Category Archives: English Historical Fiction Authors blog

The Duke of Wellington’s Female Circle: Frances, Lady Shelley

Frances Lady Shelley 001 Lady Shelley, from a miniature by G. Sanders, in the possession of Spencer Shelley Esq.

Over on the English Historical Fiction Author’s blog, we meet Frances, Lady Shelley, a dear friend and correspondent of the Duke of Wellington.

Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, was known to enjoy women, particularly pretty, intelligent women. He was credited with many mistresses (whether or not true) and he had many women friends whose company he enjoyed. One of these women was Frances, Lady Shelley. Lady Shelley was a notable diarist.

Frances was born in June 16, 1787 at Preston, Lancashire. Her father was Thomas Winckley, and her mother was Jacintha Dalrymple Hesketh. Originally known as Janet or Jennet, Jacintha was the previously-widowed sister of the famous courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliot, whose family had a connection to the Earl of Peterborough. Jacintha and Thomas were descended of Jacobite families and they married in 1785. Thomas was about 17 years older than Jacintha. Jacintha had children (5 daughters and a son) by her first husband. Apparently Thomas did not care for the Hesketh connection; only one of Lady Shelley’ half-siblings lived in the household with her and her parents, and they rarely met the Hesketh siblings. The household was not a particularly happy one; Thomas spent a lot of time with his cronies, drank heavily and liked to play pranks. Accounts indicate that Thomas was quite well off. Shortly after moving his family to Larkhill, Thomas died in 1794, leaving his widow, their daughter Frances and 2 illegitimate sons. Jacintha inherited the house and furniture; the residue of Thomas’ estate was left to Frances, who was 6 years old….

To read more, visit the English Historical Fiction Author’s blog HERE.

Illustration is a scan of the image in my personal copy of THE DIARY OF FRANCES LADY SHELLEY 1787-1817 Edited by her grandson Richard Edgcumbe. 1912: John Murray, London.

Sources are listed in the post on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog.

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Filed under 18th century England, 19th century England, Diaries and correspondence, English Historical Fiction Authors blog, Georgian England, Uncategorized, Wellington

Charles and Nancy Wollstonecraft

Who were Charles and Nancy Wollstonecraft? Charles was the youngest brother of Georgian era British author Mary Wollstonecraft’s (VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN and more) , and a major in the American Army during the War of 1812. Nancy (also known as Anne Kingsbury Wollstonecraft) was a little known American botanist and writer. I’ve posted an article about them on the English Historical Fiction Author’s blog HERE. You can see a page of Nancy’s recently discovered SPECIMENS OF THE PLANTS AND FRUITS OF THE ISLAND OF CUBA below. (The whole 3-volume work has been digitized and is well worth examining.)
800px-0130_wollstonecraft1 Botanical illustration and description by Nancy Anne Kingsbury Wollstonecraft of the Cuban Blue Passion Flower, Vol. I, Pl. 25, ca. 1826

Image is from Wikimedia Commons (Public domain) HERE

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Filed under American History, English Historical Fiction Authors blog, History, Women Scientists, Women Writers

The Experienced English Housekeeper

THE EXPERIENCED ENGLISH HOUSEKEEPER 001

My enthusiasm for old cookbooks continuing unchecked, I was delighted when I ran across a reprint of Elizabeth Raffeld’s THE EXPERIENCED ENGLISH HOUSEKEEPER, published in 1769. This book was researched by a gentleman named Roy Shipperton, who died before it was published. It was edited and brought to life by Ann Bagnell. Having written about Georgian era recipes before, I am no stranger to dishes that would be considered unusual by modern standards, such as ox palates (see an earlier blog here). I was intrigued to see that she included 3 recipes for ox palates. However, I was very interested to learn that she seemed particularly interested in cakes and flummery. In fact, she is known for producing the first written recipe for “Bride Cake”.

Her “Bride Cake” is a single layer and requires four pounds of flour, the same of butter, two pounds of sugar, mace and nutmeg, blended with thirty-two eggs. Being a fruitcake, significant quantities of currents, almonds, citron, candied orange and lemon are included, with a pint of brandy. Her directions are very clear on how to blend the butter, eggs and flour, and the process of pouring the batter over the fruits in layers into the pan. Once in the oven, the baking time is three hours. The icing is a two-layer icing, very similar to modern icing, for which the recipes are also included. I envision a very large cake indeed!

Flummery is a molded pudding made with cream, sugar, a gelatin and a starch. Elizabeth Raffald used ground almonds for the starch and calves’foot stock for the gelatin. Her instructions for preparation of the flummery, preparing the molds and for unmolding are very clear. She also included directions for coloring the pudding pink, yellow or green.

Elizabeth Raffald was a fascinating woman, about whom I have written a post that will appear on English Historical Fiction Authors’ Blog on Thursday, April 25 here. I hope you will watch for it!

Source:
Raffald, Elizabeth. THE EXPERIENCED ENGLISH HOUSEKEEPER with an introduction by Roy Shipperbottom, edited by Ann Bagnall. 1997: Southover Press, Lewes.
Image is a scan of my personal copy.

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Filed under 18th century England, Cookbooks, English Historical Fiction Authors blog, Georgian England, recipes, Women in business

Dresser to the Queen: Miss Marianne Skerrett

Today on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, we’re talking about Miss Marianne Skerrett, principal dresser and wardrobe woman to Queen Victoria.

In the television series VICTORIA, Mr. Francatelli had a relationship and married Nancy Skerrett, known as Mrs. Skerrett, who was the Queen’s dresser. She was a young woman with a sketchy past who tragically died young. In real life, Miss Marianne Skerrett rose to be the Queen’s principle dresser, and was with Queen Victoria for twenty-five years. You can see multiple images of Miss Skerrett on the Royal Collections Trust Website. One can be found HERE

To read more about here, visit the English Historical Fiction Authors blog HERE

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Filed under 19th century England, English Historical Fiction Authors blog, English history, Victoria's household, Victorian era

Cook at Buckingham Palace: Charles Elme’ Francatelli

Over on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, I wrote about one of my favorite characters on the series VICTORIA (season 3 now showing on PBS).

I have been enjoying the series Victoria on PBS. (It was so exciting that series 3 premiered in the U.S. BEFORE showing in the UK!) One character I particularly like is Mr. Francatelli, the chef in the palace. While it is true that Queen Victoria’s household did include a cook named Francatelli, there is a big difference between the way he is depicted in the television series and the known facts about him.

Charles Elme’ Francatelli is believed to have been born in London in 1805, to Nicholas and Sarah Francatelli. He actually grew up in France. He studied cooking at the Parisian College of Cooking, from which he received a diploma. He had the good fortune to study under the renowned chef Marie Antoine Careme (1784-1833), who served as chef de cuisine for the British Prince Regent (the future George IV) and was invited to Russia (although he left before cooking for the czar). When Francatelli returned to England, he cooked for various aristocratic households, until in late 1838 or early 1839, he went to work at Crockford’s. To read more, go HERE.

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Filed under 19th century England, Cooking, English Historical Fiction Authors blog, History, recipes