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Archive for March, 2018

Regency Trivia!!

Today is for questions on servants. Please ask away.

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During the Regency, a coachman typically lost his last name. It was not at all unusual for a coachman to be called Firstname Coachman. The coachman’s job was to drive coaches (in contract to sporting carriages), such as the large traveling coach, a smaller town coach, a landau, or other coach. He also maintained all the carriages. He’d know what the tolls were from place to place so that he wouldn’t be cheated at a toll gate.

A coachman typically lived above the carriage house. That building could be either separate or attached to the stables.

Like footmen, a coachman would wear of uniform of sorts. However, their uniforms were not the flashy livery of a footman. It was more subdued and included a multi-caped greatcoat to protect him from the elements.

He sat on the box of the coach. If it was a long trip, he’d have an assistant with him and they’d take turns driving. He also had to know how to shoot, and would travel with a weapon of some sort near him.

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Not all Regency households could afford to set up a stable (more about that in a future post). However, for anyone who could, they did. It was important for transportation, pleasure, and a symbol of wealth. We’ll discuss all the stuff that goes into setting up a stable at a later date.

The most important person in a stable was the head groom. He was responsible for making sure the stable ran properly. The head groom worked directly for the master of the house. Many stables had under grooms (apparently, just called grooms). They assisted the head groom. They exercised the horses that weren’t being ridden regularly, cleaned and repaired the tack, and cleaned the stables.

Grooms would also teach the young children of the house how to ride and accompany them on rides. It was not uncommon for a groom to remain with a lady or gentleman when they set up their own households. In Town it was essential that a groom accompany a lady when she was riding.

Grooms lived in rooms above the stables. From what I could discover, they did not eat with the indoor servants, but had meals delivered to them.

Next Coachmen

 

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Because of all the discussion about this topic, I thought it would be a good idea to put everything in one place.

The Betrothal

The proper gentleman (especially one who wished his suit to be accepted) had a conversation with the lady’s father or guardian and got permission to address her before popping the question. The proposal could be on one knee if the gentleman wished. There could be a betrothal ring, but the ring would be worn on the right hand and also be used as the wedding ring.

Unless there was a good reason, the betrothal period was not long at all, especially, if it took place during the Season. One reason for not waiting was that it was expected that couples would anticipate their marriage vows, and the families wanted them safely wed.

St. George’s church in Hanover Square was the prime location for weddings, and it stayed busy. During 1816, there were 1063 weddings at St. George’s.

To the best of our knowledge, there was no announcement in the paper of the betrothal.

Aristocrats usually married by special license. They cost around 20 guineas. A great deal of money at the time. The license was obtained at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office in Doctor’s Commons. One could only marry a minor by special license if one had the permission of the father or guardian. With a special license, the wedding ceremony could take place anywhere and anytime. Banns were called for three Sundays in a row, that by the way, was two weeks, as long as the couple was a member of the parish. It wasn’t usual for people to be members of a home parish in the country and St. George’s when in London. If banns were called, the ceremony had to take place between 8am and noon. One could also marry by regular license. The only advantage of a regular license is the waiting time was five days instead of two weeks.

At some point, there might be a betrothal ball. The settlement agreements would be drafted and signed.

Ladies who could afford a new gown, had one made. White did not become the color of choice until the Victorian period. However, if a lady looked good in white, she might wear it. If the wedding took place in a hurry, she’d wear her best dress. Regardless, the gown would be worn on other occasions. She’d wear a bonnet, not a veil.

The Ceremony and After

Although, anyone passing by could enter the church, and many did, generally only immediate family was present. There was no walking down the aisle to music. Indeed, if the couple wished, they could enter through a side door. The bride and groom would usually arrive separately. By tradition, the bridesmaid was single. The groom would have a gentleman supporting him. The attendants also acted as witnesses and signed the church register. I have a copy of the Book of Common Prayer used at the time, and there was no place in the ceremony for the groom to kiss the bride.

A wedding breakfast was held sometime after noon. The cake was a dense fruit cake. Champagne and wine would be served. Other than that, I haven’t heard of any rules for the event. The type of food served would be up to the people holding the wedding breakfast.

Generally, the couple left for a wedding trip within hours of the ceremony. In fact, they were expected to go away for at least a month.

There would be an announcement of the wedding.

Below are examples of a parish register and a special license.

 

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The Nurse

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In the discussion about senior staff, I forgot to mention the nurse. If there were young children in the house, there would be a head nurse, and a few nursemaids to assist her. Because families were frequently large, a nurse could be with a family for a very long time and was frequently closer to the children than the parents were. It is not unusual to see writings of people grown to adulthood extolling the virtues of their childhood nurse.

Nurses were responsible for children up to about age five. They taught their charges manners, early numbers, and alphabet, took them out to play. Over saw clothing, toys, and anything else to do with the nursery.

#Regency Trivia #HistoricalRomance

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