My first full year of blogging was accomplished in 2014. It was also a great year for some fabulous posts. As Christmas gift to all my readers, here is a list by month of some of the posts I enjoyed the most during 2014. These posts include such topics as puzzles, a fire, a witch, carousing gents, pirate love, a library, falsies, skipping, carriages, ghosts, Georgian houses, and legends.
On 11 June 1861, coal mining activities at the Clay Cross Colliery were proceeding as normal. About three in the afternoon a miner named Natty Dawes noticed water oozing from a seam in his stall. Dawes, rather than informing Alfred Smith, the deputy of the district, went against company policy and informed Alfred’s son, Timothy Smith. At the time, Timothy was engaged at the incline brake and could not leave his post. When Timothy saw his father at five o’clock, he told his father what Dawes had said.
Just as Timothy finished informing his father about the oozing, a noise was heard. Alfred initially thought it was regular trams approaching, but then both father and son realized it was the roar of water coming from the direction of Dawe’s stall. Alfred immediately ordered his son to tell everyone to get out of the pit and to warn all the deputies to inform their men and get them out immediately. Timothy informed the first deputy he saw and then hastened to tell other miners. In the meantime, Alfred got his own men out just as a torrent of old black shale water inundated the pit. Continue reading →
Important changes in fashion were seen in August of 1881. First, one of the most important changes was women’s taste in semi-masculine attire. The desire for it had apparently died out. According to one writer, “No lady now thinks dressing, even for the country, in such a style that she might be mistaken for her younger brother.” This change also meant jackets disappeared and were replaced by “elegant feminine Mantles and Mantelets.” There were also no more skirts that were so tightly tied in the back that it “prevent[ed] all freedom of locomotion.” Skirts were also becoming wider and fuller, but only in the back because the front and sides of skirts remained plain, which rendered “it necessary to adopt a modified form of tournure to keep the drapery and fulness [sic] of skirt in…place.” When it came to dress bodices, one of the principal features was the increase in gathers and full pleats, which were particularly popular during cold weather as it increased the warmth of the dress. Additionally, with gathered bodices, sleeves were “always puffed, fulled, or gathered” and also had fullness at the shoulder. Continue reading →
The word lesbian or female homosexual was not in use in the Georgian Era. The idea of lesbians (a word that first appeared in the 20th century) or female homosexuals (a word that was first printed in 1869) was something consider unnatural and strange. To describe “two women who lived together by mutual consent as man and wife” or when talking of bridegrooms that were the same sex as the brides, the women were referred to as husband-wives or female husbands.
Despite the negativity associated with such relationship, there were several such same-sex marriages performed in Georgian England. Often times the wives reported they had no idea their husband was female and claimed to be as surprised as everyone else when the husband’s true sexual identity was uncovered. Why the husband-wives underwent the deception is not always clear. One nineteenth century writer noted that the main reasons for a woman concealing her true sexual identity was done for one of three reasons: criminal reasons, for caprice, or “as a screen to shield them from vile and execrable actions.” Continue reading →
Gout is a form of acute inflammatory arthritis that is recurrent and most frequently affects the big toe, which is then known as podagra. Originally thought to be a disease “caused by a humor that flowed drop by drop, guttatim, into the joints,” gout is now known to be caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood that crystallize in the joints, tendons, or surrounding tissues, resulting in severe pain. Historically, gout was called “the disease of kings” or “rich man’s disease” as it tended to be more common among the elite and well-to-do. Continue reading →
One writer noted that “between ‘Tom’ and ‘Jack’ there is vast difference” because whereas Jack was sharp and shrewd, TOM was nothing more than an “honest dullard.” Among the honest dullard’s named TOM were also numerous fools. TOM FOOL was a clumsy, witless, and stupid person who practiced TOM FOOLERY, which was “coarse, witless jokes.” There was also TOM LONY a simpleton and TOM NOODLE described as a “mere nincompoop.” TOM THE PIPER’S SON was none to bright either as he “got well basted, and blubbered like a booby.”
One interesting TOM from history is TOM TIDLER, who was supposedly none to bright against his sharper rivals when he tried to maintained TOM TIDLER’S GROUND, a phrase that reportedly comes from an ancient children’s game. The game consisted of one child standing on a heap of stones trying to prevent invaders from rushing the heap and crying, “Here I am on TOM TIDLER’S GROUND.” Charles Dickens found the phrase interesting enough that he wrote a short story titled TOM TIDLER’S GROUND in 1861, and he used the phrase in his novels Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield and Dombey and Son. Later, others also found TOM TIDLER’S GROUND interesting because in the 1900s, it was the title of a poem, novel, and song. Continue reading →
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was a well-known military and political leader of the nineteenth century. He was often called “the Duke of Wellington” rather than the 1st Duke of Wellington. He rose to prominence during the Napoleonic Wars when he became a field marshal after winning at the Battle of Vitoria in 1813. Over the course of his illustrious career, he supposedly fought more than sixgty battles and came to be regarded as one of the greatest defensive commanders of all times because he could so easily minimize troop losses against numerically superior forces. While you may know these facts, there are five tidbits about the Duke of Wellington less known and they are listed below: Continue reading →
The Victorian Era — the period of Queen Victoria’s reign from June 20, 1837 until her death on January 22, 1901 — was a time of peace, prosperity, and refined sensibilities. Fertility rates increased, no catastrophic epidemics or famines occurred, and health standards and nutrition rose. Nitrous oxide became a common anesthetic in 1846, chloroform was introduced a year later, and antiseptics were discovered by Joseph Lister in 1867. In fact, things were so good during the Victorian Era the populations of England and Wales doubled and approximately 15 million people emigrated to other countries, primarily the United States, Australia, and Canada.
The Victorian Era also saw the first World’s Fair, known as The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations of 1851, which showcased the greatest and latest discoveries, including innovations from bookbinding to firearms and from carriages to musical instruments. It was a time for cultural fulfillment, lavish entertainment, and modern sports. Literature created by Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, and William Makepeace Thackeray was available for all Victorians to read. There were also traveling circuses, museums, and seaside activities, and, when it came to sports, there was cricket, skating, bicycling, croquet, and tennis.
But not everything was wonderful during the Victorian Era. There were also many dangers Victorians faced and among these dangers were ship travel, crinoline, boracic acid, hydrophobia, and the air. Continue reading →
The French King Louis XV issued an ordinance and reduced mourning time by half in 1716. He also “settled the particular manner in which mourning should be observed.” One rule settled was when one king mourned for another monarch, the monarch was to wear the color violet, and it was worn for three months. But her majesty was to dress in mourning “like her subjects.” On the death of a potentate, who was not the father of her majesty, or of any queen, who was not her mother, mourners were obliged to dress in mourning for twenty-one days. Interestingly, the only person who never wore mourning was the chancellor, “because he is detached, by his situation, in some measure, from himself, as the principal representative of justice.” Continue reading →