18th century mourning


Charliedrac Hi, here's Jo, thinking black. Charlie as Count Dracula will have to do as illustration!

The hero of my MIP — titled An Accidental Countess, and to be out next March — is a very new earl, and his family is still in mourning. I had to go digging for details.Perhaps you, too, thought serious mourning was a Victorian invention, but it seems not. In fact one book said that they copied it from the Georgians!   I've been digging around and I've come up with an assortment of funereal details from the mid 18th century. I'm going to share them here, because I think they're fascinating.

It's a long blog and short on pictures, but I hope you enjoy it. I've put in some comments along the way. MyEdaug comments are in blue, like this.

I start with the official court instructions upon the death of Edward Augustus, duke of York (25 March 1739 – 17 September 1767), the king's younger brother, taken ill en route to Italy. As you'll see, he was young, as was the king at this time. I can't say he looks it in this picture, however.

Lord Chamberlain's office. Orders for the Court's going into mourning  on Sunday neat, the 4th day of October, for bis late Royal Highness  next brother to his majesty, viz.

The  ladies to wear black silk, plain muslin or long lawn, crape or love hoods, black glazed gloves, black paper fans, and black silk shoes. Undress, black or dark grey unwatered tabbies. (Tabby means a plain weave.)

The men to wear black cloth, without buttons on the sleeves or pockets, plain muslin or long lawn cravats and *weepers, crape hat- bands, and black swords and buckles. Undress, dark grey frocks."

*Weepers were white bands worn instead of frills at the cuff, or as a white lining to the ciff. I'm not uite sure. The cravat bit is to stress that they be plain, without lace.

The instructions to people at large were: "That it is expected, that upon the present occasion of the death of  his late Royal Highness Edward Augustus, duke of York and Albany, all  persons do put themselves into decent mourning, the said mourning to  begin on Sunday next, the 4th day of October."

Poor Cate — yes, my hero's called Cate, from Catesby. His brother's death catches him with nothing more sober to wear than shabby riding clothes.

To the military. Sept. 29, 1767. Scarborough, M. War-Office, Sept. 19. His majesty does  not require that the officers of the army should wear any other mourning, on the present melancholy occasion, than a black crape round  their left arms, with their uniforms. By his majesty's command.

On a different note, here's a satirical piece from the The Town and country magazine,1769 which besides probably being true of some situations, tells us what mourning behaviour should be.

General Rules for behaviour in Mourning

A Wife losing her husband.

Not to appear in publick the first week; nor in private without a  handkerchief. The second Sunday at church, much affected with the  sermon ; the handkerchief is not omitted.

May go to a tragedy after the first month ; and weep in character,  either at the play, or the loss of her husband.

The second month she  may assist at a comedy, smile, but not languishingly.

The third month she may laugh at a play, or dance at Cornelys's*, with her intended bridegroom. And the fourth month she may jump into his  arms, and finish her widowhood.

*Anyone remember Madam Cornelys, who played a part in A Lady's Secret? At this point, her events were the Almack's of the time. Her business failed, and Almack picked up the very good idea.

A Husband losing his wife.

Must weep, or seem to weep at the funeral. Should not appear at the chocolate house the first week.

Should vent a proper sigh whenever good wives, or even matrimony is mentioned. May take a mistress into  keeping the third, week, provided he had not one before. (I think this means that if he'd had one during the marriage there'd be no change.)

May appear with her in public at the end of the month ; and as he, probably, may not chuse to marry again. he may at the close of the second month, be  allowed a couple of mistresses to solace him in his melancholy.

An Heir losing his Father.

It would be more decent not to break out before the funeral. Horses, dogs, and equipage may, however, be getting ready; plans of villas,  dispositions of gardens, and the like, may be in the meanwhile  examined; the additional servants may be hired, and even put into mournin.

The ladies may visit him, (after the funeral) or he may visit them (before) provided some little precaution is used to prevent scandal.

He may frequent the gaming table, get admitted a member of the Jockey Club and the Franciscan Friar  as soon as he can;(Presumably the Hell Fire club, where the members wore monk's robes. At
this time it doesn't seem to have been a place of occult wickedness,
but a slightly kinky club popular with major figures in society and
politics.
)

and if he  is not ruined by the expiration of his mourning, he may only change his  dress, and pursue the same plan as long as his fortune will last.

Complaints of extravagant funerals.

If people really were beggaring themselves to pay for grand funerals, they had a point.

"I have frequently known a greater sum expended at the funeral of a tradesman, than would have kept his whole family for a twelvemonth, and it has more than once happened, that the next heir has been flung into gaol for not being able to pay the undertaker's bill."

The writer cites this example, and again we see what a funeral might have looked like.

"I was passing the other night through a narrow little lane in the skirts of the city, I was stopped by a grand procession of a hearse  and three mourning-coaches drawn by six horses, accompanied with agreat number of flambeaus and attendants. I naturally concluded that all this parade was to pay the last honours to some eminent  person, whose consequence in life required that his ashes should receive all the respect which his friends and relations could pay to  them.

I could not help smiling, when upon enquiry I was told  that the corpse (on whom all this expence had been lavished was no other than Tom Taster the cheesemonger, who had lain in state all the  week at his house in Thames-Street, and was going to be deposited with his  ancestors in White-chapel burying-ground.

This illustrious personage was, I believe, the first of his family, that ever thought of riding in a coach, living or dead : he was the son of a butcher in White-chapel, and died indeed but in indifferent circumstances: his widow however, for the honour of her family, was resolved at all events to bury him handsomely."

Another criticism.

"It was the custom, in the time of the plague, to fix a mark on those  houses in which any one had died. This probably may have given rise  to the general fashion of hanging up an atchievement. 

(Ah-ha! The source of that strange word, "hatchment" for the crest of the deceased hung upon the door. I've always wondered about the origin of that.)

However this be,  it is now designed as a polite token that a death has happened in the family, and might reasonably be understood as a warning to keep people  from intruding on their grief.

No such thing is, indeed, intended by it: I am therefore of opinion, that it ought every-where to be taken  down after the first week. Whatever outward signs of mourning may be preserved, no regard is ever paid to them within : the same visitings, the fame card-playings, are carried on as before ; and so little  respect is shewn to the atchievement, that if it happens (as it often does) to intersect one of the windows in the grand apartment, it is occasionally removed, whenever the lady dowager has a route or  drummajor.This naturally leads me to consider how much the customary suits of solemn black, and the other trappings and signs of woe, are  become a mere farce and, matter of form only."

A complaint about excessive black.

"When a person of distinction goes out of the world, not only the relations, but the whole household, must be cloathed in sable. The kitchen-wench scours  her dishes in crape, and the helper in the stables rubs down his  horses in black-leather breeches. Every thing must put on a dismal appearance: even the coach must be covered and lined with black.

This  last particular, it is reasonable to imagine, is intended (like a death's head on the toilet*) to put the owner constantly in mind, that  the pomp of the world and all gay pursuits are but vain and  perishable.

*I'm not sure what this means. Not a skull on the loo, obviously, but what? Any ideas?

Yet what is more common than for these dismal vehicles to wait at the doors of the theatres, the opera-house, and other public places of diversion? Those who are carried in them are as little affected by their dismal appearance as the horses that draw them ; I once saw with with great surprize an harlequin, a scaramouch, a shepherdess and a black satin devil, get into a mourning coach to go to a jubilee masquerade.

If I should not be thought to lay too much stress on the lesser formalities observed in mourning, I might mention the admirable method  of qualifying the melancholy hue of the mourning ring, by enlivening it with the brilliancy of a diamond. I knew a young lady, who wore on the same finger a ring set round with death's heads and cross marrow bones  for the loss of her father, and another prettily embellished with burning hearts pierced through with darts, in respect to her lover."

 Mourning rings were a huge part and a large expense. They were given to mourners at the funeral.

From Costume of Colonial Times, which from other research was usually the same as in Britain except a little later.


"These mourning rings were of gold, usually enamelled in black. They were frequently decorated with a death's – head or a coffin with a skeleton lying in it, or a winged skull. Often they held a framed lock of hair of the deceased friend. Sometimes the ring was shaped like a serpent with his tail in his mouth.A favorite motto was "Death parts United Hearts." Others bore the legend: "Prepare for Death;" another, "Prepared be to follow me." Some funeral rings bore a family crest in black enamel.

The story is told of Doctor Samuel Buxton, of Salem, Mass., — who died in 1758, aged eighty-one years, — that he left to his heirs a quart tankard full of mourning rings which he had received at funerals.

That might have been a tidy inheritance!

Black gloves were part of mourning, and also sometimes sent to mourners as a gift. Black-headed pins were available, for pins were much used to fix women's dress. There was also black sealing wax and black edged paper, which led to another complaint.

"But what I most of all admire is the odd contrivance, by which persons  spread the tidings of the death of their relations to the most distant  parts, by the means of black-edged paper and black sealing wax. If it were possible to inspect the several letters that bear about them these external tokens of grief, I believe we should hardly ever find  the contents of the fame gloomy complexion : a luscious sonnet, or an  amorous billet-doux would be much oftener found to be conveyed under these dismal passports, than doleful ditties or reflections on  mortality : and indeed these mock signs of woe are so little attended to, that a person opens one of these letters with no more concern than is felt by the postman who brings it. "

Fascinating, isn't it?

Anyone have anything to add about Georgian mourning?

Jo






100 thoughts on “18th century mourning”

  1. Hi Jo
    This is fascinating. I wonder if the word Toilet used actually refers to the French word toilette, meaning to dress. Maybe they were referring to what one wore in mourning and that by dressing accordingly you would remember either the event or the person and act accordingly. I remember at school being told that when one dressed in the morning one was getting oneself ready for the day by doing one’s toilet. Does this make sense?

    Reply
  2. Hi Jo
    This is fascinating. I wonder if the word Toilet used actually refers to the French word toilette, meaning to dress. Maybe they were referring to what one wore in mourning and that by dressing accordingly you would remember either the event or the person and act accordingly. I remember at school being told that when one dressed in the morning one was getting oneself ready for the day by doing one’s toilet. Does this make sense?

    Reply
  3. Hi Jo
    This is fascinating. I wonder if the word Toilet used actually refers to the French word toilette, meaning to dress. Maybe they were referring to what one wore in mourning and that by dressing accordingly you would remember either the event or the person and act accordingly. I remember at school being told that when one dressed in the morning one was getting oneself ready for the day by doing one’s toilet. Does this make sense?

    Reply
  4. Hi Jo
    This is fascinating. I wonder if the word Toilet used actually refers to the French word toilette, meaning to dress. Maybe they were referring to what one wore in mourning and that by dressing accordingly you would remember either the event or the person and act accordingly. I remember at school being told that when one dressed in the morning one was getting oneself ready for the day by doing one’s toilet. Does this make sense?

    Reply
  5. Hi Jo
    This is fascinating. I wonder if the word Toilet used actually refers to the French word toilette, meaning to dress. Maybe they were referring to what one wore in mourning and that by dressing accordingly you would remember either the event or the person and act accordingly. I remember at school being told that when one dressed in the morning one was getting oneself ready for the day by doing one’s toilet. Does this make sense?

    Reply
  6. Such an interesting post, Jo. I find the whole business of the ritual of mourning fascinating.
    Thinking about the “death’s head on the toilet” — I think Jenny’s probably right, that it’s a metaphor for dressing soberly.
    My first thought was that it might be a kind of patch — the powder and patch kind of patch. The various patches and their placement had names, didn’t they?

    Reply
  7. Such an interesting post, Jo. I find the whole business of the ritual of mourning fascinating.
    Thinking about the “death’s head on the toilet” — I think Jenny’s probably right, that it’s a metaphor for dressing soberly.
    My first thought was that it might be a kind of patch — the powder and patch kind of patch. The various patches and their placement had names, didn’t they?

    Reply
  8. Such an interesting post, Jo. I find the whole business of the ritual of mourning fascinating.
    Thinking about the “death’s head on the toilet” — I think Jenny’s probably right, that it’s a metaphor for dressing soberly.
    My first thought was that it might be a kind of patch — the powder and patch kind of patch. The various patches and their placement had names, didn’t they?

    Reply
  9. Such an interesting post, Jo. I find the whole business of the ritual of mourning fascinating.
    Thinking about the “death’s head on the toilet” — I think Jenny’s probably right, that it’s a metaphor for dressing soberly.
    My first thought was that it might be a kind of patch — the powder and patch kind of patch. The various patches and their placement had names, didn’t they?

    Reply
  10. Such an interesting post, Jo. I find the whole business of the ritual of mourning fascinating.
    Thinking about the “death’s head on the toilet” — I think Jenny’s probably right, that it’s a metaphor for dressing soberly.
    My first thought was that it might be a kind of patch — the powder and patch kind of patch. The various patches and their placement had names, didn’t they?

    Reply
  11. Hmm, for ” skull on a toilet.” When I read the phrase, I pictured those paintings that have a skull on a table with other objects and the skull is there as a memento mori (“remember death”) and that the toilet was a like a vanity or small table. Not that people should literally put a skull on the table, but like Jenny said that they should remember that person and conduct themselves seriously.
    Jenny, my mother still says “doing her morning toilette” even though we all tease her about it. 🙂

    Reply
  12. Hmm, for ” skull on a toilet.” When I read the phrase, I pictured those paintings that have a skull on a table with other objects and the skull is there as a memento mori (“remember death”) and that the toilet was a like a vanity or small table. Not that people should literally put a skull on the table, but like Jenny said that they should remember that person and conduct themselves seriously.
    Jenny, my mother still says “doing her morning toilette” even though we all tease her about it. 🙂

    Reply
  13. Hmm, for ” skull on a toilet.” When I read the phrase, I pictured those paintings that have a skull on a table with other objects and the skull is there as a memento mori (“remember death”) and that the toilet was a like a vanity or small table. Not that people should literally put a skull on the table, but like Jenny said that they should remember that person and conduct themselves seriously.
    Jenny, my mother still says “doing her morning toilette” even though we all tease her about it. 🙂

    Reply
  14. Hmm, for ” skull on a toilet.” When I read the phrase, I pictured those paintings that have a skull on a table with other objects and the skull is there as a memento mori (“remember death”) and that the toilet was a like a vanity or small table. Not that people should literally put a skull on the table, but like Jenny said that they should remember that person and conduct themselves seriously.
    Jenny, my mother still says “doing her morning toilette” even though we all tease her about it. 🙂

    Reply
  15. Hmm, for ” skull on a toilet.” When I read the phrase, I pictured those paintings that have a skull on a table with other objects and the skull is there as a memento mori (“remember death”) and that the toilet was a like a vanity or small table. Not that people should literally put a skull on the table, but like Jenny said that they should remember that person and conduct themselves seriously.
    Jenny, my mother still says “doing her morning toilette” even though we all tease her about it. 🙂

    Reply
  16. It does Jenny. Toilette originally referred to the cloth covering the dressing table, and from there its meaning evolved to embrace the whole dressing table and what one used it for. The mirror on the dressing table is of course the ultimate symbol of vanity. On still-life paintings this is sometimes offset by a skull as a memento mori. I wonder now if people did that in real life too? It may be that the writer exaggerates, but then again, who knows? To my middle-aged notions wearing a ring with a skull and crossbones is something for teenagers, and apparently that was a normal mourning ring.
    Anne Buck’s wonderful book Dress in eighteenth-century England deals with the clothes of all classes for all occasions, including mourning. In her glossary she describes weepers as white linen or muslin cuffs added to the coat for mourning wear.
    I love all the wonderful texts you found, Jo!

    Reply
  17. It does Jenny. Toilette originally referred to the cloth covering the dressing table, and from there its meaning evolved to embrace the whole dressing table and what one used it for. The mirror on the dressing table is of course the ultimate symbol of vanity. On still-life paintings this is sometimes offset by a skull as a memento mori. I wonder now if people did that in real life too? It may be that the writer exaggerates, but then again, who knows? To my middle-aged notions wearing a ring with a skull and crossbones is something for teenagers, and apparently that was a normal mourning ring.
    Anne Buck’s wonderful book Dress in eighteenth-century England deals with the clothes of all classes for all occasions, including mourning. In her glossary she describes weepers as white linen or muslin cuffs added to the coat for mourning wear.
    I love all the wonderful texts you found, Jo!

    Reply
  18. It does Jenny. Toilette originally referred to the cloth covering the dressing table, and from there its meaning evolved to embrace the whole dressing table and what one used it for. The mirror on the dressing table is of course the ultimate symbol of vanity. On still-life paintings this is sometimes offset by a skull as a memento mori. I wonder now if people did that in real life too? It may be that the writer exaggerates, but then again, who knows? To my middle-aged notions wearing a ring with a skull and crossbones is something for teenagers, and apparently that was a normal mourning ring.
    Anne Buck’s wonderful book Dress in eighteenth-century England deals with the clothes of all classes for all occasions, including mourning. In her glossary she describes weepers as white linen or muslin cuffs added to the coat for mourning wear.
    I love all the wonderful texts you found, Jo!

    Reply
  19. It does Jenny. Toilette originally referred to the cloth covering the dressing table, and from there its meaning evolved to embrace the whole dressing table and what one used it for. The mirror on the dressing table is of course the ultimate symbol of vanity. On still-life paintings this is sometimes offset by a skull as a memento mori. I wonder now if people did that in real life too? It may be that the writer exaggerates, but then again, who knows? To my middle-aged notions wearing a ring with a skull and crossbones is something for teenagers, and apparently that was a normal mourning ring.
    Anne Buck’s wonderful book Dress in eighteenth-century England deals with the clothes of all classes for all occasions, including mourning. In her glossary she describes weepers as white linen or muslin cuffs added to the coat for mourning wear.
    I love all the wonderful texts you found, Jo!

    Reply
  20. It does Jenny. Toilette originally referred to the cloth covering the dressing table, and from there its meaning evolved to embrace the whole dressing table and what one used it for. The mirror on the dressing table is of course the ultimate symbol of vanity. On still-life paintings this is sometimes offset by a skull as a memento mori. I wonder now if people did that in real life too? It may be that the writer exaggerates, but then again, who knows? To my middle-aged notions wearing a ring with a skull and crossbones is something for teenagers, and apparently that was a normal mourning ring.
    Anne Buck’s wonderful book Dress in eighteenth-century England deals with the clothes of all classes for all occasions, including mourning. In her glossary she describes weepers as white linen or muslin cuffs added to the coat for mourning wear.
    I love all the wonderful texts you found, Jo!

    Reply
  21. Funeral favors, like wedding favors, gotta love it! But from the sounds of it, human behavior hasn’t changed much more than that, at least not in the parts of the country with which I’m familiar. Maybe we drop the drab black these days, but the ostentatious funeral to show respect, even if the family can’t afford it, is still around.
    From the sounds of this satirical writer, he’s saying people put on mourning just to draw attention to themselves. Great post, Jo, thank you!

    Reply
  22. Funeral favors, like wedding favors, gotta love it! But from the sounds of it, human behavior hasn’t changed much more than that, at least not in the parts of the country with which I’m familiar. Maybe we drop the drab black these days, but the ostentatious funeral to show respect, even if the family can’t afford it, is still around.
    From the sounds of this satirical writer, he’s saying people put on mourning just to draw attention to themselves. Great post, Jo, thank you!

    Reply
  23. Funeral favors, like wedding favors, gotta love it! But from the sounds of it, human behavior hasn’t changed much more than that, at least not in the parts of the country with which I’m familiar. Maybe we drop the drab black these days, but the ostentatious funeral to show respect, even if the family can’t afford it, is still around.
    From the sounds of this satirical writer, he’s saying people put on mourning just to draw attention to themselves. Great post, Jo, thank you!

    Reply
  24. Funeral favors, like wedding favors, gotta love it! But from the sounds of it, human behavior hasn’t changed much more than that, at least not in the parts of the country with which I’m familiar. Maybe we drop the drab black these days, but the ostentatious funeral to show respect, even if the family can’t afford it, is still around.
    From the sounds of this satirical writer, he’s saying people put on mourning just to draw attention to themselves. Great post, Jo, thank you!

    Reply
  25. Funeral favors, like wedding favors, gotta love it! But from the sounds of it, human behavior hasn’t changed much more than that, at least not in the parts of the country with which I’m familiar. Maybe we drop the drab black these days, but the ostentatious funeral to show respect, even if the family can’t afford it, is still around.
    From the sounds of this satirical writer, he’s saying people put on mourning just to draw attention to themselves. Great post, Jo, thank you!

    Reply
  26. Fascinating info, Jo!
    My grandmother and great aunts all had “toilet tables,” what I would call a dressing table. That’s the image that “skull on a toilet” evoked for me–a table with a mirror with a representation of a skull attached to the mirror. It would certainly work as a reminder of the vanity of vanity.

    Reply
  27. Fascinating info, Jo!
    My grandmother and great aunts all had “toilet tables,” what I would call a dressing table. That’s the image that “skull on a toilet” evoked for me–a table with a mirror with a representation of a skull attached to the mirror. It would certainly work as a reminder of the vanity of vanity.

    Reply
  28. Fascinating info, Jo!
    My grandmother and great aunts all had “toilet tables,” what I would call a dressing table. That’s the image that “skull on a toilet” evoked for me–a table with a mirror with a representation of a skull attached to the mirror. It would certainly work as a reminder of the vanity of vanity.

    Reply
  29. Fascinating info, Jo!
    My grandmother and great aunts all had “toilet tables,” what I would call a dressing table. That’s the image that “skull on a toilet” evoked for me–a table with a mirror with a representation of a skull attached to the mirror. It would certainly work as a reminder of the vanity of vanity.

    Reply
  30. Fascinating info, Jo!
    My grandmother and great aunts all had “toilet tables,” what I would call a dressing table. That’s the image that “skull on a toilet” evoked for me–a table with a mirror with a representation of a skull attached to the mirror. It would certainly work as a reminder of the vanity of vanity.

    Reply
  31. According to Dr Samuel Johnson’s dictionary (1755), weepers are defined as ‘A white border on the sleeve of a mourning coat.’ They must have been on the outside, I think.
    However, by Victorian times, weepers referred to any trailing piece of black material, for example the long silk scarf with trailing ends round a gentleman’s top hat.
    In Anthony Trollope’s ‘The Prime Minister’ (1865-6), the heroine Emily’s scoundrel of a husband fortunately dies. A better man waits to marry her but he must wait until the full year of mourning has passed.
    Emily has become conditioned to the rituals of mourning and hardly dares move out of her black clothes. ‘It was incumbent on her now to get a ribbon or two less ghastly than those weepers which had, for the last five months, hung about her face and shoulders’.
    Most interesting post, Jo.

    Reply
  32. According to Dr Samuel Johnson’s dictionary (1755), weepers are defined as ‘A white border on the sleeve of a mourning coat.’ They must have been on the outside, I think.
    However, by Victorian times, weepers referred to any trailing piece of black material, for example the long silk scarf with trailing ends round a gentleman’s top hat.
    In Anthony Trollope’s ‘The Prime Minister’ (1865-6), the heroine Emily’s scoundrel of a husband fortunately dies. A better man waits to marry her but he must wait until the full year of mourning has passed.
    Emily has become conditioned to the rituals of mourning and hardly dares move out of her black clothes. ‘It was incumbent on her now to get a ribbon or two less ghastly than those weepers which had, for the last five months, hung about her face and shoulders’.
    Most interesting post, Jo.

    Reply
  33. According to Dr Samuel Johnson’s dictionary (1755), weepers are defined as ‘A white border on the sleeve of a mourning coat.’ They must have been on the outside, I think.
    However, by Victorian times, weepers referred to any trailing piece of black material, for example the long silk scarf with trailing ends round a gentleman’s top hat.
    In Anthony Trollope’s ‘The Prime Minister’ (1865-6), the heroine Emily’s scoundrel of a husband fortunately dies. A better man waits to marry her but he must wait until the full year of mourning has passed.
    Emily has become conditioned to the rituals of mourning and hardly dares move out of her black clothes. ‘It was incumbent on her now to get a ribbon or two less ghastly than those weepers which had, for the last five months, hung about her face and shoulders’.
    Most interesting post, Jo.

    Reply
  34. According to Dr Samuel Johnson’s dictionary (1755), weepers are defined as ‘A white border on the sleeve of a mourning coat.’ They must have been on the outside, I think.
    However, by Victorian times, weepers referred to any trailing piece of black material, for example the long silk scarf with trailing ends round a gentleman’s top hat.
    In Anthony Trollope’s ‘The Prime Minister’ (1865-6), the heroine Emily’s scoundrel of a husband fortunately dies. A better man waits to marry her but he must wait until the full year of mourning has passed.
    Emily has become conditioned to the rituals of mourning and hardly dares move out of her black clothes. ‘It was incumbent on her now to get a ribbon or two less ghastly than those weepers which had, for the last five months, hung about her face and shoulders’.
    Most interesting post, Jo.

    Reply
  35. According to Dr Samuel Johnson’s dictionary (1755), weepers are defined as ‘A white border on the sleeve of a mourning coat.’ They must have been on the outside, I think.
    However, by Victorian times, weepers referred to any trailing piece of black material, for example the long silk scarf with trailing ends round a gentleman’s top hat.
    In Anthony Trollope’s ‘The Prime Minister’ (1865-6), the heroine Emily’s scoundrel of a husband fortunately dies. A better man waits to marry her but he must wait until the full year of mourning has passed.
    Emily has become conditioned to the rituals of mourning and hardly dares move out of her black clothes. ‘It was incumbent on her now to get a ribbon or two less ghastly than those weepers which had, for the last five months, hung about her face and shoulders’.
    Most interesting post, Jo.

    Reply
  36. What a fascinating post. Thank you, Jo. I loved the anecdote about Dr Samuel Buxton leaving his heirs a quart pot full of mourning rings. I have a godfather whom I can imagine doing that…

    Reply
  37. What a fascinating post. Thank you, Jo. I loved the anecdote about Dr Samuel Buxton leaving his heirs a quart pot full of mourning rings. I have a godfather whom I can imagine doing that…

    Reply
  38. What a fascinating post. Thank you, Jo. I loved the anecdote about Dr Samuel Buxton leaving his heirs a quart pot full of mourning rings. I have a godfather whom I can imagine doing that…

    Reply
  39. What a fascinating post. Thank you, Jo. I loved the anecdote about Dr Samuel Buxton leaving his heirs a quart pot full of mourning rings. I have a godfather whom I can imagine doing that…

    Reply
  40. What a fascinating post. Thank you, Jo. I loved the anecdote about Dr Samuel Buxton leaving his heirs a quart pot full of mourning rings. I have a godfather whom I can imagine doing that…

    Reply
  41. I find it interesting that there were royal decrees on what to wear for mourning the death of a member of the royal family. I wonder what happened to the poor sod who didn’t show respect by wearing the proper mourning display handed down from on high? *g*
    I laughed at the description of the fancy funeral entourage witnessed by the gentleman, who discovered it was for a cheesmonger instead of some higher official, as he’d imagined.
    Love Charlie’s Dracula fangs!

    Reply
  42. I find it interesting that there were royal decrees on what to wear for mourning the death of a member of the royal family. I wonder what happened to the poor sod who didn’t show respect by wearing the proper mourning display handed down from on high? *g*
    I laughed at the description of the fancy funeral entourage witnessed by the gentleman, who discovered it was for a cheesmonger instead of some higher official, as he’d imagined.
    Love Charlie’s Dracula fangs!

    Reply
  43. I find it interesting that there were royal decrees on what to wear for mourning the death of a member of the royal family. I wonder what happened to the poor sod who didn’t show respect by wearing the proper mourning display handed down from on high? *g*
    I laughed at the description of the fancy funeral entourage witnessed by the gentleman, who discovered it was for a cheesmonger instead of some higher official, as he’d imagined.
    Love Charlie’s Dracula fangs!

    Reply
  44. I find it interesting that there were royal decrees on what to wear for mourning the death of a member of the royal family. I wonder what happened to the poor sod who didn’t show respect by wearing the proper mourning display handed down from on high? *g*
    I laughed at the description of the fancy funeral entourage witnessed by the gentleman, who discovered it was for a cheesmonger instead of some higher official, as he’d imagined.
    Love Charlie’s Dracula fangs!

    Reply
  45. I find it interesting that there were royal decrees on what to wear for mourning the death of a member of the royal family. I wonder what happened to the poor sod who didn’t show respect by wearing the proper mourning display handed down from on high? *g*
    I laughed at the description of the fancy funeral entourage witnessed by the gentleman, who discovered it was for a cheesmonger instead of some higher official, as he’d imagined.
    Love Charlie’s Dracula fangs!

    Reply
  46. Jo here. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Just back from a great day in York.
    Interesting idea of an actual skull on the dressing table or mirror.
    Sherrie, I think if one didn’t have mourning clothes, one just stayed home for a while. Court mourning didn’t last that long.
    If one didn’t have mourning clothes, it was common to put a few gowns into a vat of black dye. I think Jane Austen writes about doing that.
    Apart from court, men could get away with simplicity and a black arm band.
    It’s definitely one of these situations where I’d love to go back as an observer and see what people were actually doing!
    Jo

    Reply
  47. Jo here. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Just back from a great day in York.
    Interesting idea of an actual skull on the dressing table or mirror.
    Sherrie, I think if one didn’t have mourning clothes, one just stayed home for a while. Court mourning didn’t last that long.
    If one didn’t have mourning clothes, it was common to put a few gowns into a vat of black dye. I think Jane Austen writes about doing that.
    Apart from court, men could get away with simplicity and a black arm band.
    It’s definitely one of these situations where I’d love to go back as an observer and see what people were actually doing!
    Jo

    Reply
  48. Jo here. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Just back from a great day in York.
    Interesting idea of an actual skull on the dressing table or mirror.
    Sherrie, I think if one didn’t have mourning clothes, one just stayed home for a while. Court mourning didn’t last that long.
    If one didn’t have mourning clothes, it was common to put a few gowns into a vat of black dye. I think Jane Austen writes about doing that.
    Apart from court, men could get away with simplicity and a black arm band.
    It’s definitely one of these situations where I’d love to go back as an observer and see what people were actually doing!
    Jo

    Reply
  49. Jo here. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Just back from a great day in York.
    Interesting idea of an actual skull on the dressing table or mirror.
    Sherrie, I think if one didn’t have mourning clothes, one just stayed home for a while. Court mourning didn’t last that long.
    If one didn’t have mourning clothes, it was common to put a few gowns into a vat of black dye. I think Jane Austen writes about doing that.
    Apart from court, men could get away with simplicity and a black arm band.
    It’s definitely one of these situations where I’d love to go back as an observer and see what people were actually doing!
    Jo

    Reply
  50. Jo here. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Just back from a great day in York.
    Interesting idea of an actual skull on the dressing table or mirror.
    Sherrie, I think if one didn’t have mourning clothes, one just stayed home for a while. Court mourning didn’t last that long.
    If one didn’t have mourning clothes, it was common to put a few gowns into a vat of black dye. I think Jane Austen writes about doing that.
    Apart from court, men could get away with simplicity and a black arm band.
    It’s definitely one of these situations where I’d love to go back as an observer and see what people were actually doing!
    Jo

    Reply
  51. According to the OED, one meaning of “toilet” was “A cloth cover for a dressing-table (formerly often of rich material and workmanship).” That sounds like it might suit the context here.
    Perhaps you, too, thought serious mourning was a Victorian invention, but it seems not. In fact one book said that they copied it from the Georgians!
    I know for sure that they went in for some very serious mourning in medieval Castile, because I’ve done quite a bit of research into it. If anyone’s interested, and doesn’t mind skipping the bits in medieval Castilian (or can understand it), a few of the relevant pages of my book on death are available here: http://books.google.com/books?id=uivR03OBA9cC&lpg=PP1&dq=&pg=PA169

    Reply
  52. According to the OED, one meaning of “toilet” was “A cloth cover for a dressing-table (formerly often of rich material and workmanship).” That sounds like it might suit the context here.
    Perhaps you, too, thought serious mourning was a Victorian invention, but it seems not. In fact one book said that they copied it from the Georgians!
    I know for sure that they went in for some very serious mourning in medieval Castile, because I’ve done quite a bit of research into it. If anyone’s interested, and doesn’t mind skipping the bits in medieval Castilian (or can understand it), a few of the relevant pages of my book on death are available here: http://books.google.com/books?id=uivR03OBA9cC&lpg=PP1&dq=&pg=PA169

    Reply
  53. According to the OED, one meaning of “toilet” was “A cloth cover for a dressing-table (formerly often of rich material and workmanship).” That sounds like it might suit the context here.
    Perhaps you, too, thought serious mourning was a Victorian invention, but it seems not. In fact one book said that they copied it from the Georgians!
    I know for sure that they went in for some very serious mourning in medieval Castile, because I’ve done quite a bit of research into it. If anyone’s interested, and doesn’t mind skipping the bits in medieval Castilian (or can understand it), a few of the relevant pages of my book on death are available here: http://books.google.com/books?id=uivR03OBA9cC&lpg=PP1&dq=&pg=PA169

    Reply
  54. According to the OED, one meaning of “toilet” was “A cloth cover for a dressing-table (formerly often of rich material and workmanship).” That sounds like it might suit the context here.
    Perhaps you, too, thought serious mourning was a Victorian invention, but it seems not. In fact one book said that they copied it from the Georgians!
    I know for sure that they went in for some very serious mourning in medieval Castile, because I’ve done quite a bit of research into it. If anyone’s interested, and doesn’t mind skipping the bits in medieval Castilian (or can understand it), a few of the relevant pages of my book on death are available here: http://books.google.com/books?id=uivR03OBA9cC&lpg=PP1&dq=&pg=PA169

    Reply
  55. According to the OED, one meaning of “toilet” was “A cloth cover for a dressing-table (formerly often of rich material and workmanship).” That sounds like it might suit the context here.
    Perhaps you, too, thought serious mourning was a Victorian invention, but it seems not. In fact one book said that they copied it from the Georgians!
    I know for sure that they went in for some very serious mourning in medieval Castile, because I’ve done quite a bit of research into it. If anyone’s interested, and doesn’t mind skipping the bits in medieval Castilian (or can understand it), a few of the relevant pages of my book on death are available here: http://books.google.com/books?id=uivR03OBA9cC&lpg=PP1&dq=&pg=PA169

    Reply
  56. Fascinating, Jo! I wonder how the mourning would change if the death were a suicide? Anything on that in your research?
    And, how was York? 🙂

    Reply
  57. Fascinating, Jo! I wonder how the mourning would change if the death were a suicide? Anything on that in your research?
    And, how was York? 🙂

    Reply
  58. Fascinating, Jo! I wonder how the mourning would change if the death were a suicide? Anything on that in your research?
    And, how was York? 🙂

    Reply
  59. Fascinating, Jo! I wonder how the mourning would change if the death were a suicide? Anything on that in your research?
    And, how was York? 🙂

    Reply
  60. Fascinating, Jo! I wonder how the mourning would change if the death were a suicide? Anything on that in your research?
    And, how was York? 🙂

    Reply
  61. Jo here. Thanks for the link, Laura. Spanish courtly behaviour seems to have always been even more structured than that of other courts. Is that true, or just a misconception.
    Suicide, Sherrie. There’s a thing. Of course with the richer and more powerful people it was usually shifted into a terrible accident. He was cleaning his gun and it went off, for example.
    It was a sin and a crime, and remained a crime in Britain until living memory, so there would be legal penalties, including perhaps confiscation of property. A suicide couldn’t be buried in hallowed ground.
    So family members would probably put on mournings, but for wider matters!
    Anyone know anything?
    Hanging would be the hardest to explain away, but I can’t remember reading about anyone of any stature hanging themselves. Guns were readily available and easier.
    Perhaps people only hang themselves if they don’t see other options.
    Interesting subject!
    Jo

    Reply
  62. Jo here. Thanks for the link, Laura. Spanish courtly behaviour seems to have always been even more structured than that of other courts. Is that true, or just a misconception.
    Suicide, Sherrie. There’s a thing. Of course with the richer and more powerful people it was usually shifted into a terrible accident. He was cleaning his gun and it went off, for example.
    It was a sin and a crime, and remained a crime in Britain until living memory, so there would be legal penalties, including perhaps confiscation of property. A suicide couldn’t be buried in hallowed ground.
    So family members would probably put on mournings, but for wider matters!
    Anyone know anything?
    Hanging would be the hardest to explain away, but I can’t remember reading about anyone of any stature hanging themselves. Guns were readily available and easier.
    Perhaps people only hang themselves if they don’t see other options.
    Interesting subject!
    Jo

    Reply
  63. Jo here. Thanks for the link, Laura. Spanish courtly behaviour seems to have always been even more structured than that of other courts. Is that true, or just a misconception.
    Suicide, Sherrie. There’s a thing. Of course with the richer and more powerful people it was usually shifted into a terrible accident. He was cleaning his gun and it went off, for example.
    It was a sin and a crime, and remained a crime in Britain until living memory, so there would be legal penalties, including perhaps confiscation of property. A suicide couldn’t be buried in hallowed ground.
    So family members would probably put on mournings, but for wider matters!
    Anyone know anything?
    Hanging would be the hardest to explain away, but I can’t remember reading about anyone of any stature hanging themselves. Guns were readily available and easier.
    Perhaps people only hang themselves if they don’t see other options.
    Interesting subject!
    Jo

    Reply
  64. Jo here. Thanks for the link, Laura. Spanish courtly behaviour seems to have always been even more structured than that of other courts. Is that true, or just a misconception.
    Suicide, Sherrie. There’s a thing. Of course with the richer and more powerful people it was usually shifted into a terrible accident. He was cleaning his gun and it went off, for example.
    It was a sin and a crime, and remained a crime in Britain until living memory, so there would be legal penalties, including perhaps confiscation of property. A suicide couldn’t be buried in hallowed ground.
    So family members would probably put on mournings, but for wider matters!
    Anyone know anything?
    Hanging would be the hardest to explain away, but I can’t remember reading about anyone of any stature hanging themselves. Guns were readily available and easier.
    Perhaps people only hang themselves if they don’t see other options.
    Interesting subject!
    Jo

    Reply
  65. Jo here. Thanks for the link, Laura. Spanish courtly behaviour seems to have always been even more structured than that of other courts. Is that true, or just a misconception.
    Suicide, Sherrie. There’s a thing. Of course with the richer and more powerful people it was usually shifted into a terrible accident. He was cleaning his gun and it went off, for example.
    It was a sin and a crime, and remained a crime in Britain until living memory, so there would be legal penalties, including perhaps confiscation of property. A suicide couldn’t be buried in hallowed ground.
    So family members would probably put on mournings, but for wider matters!
    Anyone know anything?
    Hanging would be the hardest to explain away, but I can’t remember reading about anyone of any stature hanging themselves. Guns were readily available and easier.
    Perhaps people only hang themselves if they don’t see other options.
    Interesting subject!
    Jo

    Reply
  66. This is so interesting. I read a book a while ago (one of the classics) where the family had one mourning dress and they took turns going about using the one dress.
    Dresses were much more adaptable back then with their pinned bodices and adjustable waists but still, it makes “first up best dressed” ring true.

    Reply
  67. This is so interesting. I read a book a while ago (one of the classics) where the family had one mourning dress and they took turns going about using the one dress.
    Dresses were much more adaptable back then with their pinned bodices and adjustable waists but still, it makes “first up best dressed” ring true.

    Reply
  68. This is so interesting. I read a book a while ago (one of the classics) where the family had one mourning dress and they took turns going about using the one dress.
    Dresses were much more adaptable back then with their pinned bodices and adjustable waists but still, it makes “first up best dressed” ring true.

    Reply
  69. This is so interesting. I read a book a while ago (one of the classics) where the family had one mourning dress and they took turns going about using the one dress.
    Dresses were much more adaptable back then with their pinned bodices and adjustable waists but still, it makes “first up best dressed” ring true.

    Reply
  70. This is so interesting. I read a book a while ago (one of the classics) where the family had one mourning dress and they took turns going about using the one dress.
    Dresses were much more adaptable back then with their pinned bodices and adjustable waists but still, it makes “first up best dressed” ring true.

    Reply
  71. What an interesting and informative post.
    It seems that times haven’t changed much. You think of people being extravagant at weddings, etc. but putting yourself deeply in debt for a showy funeral is another story. Giving out “favors” at a funeral is new to me.
    Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  72. What an interesting and informative post.
    It seems that times haven’t changed much. You think of people being extravagant at weddings, etc. but putting yourself deeply in debt for a showy funeral is another story. Giving out “favors” at a funeral is new to me.
    Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  73. What an interesting and informative post.
    It seems that times haven’t changed much. You think of people being extravagant at weddings, etc. but putting yourself deeply in debt for a showy funeral is another story. Giving out “favors” at a funeral is new to me.
    Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  74. What an interesting and informative post.
    It seems that times haven’t changed much. You think of people being extravagant at weddings, etc. but putting yourself deeply in debt for a showy funeral is another story. Giving out “favors” at a funeral is new to me.
    Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  75. What an interesting and informative post.
    It seems that times haven’t changed much. You think of people being extravagant at weddings, etc. but putting yourself deeply in debt for a showy funeral is another story. Giving out “favors” at a funeral is new to me.
    Thanks for the post.

    Reply

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