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.

TheStrangerSheMarried_432 (2)

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).

Pin Money During Regency England

evening gown 1819Ladies in Regency England had no real money of their own. Before they married, their fathers were in possession of all their money. After they married, all of the money, possessions, and property went to their husbands immediately upon marriage unless it was tied up in some kind of trust which specified the husband couldn’t have it. However, ladies had ways of spending money without having to ask, even if their father or husband technically held their purse strings.

When a lady married, she almost always had a marriage settlement or contract similar to today’s prenuptial agreement.  In the agreement, it outlined her dress and clothing allowance, pin money, and jointure–what she received in money or housing if she outlived her husband. Early in my research into the Regency Era, I found it odd that pin money would be called out in the settlement. Why pin money? Was it actually used for pins, or was it a vague term?

Truthfully, pin money was meant to buy pins. At least, in the beginning. Oddly enough, pins were an indispensable part of a lady’s wardrobe. Zippers had not yet been invented, and not every gown had buttons or hooks and eyes. Some gowns needed ties to fasten together. However, a great many ladies relied on pins to keep their clothing together. Yes, straight pins, not safety pins. I assume women either got stuck a lot or knew a trick to avoid such misery. A popular type of gown was an apron style, also known as drop-front or bib-front gowns. These were not only fashionable during the earl Regency, but also comfortable. They could also be easily adjusted if the lady’s figure changed due to weight gain or loss, or pregnancy. They were also ideal for hand-me-downs.

drop front gown--Isobel carrHere is a picture of a drop-front gown I found on Isobel Carr’s website, and she was gracious enough to give me permission to use it. This a great example of this style of gown–typically a day gown in muslin or calico, although I found an evening gown in velvet with a drop front. As you can see, the gown in this picture needs to be either pinned, buttoned, or hooked with hooks and eyes, and then also tied under the bust in back.

Since pins in those days were not made from stainless steel but rather from brass, they rusted quickly. This made them a consumable product. Expensive, necessary, and consumable, they became a  major expense for a lady to undertake. However, pin money was not meant exclusively to buy pins. It actually became a type of allowance a lady had to spend on whatever she wanted. Her annual wardrobe expense was set, and she really had no money of her own, so she used her pin money for incidental expenditures. A lady could use pin money to buy supplies for anything she wanted–her craft supplies, sheet music, entrance into parks or museums or subscription balls, perfume, or treats at Gunther’s Tea shop, to name a few.

In some Regency romance novels, the heroine uses her pin money to pay for postage to send secret letters or even to buy stage coach fare (and food) to run away from home. The possibilities are endless if she has a generous pin money or is wise enough to save her pin money for important things.

Book giveaway

The Suspect's Daughter, book 4 of the Rogue Hearts Series

The Suspect’s Daughter, book 4 of the Rogue Hearts Series

***GIVEAWAY CLOSED****

THE WINNERS: Julie won A Perfect Secret and Jerika and Rebecca won The Suspect’s Daughter.  CONGRATULATIONS! Thank you to everyone who entered.

It’s giveaway time! I am giving away 2 PROOF paperback copies of The Suspect’s Daughter, book 4 of the Rogue Hearts series. If you have not yet read any of my other books, don’t worry–you don’t have to have read them first in order to understand this book. It’s written as a complete, stand-alone story.

Here is the back cover blurb of The Suspect’s Daughter:

Determined to help her father with his political career, Jocelyn sets aside dreams of love. When she meets the handsome and mysterious Grant Amesbury, her dreams reawaken. But his secrets put her family in peril. Grant goes undercover to capture conspirators avowed to murder the prime minister, but his only suspect is the father of a courageous lady who is growing increasingly hard to ignore. He can’t allow Jocelyn to distract him from the case, nor will he taint her with his war-darkened soul. She seems to see past the barriers surrounding his heart, which makes her all the more dangerous to his vow of remaining forever alone. Jocelyn will do anything to clear her father’s name, even if that means working with Grant. Time is running out. The future of England hangs in the balance…and so does their love.

Like all my stories, The Suspect’s Daughter is a Clean & Wholesome Romance. It gets a bit gritty and deals with some sensitive subjects, but there are never sex scenes or bad language in any of my books.

This particular copy is the early, “proof” edition of The Suspect’s Daughter. It was printed to give to final proof readers and has a couple of dozen or so typos and other errors in it. So please be kind when you read it–it’s not perfect. The final copy that is available for sale on Amazon has these errors corrected.

If you’d like to enter one of two free proof copies of The Suspect’s Daughter that I am giving away, please leave a comment in the Comments section below. Include the title of the book you want, your name, and your email address so I can contact you. This is a purely random drawing.

I ask nothing in return, however, if you feel you can give it a good review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, please consider doing so. Reviews really are the life-blood of an author.

A Perfect Secret

Original cover

Also, I am giving away a paperback copy of my book, A Perfect Secret book 3 in the Rogue Hearts Series. This particular book has the original cover, not the new and improved cover, which is why I’m giving it away. It’s the same story–just with a new cover.

The old cover is pictured at the left. The new cover, pictured at the right, is NOT part of the giveaway. I’m just showing it so you know what it looks like. I’m just nice like that 🙂

Here is the back cover blurb of A Perfect Secret:

APerfectSecret2Desperate to protect her father from trial and execution, Genevieve breaks off her engagement with Christian Amesbury and marries a blackmailer. After a year of marriage, she flees her husband’s violent domination only to have fate bring her back to Christian. Just when she thinks she’s started a new life of safety and freedom, her husband tracks her down, stalks her, and threatens everyone she loves. Still brokenhearted over Genevieve’s betrayal a year ago, Christian can’t believe she’s come back into his life–and worse, that she’s done it on the anniversary of his brother’s death, a death that haunts him. Though tempted to throw her back into the river where he found her, he can’t leave her at the mercy of the terrifying man she married. When her husband torments Genevieve and puts the Amesbury family in danger, Christian will do anything to protect those he loves…anything except give Genevieve another chance to break his heart.

Like all my stories, A Perfect Secret is a Clean & Wholesome Romance. It gets a bit gritty and deals with some sensitive subjects, but there are never sex scenes or bad language in any of my books.

If you’d like to enter to win a paperback copy of A Perfect Secret, please leave a comment in the Comments section below. Include the title of the book you want, your name, and your email address so I can contact you. This is a purely random drawing.

I ask nothing in return, however, if you feel you can give it a good review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, please consider doing so. Reviews really are the life-blood of an author.

Rules:

Available only in US and Canada

Random drawing

No purchase necessary

Void where prohibited

 

 

 

 

New Release-Summer House Party

Summer House party

Summer House partyAnnouncing a new Regency romance novella from Donna Hatch, “A Perfect Match” from the publisher of the #1 Amazon bestselling A Timeless Romance Anthology series in Clean Romance.

Join three bestselling Regency Romance authors, Regina Scott, Donna Hatch, and Sarah M. Eden, for three new novellas in SUMMER HOUSE PARTY, Timeless Regency Collection

APerfectSecret2Donna Hatch’s novella “A Perfect Match,” is the prequel to her award-winning  novel, A Perfect SecretThis newest story tells of how Christian and Genevieve first meet and fall in love. “A Perfect Match” is a satisfying 100-page tale with a definite happily-ever-after ending. It’s also the perfect lead-up to more of their story in A Perfect Secret. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Pre-order now from Amazon and have the ebook delivered automatically. Release date is June 7, 2016.

Here is the official backcover blurb for SUMMER HOUSE PARTY:

Perfect Match memeA PERFECT MATCH by Donna Hatch: Genevieve attends a summer house party hosted by her best friend who can’t wait to introduce her to a gentleman she wants to marry, Christian Amesbury. After meeting him, Genevieve determines Christian is perfect . . . for her. Torn between loyalty to her best friend and the yearnings of her heart, Genevieve must first escape the attention of a powerful lord who’s obsessed with her and who tries to rob her of any hope for a happily ever after.

Regina A marriage of convenienceA ENGAGEMENT OF CONVENIENCE by Regina Scott: Kitty Chapworth is nearly a spinster, and an orphan living on the charity of her uncle, with nothing to recommend her for the marriage mart. Her primary purpose is relegated to acting chaperone for her cousins until she can see them successfully married. Kitty remains focused on her duty even though she knows her future is bleak. When Quentin Adair returns from a long ten years working in Jamaica and proposes a wild charade to Kitty, she agrees, although the plan might reawaken her old feelings for Quentin. Can a reformed rake convince the perfect chaperone to overlook propriety for love?

Sarah Paupers housepartyTHE PAUPERS’ HOUSE PARTY by Sarah M. Eden: It’s a rare event that Edward Downy and his brother are invited to a house party by a member of the ton. But when they arrive, Edward quickly realizes this house party is different than any other. All invited guests are quite destitute, fallen members of Society barely hanging onto their homes. The hosts of the house party, the Warricks, then make a stunning announcement—they intend to gift all their properties to one fortunate guest. As the guests race to impress the Warricks, Edward finds a fast friend in Agatha Holmwood, who shares his same aversion to the horrible expectations. But their growing fondness for each other only makes the game more painful.

Pre-order SUMMER HOUSE PARTY now from Amazon and have the ebook delivered automatically.  Release date is June 7, 2016.

Gloves, a crucial Regency fashion accessory

Gloves are one of the most versatile articles of clothing. Not only are they wonderful fashion accessory, they serve vital purposes.

The earliest gloves probably were created to keep people’s hands warm. Though there are earlier mentions of gloves, once instance was documented in 1st century AD by Pliny the Younger. He wrote of a scribe who wore them in the winter to keep his hands warm enough to write in a cold and drafty castle. Though nothing in my research suggested women wore glove as early as men, I can’t believe women didn’t need them for warmth just as men did, maybe more so.

Archaeologists found gloves found in Egyptian tomb of King Tutankhamen, a.k.a. “King Tut” circa 1400 B.C. These were made of linen. Apparently, pharaohs wore gloves as a symbol of wealth and power, while women wore them as a beauty treatment–they rubbed oil on their hands and them put on silk gloves over them to protect them and let the oil soak into the skin.  I do a similar thing with socks on my feet after rubbing in foot cream.

Glove makers made gloves out of almost anything–leather such as sheepskin or deerskin or kidskin, silk, and linen. They often decorated gloves with stitching, tooling, precious metals, jewels, and fine embroidery.

Gloves were worn to help protect the hands as well as keep them warm. Many people wore them when handling tools or working with leather. Warriors and knights wore gauntlets which is a very heavy duty glove. Falconers, as a matter of survival, wore thick gloves also called gauntlets very early to protect their hands from the sharp claws of their beautiful hunting birds. Sometimes they decorated their gauntlets to match the hood they used to covered their bird’s eyes. Riders and carriage drivers knew gloves were necessary to protect hands from reins.

In England, women’s gloves became a fashion accessory during the thirteenth century, most often made of linen and silk. A guild of glove makers in 13th century Paris made them of skin or fur. They didn’t become truly fashionable until the 16th century. Queen Elizabeth wore jeweled and embroidered gloves, and she reportedly slipped them off frequently to show off her beautiful hands.

During the Regency Era, men and women wore different gloves for different occasions. They always wore them when they left their homes to go for walks or call on friends. It was considered poor breeding to be seen without gloves. They wore them when attending balls, the opera and dinners with friends. It was considered bad form for a gentleman to touch a lady without his gloves on–far too intimate, you know 😉 About the only time ladies didn’t wear gloves was while eating at which time they slipped them off and laid them on their laps.

Another option for ladies were mitts, or fingerless gloves. They wore them to keep their hands covered, both from weather and from society’s censure, yet still allowed freedom of movement for writing letters, needlework, playing cards, etc. Gloves and mitts or mittens were often made of soft leather or silk.  They wore them during the day at home, sometimes with holes in the fingers, so they could read, do needlepoint, and write. Usually those were knitted or crocheted.

Regency fashion plate and parasolBritish prints show day wear with long sleeves and wrist-length gloves typically in yellow, beige, or
white.

Evening wear, which often but not always means a short-sleeved gown, is always shown in prints with long, over-the-elbow gloves in both French and British prints. Author and collector Candice Hern has over 500 prints and she found only one print showing evening gloves in pink.  Most prints show white gloves for evening. British long gloves are always shown fairly baggy and scrunched down to just about the elbow.

Below is a portrait of a lady wearing her mittens, clearly showing her fingers, so they must not have been considered informal wear.

I wear gloves for warmth and for working in the yard, but the only other time I wear gloves is when I’m in Regency costume. It is nice to have on gloves when dancing, because if the man with whom I’m dancing has sweaty hands, I don’t know it, which spares us both some unpleasantness 🙂

I found most of my pictures here. I also have several pictures of gloves on my Pinterest page here .

 

Friday the 13th, an Unlucky Day?

Happy Friday the 13th!

As a history nerd, I decided to delve into the history of Friday the 13th being an unlucky day. According to statistics I unearthed, approximately one-tenth of Americans and British consider this the most unlucky of days. Some suffer from a true phobia of Friday the 13th. This is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, a term coined by a therapist named Dr. Donald Dossey, who treats people with irrational fears. His term is an offshoot of triskaidekaphobia, which is fear of things associated with the number thirteen.  (Let us hope they don’t also have Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, a fear of long words.) Since Friday the thirteenth happens two to three times a year, this can be difficult for those who suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia.

So many people are afraid of the number thirteen, that some high-rises do not have a 13th floor–it skips from 12 to 14. Airline employees often have to change seat assignments for passengers who fear sitting on the 13th row on a plane. Many people consider it bad luck to have thirteen people gathered in any one place.

Why did this day become so notorious? The number thirteen is considered bad luck by many cultures, for variety of reasons. And Friday was generally known as Hangman’s day in England because that was a common day for executing criminals. Naturally, combining the two–Friday and the unlucky number thirteen–must be terribly unlucky, right? Yet, it goes even deeper.

Some historians believe that Jesus Christ was crucified on Friday the 13th. Although if this were true, why do Christians refer to that day as Good Friday and not Bad Friday, or Unlucky Friday? Other Christians believe that thirteen is an unlucky number because Jesus and his twelve disciples were present during the Last Supper, creating a total of thirteen–including Judas who betrayed him. This belief suggests that this was the only time they gathered in one place–which I consider unlikely.

Some researchers believe that the Pope had the Knights Templar arrested and, if you believe rumor, executed, supposedly on Friday the thirteenth. However, that date does not appear to be recorded in any credible sources, and many religious historians believe they were merely disbanded rather than executed.

Friday the thirteenth may actually date further back than Christians. According to  Today I Found Out:

Others theorize that Friday being unlucky predated Christianity.  The name “Friday” was chosen in honor of the Norse goddess Frigg, also known as Freyja, who was the multitalented goddess of love, beauty, wisdom, war, death, and magic.  Teutonic people are thought to have considered the day extremely unlucky, especially for weddings, due in part to the lovely goddess the day was named for. Later, the Christian church attempted to demonize the goddess, so that may or may not be a contributing factor as well.

This is a reason why the fear of Friday the Thirteenth is also called friggatriskaidekaphobia.

People’s beliefs often stem from entertainment. Books, movies, and TV shows often depict terrible misfortunes befalling people on Friday the 13th, dating all the way back to Chaucer. These events were entirely invented by the authors. Even Alfred Hitchcock was born on August 13, 1899–some claim that was a Friday but according to three calendars I found here, here, and  here, it was, in fact, a Sunday.

From all I researched, there is no measurable rise in the number of accidents or disasters that occur on Friday the 13th. In fact, some hospitals and clinics report a drop in accident-related injuries, probably because people are more careful, or because they stay home to avoid bad luck on such a notorious day.

While I often embrace traditions and holidays, I flout this one. Friday the 13th is a day I’m more likely to walk under a ladder, try to cross the path of a black cat (even pet one if it will let me), and even throw a party. 

Oh, and by the way, despite all the Memes floating around social media sites, tonight’s moon will not be full. It will be a “First Quarter” or half-full moon. So don’t add fear of werewolves showing up to your list of fears about Friday the thirteenth.

 

Image courtesy: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=369749

Sources: http://skepdic.com/paraskevidekatriaphobia.html

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/09/the-origin-of-friday-the-13th-as-an-unlucky-day/

http://www.moongiant.com/phase/today/

The Power of Readers Prompts a New Release–A Perfect Match

Summer House party

Readers probably don’t know how much power they have. Think of it. If readers didn’t buy and read books, authors wouldn’t publish the mad scribblings they feel compelled to write. They might not even write a lot stories if no one read them. After all, there’s nothing like a deadline or fan letters asking for the next book to make a writer finish the next manuscript in a timely manner (or at all). Furthermore, readers’ opinions matter a great deal to authors, and I am no exception.

Normally I don’t read very many reviews posted on Amazon–especially ones less than 4 stars. It’s enough to know reviews are there, helping other readers find my books (because, yes, reviews really do make a huge difference–but that’s a rant for another day). I don’t often read reviews because each time I do, I subject myself to the possibility that a reader will dislike some aspect of my book (my darling baby). Criticism hurts, no matter how hard I try to grow a thick skin. However, I broke several writing rules in the third book in my Rogue Hearts series, A Perfect Secret, and I wanted to know how fans felt about it. So, I turned to reviews.

APerfectSecret2In one review, a reader said her only complaint with A Perfect Secret was that the story began with the two main characters already in love, and she prefers books that start with the characters meeting and falling in love for the first time. (The book actually starts with them getting torn apart, and the rest of the story is about how they find their way back together, get over their hard feelings, and how they learn to trust and love each other again). Anyway, after I got over my hurt and my defensiveness, I took her opinion to heart and tucked it away for another time.

Incidentally, A Perfect Secret is my mother’s favorite, probably because she relates to Genevieve–my mother, too, fled an abusive husband and found a second chance to love.

A couple years later, when the publisher invited me to participate in another TIMELESS Regency anthology called Summer House Party, I knew my novella needed to be about how Christian and Genevieve meet for the first time, how they fall in love, and how the terrible Lord Wickburgh becomes obsessed with Genevieve. So I delved into their backstory and created a prequel with all new challenges, and some fun new characters, which tells their whole backstory. The result is”A Perfect Match,” a prequel which leads seamlessly into the next part of their story told in “A Perfect Secret.” Rest assured, each tale is complete enough to be read as a stand-alone story, and the both stories, including the prequel, has a strong happily ever after ending. However,  the two books together complete Christian and Genevieve’s story as a whole.

Summer House partyA Perfect Match” is one of three 100-page novellas contained in Summer House Party. The other two novellas are penned by some of my favorite historical authors, Regina Scott and Sarah M. Eden.  This TIMELESS Regency Collection will be released exclusively on Amazon June 6, 2016 and is available now for pre-order.

So, thank you to that reader who wished she could have experienced Christian and Genevieve’s first meeting, their first touch, their first kiss, and how they fell in love that very first time. This one is for you.

Excerpt from “A Perfect Match,” the prequel to A Perfect Secret:

Christian shied away from the truth, from the horrible challenge that led to his brother Jason’s death, and the scattering of his brothers over the fight Christian caused between them and the earl. He breathed through the pain lancing his chest. “I have done things in my past that I deeply regret. Lost people I thought would always be there—some through my own actions.”

Genevieve slipped her hand into his and squeezed it gently. “Everyone deserves to be loved, to be given a second chance. Even you. Especially you.”

A Perfect Match,” one of three novellas in Summer House Party, is available now for pre-order from Amazon.

Today, to celebrate the upcoming release of “A Perfect Match,” contained in Summer House Party, I am giving away one digital copy and one paperback copy of the complete novel A Perfect SecretTo enter the drawing, simply leave a comment with your name, your email address, and if you prefer an ebook in the format of your choice, or a paperback book.

Rules:

NO purchase necessary

Paperback available only to US and Canada winners–international winners will receive an ebook in the format of their choice

Void where prohibited

 

 

Servants in Regency England

By Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin - Visipix.com

By Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin – Visipix.com

Servants were an indispensable part of running any Big House throughout the ages, including those in existence in Regency England. Manor houses and castles where the upper classes lived were huge and required an army of servants to keep them clean and well-maintained. Also, the owners themselves required a great deal of help from their staff. According to  The Victorian Domestic Servant, the Duke of Bedford had 300 servants in his employ, and the Duke of Portland employed 320. To be sure, not all Big Houses had quite so many, and upper class people who lived in more modest houses employed far fewer servants. However, all seemed to have servants.

In Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, the Dashwood ladies had to count every penny once they were removed from their home, but they still had two servants to help them while they lived in their humble cottage. The care of clothing alone, not to mention cooking or cleaning, was a major undertaking in those days, and gently bred ladies certainly would have lacked those skills. Even members of the gentry who considered themselves poor probably had at least a maid of all work who did everything–cleaning fireplaces, laundry, dishes, dusting, sweeping, scrubbing floors, etc. and was still expected to wait on the ladies in the home. Single gentlemen who lived alone in their bachelor’s rooms had at least one male equivalent of a maid of all work, often referred to as a valet (though his tasks would have been more varied than if he were a valet for a lord in a Big House). This all-around male servant was often simply referred to as a “boy” or a “man.”

Servants’ duties mostly took place out of sight. It was good form for a servant to be silent and invisible, which is why so many houses have secret passageways–they were usually servants’ stairways and corridors. Servants arose hours before their masters and worked late into the night. They were also at the mercy of their employers and were called upon to work in any kind of weather, at any hour of the day, with few personal days off, and often had poor accommodations.

servantClasses existed in the world of servants from the top which included the head butler, head housekeeper, and chef, right down the to very bottom to the scullery maid and ‘tween stairs maid. They all knew where they fit in that hierarchy, just as businesses have a hierarchy from the president down to the janitor. Ladies’ maids were high on that ladder, often dressed well and had only to serve their lady’s personal needs, dress her, and style her hair. In some houses, the lady’s maid was also charged with caring for her lady’s clothing, but most houses sent the laundry out to a laundress. The footman was also a coveted position. His main role was to be young and handsome, wear livery (a costly uniform), and open doors as well as run the occasional errand such as carrying his lady’s packages on a shopping expedition.

Most servants were unmarried. Employers didn’t want servants distracted by spouses or children. Since servants must be at their lord and lady’s beck and call, they slept in the servants’ quarters, usually in the upper floors or attic, or on a pallet in the kitchen floor, and could be dragged out of bed without a second thought if their lord had need of them. Essentially, servants were married to their jobs. Some male house servants married, but they had very few days off a month when they could go home. Outdoor servants, however, such as stable hands, gardeners, and gamekeepers usually stayed in their own little cottages somewhere on the grounds. It was fairly common for these servants to be married and have families.

Female servants who wanted to marry did so with the understanding that their position in the house was forfeit.  Occasionally, the head housekeeper and butler were a couple, but she only joined the staff after her children were raised.

A servant’s pay was meager, the hours long, and the work often back-breaking, but there was never a shortage of applicants–after all, house servants had a place to sleep and regular meals, not something they could obtain from most other jobs such as those in a factory. In addition, their tasks usually had little to no risk of danger, also unlike factory jobs.

I admit, having a chef and maid of all work sounds very appealing, doesn’t it?

 

For further reading, I recommend:

The Victorian Domestic Servant by Trevor May

http://www.susannaives.com/nancyregencyresearcher/

https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/tag/regency-servants/

http://rth.org.uk/regency-period/family-life/servants

Novels told from a servants’ point of view which are well-written and carefully researched are:

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist

 

Marriage in Regency England–Special License

Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold 1816

Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold                                  1816

English marriage, and the methods in which one could place one’s neck in the “parson’s noose,” underwent a number of changes just prior to the Regency, and they changed again during the Victorian Era. Though a Special License appears frequently in romance novels, during the Regency Era, it was issued rarely, and only under extenuating circumstances.

During the Regency, the most common way to get married (especially among the humbler classes) was to have the banns posted also called “putting up the banns.” This required posting on the wall of the church and read by the clergy from the pulpit of both the bride and the groom’s parish for three consecutive Sundays in order to give the public a chance to object to the marriage. After that, couple could get married within 90 days, and the wedding must take place between 8 in the morning and noon in the husband or wife’s parish of Church of England, even if the couple were Catholic. Quakers and Jews were exempt, apparently.

A couple wishing to marry could also do so by ordinary license. This did not require putting up the banns, but it cost  money–not much, but it wasn’t free, and it had many of the same restrictions of marriage by banns.

Marriage by special license was different. The advantages of having a special license were that a couple could marry any time and place that they wished. When applying for a special license, certain criteria must be met. First of all, few outside of titled lords and their spouses and children were eligible, and one seeking such privilege must go appeal to His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

According to noted researcher and novelist, Susanna Ives:

“BY the Statute of 23 Hen. VIII., the Archbishop of Canterbury has power to grant Special Licences; but in a certain sense these are limited. His Grace restricts his authority to Peers and Peeresses in their own right, to their sons and daughters, to Dowager Peeresses, to Privy Councillors, to Judges of the Courts at Westminster, to Baronets and Knights, and to Members of Parliament ; and by an order of a former Prelate, to no other person is a special licence to be given, unless they allege very strong and weighty reasons for such indulgence, arising from particular circumstances of the case, and they must prove the truth of the same to the satisfaction of the Archbishop.”

“In the case where the parties applying do not rank within the restricted indulgences, a personal interview should be sought, or a letter of introduction to his Grace should be obtained, containing the reasons for wishing the favour granted. Should his Grace grant his fiat, in either case the gentleman attends his proctor to make the usual affidavit, that there is no impediment to the marriage—the same as in an ordinary licence.” 

Charles Manners-Sutton (1755–1828), Archbishop of Canterbury.

Charles Manners-Sutton (1755–1828), Archbishop of Canterbury.

When applying for a special license, both the bride and groom must be named so the Archbishop of Canterbury could verify their eligibility to wed.  Since those who could use a special license were all members of the upper class, and since the archbishop sat in the House of Lords, His Grace probably knew most of them. Regardless, he would not have issued a license without verifying their eligibility to wed.

Also, a special license cost quite a bit more than a regular  marriage license. However, a special license allowed a couple to marry in any location and at any time. It also made the posting the banns unnecessary, so if there were some reason a couple wanted to marry in haste, or didn’t want to subject themselves to public protestation, this allowed a way to do it.

Remember, though, that obtaining special license was dependent on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decree and goodwill. His Grace didn’t grant Special Licenses frequently nor lightly.

More information about the different methods available to the Regency couple wishing to marry can be found here.

Sources:

http://www.regencyresearcher.com/pages/marriage.html

Regency Era Marriage Customs

Victorian Wedding Etiquette in 1852