Category Archives: History 1800-1837

The Princess and the Equerry: 1798-1810

Mrs Daffodil is charmed to welcome once again author Catherine Curzon, with an excerpt from her new book Kings of Georgian Britain. We have had the pleasure of Ms. Curzon’s company before, in “A Coronation for the Ages.” She is a royal historian and, among other things, Madame Gilflurt at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life. Her theme to-day is the melancholy story of

The Princess and the Equerry

The children of George III and Queen Charlotte were many and their fates were varied. Some lived tragically short lives, some entered scandalous unions and some were never out of the papers. Of course, fun was generally confined to the males whilst for the royal daughters, excitement was a notion that could only be dreamed of. They lived a secluded life at Windsor, serving as companions to their mother as she struggled with the challenges of her husband’s mental disorder.

Princess Amelia was one such cosseted daughter. From her birth in 1783 to her death in 1810, Amelia’s life was wracked by ill health, yet she still found time to embark on the kind of doomed love affair best suited to the pages of romantic fiction. However, there was to be no happy ending.

Princess Amelia was the fifteenth and youngest child of the king and queen. She was born at the Royal Lodge, Windsor just three months after the sad death of 4-year-old Octavius, George’s favourite son, and her birth was a bittersweet time for the family. They soon doted on her and gave her the diminutive nickname, ‘Emily’. George, who was hit hardest of all by the death of his son, transferred his adoration to the newborn and lavished affection and attention on her.

When Amelia was just 5 years old the king suffered his first episode of mental illness. Eventually these periods of sickness grew more frequent until George’s initial plans to take his daughters to Hanover in search of husbands were set aside. Since the king had no desperate wish to see his daughters married off, the princesses remained unbetrothed, drawn into their mother’s secluded, secretive circle. No suitors existed at court so, with little opportunity to meet gentlemen, the girls settled into their domestic niche.

By 1798 Amelia was showing signs of tuberculosis and she was sent to take the air of Weymouth in the company of the Honourable Sir Charles FitzRoy, an equerry more than two decades her senior. During this fateful trip, Amelia and FitzRoy fell in love. They dreamed of marriage but their hopes were dashed when the queen refused to tell her husband of the affair. It meant the end of any marriage plans, yet Amelia would not let go of her dream and she and FitzRoy clung to their love, with the young princess even styling herself as AFR, Amelia FitzRoy.

Recalled to Windsor, Amelia grew increasingly despondent and in 1808 suffered a severe attack of measles. Two years later she took to her bed, wracked by tuberculosis. She knew her time was short and commissioned a mourning ring that would be given to the father who doted on her. She also took pains to ensure that she might make her farewells to the man she loved and, with the help of Amelia’s sisters, FitzRoy was given leave to make visits to Amelia’s bedside. One can only hope that the presence of her love gave Amelia some small comfort during her final days yet it must also have reminded her of what she had lost.

On 2 November 1810, 27-year-old Princess Amelia died. Her final thoughts were for the man she loved and her dying words, related by Princess Mary in a letter to FitzRoy, were, “Tell Charles I die blessing him”. She left him all her worldly possessions, still true to the man whom she had once dreamed of calling husband.

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Many thanks for that affecting story and heartiest congratulations to Catherine on the release of her newest book.

About the Author

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian who writes on all matters 18th century at www.madamegilflurt.com. Her work has been featured on HistoryExtra.com, the official website of BBC History Magazine and in publications such as Explore History, All About History, History of Royals and Jane Austens Regency World. She has provided additional research for An Evening with Jane Austen at the V&A and spoken at venues including the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, Lichfield Guildhall, he National Maritime Museum and Dr Johnson’s House.

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, she lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.

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About the Book

For over a century of turmoil, upheaval and scandal, Great Britain was a Georgian land.

From the day the German-speaking George I stepped off the boat from Hanover, to the night that George IV, bloated and diseased, breathed his last at Windsor, the four kings presided over a changing nation.

Kings of Georgian Britain offers a fresh perspective on the lives of the four Georges and the events that shaped their characters and reigns. From love affairs to family feuds, political wrangling and beyond, peer behind the pomp and follow these iconic figures from cradle to grave. After all, being a king isn’t always grand parties and jaw-dropping jewels, and sometimes following in a father’s footsteps can be the hardest job around.

Take a trip back in time to meet the wives, mistresses, friends and foes of the men who shaped the nation, and find out what really went on behind closed palace doors. Whether dodging assassins, marrying for money, digging up their ancestors or sparking domestic disputes that echoed down the generations, the kings of Georgian Britain were never short on drama.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

The Duke’s Private Bell: 1804

death-on-bell-rope

THE DUKE OF ROXBURGHE AND HIS SERVANT.

[A Glasgow Professor at the Scott Centenary cited Sir Walter as a witness against Spiritualism. Certain we are that as Spiritualists we rarely find ourselves out of sympathy with Scott. The Edinburgh atmosphere wherein his life was passed was deadly to every form of supernaturalism, but the poet’s honest natural instincts, if oppressed, survived, and are manifest in a multitude of utterances. The following anecdote is from his ” Notes” to the Antiquary.Ed.]

All who were acquainted with that accomplished nobleman, John, Duke of Roxburghe, must remember that he was not more remarkable for creating and possessing a most curious and splendid library, than for his acquaintance with the literary treasures it contained. In arranging his books, fetching and replacing the volumes which he wanted, and carrying on all the necessary intercourse which a man of letters holds with his library, it was the Duke’s custom to employ, not a secretary or librarian, but a livery servant, called Archie, whom habit had made so perfectly acquainted with the library, that he knew every book, as a shepherd does the individuals of his flock, by what is called head-mark, and could bring his master whatever volume he wanted, and afford all the mechanical aid the Duke required in his literary researches. To secure the attendance of Archie, there was a bell hung in his room, which was used on no occasion except to call him individually to the Duke’s study.

His Grace died in St. James’ Square, London, in the year 1804; the body was to be conveyed to Scotland, to lie in state at his mansion of Floors, and to be removed from thence to the family burial-place at Bowden.

At this time, Archie, who had been long attacked by a liver complaint, was in the very last stage of that disease. Yet he prepared himself to accompany the body of the master whom he had so long and so faithfully waited upon. The medical persons assured him he could not survive the journey. It signified nothing, he said, whether he died in England or Scotland; he was resolved to assist in rendering the last honours to the kind master from whom he had been inseparable for so many years, even if he should expire in the attempt. The poor invalid was permitted to attend the Duke’s body to Scotland; but when they reached Floors he was totally exhausted, and obliged to keep his bed, in a sort of stupor which announced speedy dissolution. On the morning of the day fixed for removing the dead body of the Duke to the place of burial, the private bell by which he was wont to summon his attendant to his study, was rung violently. This might easily happen in the confusion of such a scene, although the people of the neighbourhood prefer believing that the bell sounded of its own accord. Ring, however, it did; and Archie, roused by the well-known summons rose up in his bed, and faltered, in broken accents, “Yes, my Lord Duke—yes—I will wait on your Grace instantly;” and with these words on his lips, he is said to have fallen back and expired.

The Spiritual Magazine, February 1873

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Would that all staff were so punctilious in the pursuit of their duties!–it would certainly make Mrs Daffodil’s life a good deal easier. One does wonder, however, if there are vails and half-days in the World Beyond.

The Duke’s fabled library, consisting of some 10,000 items, was sold at auction in 1812 (forming a plot point for that recent book, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell). One wonders if the ghosts of the late Duke and his servant were in attendance.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

Die For Love: 1830s to present

Esther Hale, The Ghostly Bride

Esther Hale, The Ghostly Bride, art by Jessica Wiesel

To-day Mrs Daffodil once again—well, “welcomes” is perhaps too strong a word—but shall we say “accommodates” that ghost-writing person over at Haunted Ohio, who says that 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of the very first volume of her Haunted Ohio series. Mrs Daffodil is pursing her lips dubiously over the assertion that this is grounds for celebration, but in this world of fleeting fame, twenty-five years is a long time and a ghost story for Hallowe’en never goes amiss. This story comes from the second volume in the series, cunningly entitled Haunted Ohio II: More Ghostly Tales from the Buckeye State.

DIE FOR LOVE

Beaver Creek threads its way through the steep hills and thick forests of Beaver Creek State Park. During the canal boom of the 1880s the area prospered, but today it is an area of deserted logging camps, ruined canal locks, and ghost towns.  One such town, Sprucevale, is accessible only by bridle path.  And all that remains of Sprucevale are the three walls of Hambelton’s grist mill—and the legend of Esther Hale.

On the morning of August 12, 1837, Esther Hale was happily preparing for her wedding. The table in the parlor was decorated with flowers and greenery; the cake was in the kitchen, covered with a cheesecloth veil to keep off the flies.  The wedding was set for ten in the morning.  By half past ten the guests were beginning to fidget and smile behind their fans.  By half past twelve they climbed into their wagons and drove away.  The messenger Esther sent could find no trace of her lover.  The cabin was deserted, he said, the ashes in the stove were cold.

When her friends tried to help her to bed, Esther quietly rebuffed them until they left her sitting alone in the dark by the window of the parlor. When they returned the next morning, the curtains had been drawn, as if in a house of mourning.  They were never again opened in Esther Hale’s lifetime.

All summer Esther moved like a ghost through the house. In the kitchen, beetles tunneled through the cake.  The flowers withered in the parlor while the spiders spun their gossamer hangings.  Her friends coaxed her to eat and drink a little, but when they tried to get her to change her dress or remove the wedding decorations, she flew at them with claw-like fingers.  Eventually they left her alone.

Broken hearts kill slowly. Four months later a neighbor noticed that the door to Esther’s house was open, banging back and forth in the December wind.  He notified the sheriff and the doctor who took a party of men to the dark house.  Snow had drifted throughout the rooms like a white shroud. Esther was slumped over the parlor window sill, her veil over her face.  Someone held up a lantern.  The doctor drew back the shredded lace.  Esther had been dead for several weeks.  When they saw the horror beneath, they silently covered her over again.  She was buried so, shrouded in her wedding clothes.

You can still see her, dressed in white, looking for her lover. It is said that she haunts the bridge over Beaver Creek, waiting there every year on August 12, a hideous figure in tattered white satin and lace.  If she touches you, she will become young and beautiful again—but you will die.

Nanette Young of Harmony Hills Stables enjoys taking people on trail rides and telling them the ghost stories of the area, especially the tale about the ghostly bride. Local people say they’ve seen Esther run in front of their headlights.  Nanette says that her car shuts off every morning by the grist mill.  Other people have had the same experience.

“One Christmas I was out looking at the Christmas lights with my mother. I told her, ‘This car is going to shut off as we pass that building.’  My girlfriend who was with us said, ‘Yeah, it happens every morning.’ My mother didn’t believe me, then it shut right off.  When this happens I just coast down the hill.  There are forty thousand hills out here.  But the car doesn’t shut off on any of the others.”

On August 8th, Nanette took a group of riders out on the trail. It was a clear night, but a mysterious fog rose from the creek up to the horses’ legs.  As they passed Esther’s house and rode onto the bridge, the last man in line said, “I feel a cold force pulling on my sweat shirt!”  Nanette could see nothing, but when they reached the safety of the barn, the hood of his sweat shirt was torn.

If you are in the area in early August, drive through quickly with your windows rolled up. And keep a sharp lookout for a skeletal woman in a wedding dress stained by the grave for she will lunge at your car, her bony fingers scrabbling at your windows, desperate as Death to touch and claim your living flesh.

Haunted Ohio II: More Ghostly Tales from the Buckeye State, Chris Woodyard, 1992

Like most local legends, there are a number of variations in the stories about Esther Hale. She is said to have been a Quakeress preacher, she is said to walk out of the Hambleton Mill in Beaver Creek State Park in Northeastern Ohio, and write “Come” on one of the stone walls of the mill on Christmas Eve.

The Haunted Ohio series is available at online retailers and through Barnes & Noble stores.

Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales. The books are available in paperback and for Kindle. Indexes and fact sheets for all of these books may be found by searching hauntedohiobooks.com. Join her on FB at Haunted Ohio by Chris Woodyard or The Victorian Book of the Dead.

 

An Ingenious Ghost: 1825

Image from The Spectre of the Hall, British Library

Image from The Spectre of the Hall, British Library

A TERRIFIC EXPEDIENT OF A THIEF.

Arthur Chambers was a thief endowed with uncommon address and talent. His adventures were marked by boldness in their object, and ingenuity in their accomplishment, as the following relation will shew:—

He hired the first floor of a house, and agreed with the landlord for fourteen shillings per week. Having been taken for a man of fortune, both from his appearance and expense, a mutual confidence was gradually established. When his plot was matured, he one day entered, with a very pensive and sorrowful look, the apartment of his landlord, who anxiously enquired the cause of his great uneasiness: Chambers, with tears in his eyes, informed him, that he had just returned from Hampstead, where he had witnessed the death of a beloved brother, who had left him his sole heir, with an express injunction to convey his dear remains to Westminster Abbey. He therefore entreated the favour of being allowed to bring his brother’s remains at a certain hour to his house, that from thence they might be conveyed to the place of their destination. His request was readily granted.

Chambers went off the next morning, leaving word, that the corpse would be there at six o’clock in the evening. At the appointed hour the hearse with six horses arrived at the door. An elegant coffin, with six gilded handles, was carried up stairs, and placed upon the dining-room table, and the horses were conveyed by the men to a stable in the neighbourhood. They informed the landlord that Chambers was detained on business, and would probably sleep that night in the Strand.

This artful rogue was, however, confined in the coffin, in which air-holes were made, the screw-nails left unfixed, his clothes all on, and only a winding-sheet wrapped above all, and his face disguised with flour. All the family went to bed except the maid-servant. Chambers arose from his confinement, went down stairs to the kitchen, wrapped in his winding-sheet, sat down and stared the maid in the face, who, overwhelmed with fear, cried out, “A ghost! a ghost!” and ran upstairs to her master’s room. He chid her unreasonable fears, and requested her to return to bed, and compose herself. She obstinately refused, and remained in the room;

In a short time, however, in stalks the stately ghost, took his seat, and conferred a complete sweat and a terrible fright upon all three who were present. Retiring from his station, when he deemed it convenient, he continued, by the moving of the doors, and the noise raised through the house, to conceal his designs. In the meantime he went down stairs, and opened the doors to his accomplices, who assisted in carrying off the plate, and every thing which could be removed, not even sparing the utensils of the kitchen. The maid was the first to venture from the room in the morning, and to inform her master and mistress what had happened, who, more than the night before, chid her credulity in believing that a ghost could rob a house, or carry away any article out of it. In a little time, however, the landlord was induced to rise from his bed, go down stairs, and found, to his astonishment and chagrin, that the whole of his plate, and almost the whole of his moveables, were gone and he had only received in return an empty coffin!

Chambers, after continuing his depredations, and being guilty of numerous acts of consummate art and villany, was at last detected, tried, sentenced, and finished his singular and vicious career at Tyburn. 

The Terrific Register, 1825

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil hopes that this anecdote is new to her readers; it is rather an old chestnut and was told about a number of criminals, named and unnamed. Arthur Chambers was something of a legend in the London Underworld. An unsavoury character trying to lure the hero into a life of crime, states:

“Not know who Arthur Chambers was !” exclaimed Master Blake in surprise; “ well, that is a go! why, Arthur Chambers was the very prince of prigs [thieves]; the downiest diver [most cunning pick-pocket], the rummest [foot] pad, the kiddiest [most fraudulent] scamp, the prettiest cheat, and the most dexterous filch upon town.”

A footnote adds:

‘This prince of prigs was the most dexterous pickpocket of his own or any other day. He was of low extraction, and, according to Captain Charles Johnson, commenced pilfering even while he was in petticoats. He was a perfect master of slang in all its varieties, from the maunders’, or beggars’, cant, to the Romanee, or gipsy patter, and Newgate flash of the light-fingered gentry. Many curious stories are related by Johnson of Arthur’s proficiency as a cheat: one in which he got himself conveyed into his own lodgings as a dead man, and, in the character of a ghost, contrived, during the night, to rifle the house, is really dramatic, and might almost form a farce. After a long career of roguery in all the lower walks of his profession, for Arthur never aspired to the dignity of a housebreaker or highwayman, and being confined in Bridewell and many other prisons, he was detected in a street robbery, found guilty, and, some time before the birth of our hero, suffered the usual fate of such offenders at Tyburn.

The Life and Adventures of Jack Sheppard, Lincoln Fortescue, Esq., 1845, p. 42

The term “Newgate flash,” above, refers to a type of slang. It also reflected a certain admiration in society for the roguish criminal who could carry off an imposition like the one above with such panache.

At one time there was a brief passion for polished steel; and among the slang refinements of the day was the application of that metal to a watch-chain of long links, imitating fetters, and called “the Newgate flash,” indicating the sympathy that existed for the numerous felons who were then weekly being hanged at the Old Bailey. Bentley’s Miscellany, 1852, p. 621

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Making Straw Bonnets: c. 1800

late-18th-early-19th-straw-bonnet

A late-18th / early 19th-century straw bonnet http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/womans-bonnet-326663

That spring brought a new fashion in head gear. Straw bonnets came into vogue. Peabody, Waterman & Co. received an invoice from England, and Mrs. Peabody presented one to her sister Hannah. I greatly admired this bonnet, but mother said she could not afford to buy me one that season. Aunt Sarah, noticing my discontented visage, inquired the cause, at which she signified her readiness to teach me to braid straw, and make myself a bonnet. Much surprised, I asked how she had learned. “As I have most things, I taught myself,” was the reply. “During the Revolutionary war two British cruisers for two days lay off the mouth of the Merrimac. The inhabitants of the “Port” were greatly alarmed, momentarily expecting a bombardment. Your great-aunt Mollie Noyes packed her effects, and, with her children, came here. Though the men-of-war withdrew without any demonstration, as the news immediately came that Captain Noyes’s vessel had been captured, and himself and crew were prisoners at Dartmoor, Mrs. Noyes remained some time. Your father was troubled with headache, and often complained of the heat of his wool hat. One day during haying, Aunt Noyes brought him a straw hat, which she said Captain Noyes had brought from foreign parts. After it was worn out your father missed it so much that the idea struck me of braiding one. We had a field of oats. I cut some straw, took the old hat, and, after patiently unbraiding and braiding for a time, at length succeeded in obtaining the secret. I braided and sewed a hat, which, though not as handsome as the foreign one, did very well. I braided several, and can teach you. When the oats are large enough to cut you can make a pretty bonnet.”

Mother tried to dissuade me from this project. She didn’t believe I could “make anything decent.” I was strong in faith, and my aunt upheld this determination. As soon as the straw was ripe I began to plait, and soon had sufficient for a bonnet. The straw was finer than Aunt Hannah’s, but, as no knowledge of bleaching had been obtained, it was not as white; still, it looked very well. Aunt Sarah fashioned it in the prevailing mode, but a difficulty arose respecting pressing. The front was easily managed, but how could the crown be shaped? Aunt Sarah was a person of expedients; I never knew her frustrated in anything she set about. A mortar was turned bottom upward, paper fitted over it, and the crown shaped to the requisite form. I was jubilant over this bonnet, and my Aunt Peabody sent a white ribbon to trim it, like Aunt Hannah’s. Neither before nor after do I think I was ever so proud of an article of dress as I was of that bonnet. After this we cut a quantity of straw, and I braided father a hat…

Early 19th-century straw bonnet with chevron plaiting http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/womans-bonnet-326722

Early 19th-century straw bonnet with chevron plaiting http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/womans-bonnet-326722

With my multifarious duties, I had contrived to plait a new straw bonnet for myself. Aunt Sarah assisted me to make common hats for father and the boys. We also fashioned a cunning bonnet for my little sister Susan to wear upon her first advent at meeting. Upon sight of this head gear, little Joe demanded a Sunday straw hat. Aunt Sarah said that was a good idea. I plaited a fine braid; the hat was made and lined with green silk. Jim thought he should like one, only the braid might be coarser. When father saw this hat, he asked us to make one for him; the light hat was “so comfortable in warm weather.” The gentlemen and youth of the neighborhood and vicinity, seeing and liking these hats, came to solicit us to braid some for them. In a short time quite a lucrative business was established. In the midst of the hurry, one of our cousins, Patty Noyes, came in, to beg us to braid her a bonnet; she “must have one for the very next Sunday.” “That is an impossibility.” “Then sew one from this!” she exclaimed, seizing a roll of the hat braid. “That is too coarse.” “That is a matter of taste,” she returned; “if I have a coarse straw it may set the fashion. Just sew the braid as I direct.”

Remonstrance was useless. The bonnet was sewed. It looked very well, and when trimmed was really pretty. Patty’s joke proved a prophecy,—she did set a fashion. Orders came for several similar bonnets. This extra straw work brought a great hurry in the autumn….

A quantity of straw had been stored the summer before; this spring, orders for bonnets and hats came as fast as they could be filled.

As I have stated, Uncle Thurrel’s only daughter had married Mr. Jonathan Smith, the son of the Rev. Dr. Smith, the first Baptist clergyman in Haverhill. Mr. Smith kept a store in that town. Straw bonnets were becoming so fashionable, Mrs. Smith conceived the idea of our supplying the sale at her husband’s establishment. Hitherto our bonnets had remained the natural color of the straw. Straw work had been commenced in Providence, and through some relatives there, Mrs. Smith learned the process of bleaching. We were greatly pleased to become initiated into the mystery, and with her native ingenuity, Aunt Sarah contrived a bleachery. Holes were bored in the head of a barrel, strings were attached to the bonnets and passed up through the apertures, which were then plugged with wooden spiles; sulphur sprinkled over embers put in the dish of a foot-stove was placed beneath; the whole being tightened by an old quilt, not a fume escaped, and the bonnets came forth as white as the imported. To this period the braid had been plaited from whole straw; this year the split straws began to come, and Aunt Sarah finding that she could split straw with a coarse comb, concluded to have some combs made for the purpose. Comb making had been an industry of the town since its first settlement.

Mr. Noyes was a great oddity. He would run half over the parish bareheaded and barefooted. It was no uncommon thing for him to appear at our house, after dinner of a hot summer day, in only a shirt aud breeches, having run across the fields two miles, “jest to take a nooning.” A great joker and a capital story-teller, his appearance was the signal for a general frolic. He was fond of telling strangers that his father used to say he had “four remarkable children: Molly was remarkably handsome, Tim was a remarkable sloven, John was remarkably wicked, and Enoch was remarkably cunning.” To this gentleman Aunt Sarah applied. As might have been expected, he entered into the business with characteristic zest, and in a short time we were supplied with half a dozen different-sized straw splitters.

Early 19th-century straw bonnet with ornamental edging. http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/bonnet-326664

Early 19th-century straw bonnet with ornamental edging. http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/bonnet-326664

Mrs. Smith, having cut a tiny piece of trimming from an imported bonnet, brought it for me to imitate. How vividly I recall the two long hours which I passed, sitting on the chamber floor surrounded by the litter of straw, patiently weaving and unweaving until the secret was obtained. Having acquired this ornamental cue, I invented several other decorations with which to finish the edge of the bonnets. I also learned to make straw plumes and tassels from examining those of the foreign bonnets. Miss Mary Perkins kept a fashionable millinery establishment in Newburyport. Hearing of our straw manufacture she rode up to see us and immediately ordered bonnets. After a time the plain straw became superseded by diamond and other fancy plaits. These being the ton, Miss Jenkins also purloined a bit from the inside of a diamond satin straw, and brought it as a pattern of a braid. It looked so intricate I nearly despaired of my ability to copy it, but Miss Jenkins would not permit me to demur, and as every one spoke encouragingly I made the effort, and in two or three hours accomplished the task. This was a timely achievement; our bonnets were in great demand, and we continued the business through the warm season for several years until the establishment of straw factories and my approaching marriage curtailed the work; but Aunt Sarah continued to braid men’s hats and supply her friends’ bonnets for a long time.

Reminiscences of a Nonagenarian, Sarah Smith Emery, 1879

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil can highly recommend the delightful memoirs of Mrs Emery; she tells of the homely minutiae of life at the turn of the nineteenth century and restores to us details of women’s work that otherwise would have been lost to history. The lady has the additional merit of being a charming and engaging narrator. 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

Miseries of a Ball Room: 1826

MISERIES OF A BALL ROOM

Lamentation 1. After repeating warnings to be at your place of rendezvous; prepared to glide gaily through the ‘mazy dance,’ at a remarkably early hour—to be obliged, through the tardiness of the managers in distributing the tickets, and the difficulty the company causing in to their numbers, to sit still two or three hours, filled with anxious and disappointed expectation.

  1. To be engaged to dance with a partner who blunders all the way down a country dance, after receiving ten or a dozen first rate invitations.
  2. The plague of that complicated revolution called “right and left,” for the awkwardness of some and the inattention of others.
  3. To have for your own partners, on your next neighbour, a gentleman with a frock coat.
  4. To have a new pair of gloves ruined on account of your partner’s neglecting to wear his; or in plain English, to have your neat white kids fall a sacrifice to his parsimony.
  5. Through the indifference of the company, to have a continuation of mistakes, while dancing your favorite figure.
  6. While in the act of taking your very much admired balance, to be tripped up with your untied shoe string.
  7. While going down the middle, with quick music, to be delighted with the sight of your comb upon the floor, and your hair flowing upon your shoulders.
  8. Dancing half the night with a pair of shoes far too tight in length and breadth—unmentionables on every toe.

Jemima Sensitive.

Additional misery, by a gentleman.

A venerable invitation given in so equivocal manner, that you find yourself on the appointed evening, waiting on a friend who had no thought of seeing you.

Washington Whig [Bridgeton, NJ] 11 November 1826: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil does not dance, but recognises the offenders (and they offend serially) from peeps round the corner at various balls. All can surely sympathise with the loss of neat, white kids.  And even a non-terpsichorean recoils from a man in a frock coat at an evening rout.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

A Coronation for the Ages: 1821

George IV by Sir Thomas Lawrence

George IV by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Mrs Daffodil is delighted and honoured to welcome a distinguished guest blogger to these pages and joins the entire Empire in applauding Catherine Curzon, royal historian, author of the new book, Life in the Georgian Court, and Madame Gilflurt at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life. Her theme to-day is the coronation of George IV.

A Coronation for the Ages

Few kings of the long 18th century are as fabulously divisive as George IV, as I discovered whilst researching Life in the Georgian Court. A spendthrift, gambler, womaniser and lifelong spoiled brat, when it came to flamboyance, nobody could beat him. His finest moment was surely his 1821 coronation, a riot of cash, ceremony and jewels!

For years the new king had been planning this moment, determined that when his day finally came, it would be the greatest Europe had ever seen. He envisioned a themed event with guests dressed in Elizabethan or Jacobean costume and true to form, there was to be no expense spared. After all, the world needed to know that nobody did good old showing off anything like as well as him. Parliament stumped up over £100,000 for the festivities, adding a further £138,000 received from France under the terms of a financial indemnity[1] and across the country, a day of celebrations was declared.

“[George wore] a black hat with a monstrous plume of ostrich feathers, out of the midst of which rose a black heron’s plume. His Majesty seemed very much oppressed with the weight of his robes. The train was of enormous length and breadth. It was of crimson velvet adorned with large golden stars, and a broad golden border.”[2]

Ever fabulous, George’s togs cost £24,000, the train stretching for twenty seven feet and requiring the attention of eight pages just to lift it. Never one to shirk on luxury, he commissioned a new crown containing over 12,000 diamonds that were on hire from Rundell, Bridge and Rundell. Unfortunately, George grew somewhat fond of his rented diamonds and did his best to hang onto them, only returning them to the jewellers once Parliament rejected his requests for the country to purchase them on his behalf[3].

At the head of the Coronation procession came Miss Fellowes, the King’s herbwoman, and her six attendants, scattering flowers and sweet-smelling herbs in a traditional ceremony to ward off plague and pestilence. The procession that followed included the Officers of State who carried the iconic orb, sceptre, crown and sword, bishops bearing chalice, bible and paten and, of course, the star of the show. George made a splendid sight in his robes, followed by the Barons of the Cinque Ports who carried the Coronation Canopy. Bringing up the considerable rear were the assembled peers of the realm and other dignitaries, with hired prizefighters playing the role of pages throughout the procession just in case trouble came calling.

The monumental procession eventually wound its way through the crowds to Westminster Abbey where George was subject to the traditional and ancient ceremony. The summer day was stifling and George wilted under the weight of his robes, appearing “distressed almost to fainting”[4]. When the crown was placed on his head, Britain could finally celebrate the coronation of George IV, with the Abbey erupting in a spontaneous huzzah that both surprised and delighted the king.

The procession then made it way back to Westminster Hall amid cheering crowds. We all know that George liked his food and the coronation banquet was testament to this, consisting as it did of well over a thousand dishes and tens of thousands of pounds of meat alone. The king thanked the assembled guests and did them “the honour of drinking their health and that of his good people”[5]. It was a night to remember as hundreds of male guests tucked into a vast array of delicacies, whilst the ladies and children were herded into viewing galleries to watch the fun!

Finally the newly-crowned George IV departed for Carlton House with the people of London joining a fête in Hyde Park, where fireworks were let off throughout the evening. The day had been a flamboyant, excessive triumph and parties went on late into the summer night as the people of the realm celebrated the crowning of the new monarch.

Life in the Georgian Court by Catherine Curzon of the famed blog: A Covent Garden Gilflurt's Guide to Life.

Life in the Georgian Court by Catherine Curzon of the famed blog: A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life.

About the Author

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian and blogs on all matters 18th century at A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life.

Her work has featured by publications including BBC History ExtraAll About History, History of Royals, Explore History and Jane Austens Regency World. She has also provided additional material for the sell-out theatrical show, An Evening with Jane Austen, will she will introduce at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, in September (tickets are available here).

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, she lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill.

Her book, Life in the Georgian Court, is available now from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Book Depository and all good bookshops!

About Life in the Georgian Court

As the glittering Hanoverian court gives birth to the British Georgian era, a golden age of royalty dawns in Europe. Houses rise and fall, births, marriages and scandals change the course of history and in France, Revolution stalks the land.

Peep behind the shutters of the opulent court of the doomed Bourbons, the absolutist powerhouse of Romanov Russia and the epoch-defining family whose kings gave their name to the era, the House of Hanover.

Behind the pomp and ceremony were men and women born into worlds of immense privilege, yet beneath the powdered wigs and robes of state were real people living lives of romance, tragedy, intrigue and eccentricity. Take a journey into the private lives of very public figures and learn of arranged marriages that turned to love or hate and scandals that rocked polite society.

Here the former wife of a king spends three decades in lonely captivity, Prinny makes scandalous eyes at the toast of the London stage and Marie Antoinette begins her last, terrible journey through Paris as her son sits alone in a forgotten prison cell.

Life in the Georgian Court is a privileged peek into the glamorous, tragic and iconic courts of the Georgian world, where even a king could take nothing for granted.

Bibliography

Anonymous. George III: His Court and Family, Vol I. London: Henry Colburn and Co, 1821.

Baker, Kenneth. George IV: A Life in Caricature. London: Thames & Hudson, 2005.

Black, Jeremy. The Hanoverians: The History of a Dynasty. London: Hambledon and London, 2007.

David, Saul. Prince of Pleasure. New York: Grove Press, 2000.

Hadlow, Janice. The Strangest Family: The Private Lives of George III, Queen Charlotte and the Hanoverians. London: William Collins, 2014.

Hetherington Fitzgerald, Percy. The Life of George the Fourth. London: Tinsley Brothers, 1881.

Huish, Robert. Memoirs of George the Fourth: Vol I. London: Thomas Kelly, 1830.

Irvine, Valerie. The Kings Wife: George IV and Mrs Fitzherbert. London: Hambledon, 2007.

Lloyd, Hannibal Evans. George IV: Memoirs of His Life and Reign, Interspersed with Numerous Personal Anecdotes. London: Treuttel and Würtz, 1830.

Smith, EA. George IV. Bury St Edmunds: St Edmundsbury Press, 1999.

Spencer, Sarah. Correspondence of Sarah Spencer Lady Lyttelton 1787-1870. London: John Murray, 1912.

[1] This is the equivalent of £9.5million in modern money.

[2] Gossip, Giles (1828). Coronation Anecdotes. London: Robert Jennings, pp.291-2.

[3] George had to make do with a gilt bronze cast of his sumptuous new crown, acquired at a cost of £38.

[4] Huish, Robert (1830). Memoirs of George the Fourth: Vol I. London: Thomas Kelly, p.216.

[5] La Belle Assemblée: Vol XXIV, 1821. London: J Green, p.45.

Many thanks, Catherine—and Mrs Daffodil’s best congratulations on your new book! Do be careful of those Furies…