Windows into the Past

Ancountsmr Jo here, happy to report that An Unlikely Countess is selling well. Thanks to everyone who has bought a copy.

I'm sharing here some snippets of life in the 1760s from contemporary publications. I collected these bits at a library.

As is often the case when we look into the real past, there are some questions.

Jan 1766

Kew1760s "We are informed that a grand Pleasure Bath is intended to be made this Summer in Richmond Gardens for the Reception of the Royal Family."

Richmond Gardens became part of the famous Kew Gardens, seen left back then, but what exactly was a Pleasure Bath? Did they go swimming there?

Travel

I'm constantly trying to understand coach travel in the 18th century, so this story intrigues me. Alas, I have no idea what scam the lady was working, though it presumably made sense to her contemporaries.

My only thought is that a chaise was paid for at the end of the journey, not the beginning, so by going for a walk, she put off payment, presumably because the payment would include her dinner. It seems odd, however, as there could be any number of ways a passenger could slip away without paying.

"A few days since, a Courtezan, being discharged by a gentleman of fortune in the County of Hants, took Chaise at Winton (with her maid and child) for Andover; and at the Star and Garter ordered a fowl to be roasted and Horses got ready, while she took a Walk, then went to the White Hart in the same Town, took Chaise and went on; and in the same manner bilked the whole Road, except the last Stage in Piccadilly, when the boy secured a mundle for payment."

From coach travel, to coach accidents. Overturn

They were alarmingly frequent, and I think they're under used in fiction. Of course there's a coach accident in An Unlikely Countess, but it's contrived. Given the state of the roads and the frequency of breakdowns and crashes, however, it could have happened by chance.

"On Sunday last a Phaeton was overturned in Piccadilly, by which means a Gentleman in it broke his Arm, and a Lady, his companion, had the misfortune to break both her legs. The latter, it is reported, has since died."

That reminds us how easily broken bones could be fatal back then.

Or what about this one? A headline incident!

"A carriage containing His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was returning from airing in Hyde Park, one of the wheel-horses took fright and got his leg over the pole of the coach; which set the Dragoonhorse a plunging, so as greatly to endanger the overturning of the carriage; but luckily Captain Smythe of the Horse Grenadier Guards just at that time passing by, and seeing the imminent danger the Prince was in, immediately run up to the coach, and received His Highness from one of the Ladies therein, to prevent the consequences that might have ensued." 

I assume Captain Smythe was handsomely rewarded for rescuing the future Prince Regent. (The officer pictured is a dragood, not a member of the Guards.)

And lastly, a vignette which showed the considerable restrictions women still lived with in the mid 18th century.

"Among the many places where the Diversion of Skating at this Season prevails, the Lake House, belonging to Lord Tilney, on Epping Forest, is one of the most frequented, by Means of a Concourse of neighbouring gentry, who have daily assembled there for this Week past. Many of these Skaters dress in Masquerade, which adds much to the pleasing Effect which this Amusement has on the Spectators; With the rest, an agreeable young female Form has struck the Admiration of the Crowd pretty constantly, a Circumstance uncommon in this Country, but which may introduce, it is imagined by some, this Dutch Custom among the English ladies.

Skater An honest Farmer, in the Zeal of his Heart against the Times, accosted our Fair-one t'other Day, it must be owned, a little roughly. : "What a B___h! (says he) where will all this end; when Women have the Impudence thus publickly to skate among men!"

But he was soon reconciled to the Enormity, by the incident of a grave Gentleman (to whom she was at the same Time making a profound Curtesy) lifting up gently her Petticoats something higher than Delicacy, or perhaps Decenty would have permitted, and discovering the Lady to by neither more nor less than his own son disguised in Women's Clothes."

I can't help wondering exactly what was revealed by the raised skirts, but ut would seem that this mid-18th century picture is not likely to be a skater, as sometimes claimed.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpses into the past. What, if anything, surprised you? And what plots for romances did you come up with?

Jo

 

50 thoughts on “Windows into the Past”

  1. That’s so funny about coach accidents. I have one in the book I just finished, LOL! I needed to slow them down, and what better way than the flat tire of the 18th century? Especially since it’s a flat without a spare . . .
    I had no idea skating was considered scandalous for women! That could be fun to play around with. *grin*

    Reply
  2. That’s so funny about coach accidents. I have one in the book I just finished, LOL! I needed to slow them down, and what better way than the flat tire of the 18th century? Especially since it’s a flat without a spare . . .
    I had no idea skating was considered scandalous for women! That could be fun to play around with. *grin*

    Reply
  3. That’s so funny about coach accidents. I have one in the book I just finished, LOL! I needed to slow them down, and what better way than the flat tire of the 18th century? Especially since it’s a flat without a spare . . .
    I had no idea skating was considered scandalous for women! That could be fun to play around with. *grin*

    Reply
  4. That’s so funny about coach accidents. I have one in the book I just finished, LOL! I needed to slow them down, and what better way than the flat tire of the 18th century? Especially since it’s a flat without a spare . . .
    I had no idea skating was considered scandalous for women! That could be fun to play around with. *grin*

    Reply
  5. That’s so funny about coach accidents. I have one in the book I just finished, LOL! I needed to slow them down, and what better way than the flat tire of the 18th century? Especially since it’s a flat without a spare . . .
    I had no idea skating was considered scandalous for women! That could be fun to play around with. *grin*

    Reply
  6. If you’re hiring a chaise, does a driver come with? I suppose in that case it would be fairly safe for the company to have you pay at the end – when they had safely delivered you to your destination, much like a taxi. I can’t imagine a taxi driver hanging around whilst you ordered a roast chicken and went for a walk though… unless he thought he was taking you the whole way to London and would get a big fat fare at the end!

    Reply
  7. If you’re hiring a chaise, does a driver come with? I suppose in that case it would be fairly safe for the company to have you pay at the end – when they had safely delivered you to your destination, much like a taxi. I can’t imagine a taxi driver hanging around whilst you ordered a roast chicken and went for a walk though… unless he thought he was taking you the whole way to London and would get a big fat fare at the end!

    Reply
  8. If you’re hiring a chaise, does a driver come with? I suppose in that case it would be fairly safe for the company to have you pay at the end – when they had safely delivered you to your destination, much like a taxi. I can’t imagine a taxi driver hanging around whilst you ordered a roast chicken and went for a walk though… unless he thought he was taking you the whole way to London and would get a big fat fare at the end!

    Reply
  9. If you’re hiring a chaise, does a driver come with? I suppose in that case it would be fairly safe for the company to have you pay at the end – when they had safely delivered you to your destination, much like a taxi. I can’t imagine a taxi driver hanging around whilst you ordered a roast chicken and went for a walk though… unless he thought he was taking you the whole way to London and would get a big fat fare at the end!

    Reply
  10. If you’re hiring a chaise, does a driver come with? I suppose in that case it would be fairly safe for the company to have you pay at the end – when they had safely delivered you to your destination, much like a taxi. I can’t imagine a taxi driver hanging around whilst you ordered a roast chicken and went for a walk though… unless he thought he was taking you the whole way to London and would get a big fat fare at the end!

    Reply
  11. @Margaret: I’d assume that was the expectation. It’s like having a taxi wait while you pick something up and slipping away. It’s a great scam for a villain to use in a book though . . .

    Reply
  12. @Margaret: I’d assume that was the expectation. It’s like having a taxi wait while you pick something up and slipping away. It’s a great scam for a villain to use in a book though . . .

    Reply
  13. @Margaret: I’d assume that was the expectation. It’s like having a taxi wait while you pick something up and slipping away. It’s a great scam for a villain to use in a book though . . .

    Reply
  14. @Margaret: I’d assume that was the expectation. It’s like having a taxi wait while you pick something up and slipping away. It’s a great scam for a villain to use in a book though . . .

    Reply
  15. @Margaret: I’d assume that was the expectation. It’s like having a taxi wait while you pick something up and slipping away. It’s a great scam for a villain to use in a book though . . .

    Reply
  16. I love the idea of a courtesan pulling a fast one on a series of trusting innkeepers and hostlers with our hero hot on her heels. He could make her pay every bill he paid behind her in all sorts of creative ways!
    And I’ve always wanted to write a book where a heroine and hero meet by literally running into each other in a very public venue. He blames her driver. She blames him. Both want the other to pay. Mayhem ensues.

    Reply
  17. I love the idea of a courtesan pulling a fast one on a series of trusting innkeepers and hostlers with our hero hot on her heels. He could make her pay every bill he paid behind her in all sorts of creative ways!
    And I’ve always wanted to write a book where a heroine and hero meet by literally running into each other in a very public venue. He blames her driver. She blames him. Both want the other to pay. Mayhem ensues.

    Reply
  18. I love the idea of a courtesan pulling a fast one on a series of trusting innkeepers and hostlers with our hero hot on her heels. He could make her pay every bill he paid behind her in all sorts of creative ways!
    And I’ve always wanted to write a book where a heroine and hero meet by literally running into each other in a very public venue. He blames her driver. She blames him. Both want the other to pay. Mayhem ensues.

    Reply
  19. I love the idea of a courtesan pulling a fast one on a series of trusting innkeepers and hostlers with our hero hot on her heels. He could make her pay every bill he paid behind her in all sorts of creative ways!
    And I’ve always wanted to write a book where a heroine and hero meet by literally running into each other in a very public venue. He blames her driver. She blames him. Both want the other to pay. Mayhem ensues.

    Reply
  20. I love the idea of a courtesan pulling a fast one on a series of trusting innkeepers and hostlers with our hero hot on her heels. He could make her pay every bill he paid behind her in all sorts of creative ways!
    And I’ve always wanted to write a book where a heroine and hero meet by literally running into each other in a very public venue. He blames her driver. She blames him. Both want the other to pay. Mayhem ensues.

    Reply
  21. Margaret, the chaise horses would have come with postilions, but my understanding is they worked for the inn/stage that was their base, so I’m not sure how the money was handled.
    I’d really expect someone to get the money up front, but it would seem not. Perhaps at least part of it was charm.
    Interesting, Louisa, about the gentleman pursuing and having to pay her bills!
    Jo

    Reply
  22. Margaret, the chaise horses would have come with postilions, but my understanding is they worked for the inn/stage that was their base, so I’m not sure how the money was handled.
    I’d really expect someone to get the money up front, but it would seem not. Perhaps at least part of it was charm.
    Interesting, Louisa, about the gentleman pursuing and having to pay her bills!
    Jo

    Reply
  23. Margaret, the chaise horses would have come with postilions, but my understanding is they worked for the inn/stage that was their base, so I’m not sure how the money was handled.
    I’d really expect someone to get the money up front, but it would seem not. Perhaps at least part of it was charm.
    Interesting, Louisa, about the gentleman pursuing and having to pay her bills!
    Jo

    Reply
  24. Margaret, the chaise horses would have come with postilions, but my understanding is they worked for the inn/stage that was their base, so I’m not sure how the money was handled.
    I’d really expect someone to get the money up front, but it would seem not. Perhaps at least part of it was charm.
    Interesting, Louisa, about the gentleman pursuing and having to pay her bills!
    Jo

    Reply
  25. Margaret, the chaise horses would have come with postilions, but my understanding is they worked for the inn/stage that was their base, so I’m not sure how the money was handled.
    I’d really expect someone to get the money up front, but it would seem not. Perhaps at least part of it was charm.
    Interesting, Louisa, about the gentleman pursuing and having to pay her bills!
    Jo

    Reply
  26. In still more synchronicity, my May book also has a carriage accident, uncontrived, and naturally at a terrible time. *G*
    The skating story is odd. Presumably the skater was a Georgian cross-dresser. *g*

    Reply
  27. In still more synchronicity, my May book also has a carriage accident, uncontrived, and naturally at a terrible time. *G*
    The skating story is odd. Presumably the skater was a Georgian cross-dresser. *g*

    Reply
  28. In still more synchronicity, my May book also has a carriage accident, uncontrived, and naturally at a terrible time. *G*
    The skating story is odd. Presumably the skater was a Georgian cross-dresser. *g*

    Reply
  29. In still more synchronicity, my May book also has a carriage accident, uncontrived, and naturally at a terrible time. *G*
    The skating story is odd. Presumably the skater was a Georgian cross-dresser. *g*

    Reply
  30. In still more synchronicity, my May book also has a carriage accident, uncontrived, and naturally at a terrible time. *G*
    The skating story is odd. Presumably the skater was a Georgian cross-dresser. *g*

    Reply
  31. Yes. Yes. Why was the boy dressing as a woman . . .? Now I won’t be able to sleep easy wondering about this. *g*

    Reply
  32. Yes. Yes. Why was the boy dressing as a woman . . .? Now I won’t be able to sleep easy wondering about this. *g*

    Reply
  33. Yes. Yes. Why was the boy dressing as a woman . . .? Now I won’t be able to sleep easy wondering about this. *g*

    Reply
  34. Yes. Yes. Why was the boy dressing as a woman . . .? Now I won’t be able to sleep easy wondering about this. *g*

    Reply
  35. Yes. Yes. Why was the boy dressing as a woman . . .? Now I won’t be able to sleep easy wondering about this. *g*

    Reply
  36. Ditto, Joanna and Mary Jo. I had the same thoughts about the skating woman/gentleman, especially knowing how undervalued women were in those times, ah well, even are now. What possible reason…?

    Reply
  37. Ditto, Joanna and Mary Jo. I had the same thoughts about the skating woman/gentleman, especially knowing how undervalued women were in those times, ah well, even are now. What possible reason…?

    Reply
  38. Ditto, Joanna and Mary Jo. I had the same thoughts about the skating woman/gentleman, especially knowing how undervalued women were in those times, ah well, even are now. What possible reason…?

    Reply
  39. Ditto, Joanna and Mary Jo. I had the same thoughts about the skating woman/gentleman, especially knowing how undervalued women were in those times, ah well, even are now. What possible reason…?

    Reply
  40. Ditto, Joanna and Mary Jo. I had the same thoughts about the skating woman/gentleman, especially knowing how undervalued women were in those times, ah well, even are now. What possible reason…?

    Reply
  41. Sherrie, here. The incident of the boy skater masquerading as a female is intriguing! And like the others, I didn’t know that it was indecent for females to skate with males.
    Coaching accidents: I cannot imagine being in a carriage accident! The injuries sustained must surely have been painful. Taking a tumble from the top of a mail coach makes me cringe. It’s a long way to the ground from the top of a swaying coach, and it seems like most sensible drivers would have taken care to prevent such a thing. Yet you always hear about drunken drivers turning coaches over, or handing the reins to a drunken young man. (Horrors!)
    It’s not that uncommon for a frightened horse to get a leg over the pole, and it is indeed a scary situation, especially if the horse panics. I can see why having a groom along would be helpful in such a situation. The groom or tiger could leap to the ground and run to the horse’s head.

    Reply
  42. Sherrie, here. The incident of the boy skater masquerading as a female is intriguing! And like the others, I didn’t know that it was indecent for females to skate with males.
    Coaching accidents: I cannot imagine being in a carriage accident! The injuries sustained must surely have been painful. Taking a tumble from the top of a mail coach makes me cringe. It’s a long way to the ground from the top of a swaying coach, and it seems like most sensible drivers would have taken care to prevent such a thing. Yet you always hear about drunken drivers turning coaches over, or handing the reins to a drunken young man. (Horrors!)
    It’s not that uncommon for a frightened horse to get a leg over the pole, and it is indeed a scary situation, especially if the horse panics. I can see why having a groom along would be helpful in such a situation. The groom or tiger could leap to the ground and run to the horse’s head.

    Reply
  43. Sherrie, here. The incident of the boy skater masquerading as a female is intriguing! And like the others, I didn’t know that it was indecent for females to skate with males.
    Coaching accidents: I cannot imagine being in a carriage accident! The injuries sustained must surely have been painful. Taking a tumble from the top of a mail coach makes me cringe. It’s a long way to the ground from the top of a swaying coach, and it seems like most sensible drivers would have taken care to prevent such a thing. Yet you always hear about drunken drivers turning coaches over, or handing the reins to a drunken young man. (Horrors!)
    It’s not that uncommon for a frightened horse to get a leg over the pole, and it is indeed a scary situation, especially if the horse panics. I can see why having a groom along would be helpful in such a situation. The groom or tiger could leap to the ground and run to the horse’s head.

    Reply
  44. Sherrie, here. The incident of the boy skater masquerading as a female is intriguing! And like the others, I didn’t know that it was indecent for females to skate with males.
    Coaching accidents: I cannot imagine being in a carriage accident! The injuries sustained must surely have been painful. Taking a tumble from the top of a mail coach makes me cringe. It’s a long way to the ground from the top of a swaying coach, and it seems like most sensible drivers would have taken care to prevent such a thing. Yet you always hear about drunken drivers turning coaches over, or handing the reins to a drunken young man. (Horrors!)
    It’s not that uncommon for a frightened horse to get a leg over the pole, and it is indeed a scary situation, especially if the horse panics. I can see why having a groom along would be helpful in such a situation. The groom or tiger could leap to the ground and run to the horse’s head.

    Reply
  45. Sherrie, here. The incident of the boy skater masquerading as a female is intriguing! And like the others, I didn’t know that it was indecent for females to skate with males.
    Coaching accidents: I cannot imagine being in a carriage accident! The injuries sustained must surely have been painful. Taking a tumble from the top of a mail coach makes me cringe. It’s a long way to the ground from the top of a swaying coach, and it seems like most sensible drivers would have taken care to prevent such a thing. Yet you always hear about drunken drivers turning coaches over, or handing the reins to a drunken young man. (Horrors!)
    It’s not that uncommon for a frightened horse to get a leg over the pole, and it is indeed a scary situation, especially if the horse panics. I can see why having a groom along would be helpful in such a situation. The groom or tiger could leap to the ground and run to the horse’s head.

    Reply

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