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Thursday, 11 June 2020

Marriage of minors in Regency England

Detail from Merton College, Oxford: a marriage ceremony in the chapel by J Buck (1813) after AC Pugin - Wellcome Collection (CC BY 4.0)
Detail from Merton College, Oxford: a marriage ceremony
 in the chapel
by J Bluck (1813) after AC Pugin
Wellcome Collection used under Creative Commons Licence (CC BY 4.0)
If a young lady or gentleman wanted to get married in Regency England while they were a minor, that is before they came ‘of age’, they needed the permission of their parent or guardian.

When did a Regency person come ‘of age’?

The age of majority during the Regency was 21 years old. It was only reduced to the age of 18 relatively recently, in 1970.

Was parental permission always necessary?

Parental permission for the marriage of minors was required for all weddings in England except where the underage party had been married before.

Marriage by licence

To obtain either a common marriage licence or a special licence for the marriage of underage persons, permission was required from a parent or guardian of each underage person. Either party to the wedding or a third party had to give a sworn statement that this permission had been given before the licence could be granted.

If they lied about having parental consent, the marriage could be set aside.

Marriage by banns

The dance of death: the wedding by T Rowlandson (1816) Wellcome Collection by Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0)
The dance of death: the wedding by T Rowlandson (1816)
Wellcome Collection
Used under Creative Commons Licence (CC BY 4.0)
Explicit permission was NOT required for the banns to be read, but a parent or guardian of a previously unmarried underage party could forbid the banns. As banns had to be read out over three Sundays in the parish church that the couple attended, or in both parish churches if the couple were from different parishes, it was deemed that the parents or guardians had plenty of time to object to the marriage if they wanted to. If they did not forbid the banns, they could not later object to the marriage.

It would appear, however, that some unscrupulous persons tried to ignore this if it was in their interests to do so.

Ackermann’s Repository (January 1815) reported the sad case of Elizabeth Chandler, the daughter of a respectable tradesman:
Four years since, I became acquainted with John P –; we walked out together, we sat next to each other at every holiday meeting, and, in short, I soon began to have a particular affection for him; and as he was constantly at our house, I always treated him as the man who would become one day my loving husband. This, sir, at length was realized, and this day month I uttered the vow, which he also pronounced at the same altar, to cherish each other till death should us part. 

For a whole fortnight did we live, at least if I may judge of his feelings by my own, as happy as sincere love could make us: at the end of this period, however, I began to endure what I have ever since felt, the torments of love unreturned, and a character blasted for ever. 

After the short moments of a fortnight’s joy, he left me, as he said, but for a day, nor could I have believed it to be in the nature of man to be so perjured, if he at that time mean ever to return again. For three days, agony, suspense, and dread racked my frame. I wrote, I followed to the place whither he intended to go: alas! He was denied to me, and though fainting at the door, from the opprobrious terms his friends lavished on me, he came not to comfort her, who had, for him, given up what she supposed the rites of the church had warranted.1
Elizabeth’s husband wrote her a letter, telling her:
I have left you then for ever, for my friends insist upon it, that I must see you no more. My uncle Palmer, on whom you know I depend, has declared, unless our match be set on one aside, he will never see me no more; and you know, you have no fortune, and, if you love me, you cannot wish I should starve. It appears, although I did not know it myself, that I am six months under age, and I find, by the law of the land, I cannot marry. If, however, you should have a child, we will maintain it. I am very sorry, but what can I do? They have sent me to a place which I must not tell you of. In hopes you will bear this with becoming fortitude, I take my leave of you forever. So no more at present from your once loving husband, John P –.2
Elizabeth was distraught and wrote:
His cruel parents are determined to part us, and my poor incensed and less powerful parents can only mingle their tears with mine. They say the bans thrice put up, the solemnization in every particular, will avail me nothing; my husband being a minor is yet no husband to me – wretched, wretched girl!3
The writer of the article, Scriblerus, was deeply moved.
I conjure, therefore, the legal correspondents of the Repository, to exert themselves in behalf of this, perhaps not the last instance of female credulity and male baseness; and through the medium of the next number, point out some remedy to restore an unfortunate female to her peace of mind and respectability of character.4
The following issue published a story of Mary F – r, a lady who had married an underage man after banns who wished to get out of her marriage because of her ‘husband’s cruelty, and infamous behaviour of every description.’5

This woman wrote:
I was told, and am still told, that his being a minor will avail me nothing, as the bans were regularly put up. If what the unfortunate Elizabeth states be the fact, in the broad meaning of the assertion, surely I could as well take advantage of my husband’s minority, as in her case the husband or his friends could. Surely a man ought not to be allowed to take advantage of his own wrong-doings, to leave an innocent and injured woman; when, if that woman wished to do so, from his cruelties or other bad behaviour, she should be shut out from the same remedy.6
In April, Scriblerus published a response:
Johannes Scriblerus feels happy in informing his readers, that the case represented in … January has been answered by several legal gentlemen, who have given as their opinions, that the regular publication of bans stamps a marriage with legality. Elizabeth P – is, consequently, to all intents and purposes, the wife of John P –, although the marriage took place while he was a minor. Of course, according to this decision, our fair correspondent, Mary F – r, cannot withdraw herself from those engagements from which she has such reason to desire a release.7
Runaway marriages

Smuggling Out or Starting for Gretna Green by Rowlandson & Schutz Published by Ackermann (1789) DP872184 from Metropolitan Museum of Art
Smuggling Out or Starting for Gretna Green
by Rowlandson & Schutz
Published by Ackermann (1789)
DP872184 from Metropolitan Museum of Art
No parental consent was required for the marriage of underage persons in Scotland. As a result, couples ran away to the border to get married, at places like Gretna Green, if they did not have the consent of the underage person’s parent or guardian. As this was an expensive business, it usually meant that there was a fortune involved.



Notes
1. Ackermann, Rudolph, The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics (January 1815)
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Ackermann, Rudolph, The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics (February 1815)
6. Ibid.
7. Ackermann, Rudolph, The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics (April 1815)

Sources used include:
Ackermann, Rudolph, The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics (Various)

Thursday, 14 May 2020

How would you treat sprains and bruises in the Regency?

Winter Amusements - A Scene in France (1803)  Published by Laurie & Whittle © The Trustees of the British Museum  Used under Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
Winter Amusements - A Scene in France (1803)
Published by Laurie & Whittle © The Trustees of the British Museum
Used under Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)  
How would a Regency lady treat a sprained ankle?

There is a skating scene in Georgiana* where my heroine’s sister Eliza falls and badly sprains her ankle. I researched what would have been done and how long such an injury would keep her out of action. I wanted to know whether it would be reasonable for her accident to make her miss the season.

Of course, one of the best types of research is a re-enactment. This was not a piece of research I intended to do! No, I wasn’t skating. I merely missed my footing as I stepped outside my front door for my daily exercise during lockdown. Four weeks later, I can walk again, but my leg is still sore, and my ankle a bit swollen and aches if I do too much. I certainly won’t be up for a ball anytime soon and have every sympathy with Eliza who was forced to miss the whole season as a result of her accident.

The danger of sprains and strains

In his 1790 book Domestic Medicine, William Buchan wrote:
Strains are often attended with worse consequences than broken bones. The reason is obvious; they are generally neglected. When a bone is broken, the patient is obliged to keep the member easy, because he cannot make use of it; but when a joint is only strained, the person, finding he can still make a shift to move it, is sorry to lose his time for so trifling an ailment. In this way he deceives himself, and converts into an incurable malady what might have been removed by only keeping the part easy for a few days.1
Front page of William Buchan's Domestic Medicine 1790

Remedies for sprains

1. Immerse in cold water
Country people generally immerse a strained limb in cold water. This is very proper, provided it be done immediately, and not kept in too long.2
2. Bandage the sprained limb
Wrapping a garter, or some other bandage, pretty tight about the strained part, is likewise of use. It helps to restore the proper tone of the vessels and prevents the action of the parts from increasing the disease. It should not however be applied too tight.3
3. Bleeding

The treatment of almost every ailment in Georgian times seemed to involve bloodletting or bleeding!
I have frequently known bleeding near the affected part have a very good effect.4
4. Rest
What we would recommend above all is ease. It is more to be depended on than any medicine, and seldom fails to remove the complaint.5
5. Poultices
A great many external applications are recommended for sprains, some of which do good, and others hurt. The following are such as may be used with the greatest safety, viz. poultices made of stale beer or vinegar and oatmeal, camphorated spirits of wine, Mindererus’s spirit, volatile liniment, volatile aromatic spirit diluted with a double quantity of water, and the common fomentation, with the addition of brandy or spirit of wine.6
If you are interested, I discovered that Mindererus’s spirit is an aqueous solution of acetate of ammonium named after a Augsburg physician called Minderer (but I confess that doesn’t actually make me any the wiser as I’m not at all medically minded!)

Treatment of bruises

Dr Buchan believed bruises were as much a problem as sprains:
Bruises are generally productive of worse consequences than wounds. The danger from them does not appear immediately, by which means it often happens that they are neglected.7
Remedies for bruises

1. Bathing in warm vinegar
In slight bruises it will be sufficient to bathe the part with warm vinegar, to which a little brandy or rum may occasionally be added, and to keep cloths wet with this mixture constantly applied to it. This is more proper than rubbing it with brandy, spirits of wine, or other ardent spirits, which are commonly used in such cases.8
2. Cow-dung poultice
In some parts of the country the peasants apply to a recent bruise a cataplasm of fresh cow-dung. I have often seen this cataplasm applied to violent contusions occasioned by blows, falls, bruises, and such like, and never knew it fail to have a good effect.9
A cataplasm is a poultice or plaster. This sounds like a particularly smelly and unpleasant remedy!

3. Bleeding
When a bruise is very violent, the patient ought immediately to be bled.10
4. Light food and weak drink
His food should be light and cool, and his drink weak, and of an opening nature; as whey sweetened with honey, decoctions of tamarinds, barley, cream-tartar-whey, and such like.11
I didn’t know what a tamarind was, let alone a decoction of tamarinds! According to the BBC website, it is a tart fruit from the tamarind tree which tastes like a sour date. The fruit is shaped like a long bean which contains a sour pulp of seeds which can be made into a paste. It is a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.12

I found a recipe for a decoction of tamarinds in Thomas Fuller’s Pharmacopoeia Extemporanea (1719):
A Decoction of tamarinds
Take tamarinds 2 ounces; raisins stoned 4 ounces; boil in fair water 3 pints to 1 quart which strain.
It restrains the Flame of the Blood, allayeth unquenchable Thirst, humects, loosens, and is proper for constant Drink, in those Fevers that bring with them Costiveness, Drought, and parching Heat.13
5. Vinegary poultice
The bruised part must be bathed with vinegar and water, as directed above; and a poultice made by boiling crumb of bread, elder-flowers, and camomile-flowers, in equal quantities of vinegar and water, applied to it. This poultice is peculiarly proper when a wound is joined to the bruise. It may be renewed two or three times a-day.14
Mr Parker’s sprained ankle15

A Calm by James Gillray - published by H Humphrey 16 May 1810  © The Trustees of the British Museum  Used under Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
A Calm by James Gillray - published by H Humphrey 16 May 1810
© The Trustees of the British Museum
Used under Creative Commons Licence (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)  
Mr Parker sprains his ankle at the beginning of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon:
In a most friendly manner Mr. Heywood here interposed, entreating them not to think of proceeding till the ankle had been examined and some refreshment taken, and very cordially pressing them to make use of his house for both purposes.
‘We are always well stocked,’ said he, ‘with all the common remedies for sprains and bruises.’16
Unfortunately, Jane Austen didn’t tell us what these remedies were.

Later, Mr Parker’s sister Diana hears about his accident and writes to him:
If indeed a simple sprain, as you denominate it, nothing would have been so judicious as friction, friction by the hand alone, supposing it could be applied instantly. Two years ago I happened to be calling on Mrs. Sheldon when her coachman sprained his foot as he was cleaning the carriage and could hardly limp into the house, but by the immediate use of friction alone steadily persevered in (and I rubbed his ankle with my own hand for six hours without intermission) he was well in three days.17
I’m glad Diana didn’t get her hands on my ankle – it sounds very painful!

My treatment

I suppose immersing in cold water is a similar idea to ice treatment – I got my frozen peas on my swollen ankle promptly. I used witch hazel gel and later arnica for the swelling and bruises – no bloodletting or cow dung poultices, I hasten to add. I used an elasticated bandage for support but above all, plenty of rest, as recommended by Buchan.

Notes
* Georgiana is the working title of the next book in the Merry series of Regency romances.
1. Buchan, William, Domestic Medicine: or, a treatise on the prevention and cure of diseases (1790, 11th edition)
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.
13. Fuller, Thomas, Pharmacopoeia Extemporanea or a body of medicines (1719)
14. Buchan op cit.
15. Thanks to Gordon Le Pard for reminding me of Mr Parker’s sprained ankle. I added this Sanditon section on 16 May 2020.
16. Austen, Jane, Sanditon (1817).
17. Ibid.

Sources used include:
BBC website
Buchan, William, Domestic Medicine: or, a treatise on the prevention and cure of diseases (1790, 11th edition)
Fuller, Thomas, Pharmacopoeia Extemporanea or a body of medicines (1719)

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Fanny Boscawen, bluestocking hostess (1719-1805)

Fanny Boscawen by Allan Ramsay (1749)  © Croome Park NT/Lionel Matthews
Fanny Boscawen by Allan Ramsay (1749)
© Croome Park NT/Lionel Matthews
Fanny Boscawen (23 July 1719 – 26 February 1805) was a bluestocking hostess and writer. Her husband Edward commissioned Robert Adam to design the interiors for their home, Hatchlands Park, Surrey.

Early years

Frances Evelyn Glanville was born on 23 July 1719 at St Clere, near Wrotham, Kent. Frances, known as Fanny, was the only daughter of William Evelyn and his wife Frances Glanville, a great niece of the diarist John Evelyn. Her father took her mother’s name on their marriage by Act of Parliament, at the same time as inheriting her fortune.

Fanny’s mother died in childbirth and her father remarried a few years later. Fanny spent much of her childhood staying with relatives - an aunt, Mrs Gore, who lived at Boxley near Maidstone; at Wotton in Surrey with Sir John Evelyn, the grandson of the diarist, and his wife Anne Boscawen; and with Sir John’s son John and his wife Mary Boscawen, his first cousin, a daughter of Hugh Boscawen, 1st Viscount Falmouth.

Marriage

Admiral Edward Boscawen from the painting  by Sir Joshua Reynolds from An Historical   Journal of the Campaigns in North America  by Captain John Knox (1914)
Admiral Edward Boscawen from the painting
by Sir Joshua Reynolds from An Historical
 Journal of the Campaigns in North America
by Captain John Knox (1914)
It was at the home of John and Mary Evelyn that Fanny first met Edward Boscawen (1711-1761), Mary’s brother, in 1738. Edward was a captain in the navy. Fanny later wrote a letter that alluded to these ‘when you and I loved one another and told it only by our eyes.’1

When Edward returned after three years active service in the war against Spain, he became MP for Truro and was made captain of the Dreadnought. He resumed his courtship of Fanny and they were married on 11 December 1742. They lived in George Street, Hanover Square, London.

Edward and Fanny were very happy together and had five children: Edward Hugh (1744), Frances (1746), Elizabeth (1747), William Glanville (1749) and George (1758).

Hatchlands Park

Hatchlands Park © A Knowles (2014)
Hatchlands Park © A Knowles (2014)
In 1746, Fanny rented a small house in the country, in Beddington, Surrey, and in 1747, Edward and Fanny moved to a new London address, 14 South Audley Street.

In 1749, Edward and Fanny bought Hatchlands Park, near Guildford, in Surrey. It was an estate that Fanny had set her heart on some time before. Fanny wrote in her journal on 10th August 1748 that she had ‘made no enquiries, my heart still fixed at Hatchlands.’2

Again, on 23rd November 1748 Fanny wrote:
I shall wait for the charming summons at Englefield Green, where I propose to reside again this summer, Hatchland (which I still think of) being neither sold nor saleable.3
Edward and Fanny spent four happy years at Hatchlands together before Edward was once more called away on active service.

In 1757, they commissioned a new house at Hatchlands with interiors designed by Robert Adam.

Adam fireplace in the Drawing Room, Hatchlands from The architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
Adam fireplace in the Drawing Room, Hatchlands
from The architecture of Robert and James Adam by AT Bolton (1922)
A successful naval career

Edward’s naval career meant that both during their courtship and after their marriage, Edward and Fanny spent many months apart. Fanny kept a journal to keep Edward in touch with what was happening at home.

Edward proved himself to be a very able naval commander. He was promoted to Rear-Admiral of the Blue in 1747 and appointed Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty in 1751. (Admiral’s wife p146) He rose to Vice Admiral in 1755 and Admiral in 1758. Edward is particularly remembered for his successes in the Siege of Louisburg (1758) and the Battle of Lagos (1759).

Widowhood

Edward died at Hatchlands on 10 January 1761 after an acute attack of typhoid fever. Fanny was distraught. Edward was buried at St Michael Penkevil in Cornwall, in a tomb designed by Robert Adam, and with an inscription written by Fanny herself and ending with the words:
His once happy wife inscribes this marble – an unequal testimony of his worth and of her affection.4
Hre friend Elizabeth Montagu wrote to her husband a week after Edward’s death:
I thank God her mind is very calm and settled; she endeavours all she can to bring herself to submit to this dire misfortune. I know time must be her best comforter, so that I oppose her lamentations rarely and gently, but when they continue long, I set before her the merit of her five children, the want they will have of her, and the comfort she may derive from them.5
Blue-stocking hostess

Edward left his entire fortune to Fanny. She sold Hatchlands and moved back to London, to 14 South Audley Street, where she gained a reputation as an excellent letter writer and conversationalist and became famous for her bluestocking assemblies. Her guests included Elizabeth Montagu, Dr Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, Elizabeth Carter and Hannah More.

You can read more about the bluestocking circle on my earlier blog here.

Elizabeth Montagu wrote:
I look upon it as a fortunate omen to begin my New Year in Mrs Boscawen’s company. She is in her conversation everything that can make the hours pass agreeably. I must be happier, and I should be better for her friendship.6
Elizabeth Montagu from a print on display in Dr Johnson's House Museum
Elizabeth Montagu from a print on display
in Dr Johnson's House Museum
What was Fanny Boscawen like?

In Admiral’s Wife, Cecil Aspinall-Oglander wrote:
Though even Fanny’s dearest friends can never have called her beautiful, her vivacious little face and attractive figure, her level brow and restful wide-apart eyes, her ready wit and subtle understanding, her captivating manner and complete lack of self-consciousness were utterly irresistible.7
Fellow bluestocking Mrs Montagu described Fanny in a letter dated 1757:
She is in very good spirits, and sensible of her many felicities, which I pray God to preserve to her; but her cup is so full of good, I am always afraid it will spill. She is one of the few whom an unbounded prosperity could not spoil. I think there is not a grain of evil in her composition. She is humble, charitable, pious, of gentle temper, with the firmest principles and with a great deal of discretion, void of any degree of art, warm and constant in her affections, mild towards offenders, but rigorous towards offence.8
Hannah More referred to Fanny in this excerpt from her poem, The Bas Bleu; or, Conversation:
Long was society o’er-run
By whist, that desolating Hun;
Long did quadrille despotic sit,
That Vandal of colloquial wit;
And conversation’s setting light
Lay half-obscured in Gothic night.
At length the mental shades decline,
Colloquial wit begins to shine;
Genius prevails, and conversation
Emerges into reformation.
The vanquish'd triple crown to you,
Boscawen sage, bright Montagu,
Divided, fell; - your cares in haste
Rescued the ravag'd realms of Taste.9
Hannah More from Memoirs of the life and correspondence  of Mrs Hannah More by William Roberts (1835)
Hannah More
from Memoirs of the life and correspondence 
of Mrs Hannah More by William Roberts (1835)
Family sadness

Losing her beloved husband was not the only loss that Fanny had to bear. Three of her five children died before her: William was drowned in 1769, Edward died in 1774, and Frances Leveson-Gower, to whom she was particularly close, died in 1801. In 1803, her daughter Elizabeth’s husband, Henry Somerset, 5th Duke of Beaufort, also died.

Fanny had a close friendship with her cousin Julia Sayer (née Evelyn) with whom she corresponded regularly until Julia’s death in 1777. Fanny continued to correspond with Julia’s daughter, her god-daughter Frances Sayer, who became her closest companion in the latter years of her life. It was Frances Sayer who collected and saved Fanny’s letters.

Death

Fanny died on 26 February 1805 at her home in South Audley Street, London. She was buried in her husband’s tomb in Cornwall.

The inscription on her grave reads:
Here lie the remains of the Honourable Frances Boscawen, daughter of William Evelyn Glanville Esq of St Clere in the County of Kent and relict of the right Hon Admiral Boscawen to whom she was a faithful and affectionate wife for eighteen years and by whom she had five children, whom she most carefully and tenderly educated: Viz Edward Hugh Boscawen, member of parliament for Truro who died at the spa in Germany July 17th 1774 aged 29 years. Frances, the wife of Rear Admiral the Hon John Leveson Gower who died July 14th 1801 aged 55 years, Elizabeth, married to Henry, 5th Duke of Beaufort who survived her. William Glanville Boscawen who was unhappily drowned at Jamaica 21st April 1769 aged 17 years: A Lieutenant in the Navy and George Evelyn Boscawen third Viscount Falmouth who survived her. Her long and well spent life in the observance of the purest and most exemplary piety and in the practice of every Christian virtue was terminated on the 26th day of February 1805 in London in the 86th year of her age. She was endowed with an uncommon and remarkable strength of understanding and in society, she is thus most truly described by a contemporary author: ‘Her manners are the most agreeable and her conversation the best of any Lady with whom I ever had the happiness to be acquainted.’10
Notes
1. Aspinall-Oglander, Cecil, Admiral's Wife, Being the life and letters of The Hon Mrs Edward Boscawen from 1719-1761 (1940)
2. Ibid
3. Ibid
4. Ibid
5. Ibid
6. Ibid
7. Ibid
8. Climenson, Emily J, Elizabeth Montagu, The Queen of the Blue-Stockings Volume 2 (1906)
9. More, Hannah, The Works of Hannah More Volume 5 (1835)
10. Findagrave website - entry for Frances Evelyn Glanville Boscawen

Sources used include:
Aspinall-Oglander, Cecil, Admiral's Wife, Being the life and letters of The Hon Mrs Edward Boscawen from 1719-1761 (1940)
Climenson, Emily J, Elizabeth Montagu, The Queen of the Blue-Stockings Volume 2 (1906)
Eger, Elizabeth, Boscawen (née Glanville), Frances Evelyn (Fanny) (1719-1805), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, online edn 23 Sept 2004)
Knox, Captain John, An Historical Journal of the Campaigns in North America Volume 1 (1914)