Cover Reveal for new Regency Historical Romance Novel

I’m super excited to share with you the cover for my new book titled Courting the Countess. This all-new novel launches a new series, but still features a few characters you may recognize from my Rogue Hearts Series. And since this series pre-dates the Rogue Hearts, you’ll even get the meet the parents of the unconventional Amesbury siblings.

Haven’t read the Rogue Hearts? No worries; this is a stand-alone novel so you can start with this one if you are so inclined.

So, are you ready to see the new cover?

Okay, here we go:

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Ta da!

Isn’t it lovely?

This new novel will be available to purchase in October, but can be pre-ordered now so you don’t have to remember to order it when it is released. Just follow this link to pre-order your copy now.

Here is the back cover blurb for Courting the Countess:

When charming rake Tristan Barrett sweeps Lady Elizabeth off her feet, stealing both her heart and a kiss in a secluded garden, her brother challenges Tristan to a duel. The only way to save her brother and Tristan from harm—not to mention preserve her reputation—is to get married. But her father, the Duke of Pemberton, refuses to allow his daughter to marry anyone but a titled lord. The duke demands that Elizabeth marry Tristan’s older brother, Richard, the Earl of Averston. Now Elizabeth must give up Tristan to marry a man who despises her, a man who loves another, a man she’ll never love.

Richard fears Elizabeth is as untrustworthy as his mother, who abandoned him when she ran off with another man. However, to protect his brother from a duel and their family name from further scandal, he agrees to wedding Lady Elizabeth, certain his new bride will betray him. Yet when Elizabeth turns his house upside down and worms her way into his reluctant heart, Richard suspects he can’t live without his new countess. Will she stay with him or is it too little, too late?

Pre-order your copy of Courting the Countess here.

 

5 Fun Facts About Regency England

I share these with you partly to set the record straight about some common misconceptions, and partly just to celebrate the unique and remarkable era we know as the Regency.

chocolate_typesChocolate — Chocolate was a bitter, hot drink like coffee, not the decadent dessert we know today. It was considered very decadent and only the finest chefs knew how to prepare it. Therefore, only the very rich drank it.

Ankles — It was not scandalous for ladies to show their ankles. In fact, several drawings and engravings of the era show ladies with skirts barely reaching their ankles. Since their dancing slippers were similar to today’s ballerina flats, the ankles were clearly visible. As shoe styles changed from slippers into boots of the Victorian Era, it also became a sign of modesty to keep one’s ankles covered.  Hence, showing ankles was scandalous during the Victorian Era, but not the Regency Era.regency-ball

Unmentionables — Ladies did not wear anything under their gowns except a shift or a chemise, stays which are similar to a corset but less restrictive, and stockings. Layers of petticoats would have messed up the slender silhouette of the Regency gowns. During very cold weather, ladies may have worn petticoats to stay warm however, it was not a common practice. And no, ladies did not wear pantaloons or pantalets either–those appeared during the next era along with all the layers of petticoats.

Annulments — Marriages in Regency England could not be annulled by non-consummation. Period.

breadStale Bread — Due to the Napoleonic War and subsequent blockages, wheat was hard to come by. This meant that bread, a main staple in the Englishman’s diet, became scarce. In an attempt to prevent a massive shortage, Parliament passed the Stale Bread Act. This outlawed the sale and/or consumption of fresh bread, and only allow stale bread, or bread baked more than 24 hours ago, to be sold. Apparently stale bread filled bellies faster than fresh bread. Penalties for offense were severe, but as you can imagine, it was very hard to enforce. The government repealed it about a year later but the shortage persisted until after the war ended.

 

 

The London Season

regency ball drawing room (2)If you’ve ever read a Regency or Victorian Romance, or even a British historical novel set in the 18th or 19th century, you’ve probably come across the word “Season” (capitalized). Season does not refer to winter or spring but rather to the social whirl among the upper crust of British society during the spring. The Season originally began as a way for the families of men serving in Parliament to amuse themselves while staying in London, and so it remained for generations. Most families did not travel from their country estates to London during the autumn or winter months due to weather-related travel difficulties. However, after Easter, they were ready for society.

The dates which Parliament met varied from year to year. According to noted Regency researcher and author, Regina Scott, Parliament was in session during the following times:

  • 1 November 1810 to 24 July 1811
  • 7 January 1812 to 30 July 1812
  • General election: 5 October to 10 November 1812
  • 24 November 1812 to 22 July 1813
  • 4 November 1813 to 30 July 1814
  • 8 November 1814 to 12 July 1815
  • 1 Feb 1816 to 2 July 1816
  • 28 January 1817 to 12 July 1817
  • 27 January 1818 to 10 June 1818
  • General election: 15 June to 25 July 1818
  • 14 January 1819 to 13 July 1819, before the 16 August 1819 Peterloo Massacre
  • 23 November 1819 to 28 February 1820 (special session because of the massacre but ending early because of the death of George III)
  • General election: 6 March to 14 April 1820
  • 21 April to 23 November 1820 (including a special session beginning the third week of August for the trial of Queen Caroline).

Regency Lady in whiteParliament always went into recess for Lent, which precedes Easter. When Members of Parliament, also referred to as MPs, returned to London after Easter, they typically brought their families, especially if they had sons and/or daughters of marriageable age to participate in what was often referred to as the “marriage mart.”

The focus was not always to find a spouse. Some families simply came to renew acquaintances and amuse themselves after wintering in the country. Regardless, the ton descended on London en masse. Activities varied but popular amusements were dinner parties, balls, musicales, attending the theater or the opera, visiting museums, going riding in the park, visiting private zoos, and riding hot air balloons, to name a few.

There were also the coveted vouchers for weekly balls at Almack’s Assembly Rooms where the Patronesses kept a tight rein over who would and would not be granted entrance based on family connections and behavior. Young ladies wishing to dance the scandalous new dance called the waltz had to first receive permission from the Patronesses, Lady Jersey, Lady Cowper, Countess Leiven, Mrs. Drummond-Burrell, Lady Castlereagh, Lady Sefton, and Princess Esterhazy.

The London Season was also crucial for the working class. The wealthy arriving in London needed servants for their town homes because they typically transported very few of their servants from house to house. If a family did not own a house in London, they rented a townhouse. They also shopped. A lot. Ladies absolutely had to have fine gowns as well as shoes, hats, gloves, reticules—you name it. The wealthy attended the theatre and opera, which meant more performers and all those employed by the theatres were needed. As you can imagine, the cost to attending a season in London was staggering, but most considered it a worthwhile investment if their children found a good match.

In short, much of the prosperity of London depended on the Season and the beau monde who peopled it. Merchants and craftsmen earned a living, and the wealthy amused themselves and secure the future of their lines. It seems to have worked pretty well for most.

heartstrings2_fullThe London Season plays a major role in my book, Heart Strings, but not in the usual way.

When forced to choose between marrying a brutish oaf or becoming another man’s mistress, Susanna she flees to London with dreams of becoming a professional harpist. Entangling herself with a handsome violinist who calls himself Kit may be more problematic than sleeping in the streets.

With peril lurking in the shadows, Susanna’s imminent danger not only forces Kit to choose between his better judgment and his heart, but he must also embrace the life to which he swore he would never return.

Heart Strings is available now in Kindle here and paper back here.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.reginascott.com/parliament.htm

https://www.janeausten.co.uk/the-patronesses-of-almacks-the-arbiters-of-london-respectibility/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harps and Music

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Harp belonging to Adrienne Bridgewater

If you’re like me, the very thought of a harp creates a magical wistfulness inside. When I was twelve years old, I had an opportunity to take harp lessons, and something came alive inside me. Instantly, more than anything. I wanted–no, had–to learn to play. It’s been an ongoing love affair ever since.

Playing the harp takes years to master, and a great deal of time must be devoted to technique, not just learning to read music. It has been said that harp is the second most difficult instrument to learn to play. (Apparently bagpipes is the hardest.)

Back when I used to perform, many people come up to me after my performance and tell me that they’d never seen a harp up close before. I assume that’s a fairly common situation. So, I thought I’d give you a few basics of a classical pedal harp’s anatomy.

The “base” is the bottom part of the harp where it stands on the ground. The little claw looking things all around the base are called “feet.” When the harp is in use, it balances on the feet and rests against the inside of a harpist’s knees as well as lightly against the right shoulder. The long, thin part at the left of this picture is called the “column.” You probably could have guessed that, couldn’t you? The column is filled with long mechanical gears that help change the strings. The column exterior is usually intricately carved. Some of the more expensive harps, like Adrienne’s harp in the picture, are also gilded with gold leaf.

harp base

Adrienne’s harp

The photo on the right is a close up of the harp’s base where you can see the feet. You can also see the pedals (the black things that stick out). There are seven different pedals, one for every note in all the octaves. For example, one pedal controls all the harp’s C strings. Another pedal controls all of the D strings, and so forth. Moving the pedals into different positions can make each string either sharp, natural, or flat, as desired. When the moving the harp, the harpist can flip the feet up using a hinge so they rest closely against the harp’s body, cutting down on the likelihood of damage.

Until about a hundred years ago, harps had an eighth pedal which opened a panel in the back to allow access to changing out strings. Today’s modern harps have oblong holes that provides the same access. Strings must be fed through these access holes, through the holes in the soundboard, and wound around the little pegs in the picture below.

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Harp belonging to Donna Hatch

This photo of my harp to the left is a close up of the top, curving part of the harp, called the “neck,” which also shows the harp string pegs and all those little lever thingies which are called the “action.” These levers move when the harp pedals move, which shortens or lengthens the strings to change key depending on the position of the pedal. To tune, one tightens or loosens the strings, similar to tuning a guitar or violin, but a special tool is required–one cannot turn them with fingers.

You’ll also notice that some of the strings are red, some are black, and the rest are white. The red strings are C, the black are F. This allows the harpist to easily find the correct strings, although an advanced harpist pretty much knows where the strings are by the position of their arms and hands, but everyone needs an occasional guide, especially for performance. The strings are laid out like a piano (minus the black keys)–A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Then it repeats. My harp had six and a half octaves. The full-sized concert harps have seven. Smaller harps have fewer octaves.louisxviharp

The wide part of the harp that has all the scrollwork and painting is called the “soundboard.” Large soundboards usually have the biggest, richest tone. Tone can also be affected by the kind of wood used and age–the older ones have a gloriously rich tone.

A folk harp or lever harp is similar to a pedal harp–just smaller and has levers instead of pedals to change key. Folk harpist use their hands to change keys by flipping up a lever; classical harpists use their foot pedals.

Unlike some images, the harp is played with the body of the harp resting against the harpist’s right shoulder, opposite the column. Reportedly, Harpo Marx, who was a self-taught harpist, started playing the harp backwards–with the column, instead of the body of the harp, resting against his shoulder. When he realized his error, he changed his technique which, I am sure, helped him develop his skill. Many pictures show the harpist resting the body of the harp against her left shoulder which is not considered proper technique and indeed I would find very confusing because one would have to play the treble clef with the left hand instead of the right.

Harpists spend years perfecting the art of harp playing, and if done correctly, make it look easy by the graceful motion of their hands. Because of my great love for the harp, I mention a harp or harpist in all of my novels, and in most of my short stories and novellas.

Since music is such a part of my life, I decided to write a series of  novels about musicians. The first one in the series is called Heart Strings which features a harpist and a violinist. In fact, one of my most beloved teachers was the great Phyllis Schlomovitz. I give a nod to her in my newest short novel when my heroine identifies her teacher Phillip Schlomovitz.

heartstrings2_fullHere is the backcover blurb for Heart Strings, book 1 in the Songs of the Heart Series, coming September 7, 2016, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Gently bred young ladies don’t run away from home to find employment, but when forced to choose between marrying a brutish oaf or becoming another man’s mistress, Susanna makes an unconventional decision. Following her passion for music, she flees to London with dreams of securing a position as a harpist. Becoming entangled with a handsome violinist who calls himself Kit, but who seems too aristocratic for a working-class musician, may be more problematic than sleeping in the streets.

Kit’s attention is captured by Susanna’s breath-taking talent, admirable grace, and winsome smiles…until a lawman exposes the new harpist as a runaway bride and a thief. With peril lurking in the shadows, Susanna’s imminent danger not only forces Kit to choose between his better judgment and his heart, but he must also embrace the life to which he swore he would never return.

Heart Strings, book 1 in the Songs of the Heart Series, coming September 7, 2016, now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Cover Reveal for Sweet Regency Romance Novel, Heartstrings

Announcing my newest sweet Regency romance novel, Heartstrings.

Synopsis:
Gently bred young ladies don’t run away from home to find employment, but when forced to choose between marrying a brutish oaf or becoming another man’s mistress, Susanna makes an unconventional decision. Following her passion for music, she flees to London with dreams of securing a position as a harpist. Becoming entangled with a handsome violinist who calls himself Kit, but who seems too aristocratic for a working-class musician, may be more problematic than sleeping in the streets.

Kit’s attention is captured by Susanna’s breath-taking talent, admirable grace, and winsome smiles…until a lawman exposes the new harpist as a runaway bride and a thief. With peril lurking in the shadows, Susanna’s imminent danger not only forces Kit to choose between his better judgment and his heart, but he must also embrace the life to which he swore he would never return.

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And now … are you ready to see the wonderful new cover??

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To celebrate, I’m having a cover reveal party on Facebook, going on all day, with lots of chances to win free stuff, including Amazon gift cards. So please come join the fun! Follow this link to the fun!

Writing with My Heart

BooksAs a novelist, I sometimes get the question; Do you ever write real stuff into your books?

That’s a hard question to answer. My definition, I am a fiction writer, so technically none of it is true. And I write historical romance novels that take place during the Regency, or early 1800s in England, so a lot of “real stuff” can’t happen in my books due to the change in culture, technology, and fashion. And much of the events that happen in my books have never happened to me. However, a lot of my writing is colored by my life, and many events within stories come from my own experiences and sometimes from the experiences of others.

Here are some examples:

When I was twelve, I nearly drowned in a river. It was terrifying and traumatic and I had nightmares about it for months. Even though I am a strong swimmer, I am still afraid of dark water and have to “psych myself up” to jump into a river or lake if the water isn’t very clear. This is an experience from which I heavily drew when I wrote the river scene in A Perfect Secret.

Also, in my youth, I found myself in the presence of pushy men, so that comes through in a few of my stories, where the heroine must use courage to forcefully reject a man whose making improper advances. I’ve also felt trapped and under the control of a verbally and emotionally abusive boyfriend, which helped create A Perfect Secret. Also, my mother fled an abusive husband before she met my father, so that influenced the tale a well.

When I was writing The Suspect’s Daughter, my husband, the perpetual athlete, was playing basketball and collided with another player. (I keep reminding him basketball is a no-contact sport but he says I should be telling the other guy 😉 He woke up lying on the floor with people surrounding him asking if he was okay. A CAT scan showed he had a concussion, and he dealt with the side effects of that injury for weeks. So when my hero leaped after my heroine to save her from a fall, I wrote in that he received a concussion and suffered many of the same after-effects my husband did. This made my hero more vulnerable, and susceptible to tender moments with the heroine than his type of character normally would.

Many of my heroines are a bit on the shy or introverted side because I am an introvert who was painfully shy as a child and youth. They also tend to be on the less confident side, feel alone in a crowd, and feel as if they aren’t pretty or talented or smart enough to be of any notice. All of these are traits that continue to plague me.

I know the darkness of losing an unborn child due to a late pregnancy miscarriage, another experience that showed up in my stories twice. I also know the discouragement and sense of loss that comes with failure.

Major plot points come from my own life, as well. In my novella, A Perfect Match, the heroine is horrified to realize she is falling in love with the man her best friend loves. Like many teens, I too experienced this. Unfortunately for me, I justified my actions because the guy I had a crush on had a chance with my friend and she didn’t give him any encouragement. But when he and I started dating, my friend felt hurt and betrayed. Our relationship never survived that. Later, after he and I broke up, he did end up dating her. My relationship with my former best friend could not be salvaged, despite my efforts. However, because I write romance and want happily ever afters with neat tie ups, the story I wrote has a better ending.

I know what it’s like to choose between my heart and my better judgement. Sometimes the logical choice, the obvious choice, is at odds with my heart. Other times, the yearnings of my heart (or perhaps my hormones) need to be tempered with logic and self control. The agony of making these choices seems to be a common thread in many of my stories.

choclate covered strawberriesIt’s not all dark, though. Little things sneak in, like my love of going for long walks, for music, reading, chocolate, and dancing.  If you’ve read my books, you may have noticed that most of them mention a harp, or a harpist. I do that deliberately because I was a harpist for many years. Putting mention of harp in my stories is a subtle signature.

harp 85 petiteTwo of my upcoming releases, Heart Strings and Courting the Countess, have heroines who are harpists. This was so fun to write because I could express in a limited way the joy and peace that comes from playing the harp.

In each story, there is a time when the harpist must give up her harp (temporarily). In Heart Strings, I write a scene in which the heroine bids her harp farewell. That was a very emotional scene for me to write because I recently bade farewell to my harp. We were moving from Arizona to Washington, due to my husband’s extended unemployment and under-employment, we lacked the cash reserves for a down payment. Our only real commodity was my harp. So we sold it to provide a home for our family. I cried as it was driven away. Much of my identity was wrapped up in the harp, as well as much of my time and heart. So, when I wrote that scene, I put in some of that heartbreak. In that same story, I also wrote about the euphoria of playing. And it was nice not to have to do research for something for a change 😉

Sarah, Janette and me telling secrets at Tea PartyGood experiences make it into my stories, too. I write about friendships and what a lifeline that can be. I know the sweet moments with a beloved mother. I understand the euphoria during the beginnings of new love, all those tender touches and admiring glances, the exciting bliss of the first kiss, and of course, the sense of home and belonging when the words “I love you” are finally exchanged. All of those universally human emotions and experiences shape and color my stories.

Tom and Donna at parkI also have a firm belief in happily ever after, partly because I am a romantic and an optimist, and because my husband and I have been married for over 25 years. Yes, we’ve dealt with sorrow, disappointment, internal and external conflicts, family issues, and money problems. We have endured and our love is deeper now than ever.

A great deal of the real me is in each story I write. No, I’ve never been kidnapped by pirates, or abused by my mother, or held at knife point, but many of the same perceptions, fears, hopes, and joys I experienced appear in every story I write.

I hope they touch a place in the hearts of my readers.

 

19th Century Firearms

179114_411185115585451_1139554877_nSometimes, staying true to the Regency era can create some problems, yet further research almost always provides fun answers. While writing my Regency Romance, The Guise of a Gentleman, my Regency lady grabbed her gun and faced down a group of bad guys. I knew if she were to defend the man and boy in danger, she’d only be able to get off one shot because of the time and difficulty reloading guns in that era. I considered either having her ride with two loaded guns or have a groom with her but I wasn’t crazy about either option.

Then, I found just what I needed: existence of a double-barrel flintlock which could fire two shots using two different triggers. Huzzah!!!

Some rifles also had a side-by-side barrel, like a double-barreled shotgun. Like the shotgun, this type of weapon has two hammers, though it’s hard to see the second one behind the first in most photos. It also has two triggers, one for each barrel. I found a .54 cal. with the damascus barrel measuring nine inches long and weighing close to three pounds. Unusual for its day, the double-barrel configuration provided a decided advantage over its single-barreled counterpart, given the notoriously slow reloading procedure for flintlocks. The barrel is generally about eight inches long and it weighs about 2 pounds.

Most Flintlock pistols measured between 10 to 16 inches long, from butt to barrel muzzle. They weighed from one to four pounds, depending on the caliber and the number of barrels. There were a number of styles of double-barreled pistols during the Regency, but they were generally big and heavy. There were two types, the over and under, with a revolving lower barrel, but only one hammer, so that the pan had to be primed before firing again.

Ladies’ pistols were generally six to eight inches long–too small to hold a ramrod. A bullet for such a small gun would be no wider than this: / / roughly the size of today’s ammo for a BB gun.  Ladies’ pistols weighed between 12 oz to one and a half pounds. The problem was that the flint, amount of powder, and mechanisms has to be smaller, which made firing them successfully more difficult.

Even though ladies’ pistols and double-barreled pistols look different, they were loaded the same way as all flintlocks. Most all flintlocks were smoothbores. Some were rifles, with spiral rifling in the barrels. They were difficult to load because the bullet had to be seated against the rifling grooves to spin the ball, so it was hard to ram home. Using cloth or leather wrapped around the ball made it easier to get down the barrel.

In the early 1800s, guns were hand made, and could be customized to fit the buyer’s specifications, so there were almost limitless options.

 

Note: I tried to add photos to this blog, but couldn’t find any that I was certain weren’t copyrighted. If you go to your browser and type in: “18th century black powder flintlock” or “18th century black powder ladies’ guns” you will find some beautiful images, mostly from places that have them to sell.

 

Why Pirates?

Blackbeard_battle_colourPirates. Few words conjure up more dramatic, terrifying, and yet oddly romantic images than pirates. They captured the imagination of Robert Lewis Stevenson, J.M. Barrie, Walt Disney, and many others. I even used pirates in my Regency Romance Novel, The Guise of a Gentleman, book 2 of the Rogue Hearts series. But what is it, exactly that makes a pirate both the perfect villain and the perfect hero?

When I was a child, one of my favorite rides at Disneyland was “The Pirates of the Caribbean. I loved Peter Pan, Treasure Island, and any other pirate story I found. The Pirates of the Caribbean movie made millions with fans divided between Captain Jack Sparrow and Will, who pretty much turned pirate to save Elizabeth. When my husband and I were in Las Vegas, we went to the (then) new Treasure Island Hotel which used to (maybe still does?) put on a great show outside with a reenactment of the navy battling pirates. When the pirates defeated the navy, everybody cheered. Including me.

Are we all a bunch of sociopaths?

Nah. I think it goes back to the bad boy allure. They were non-conformists. They had the courage to buck the system. They wore blousy white shirts instead of those stuffy coats and ugly hats and white powdered wigs. They were totally free to go where ever they pleased and do anything they wanted. And they had the money to do it, thanks to the plunder they took. In the case of Las Vegas, the pirate captain was hunky and drop dead gorgeous, which never hurts.

We think of pirates as swashbuckling hunks who carried big curved swords, although having an eye patch and a parrot on the shoulder never hurts. Not to mention a certain allure in a map with an X that marks the spot to buried wealth. Maybe we all secretly wish we could steal from the rich, throw social norms out the window and make our enemies walk the plank.

It’s really just a fantasy. Most real pirates are nothing like the men in the stories.
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While researching for The Guise of a Gentleman, I discovered that pirates were first and foremost sailors. They had a hard life and faced many dangers. They also preyed upon any ship that had the misfortune of crossing their path. Then, they’d go to a nearby port and waste their money. They also often ransacked towns, tortured men, and ravished women. And they were notorious slave traders. Not very glamorous, is it?

After studying real life pirates like Black Beard, Calico Jack, and others, I decided pirates make better villains than heroes. They were for the most part, ruthless and unconscionable. Yet, I still cheered for Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner. And in truth, some real pirates really were good men caught in difficult circumstances.

In my novel, I created a fictional problem of having a lot of out of work sailors and captains of privateer ships now that the Napoleonic War was over, so some turned to piracy and created a pirate ring led by a peer of the realm. The hero, Jared Amesbury, is a government agent assigned to to become a pirate in order to infiltrate the ring and expose the leader.

So enjoy the fantasy about pirates. And “Argh, matey! Don’ forgit yer sword!”

The Guise of a Gentleman, book 2 of the Rogue Hearts series, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and everywhere books are sold.

History of British Folk Music

Medieval musiciansFolk music, created by ordinary people and often shaped by events in their lives, was handed down from one generation to another. Many of the British folk songs I found were silly or bawdy. Some sung by sailors revealed their homesickness and hope for safe journey. However, a great number were sad or at least bittersweet, giving a glimpse into their sorrows and heartbreaks. Dozens of them are still sung today by families and by professional artists.

What are the origins of these wonderful tunes? By definition, folk music, also known as World Music, has no identifiable origin. Widely sung and widely known, this kind of music belongs to the people. It is meant to be sung, shared, and enjoyed freely. Many of these well-known folk songs date back at least to the time of the Anglo-Saxons in England.

Folk music is as different from court music as peasants differ from royalty. While court music required orchestral instruments and often the harpsichord, folk music could be played by instruments the common folk possessed including the lute, dulcimertabor (a type of drum), bagpipe, hurdy-gurdy (an early-day fiddle), and reed instruments such as the shawm and crumhorn. I suspect a great number of the folk simply sang the familiar tunes as they worked or when they gathered. Since most of the common folk could not read or write, they handed down their music orally and learned it aurally. For this reason, the tunes and even the words changed a bit depending on the locale that performs it.

Probably one of the most well-known folk songs of today is Danny Boy. The King’s Singers have a beautiful recording of this piece:

As a child, I heard many of them sung by various groups such as Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle. They do a lovely version of Scarborough Fair. You can view the YouTube video with lyrics here:

You can also find a great number of British folk songs here and I suspect you will recognize a great number of them:

http://www.contemplator.com/england/

What are some of your favorite British folk songs we still sing today?

 

 

Titles and Heirs

Sir_Arthur_Wellesley,_1st_Duke_of_WellingtonSince the subject of titles in Regency England seems to be both confusing and detailed, it bears revisiting. For today’s post, I will focus on heirs: both heirs apparent and heirs presumptive.

An heir apparent is the son of a titled lord or landholder. Let’s say, for example, the father is the Earl of Charming. Charming probably has a secondary title or two (or more) because most peers did, due to the whim of royalty over the years. If one of Charming’s secondary titles were, say the Viscount Handsome, then Charming’s eldest son would bear the courtesy title of Viscount Handsome. Handsome is Charming’s apparent heir, so he bears the courtesy title and is known as his “heir apparent.” I think of it as; “His heir is apparently his son.”

Note: Despite what you may read in some novels, sons who are heirs apparent cannot be disinherited from their rightful titles just because the father thinks the son is undeserving. It takes an act of parliament to do such a thing and those were granted in extreme cases.

Longleat House

Longleat House

Now, what if the Earl of Charming has no son–only daughters (or no children)? At this point, he now must grant his title and estates to his heir presumptive. It may be his younger brother or even a distant cousin–whomever is the closest living male relative. The heir presumptive does not use the courtesy title of Viscount of Handsome, but he can presume that he will someday be the Earl of Charming because no other living male heir stands in his way. Yet. Anyone who can be supplanted in the line of succession by the birth of a boy is an heir presumptive, no matter how unlikely that birth seems. One can think of this as; “The heir presumptive presumes he will inherit the title and property.”

If, of course, the good Earl of Charming eventually has a son, even in his latter years, the heir presumptive no longer can hope for such a grand inheritance, because it all goes to Charming’s son, his heir apparent. Immediately upon his birth, the new baby boy bears the courtesy title, Viscount of Handsome.

The only heir apparent is the current title holder’s eldest son.

Now this works the same way even if there is no title involved. Let’s say Mr. Dashing is a landowner, similar to the Bennett family in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. If Mr. Dashing had a son, his son would be his heir apparent. If he had 5 sons, the eldest would be his heir apparent. If, however, Dashing has no sons, only daughters (or no children) all of his entailed property now goes to the closest living heir–a younger brother or a nephew or a cousin, even if he is as obnoxious as the unforgettable Mr. Collins. In other words, the heir presumptive is granted the same way regardless if there is a title or courtesy title involved.

http://www.ancestryimages.com/proddetail.php?prod=f1181If Dashing’s estate is entailed, he cannot choose to whom he will leave the property. It’s set in stone. It goes to the closest living male relative or heir. Dashing can will non-entailed property to anyone he wants, but nothing entailed, which most estates were.

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Book One of the Rogue Hearts Series

In my Amesbury family series, The Rogue Hearts Series, the father of this unruly bunch is the Earl of Tarrington, and his eldest son, Cole, is his heir apparent who uses the courtesy title Viscount Amesbury and has since birth. When the Earl of Tarrington dies, Cole becomes the new Earl of Tarrington, and all secondary titles go to him as well. Cole’s heir presumptive would be his younger brother Jared. But Jared never uses a courtesy title. When Cole and his wife have a son, the child becomes the heir apparent and uses the courtesy title, Viscount Amesbury from the moment of his birth.

So, in a nutshell:

A lord’s son is his heir apparent.

A lord’s brother or nephew or cousin, whomever is closer to him in the bloodline, is his heir presumptive.

I hope this has cleared up any confusion and is useful to you in some way, even if all it does is explain why the annoying Mr. Collins assumed he would inherit Mr. Bennett’s property and why Mrs. Bennett was in such a state of agitation that she and her daughters might be thrown out into the cold, cruel world immediately upon her husband’s death (which actually kind of happened in Sense & Sensibility, if you’ll recall).