WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Priest-Linked

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Priest-Linked

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… The Impressive Clergyman, The Princess Bride

Taking the plunge. Getting hitched. Jumping the broom. Walking the aisle. Going to the chapel. Buying the cow.

There are probably too many euphemisms for simply “getting married.” And all of the above are anachronistic if they show up in a Regency romance. So what exactly did the Regency wedding entail?

I’m glad you asked.

Signing the Register by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1920, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.

Priest-Linked

Married.

Marriage in Regency England was governed by the rules of the Hardwicke Act for the Prevention of Clandestine Marriages, which was written in 1753 and went into full effect on 25 March 1754 (no more Fleet or secret marriages). Couples were now required to have the banns called for three consecutive Sundays in their home parish; if the lady and gentleman were of different residences, banns must be called in both. The priest would read out some version of the following:

“I publish the banns of marriage between (Name of party) of the Parish of ______ and (Name of other party) of this Parish. If any of you know cause or just impediment why these persons should not be joined together in Holy Matrimony, ye are to declare it. This is for the (first, second, third) time of asking.”

After the reading of the final banns, the couple had to marry between the hours of eight and noon by an ordained priest and in the presence of two witnesses.

The Wedding from The English Dance of Death by Thomas Rowlandson, published by Rudolph Ackermann 1814-1816, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

What were the exceptions to the banns?

If the couple needed to marry sooner rather than later, a Common License (also known as Ordinary, Standard, or Bishop’s License) could be obtained from the local bishop. The bishop charged a small fee, but also required a bond of £100 to stand forfeit if the couple provided false information for the license. The couple had to marry in the parish where the license was obtained.

A Special License could be obtained from the Archbishop of Canterbury; researcher Nancy Mayer records that by 1811 they cost the gentleman £5. The Special License had to be obtained by the gentleman wishing to marry, and every line was filled in while in the presence of the Archbishop (so no fill-in-the-blank Licenses to use whenever, wherever, or with whomever). The couple still had to marry by the benefit of clergy between the hours of eight and noon, but the ceremony did not have to take place in a church. It was a sign of wealth to use the Special License and hold the ceremony in the privacy of one’s home. Remember dear Mrs. Bennett’s declaration to Elizabeth:

“My dearest child,” she cried, “I can think of nothing else! Ten thousand a year, and very likely more! ‘Tis as good as a Lord! And a special licence. You must and shall be married by a special licence.” Pride & Prejudice, Chapter 59

To provide evidence that a marriage had occurred, the couple and their witnesses signed the parish register at the end of the ceremony. This was done in the vestry of the church, whether the marriage had been performed there or at a separate location by Special License. This practice of recording signatures is likely where the colloquialism “marriage lines” originated. These registry lines were then copied onto a separate sheet of paper and handed to the best man, who then passed it on to the new bride (and never the groom). It was considered her property.

Both parties had to have reached the age of majority – one and twenty – to marry without permission of their parent or guardian. Any minor who married without permission was never considered married – it was as if the ceremony had never occurred – no matter the passage of years or number of children (who were all considered illegitimate) since the vows were spoken.

Country Wedding by John Lewis Krimmel, 1820, Public Domain.

Some interesting tidbits about the Hardwicke Act

The Hardwicke Act was law only in England and Wales. Scotland, Ireland, and English colonies. In Scotland, a couple could simply state they were married and live together publicly; anyone over the age of fourteen could do so. No wonder many an English lad and lassie crossed the border to marry, be it by blacksmith, innkeeper, or actual clergyman. Catholic rites were the order of the day in Ireland, although an Anglican had to be married in the Church of England as well.

Quakers and Jews were exempt from the Hardwicke Act, but poor Roman Catholics in England and Wales were stuck. They could obtain a Special License, but the law still required them to be married first in the Church of England before taking Catholic rites. While this was a section of the law many Catholics ignored, the insult to this injury kept their marriage from being valid “until and unless they married according to the law by a clergyman of the Church of England.”

Next week I’ll talk about what it took to dissolve a marriage. Here’s a hint: way more than you’d think, based on popular Regency romances.

For now, let’s enjoy a clip of The Impressive Clergyman in action.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Belly Timber

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Belly Timber

We know many things about aristocratic foods and meals during the Regency era, likely from all the Jane Austen books and adaptions we consume, but let’s have a brief review just the same.

Huge meals were the order of the day, and eating carried on what we would consider late into the night. Breakfast was served nearer what is now commonly called lunchtime (when you’re at a ball til the break of dawn, you don’t want breakfast til the break of noon, I suspect.). With such a late ending of one’s fast, there was no further food until dinner, which fell around 6:00pm in the country and as late as 10:00pm in Town. Yes, afternoon tea (not high tea, ever!) became a novelty after its introduction by the Duchess of Bedford, but she was lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, so it is not a Regency era construct. It was also not the mini-feast it has turned into today. Think tea with biscuits, not tea with a three-course lunch. Dinner was a formal affair and could last several hours, what with pre-dinner socializing (i.e., drinking and inspecting each other’s wardrobes) and the passing of course after course at the table. Supper, when taken, fell however many hours after dinner the hostess deemed necessary and appropriate, often midnight or later.

Foods served ranged from traditional English fare (what excellent boiled potatoes!) to the continental or worldly dishes of one’s premier chef (Italian if you please, or French if you must, but only after the exile of the Corsican); butter, cream, eggs, and spices were the order of the day, to reflect one’s wealth. Possession of domestic and exotic fruits in a personal orangery was the veritable icing on the dining cake. As the period progressed, the idea of a more organized, mid-day snacking began to take shape – we’ve all read of ladies taking “nuncheon” or “noon shine” nibbles such as bread, cheese, biscuits, and tea –  but it was not a formally-recognized practice until later in the 19th Century. Picnics or riding excursions needing treats, however, could also occur on a whim during the day, taking place anywhere and anytime.

A Brighton Breakfast or Morning Comforts, 1802. Print made by Charles Williams and published by S.W. Flores, British Museum. Mrs Fitzherbert, on the right, says, “Won’t you take another Comforter? we must make haste I expect Noodle [the Prince] here presently.” Her companion replies, “I think your Comforters are bigger than my Johns.” Saucy Gillray.

Regency aristocrats enjoyed more variety in food and drink than ever before, and with this greater choice came more creative ways to cook and bake the victuals. Food preservation techniques were on the rise during this industrious period, as was the phasing out of open-fire cooking in favor of huge (but still labor-intensive) stoves. Bless the poor servants who had to not only make these meals, but sneak their own in at some point during their long and arduous day.

Belly Timber

Food of all sorts.

So what did all this largesse look like? The folks at The Supersizers Go… are so glad you asked. In the final episode of this excellent and entertaining show, The Supersizers Go…Regency, and the world is much better for it. It is well worth your time.

 

  • Find a treasure trove of information and pictures of Georgian and Regency fare at the History Cookbook.
  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • The Jane Austen Centre has a fine list of Regency Recipes for you to try at home.
  • If you’re much too busy and too refined to be entertained by the likes of Sue Perkins washing her face with a combination of brandy, milk, and lemon juice, whilst a scrambled egg white cleans her hair, well … I feel sorry for you. But you can read a thorough recap of the show at Just Hungry. They breakdown the entire episode, relaying every dish served and every ingredient abused for beauty purposes. Bon appétit!

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Lombard Fever

One of my favorite words is “ennui.” It’s the requisite Regency novel term to use when describing the impetus behind the rakish hero suddenly noticing the different, thinking-for-herself, heroine.

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, by Richard Westall, 1813, National Portrait Gallery.

It’s the requisite Regency novel term to use when describing the impetus behind the stifled heroine plotting to break free of her societal restraints in small fashion, usually catching the eye of the aforementioned rake in the process.

Sweets to the Sweet by Edmund Blair Leighton, public domain.

Ennui means a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement (according to the oracle Google). I also enjoy its synonyms: lassitude, languor, lethargy, listlessness.

Nymphs Listening to the Songs of Orpheus by Charles Francois Jalabert, 1853, Walters Art Museum.

As it seems the majority of substitutes must start with an “L,” it’s only fitting the slang equivalent does as well.

Lombard Fever

Sick of the lombard fever; i.e. of the idles.

A portrait of Lord Granville Leveson-Gower, later 1st Earl Granville , at the time of his mission to Saint Petersburg, c. 1804–1809, by Thomas Lawrence.

This gentleman with the vacant eyes, the future 1st Earl Granville, was said to be as boring as he looked. Historian David Wetzel, in A Duel of Giants, writes Granville “was a drab figure, the original stuffed-shirt – starch outside, sawdust within.” Which goes a long way to explaining why the original, original stuffed shirt, one William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire (or Notorious DoD, if you prefer), favored the man with the hand of his daughter, Lady Harriet. Granville was likely a man after Devonshire’s own heart: both men were renowned for their infamous affaires de cœur – Devonshire with Lady Elizabeth Foster (his wife’s best friend) and Granville with his future wife’s own aunt, Henrietta, Countess of Bessborough.

The Hostage by Edmund Blair Leighton, 1912, public domain

In modern parlance, rather than labeling tedium as ‘ennui,’ or even the far less glamorous ‘boredom,’ we would issue instead a flurry of memes emblazoned with the byline ‘I just can’t.’ And this poor lady below is perhaps the can’t-ious of all just can’ts.

Contemplation by Félix Armand Heullant, 1905, Düsseldorfer Auktionshaus.

 

  • Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.
  • If you’re a war history fan, and I am (thanks, dad!), David Wetzel wrote a fantastic book about Bismark, Napoleon III, and the origins of the Franco-Prussian War, called A Duel of Giants. He traces the roots of the conflict throughout European History.
  • I would look up a source to give you for my information on Granville and Devonshire, but what I’ve written is simply information I’ve picked up along life’s road. And really, the men are not worth the effort.
WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Green Sickness

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Green Sickness

This week’s word is one of those that make you laugh and roll your eyes at the same time. Oh, the taint of virginity on one’s health – the concept implied physical affliction but reality revealed true financial miseries to be the main component. Back in the day, a woman married to survive. Literally.

Perhaps that thought would make one ill.

A girl fainting and collapsing into the arms of a woman, engraving by W. Sedgwick after E. Penny, Wellcome Images (alternative title, Apparent Dissolution).

Green Sickness

The disease of maids occasioned by celibacy.

William Savage, who writes historical mystery novels and blogs at Pen and Pension, has a thorough post on this topic that I encourage you to visit ~ The Cure for Green Sickness. He hooks interest with the first few sentences:

‘Green sickness’ was described as a condition ‘peculiar to virgins’, which was said to turn the skin a greenish colour and leave the sufferer weak and melancholic. It was also believed to be common throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, especially in girls approaching puberty and in thin and languid young women.

Perhaps she’s dressed in a smart green pelisse to ward off the vile Green Sickness. Walking Dress, fashion plate from La Belle Assemblée, April 1817, public domain.

Are your eyes rolling yet?

Barbara W. Swords wrote an essay comparing the actual status of women during Jane Austen’s time versus the Lady’s representation of women in her works. It’s a historically-rich read for any connoisseur of the era and Austen, but for this week’s purposes of adding sardonic laughter and a groan or two, I adore this quote from a 1770 parliamentary statute (purloined from Ms. Swords’ treatise A Woman’s Economic Opportunities During the Regency Era).

Here we go:

All women of whatever age, rank, profession, or degree, whether virgin maid or widow, that shall from and after such Act impose upon, seduce, and betray into matrimony any of His Majesty’s subjects by means of scent, paints, cosmetics, washes, artificial teeth, false hair, Spanish wool, ironstays, hoops, high-heeled shoes, or bolstered hips, shall incur the penalty of the law now in force against witchcraft and like misdemeanors, and that the marriage upon conviction shall stand null and void.

It is amazing that parliament omitted those ladies of a greenish hue that were desperate to obtain the marriage cure for their sickness. The beautiful lady above scoffs at the notion of Green Sickness, although perhaps she’ll regret such an in-your-face skewering when she reads about the deadly Regency pigments of Emerald Green and Paris Green at Jane Austen’s Regency World.

But that’s a post for another week.

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. The rest of the links are highlighted in the post. Read and enjoy!

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ To Sham Abram

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ To Sham Abram

It’s always been a thing for kids to fake an illness to stay home from school. The classic movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is predicated on this very concept. Now, I think more adults use this excuse to skip a day of work, having been the creators of the concept back in the day. After all, youth is wasted on the young. Fun Fact: this concept, rather than direct quote, is most likely attributable to George Bernard Shaw instead of Oscar Wilde, according to the Quote Investigator.

But I digress.

Visiting the Sick by James Gillray, published 28 July 1806 by Hannah Humphrey, National Portrait Gallery.

To Sham Abram

To pretend sickness.

So how does one succeed in shamming wise Abram?

The Sick Prince by James Gillray, published 16 June 1787 by Samuel William Fores, National Portrait Gallery.

So glad you asked.

Consulting the modern-day oracle again, Ferris Bueller, we find the secret is the cold, clammy hands . . . but avoid the phony fever at all costs. That’s a one-way ticket to the doctor, and that’s worse than enduring whatever you have going on in your life. So even though Ferris is describing the parental fake-out, I think it could work on the job as well. There’s nothing like showing up “sick” to make your co-workers scream for you to take the day off. No one wants to catch what you’re trying to share.

Punch Cures the Gout, -the Colic, -and the ‘Tisick by James Gillray, published 13 July 1799 by Hannah Humphrey, National Portrait Gallery.

To start your Monday off well, let’s learn how To Sham Abram from the master.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cruisers

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Cruisers

The sea hath no king but God alone…
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Thinking about the American Revolutionary War conjures images of George Washington, tea in Boston Harbor, Valley Forge, and an ignominious surrender at Yorktown.

But what about The Pond?

Atlantic Ocean Map, 1544, Library of Congress.

The American Revolutionary War saw the birth of the United States Navy, but first there were privateers. For many, the word privateer is synonymous with pirate, but that’s too simplistic a view. Privateers sailed under Letters of Marque from a country for the purpose of striking a blow against that country’s enemies by capturing prizes – that is, enemy ships and cargo. They flew the flag of their sponsor country and were subject to all laws and treaties of that country. A pirate sailed for no man or country save himself, owed allegiance to no one, and plundered (stole, pillaged, and killed) at will. Some wily pirates did pledge allegiance to a country when the Marque provided access or legitimacy to big scores, but they quickly and indiscriminately dropped their loyalty when necessity withered.

Privateers have sailed the seas for centuries. Think Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha (Turkey), Sir Francis Drake (England), Sir Henry Morgan (Wales), and Jean Lafitte (French Louisiana). After the American Revolutionary War, new names were added to that roll call: Esek Hopkins, David Hawley, Noah Stoddard, and Ephraim Sturdivant.

Cruisers

Rogues ready to snap up any booty on offer, like privateers or pirates on a cruise.

Privateer Snow by Joe Hunt Joseph, 1977. Inscribed “with goodstaken from British merchantment being rowed up the Piscataqua to Portsmouth for offloading ca. 1780.” Skinner Auctioneers and Appraisers, Boston.

Britain controlled the seas and coastline of its thirteen colonies prior to the American Revolution. In fact, they controlled most of the world’s seas, period. That all changed when the quarrel with the colonies developed, pitting loyal Englishman against disgruntled Englishman. Skirmishes steadily grew in frequency and severity as all-out war approached.

Because it lacked sufficient funds to build a navy of any count, the Continental Congress, in a bill signed by then-President John Hancock on 3 April 1776, gave privateers permission to disrupt the progress of any British ship involved in commerce. It read: “Commanders of Private Ships or vessels of War, which shall have Commissions of Letters of Marque and Reprisal, authorizing them to make Captures of British Vessels and Cargoes.” Congress soon upped the ante by issuing Privateer Commissions that allowed for direct harassment and attack of any British vessel regardless of purpose.

Privateer Commission 1813. Although this example is post-Revolutionary War, it’s a wonderful example of Privateering. Signed by President James Madison, the document authorized the New Hampshire schooner Dart to “subdue, seize and take any armed or unarmed British vessel.” After the successes enjoyed under the Continental Congress edicts during the Revolutionary War, a proviso was included in the U.S. Constitution to give Congress the authority to grant these commissions to private armed ships like the Dart.

Both levels of privateering drastically changed the War. By seizing British vessels and goods, privateers supplied their fledgling country (and enriched themselves in the process). They also dealt a stiff maritime blow to their Mother Country. An estimated 300 British ships were captured during the War. It’s important not to underestimate the importance of private American seamen capturing vessels of the country that heretofore ruled the seas: victories of both supply and morale. In effect, these colonial upstarts were hoisting the English by their own petard.

It’s likely impossible to determine which was the greater motivator for taking to the seas during this period – politics or profit – but New England was lousy with both whigs and privateers.  Huge prizes were taken and fortunes built as the war progressed. One such privateer, John Brown (1736-1803), used his newfound wealth to help found and construct the buildings for a new school in Providence known as Rhode Island College. That’s Brown University now, to you and me.

So as we celebrate our Independence from the tyranny of madness and taxation without representation (No More Kings!), let’s not forget to tip our hats to the unsung heroes of the Revolution. Those legal pillagers of all those who sailed under the flag, “His Majesty’s Jack.” Those harassers and despoilers of Redcoat ports and supply lines. Those usurpers of rum, sugar, and British nationalism.

American Revolutionary Cruisers.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Waspish

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Waspish

Bitter and rancorous feelings can twist even the prettiest countenance or heart into an ugly thing. Some are more predisposed than others to unkind thoughts and actions, while others are warped by circumstance and hardship. Whatever the cause, the results are as nasty as the names: harpy, shrew, witch, harridan.

Waspish

Peevish, spiteful.

When I think waspish, I immediately conjure two images: Lady Catherine de Bourgh and the Real Housewives of *insert city here.* No one likes to be the object of tittle-tattle or meanness, but many like to be in on the hearing and observation of it, and television has brought the most specious, intriguing, and sometimes salacious news and imaginings straight into our homes.

When a stroll through the interwebs turns up Jane Austen/RHOetc. mashup, well, heaven help us.

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.