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When this question was asked I thought I’d addressed the subject previously, but apparently not. During the Regency, a child was a child of the marriage as long the child was born during the marriage, and the husband did not disclaim it. That is to say the child was the husband’s lawful and legitimate child—also known in the case of sons—as the heir of his body. It wasn’t until the late 1980’s that a man could dispute the legitimacy of a child born during the marriage, and it wasn’t until the 1990s that the biological father of the child could make a legal claim to be recognized as the child’s father when the mother was married to another man at the time of the child’s birth. All of this very helpfully came about as DNA started to be used in the courts to determine paternity. Although, DNA had been around since the 1960s, courts are notoriously slow to recognize new scientific methods.

Babiesfamily

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I am going to assume this question is in regards to an unmarried lady who is not betrothed to the gentleman. This is probably not a complete list, but here goes:

A lady cannot be alone with a gentleman who is not either a very close relative (father, grandfather, brother, uncle) or guardian in a closed room or a closed carriage, or a carriage that either the lady or the gentleman is not driving.

A lady must have a chaperone of some sort (friend, maid, footman) when she is walking with a gentleman.

A lady may not speak with a gentleman if he has not been properly introduced to her.

A lady who must accept a dance offer from a gentleman if she has an open set left. If she does not, she cannot dance that set with another gentleman. Unless, of course, a gentleman strolls up and says, “My dance I believe.” Thus saving her from the man she doesn’t wish to stand up with.

A lady may not dance more than twice in one evening with a gentleman. This could get interesting as there could be as many as four entertainments in one evening.

A lady may ride in a sporting carriage with a gentleman without a chaperone to some place like the Park. She may not take off to Richmond (for example) alone with him.

She must have a groom with her when she goes horseback riding with a gentleman.

A lady may not accept jewelry or clothing from a gentleman. She may accept trifles such as flowers, poems, a fan, etc.

at a ballridingDancing 2

 

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I did address this in my post on marriage, but I’ll go into more depth based on the question I received.

There were two ways a minor could marry, with permission of her parent or guardian or fleeing to Gretna Green (one could have bans posted, but they’d probably be caught). If a minor was an orphan, he or she would most likely have a guardian. In fact, it would be very unusual for the minor not to have a guardian. A guardian was appointed by a will made by the father, or, if the mother had guardianship, by her. However, if there was no guardian, or the guardian has disappeared, then the minor would either have to wait until his or her majority (at 21 years of age), or go to Scotland to wed. The mere permission of the closest male relative would not be sufficient. The guardian would have to be appointed by either a will or a court.

gretna green 2proposal 2

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You’ve all read about the private parlors in inns. Most inns catering to the gentry and aristocracy had at least one or more private parlors. The reason for private parlors is so that ladies were not in the common room where they could be exposed to swearing, bad manners, drunks, etc. And for gentlemen who did not wish to rub shoulders with the common man to have some privacy. Private parlors were quieter, cleaner, and warmer in winter.

So how did one rent a private parlor? One could reserve the parlor a head of time by writing the inn, or one could walk in and ask for a private parlor. If all the inn’s private parlors were occupied, a traveler could ask if they could share the room. The occupant did not have to allow it. The room was either reserved a head of time or it was first come first serve.

The pictures below give you an idea of the difference.

Private parlorCommon Room

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Someone asked if the English had a fear of a French style revolution taking place in England. The answer is yes. Among many of the gentry and the aristocracy there was a real fear that a rebellion happening in England. This is a short description of some of the things that prompted the fear.

The first murmurings took place in the late 18th century around the time of the French rebellion. However, it wasn’t until 1811, when the economic situation in England was fairly dire, especially for the lower and working classes, that one saw actual armed protests. This was also the time that weaving machines were introduced reducing the man power required for weaving cloth. Creating a fear that jobs would be lost. This fear gave rise to The Luddites, a radical group of English weavers and textile workers who destroyed weaving machinery as a form of protest. Mill owners hired men to shoot the protesters. By 1816, the military was called in to put down the rebellion.

Adding to the discontent in the country side, parliament passed the Corn Laws (for the Americans in the group, corn refers to all grains. Corn as we know is it called maize). The Corn Laws which kept the prices of grain artificially high and imposed tariffs that made importing grain too expensive, thus exacerbating wide spread hunger in parts of the country. Another problem was roving bands of soldiers who had come back from the war and had no work. The Tory government’s response to all of this was to crack down on all rebellions using force.

LudditesCorn laws 1

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I’ve gone back to the list of question many of you had earlier this year. Many of them I have already answered, but there are still some left. Such as how one could ruin a gentleman like a lady could be ruined, basically forever. On one hand, it wasn’t easy. On the other hand, there was a scale of sorts. A gentleman might be accepted by some on the fringes of Polite Society, but never be received by high sticklers. If a gentleman had a reputation of playing fast and loose with young ladies mothers would probably not allow introductions to be made to their daughters, but he might be invited everywhere. A gentleman could be temporarily ruined by bankruptcy, but if he made his fortune or married one, he’d be accepted again. Remember that peers could not be sent to debtors prison.

A gentlemen could be ruined by being convicted of murder or some other heinous crime such as treason. Bear in mind that if one was a peer he’d be tried in the House of Lords, and that was very rare.

Debtors prisonTrial

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Writing was such an important task that desks were specifically designed for the task. Heaven forefend one was reduced to writing at one’s toilet table or on something else. As with most everything else at the time, writing tables were bespoke. Although, I imagine many of the ones used at the time had been around for years.

Here are some that would have been used during the Regency.

gillows-writing-desk-kidney-shaped-burr-walnut-and-satinwood-inlaid-writing-d

Regency era writing deskWriting deskWriting desk2

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