Thursday, January 29, 2009

Games in the Regency ~ Cards Part 1

By Ann Lethbridge

Fun and games anyone? Without TV our Regency ancestors spent more time in activities that involved -- other people. I thought it might be good to look at pastimes in a little more detail. We did look at those specific to women, but I thought we might look at those which one might find at a party.

Card Games

There were lots of them. The best place to find out about the rules, if you want to play a la Regency, (hows that for a bit of French late on a Thursday night) is to look at Hoyles, on Google. This link is for one for 1823, there are probably others. In 1750, the first compendium of various games was published, as Mr. Hoyle's Games Complete.

Here are some of the more familiar card games we see in books:

  • Whist
  • Ving-et-un
  • Piquet
  • Cribbage
  • Pharo

I thought we could work through them from time to time. Do you also see how clever I have become with my html. lol


This is a whist marker from 1820. A way of keeping score. Each marker would have a number from 0 to 9 because in those days whist was played to 9 or 10 points, known as long whist.

This is a game played with partners and with trumps. It is similar to bridge but less complex. It does require keeping track of what cards have been played. The cards your partner plays will often reveal their cards in relation to yours.

There is some interesting terminology that goes along with a game.

Whist: According to Hoyle it is called this because you need to be quiet when you are playing.

Revoke: This means one of the players did not follow suit when he had a card of that suit in his hand. His partner is actually allowed to ask if he made a mistake, because the penalties are severe.

There are other interesting terms like, Quint, Tierce, Quart and Finessing and more.

Points are scored: one for each trick above six tricks between the partners. Thirteen tricks make a hand, because each player is dealt thirteen cards. However, in order to win the game, you have to make nine points, which would mean dealing more than one hand.

If you are playing a rubber of Whist, then you play the best of three, which means that one partnership must reach nine points twice.

Well I don't know about you, but that is more than enough for me. I am looking forward to looking at another game, next time we Ramble through the Regency.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Family matters in the Regency

As writers we are always looking for the romantic lost heir or the kindly noble who adopts a child to inherit his title, but rules of inheritance both of titles and entails are quite strict.

Titles pass through the eldest son and if the family is unlucky and begets only daughters, the title will return to the crown, known as going into abeyance. As always there are exception to the rule, you only have to look at the Churchills to find one.

There was no such thing as adoption during the regency. A child could become a ward of court, or of a relative, but only the male of the blood line could inherit a man's title and entailed land. Money and items not deemed part of the entail could be left to anyone of course.

This is true for illegitimate children also. If the mother was not married to the father at the time of the birth, then the child cannot inherit. The obverse was true. No matter who sired the child, if the man was married to the woman at the time of the birth, and if it was a son, then the child would inherit. This is of course why men could be cavalier about their affairs, and their wives were held to a much higher standard of behavior at least until they had their heir and their spare.

There are of course some interesting examples of this latter scenario. Jane Elizabeth Harley, Countess of Oxford, pictured here by Hoppner, provided her husband five children who were mostly half-siblings, and resentfully acknowledged by the scandalous lady's husband. Byron was one of her lovers for a brief time, though there is no indication that he sired any of her children.

The case of the Earl of Berkley is also fascinating. On his death, his former mistress who gave him four sons, who later married him and gave him another son, tried to have her older sons made heir by saying she and the earl had entered into a "secret" marriage. The Prince of Wales had the whole affair investigated and in the end it was the youngest son who inherited. A bit sad for the older boys, I think. And rather ironic when you remember Prinny's own secret marriage.

If they had been in Scotland it might have been another story for in that jurisdiction, provided the couple were not previously married to others when the children were born, and subsequently married, the children could be claimed legitimate.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Under the Weather

by Michele Ann Young
Today is my day to post, but, I can't think, my brain hurts. Or at least it would if I had a brain. I have one of the worst colds I've had in a long time. So dear readers, ramble by yourselves today, and I will return next week.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The London of the Ton - Part II

Continuing on with my topic from last time, here are a few more images you might enjoy.

This is a shop on Old Bond Street in 1817. It is the Western Exchange. It reminds me of the departments stores in London when I was a child, with the ladies waiting to serve behind large polished wood counters and the high ceilings and columns. There doesn't appear to be much in the way of goods on display, does there? No glass cases.

There is a great deal of information in this picture, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Sticking with the theme of shopping here is a view of Bond Street in 1823. A tad outside the Regency, but still close enough.

The name over the shop is Royal Sams Library as best as I can make out, but I haven't seen anything to say it is a real name. On the other hand, I do think that the image of the street, the books in the window, the shop owner at the door, is very typical of the time.

The dog interested me. It has that lion cut that is favored for poodles.

The last picture brings us back to the plight of the common man in the street, and the common boy. This is the infamous chimney sweep and his boys. I am sure they were a common and unremarked sight on the streets of London.

If you look closely in the right hand corner you will see the tools of the trade of the street sweeper sitting on the cobbles, - a brush, shovel and hemp bag. In London during this period there were more young people trying to earn a living than there were any other age group.

On that happy note, I will wish you happy rambles until next time.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Regency Myth-takes

I thought this might be a fun feature from time to time. We all need a bit of fun in our lives. You may have seen the show mythbusters, where a couple of dudes test out urban myths, well there are lots of myths about the regency.

Fact or myth-take?

Marriage by the ship's captain

I thought we would look at one which comes up on the loops regularly. A young lord and his lady are escaping from their families by ship. They find that the attraction between them is more than they can handle. But our lord is an honourable man, and our lady is very prim and proper, so unless they get married—they are going to be in for a very frustrating few weeks of sailing.

So they ask the captain to marry them. And he does.

Or does he?

Romantic as it might sound, captains of ships during the Regency did not have the authority to marry couples on board. Indeed, marriages were performed by ministers only, either by calling the bans, or by special licence or ordinary licence.

An ordinary licence could be issued by any bishop or archbishop which obviated the need for a two week waiting period while the banns were read. The wedding had to take place in a church or chapel.

A special licence was to be had at Doctor's Commons in London from the Archbishop of Canterbury and meant that the couple could marry anywhere. But they still had to be married by a clergyman.

Hope I didn't burst your bubble. Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The London of the Ton - Part II

By Ann Lethbridge.

The Rake's Intimate Encounter at is selling like hotcakes.It has hit the top ten several times over the past nine days. Can you tell I am thrilled. And while I realize the gown is not exactly right, I do love this cover. Thanks to all of you who have indulged in my first offering for Harlequin.

Now back to earth.

I promised some interesting views of London and dear reader, as always I will keep my promise.

This first picture is acutally a cartoon of the times entitled "Advantages of Oil Over Gas."

I think the title is a bit tongue in cheek because having oil tipped on your head is hardly an advantage. London was very advanced for its time, with its lamps throughout the better neighborhoods in the city. There was nothing even close in Paris at this time. And the new gas lamps were superior to the old oil lanterns. I will share the opposite = picture next time. But what I really like about this one is not just the commentary, reminding us that things were changing, but the scene itself. The flagstone walkway, the wrought iron railings around the town house, the knocker and the steps up to the front door.

There is also the difference in dress between the gentleman, who is very Regency looking in his pantaloons and the breechclad lamplighter. All great scene setters for writers.

Five o'clock was always the fashionable driving hour in Hyde Park, and this picture gives us a rare glimpse of what it was like.

Three things occured to me as I looked at this picture. Firstly the dearth of women. I can see one clearly, though I believe there may be others in the back ground. Secondly, how crowded it is. Worse that a shopping mall on Christmas Ever. If they were riding or driving it was definitely going slowly. Lastly, how high those phaetons are. Terrifying. It is amazing to think that these were the sports cars of the day and driven with great skill by these young men.

Well, that is all for today. Hope you enjoyed rambling around London with me.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain - January

First I thought you might enjoy an extract from the naturists diary, remembering that during this period, it was gentlemen hobbyists who did most of the research.

The influence of snow on vegetation cannot be better summed up than by saying that, in the first place it protects the plant and its seeds from the violence of frost; in the second it furnishes them with a continual moisture; and in the third, makes a greater number of seeds to germinate. (See The Gentleman’s Magazine Vol. lxxxiv part 2 page 544.)

For January fauna I chose a couple of commonly seen creatures who might easily show up in a book set in this month.

"Come sweetest of the feather d throng
And soothe me with thy plaintive song
Come to my cot devoid of fear
No danger shall await thee here
No prowling cat with whisker d face
Approaches this sequester d place"

Edward Jenner, 1749 to 1823.

He is, as the picture indicates, speaking about the European robin. Or robin redbreast. A childhood favorite of mine.

The bird has become a symbol of Christmas, but this was not the case in the Regency. Our Naturist says January is when the robin begins to sing. Both the male and female sing during the winter, when they hold separate territories, the song then sounding more plaintive than the summer version. The robin song is quite lovely, very liquid, and sometimes mistaken for that of a nightingale.

Also to be seen in the winter is the weasel. The size of a large mouse, it remains brown through the winter months, i.e. does not turn white as it does in nore northern climes.

While its primary diet is rats and mice, it is not above trying to steal hens eggs.

They do not hibernate, and burrow under the snow looking for their prey during the worst weather.

That's all from me.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Regency Fashion January

2009 already? Oh, my word, where did the time go. Please do download Ann's new e-book, The Rake's Intimate Encounter from It is very romantic and passionate and a tiny bit naughty.

As promised, we have now have our regular feature, January fashion.

This is one of those four for the price of one plates. The ladies look wonderful.

As you can see we are showing walking, morning and evening gowns. The plate is from 1804 The Lady's Monthly Museum.

First Walking gown:

A light blue Beaver Military Helmeted hat, covered with Light Blue Netting, ornamented with a White Feather. A short walking dress of White Muslin. A military spencer, trimmed with silver cord, and Epaulette. York Tan Gloves.

I love this style, and often have my heroines adopt the military style, particularly for riding habits. It seems dashing somehow. Notice how the sleeves are cut to come over the backs of the hands. It is repeated again in the the morning dress.

Second Walking dress:

A Scarlet Velvet Bonnet, with a White Ostrich Feather. A Pelice of Scarlet Kesimere, trimmed with Black Velvet. Brown Bear Muff. Also note the half boots she is wearing. We do not see any of the gown since the pelisse (sp) appears to be full length and very warm looking.

I love the color and it does seem that red or scarlet was the color of winter. (The spelling of Kerseymere is off and quite honestly I do not know if this is a transcription mistake or an accurate quote. Spelling in the Regency was not standardised at all.) I am not so keen on the idea of the bear muff, I have to say, though it is quite magnificent, I am glad we don't wear them any more.

Morning Dress:

A Dress of Cambric Muslin with long sleeves; Habit shirt. The Hair dressed with a golden Comb, and Silver Bear Tippet.

Sadly more bear fur, which we will do our best to ignore. This is a morning dress, which of course means it was intended for making morning calls in the afternoons and is therefore more formal than the walking gown. Cambric muslin seems to be a combination of two fabrics, my guess is that it is a very fine cambric, a little heavier than muslin as a nod to the time of year. The long sleeves also cover the backs of the hands. It must have been in. I had a dress like that in the ooops ... better not to say when. lol. The habit shirt is interesting. It covers the chest and ruffles at the throat, and this style would have been worn beneath a riding habit. It makes this gown more modest and therefore suitable for day wear, don't you think? I like the pretty ruffles around the neckline, down the front and around the hem.

Our final gown is a Full Dress or Evening Gown.

The Head fashionably dressed, with a Gold Comb, and Scarlet Wreath. A dress of Muslin, sloped in Front, with a long Train trimmed with Rose-coloured Ribbon, with a broad White Lace sewed to the Edge of the Ribbon; and York Tan Gloves.

Well apart from the scarlet wreath being green, which I assume was artistic license, given that these were coloured by hand, it is a very pretty dress. But I do hate those York tan gloves. They really should have been white kid. lol

So there we have it, January 1804 in all of its glory.

Next time we will have a bit of flora and fauna.

Until then, Happy rambles.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy and Healthy New Year

Ann Lethbridge and Michele Ann Young wish you all of the very best for 2009.

Our usual posts will begin again on Monday with Fashions for January