Category: Regency Personalities
"Monk" was not his real name, it was a nickname he acquired in the last years of the eighteenth century, after the success of his one and only book. But it was quite a book. In today’s article, Angelyn Schmid gives us an overview of the author’s life and a taste of the thoroughly terrifying novel which quite literally made this young man’s name.
Today, Cheryl Bolen reviews the private correspondence of the man who made many Regency women swoon over his remarkable good looks. And he was a man who took advantage of his personal assets, enjoying affairs with a number of women. He also served his country in several embassy postings over the course of his successful diplomatic career. But of more importance to us, he regularly corresponded with one of his lovers, right through the decade of the Regency. Many of his letters survive, and have been published. Cheryl Bolen shares her insights regarding his lengthy and informative correspondence.
Cheryl Bolen, award-winning Regency romance author, provides us with an overview of the important diarists of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is in the writings of these interesting people, who had access to the halls of power and the ballrooms of society, that we find many interesting details of the cultural and social history of the Regency. Details which are seldom to be found in the political and military histories and the biographies of the major figures of the era. The kind of details which can be used to enhance the veracity of a Regency novel.
All of the writings of these prolific diarists have been published. Perhaps the only question is, which one to read first?
Today you can find Berry Bros. & Rudd wine merchants at No. 3 St. James Street in London—just as you could during the Regency period from 1811 to 1820, though the name over the door then was “George Berry.” This historic establishment has been in business since 1698 at the same location. The current owner, Simon Berry tells me the shop has changed little since it opened. Though the fireplace has been abandoned for central heating, and the cellar is now a place for elegant wine dinners, it still has the original oak plank floors, and it still honors its roots as a merchant selling provisions, exotic spices, tea and coffee—as well as wines from around the world.
Berry’s was first established in 1698 by the Widow Bourne as a grocer’s shop, the “Coffee Mill,” and remained in the hands of the good widow until her daughter, Elizabeth, was successfully wooed by William Pickering. In 1731, Sir Thomas Hanmer, Speaker of the House of Commons, leased the shop to Pickering to be rebuilt along with the houses in the court behind, now known as Pickering Place.
In 1734, William Pickering died and his widow Elizabeth took over the running of the business until 1737, when she handed over both the grocery and the “arms painting and heraldic furnishing” side of the business to her sons William and John. John Pickering died in 1754. With no suitable heir, his brother William took as his partner John Clarke who was distantly related.
By 1765, at the sign of the “Coffee Mill,” (which still hangs from the storefront but cannot be clearly seen in the picture as it’s at a right angle), Berry’s not only supplied the fashionable “Coffee Houses” (later to become Clubs such as Boodles and Whites), but also began weighing customers on giant coffee scales. Records of customers’ weights, including those of the Royal Dukes, Lord Byron, former Prime Minister William Pitt and the Aga Khan, span three centuries and are still added to, to this day.
Berry’s first supplied wine to the British Royal Family during King George III’s reign, and today holds two Royal Warrants for H.M. The Queen and H.R.H. The Prince of Wales.
John Clarke died in 1788, and while he had no son, his daughter, Mary had married John Berry, a wine merchant in Exeter. Their son, George, although only one year old, had already been designated by his grandfather as heir to the Coffee Mill. Before he died, John Clarke found as a suitable “caretaker” to manage affairs, the Browne’s of Westerham, a rich and prospering family of lawyers and yeomen into which John Berry’s sister had married, and they agreed to look after the business until George was old enough to take over.
George was only sixteen in 1803 when he made the two-day journey from Exeter. For seven years he must have played the part of apprentice, for it was not until he was 23, in 1810 that his name was stretched across the double-fronted fascia of No. 3 St James’s Street. And this is how it looked in Regency England.
In 1815, St James’s Street was a very masculine domain (Georgette Heyer describes her heroine in The Grand Sophy as risking her reputation just by driving her phaeton down St James’s Street); however, the Dighton etching of the shop front, which dates from that same year, shows women amongst the male passers-by, and they do not seem to be causing too much scandal. They are either walking with a male companion or as a pair, so perhaps some form of protection was still the norm.
The paving of Westminster’s streets began in the mid 18th century, but wasn’t completed until the mid 19th. Still, the main roads, such as St James’s Street, would have been paved by 1815 as suggested in the etching.
In 1838 the Chartist riots raged through provincial England and spread panic in London. Accompanied by his friend Prince Louis Napoleon, George Berry was sworn in as a special constable. Prince Louis Napoleon, who as Napoleon III founded the Deuxième Empire in 1851, had a close association with Berry’s. During his two-year stay in London he used the cellars for sundry secret meetings with Sherer the (reputed) editor of the “Standard.”
My new Regency Christmas story, The Holly & The Thistle, begins in Berry’s wine shop where the heroine, a young English widow (“the holly”) and the hero, a Scot (“the thistle”) meet just before Christmastide, each believing the other is someone else. It will put you in the mood for Christmas, I promise!
Our Regency Personage for December was born in December
Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775. She was the seventh of eight children and only the second daughter. Her father was a clergyman.
Her oldest brother was James who became a clergyman like their father.
The second brother was George about whom not much is known. It is thought that he was deaf because Jane knew how to “speak with her fingers.” Some say he had other problems and might have been a Down’s syndrome child. George lived in a private home with a caretaker all his life.
During the so-called "Delicate Investigation," Caroline, Princess of Wales, was asked if she had ever committed adultery after she had come to England and married George, Prince of Wales. She replied that indeed she had, but only with the husband of Mrs. Fitzherbert. In today’s article, Cheryl Bolen provides the salient details of the curious relationship between the Prince Regent and his pair of wives.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was one of the leading poets of the Romantic Movement in England. Yet, it turns out he was anything but romantic as a husband. Today, Cheryl Bolen tells us what life was like for his long-suffering wife, Sara.
A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:
The Hero of Trafalgar also has a relationship of sorts to Jane Eyre, Heathcliffe and Kathy, and Agnes Grey. Yes, those characters inhabit novels which were written by three talented sisters decades after the death of Admiral Nelson in October of 1805. He did not know the sisters, in fact they were all born more than ten years after his death. And yet, thanks to Charlotte, Emily and Anne, the name of Nelson’s favorite title lives on, even if it has lost its association with him.
Though Elizabeth Billington was thought to have one of the greatest voices of the age,the caricaturists loved to poke fun at her.
Mrs. Billington 1765-1818 was the daughter of Carl Weichsell, a well-known oboist, and a popular singer. In childhood she studied singing and composition with J.C. Bach, and by age 12 she had produced two keyboard concertos. In 1783, she wed James Billington, singing teacher and player of the double bass. For many years she and her brother, a violinist, provided afterpiece concerts at Covent Garden, where she became renowned for her exceptionally high vocal range and accurate intonation.
In 1802 she made her opera debut at the Italian opera house. ”The recitative was raised from its customary level.”
In 1805, according to the Times, “(she) sung with all the taste and delicacy, expression and neatness of execution that have long placed her above the reach of competition.” Her last performance at the King’s was the following year. She returned to the concert stage and to English Opera, performing alternately at Drury Lane and Covent Garden,
till her retirement in 1817.
Regency Promenade is written every month by Nancy Mayer, Regency researcher extraordinaire. http://www.regencyresearcher.com/
A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:
I must admit, I purloined that delicious phrase from the title of a brief article in The Republican, written by Richard Carlile, about Thomas Bowlder. In fact, it is a very apt description of what he did to some well-known books. His expunged editions of various books remained popular through the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. Bowdler’s name eventually came to be the source of a verb indicating expurgation.
But was Thomas Bowdler the lone "expunger of naughtiness" in the family?
A Review By Cheryl Bolen
Do authors feel obligated to provide positive reviews of the work of other authors, or do they feel a stronger obligation to be honest about their opinion of the book they have just read? Find out for yourself as you read Cheryl Bolen’s review of the one and only biography of Mary Nisbet, the woman whose husband "liberated" the famed marbles from the Parthenon in Greece.
by Ann Lethbridge
Yes, pesky titles. I know I should have this down pat by now. But I started a book several years ago, and lo and behold the darn hero was the second son of a duke. Not the heir. Now there are all kinds of pitfalls with Dukes, not just what you call them, but what you call their sons, their wives, their sons wives and so on. I am going to deal with just a couple of them here.
I thought rather than do a dry list, I would use the 5th Duke of Devonshire as a living — a well a previously living– example. His first wife was Georgiana, a very interesting woman, but in the matter of titles I have chosen this particular Duke because he was around in the Georgian era.
This is a portrait of the fifth duke. Now how would you address the starchy looking gentleman. Oh and by the way, his family name (like your surname) is Cavendish. That becomes important later.
Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales is on our Regency Promenade by Nancy Mayer
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF ILLUSTRIOUS LADIES
March 1806 La Belle Assemblee
HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCESS OF WALES
CAROLINE AMELIA ELIZABETH, the present Princess of Wales, and wife of his Royal Highness George, Prince of Wales, was born May 17, 1768.
She is the second daughter of the present Duke of Brunswick, of the Electoral line of Hanover, and of consequence, closely connected before her marriage with the Royal Family of Great Britain.
William Wilberforce is featured on The Beau Monde Chapter’s Regency Promenade.
Article written by Nancy Mayer
William Wilberforce was a British politician, philanthropist, and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.
Born: August 24, 1759, Kingston upon Hull
Died: July 29, 1833, London
Spouse: Barbara Spooner
Education: St John’s College, Cambridge
Buried: Westminster Abbey
William Wilberforce is now well-known for leading the parliamentary fight for abolition of slavery in England.
A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:
Over the years, I have read a number of biographies of George IV, as well as biographies of some of those who made up his circle. There were always brief, sometimes vague, references to one shadowy member of that circle, Sir William Knighton. But the substance of the man always seemed just out of reach. I could never get a good picture of who he really was or his true position in the Regent’s household. I had the sense that Knighton may have been Prinny’s éminence grise, just as Friar Leclerc had been to Cardinal Richelieu. But there was never enough information on Knighton to know for sure. Now there is.
In 1976, Dr. William I. C. Morris, an eminent doctor and professor of obstetrics and gynecology in Manchester, wrote a brief biography of Knighton, entitled "Sir William Knighton: The Invisible Accoucheur." That article was the first, and only, biography of William Knighton written since Knighton’s death. But that article was published in the Manchester Medical Gazette, which was not widely circulated outside the medical community. Thus, there has, to all intents and purposes, been no biography of William Knighton available to scholars and those of us who are interested in Regency history, particularly of the people who surrounded the Regent himself. Until now. A few weeks ago, I received an email from Charlotte Frost, a historian who has written the first full biography of William Knighton in the nearly two centuries since his passing. She asked if I would like to review her new book, and sent me a copy when I replied that I would. Those of you who have corresponded with me privately know that I do not pull my punches regarding my opinion of Regency research materials, regardless of how I come by them, nor will I do so here.
What I think of Charlotte Frost’s new book, Sir William Knighton: The Strange Career of a Regency Physician …
In our Regency Promenade today, Nancy Mayer looks at Beau Brummell.
Beau Brummell (1778 – 1840)
I do not like Beau Brummell and think he has been credited with more than he accomplished.
George Brummell was born in 1778. His father is said to have been a private secretary to Lord North, who was prime Minister of England from 1770- 1782.
It is said that his father had been a tradesman and he was determined that his children should be raised as gentry. Wikipedia says George was sent to Eton and Oxford. These institutions seemed to have turned him against books and learning, or any deep thought.
He was enrolled in the 10th Hussars, the Prince’s Own, also called the Prince’s Dolls, The Prince of Wales liked to design uniforms. A majority of the officers of this regiment were heirs to peerages and or were wealthy. Brummell, like another George, George Leigh couldn’t keep up with them.
A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:
Truth or fiction? Essentially, true. Though mathematics confounded him and he was by no stretch of the imagination a computer programmer himself, Lord Byron was the father of the very first computer programmer, his daughter, Augusta Ada Byron.
Impossible? Computers are a twentieth-century invention, right? Not so.
In our Regency Promenade today, Nancy Mayer looks at Maria Edgeworth, a prolific writer of adults’ and children’s literature who held advanced views on estate management, politics and education.
Maria Edgeworth 1767-1849
“As a woman, my life, wholly domestic, can offer nothing
of interest to the public.” Maria
Maria Edgeworth was one of three children born to her father’s first, and least loved, wife.
Richard Edgeworth had four wives and twenty-one children. He had a large estate in Ireland. He experimented with education , using his children as subjects. Maria adored her father.
He brought her home from school when she was sixteen and set her as an assistant teacher to her siblings.
Maria’s family knew her as a warm, practical, volatile, loving person.
She became agitated over little upsets but was calm and efficient in major upheavals; she scoffed at the use of the supernatural and overly comic in books but enjoyed reading about them with her family.
She accepted her father’s philosophy of utilitarinism and incorporated its lessons in her stories for children.
She believed that a woman’s best profession was that of wife and mother, but never married.
She considered herself a critic of the feminist movement of Wollstonecraft and Mary Hays, but her writings mark her as a closet feminist; she also demonstrated an interest and competence in “masculine subjects” such as science, accounting, and logic.
At first, Maria wrote her books in collaboration or with the suggestion of her father. However with Letters for Literary Ladies and Castle Rackrent she wrote both of them without the knowledge of her father.
Today, Cheryl Bolen reviews a book on Hannah More, who was an important figure campaigning for social reform in Regency England. But did you know that in her younger days the proper Hannah More had written for the stage and had become friendly with some of the leading lights of English theatre and literature? Once you have read Cheryl’s review of this biography of Hannah More, you may want to seek out the book at your local library to learn more about this fascinating woman.