Northamptonshire Past & Present

November 28, 2018 at 8:40 pm (books, entertainment, estates, history) (, , , )

“…because the Work is too hard for Women, it requires more strength than they are capable of, to raise Walls of Defence about a Lady’s Shape.” 

— Robert Campbell, The London Tradesman (1747)

regarding the fact that “stay-makers were always men”. “Stays were made of buckram, a thick, heavily stiffened, linen, difficult to cut and sew.”

The owner of the stays in this instance was Lady Langham of Cottesbrooke. On March 26, 1774, Lady Langham wrote of paying £1 16s to “Harrison” for “a pr of Stays”. The summation of Lady Langham’s London expenditures turns up in the eye-opening article by Judith Hodgkinson.

It is one article in back issues – now digitized (and continuing to add volumes) – of the journal Northamptonshire Past & Present produced by the Northamptonshire Record Society. [This particular volume is No. 62, from 2009.]

Northamptonshire Past and Present

Of course, Northamptonshire has Two Teen in the Time of Austen connections in being the location of Castle Ashby, home of the aunt and uncle of Emma Smith (later Emma Austen; and still later Emma Austen Leigh) – Lord and Lady Northampton.

I’ve even located a couple of related articles!

The first, “George London at Castle Ashby,” by the estate’s prior archivist Peter McKay. These are very early doings, indeed: 17th Century gardens. [article appears in No. 61 (2008)]

The second, also by Peter McKay, is brand new – issue 70 (not digitized; though the volume for sale) – “The Grand Tour of James, Lord Compton, 1707-1709.

The current issue also discusses such as Boughton House and Burghley House; a couple of locals – John Cope and the Rev. Henry Jephcott; as well as “Suffragettes and Suffragists in Northampton”.

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Regency Town House

July 18, 2018 at 2:02 pm (entertainment, history, places, travel) (, , , )

I first mentioned The Regency Town House in 2017, when telling readers about a free PDF download of Profiles of the Past. The link still works! So visit the University of Brighton if “silhouettes, fashion, and image” from 1760 to 1960 interests you.

profiles-of-the-past

I first found The Regency Town House website when I stumbled up the Bevan and Dewar Family letters. These were provided to The Regency Town House by a descendant, Patrick Baty – an historical paint consultant.

Two groups of letters are presented – one dating from the 1820s to 1840s; a later group, which covers the Crimean War, date from 1856 to 1870. Interestingly, The mother of Silvanus Bevan III was Elizabeth Barclay; yes, the Barclays Bank family. It was with Barclays that the banking firm of Goslings and Sharpe (the family firm of my diarist, Mary Gosling (sister-in-law to my second diarist, Emma Austen) amalgamated. Small world at times.

The website features short family biographies and also family trees.

You can click on individual letters to read the transcription – as well as explore the images of each original handwritten letter!

bright star_letter5

But back to The Regency Town House itself.

“The Regency Town House is a grade I listed terraced house in the heart of Brunswick Town, a Georgian estate in the City of Brighton & Hove on the Sussex coast. It was built in the mid-1820s.”

The volunteers working – in the restoration of this period property, as well as(obviously) the running of the museum, are to be applauded! Dedicated. Enthusiastic. These are only a few of the words one takes away from a visit to The Regency Town House website – so imagine an actual visit to No. 13 Brunswick Square!

NB: My Smiths & Goslings have connections to Brunswick Terrace, which fronts the sea and runs across the “end” of Brunswick “Square”.

An interesting, and useful, part of the website is called The Regency Town House Characters. This includes links to (more) letters and diaries.

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Understanding Old English Money

February 4, 2018 at 7:22 pm (diaries, history, research, World of Two Teens) (, , , )

12 pennies to the shilling (12d = 1s; also written as / ).

20 shillings (or 240 pence) to the pound. (20s = 1 l. and 240d = 1 l.)
To avoid confusion, I will typically use the modern pound sign online, £.

NB: A “guinea” was equal to 21 shillings (1 pound plus 1 shilling). Big ticket items (like a horse, for instance) might be quoted in “guineas.”

So if a letter cost 5d, then FOUR letters cost a shilling. If you had a “healthy” correspondence network, you might very well receive four letters in a DAY! (The recipient bore the cost.) Multiple deliveries in a week and that puts you up to 3 or 4 shillings a week. A heavier letter, or farther distance, and you pulled more coins from your purse.

The Smiths and Goslings frequently comment in their diaries about money spent.

What did a penny buy?

English Penny

Genuine English Penny from 1807

Even in the 1790s, evidently not much! So many items are in shillings and pence. “Pearl Needles” cost Mrs. Chute 6d. So did “a Song.” A pit-stop for the horses in the midst of a trip, for “Hay & water,” cost 6d. As did “a Glass for my watch: 6d.”

In the 1790s, Mrs. Chute’s typical generosity to a “Poor Man” or a “Poor Woman” was 2s; every once in a while it dips to a low of 6d. And sometimes hit the high of 2/6 (“2 and 6” or 2s 6d), for instance to a “Poor Sailor.” She was the most generous, in 1794, to a “poor French woman,” giving her 5 shillings.

Wages, sometimes, can be found among the costs.

The most telling:

In 1794, Mrs. Chute of The Vine notes the wages of a “Kitchenmaid” named Sally (no last name given) – “one’s year’s wages to Xmas” as 3£ 3s. She also notes “one year’s wages” to the unnamed Cook (to Michaelmas), 9£ 9s; to “Mrs. Bligh” (housekeeper; also to Christmas), 16£ 16s.

To an unnamed “kitchen girl” for an unnamed period of time: 2/6. To “the housemaid” in Albemarle Street (i.e., when on a visit), 10/6.

What goods did shillings purchase?

In Emma’s youth (1816), the Church Sacrament is typically 2/6. In the 1790s, Mrs. Chute (her aunt) would note that a “seat at church” cost 1 shilling. For the Sacrament, she gave 5s.

To put prices into perspective, some typical expenses (all from 1794):

To a letter: 8d

To Washing: 1s

To Letters: 1s

To seeing “Lord Abercorn’s house” 2s 6d

To Seeds: 3s

To 12 Tuberose roots: 3s

To a book: 3s

To a play: 6s

To “Simpson, hair dresser”: 6s

To a Week’s Washing: 6s 5d

To the opera: 12s

To “paper and pens”: 14s

A doctor’s visit: 1£ 1s; but another visit cost slightly less, 10s 6d

Five yards Muslin: 1£ 5s 0d

 

See Project Britain: http://projectbritain.com/moneyold.htm for slang and some history of English coins.

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Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts

November 1, 2010 at 7:24 pm (news) (, , , , , )

Today unveils the Digital Archive of Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts:

This features manuscripts from the Juvenilia, unfinished novels, cancelled Persuasion chapters and such like; formerly found online, the History of England, though you see Cassandra’s pictures on this website, you will still find online at the British Library. (I love their presentation!)

Check out the website at: http://www.janeausten.ac.uk/index.html

How about such a site with all the FAMILY letters… now that would be something to have digitalized!

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Dash It All–

September 9, 2010 at 8:37 pm (news, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Came across this interesting article from Australia in which Jane Austen’s penmanship, punctuation and pungent sentences come in for a bit of scrutiny. How apropos! Since one thing that is always at the forefront of conducting primary research is contending with handwriting!

Forming the base of the article: The two chapters cut from Persuasion, the only extant manuscript penned by Austen (if we don’t count the copied-out juvenilia).

Having a copy of Modert’s Jane Austen’s Manuscript Letters in Facsimile, I really don’t think Austen’s writing difficult to read (on the other hand imagine if this book had been published with the even better images now possible in the digital age!); and so little cross writing. In fact the quirk of Austen’s letters are those written with much white-space so that the next “layer” of writing comes upside-down, but in between this first “layer” of writing.

Examining actual letters (from the Gosling and Smith families — though I did read a couple written by Cassandra Austen!), you see with what a fine line (ie, a well-sharpened quill) most people wrote. The difference between a dot (period) and a comma often quite difficult to discern. And dashes? Hell! I use them all the time! Who doesn’t?

And if commas are thought of as a “pause” when reading aloud, then many of Austen’s commas make great sense.

If Austen can be described as having a “closely written” hand, then the writer of this article has NEVER read anything written by the likes of young Augusta Smith (aka Augusta Wilder)! Yow!

(The execrable handwriting of the likes of Lady Elizabeth Dickins I won’t even mention…)

I must comment on the comment about underlining: Seeing as I transcribe as closely as possible, I use underlining rather than italicizing. Once, an editor changed the underlined words into italics. Hate to say, but, it just was not the same! And how to include two or even three lines?!? If I remember correctly, one of the editors working with Queen Victoria’s letters kept the original emphasis — one, two or even three underscores — intact. I like to do the same with Emma, Mary and all the rest, too.

  • From Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine, read a graphologist’s thoughts on Jane’s handwriting <broken link; try this link instead>. I see a LOT of the same characteristics in the Smith/Gosling papers.
  • To learn about the “mechanics” of writing in the period of the Quill Pen, see JASNA’s Persuasions On-Line, in an article by Robert Hurford.
  • To see an actual piece of Austen’s writing, there is none better than the British Library’s presentation of her The History of England, with (we must give the artist her due) the fabulous drawings of Cassandra Austen.
  • The BBC and Chawton Cottage (Louise West) in conversation.

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