Saturday, 7 January 2017

Dispelling Myths - People didn't take Baths

Dispelling Myths - People didn't take Baths in 16th-17th century etc - in reference to Cleanliness is next to Godliness!

In actual fact, throughout history, people bathed more than historians declare - as can be seen within private journals circa 17th century. The reason they wore perfume and carried pomanders was to kill the stench of the streets where the saying Gardy Loo had purpose before the pitching of effluent from chamber pots to street gully. Hence the wealthy abandoned cities in warm weather, as often as they could and retreated to their country abodes. There's a huge myth the aristocracy abided to seasonal Parliamentary sittings - not those who didn't give a toss about politics, and that was the majority. Yes, they had town houses, in many cases owned streets of houses leased out to the middling merchant/trader classes, but in most cases they only attended specific events, and tended to swan about with a mistress rather than have their family with them. Even the court retired to the country - often. The upper merchant class owned their own vast properties, but of course the lower class were unable to take flight to fresh air unless they paid visit to relatives who were a bit farther distant, bearing in mind Chelsea was a village with open green fields as were other places of note such as Putney where there were windmills on Putney heath - Greater London didn't exist!

Casting stone built Roman baths aside, Wooden baths were little different than wooden baths of the 16-17th centuries resembling cut off ale barrels. Not the little brandy and port barrels, the biggies. Then there were tin (Roman baths) carried with armies for officers and tin baths carried on alongside wooden ones for centuries. Then came the Georgian era and the ever present copper pans, kettles, and yes, Baths. Note the differing wooden baths, the tin one used in the Poldark series, and the Georgian copper. 

For more in depth reference go here

Saturday, 31 December 2016

New Book Release!

A remote Scottish Castle, Murder, Mystery, and Romance.

You'll probably note the sprig of holly on the book cover, but this is not essentially a Christmas story, even though the seasonal aspect has a small part to play. This is a book that features dark elements die-hard lovers of Sweet Regency Novels in the vein of Jane Austen, will no doubt hate it. But I do aim to reflect the darker side of Georgian and Regency life, combined with the social mores of that period. Thus I give you Lady Caroline, she whom led the Marquis of Rantchester astray (The Dark Marquis) until he took a firm grip on his own life.

Book blurb:

Whilst young Lady Caroline Douglas is plotting to take flight from a disastrous marriage and escape the confines of KilKenneth Castle, betrayal, lust, and the financial bank crisis of 1825 suddenly opens a Pandora’s box of intrigue, murder, and mystery. The newly widowed Lady Caroline faces few choices in light of imminent poverty, the best being to hunt down and marry a wealthy man, the worst to runaway with a penniless lover. Thence unbidden attentions of a would-be laird and with assistance from his strange sister, they conspire to keep Caroline prisoner to his every whim. Thus Caroline turns to essence of the dream smoke to thwart their plans, until a lewd painting leads to dark desires and threat of forced submission to the would-be laird. But romance and escape to love and happiness Caroline had so sought, and never encountered, her fate seemingly lies within a stained glass window depicting a mediaeval knight.   

Monday, 7 November 2016

New release - Love & Rebellion.

My latest novel required immense research through private and state papers, and private letters & journals in order to investigate fully the underhanded deceits that occurred at that time, thus sifting through the propaganda was an enlightening experience. Overall, the Royal Series revolves around two families based in the county of Somersetshire, and selected members of the Royal Court. 

The Gantry's reside at Axebury Hall, 

The Thornton's at Loxton House.

Knoll house has a major part in this novel, as does Henry Gantry, 

While it's never easy to retain a high level of entertainment value alongside essential points of historical accuracy, as a reader I've always despised narrative info dumps of historical matter, thus I do my best to drip-feed historical details via  character eyes, their individual viewpoints, and by way of dialogue. Likewise an unbiased  approach to history is not always as simple as it sounds, but again I do my best to present both sides of any divide, though it is almost impossible to like a person of their time, or an unsavoury character, who's given to evil intents and self-advancement, and at any cost to others' and their loved ones. 

This novel is set at a time in history when deception and court intrigues were as bad, if not worse, than that of outside factions, even where Parliament based influences held sway. For readers unfamiliar with this period in history, it was a treacherous time in more ways than one, not least within royal circles due to long-term grudges, envy, secret marriages, mistresses, illegitimate royal offspring, and power struggles on many levels. 

The Monmouth Rebellion is still talked of in the West Country, more especially surrounding the place where the Duke of Monmouth valiantly led his rebel army to engage with the royal army. What happened has remained engraved on the people of the western counties, there descendants, and across the green swathe of the levels, a low-lying area of Somersetshire. Therefore,  I could do no more than let the characters take centre stage:                  

A page from the Duke of Monmouth's notebook - thus his handwriting!

Book blurb:

A would-be King, a would-be Courtesan, Love and Betrayal. A Heartrending 17th century drama of Love, Desire, and Intrigue.

The Hon Henry Gantry’s covert life, in service to the royal household, is anything but secure. Riddled with guilt over hidden desires and acts of betrayal, Henry’s loyalty to the crown is tested in extreme as anti-Papist fervour reaches a peak of discontent across England. With the sudden illness and death of Charles II, speculation countrywide is of foul play, and the newly declared monarch, James II, takes the throne. Rebellion thus seems the only way to achieve the Protestants’ aims to rid the country of its new Catholic King. Thus, Henry is forever affected by tragic events as they unfold, and the Gantry and Thornton families are once again drawn into a web of courtly deceits.

From the midst of defeat and despair... a scrap of paper is a talisman and hope for a new dawn.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Daniel Defoe - Rebel Soldier!

What could Daniel Defoe possibly have in common with the Duke of Monmouth?

Well, quite a lot!

If you didn’t know before reading this, then let me introduce you to the rebel soldier “Defoe”, who was a staunch supporter of Monmouth’s cause to topple James Stuart (James II) from his throne. Yes indeed, Defoe fought in Monmouth’s rebel army. Unlike Monmouth, Defoe evaded capture (contrary to many Wiki accounts of Defoe’s life and supposed Kingly pardon) and made safe escape to the Low Countries. There Defoe lived in exile, as had Monmouth. But, when William of Orange ousted his father-in-law from the English throne, the invasion thus notably referred to as The Glorious Revolution, Defoe returned as a mercenary soldier. In self accounts of his own life, Defoe is sparing on detail to do with the Monmouth rebellion, though did say: whilst hiding in a churchyard from royalist soldiers who were hunting runaways from the Battle of Sedgemoor, he read the inscription on a tombstone “Robinson Crusoe” which later became a novel, along with "Moll Flanders".

Extra: Many of Monmouth’s supporters who evaded capture were known to the authorities but never found despite intense searches of houses by brutal means against existing occupants. 

Of those who escaped to the Scilly Isles and other island retreats and thought of themselves as safe and out of reach of the King’s hounds, were soon to learn the awful truth that the king’s vengeance had not dissipated with the brutal finale of Monmouth’s decapitation. 

As naval ships docked or anchored off-shore on those outlying islands so escapees were again forced into hiding or smuggled away in fishing boats to foreign shores. The most dreadful account of Judge Jeffreys enacting a despicable remit, was the sending of privates parts of notables "to the wives/mothers" of those who were hung drawn and quartered. A list of prisoners and their respective fates can be viewed here

Friday, 8 July 2016

To shoot a son, or not to shoot him!.

Here's a legitimate way for authors of Georgian & Regency (other) novels to tackle the tricky business of a livid duke or earl who is hell-bent on taking steps to disinherit a son without having to shoot him. Read the post carefully (all of it) because not all is quite as one might imagine re titles (land/s) and entailment.

Although across the centuries numerous titles (and in some cases lands) were bestowed by Kings and Queens to persons who served them well, not all titles came with land or houses initially, or bestowed at a later date. Thus several dukes' received no dom, earls neither, and they had to make do with what they had, even if it was little more than a modest family abode plus an apartment within the royal court - subject to the monarch's whim. In some cases land was gifted by a sovereign for exemplary service at court or for some great feat in battle et al, such as the Duke of Marlborough, thence it was expected of the recipient to build a “house” fit to entertain his monarch. See below: change of entailment by letters patent re the Duke of Marlborough.
As for entailment of land to a title, this was not always applicable nor writ as deed when bestowed *couldn’t be when a title had no land* and such restrictions ultimately fell to the recipient to assign a lawyer to fulfil his wishes for future generations in the event of acquisition of land etc., if he thought it necessary. It was known Queen Bess (Elizabeth I) did stipulate within a few titles and land bestowed that a daughter, in the instance of no living legitimate sons, were entitled to assume the female equivalent (Duchess/Countess) in her own right, though should she marry the husband would take the male title, as would sons or daughters in perpetuity. Similar happened during Charles II’s reign when he bestowed titles upon several of his mistresses, Duchess of Cleveland and Duchess of Portland et al. Similarly, not all subsidiary titles such as Marquis have a marquisate = land associated to and with the title!
The case in which the Duke of Marlborough encountered was devastating:

Quote: When the Duke’s only son contracted smallpox and died, he was 16. The Marlboroughs’, of course, were devastated. They had four daughters, but no surviving son. All they had worked for seemed destined to slip into obscurity.

A few years later, on 21 December 1706, Parliament passed an Act which noted that the Duke's titles and honours had been awarded by earlier letters patent "to him and the heirs male of his body" (boilerplate letters patent language). The Act amended the letters patent so that, "failing the heirs male of his body, [the titles and honours would pass] to Lady Harriet, his eldest daughter, wife of Francis Godolphin [later 2nd Earl of Godolphin], and the heirs male of her body." Failing the heirs male of her body, then to her sister, Anne (2nd daughter), Countess of Sunderland, and the heirs male of her body. Failing the heirs male of her body, then to her sister, Elizabeth (3rd daughter), Countess of Bridgewater, and the heirs male of her body. Failing the heirs male of her body, then to her sister, Mary (4th daughter), later Duchess of Montagu, and the heirs male of her body. After an allowance for future daughters of the Duke and their heirs male, the titles will go to the first daughter of Lady Harriet, and her heirs male; failing them, to the second daughter of Lady Harriet and her heirs male, etc.; and so on through each of the lineal descendants of each of the Duke's daughters; and lastly:"to all and every other the issue male and female, lineally descending of or from the said Duke of Marlborough, in such manner and for such estate as the same are before limited to the before-mentioned issue of the said Duke, it being intended that the said honours shall continue, remain, and be invested in all the issue of the said Duke, so long as any such issue male or female shall continue, and be held by them severally and successively in manner and form aforesaid, the elder and the descendants of every elder issue to be preferred before the younger of such issue."

All persons to whom the said honours shall descend shall have the same precedence as was then enjoyed by the said Duke in virtue of the said letters patent bearing date 14 December (1702) I Anne. So you see, and act of Parliament could then be utilised to 
Citation: Laura Chinet.

As an aside: During the period of the English Civil Wars (1642-1649) - a lot of the old aristocracy who fought for King and Country (Royalists) duly had land and property sequestered by Parliament as early as 1645, much of it never, not even when Charles II returned to English shores (1660 -Restoration Period), did he grant favours many expected of him, by overturning sequestered land and property to former owners. Thus many aristocrats who returned from exile overseas had titles and no land, (Duke of Buckingham), who thought it canny to court and marry the Parliamentarian General Sir Thomas Fairfax’s daughter in hope his father-in-law would be kind of heart and give back all the D of B’s holdings. Oliver Cromwell having prior given to his General: but father-in-law (Fairfax) didn’t, simply to safeguard his daughter’s future as wife to a known courtly rake: (another story).
Which brings us to the subject of a duke or an earl disinheriting his son – something that cannot be done on a whim if the title and the estate (land) is entailed. But, and this is where authors of Georgian & Regency novels can take a perfectly legitimate spanner to the belief wheel that *all titles and lands* were and are entailed, thus it is perfectly plausible for a duke or earl (lesser) to threaten his son with disinheritance, meaning the title will be his, but not necessarily the whole of the estate. Landed aristocrats were notorious for acquisition of property or land/s as *safe deposits* much like storing gold/dosh under the bed, and there were those who were indeed reckless gamblers, hence tenant rents funded the gambling or properties were heavily mortgaged, sometimes having resulted in insolvency, and in some cases to this day, estates have and are broken up and sold off bit by bit by differing generations.