Irish Dueling Code or the Irish Code Duello

Irish Code duello
Example of a Firearm Duel of the 1700s, Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Firearm duels became popular in the eighteenth century and even more so after the adoption of what became known as the Irish Code Duello. The Irish Code Duello was a set of rules adopted at the Clonmel Summer Assizes in 1777 by gentlemen from the counties of Tipperary, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon. These rules were deemed so important it was said that ignorance of the rules could not be pleaded and that all gentlemen needed to “keep a copy always in their pistol-cases.”

The Irish Code Duello consisted of 25 rules. Here they are in their entirety: Continue reading

Madame Maria Teresa, the Amazing Corsican Fairy

Corsican Fairy Painted by William Hinks in 1774, Courtesy of The Royal College of Surgeons of England from the BBC
Corsican Fairy Painted by William Hinks in 1774, Courtesy of The Royal College of Surgeons of England

One of the smallest woman in the world was Madame Maria Teresa (sometimes spelled Teresia) who became known as the Corsican Fairy but usually billed herself as the “Amazing Corsican Fairy.” She was born in 1743 in Corsica at Stata Ota, and by the time she was in her twenties, she had attained a height of a mere 34 inches and weighed just 26 pounds.

People claimed the Amazing Corsican Fairy was an ideal miniature person. One newspaper described her as “being a beauty, her exact proportion and symmetry, may without the least falsehood, allow her to be called one of the most perfect and admirable productions of human nature in miniature.” The newspaper also noted that she spoke French and Italian with the “greatest vivacity,” and she was also described as vivacious, spirited, and intelligent. Continue reading

Nicolas Steinberg and the Murder of a Georgian Family

St. James's Church in 1806, Nicolas Steinberg
St. James’s Church in 1806, Courtesy of Wikipedia

John Nicolas (or Nicholas) Steinberg was a 40-year-old optician and a man considered to possess “inventive genius.” This was demonstrated by the fact that he received a patent for inventing a peculiarly constructed whip. But Steinberg’s peculiar whip would not be what he would become known for, rather he became known as a murderer.

On 9 September 1834, Steinberg ordered his 15-year-old servant, a girl named Pearson, to “go and fetch a pint of beer and a quartern of gin.” After delivering it to him, Steinberg suggested she stay the night, but she wanted to go home to her mother’s house, so he instructed her to return at six o’clock in the morning. The following morning Pearson returned as she was told to 17 Southampton Street (now Calshot Street), Pentonville. However, after knocking on the door for some time, she received no answer and left. Continue reading

What are Stables and Other Similar Associated Buildings?

Stables Built in 1802, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Stables Built in 1802, Courtesy of Wikipedia

By the 1800s, in the city, most houses were devoid of stables, whereas most country homes were equipped with one. Stables offered lodging for horses, protected them from the elements, and provided them with a ready food and water supply. Stables could also be detached or attached to a house depending on an owner’s preference, and they came in a variety of sizes, with the size of a Stable usually being commensurate with the size of the establishment. Continue reading

Jane Austen’s Vocabulary From Northanger Abbey

Catherine Morland at the Pump Room, Northanger Abbey
Catherine Morland at the Pump Room, Public Domain

Northanger Abbey was one of the first books Jane Austen completed. It was originally published as Memorandum, Susan, but later changed, retitled, and the character Susan renamed Catherine. After Austen died, the book was retitled again and published in December of 1817 as Northanger Abbey. As with all of Austen’s books, Northanger Abbey transports the reader to another world. Austen accomplishes this with delightful, descriptive, and interesting words, and fifteen select words from Northanger Abbey are below:

Auspices: Omen.
Chapter 2: “Under these unpromising auspices, the parting took place, and the journey began.” Continue reading

Princess Caroline Elizabeth – George II’s Daughter

George II's daughter
Princess Caroline Elizabeth, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Princess Caroline Elizabeth was the fourth child and third daughter of King George II and Caroline of Ansbach. She was born on 10 June 1713 at Herrenhausen Palace in Hanover, Germany. She quickly became her parents favorite and in return was ardently attached to them. She was said to possess such veracity, that when a fight broke out among the children, the King and Queen would say, “Send for Caroline, and then we shall know the truth.”

The Princess Caroline Elizabeth was also said to be the most charming of women. People noted that she was amiable and also described as witty, modesty, and talented. But most of all people remarked about her goodness. In fact, it was her goodness that distinguished her from all other women. Dr. John Doran, an English writer who wrote Lives of the Queens of England of the House of Hanover, described her this way: “She was fair, good, accomplished, and unhappy.” Continue reading

What are Servant Bedrooms?

painting1-JosephCaraudLadysMaid - servant bedrooms

Besides the upper and under servant offices used by domestic staff to accomplish their jobs, there were special sleeping quarters allotted to servants. Such sleeping quarters consisted of Under-servant and Upper-servant Bedrooms and Stranger-servant Bedrooms.

  • Under-servant Bedrooms: Male and female domestics had separate quarters for sleeping. Female domestics were usually provided with bedrooms either in the attic, uppermost story, or over servant offices, which were accessible by a back stairway. These rooms were usually small and not suitable for more than two domestics. They were also meagerly furnished with a single bed and, perhaps, a nightstand. It was also desirable that such quarters have a fireplace or some way to help keep occupants warm during cold nights. Under-servant Bedrooms for men were similar to the sleeping quarters used by women. Sometimes, however, men might be housed in a dormitory like atmosphere. In that case a high partition separated each bed. If there were enough male servants, their rooms might be accessed by a special staircase that ascended from servant offices. However, if there were just two or three male servants, their rooms might be placed on the ground floor for added protection against intrusion at night. Continue reading

Charlotte Corday and the Bathtub Murder of Jean-Paul Marat

Charlotte Corday, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Charlotte Corday, Courtesy of Wikipedia

On the evening of the fourth anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, a 24-year-old woman, with one purpose in mind, visited the French journalist and radical Jacobin, Jean-Paul Marat. She was described as

“rather tall — her admirably proportioned figure full of native grace and dignity. The chief expression of her fair and oval countenance were sweetness and modesty; her clear, open brow, shaded by rich curls of brown hair, enhanced the transparent purity of her complexion — her dark and well-arched eyebrows and eyes of a deep gray … added to her thoughtful and meditative appearance. Her nose was straight and well-formed — her mouth, though rather grave, exquisitely beautiful and her smile full of fascination.”

The woman was Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d’Armont, better known today as Charlotte Corday. Continue reading

The Pirate, William Fly

William Fly, Courtesy of Wikipedia
William Fly, Courtesy of Wikipedia

William Fly was an English pirate with a short career and a short life. His life of piracy began in 1726 after he signed on to sail with Captain John Green to West Africa on the Elizabeth Snow. During the voyage Fly and Captain Green clashed several times, which then resulted in Fly conspiring with several other men to get rid of Captain Green and take the Elizabeth Snow under his command. Continue reading

What are Wash-houses and Laundry-Related Rooms?

A Laundry Maid Ironing, by Henry Robert Morland, Eighteenth Century, Public Domain

Because eighteenth and nineteenth century houses generated lots of laundry, laundry facilities were an important part of any home. Sometimes laundry facilities were completely separate from a house and located near the Stables, but it was a chore to move the entire laundry of household to an area far from the house. One reason laundry facilities might be located next to the Stables was because it was difficult to attach Drying or Bleaching grounds near a house. Part of the decision about laundry locations was often based on the number of inferior servants tasked with accomplishing the chore. Additionally, if the mistress of the house or the head laundress wanted to supervise laundry operations more closely, and if drying outdoors was dispensed with, indoor drying might be used it. Among the areas associated with laundry were the Wash-house, Laundry, Drying-room and Hot Closet, Linen-room, and Soiled-Linen Closet. Continue reading