Victoria’s husband. Bismarck’s plans included replacing the Hapsburg Austrian leadership with a Hohenzollern Prussian one. The Prussians and Austrian armies defeated the Danes in Schleswig and Holstein. The Austrians  pressed to have the Augustenburg family (Christian’s family) govern the two states, but two years later, Bismarck turned his discontent on Austria for vocally expressing its disdain for the Prussian occupation of the duchies to eliminate Austrian rule in Germany.

Christian’s Augustenburg family were no longer candidates for the throne of the duchies. Prince Christian’s dynastic responsibility were eliminated by Bismarck’s scheming. His lack of “merit” became an issue within Queen Victoria’s family. Victoria’s eldest, Princess Victoria and Frederick III strongly supported Christian’s family’s claim to the two duchies, for Christian’s family had long been welcomed at the Neues Palais. Meanwhile, Albert Edward (Bertie) held a different opinion. Bertie’s wife, Alexandra, was Princess of Denmark, daughter of the monarch, and the Augustenburg family were the enemy of Denmark. Alexandra supported her father’s claim to Schleswig. Bertie threatened to “disown” his family if they ignored his and his wife’s objections to Prince Christian. 

Princes Louise agreed with her eldest sister, mainly because she recognized Helena’s desire to be from Victoria’s rule. Princess Alice sided with Bertie. Alice believed the marriage would upset the Hohenzollerns, who considered the Augustenburg faction as too liberal. Alice thought it foolish to rile Princess Victoria’s powerful in-laws. Alice also thought that Prince Christian was too old for Helena, but, moreover, she thought that her mother was too dependent upon Helena. The queen had insisted that Helena and Prince Christian reside in England. Alice’s objections to Christian made her a target for Queen Victoria’s venomous complaints regarding her daughter. 

Alice, however, proved herself the better person. She was the one who convinced Bertie to attend the wedding when he threatened to boycott it. Alice also reminded Bertie that England had stood against the Hohenzollerns’ objections when Albert decided to marry Alexandra. 

Two years passed before the actual marriage took place, smack dab in the middle of the Austro-Prussian War. “On a family level, this second of Bismarck’s wars split Victoria’s progeny and their spouses between the Belligerents, Fritz (Frederick III) commanding the Prussian troops, Alice’s husband leading Hessian forces in support of the Austrian Army. The state of affairs kept Vicky and Alice away from the wedding, which in all likelihood, was for the best.Despite the bitter feelings over Christian’s entering her family, Lenchen’s (Helena’s) wedding day – July 5, 1866 – represented a personal triumph for this most timid of the five sisters, and the one that would happily spare the bride the political trials her two already married sisters were to endure in their more consequential marriage. What was more, these nuptials were not celebrated with the deafening gloom that overlaid those that had joined Alice and Louis.” (Packard 115)


The Wedding of Princess Helena & Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein (Christian Karl Magnussen, 1866)


Posted in British history, family, history, kings and queens, marriage, political stance, Victorian era | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Trauma of PTSD and How It Plays Out in The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin, a 2016 Finalist for the Chanticleer International Book Awards

ptsd_brain1.pngIn my The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery, Darcy’s cousin Major General Fitzwilliam (the former Colonel Fitzwilliam from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice) suffers from what we would now call “PTSD.” During the Regency there was no such distinction. The most one might consider as a diagnosis for the effects of many years in war was “melancholia.” Yet, melancholia was also the diagnosis for the most severely deranged. Bethlem Royal Hospital was the destination for those considered mentally ill. BRH was the first hospital to specialize in the treatment of those “not in their right mind.” Historically, the hospital proved to represent the worst excesses of asylums in the realm of mental disorders and lunacy during its early years. Mental health reforms were slow coming. It is from this hospital’s name that we derive the word “bedlam.”

PTSD is not a new condition. It existed since the beginning of time. There are references to the “madness” in Shakespeare, Dickens, the Bible, Mahabharata, Aristotle, Homer, and the like. We are now more knowledgeable of the trauma that any life-changing event can cause a human (war, rape, natural disasters, etc.). But in the time of the Regency period in England, no one had a name for what surely must have claimed more than one man returning to “normalcy” after all the years of the Napoleonic War. Yet, it was 1980 before the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder entered the English vocabulary.

Over the years, the disorder with termed as nostalgia, melancholy, homesickness, soldier’s heart, hysteria, neurasthenia, ester root, railway spine, compensation sickness, combat exhaustion, shell shock, compensation sickness, and stress response syndrome. It was not until after World War II that psychologists classified the illness as a form of trauma. Unfortunately, early physicians thought of the illness as temporary in nature and returning home would solve the situation.

The National Center for PTSD says, “PTSD is unique among psychiatric diagnoses because of the great importance placed upon the etiological agent, the traumatic stressor. In fact, one cannot make a PTSD diagnosis unless the patient has actually met the “stressor criterion,” which means that he or she has been exposed to an event that is considered traumatic. Clinical experience with the PTSD diagnosis has shown, however, that there are individual differences regarding the capacity to cope with catastrophic stress. Therefore, while most people exposed to traumatic events do not develop PTSD, others go on to develop the full-blown syndrome. Such observations have prompted the recognition that trauma, like pain, is not an external phenomenon that can be completely objectified. Like pain, the traumatic experience is filtered through cognitive and emotional processes before it can be appraised as an extreme threat. Because of individual differences in this appraisal process, different people appear to have different trauma thresholds, some more protected from and some more vulnerable to developing clinical symptoms after exposure to extremely stressful situations. Although there is currently a renewed interest in subjective aspects of traumatic exposure, it must be emphasized that events such as rape, torture, genocide, and severe war zone stress are experienced as traumatic events by nearly everyone.”

PoMDC Cover-3 copy The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery

Fitzwilliam Darcy is enjoying his marital bliss. His wife, the former Elizabeth Bennet, presented him two sons and a world of contentment. All is well until “aggravation” rears its head when Darcy receives a note of urgency from his sister Georgiana. In truth, Darcy never fully approved of Georgiana’s joining with their cousin, Major General Edward Fitzwilliam, for Darcy assumed the major general held Georgiana at arm’s length, dooming Darcy’s sister to a life of unhappiness.
Dutifully, Darcy and Elizabeth rush to Georgiana’s side when the major general leaves his wife and daughter behind, with no word of his whereabouts and no hopes of Edward’s return. Forced to seek his cousin in the slews of London’s underbelly, at length, Darcy discovers the major general and returns Fitzwilliam to his family.
Even so, the Darcys’ troubles are far from over. During the major general’s absence from home, witnesses note Fitzwilliam’s presence in the area of two horrific murders. When Edward Fitzwilliam is arrested for the crimes, Darcy must discover the real culprit before the authorities hanged his cousin and the Fitzwilliam name knew a lifetime of shame.
Barnes and Noble 
Excerpt (Scene ~ Elizabeth observes Georgiana in the nursery at Yadkin Hall. Georgiana’s husband, Major General Fitzwilliam, abandoned his wife and child.) 

Georgiana did not realize Elizabeth was in the nursery when the girl entered: Elizabeth came to sit on the floor beside Bennet’s bed to rest a comforting hand on her son after the child awakened with dreams of dragons. Elizabeth sat in the dark shadows and silently observed her sister-in-marriage.

Although in obvious turmoil, Georgiana closed her eyes to listen to the soft “snore” of her daughter. Earlier Darcy’s sister admitted to Elizabeth that since the major general’s exit, only quiet moments with their child brought Georgiana any harmony. During the day’s growing tension, Georgiana insisted they would receive word from Darcy in the late post, but Elizabeth reasoned Darcy was in the Capital less than a day.

“It is too soon,” Elizabeth insisted, despite the look of hope upon the girl’s countenance.

Poor Georgiana! Darcy’s sister convinced her foolish heart that if Edward meant to return, he would do so when Darcy confronted him.

Over the four years of Elizabeth’s dwelling at Pemberley, she learned something of the girl’s nature: Georgiana always professed to be a very practical woman, one who recognized how life’s troubles made a person stronger; however, Elizabeth knew at her core that the girl possessed a romantic heart. Lamentably, when Georgiana married the major general, Darcy’s sister assumed her husband possessed the same sensible nature, as did all the Fitzwilliam men. Needless to say, the girl erred.
         Elizabeth watched as Georgiana hugged herself tightly and stared down upon her sleeping child. Georgiana’s earlier tear-filled confession in a moment of weakness surprised Elizabeth. The girl spoke of a most troubling incident.

“I suppose I should not say this,” Georgiana whispered through a hiccuping sob and her painful admittance. “But I know you will forgive me for being so forward. I must tell someone.”

“I am as always your confidant,” Elizabeth assured.

With downcast eyes, Georgiana confessed.

“It is wanton of me to say, but I miss the exquisite feel of Edward’s hand upon my skin and the sound of his voice as he calls my name. I miss all the little things, Elizabeth: The gurgle of a snore when he sleeps, the way his eyes meet mine, even in a crowded room. With him, I knew the end of loneliness, a feeling, which haunted me my entire life. My mother’s early passing marked me as a single.”

Bitterness laced the girl’s tone.

“As you will recall from my girlish confessions in those early days of our acquaintance, I fell in love with my cousin when I was but fourteen, but Edward was seven and twenty at the time, and he had a life in Town. It was the pain of young love thwarted, which drove me to foster a relationship with George Wickham, an act that nearly ruined my chances of knowing my cousin’s tenderness. Lacking the sensibility of one more mature to recognize the foolishness of my choices, I sought the familiarity of Mr. Wickham’s acquaintance to replace the love I thought never to possess.”

At the time, Elizabeth wondered if the same could not be said of Georgiana’s choice of Edward: Neither Georgiana nor the major general was prepared to know a deep, trusting love.

With a shudder of dread, the girl continued.

“Elizabeth, I must speak of what occurred at Yadkin Hall or I shall go mad. However, you must promise me you will not share what I say with Darcy. My brother would act with honor, and one of us would wear widow weeds.”

“You have my word,” Elizabeth assured. “If I may be of service to you, speak from your heart.”

However, Elizabeth possessed no idea how far the situation at Yadkin Hall deteriorated.

As Georgiana’s tears increased, Darcy’s sister buried her forehead into Elizabeth’s shoulders.

“One day, perhaps a fortnight prior, I innocently strolled into the estate chapel to say my prayers; instead, I found Edward kneeling at the altar, a gun positioned beneath his chin.”

Her sister in marriage’s pronouncement shook Elizabeth’s customary resolve. How had things come to know such an end?

“I heard my husband cock the hammer, and pure terror filled me. Do you see? Edward thought to take his life. Here I was thinking we found happiness—that having me as his wife pleased him.”

Georgiana laced her fingers through Elizabeth’s, and Elizabeth held tight to both her growing anxiousness and the girl’s hand.

“I was afraid to call out–afraid my voice might jar Edward into action. I watched in interested horror, praying my husband would not pull the trigger. Unable to say anything, I backed from the vestibule, and then I pretended to approach again, this time, humming the lullaby I sing to our child at night. I meant the song to serve as a reminder of the good things in our life. It was all of which I could think to prevent Edward’s dudgeon claiming him. As I reentered the chapel, the major general returned the gun to a pocket and plastered a smile of greeting upon his lips; yet, I am no longer so naïve.”

“Have you also known the major general’s ire,” Elizabeth asked as Georgiana hid her face deeper in Elizabeth’s shoulder.
Elizabeth prompted Georgiana’s response.

“I apologize for my impertinence, but I noticed earlier that you do not move with your customary grace, as if you suffered a fall, and there is the remnants of a bruise, which appears to be fingerprints, upon your arm, just above your sleeve.”

“Please tell me Darcy did not observe what you did!”

“Men are not so sharp-eyed as they would like to think,” Elizabeth assured.

“It was my fault,” Georgiana declared. “I wished to know whether Edward was happy in Oxfordshire or not, and my shrewish tongue was too much for my husband to bear. He did not strike me, Elizabeth. I swear it is true. I stepped into Edward’s path when he meant to quit the room, and he shoved me from his way. I hit the wall to the left of the hearth in his quarters. The look upon the major general’s countenance spoke of instant regret, and all I suffered were a few bruises. You must not speak to Darcy of this, but I believe the incident and the one earlier in the chapel precipitated Edward’s speedy exit. If Darcy knew of the incident, my brother would defend my honor against my husband, and I would lose one of the two men I love most dearly.”

Georgiana’s voice in the darkness brought Elizabeth to the present.

“I can tolerate the pain of knowing Edward’s displeasure.”

As Elizabeth looked on from the silent corner, Georgiana traced the curve of Colleen’s cheek.

“If your Papa will simply return to us, I can bear it all.”

Elizabeth never witnessed Darcy’s sister so distraught.

“There is room in my heart for one more private ache. All I wish is for you, my Sweet One, to know your father’s love. I can live without love if Edward would return for you. A child should never spend her life without knowing both her parents’ affections.”

Elizabeth felt tears forming in her eyes. Georgiana concealed her deepest pains, even from her brother. The girl suffered dearly from being the cause of her mother’s death.
        Quietly, Georgiana moved to where she could look out upon the night, and Elizabeth sank deeper into the shadows. In the moonlight, Elizabeth could observe how worry and pretense left its mark upon Georgiana’s features. Harsh lines appeared around her sister’s eyes. The girl shivered before resting her forehead against the glass.

“The major general thinks I do not know he reaches for me only when he wishes to silence my questions.”

Georgiana’s tone spoke of the heartache of unfulfilled dreams.

“All, which remains, is the hollowness I knew all my life.”

The girl sighed in acceptance.

“Sixteen months,” Georgiana admitted in chastising tones. “I had sixteen months of happiness. It is enough. I have Colleen and Darcy and Elizabeth and my nephews. It is foolish for me to think I could also claim Edward’s love. I must not covet what others possess. I must make myself act with Christian forgiveness and make my marriage as tolerable as possible.”


Posted in Austen Authors, British history, Great Britain, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Regency era | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Life Below Stairs: English Servants Emigrating to Australia, the U. S., and Canada

Young girls who set out for Australia to earn a living as a domestic servant, opportunities to marry were not out of the question. In England, seduction ruled, but these young girls entered a different world, where they could consider being the mistress of their own houses, rather than the servant.

If you missed either of the first two pieces on English servants emigrating to Australia, you may find them here: 

Life Below Stairs: English Servants Emigrating to Australia, Part I

Life Below Stairs: English Servants Emigrating to Australia, Part II

Frank Huggett’s Life Below Stairs  (Book Club Associates, London, 1977, 143-145) provides us many examples of girls pursued by men looking for a wife. 

A seamstress wrote to her mother in 1852: “I had an offer a few days after landing from a gold-digger possessed of £600 to £700. Since that, I have had another from a bushman with £900; he has gone to the Diggings again to make plenty of money. That I have not decided on yet. I shall have a handsome house and garden, and all I wish. Dear Mother, I only wish you were here to advise me; the fact is, I have so many chances -a midshipman for one – so you may guess how different things are here if you are respectable.” (page 143, originally from Eneas Mackenzie’s The Emigrants’ Guide to Australia, Clarke, Beeton, n.d., p 36). 

Another girl arrived in Australia on 4 July 1848. She reportedly received three proposals in the first month in the country. The two women who preceded her in her servant’s post had each married well. “One is married to a gentleman and keeps a carriage and three servants and give £20 a year to each. She calls here almost every day.” (originally from Samuel Sidney’s Sidney’s Emigrant Journal. Orr. April 19, 1849). Emigration was a quick means for a girl to find a husband, something denied her in a similar position in England. 

Slide02.jpg English women servants were in great demand in the U. S. In 1855, The New York Daily Times  (January 20, 1885, quoted in Vere Forster’s Work and Wages. Cash. n.d., p 13 Appendix) conducted a survey of servant girls working on farms in 19 different states. The girls surveyed were paid 75 cents to $2 per week at a time when the British pound equaled four dollars and eighty cents. A prized cook could earn up to $24 per month (about £60 per year). Unlike other territories, English sumptuary laws did not prevail. Wikipedia explains, sumptuary laws as laws that attempted to regulate consumption; Black’s Law Dictionary defines them as “Laws made for the purpose of restraining luxury or extravagance, particularly against inordinate expenditures in the matter of apparel, food, furniture, etc.” Historically, there were laws that were intended to regulate and reinforce social hierarchies and morals through restrictions, often depending upon a person’s social rank, on their permitted clothing, food, and luxury expenditures.

Societies have used sumptuary laws for a variety of purposes. They were used as an attempt to regulate the balance of trade by limiting the market for expensive imported goods. They made it easy to identify social rank and privilege, and as such could be used for social discrimination.  The laws frequently prevented commoners from imitating the appearance of aristocrats and also could be used to stigmatize disfavored groups. 

Imagine the surprise of a servant when she learned she was expected to sit with the family for supper and to attend church with them, more so as equals. Moreover, especially those who settled in the West, the opportunity to marry was numerous. Emigrants to the States were advised to have a contract with the servants who traveled with them stating that the servants would remain with them for a stipulated time. (Huggett, 144)


Staff and servants of the Vanderbilts line the road of the North Carolina Biltmore Estate to welcome the newly wed George and Edith Vanderbilt. Photo by Carl Alwin Schenck, courtesy National Forests in North Carolina. The Driehaus Museum

All of that—the pride of a fine servant, a class ceiling, and that sense of permanence—is probably the biggest difference between American and English domestic service in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Though most people come away from Downton Abbey and other pop-culture examples of servanthood in Victorian England with the sense that this was transplanted to America for the Gilded Age nouveaux-riches, it’s not true. Though an attempt was made to emulate English ways as some Americans acquired staggering sums of money and began a lifestyle to match, the systems wound up markedly different from one another. (The Driehaus Museum)

Further, the wealthy Americans—themselves not far removed from humble circumstances—though they needed the servants to keep up their lifestyles, felt extremely proud of the equality possible in this country. Here’s how an 1888 article in the Chicago Tribune put it:

The servant problem is confessedly the most intricate in modern life. It is more intricate in the United States than in any European country. Our boasted democracy comes into the kitchen and claims for the servants rights and immunities never thought of in England or Germany. … Caste solves some of the difficulties of the domestic problem. But it solves them in a way we neither desire nor can make practiceable. We must solve the entire problem in some other way; and that other way must include the recognition of the fact that in this country every woman is just as good as another so long as she conducts herself virtuously. (The Driehaus Museum)


The cook prepares a meal at the Samuel M. Nickerson Mansion. The Richard H. Driehaus Museum.

The wages in Canada were lower than in the U. S. Early on, some mistresses tried to maintain Old World standards, even in the less civilized parts of the country. However, most mistresses shared the household chores with their servants. “As in the United States, the varnishing of floors and the use of a hot-air furnace for heating, obviated tedious scrubbing and the blackleading of countless fireplaces. Servants who lived with Canadian pioneers had to learn some of the skills that only their mothers might have known: sugar-boiling, soap-making, meat-salting, spinning, dyeing, cooking in a bake-kettle or a clay oven.” (Huggett, 144) 

Some men also chose to emigrate for better opportunities as a servant. The qualities that would cause a servant to be sacked in England – independence, enterprise, and dislike of pretension and routine – could lead to success in other places, where ingenuity and self-preservation were prized. 

Posted in Act of Parliament, British history, Living in the UK, real life tales, servant life | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Do You Know the History of ®Murine Eye Drops?

I am forever adding allergy drops to stop my eyes from itching and later adding eye drops to prevent the dryness. It got me thinking…

heritage.jpg Murine UK tells us this about the history of ®Murine: “The Murine® Eye Drops brand was first launched in the 1970’s with a pharmacy strength eye drop containing a medicine known as a vasoconstrictor, which acts by constricting the blood vessels in the eyes to reduce redness. Over the years, the Murine® range of products has continued to grow, offering specialist solutions for a number of common eye conditions such as red, dry and hayfever eyes.”

However I found a “more interesting” tale about ®Murine. I do not know whether it is true or not, but it a grand story. 

Otis F. Hall was one of the three founders of the Murine Eye Remedy Company, serving as its secretary and general manager. He was born in Auburn, New York, in October 1848, but soon found himself and his family in Michigan. He entered the banking business as a cashier at the People’s Bank of Manchester, and later he joined a private banking business with J. A. Sexton in Detroit. He spent time with the Second National Bank of Detroit, the D. M. Perry Company, and the Gale Sulky Harrow Company. At length, Hall traveled to the West Coast and founded the Old National Bank of Seattle. It was from there that the story of Murine came about. 

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 2.36.41 PM copy 2According to the story, around 1890, Otis F. Hal was discussing a broken shoe on a friend’s horse. As he bent to examine the shoe, the horse swished his tail, which struck Hall in the right eye, cutting the cornea’s surface. An ulcer developed. When nothing he tried had proven beneficial, Hall and his son traveled to Chicago to engage the most renowned ophthalmologists of the time, Doctors James B. and George W. McFatrich.

Under the doctors care, Hall’s eye healed within a few weeks. Moreover, Hall’s son was also cured of a minor eye irritation. The doctors used a specially prepared eye lotion that they had compounded in their lab. Mr. Hall, recognizing an opportunity, pressed the doctors to make the compound available upon a wider basis. However, the McFatrich brothers were not easily persuaded. It took Hall several years to convince them to mass produce the mixture. Hall and the McFatrichs formed the Murine Eye Remedy Company, naming the product after the chemical formula – muriate of berberine. They used the “mur” + “ine” from the two words, creating ®Murine.

The trio also founded the Northern Illinois College of Ophthalmology and Otology of Chicago. Hall died in October 1918.



Posted in business, commerce, medicine, real life tales | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments