Posts Tagged ‘Historical Romance’

There are a lot of false notions about the Regency. Here are some of them.

The only female who might wear a silk chemise, petticoat or nightgown was in the demimonde, and she would expect to have it on for long. Fabric was very expensive. Almost everyone recycled fabric from older or outdated clothing. Chemises and petticoats were of muslin or cotton. The laundress was responsible for washing them and did it in very hot water with lye. Silk wouldn’t have lasted more than one or two washes.

For the same reason, sheets were not of silk. They were made of linen and could withstand the hot water and harsh soap.

As Lynne mentioned the other day, Regency stays had straps. Therefore, there were no strapless gowns.

Gentlemen did not ride around Town to their clubs, or on visits. First of all, it wasn’t the American west. There were no handy places to leave one’s horse. Secondly, one did not go visiting or two one’s club smelling of the stable. No matter how fastidious one was, riding a horse makes one smell of horse.

No matter if a lady learned to ride astride, she would not do so unless her life was in danger. Think for a moment about the narrow skirts popular during the Regency. Now, think about how much leg she’d be showing.

It was not easy to climb a tree, either up or down, in those selfsame gowns.

Regency ladies were kept busy. Almost all females took care of at least the household accounts. Many of them took care of estate accounts as well.

Ladies were well educated. Although, they didn’t normally learn Latin and Greek, in addition to arithmetic, reading, and writing, they did learn how to sketch and paint with water colors, play an instrument, sing, dance, sew, make conversation (a very important skill). Letter composing took up a good deal of time. We don’t really think of what it was like not to be able to pick up a phone, or email someone, but when you had friends and relatives with whom to keep in contact, you wrote letters. Most also learned French or Italian, or both. They’d also have to know who to manage their staff. As you know, even a town house could have a lot of servants. Some country houses had upwards of 300.

Calling someone of an inferior status by their first name was a sign of disrespect, or an indication that they did not yet merit the higher status. There are exceptions to every rule. Many footmen were called by their first name, young maids, and occasionally a lady’s maid who had been with the lady since a young age.

Ladies didn’t go around kissing gentlemen unless they planned to marry them. Gentlemen knew this.

Smoking cigars was not common, and it was not allowed in gentlemen’s clubs such as White’s until the 1880s. This makes a lot of sense as most of the wall coverings were silk, and it would have been impossible to get the smell out.

Next, employees (non-servants)





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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.


#RegencyTrivia #HistoricalRomance


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Maids were the workhorses of the Regency. In 1806 there were around  910,000 domestic servants in England. Only 110, 000 of them were men. Maids were responsible for all the cleaning, to include the servants’ areas, polishing, gathering linens to be washed, and putting them away, polishing, except for the silver, making sure the fires were lit in the mornings and kept going throughout the day, empty chamber pots, sewing and myriad other tasks.

The average town house was five stories, and there were no modern appliances. Rugs had to be removed and taken outside to be beaten, Curtains had to be taken down to be cleaned, all surfaces had to be dusted, and polished as well as cleaning any ornaments in the rooms. Windows and floors had to be swept and washed. Any stains on the silk wallpaper had to be cleaned. Well, you can see how big a task they had. They were also to be invisible.

Maids were answerable to the housekeeper. In medium to large households they had assigned tasks. Most maids started at a fairly young age usually 12 or 13. We hear a lot in romances about how the gentlemen of the house would take advantage of pretty maids, but I’m not sure how prevalent that was during the Regency. I would hazard a guess that the housekeeper would do her best to safeguard the female servants.

As with other servants, maids had contracts. They were granted a place to sleep, food, a measure of tea, an allowance or fabric for clothing. During the Regency, maids did not have uniforms. They could also have waged deducted for breakage or making a mistake. Most were expected to attend church services. Pregnancy was grounds for immediate dismissal without a reference.

#RegencyTrivia #HistoricalRomance


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Footmen were, in some ways, the Regency’s splurge. Not that they weren’t necessary. They were in fact extremely necessary to one’s status. However, all male servants were taxed. Therefore, the more male servants one had, the greater the tax. The reason they were a splurge is that they were also the Regency version of eye candy. Men hired for the position of footmen were tall, handsome, fit, and known for a well-turned leg.

Footmen were the only servants, aside from possibly the coachman and outriders, who wore uniforms called livery.

Footmen worked for the butler. Many houses had a 1st footman whose job it was to man the door and attend the master and mistress if the butler was not available and the household had no under-butler. Footmen were used to run errands (running footmen), clean silver, serve at the table, and if a lady wanted tea a footman would bring it. They also assisted maids in moving heavy furniture to clean, carrying tubs or buckets, and opened and closed doors. They were used to carry packages, and follow ladies around shopping or on a stroll in the park. Regency slang for a footman was a fart-catcher, because they walked behind the mistress or master.

#RegencyTrivia #HistoricalRomance #ReadaRegency

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Housekeepers are some of my favorite people. During the Regency, the housekeeper answered directly to the mistress of the house. Housekeepers, as did all Regency servants with the exception of footmen, wore her own clothing. Therefore it was very likely that she would receive cloth or an allowance in her contract.

She supervised all the female staff except the kitchen maids, nurse, and lady’s maid. Her duties included, but were not limited to, maintaining linens, china, stores of household items, having recipes for everything from cleaning products to medicinal items. Making sure the house was clean and well maintained. She also kept the household records. Like the butler, her room was in the cellar. She was the keeper of the keys for the household. If there is not house-steward, she would also be responsible for all domestic expenditures. In coordination with the cook, she was in charge of the purchasing of spices, and other food stores.

I found this list on Goodreads for books in which housekeepers play an important role https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/90885.Better_Homes_Housekeepers_in_Historical_Romance_

#RegencyTrivia #RegencyRomance #ReadaRegency #HistoricalRomance

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Today’s post is about guardians and trustees. Guardians had physical custody and responsibility for the children. Trustees had responsibility for the children’s funds. The guardian was responsible to provide reports to the trustee on funds spent on the child’s/children’s behalf.

When a child of the gentry’s father died guardians and trustees were normally appointed by the father’s will. This is especially true if there was extensive property or money involved. The mother was not automatically the guardian. The father could name anyone he wanted. Young children would usually be left in the care of the mother. If there were male children, normally, the guardian would not be a member of the husband’s family who could be in the line of succession. Who would be appointed a guardian? Usually a close friend or a member of the wife’s family. Because the guardian was responsible for the physical person of the child/children, it would have to be someone of the same social class. Ergo, a lawyer or institution would not be named as guardian.

Guardianship was specific to an individual and could not be inherited. Therefore, a primary guardian would be named, and if he could not serve, a second one would be listed.

Generally two trustees were appointed. Why two? To keep one from embezzling from the child’s/children’s funds. Trustees were responsible to send reports to the court regarding funds used for the child/children. They also had to approve expenditures on the child’s/children’s behalf. A trustee could be a friend or relative (on either side of the family), a lawyer, or a man of business who could be trusted not to waste the funds.

A child of twelve years old could refuse a guardian even if that person was appointed in the father’s will. The problem, of course, was that not many children knew that unless they’d been advised by a lawyer or someone else. How often that occurred is anyone’s guess.

Unless specified in the father’s will, although, the guardian could agree to the child/children’s marriage. It was the trustee who had to agree to pay the dowry. It was one way of preventing the guardian of marrying the child into his family for the purpose of enriching himself or his family.

#RegencyRomance #HistoricalRomance #ReadaRegency

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Today we’re going to talk about marital congress, also called amorous congress or sexual congress. In other words, what in this day and age we refer to as sex. During the Regency, sex meant gender. Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll continue.

Anyone who has read a Regency knows that young ladies were protected from almost any knowledge at all about what goes on between an man and a women. Although, there is plenty of evidence that married women discussed men, and sex. Those conversations did not happen within earshot of unmarried women, thus, keeping the young lady ignorant. Now, if you’re going to have a woman who has a severe lack of knowledge, you have to protect her. The main method of protecting a young lady was through the use of chaperones. Young ladies didn’t even go to the ladies retiring room at a ball or other party by themselves.

But, during the Regency, once she was engaged, there was no further need for protection, and she could be alone with her betrothed in a house, in a closed carriage, well, you get the idea. That was because a gentleman could not end the engagement without ruining a lady’s reputation. More than half of ladies in the ton were pregnant before they married. It was so common that there was a saying, “First babies are often early, the rest are on time.”

Now we get to the point where it’s important to understand the culture of the period. Chances are, their mothers or whatever older female was in charge of them, didn’t tell them much. Although, I’ll almost guarantee you that they were not told to lay there and think of England. And there was a reason for that. During the Regency gentlemen prided themselves on bringing a woman to completion. This was especially important for their wives as men believed a woman had a greater chance of conceiving a child if they had an orgasm, and the didn’t expect the lady to go it for herself. (We can blame Freud and his penis envy theory for change in how the thinking changed later in the century.) A Regency gentleman did not want to get a reputation as a bad or selfish lover.

So, why, you might ask, did men have mistresses or otherwise fool around? The Regency made the 1960s and early 1970s look tame by comparison. There was no reason for a man to think he should remain monogamous. The idea would have shocked most of them. Certainly, no one expected it of their wives after they had provided a couple of sons. Although, women had to be more circumspect than their husbands because a lady could be divorced for infidelity whereas a gentleman could not.

#RegencyTrivia #HistoricalRomance

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