Archives

Regency Corinthians, Dandies, Rakes and Young Blades

In Regency romances these days, it seems as if every gentleman back then was a rake. But there were actually several sets to which a gentleman might  belong.

Almost all Regency gentlemen gambled, drank, played hard, hunted, went shooting and generally indulged in excess, carnal and otherwise, following a tone set very much by the Regent.  The Prince turned 49 in 1811 when he became Regent of England, putting him past the age where either “young” or “blade” could be aptly applied to him, but there were other men gentle by birth—though not necessarily by manner—who looked to belong to certain distinct fashionable sets which excelled in specific areas.

Lord Byron

Lord Byron in Turkish Dress

It can be difficult to tell the difference between these different set, and quite often a gentleman had overlapping interests.  There were rakes who were good enough sportsmen to be called “Corinthians,” and Corinthians who also belonged to the dandy set by virtue of the care they took with their dress.

Lord “Beau” Petersham was one such man.  Born in 1780, Charles Stanhope, Viscount Petersham, later became the Earl of Harrington in 1829.  He was said to resemble Henry IV, and he emphasized this by growing a small, pointed beard. He designed his own clothes and made famous the Petersham overcoat and the Harrington hat. He was also noted for his brown coach, clothing, and servant’s livery—a color said to have been chosen for his devotion to a widow named Brown.  However, in 1831 he married a Covent Garden actress named Maria Foote who was seventeen-years his junior. His was also noted for his snuff and tea mixes, and Gronow said of his sitting-room that, “…all round the walls were shelves, upon which were placed tea-canisters, containing Congou, Pekoe, Souchong, Bohea, Gunpowder, Russian, and many other teas, all the best o the kind; on the other side of the room were beautiful jars, with names in gilt letters, o finnumerable kinds of snuff….”

Petersham owned a snuff boxes for each day of the year and according to Priestley in The Prince of Pleasure, took care to “…choose one that suited the weather, not risking a cold by using a light snuffbox in an East wind.”

Lords Alvanley and Sefton were other examples of dandies who also had sporting interests.

William Arderne, Baron Alvanley, was famous for his wit, his dinner parities, his dress and his eccentricities.  He insisted that an apricot tart be on the sideboard, no matter the time of year, after he was served a cold one that he liked. He also put out his candle by throwing it across the room—with his valet wisely remained alert in case it should start a fire and have to be put out. A hard rider to hounds, Alvanley was one of the best liked men of his set.

Lord Sefton, William Philip Molyneux, was a cousin to Petersham. Society wits dubbed him “Lord Dashalong” for his driving style, and his matched bays were quite famous.  He rode in steeplechases and was so fond of coursing greyhounds against each other as a sport that he devoted part of his estate to raising rabbits for the chase.

Even with examples of gentlemen who had diverse interests, there are still distinctions that can be made between these various sets.  Byron is quoted as having said, “I like the Dandies, they were always very civil to me.”  This shows that while the distinctions between these sets were fine, they existed.

George Brummell

George Brummell (1815)

To see this illustrated, one can look at the most famous of dandies, George Bryan “Beau” Brummell who led the dandy set for a number of years.  As Captain Gronow states, “All the world watched Brummell to imitate him, and order their clothes of the tradesman who dressed that sublime dandy.”  He also reports that, “The dandy’s dress consisted of a blue coat with brass buttons, leather breeches, and top boots; and it was the fashion to wear a deep, stiff white cravat, which prevented you from seeing your boots while standing.”

In Life in Regency and Early Victorian Times, Chancellor marks the world of the dandies as “…that portion of St. James’s, bounded by Piccadilly and Pall Mall, St. James’s Street and Waterloo Place, was the ne plus ultra of fashionable life…”  Obviously with a mention of Waterloo Place, this puts this area a touch later than the Regency, but St. James’s did mark the center of the fashionable gentleman’s world.

Brummell was on terms with the Prince Regent, and his closest friends included the Dukes of Rutland, Dorset, and Argyll, Lords Sefton, Alvanley, and Plymouth.  As Gronow states, “In the zenith of his popularity he might be seen at the bay window of White’s Club, surrounded by the lions of the day, laying down the law, and occasionally indulging in those witty remarks for which he was famous.”

Wit was as much a hallmark of the dandy as were his clothes—indeed, everything about the dandy had to bespeak style, including his dress, his manners, and his furniture.  Understated elegance was what Brummell strove for and he is quoted as saying, “If John Bull turns round to look after you, you are not well dressed; but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable.”

As a gentleman, Brummell rode to hounds, following that sporting fashion.  But it is reported that he never rode past the first field for he did not want to stain his white boot tops with mud, and so retired to the nearest inn.  This is what sets him as a true dandy, caring more for his appearance than anything.  A true Corinthian would have distained such a poor showing, for, in general, Corinthians sought to excel in the sporting world.

Shakespeare has his Prince Hal proclaim in Henry IV, “They take it already upon their salvation, that though I be but prince of Wales, yet I am king of courtesy; and tell me flatly I am no proud Jack, like Falstaff, but a Corinthian, a lad of mettle…”

A lad of mettle was what the Regency Corinthian sought to prove himself.

Bartleby’s defines a Corinthian as “A gentleman sportsman who rides his own horses on the turf, or sails his own yacht. A member of the pugilistic club, Bond Street, London” which references the Pugilistic Club formed in 1814 as the meeting-place of the aristocratic sporting element, often called “The Fancy.”

The Corinthian was, above all, a sporting man.  He drove his own horses, boxed, ride to hounds, shot and strove to be among the elite of this group would undertook these expensive as well as athletic endeavors.

Military men, too, might aspire to sporting excellence. Wellington was said to have a “bad seat” on a horse, but he certainly loved to hunt.  His officers could keep packs of hounds, and while foxes might be scarce in Spain and Portugal, there were rabbits enough to hunt. Winter was also the time when the army had to wait out the winter before a spring campaign, and as Harry Smith wrote in his autobiography, “At this period of the year (February, March) the coursing in this part of Spain is capital, and by help of my celebrated dog Moro and two other excellent ones, I supplied the officers’ mess of every Company with hares for soup.” Smith kept greyhounds to chase the hares, a sport far older than fox hunting, and his life is superbly fictionalized in Georgette Heyer’s The Spanish Bride.

There were more than a few Corinthians who also excelled at excessive dissipation, and who could be called rake, or “rake-hell,” or “rake shame.” It took more than a little womanizing for a Regency gentleman to earn the status of rake.  Prostitutes were so numerous that guidebooks were put out to describe the women, their specialties, and what they might not do.  Most gentlemen kept a mistress, and even titled married women considered discreet affairs the norm. But a gentleman who went beyond conventions, who preyed upon young women, or even children, or who undertook perversions, was deemed unacceptable. These rakes ignored convention and morality.  Two such examples of this are Lord Barrymore and the Duke of Queensberry.

Born in 1768, Richard Barry became the Earl of Barrymore in 1773.  He took to living to please himself, and earned the nickname “Hellgate.” His brother, Henry Barry, became “Cripplegate” for his crippled foot, and his other brother, the Honorable Reverend Augustus Barry, was called “Newgate” because that was the one gaol he had kept clear of.  His sister, who became Lady Milfort, was called “Billingsgate” for the foul language she used.

Barrymore rode his own horses in races, then went deeply into debt building his racing stables and gambling on his horses. It is said that he was a whip equal in skill to any professional coachman.  He also organized boxing matches, bet on them, and was accounted a good boxer himself.  In 1792 he married Miss Goulding, niece of the notorious Sir John Lady and Letty Lade—a woman who had been the mistress of the highwayman known as “Sixteen String Jack.” Sir John was not a respectable person, but he was a noted whip, and had driven a coach and four round the tiny horse sale yard at Tattersalls—a remarkable feat.  Instead of marrying to settle down, Barrymore had to make a scandal of even this.  He received permission from Sir John to marry Lade’s niece, but Barrymore decided to elope with his bride anyway, setting Society to talking about such disgraceful behavior.

While Lord Barrymore lived up to the image of a dissolute and dashing young blade, the Duke of Queensberry, known as “Old Q” for the initial he had painted on his carriage instead of his crest, was more the classic old rake. He also was a noted race-horse owner, gambler and driver, traits of a true Corinthian.

William Douglas had become the Earl of March in 1731, and then inherited the dukedom of Queensberry in 1786 when his cousin died.  Fabulously wealthy, he never married.  He adored young Italian opera singers, and was said to have been a member of the notorious “Hellfire Club.”  Like a true rake, he neglected his estates of Drumlanrig, Dumfries, and Galloway, and lived for his own pleasure.

While Georgian, the Hellfire Club is worth a brief mention in that gossip made it a standard (abet a low one) for scandalous debauchery.  It was not actually called the Hellfire Club by its members.  Started in 1746 by Sir Francis Dashwood, its name, like its members and its activities, were kept secret.  It was called either The Friars of St Francis of Wycombe, The Monks of Medmenham, The Order of Knights of West Wycombe, or The Order of the Knights of St Francis.  Stories held that members included the Earl of Sandwich, the son of the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Hogarth, the Earl of Bute, the Marquis of Granby, and even the Prince of Wales, and that they indulged in everything from orgies to Satan worship.  What they really did is unknown, but it is very likely that they held orgies with prostitutes and probably performed invented Pagan ceremonies that were relatively harmless.

By the Regency, Dashwood and his club had been replaced by other clubs—some every bit as scandalous.

There were numerous gentlemen’s clubs in Regency London, and a gentleman’s clubs also denoted his status within each set.  Some clubs were founded for the purpose of eating, some for drinking, some for wit and society, some for debauchery, some for gambling, some for sports.  Many of them had whimsical rules, such as a club founded by Lord Barrymore which ruled that “if any member has more sense than another he be kicked out of the club.”

Most gentlemen belonged to several clubs. Waiter’s was considered the domain of the dandy, but closed in 1819 after becoming infamous as a place where too many gentlemen were ruined with deep play (which was also suspected of being rigged play).  White’s was considered the most exclusive, and was where Beau Brummell held court in the famous bow-window with Lord Alvanely, the Duke of Argyle, Lord Worcester, Lord Foley and Lord Sefton. Opposite White’s stood Brooks’s, a club that, through its patronage by Whig families, became known as the place for liberals.  Members included the radical and the artistic, such as Edmund Burke, Sir Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, Horace Walpole, Edward Gibbon, Richard Sheridan, and the Prince of Wales.  Finally, a sporting minded gentleman might join Boodle’s with its focus on heavy gambling, or The Marylebone Cricket Club which played at Lord’s, or might aspire to the Bensington Driving Club, founded in 1807, or the more elite Four-Horse Club.

The Four-Horse club met in George Street, Hanover Square, and drove to Salt Hill to dine.  Members had be noted whips, drove four horses attached to a barouche carriage and had the right to wear the yellow-striped blue waistcoat and black spotted neckerchief insignia of the club.  Membership was so exclusive that the club counted only around thirty members or so, and included Lords Barrymore, Sefton, Worcester and Fitzhardinge, Sir John Lade, Sir Henry Peyton, Sir Bellingham Graham as well as other noted whips.

M. Simond, writing about his visit to England in 1810, might well have been writing of the Four-Horse club when he said, “I have just seen the originals of which Matthews gave us a faithful copy a few days ago in Hit or Miss—the very barouche club; the gentlemen-coachmen, with half-a-dozen great coats about them—immense capes—a large nosegay at the button-hole—high mounted on an elevated seat with squared elbows—a prodigious whip—beautiful horses, four in hand, drive in a file to Salthill, a place about twenty miles from London, and return, stopping on the way at the several public houses and gin shops where stage-coachmen are in the habit of stopping for a dram, and for parcels and passengers; the whole in strict imitation of their models and making use, as much as they can, of their energetic professional idiom.”

For boxing, there was Daffy’s Club, which The London Spy reported was held at Tom Belcher’s at the Castle Tavern in Holborn.  Boxing matches were also held at Fives Court in St. Martin’s Street.

Just as each set had its customary haunts and clubs, slang terms also defined a gentleman’s interests.  Some dandies, such as Sir Lumley “Skiffy” Skeffington spoke with a lisp.  (Many in the liberal Devonshire set also copied the Duchess of Devonshire’s lisp to denote their status as Whigs.)  With his lisp and his appearance as “a thin pallid little man with sharp features and rouged cheeks, and the atmosphere of a perfume shop,” Skeffington was almost the archetype of a dandy. He wore colored satin suits, penned plays and was said to spend eight hundred pounds a year on his clothes.  Actually, while Skeffington was a friend of Brummell’s and the Regent, he was actually too fashionable to meet Brummell’s standards for understated taste.

The Corinthian, in turn, adopted boxing terms or the slang of the coachman on the road.  It should be noted that are differences between London “thieves cant” often used by the young bucks about town, and the language of the Fancy.

As examples, Pierce Egan’s Life in London; or, The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn, Esq., and his elegant friend, Corinthian Tom, accompanied by Bob Logic, the Oxonian, in their Rambles and Sprees through the Metropolis shows his heroes—Tom and Jerry—using the slang of the Fancy as Tom shows his country cousin Jerry about town.  Egan calls his hero “one of the fancy, but not a fancy man…”  And said of him that while he was as home waltzing at Almacks, he was not a dandy.

Egan also published Boxiana as a serial put out between 1811 and 1813, and he was a well known figure in the sporting world.  Captain Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue provides a reference to the thieves cant used by the London underworld, and which might be employed by a young gentleman going slumming in brothels or gaming hells.

In addition to imitating the lower classes of London, young gentlemen looked to imitate the professional coach driver who handled the mail and stage coaches.  They might done a “Benjamin” (the greatcoat worn by coachmen) while seeking to “handle the ribbons” (hold the reins), and “spring the team” (put a team into a canter); “feather it” (drive very close to obstacles), managing both the “leaders” and the “wheelers” (the front pair and rear pair of a four horse team) over a “stage” (the distance between one change of teams and the next—usually 10 to 20 miles).

For others, it was not the professional coachman but the professional boxer who became the hero to emulate.

Gentleman Jackson's

Boxing at Gentleman Jackson's

Fist fighting begun to replace sword or cudgel sports during George I’s reign.  Though it was illegal, betting made it enough of an attraction to draw nobility as well as common folks.  The first official champion of England was James Figg, who was also an expert swordsman and who later opened a School of Arms.

Later, Jack Broughton, who was champion of England from 1734 to 1750, invented the “mufflers” or boxing gloves that were used for practice only since all prize-fights were fought with bare fists.  Called “the father of British pugilism” Broughton drafted the rules that were used before and during the Regency.  (It was not until 1866 that the Queensberry Rules were developed by the 8th Marquis of Queensberry and John G. Chambers.)

Broughton’s rules outlawed hitting below the belt, striking an opponent who was down (which included being on his knees). Wrestling holds were allowed only above the waist.  Every fighter had a gentleman to act as umpire, with a third to referee disagreements. When a fighter was knocked down, he had 30 seconds to get up—or have help getting up—and then he had to be placed at the corner of a 3-foot square that was drawn in the center of the ring.

As was common for retiring champion boxers, when John Jackson retired after willing the champion title in 1795, he opened the Bond Street School of Arms at Number 13. Jackson won the championship in a hard-fought match with Daniel Mendoza, but it was his school which brought him fame.

Jackson, known as “The Gentleman,” was friends with fencing instructor Henry Angleo, who had a school next door and who urged his students to alternate with lessons from Jackson—which made sense for Jackson advocated footwork and the science of targeting a hit.

Everyone went to Jackson’s, even Lord Byron, the lame poet.  When tasked with keeping such low company Byron insisted that Jackson’s manners were “infinitely superior to those of the fellows of the college whom I meet at the high table.”  That no doubt contributed Jackson’s nickname and his success.

Other boxing champions of the Regency era included: Jack Bartholomew, champion from 1797 to 1800.  Jem Belcher who often wore a blue scarf marked with white spots and blue centers around his neck, which became known as the Belcher neckcloth, and soon sporting mad young bucks were wearing any scarf of garish color with spots.  “Hen” Pearce, “The Game Chicken,” who held the title from 1803 to 1806 when he retired.  John Gully who won the championship in 1807 and retired in 1808 to open a racing stable. And Tom Cribb became the champion in 1808, winning a famous bout against African-American Tom Molineaux on December 18, 1810. Cribb went on to hold the champion title until 1822.

As an interesting footnote, Tom’s less famous brother, George had about five fights, and lost all of them—some men simply were not cut out to be Corinthians, dandies, or rakes.

Fencing at Henry Angelo's

Fencing at Henry Angelo's

The Regency Horse World

Hunter. Carriage horse. Race horse. Town hack. Horses were part of everyday life in Regency England. And the horse world of a few hundred years ago was quite different than its modern counterpart.

RACING

 

By the start of the 1800’s one of the biggest innovations in horses had already occurred—the Thoroughbred had arrived. Three founding stallions—the Darley Arabian “Manak,” the Godolphin Barb, and the Byerley Turk—had been brought to England in the early 1700’s. When the light, fast and sturdy Arabians were bred with the larger, cold-blooded English mares, the cross produced a horse with size, speed and stamina. It produced the Thoroughbred.

At the same time that the Thoroughbred was being established as a breed, horse racing was also becoming a regulated sport. In 1711, Queen Anne had established regular race meetings at her park at Ascot. Gentlemen organized races for themselves, often “matching” particular horses against each other, and by 1727 a Racing Almanac began to be printed.

Flat and jumping races were also held for women only. Mrs. Bateman wrote in 1723, “Last week, Mrs. Aslibie arranged a flat race for women, and nine of that sex, mounted astride and dressed in short pants, jackets and jockey caps participated. They were striking to see, and there was a great crowd to watch them. The race was a very lively one; but I hold it indecent entertainment.” Some women—such as the infamous Letty Lade, who apparently swore like a coachman—rode and drove to please themselves, but they were the exception in the Regency world.

Around 1750, the gentlemen who regularly met at the Red Lion Inn at Newmarket started the Jockey Club. And in May of 1779, the first Derby was held. By 1791, the Jockey Club had issued the “General Stud Book”, and by the early 1800’s Jockey Club stewards attended every racing meet.

Assize-week was the time for races, for that was when the gentry came into the chief town of the shire for trials and selling harvest. Meet sprang up, and still run, at Newmarket in April and October, York in May, Epsom, Ascot in June, Goodwood, Doncaster, Warick, Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Cheltenham, Bath, Worcester, and Newcastle.

Racing, however, was a sport for the rich. Before the Prince Regent quit the racing scene in 1807, his racing stud farm came to cost him 30,000 pounds a year.

FOX HUNTING

For the less wealth, horses still served as sport, primarily for fox hunting. While Thoroughbreds might be seen in the field, one might also see farmers upon their heavier draft horses, such as the Suffolk Punch. Children might well be mounted upon the small but handy Welsh Cob or Welsh pony. And Irish Hunters, with their thick bones and size have always been prized for horses who can go all day and then some.

While fox hunting traces its roots back to the mid-1600’s, the sport did not take its present form of jumping and long runs until after the Enclosure Acts of the 1700’s. By the 1780’s, fox hunting had become the most popular of sports, replacing the more ancient sport of stag hunting.

November to March was, and remains, fox hunting season, starting after the fall of the leaf, when the fields lie fallow, and ending after the last frost, just before the first planting.

Hunt territories varied widely. The fifth Earl of Berkely hunted an area from Berkley Castle to Berkley Square, stretching 120 miles.

By 1810, there were 24 subscription packs—a packs that one could pay to hunt with, as opposed to requiring an invitation from the Master. This would double, so that by the mid-1800’s hunting had become more a matter of ‘subscribing’ in exchange for the right to hunt with the pack.

The golden age for hunting in Leichesterchire is considered to be 1810 to 1830. During this time, there were as many as 300 hunters stabled in Melton Mowbray—with some gentlemen keeping up to 12 hunters. A gentleman could hunt six days a week with the Quorn, the Cottesmore, the Belvoir, and the Pytchley.

Ladies were also found in the field. Mrs. Tuner Farley hunted for 50 years. Lady Salisbury was master of the Hatfield Hunt from 1775 to 1819. She hunted old and blind, in her sky blue habit, with a groom leading her horse and yelling at her to, “Jump, damn you, my lady.” And from 1788 to 1840, Lord Darlington hunted his own hounds four days a week in Yorkshire and Durham, with his three daughters and his second wife, all in their scarlet habits.

However, between late 1700’s to about mid 1800’s, when the jumping pommel was invented for the side saddle, ladies were more likely to be advised to “ride to the meet and home again to work up an appetite.”

While fox hunting was viewed as a sport for everyone, the reality was that it cost money to keep a pack of hounds and hunt them. However, anyone could take a horse and follow, if the master allowed it, and some followed the hunt in their carriages.

CARRIAGES

For most families, a carriage was a necessity, and specific breeds of horses were used in harness. The ideal hunter had a long, low stride. But a carriage horse needed high-stepping action, which looks lovely in harness, but which is not always the most comfortable ride.

Carriage breeds of the era included the Yorkshire Trotter, the Norfolk Trotter, the Hackney Horse, the Hackney Pony, and the Cleveland Bay, which is still one of the most desired of carriage horses. Ponies were often used for smaller vehicles, and for ladies. Prints of the era often show ladies driving a matched team of cream ponies–which looks a lovely sight.

Owning and maintaining a horse could be expensive, but there were more affordable options.

John Tilbury of Mount Street in London offered a horse for rent at 12 guineas a month. For 40 guineas, one could hire two hunters and a servant.

Carriages were more expensive than horses, for they had to be custom built. Families with modest incomes would often purchase a carriage second hand, from an advertisement in The London Times. Those who could afford it would have a carriage built to their own specifications.

In Jane Austin’s Northanger Abbey, Mr. Thorpe enthuses over his new carriage, boasting: ‘Curricle-hung, you see; seat, trunk, sword-case, splashing-board, lamps, silver moulding, all you see complete; the iron work as good as new or better’ — and all for fifty guineas.

Chandros Leigh, a distant cousin of Jane Austen, obtained an estimate for a fashionable laundau in 1829. The price of the basic carriage was 250 pounds, which included: ‘plate glass and mahogany shutters to the lights, and plated or brass bead to the leather, lined with best second cloth, cloth squabs, and worsted lace….’ The ‘extras’ ordered including footman’s cushions, morocco sleeping cushions, steps, silk spring curtains, his crest on the door, embossed door handles and full plated lamps. These brought the cost to 417 pounds, 11 shillings and 6 pence, but he was given 60 pounds in exchange for his old carriage.

Carriages for country and for town were generally quite different in build, for they served different purposes. And since carriages were custom built, almost every carriage could be a unique design. Common types of carriages, however, included:

The Phaeton – a four-wheeled, owner-driven vehicle fitted with forward facing seats, usually an open carriage.

The Gig – a two-wheeled vehicles (Whiskey), built to hold two, usually an open carriage.

The Curricle - the “gig” of the quality, built to hold two, which could be two or four-wheels, and which sometimes had a top that could fold down.

A Town Coach – a closed coach that could be drawn by one horse or a pair.

Landau – a four-wheeled vehicle that held four, which was drawn by a pair and built with a removable or folding top.

Barouche – a four-wheeled vehicle drawn by a pair, or by four or even six horses, with an option for a driver, or for post boys to ride and control the horses. Sometimes built with a fold-down top.

(For images, visit -Georgian Times.)

A ‘Drag’ was a slang term for a gentleman’s private coach. It was built much like a mail coach, and often used for race meetings or other outdoor events as it height and roof seats created its own grandstand.

In 1805, smaller Hackney coaches came into use and in 1823 the first Hackney cabs came to London. It was not until 1830’s, however, that the famous Handsome Cabs appeared in London.

Both carriage and road constructions were being developed during the Regency and were not without problems.

Sylas Neville’s diary recorded a 1771 journey on the London to Newcastle stage. It took him two days, traveling day and night, to cover the 197 miles from Stilton to Newcastle.

By the 1780’s, private carriages could cover the distance from Bath to London in 16 to 18 hours. But the Royal Mail coaches were much slower until John Palmer produced a mail coach that left the Rummer Tavern in Bath on August 2, 1784 at four PM, and arrived at the Swan with Two Necks in London by eight AM the next morning. The stage had traveled 119 miles in less than 16 hours!

Up to 1820, most coach horses were changed every ten to eleven miles. Thereafter, to get better speeds, they opted for even less distances, changing about every six miles. But as Mr. Darcy says in Pride and Prejudice, “fifty miles of good road was ‘little more than half a day’s journey.’

With so many road problems, those who wished for speed would often ride.

RIDING: SIDE SADDLE AND ASTRIDE

Riders of the 1800’s leaned back and rode with long stirrups that kept their seat in the saddle. Even jockeys rode sitting down square on a horse’s back. And English ‘tack’ or equipment is quite different from its ‘western’ counterpart.

An English saddle has a pommel up front, not a saddle horn. The back of the saddle is the cantle. The saddle is held in place with a girth–not a cinch–and uses stirrup leathers and stirrup irons.

Riders generally carry a hunting whip, which is designed with a crook on the end to open gates, and whip points on the opposite end that can be changed and used to control the hounds. This whip is not actually used to whip the horse.

A lady often used a whip to give a light tap to the horse on the ‘off’ or right side as a command, since her legs hang down on the ‘near’ or left side.

Prior to 1835, a side saddle had only one or two pommels. One turned up to support the right leg, and some had a second pommel which turned down over the left leg. The ‘jumping’ pommel did not exist in Regency times.

A lady’s riding habit had to be cut so that it draped down over the horse’s side, coving ankle and boot in a lovely flow. This drape required that a loop be attached to the hem, so that, when dismounted, a lady could gather up the extra length of skirt. The fabric for a habit was usually a heavy cotton, twill or wool. And due to its cut, a habit can provides any woman with a long stride as much freedom as breeches.

Riding habit styles often copied military fashion, with close cut coats, cravats, and military shakos. Ladies always wore gloves, both to preserve their hands, and to improve their grip upon the reins.

One print from the early 1800 shows a lady strapped into her saddle, but the danger from this would be that if the horse fell the rider would almost certainly be crushed or dragged.

Modern views make it seem as if riding side saddle must be awkward and uncomfortable. In fact, it is neither.

The important factor in riding side saddle is the horse. A comfortable stride and good manners are essential. This does not have to be a placid horse, but should not be a horse with a rough or bumpy stride.

The side saddle requires the rider to sit with a straight back and with hips and shoulders absolutely even. Slightly more weight should be carried on the right hip to compensate for the weight of both legs on the left. Any tilting to one side, leaning or twisting eventually results in a horse with a sore back.

Side saddles have a broad, flat and comfortably padded seat. The right leg goes over a padded leather branch which turns up (the top pommel). The left leg is in a stirrup that is short enough to bring it firmly up against a second pommel which turns down. If the horse plays up at all, the rider must clamp both legs together, gripping these pommels.

On a comfortable horse, riding side saddle soon begins to feel a bit like riding a padded rocking chair. It’s far less tiring than riding astride for the only effort is to sit straight and still.

While it is possible to rise to the trot in a “posting” motion, some claim that this is the real cause of giving a side saddle horse a sore back as it requires too much weight be put in the left stirrup.

Betty Skelton, author of Side Saddle Riding, found that….”As a teenager in the 1920’s, side saddle riding was second nature to me. I found it comfortable and I did not fall off as often as I had done from a cross saddle.” In teaching side saddle, Ms. Skelton has found that a beginner rider can often be comfortably cantering during her first lesson, which is far more progress than most can manage when riding astride.

It is possible for a lady to mound dismount on her own when riding side saddle.

To mount, she holds the reins and whip in the left hand and stands facing the horse, or even slightly towards the horse’s head. Taking the stirrup iron in her right hand to hold it steady, she places her left foot in the iron. With her foot in the iron, she can reach up to grip the saddle. As she hops up, her weight goes to the left foot in the iron and she leverages her weight up.

Instead of swinging her leg over the horse, she pulls her right leg up in front of her and seats herself sideways in the saddle. She then can settle herself with the right leg over the top pommel, the left under the left pommel and in the stirrup.

To dismount, a lady unhooks her right leg, takes her left foot out of the stirrup and simply slides off.

For a gentleman’s saddle, mounting also requires the reins and whip to be held in the left hand. A rider traditionally mounts from the left. The rider stands at the horse’s shoulder, facing the horse’s hind quarters.

With the right hand, the rider turns the stirrup iron sideways. The left foot goes into the stirrup, and the rider may grasp the cantle or back of the saddle with the right hand. He then pushes himself off the ground with the right foot, transfers his weight to the left, stirrup foot, and swings the right leg over the horse’s back to land lightly in the seat.

To dismount, the gentleman kicks his feet out of both stirrups and swings off to the left, the right leg coming over the horse’s back.

By natural inclination, a horse will move out of the way of any rider attempting to leap onto its back with a vault from the rear or a jump from a high point. However, horse may be trained to put up with this behavior.

A groom who leads a horse out for a gentleman or lady will stay and hold the horse’s head. If the gentleman is portly, the groom may also hold the stirrup on the opposite side from the rider to keep the saddle from ending up under the horse’s belly.

In giving a “leg up” to a lady, a groom would not dare to be so bold as to take a lady by the waist, as a rather forward gentleman might. Instead, the groom makes a stirrup from his hands. He then holds his hands low enough to allow the lady to easily step into them with her left foot. Then the groom boosts her lightly into the saddle.

When a groom is unavailable, a mounting block can help, and is particularly recommended to help keep a side saddle even on the horse’s back. This can be a block about two feet in height, or a fallen tree or river bank can serve the same purpose.

In general, horses prefer one horse, one rider. Being creatures of habit, carriage horses also prefer to be driven, not ridden, unless they have been trained for both.

However, with a man’s saddle, it is quite easy to manage two on a horse. The disadvantage is that the lady usually ends up sitting on the pommel, and galloping in this position can be painful on the posterior. For fast flight, it would be best to have the lady sit behind the gentleman and have him hold on to him.

FASHIONS

With all riding and driving, specific fashions evolved in the Regency to denote affiliations.

Each Hunt had its own hunting “colors,” which included a color of coat collar as well as a button insignia. The most fashionable gentlemen in the field might also wear white boot tops to their riding boots. Ladies, too, would wear hunt colors.

The exact origin of the bright red hunting coat—which is actually called a hunting pink—is a little vague, but one theory holds that it was army officers hunting in their scarlet regimentals that started that fashion. Another holds that the tailor Mr. Pink started the fashion, and that the coats took their name from him.

Driving clubs, such as the Four Horse Club or the Four-in-Hand Club, also had specific styles of dress that denoted membership. This included a blue coat with insignia buttons, a yellow and blue stripped waistcoat, a white muslin cravat spotted with black, and white corduroy breeches.

And in the stylish Regency, fashion extended to more than just clothing, for horses and carriages were ways to express ability, style and good Ton.

According to Captain Gronow in his Reminisces, Lord Barrymore drove, “…four splendid greys, unmatched in symmetry, action and power.” While Lord Petersham’s carriages, “…were entirely brown, with brown horses and harness.” Gronow accredits Petersham’s affectation as being due to his love for a widow named Mrs. Brown. Regardless, the color soon became his trademark signature.

Through it all, the horse endured as a symbol of style, as a sport, and as a source of pleasure and delight.

For further reading:

  • Horses and Horsemanship though The Ages, Luigi Gianoli
  • Royalty on Horseback, Judith Campbell
  • Side Saddle Riding, Betty Skelton

Setting up for Digital

Some things just seem simple–digital publication is one of those. Upload a file and presto, right? But there are a few things that you want to figure out first—it’s another case of a little planning going a long way.

ISBNS

The ISBN is an industry standard for identifying a book. If you want full control of your book listing, buy your own ISBNs, which you can do through Bowkers at myidentifiers.com

You can buy a single ISBN for $125, or a premium one for $185, or buy 10 at a time for $250. Assigning them is a bit of a pain.

The ISBN is not actually in use until it is applied to a book. To do this, you’ll need the book cover, your bio, your book description, a PDF of your book, and an Excel file saved in the CSV format with the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) terms you want to use.

After you buy your ISBN, login to myidentifiers.com and follow the tabs and fields to set up all the information. You can also replace an older print ISBN if that print edition has gone out-of-print.

Include pricing and sales areas (countries where you’re selling), and check back in a few days to confirm your ISBN has been activated for that digital publication. It usually takes only a day or two to get this set up.

Then you can do that “easy file upload” for digital publication on Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, and Smashwords.

Smashwords

Smashwords.com is both easier in some respects, and more difficult in others. They do provide a lot of information readily available on their site. The first step is to sign up and set up an account. Set up payment methods and create a profile. Click on the PUBLISH button to start the publishing process.

Fill out all the forms. Set your price (and Smashwords offers a cool graph to show what you’ll be making on any book for each price point). Be honest about if your book contains adult material (explicit sex or graphic violence). Upload your correctly formatted book and your cover. And remember to include the wording that Smashwords requires at the front of your book.

IMPORANT: Always take a look at the preview to make sure your book appears as you want it formatted. If you need to, adjust the text in the file and upload that again to correct any formatting errors or typos.

With the ISBN manager at Smashwords, you can add your ISBN or let Smashwords give this to you. If you’re having Smashwords do your ISBN, but you’re doing your own Kindle and Pubit uploads, set up Smashwords first so you have the ISBN to add other places.

Before you do that final submit, read the legal stuff (the Terms). This is a contract you’re signing with your mouse click.

It can be minutes to hours to actually have the book upload. It will then show as pending approval (that’s okay).

In Smashwords, select DASHBOARD, and now set your distribution for this book with the Distribution Channel Manager.

You can let Smashwords distribute to all formats, including Kindle and Nook. However, you’ll make higher royalties if you do your own Amazon and BN distribution. For Smashwords, I opt out of Amazon and BN formats. I opt into Apple (which requires an explicit opt in selection).

NOTE: Your book will appear in Smashwords right away, but will not be listed there as “premium content” until it’s approved. Check back every few days to make sure it is approve, or if the format needs to be adjusted (and also to see how you’re sales are doing).

UPDATE TO SMASHWORDS: They now allow both short descriptions, and long descriptions of up to 4000 characters. If you have books on Smashwords, you may want to update your descriptions. I’m using the short descriptions for review promos, and then adding in more details about the story in the long descriptions.

B&N PUBIT

For uploading to the Nook via Pubit, this again starts with reading up on the process on their site, and creating an account, this time at pubit.com. B&N requires a credit card to create an account. This is in case a book is returned (for example, you’ve sold 20 books, but one person decides to send it back, but B&N has already paid you for 20 books; they use the credit card to account for that one return). Some folks don’t like this but I had no issues.

When your account is set up, head to Add a Title.

One nice thing about PubIt is that you can save your work as you go (very handy that). So you can add some info, go away, fuss with promotional copy, and come back and add that.

As with all other formats, once you upload your book, make sure you check out how it will look with the preview option (PubIt automatically brings this up for you to view, which is a nice feature). You can also mark if the book is part of a series.

You can add up to five reviews, including reviewer names and quotes. You can post excerpts from the reviews, but you should get clearance from the reviewers before you use their copywritten work.

NOTE: While BN’s PubIt doesn’t require you to have an ISBN, I’ve found it’s easier to add this up front, instead of trying to update the ISBN at a later time. Everything else is much easier to update (cover, copy, reviews, descriptions, even pricing).

Amazon Digital Text Platform- Kindle

UPDATE: Amazon has renamed this to the “Kindle Direct Publishing”. They’re also now putting out a newsletter with useful tips and advice. The old link below still works, but the new link is: https://kdp.amazon.com.

The options at Amazon can be confusing: they have Create Space, and Kindle, and their Associates Program. To actually sell a book on Kindle, you want to head to: https://dtp.amazon.com. If you don’t have an existing Amazon account, you can create it. Again, Amazon provides a lot of information about the process on their site (including a video). The details can be a little overwhelming, so you may want to tackle the basics first, and then improve your publishing and promoion.

NOTE: To help promote your book you’re also going to want an Author’s page at https://authorcentral.amazon.com.

As with PubIt and Smashwords, you’ll need to set up all your account information so you can get paid.

Again, you enter your book title, cover, and upload your book. Make sure you spell your name as the author correctly. Again, make sure you preview how the book looks on Kindle.

You can mark if this is a series (same as for PubIt). You can set your pricing and opt out of DRM. Add in your ISBN if you have one. When you save your information, the book will go into a pending mode. Once approved, the book will be listed for sale.

And there you have it – the easy (or almost) steps to digital publishing.

Twelve Steps to a Digital Format

There’s lots of information out there about eBook format. But in converting my print books, I’ve streamlined this to a simple twelve steps. You can get fancier if you know what you’re doing. My choice is go to for a clean format. So, here’s the twelve easy steps.

Twelve Steps to a Digital Format

STEP 1 – Put your book into a single file in Microsoft Word. I had my chapters split into multiple files, so the first step was a lot of cut and paste. I did have electronic versions of my work, but not the same ones as in print. This meant either scanning the books or manually inputting my edits. I went with the latter and made this part of my editing process.

Other ways you can do this might include a search the Internet to see if someone’s done the work for you and you can grab an electronic version (yes, those pirate sites have a use). You can invest in a scanner and OCR software that converts the scanned image into text—the cost will be about $300 – $400 for a full setup. Or you can pay for a print book to electronic conversion: about two to three dollars a page to get all the work done for you. If you’re still going it on your own….

STEP 2 – With your book file open, use the SELECT function. Select ALL and set the font to Ariel or Times Roman. Electronic readers like consistency and these are about the most Web-safe fonts around. I use Times Roman for the bulk of the book, but I put the title and front copy into Ariel.

STEP 3 – Set the font to 12 or 14 point, no smaller and no larger.  I like to set the title and chapter headings to 14 point and use 12 point for everything else.

STEP 4 – Remove all TAB marks. To do this, use the REPLACE function, select MORE and SPECIAL CHARACTERS. Put the tab mark in the field to “find” and nothing in the replace area and that will remove them all.

STEP 5 – Use the REPLACE function to search and replace all double spaces with single spaces (do this a couple of times to catch all of them).

STEP 6 – Set your paragraph indents with the PARAGRAPH function. Set INDENTATION to SPECIAL, FIRST LINE, with LEFT set to .2″ or .3″ (you can go up to .5″ but I think the smaller option looks better in the electronic readers).

STEP 7 – Use the PARAGRAPH function to set spacing to single space.

STEP 8 – Remove all headers and footers—deleted them.

SEPT 9 – Remove any page breaks between chapters.

STEP 10 – Center your chapter headings and number chapters as in “Chapter One” – that’ll help to automatically generate a table of contents. Put only a single blank line space between chapter headings and the text – that’s both before and after.

STEP 11 – For breaks within a chapter, use a simple mark such as the asterisk (*) which electronic readers can handle.  Center this and put a single blank line space before and after.

STEP 12 – Put dedications and reviews up front since this is free preview content.

Your format should look something like this (without the blue text which is just here to make the book text stand out)…

Opening Page:

A PROPER MISTRESS

Shannon Donnelly

For Marsha —
may you always find the courage to choose happiness

Bookseller’s Best Finalist, Golden Quill Finalist, Orange Rose Finalist

“With its excellent characterization, polished prose, and humor, Donnelly’s latest Regency is a supremely satisfying, deftly plotted delight.” – Booklist, American Library Association, John Charles

“…delightfully offbeat romp with an engaging set of young lovers and a good cast of supporting players…highly enjoyable” — Romantic Times Top Pick – 4½ Stars

“I highly recommend A PROPER MISTRESS, and can’t wait for Ms. Donnelly’s next book….” — Five Roses – Escape To Romance, Marlene Breakfield

 

CHAPTER ONE

“Beauty ain’t required, but she’s got to catch the eye,” Theodore Winslow said, striding across the small salon, one hand fisted behind his back and the other gesturing in the air. “I mean, I’m supposed to be smitten. But she can’t be at all acceptable—only she can’t be too coarse, either,

 

A chapter break will look similar to this:

“Why, you’re hardly more than a boy yourself! Why ever do you want to go hiring a woman from this house to act as your bride?”

CHAPTER TWO

At the sight of a short, curvaceous redhead being thrust into the room, Theo started to smile. But those tempting, full lips parted and her words cut into him like a butcher’s knife. Hardly more than a boy!

And a scene break will look something like this:

“Well, you want to make sure you ain’t a trout with your mouth gapping open to be hooked by this flash gent, or any other. Remember that, or you’ll be agreeing to more than you think you will now. And just you remember, too, every woman may have her price, but every man has his limits. Most of ‘em start with his purse. Now, let’s see how those dresses look. You’re going to have to be dazzlin’, ’cause it’s going to take us longer than a quarter hour to turn you out in style.”

#

By the time Sallie finished, Molly no longer recognized herself. Nell and Harriet, seeing the door open to Jane’s forsaken room, had poked their heads in—eyes sleepy and hair tumbled and still in their night wrappers. Sallie’s house kept late hours and late mornings. Sallie bustled them out, saying to Molly afterwards, “Never does to stir up jealousy, and you don’t want them thinking you’re stealing their trade.”

———————-

If you know what you’re doing, you can get fancier about the formatting. Or if you pay someone to do this for you, they can do the fancy stuff.

While this may sound like a lot of work, I found it to be not all that difficult, it just takes some time. I’m averaging two to three weeks to get a book formatted and that’s working only weekends and evenings and doing all the edits. It’s going faster the more I do this (I’m getting a process down). Basically, this requires patience and persistence, something every writer needs in buckets.

Save your file as both a standard word .DOC or .DOCX.  Also save the file as a PDF version (this will allow you to give away free PDF copies to readers, and you’ll need this format, too, if you set up an ISBN).

NOTE: Smashwords also requires specific text at the front of your book about being published at Smashwords, so you want to set up a separate file with this info:

Published by Shannon Donnelly at Smashwords.com

Copyright 2010 Shannon Donnelly

Discover other works by Shannon Donnelly at Smashwords.com

 

That’s it. Twelve steps. The part that really takes the work is getting the writing done in the first place.

English Winter Fare

In the still largely agrarian world of the early 1800’s, autumn and winter became a time to relax after harvest. Gentry and yeoman alike could take advantage of old feasting customs that had long ago mingled with the Christian holidays.

In autumn, Parliament opened again and some of society returned to London. St. Michael’s and All Angel Day, or Michaelmas, at the end of September, marked the end of a quarter year. The Celtic calendar also wove itself into English holidays, with one of the main events on November 1 becoming All Saints Day or All Hallows and October 31 therefore set as All Hallows Eve. It should be noted that Saman (also Samana, Shamhain, and Samhain) a minor Celtic guardian of herds, and so important to a herding society, played a part in the celebrations, but modern lore has turned him into an ancient god of death and mixed up several Celtic customs along with imported Christian beliefs to give us Halloween.

October was a month when land owners ate pheasant, partridge, duck and grouse. Fish for meals included perch, halibut, carp, gudgeons, and shell fish. Poachers also looked to snared hares for their pot. Beans were still fresh, and the fruits of summer gave way to pears, apples, nuts and the last harvest of grapes.

On November 5 bonfires burned in mockery of Guy Fawkes and memory of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament. The Feast of St. Martin, or Martinmas, fell on November 11, and St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, had his day on November 30. St. Andrew’s day also marked the beginning of Advent to celebrate the four weeks before Christmas. In November, the landed gentry still dined on wild foul as well as domestic poultry—which was now getting a bit old and aged (meaning tough and needing sauces to make the meat palatable). They also had beef, venison and pork with their meals. Fish could still be caught and served, and winter vegetables graced the dining room, including: carrots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, leeks, cabbage, celery and lettuces. With November, walnuts and chestnuts came into season.

More celebrations lead to Christmas Eve when the Lord of Misrule danced and the Mummers traveled to perform their pantomimes. Then came Christmas Day, and Boxing Day on December 26, which was St. Stephen’s Day. Boxing Day did not get its name from gift boxes, for the exchange of gifts was a German custom still new to Regency England. Instead, Boxing Day got its name from the older tradition of it being a day in which pleadings could be placed in a box for a judge to privately review. In December, besides beef and mutton to eat, pork and venison were served. Goose was cooked for more than just the Christmas meal, and there would be turkey, pigeons, chicken, snipes, woodcock, larks, guinea-foul, widgeons and grouse to eat. Cod, turbot, soul, sturgeon and eels joined the list of fish in season. Forced asparagus added a delicacy to the usual winter vegetables. Stored apples, pears and preserved summer fruit appeared on the better, richer tables. Mince pies made from mincemeat, which has no meat in it, were another traditional fare, with the tradition being that everyone in the household should stir, for luck, the mix of dried fruit and spices before it was baked.

Households also celebrated not just according to the season, but also to the customs of the area. In the Regency, local customs in the countryside might well hold to the old ways.

Under the Kissing BoughFor one of my books, Under the Kissing Bough, I needed a Christmas wedding and customs that suited the countryside around London. In ancient days, a Christmas wedding would have been impossible for the English Church held a “closed season” on marriages from Advent in late November until St. Hilary’s Day in January. The Church of England gave up such a ban during Cromwell’s era, even though the Roman Catholic Church continued its enforcement. Oddly enough a custom I expected to be ancient—that of the bride having “something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in her shoe”—turned out to be a Victorian invention.

For Christmas customs, I relied on those that have carried down through the ages: the Yule log from Viking winter solstice celebrations (which gives us Yule Tide celebrations), the ancient Saxon decorations of holy and ivy, and the Celtic use of mistletoe on holy days, which transformed itself into a kissing bough. Carolers might well travel from house to house, offering song in exchange for a wassail bowl—a hot, spiced or mulled drink, another tradition left over from the Norse Vikings.

The holidays were a time of games as well, and the game of Snapdragon is a very old one. It’s played by placing raisins in a broad, shallow bowl, pouring brandy over them and setting the brandy on fire. Players then must show their courage by reaching through the spirit-flames to snatch up raisins. And the game even comes with its own song:

Here comes the flaming bowl,
Don’t he mean to take his toll,
Snip! Snap! Dragon!
Take care you don’t take too much,
Be not greedy in your clutch,
Snip! Snap! Dragon!

Celebrations continued to mix tradition and religion when the Twelfth Night feast arrived on January 5, which combine the Roman Saturnalia with the Feast of the Epiphany, when the three wise men were said to have paid tribute to the Baby Jesus. Deep in winter, there was still plenty of game to eat. Beside those wild and tame birds available in December, lobster came into season in January, as did crayfish, flounder, plaice, smelts, whiting, prawns, oysters and crab. Broccoli made a welcome change from the other winter vegetables, as did cress, herbs, cucumbers, beets and spinach. Preserved fruits would be running low in all but houses with large orchards, and stored apples and pears would have to serve guests until the expensive force strawberries of February appeared.

For the Celtic year, winter ended February 1 with the celebration of Imbolc or Oimelc. This is the time when ewes begin to lamb and lactate for their offspring, and life begins to return. For the ancient Celts, this was the celebration for Brigid (also Brigit, Brighid or Bride), the Light-Bringer, one of the main Celtic goddesses. She was strong enough to survive and be transformed by early Catholics into Saint Bridget, who was celebrated, along with the Virgin Mary, on February 2, Candlemas Day.

Another ancient tradition, this one of law, was to ignore leap year days—February 29 did not exist. This became the day when the world could be out-of-order. Tradition held that St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait so long for proposals, and Patrick answered that women could propose on Leap Day. In Scotland, their tradition added on that any man who declined a proposal in a leap year must pay a fine, which could be anything from a fine silk dress to a kiss given to the disappointed female.

St. David’s Day the Welsh patron saint came on March 1, and tradition held that all good Welshmen should wear a leak—a vegetable readily available from winter fare. March also brought Lent, and in Shropshire and Herefordshire, Simnel Cakes made with saffron were made for the season.

With March 21, the spring officially arrived, but for most of England, it would still be some time before warm weather and spring flowers arrived, and even longer until the return of the lush abundance of summer fruit and foods.

Food Glorious Food

The wonderful thing about food is that it’s as much fun to read about it and write about it as to actually indulge–well, almost as much fun.  And the joy of writing a historical novel is the meals–breakfast, nuncheon, tea (but not High Tea unless you’ve a Victorian setting or a lower class who must make do with this for their dinner), dinner and supper were and still are the main eating occasions in England.

Meals often provide a social structure for life. However, as noted in The Jane Austen Cookbook, “In the late eighteenth century, at the time of Jane Austen’s birth, it was necessary to make the best possible use of the hours of daylight….candles, wood and coal were quite as expensive comparatively speaking as gas, oil and electricity and far more liable to be in short supply or to run out altogether during hard winters.”

What this meant was a different structure to meals.

To start the day, breakfast came around ten o’clock–well after most had risen and started their day.  The Regency morning then went on through the afternoon, with morning calls being paid.  In London, five o’clock was the fashionable ‘morning’ hour to parade.  And so serving a breakfast party might well occur sometime between one and five o’clock in the afternoon.

During morning calls, light refreshments might be taken.  Ladies might have a ‘nuncheon’ but the notion of lunch did not exist.  Also, the lush high tea now served at most swank London hotels actually originated as a working class dinner, and was perfected by the Edwardians into an art form, but was not a Regency meal.

Dinner in the Regency came at three or four o’clock in the country.  In London, the fashionable dined between five and eight, before going out for the evening.

This left room for a supper to be served–as either a supper-tray that might be brought into a country drawing room, or as a buffet that would be served at a ball.  Such a supper would be served around eleven.  Again, in London, this supper could be served as late as nearly dawn.

From the Georgian era to the Regency the method for serving dinner changed.  “…as soon as they walked into the dining-room they saw before them a table already covered with separate dishes of every kind of food…” states The Jane Austen Cookbook.  The idea was that with all courses laid on the table, those dining would choose which dishes to eat, taking from the dishes nearest.  It was polite to offer a dish around.  Food in History notes, “It was a custom that was more than troublesome; it also required a degree of self-assertion.  The shy or ignorant guest limited not only his own menu but also that of everyone else at the table.  Indeed, one young divinity student ruined his future prospects when, invited to dine by an archbishop who was due to examine him in the scriptures, he found before him a dish of ruffs and reeves, wild birds that (although he was too inexperienced to know it) were a rare delicacy.  Out of sheer modesty the clerical tyro confined himself exclusively to the dish before him….”

This style of serving dinner was known as service à la française.  During the Regency this was replaced by service à la russe in which the dishes were set on a sideboard and then handed around by servants.

Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye in The Jane Austen Cookbook provide this menu for a meal recorded in Mrs. Philip Lybbe Powys’ diary of some of the dishes she served, as hostess for her brother-in-law the Dean of Canterbury, for Prince William of Gloucester.  Fourteen sat down to a meal in August, 1798, that included:

Salmon
Trout
Soles

Fricandó of Veal
Raised Giblet Pie

Vegetable Pudding

Chickens
Ham

Muffin Pudding

Curry of Rabbits
Preserve of Olives

Soup
Haunch of Venison

Open Tart Syllabub
Raised Jelly

Three Sweetbreads, Larded

Maccaroni
Buttered Lobster

Peas
Potatoes

Basket of Pastry
Custards

Goose

Society meals were also being influenced at this time by the French chefs who had fled the revolution in their own country, and who had become a fashionable necessity in London.

Food in History gives this account of the dinner held by the Prince Regency at the Bright Pavilion, with his chef Carême in command on January 15, 1817:

“It began with four soups:

Le potage à la Monglas – creamy brown soup made with foie gras, truffles, mushrooms and Madeira

La garbure aux choux - country-style vegetable broth with shredded cabbage

Le potage d’orge perlé à la Cracy - a delicate pink puree of pearl barley and carrots

Le potage de poissons à la russe - ‘Russian-style’ fish soup, probably made from sturgeon

The soups were ‘removed’ with four fish dishes:

La matelote au vin de Bordeaux - a light stew of freshwater fish cooked in wine from Bordeaux

Les truites au blue à la provençal – lightly-cooked trout with a tomato and garlic sauce

Le turbot à l’anglaise aux homards, poached turbot with lobster sauce

La grosse anguille à la régence – a large fat eel, richly sauced, garnished with quenelles, truffles and cocks’ combs

The fish dishes were followed (the trout and turbot remaining on the table, the matelote and eels being taken away) by four grosses pieces or pieces de resistance:

Le jambon à la broche au Madére - spit-roasted ham with Maderia sauce

L’oie braiése aux racines glacées – braised goose with glazed root vegetables

Les poulards à la Perigueux - truffled roast chicken

Le rond de veau à la royale – round of veal, enrobed in a creamy sauce, finished with truffle purée and various garnishes

These grosses pieces (and the turbot and the trout) were flanked by no less than thirty-six entrée…”

Reay Tannahil, author of Food in History, gives a sampling of the various entrée, which includes macaroni and grated cheese, pheasant, rabbit, and other dishes, all with lush descriptions of rich sauces.  He adds that this was considered only the first course.

He also describes the set pieces brought in made of sugar icing and molded into such things as ‘The ruin of the Turkish mosque’, as well as the other entremets (between serving items) and the assiettes volantes, such as the five chocolate soufflé.

As stated earlier, while no one was expected to sample every dish on the table, the description makes it instantly understandable why the Prince Regent had run to fat.

The menus also reflect dishes familiar to any modern table–macaroni and cheese, trout with a tomato and garlic sauce, spit-roasted ham.

For a more simple family meal, Maria Rundell’s Domestic Cookery of 1814 gives this menu:

Crimp Cod

Salad
Gooseberry Pudding
Jerusalem Artichokes

Leg of Mutton

Crimp Cod is the simplest of recipes.  The directions are to take a cod and, “Boil, broil, or fry.”

For a salad, this is not what might be found in any modern American restaurant.  Instead, for Mrs. Rundell’s French Salad, “Chop three anchovies, a shalot, and some parsley, small; put into a bowl with two table-spoons-full of vinegar, one of oil, a little mustard, and salt.  When mixed well, add by degrees some cold roast or boiled meat in very thin slices; put in a few at a time; not exceeding two or three inches long.  Shake them in the seasoning, and then put more; cover the bowl close, and let the salad be prepared three hours before it is to be eaten.  Garnish with parsley and a few slices of the fat.”

Gooseberry pudding is a baked dish.  “Stew gooseberries in a jar over a hot hearth, or in a sauce pan of water till the will pulp.  Take a pint of the juice pressed through a coarse sieve, and beat it with three yolks and whites of eggs beaten and strained, one ounce and half of butter; sweeten it well, and put a crust around the dish.  A few crumbs of roll should be mixed with the above to give a little consistence, or four ounces of Naples biscuits.

(If you actually wish to try making this dish, you may want to start with gooseberry jelly, if you can find it.  For a ‘few crumbs of roll, think of this as something like a bath bun–a sweet roll.  Or for biscuit, think English cookie–something sweet to crumble into this.)

Jerusalem Artichokes offer another simple recipe in that they, “Must be taken up the moment they are done, or they will be too soft.  They may be boiled plain, or served with white fricassee sauce.”  Otherwise, prepare them as you would any artichoke, taking off a few outside leaves and cutting off the stalk (I also like to cut off the tips, but that’s optional).

For Leg of Mutton, Mrs. Rundell’s recommendation is, “If roasted, serve with onion or currant-jelly sauce; if boiled, with caper-sauce and vegetables.”  (Personally, I would swap in lamb for the mutton and opt for roasting it.  My grandmother who came from Yorkshire insisted on boiling all meat, and nearly made vegetarians out of all of her sons.)

And now I think I’ll go off and get something to eat.

The Regency Post — A Pity We’ve Lost Letters

From an article published in The Beau Monde’s Quizzing Glass newsletter…

Posting a letter in Regency England was not as simple as walking down to the local post office and dropping off a stamped letter.  Prior to January 10, 1840, stamps did not exist.  Inked hand stamps applied to the letter indicated such information as whether it had been sent POSTPAID, UNPAID, PAID AT (city), PENNY POST, TOOLATE, 1dDUE or FREE, or what post office had collected the letter and what mileage it would cover.  The ‘letter box’ itself only came into use after 1794, and did not become compulsory until after 1811.  (The box consisted of a slit in the wall of the receiving house, which opened into a locked box.  Private boxes could be hired in some towns for as little as 1/2d per letter to 4d per letter.)

The letter itself differed from its modern form.  The letter usually comprised a single sheet (sometimes folded once in the middle to make a booklet-like page).  This was folded in thirds, then the ends were folded together, with one end tucked inside another.  Hot wax dripped onto the joining ends sealed the letter.  The address or direction would be written on the front and rarely went beyond Name, Town (or house name), County– occasionally, in London, a street might be indicated.

To save money, correspondents often wrote down the page, then turned it and wrote across their previous writing– thrifty souls would turn it yet again and write diagonally across everything else, producing a nearly illegible mess.  This was called crossing and recrossing one’s lines.  The postmaster receiving the letter would write on the envelope the postage due by whoever received the letter.

‘Posting a letter’ in the country meant sending it from one post town to another, where it could be collected.  After 1784, country areas had three deliveries and two collections, with deliveries sent out from London by horse messenger to the receiving houses.  The messenger then brought back any letters going to London.

Post offices operated as parcel depots, poste restante address (or post office boxes), and usually carried on some other business, such as serving as an inn.  Enterprising postmasters could and did charge for local delivery to non-post towns, villages, and even manor houses.

From 1801- 1808, England had numerous private posts to carry letters between towns and manor houses.  Rates could vary from 1/2d to 1d or more for delivery.  From 1808 on, local delivery standardized at 1d per letter and post towns began to use the stamp P.P. for Penny Post.  The private posts, however, tended to be notoriously slow and unreliable.  Postmasters often went bankrupt, ending their service.  Those to whom speed carried more importance than money kept to the old practice of sending letters via servants, by the Common Carriers or by private courier.

On Monday August 2, 1784, the Post began to change when John Palmer’s first Mail Coach left the Rummer Tavern in Bristol at four o’clock PM, carrying the mail and four passengers (which later became seven passenger, with four inside).  Palmer had long advocated postal reform and expansion.  Increases in commerce, industry and population demanded it.  After his friend William Pitt became Prime Minister, Palmer got authority to try his reform ideas.

Palmer’s Mail Coach reached Bath at five-twenty PM, and arrived in London at the Swan with Two Necks well before eight o’clock the next morning to deliver mail to the Chief Post Office in Lombard Street.  The coach had traveled 119 miles in under sixteen hours, an incredible feat.  Palmer received public acclaim and bureaucratic stone-walling, including a record of criticism which ran to three volumes of copperplate.  However, Palmer’s Mail Coaches began to take hold.

By 1811, approximately 220 mail coaches ran on regular schedules from London to various major cities.  These coaches used the post roads and cross post (post roads that did not pass through London), which could support the light, fast coaches.  The Post Office continued its custom of farming out the job of postmaster, and letters still had to make their own way between post towns.  Coffee houses, inns along these routes, and even carriage makers, held contracts to provide both horses at each stage, coaches and coachmen.

Coach hire rates were based on mileage, and varied from 2d to 4d per double-mile of the journey.  Mail coaches had the advantages of not having to pay tolls, which could be worth as much as six pounds to the contractor.  (In 1813, Parliament repealed the toll exemption for mail coaches with more than two wheels in Scotland and imposed a 1/2d tax letters carried in Scotland to compensate the carriers.)

The Post Office did use its own, scarlet-liveried employees as guards.  These men had to read and write to fill out their time sheets (Way-bills).  Each carried a timepiece set each evening before leaving the Chief Post Office at eight PM.  As compensation for sounding the horn at toll gates, seeing the mail safely to its destination and carrying out the unpleasant task of reporting the misbehavior of any sub-contracted coachmen, guards earned an excellent wage– half a guinea a week, plus sick pay and pension.  Tips were allowed and could average as much as 2/- a passenger.  As the Chief Superintendent of Mail from 1792 to 1817, Mr. Hasker also allowed his guards to carry personal goods and newspapers, provided this did not interfere with the mails.

Until the mid 1800’s, when rail began to take over, mail continued to be carried by Mail Coach on the best roads between major cities.  In rural areas, post went by cart, horseback and even by foot.  Private Penny Posts often tried to undercut the General Postal rates.  In 1805 when the minimum rate between post towns became 4d, the private post and some postmasters began an illegal Twopence Post, charging only 2d to carry a letter between two nearby post towns.  This was not fully resolved in all counties until 1840 and the standardized 1d stamp.

1784 GENERAL POSTAL RATES

Rate are “Single Letter”, “Double Letter”, “Triple Letter” or “1 oz”

The d stands for “denarius” which means a shilling and you’d think they’d use s but no, they stuck with what the Romans left; pounds are written out with a slash as in 1/ (1 pound) or 1/2 (1 pound and 2 shillings).

Not exceeding 1 Post Stage                  2d    4d    6d    8d

1 – 2 Post Stages                                        3d    6d    9d    1/-

Above 2 Post Stages up to 80 mi      4d    8d    1/-   1/4

80 – 150 miles                                           5d    10d   1/3   1/8

Above 150 miles                                      6d    1/-   1/6   2/-

From/to London, to/from Edinburgh & to/from Dumfries, Cockburnspeth & intermediate places between them and Edinburgh

7d    1/2   1/9   2/4

1801 GENERAL POSTAL RATES

Not exceeding 15 miles                       3d    6d    9d    1/-

15 – 30 miles                                            4d    8d    1/-   1/4

30 – 50 miles                                            5d    10d   1/3   1/8

50 – 80 miles                                           6d    1/-   1/6   2/-

80 – 120 miles                                         7d    1/2   1/9   2/4

120 – 170 miles                                       8d    1/4   2/-   2/8

170 – 230 miles                                       9d    1/6   2/3   3/-

230 – 300 miles                                      10d   1/8   2/6   3/4

every 100 miles thereafter                 +1d   +2d   +3d   +4d

1805 GENERAL POSTAL RATES

Not exceeding 15 miles                      4d    8d    1/-   1/4

15 – 30 miles                                            5d    10d   1/3   1/8

30 – 50 miles                                           6d    1/-   1/6   2/-

50 – 80 miles                                           7d    1/2   1/9   2/4

80 – 120 miles                                         8d    1/4   2/-   2/8

120 – 170 miles                                     9d    1/6   2/3   3/-

170 – 230 miles                                   10d   1/8   2/6   3/4

230 – 300 miles                                   11d   1/10  2/9   3/8

every 100 miles thereafter           +1d   +2d   +3d   +4d

1812 GENERAL POSTAL RATES  (new mileage divisions)

Not exceeding 15 miles                     4d    8d    1/-   1/4

15 – 20 miles                                          5d    10d   1/3   1/8

20 – 30 miles                                         6d    1/-   1/6   2/-

30 – 50 miles                                         7d    1/2   1/9   2/4

50 – 80 miles                                          8d    1/4   2/-   2/8

80 – 120 miles                                       9d    1/6   2/3   3/-

120 – 170 miles                                  10d   1/8   2/6   3/4

170 – 230 miles                                  11d   1/10  2/9   3/8

230 – 300 miles                                     1/-   2/-   3/-   4/-

every 100 miles thereafter            +1d   +2d   +3d   +4d

THE LONDON POST

London had had its own General Post with local delivery since 1635 when Charles I opened the Royal Mail.  In 1680, William Dockwra began his private Penny Post, named for the penny charge to mail any letter up to a pound.  Two years later, the government took over and continued operation of the Penny Post.  It comprised the cities of London and Westminster and the Borough of Southwark, covering letters received and delivered within ten miles, while the General Post serviced both London and the country side.

From 1680 to 1794, letters for London’s General Post had to be prepaid 1d.  This relaxed after 1794, with the condition that letters put into the Penny Post for delivery by the General Post still had to be prepaid.  Letters from the General Post for Penny Post delivery were charged 1d on delivery, plus the General Post charge.  In 1794, Parliament also lowered the weight limit to four ounces for any 1d letter.

The General Post and Penny Post remained separate organizations with their own letter carriers and receiving houses (a large number of which happened to be stationers’ shops).  The only point of exchange came at the Chief Post Office.

In 1792, Parliament gave letter carriers for the General Post uniforms of scarlet coats with blue lapels, a blue waistcoat and a tall hat with a golden band.  Walking back from a delivery, the carrier rang a large hand bell to indicate he could collect letters for an extra charge of 1d postage.  The letters went into the slit of a locked pouch for delivery to the Chief Post Office.

In 1794, London’s five post offices (Lime street, Westminster, St. Pauls, Temple and Bishopsgate) became two:  the Chief Office in Abchurch Lane, Lombard Street, and the Westminster Office in Gerrand Street, Soho.  All London mail now passed through the Chief Office.  In addition, service expanded to cover the seven rides surrounding London:  Mortlake, Woolwich, Woodford, Edmonton, Finchley, Brentford and Mitcham.

London post offered six collections (at 8, 10 and 12 AM; 2, 5 and 8 PM) and daily deliveries.  The clerk stamped letters received after seven o’clock PM with that time or a TOO LATE stamp, for the window closed at seven forty-five so that mail could be shorted and bagged by eight for the last collection.  The Chief Office charged an extra sixpence for such letters, with other receiving offices setting their own fee.  Letters received at the Chief Office on Lombard Street on Sunday were sorted and posted on Monday as there were no Sunday deliveries.

From the Post Office on Lombard Street, the blue and orange Mail Coaches departed every evening at eight.  Passengers assembled at various inns throughout London for departure at half past seven.  The coaches then stopped in Lombard Street to collect the mail and the guard, and departed London at eight PM.  Lombard Street became so congested that by 1795 the six Western Road coaches began to leave from the Gloucester Coffee House in Piccadilly at eight-thirty, with the guard and mail traveling to this point from the Post Office.

In 1812, Cary’s Itinerary listed 37 inns with stage and mail coach departures.  By 1815, this grew to 44, with inns having as few as 3 or as many as 35 coaches departing.  In 1815 alone, of the 20 coaches leaving the Angel Inn, St. Clement’s, Strand in London, five are daily post coaches and four are daily Royal Mail coaches.

The Bull and Mouth, Bull and Mouth Street, boasted the record of having thirty-five coaches departing, including the Royal Mail to Edinburgh, while the Swan with Two Necks, Lad Lane, listed the original Bath and Bristol coach, the Royal Mail to Bath, the Brighton Post Coach, and the Prince Regent coach to Dover and Paris.

POSTAL RATES – LONDON 1794  1801  1805 – 1831

Within Town Area                                      1d    1d    2d

Town to Country, or within Country 2d    2d    3d

Country to Town                                       1d    2d    3d

Town to General Post                              1d    1d    2d

Country area to General Post              1d    1d    2d

General Post delivered by P.P. in town     free  free  free

General Post delivered in Country    free  1d    2d

THE FRANKING SYSTEM

Since the post office’s beginning, its revenues went to the crown, which held the right to grant the privilege of signing a letter and having it posted for free.  This practice, known as franking, extended to both Houses of Parliament and certain officials.

In 1764, postal revenues were given to Parliament in return for the crown being able to submit a Civil List to award honors.  Thereafter, Parliament authorized Free Franking.  Letters were stamped FREE when franked.  Nearly everyone abused the privilege.  Most considered a stack of signed blank sheets from a Member of Parliament’s to be a common present after a short visit.  Franks could also be issued, by law, by certain public offices both in London and abroad.

To curb abuse, Parliament made forgery of franks a felony, punishable by transportation for seven years.  As of 1784, reforms required all franked letters to have the signature, as well as the place and date of posting written at the top by the person franking it.  Limits on the numbers of letters that could be franked were imposed, but how could a lowly postmaster tell an undersecretary not to frank more than ten letters a year?

During these years, 1780’s to early 1800’s, it became a hobby among some well-bred ladies to collect franking signatures from letters.  Rather the Regency equivalent of collecting autographs.  Some ladies strove for a broad collection, while others specialized in particular friends, MPs or relatives.

Prior to 1836, newspapers– and some other printed material such as charity letters and educational materials– could be also franked for free postage to postmasters by the six Clerks of the Road.  A tax of 4d had been imposed to cover the cost to handle newspapers.  However, publishers were not shy about franking their own newspapers.  Booksellers, after Parliament imposed higher postage rates in 1711, also wrote the names of Members of Parliament for free postage, with the approval of the postal Surveyors appointed in 1715, who administered function and facilities of the postal roads.

In addition to franking, from 1795, Parliament granted privileged rates to those serving in the Army, Navy and Militia, with no letter charged a rate higher than 1d.  Over the year, this extended to every branch of military service, including, in 1815, the soldiers and seamen employed by the East India Company.

While privileged rates continued for the armed services, all free franking was abolished with the introduction of the penny postage stamp in 1840, which marked the beginning of the modern post office as we know it.

REFERENCES

The Postal History of Great Britain and Ireland (1980), R.M Willcocks & B. Jay  ISBN: 0-9502797

English Provincial Posts (1633-1840) (1978), Brian Austen  ISBN:  0-85033-266-4

England’s Postal History to 1840 (1975), R.M. Willcocks   ISBN: 0-9502797-1-4

British Postal Rates, 1635 to 1839, O.R. Sanford and Denis Salt   ISBN: 0-85377-021-2, The Postal History Society

United Kingdom Letter Rates 1657-1900 Inland & Overseas, C. Tabeart  ISBN:0-905222-58-X

Cary’s New Itinerary Great Roads (1815), John Cary

A More Expeditious Conveyance: A History of the Royal Mails (1984), Bevan Rider   ISBN: 0-85131-394-9

Winter Fare

From an article published with the RWA’s Regency Chapter, The Beau Monde:

In the still largely agrarian world of the early 1800’s, fall and winter became a time to relax after harvest.  Gentry and yeoman alike could take advantage of old feasting customs that had long ago mingled with the Christian holidays.

In Fall, Parliament opened again and society returned to London.  St. Michael’s and All Angel Day, or Michaelmas, at the end of September, marked the end of a quarter year.  The end of the Celtic year itself fell on October 31, and the ancient celebration for the Celtic god Saman (also Samhain) became All Hallows Eve.  October was a month when land owners ate pheasant, partridge, duck and grouse.  Fish for meals included perch, halibut, carp, gudgeons, and shellfish.  And poachers also looked to snared hares for their pot.  Beans were still fresh, and the fruits of summer gave way to pears, apples, nuts and the last harvest of grapes.

On November 5 bonfires burned in mockery of Guy Fawkes and memory of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament.  The Feast of St. Martin, or Martinmas, fell on November 11, and St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, had his day on November 30.  St. Andrew’s day also marked the beginning of Advent to celebrate the four weeks before Christmas.  In November, the landed gentry still dined on wildfowl as well as domestic poultry–which was now getting a bit old and aged.  They also had beef, venison and pork with their meals.  Fish could still be caught and served, and winter vegetables graced the dining room, including: carrots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, leeks, cabbage, celery and lettuces.  With November, walnuts and chestnuts came into season.

More celebrations lead to Christmas Eve when the Lord of Misrule danced and the Mummers traveled to perform their pantomimes.  Then came Christmas Day, and Boxing Day on December 26, which was St. Stephen’s Day.  Boxing Day did not get its name from gift boxes, for the exchange of gifts was a German custom still new to Regency England.  Instead, Boxing Day got its name from the older tradition of it being a day in which pleadings could be placed in a box for a judge to privately review.  In December, besides beef and mutton to eat, pork and venison were served.  Goose was cooked for more than just the Christmas meal, and there would be turkey, pigeons, chicken, snipe, woodcock, larks, guinea-foul, widgeon and grouse to eat.  Cod, turbot, soul, sturgeon and eels joined the list of fish in season.  Forced asparagus added a delicacy to the usual winter vegetables.  Stored apples, pears and preserved summer fruit appeared on the better, richer tables.

Finally, celebrations mixed tradition and religion when the Twelfth Night feast arrived on January 5, which combined the Roman Saturnalia with the Feast of the Epiphany, when the three wise men were said to have paid tribute to the Baby Jesus.  Deep in winter, there was still plenty of game to eat.  Beside those wild and tame birds available in December, lobster came into season in January, as did crayfish, flounder, plaice, smelts, whiting, prawns, oysters and crab.  Broccoli made a welcome change from the other winter vegetables, as did cress, herbs, cucumbers, beets and spinach.  Preserved fruits would be running low in all but houses with large orchards, and stored apples and pears would have to serve guests until the expensive forced strawberries of February appeared.

Horse Sense

Back a few years ago, I wrote this article for RWA’s Beau Monde’s newsletter. Since horse information doesn’t really go out of date, here it is again, for folks who need to write about horses.  Somewhat edited.

For those whose equine experience has been rather limited, this might offer some practical information you can use when your characters have to have some real horse sense.

General Horse Sense

The sexes of horses include: mare, stallion, gelding which is a castrated male horse.  Baby horses are called foals, with filly for a girl, and colt for a boy.  Horses usually mature between ages five to seven.

Horses are creatures of habit and herds.  Despite movies you may have seen, the herd is actually governed by a head mare.  The stallion is there to protect, she leads.

A horse would rather run from trouble than fight, and so a horse will only fight if it is cornered.  Horses are made into vicious animals only by abuse.

For a good source on horse behavior, I recommend Mind of the Horse by Henry Blake. It gives excellent information on a horse’s eyesight–which is designed to see long distances and up close for grazing, on how to read horse communication–which all occurs with nickers, ear positions, and posturing.

As creatures of habit, horses love to maintain the same pattern.  There are many stories of horses knowing the way home to the barn, of work horses doing the same work every day–even after they are retired.

Horses eat hay and grains, or what the English call “corn.”

Corn includes barley and oats.  Hays include oat hay, timothy.  They don’t feed much alfalfa in England, it’s a hay that grows wonderfully in the western states, but not so well in England. Horses do not eat straw–you hope not, at least. They are bedded down on straw.

Horses also come in all variants of brown, with true black and white being the rarest colors.  Horse colors sometimes have specialized names, such as: seal bay (a dark brown with black legs, tail and mane), liver chestnut (a dark red chestnut), roan (which can be blue or strawberry), dun (what we call buckskin in the States), and even piebald or skewbald (what we call paints).

Horses have four basic “gaits” or paces: the walk (a four beat movement), the trot (which is two beats), a canter (a three beat gait), and the gallop (four beats).

A fit horse can travel 25 – 100 miles in a day, at various paces.  The trick is to rest the horse with walking between.  It is possible to do more, but you will be putting stress on the horse, and could possibly damage him.

Speeds for horses vary, for it depends on the horses’ size, fitness, and what he is carrying.  A team of six horses pulling a light carriage will go faster and farther than a single horse pulling a very heavy wagon.  A good source for traveling times is to check mail coach times. 

Some useful terms to know include:  near side (left side), far side (right), hind quarters (back of the horse), forehand (front of the horse).

On a carriage, the leaders are the front team, and the wheelers are the back team.

Horses can be drive as a single horse, a pair, a four-in-hand (and that does mean holding all those reins in one hand), a team of six, a tandem (one horse in front of the other), or Unicorn style (three horses, one in the lead, two as wheelers).

English equipment also has its own vocabulary, and so it’s important to know the English words (rather than the western phrases).

To ride, you would use: saddle, girth, bridle, bit, and stirrups–which are made up of stirrup irons and stirrup leathers.  The back of the saddle is the cantle, the front is a pommel.  There’s no saddle horn on an English saddle.

Do keep in mind that riding styles have change over the last two hundred years.  Modern English riding comes from the forward seat, developed in the early 1900’s.  We ride with a shorter stirrup, leaning “forward” to go with the motion.  Riders of the 1800’s leaned back and rode with long stirrups that kept their seat in the saddle–even jockeys rode sitting down square on a horse’s back.  Studying sporting prints of the era will give you lots of information– but make sure the drawings are not caricatures.

In the stable the horse wears a headcollar (not a halter, as we call it in America).

A carriage horse is in harness, usually between carriage shafts.

The aides to control a horse include the legs, meaning the calves and heels.  Voice (cluck or whoa, not giddyup), hands, the whip and spur.  A hunting whip actually is a special design with a crook on the end to open gates, and whip points on the end you can change to actually use to control the hounds.  The whip is not actually used to whip the horse.

A lady will often use a whip to give commands to the horse on the ‘off’ side, since her legs hang down on the ‘near’ side.  The whip here is used to just tap the horses’ side.

Horses have been bred for specific function for centuries.  There are hundreds of breeds, but there are also some generic terms for horses used for specific purposes.

Hack – a city riding horse, can also be called a cob.

Hunter – a strong boned, good jumping horse.

Carriage Horse – a strong horse with showy action (not necessarily rideable, or a good ride).

Ladies’ Horse – a comfortable, smooth riding horse.

Now, how much would a good hunter or hack cost you in Regency England?

To put it into perspective, think of horses as cars–the more status, the more they cost.

John Tilbury of Mount Street in London offered a horse for rent at 12 guineas a month.  For 40 guineas, you could get two hunters and a servant.  (He also gave his name to a carriage he designed–the Tilbury.)

The average value of a coach horse in the Regency era was 20 pounds.  A hunter or race horse might go for anything from 20 pounds to 1,000 guineas.

On 5,000 a year, family could keep 22 servants, 10 horses, and three carriages–so long as they weren’t spending 1,000 guineas per race horse bought.

Carriages were even more expensive than horses.

In Northanger Abbey, Mr. Thorpe enthuses over his new curricle, boasting: ‘Curricle-hung, you see; seat, trunk, sword-case, splashing-board, lamps, silver moulding, all you see complete; the iron work as good as new or better’ — and all for fifty guineas.

Chandros Leigh, a distant cousin of Jane Austen, obtained an estimate for a fashionable landau in 1829; the price of the basic carriage was 250 pounds, which included, ‘plate glass and mahogany shutters to the lights, and plated or brass bead to the leather, lined with best second cloth, cloth squabs, and worsted lace….

The ‘extras’ he ordered, including footman’s cushions, morocco sleeping cushions, steps, silk spring curtains, his crest on the door, embossed door handles and full plated lamps brought the cost to 417 pounds, 11 shillings and six pence, but he was given 60 pounds in exchange for his old carriage.

But what is the difference between a hack and a hunter, or a race horse?

Many of the modern horse breeds existed in the Regency.  General horse breed types include:

Ponies – less than 14.2 HH – often used by ladies in pony carts or carriages, or for packing goods — they’re smart, sturdy, good ‘doers’ (they get fat on very little food)

Cobs — Often a cross with TB and Pony — usually 13 – 15 HH – often a ‘hacking’ horse, or a light city riding horse.

Cold Blooded Horses – Draft horses.  Used mostly in farm work, and later in factories.

Warm Bloods – Often crosses of Hot Blood to cold Blood.  Used as carriage horses, and good military horses, for pulling cannon and what not.

Hot Bloods — Arabian and Thoroughbred.  Used for racing, and in general showing off.  Arabians were very exotic as they were hard to come by.  They tend to be smart, sturdy horses with great endurance.  When crossed with English mares, they produced tall, athletic horses which we’ve come to know as Thoroughbreds.

All Thoroughbreds trace back to three breed establishing stallions.

The Darley Arabian, Manak, came to England in 1703.  I actually lived in the house owned by the family who had imported him. They had a life-size portrait in the main hall.  The portrait seemed a little stiff, and that was because it was traced directly from the horse–after he had died.  He was quite a small horse, even by today’s standards of Arabians.

The Godolphin Barb came from Paris to England in 1738.  He was a gift from the Bey of Tuins to Louis XV, but he was ill-valued and ill-treated and sold off as a cart horse.  Eventually was sold to Lord Godolphin, who took him home to England and set about producing excellent race horses.

The Byerley Turk–most likely an Arabian–was a war-horse acquired by a Captain Byerley. 

These stallions produced, when crossed with English mares Matchem, Herod and Eclipse–racing stallions who can also be found in the ancestry of every Thoroughbred. 

The Racing World

Racing in the Regency was only for the very rich.  The Prince Regent’s racing stud farm came to cost him 30,000 pounds a year.

While racing can be traced back as far as English history goes, it’s modern form really comes out of the 1700’s.

In 1711, Queen Anne established regular race meetings at her park at Ascot.

Racing continued rather unorganized and unregulated.  Gentlemen organized races for themselves, often “matching” particular horses against each other.  By 1727 a regular Racing Almanac began to be printed.

Flat and jumping races were also held for women only.  Mrs. Bateman wrote in 1723, “Last week, Mrs. Aslibie arranged a flat race for women, and nine of that sex, mounted astride and dressed in short pants, jackets and jockey caps participated. They were striking to see, and there was a great crowd to watch them. The race was a very lively one; but I hold it indecent entertainment.”  This sort of attitude continued, but those women–such as the infamous Letty Lade–who did not care about their reputations rode and drove to please themselves, but they were the exception in the Regency world.

Around 1750, the Jockey Club comes into being, as a loose organization founded by gentlemen who regularly met at the Red Lion Inn at Newmarket. By 1758 the first regulation–for the weight of jockeys–was issued and the Jockey Club became responsible to the Crown for its organization.

In May of 1779, the first Derby was held.  Initially, it was called “The Oaks” after the name of the hunting Lodge in Surrey, owned by the then twenty-seven-year-old Edward Smith-Stanley, 12thEarl of Derby.  It became “The Derby” after the Earl won the coin toss to see whether the race would be named after him or Sir Charles Bunbury. Bunbury got his revenge in that his horse–Diomed–won the first Derby in 1780.

In 1791, the Jockey Club issued the “General Stud Book”, and by the early 1800’s Jockey Club stewards were at every racing meet.

In 1807, George III gave away the first gold cup at Royal Ascot. Also that year, Prince George quit racing after there was an accusation that his jockey, Sam Chiffney, was involved in dealings to fix a race.  The prince was never a good looser.

Racing meet sprang up– and still run–at Newmarket in April and October, York in May, Epsom, Ascot in  June, Goodwood, Doncaster, Warick, Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Cheltenham, Bath, Worcester, and Newcastle.

Assize-week was the time for races, for it was when the gentry came into the chief town of the shire for trials, for selling harvest, and for races.

Steeplechasing–or what we know as races over fences–started off much slower and less organized than flat racing.

In the mid 1700’s, steeplechases were literally races between one church steeple to the next — over whatever lay in between.

By 1792 a race for 1,000 guineas was recorded near Melton Mowbray to Dalby Wood, covering about nine miles.  But it was not until the 1840’s that Steeplechases began to be held over organized courses.  They tend to remain informal races between individuals who want to try out their own hunters.

In both flat racing and Steeplechasing, do remember that England races clockwise–not counterclockwise as are horse races in the US.

But fox hunting is very similar to both the US and England.

In the Country: Hunting and Hacking

The record of the oldest English foxhunt dates back to mid 1600’s and the second Duke of Buckingham, who hunted the Bilsdale pack in Yorkshire dales.  November to March is fox hunting season.  It starts after the fall of the leaf…. it’s when the fields lie fallow. And it ends after the last frost and before the first planting.

Each hunt is composed of a Master– usually the man who owns the hounds.  The Master may employ “whipper-ins” to help keep the hounds together.  Hunting is informal in the 1700s–anyone can join in to follow the hounds (as in that wonderful scene from the movie Tom Jones when the Squire cannot resist the call of the huntsmen’s horns).  Those horns are actually signals to the other huntsmen and the pack as to where the fox is headed.

The Duke of Bedford’s hounds hunted actually stags until 1770’s.  But by 1780’s fox hunting took over in popularity. Enclosure Acts and reduction of forests mean less stag hunting.  And hare hunting was generally regarded as more a necessity of country life.

Hunt territories varied widely. The fifth Earl of Berkely hunted an area from Berkley Castle to Berkley Square, stretching 120 miles.  Most hounds were kept by rich individuals, and they often invited local farmers to hunt with them, for very often you depended on the locals allowing your hunt access over their farms—there’s still no way to predict which way a fox will run.

By 1810, there were only 24 subscription packs–or packs that you could pay to belong to and hunt, as opposed to requiring an invitation from the Master.  But this would double, so that by the mid 1800’s hunting became a more a matter of ‘subscribing’ in exchange for the right to hunt with the pack.

The golden age for hunting in Leichesterchire is 1810 – 1830.  This starts off with Hugo Meynell, who hunted his foxhounds from Quorn Hall in Leicstershire from 1753 to 1800.  His record run was 28 miles in two hours 15 minutes.

During this time, there’s as many as 300 hunters stabled in Melton Mowbray–with some gentlemen keeping up to 12 hunters.  You could hunt six days a week with the still famous packs–the Quorn, the Cottesmore, the Belvoir, the Pytchley.  Lord Sefton, Master of the Quorn from 1800-02, went through three horses a day–which is why you might need a dozen horses.

Ptychey’s record run was in 1802, when the pack covered 35 – 40 miles in four and a quarter hours. With horse medicine being about the same as for people–horses were bled after a long, tiring day.  So the life of a hunter could be a short, hard one.  In Warwickshire, a hunter might fetch 200 – 500 guineas.  But in Leichestershire, a hunter could cost up to 800 guineas

Wellington’s officers took to hunting in their regimental scarlet coats.  These started to be called hunting pink (the story goes that this was after the tailor Mr. Pink, but there’s no evidence this is true).  Each hunt, however, has its own colors–a color of leather boot tops, coat color and collar color and even button design.   It’s said that Brummell never hunted past the first field, for he hated to get his white-leather boot tops muddied.

Ladies were also found in the field.  Mrs. Tuner Farley hunted for 50 years. Lady Salisbury was master of the Hatfield Hunt from 1775 – 1819.  She hunted old and blind, in her sky blue habit, with a groom leading her horse and yelling at her to, “Jump, damn you, my lady.” From 1788 to 1840, Lord Darlington hunted his own hounds four days a week in Yorkshire and Durham, with his three daughters and his second wife, all in their scarlet habits.

But between late 1700’s to about mid 1800’s, when the jumping pommel was invented for the side-saddle, ladies were more the exception than the rule, and they were more likely to be advised to “ride to the meet and home again to work up an appetite.”

Traditionally, each hunt always has a designated meeting place–a gate, or an inn, or even a house.  You meet, the hunt cup is taken–folks drink to stave off the cold.  You might meet around 11 and hunt all day–or until it’s dark.  Bad weather does not stop hunting–wet weather means the scent will be high (so long as it’s not pouring).  Ice can be dangerous–that’s when you get broken necks and legs.

A hunt really is lots of standing around, with bits of galloping to and fro.  Trotting from cover to cover, hoping to draw a fox.  Some hunts kept tame foxes they could let go if the day’s sport proved too slow.  Some areas had to curtail their hunting to allow the fox population to come back.

Hunting was always viewed as a sport for everyone, but the reality was that it cost money to keep a pack of hounds and hunt them.  However, anyone could take a horse and follow, if the master allowed it, and some followed the hunt  in their carriages.

In Town: Hacks, Carriages and Hyde Park

Carriages for country and for town were generally quite different in build, for they served different purposes.

This was the pre-mass-production era–everything was custom built, or was bought second hand.  Because carriages were often built to the owner’s specifications, they often acquired the owner’s name–as in a Stanhope Gig.  One of the main places to have a carriage built was Longacre in London.

Types of carriages included:

The Phaeton – four-wheeled owner driven vehicle fitted with forward facing seats.

The Gig – two-wheeled vehicles (Whiskey), built to hold two.

The Curricle – which acted as the “gig” of the quality, and was built to hold two, sometimes with room for a goom behind.

A Town Coach – could be drawn by one or two horses (a pair).

Landau – held up to four people, and was drawn by a pair.

Barouche – could be drawn by a pair, or a team (four or six horses).  Had an option for a driver, or for post boys to ride and control the horses.

A “Drag” was a slang term for a gentleman’s private coach. It was built much like a mail coach, and often used for race meetings or other outdoor events as it height and roof seats created its own grandstand.

In 1808, Mr. Charles Buxon founded the Four Horse Club, its members drove barouche carriages and so was also called the Barouche or Whip club.

Another driving club was the Four-in-Hand Club.  The club assembled at George St., Hanover Square and drove to Salt Hill to the Windmill Inn.  The pace was never to exceed a trot.  Lord Barrymore could often be seen driving his matched grays, and he was also one of the founders of the Whip Club as well a member of the Four-in-Hand.

In 1805, smaller coaches came into use and in 1823 the first Hackney cabs came to London. It was not until 1830’s, however, that the Handsome Cabs–those single-horse vehicles we know from so many movies–appeared in London.

With a fashionable carriage you might go driving in Hyde Park at five PM, the fashionable hour.   You might hire a hack to be seen riding, if you could not afford a carriage. Ladies often drove ponies.

Handling the ribbons was not for the unskilled, or the timid.  To drive a single horse is to have around 1600 pounds of muscles in your two hands. You begin to see why men have the advantage in shoulder strength.

It takes a fine hand not to drag on the horse’s mouth and make them hard mouthed, and yet to control the team, and it’s quite an art to drive a horse up in to the bit so that it doesn’t slip behind your control.  It’s not at all like driving a car, for a horse is always thinking ahead to how to get its own way about what it wants to do.

To see some great carriage driving, look for three-day event Carriage driving.  Drivers have to perform through Dressage phase for movement, a cross-country phase (where you see the grooms clinging for life to the carriage), and an obstacle phase. 

Getting Around: Coaches and Stage Travel

Riding in a carriage is also very unlike riding in a car.  It’s a good step to climb up into a carriage.  And both carriage springs and road constructions were being developed during the Regency–and were not without problems.

Sylas Neville’s diary, dated 1771, recorded a stagecoach journey on the London to Newcastle stage.  To travel the 197 miles Stilton to Newcastle took him two days, traveling day and night at a speed of about four MPH.  The speed was restricted by the road conditions.

By the 1780’s, private post-chaises could cover the distance from Bath to London in 16 to 18 hours.  But the Royal Mail coaches were much slower–until John Palmer put a plan forward for a special coach.

Palmer’s improvements produced a mail coach that left the Rummer Tavern in Bath on August 2, 1784 at four PM, and arrived at the Swan with Two Necks in London, before eight AM the next morning. They traveled 119 miles in less than 16 hours, earning the coaches names such as The Quicksilver.

Up to 1820, most coach horses were changed every 10 – 11 miles.  Thereafter, to get better speeds, they opted for even less distances, changing about every six miles.

Average speed could vary between 4 MPH for a slow coach or up to 12 MPH for a fast one.  16 mile an hour tits would be a team of four to six high-strung, well fed horses, and a fast, light private carriage that would only ‘be sprung’ over a short distance.

Problems on the road included mud, ruts, cast shoes, lame horses, broken wheels, dust, collisions, snow drifts, overturns, runaways.  On the stage or mail, when going uphill you might even have to get out and walk up the hill to spare the horses.

 However, a good road could do well.  As Mr. Darcy says in Pride and Prejudice, “fifty miles of good road was ‘little more than half a day’s journey.’  And the roads were so good to Brighton that they were often used for setting speed records.

Now, you might not be able to travel the Brighton road today in a carriage–at least not with as they did in the Regency.  But there are other ways to gain valuable experience by going out to take a few riding lessons or even driving lessons–and nothing beats hands-on experience for color in a book.

REFERENCES

The Ultimate Horse Book, Elwyn Hartley Edwards, Dorling Kindersley Horses and Horsemanship Through the Ages, Luigi Gianoli, Crown Publishers
Horse & Carriage; The Pageant of Hyde Park, JNP Watson|
A More Expeditious Conveyance; The Story of the Royal Mail Coaches, Bevan Rider
The Encylopedia of Carriage Driving,Sallie Walrond
The Elegant Carriage, Marilyn Watney
Fox Hunting, Jane Ridley
Hints on Driving, Captain C. Morley Knight
The Young Horsewoman’s Compendium of the Modern Art of Riding, Edward Stanley
Records of the Chase by “Cecil”
Nimrod’s Hunting Reminiscenses

Because it’s not always about the writing — an etymology of titles

This article first appeared in the Beau Monde’s newsletter, The Regency Reader, and since it sort of came up again, and since sometimes the writing is more about the research, here’s the information posted.

An Etymology of Titles
 
We tend to think of dukes and viscounts as having always been in the British nobility. In fact, these titles came into creation at specific dates, often as the result of royals looking to reward a favorite. English nobility grew as a result of the crown granting a “Patent” which stipulated the degree of the title and how it could devolve upon the title-holder’s descendant.

Knowing when a title was created can help understand its precedent. Two factors go into creating precedent: the rank of title, and the age of the title. The older a title, the more clout it carries. Therefore, a fourteenth marquess takes precedent over a fifth marquess, but not over any duke. For simplicity, let’s start at the crown and work our way through the English peerage by rank.

King (pre-conquest): In Old English the word was cyng or cing. The Saxon tribes who invaded Briton used this word for their leaders. In Saxon days, this did not denote a hereditary title, merely someone of high status and noble birth who could be elected to power. After 1066, when William of Normandy brought over his feudal notions of inherited power, King became an inherited title for the ruling monarch.

Queen (pre-conquest): The Old English equivalent to cyng is cwen. Again, we have a matching ancient Saxon title for a female ruler, or the consort of a king. England differs from much of the continent in that women can inherit the throne. This began in 1135, when Stephen inherited the throne through his mother, Adela, the daughter of William of Normandy.

Prince/Princess (1200’s): The Normans brought the Latin and French; from them, in the early 1200’s, comes this title. Until James I (1603-1625), only the king’s eldest son could call himself a prince. After James, all sons and daughters of the King or Queen became a prince/princess. Victoria (1837-1901) went on to extended the titles prince/princess to all children of the sons of the ruling monarch (all grandchildren of the monarch through the male line). The Windsors are now moving away from this tradition, opting for lesser titles for the queen’s grandchildren.

Prince of Wales (1338): Edward I conquered Wales in 1283, and his son Edward II, was born in Wales at Caernavon a year later, the first English ‘Prince of Wales.’ In 1338, Edward III made his son Duke of Cornwall, and would later confirm him Prince of Wales—a title that continues to this day.

Duke/Duchess (1338): This is an ancient title in European countries, coming from the Latin, dux, for leader. William of Normandy, the Conqueror, is often called William, Duke of Normandy. But, an Old English chronicle of 1066, gives him an older Saxon title, Wyllelm, earl of Normandize. In England, ‘Duke’ remained a foreign title until 1338 when Edward raised his son from Earl of Cornwall to Duke of Cornwall. Despite traditions of romantic fictions, duke remains a rare title.

Royal Dukes are those sons born to the ruling monarch. George IV’s brothers included the Royal Dukes: York (Frederick), Clarence (William), Kent (Edward), Sussex (Augustus), Cambridge (Adolphus), Cumberland (Ernest). The Prince Regent’s sister Mary also married William, Duke of Gloucester, who had inherited the royal title from his father, the younger brother of George III.

Other than the Royal Dukedoms, there are 26 noble dukedoms, including: Argyll, Atholl, Beaufort, Bucclench, Buckingham, Devonshire, Grafton, Hamilton, Leinster, Manchester, Marlborough, Montrose, Newcastle, Norfolk, Northumberland, Portland, Portsmouth, Queensbury, Richmond, Roxburghe, Rutland, St. Alhans, Somerset, Wellington. At birth, a duke’s eldest son takes on one of his father’s secondary title as a courtesy title. And a grandson then takes one of the third, lesser titles as a courtesy.

Marquess/Marchioness (1385): In 1385, Richard II created Robert de Vere–the Earl of Oxford–the Marquess of Dublin, thereby bringing the title into existence as a degree between Duke and Earl. The term comes from the Old French, marchis, for warden of the marches. The title wasn’t adopted into the Scottish peerage until the 15th century. As with a duke, the eldest son of a marquess takes on one of his father’s secondary, lesser title (if one exists) as a courtesy. Other sons and daughters are called Lord and Lady. This is a courtesy title, and so the title is attached to their given and family name.

Earl/Countess (pre-conquest): The Old English for someone of property is eon. This is as opposed to ceonl, someone without property. Earldoms are perhaps the oldest English title, dating back several hundred years before the conquest. After William came along with his conquest, earl became equal to the Norman “count.” William tried to force the title “count” on the Saxons, but the word caught on only with the earl’s wife, who still bears the title countess. As with duke and marquess, an earl’s eldest son takes on one of his father’s lesser titles as a courtesy title. Daughters are style Lady—such as Lady Elizabeth Dabney—and retain that title if they marry beneath them. Younger sons are mere Honorables (but that title is never mentioned in any verbal address).

Viscount/Vicountess (1440): In Old French the word is viconte, or in Latin vice comes–the deputy of a count. In 1440, Henry VI first granted the title to make John, Baron Beaumont, into Viscount Beaumont. However, the word had already been in use for almost a hundred years for an assistant to an earl—specifically for high sheriffs. There are no courtesy titles for any rank below earl, therefore the children of Viscounts are only known as “Honorables” (a style used only in writing and never in speech). And eldest sons of Scottish Viscounts are sometimes called The Master of (place name).

Baron/Baroness (late 1300’s): The word comes from the Latin for baro, meaning a man. Specifically, this meant a man who was not a vassal or servant. From the time of Henry III (1216 – 1272), the King’s barons were summoned to the Great Council. These were men who “were summoned by a writ to Parliament” or men of important, and often military, standing. (It was the ‘Great Barons’ who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215– primarily to make sure they kept their own rights.) Richard II (1377- 1400) started to created Barons by patent.

Baronet/Lady (1611): From the Latin for lesser baron. Historically, the term was applied to gentlemen summoned by Edward III (1327 – 1377) to the House of Lords (barons by writ, not by tenure). It also has been used to indicate barons of small holdings. The original term was Knight Baronet. The title did not come into formal existence until 1611. At that time, James I needed cash to hang onto Ulster, which the Irish wanted back. So James created a hereditary title, baronet, and The Red Hand of Ulster became their badge. Baronets of Scotland were created from 1625 until 1707, and Irish baronets were created until 1801, when acts of union passed respectively. A baronet is really not a member of nobility. He styles himself ‘Sir’ (no my lords here), and he does not hold a seat in the House of Lord. His wife is known as Lady (instead of Mrs.).

Knight/Dame (1000’s): Knight comes to us from the Old English cnihht or in Old French cnihta. It’s original meaning is for a boy military servant or follower. After the conquest, the word shows up to denote a man, usually of gentle birth, who has earned the title by serving at court and training for the right to bear military arms (and therefore earn higher rank by fighting for the crown). By 1386, we have Chaucer’s “verray parfit gentil knyght.” And by the sixteenth century, the title began to be awarded for personal merit or services to the country. Knights are not members of nobility. And the title cannot be inherited. The title is given to an individual. A knight is known as “Sir” and his wife is usually “Lady” or “Dame.” A woman can be granted this honor and is then named “Dame” in her own right, but her husbands remains a mere mister.

Listed by precedence, the British Orders of Knighthood include:
— Knights of the Order of the Garter (1349)
— Knights of the Thistle (1678) – exclusive to Scottish nobles
— Knights of St. Patrick (1788) – exclusive to Irish nobles
— Knights of the Bath (1399, revived in 1715)- first order conferred on commoners
— Knights of the Star of India (1861
— Knights of St. Michael and St. George (1818)
— Knights of the Indian Empire (1877)
— Knights of the Royal Victorian Order (1896)
— Knights of the British Empire (1917-1918)
— Knights Bachelor – a knight who is not a member of any particular knighthood

Edward III founded the “Poor Knights of the Order of the Garter.” It was a set group of 26 veterans of military service. Since Charles I the number has been fixed at 13 for the Royal Foundation and 5 for the Lower (now abolished), and a Governor. These men are military officers who are given, along with their title, apartments in Windsor Castle and small pensions. They are therefore known as Knights of Windsor. From 1797 to 1892, these Knights of Windsor could included naval officers. William IV officially made their title, Military Knights of Windsor.

A FINAL NOTE: For those Americans confused by the inconsistent “of” that is sometimes included in a title, this preposition indicates a title that takes its name from a territory. The Duke of Kent is a title associated with Kent, the land. The preposition is omitted in titles that originated with the family name, such as for Baron Beaumont. All existing dukedoms are territorial titles. And the preposition “of” is never used for viscounts.

The caveat to everything said here is that there are exceptions to almost everything. These are frequent enough to confuse, but rare enough to slip past the notice of most. Remember the notion of a monarch’s whim when creating titles—almost anything goes, but tradition is tradition because it is the most common method of doing anything. And you need good reasons to break that tradition. Particularly some of the traditions of nobility date back to before the conquest.

Sources:
Oxford English Dictionary, Compact Edition, Oxford University Press, 1971
Titles and Forms of Address, Black Ltd., 1929 ed.
Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Wordsworth Reference. 1970