Category Archives: 18th century England

Margaret Campion, Business Woman

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Over on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, I have a new post up.

Historically, women had limited options for their lives, and Georgian England was no exception. As any reader of Jane Austen’s novels knows, this situation resulted in marriage being a primary career objective. Lack of education and property laws restricted the ability of many women to support themselves respectably, or even adequately. However, there were always exceptions. Margaret Holt Campion, known as the first Lady Banker in northern England, was one of them. Read morehere.

Illustration of Campion Bank House by Mike Kirby herefrom Wikimedia Commons

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Filed under 18th century England, Georgian England, Margaret Campion, Women in business

The Honourable Mrs. Graham

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On the English Historical Fiction Authors, I wrote on a famous, doomed beauty, painted by Thomas Gaineborough and others…

“The Honourable Mrs. Graham” is the name by which a portrait of Mary Cathcart Graham by Thomas Gainsborough is known. It is a beautiful portrait of a lovely woman painted in 1775, which was displayed in the Royal Academy in 1777. Gainsborough painted her more than once. She was also painted by the Scottish painter David Allan, who had been patronized by her father. Her face has appeared on biscuit tins and even in an advertisement for a Maidenform bra in the 1950’s. In her short lifetime, Mrs. Graham was known for her intelligence, her beauty and her kind nature. There was also a touching romance and tragedy in her story….

To read more, visit the English Historical Fiction Authors blog Here

Image: Wikimedia Commons<a HERE

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Filed under 18th century England, consumption, Love story, Romance

Grosvenor Chapel

On the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, a visit to Grosvenor Chapel…

St. George’s, Hanover Square was (and still is) the most venerable church in Mayfair, the most fashionable district of London by the end of the 18th century. This district was home to the bluest of blood. Consequently, St. George’s, Hanover Square was the chief site of baptisms, burials and, most importantly, weddings for the highest society in London during the Georgian era and beyond. (Over 1000 marriages were conducted there in 1816 alone.) Grosvenor Chapel, located nearby at 24 South Audley Street, is not as well known…. Read more here.

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Filed under 18th century England, Georgian England, London churches

Hannah Lightfoot, “The Fair Quakeress”-Historical Hoax?

New post today on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog!

Historical hoaxes crop up from time to time. Examples ranging from the Piltdown Man in England (here) to Francis Drake’s Plate (here) in the US and others abound. Some are found to be pranks, some deliberate hoaxes. Then there are stories about people and personal relationships. They start with whispers, then printed hints and finally, hey presto! We now have full blown “history”. Gossip? Undoubtedly. True? No one really knows. Sometimes there simply aren’t enough known facts to determine the answer. A case in point is the story of Hannah Lightfoot and the very young Prince of Wales who became George III.

To read more, go HERE

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Filed under 18th century England, George III, Historical hoax

John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe and the Roxburghe Club

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John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe by Pompeo Batoni, 1761

Please visit the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, where my post on John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe and the Roxburghe Club is appearing today. The Duke and his predecessors accumulated one of the great libraries of the Georgian age… You can read about it HERE.

(Image from Wikimedia Commons HERE (public domain).

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Filed under 18th century England, Georgian England, Old books

I’m visiting Austen Authors blog today!

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I have an article posted on the Austen Authors blog today, titled The Significance of Books and Reading in Jane Austen’s Novels.  Please join me on their site at Austen Authors.

 

Illustration: Sir Roger Newdigate in the Library at Arbury, by Arthur Devis (18th Century) via Wikimedia Commons Here

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Filed under 18th century England, 19th century England, Jane Austen, Regency era

Piracy During the Late Georgian Era

During the Elizabethan era, the seas were ruled by Sir Francis Drake, John Hawkins and others. Elizabeth subsidized voyages to seize Spanish ships, and was rewarded by a share of the booty (although her diplomacy required that she deplore such activities to ambassadors of other countries). The hey-day of piracy as we think of it was during the 1700’s in the Caribbean and was dominated by Blackbeard (Edward Teach), Henry Morgan, Jean Lafitte. It was largely suppressed by English and American navies by Jane Austen’s time.

The Barbary pirates, also known as corsairs, were very active during the Georgian era. They were based in northern coast of Africa, in Morocco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli. These were separate nations but all were ruled by the Ottoman Empire. They plundered ships in Mediterranean, and frequented the Adriatic and the seas around Ireland and Iceland. They were known for holding people of means or status for ransom, and for taking slaves as well as merchandise. (They needed roughly 200 men per ship to man the oars of their galleys.) They favoured galleys which were fast and easy to manoeuver in shallow waters; they also liked to disguise themselves as merchant ships. The Barbary pirates were active during the Regency era (they were not completely suppressed until the Victorian era). Byron’s poem “The Corsair” was a romance inspired by them.

Privateers were privately owned ships whose owners had letters of marque from their own government authorizing seizure of enemy ships, especially trade ships. There was a very thin line between privateers and pirates: many privateers exceeded their license, and one king’s privateer was another’s pirate. Privateers were still present during the Regency era and eers usually held no scruples about exceeding their letters of marque if profit ensued. An interesting side note: by the Regency era, pirates wore what normal gentlemen did: boots, trousers or breeches, shirts with stocks and coats.

European privateers were drawn to the Barbary Coast, bringing their wooden ships (or the knowledge of how to build them)-these ships needed fewer men to man the oars, were faster, and allowed for more men at arms on board. By Jane Austen’s time, the Barbary Pirates had negotiated “treaties” with European states, which involved payment of protection money. While America was protected by Britain, those protections applied to American shipping but after the Revolution, those protections no longer held. American merchant ships were captured, and their crews held as slaves, while the pirates demanded ransoms the new nation could not pay. Negotiations were extraordinarily complex, and winning an agreement with one Barbary nation did not ensure that the others (or the one who signed it) would honour it. Many prisoners died in captivity; some were held as slaves for many years. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson declared war on the Barbary Pirates and, after numerous setbacks, finally won in Tripoli (hence “…the shores of Tripoli…” in the Marines’ Hymn).

When captured alive, pirates were taken to London, where they usually were held in Marshalsea Prison, and, if convicted in the Admiralty Court, transported to Wapping to be executed at Execution Dock on the banks of the Thames, which was symbolic of the seas where their crimes were committed. They were known as enemies of all mankind, and were usually considered guilty before ever facing a trial. Execution was by hanging (with a short rope that resulted in strangulation instead of a cleanly-broken neck) and bodies were left hanging for 3 days or longer, to serve as a deterrent (with indifferent success, it must be said). The last execution of this nature occurred in 1830.

Sources include:

Kilmeade, Brian and Yaeger, Don. THOMAS JEFFERSON AND THE TRIPOLI PIRATES The Forgotten War That Changed American History. 2015: Sentinel (an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC), New York, NY.

English Legal History. “Pirate Executions in Early Modern London” by Rebecca Simon, posted 7/9/2014. HERE

Pirates and Privateers. “The Barbary Corsairs” by Cindy Vallar, (c) 2004. HERE

Image: Captain Bainbridge Pays Tribute to the Dey, by Henry Ogden (1856-1936). Wikimedia Commons HERE Image created 12/8/2008 by ZeD. Public domain in the U.S.

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Filed under 18th century England, 19th century England, corsairs, Georgian England, pirates, slavery