18th Century French Salad-maker: Marquis of Albignac

Arms of the d'Albignac Family, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Coat of Arms of the d’Albignac Family, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Among the émigrés scattered all over Europe during the Reign of Terror was a man by the name of Marquis of Albignac. The Marquis had lost everything, both fortune and family. He survived living “in London on a trifling pension allowed him by the English government.” However, the Marquis possessed one thing, determination. He wanted to be more than a fashionable beggar surviving in England.

One night as the Marquis of Albignac sat dining on his scanty daily meal, he noticed a nearby table occupied by five or six young English gentlemen. They noticed him too. At length one of the young men addressed the Marquis impertinently: Continue reading

Fishermen Superstitions

Fishermen superstitions
The Fisherman, by Charles Napier Hemy, 1888, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Similar to other people, fishermen had superstitious beliefs and believed certain things caused good or back luck. For instance, fishermen superstitions resulted in seafarers’s claiming a newborn’s caul would secure its wearer from drowning. There was also a belief that breaking up an old boat would bring bad luck and that those engaged in such a task were “sure to come to grief in some way or other.” Northern fisherman claimed it was positively “dangerous” to mention the word “horse” when at sea because bad luck would follow.

Continue reading

Reasons British Feared Napoleon in 1803

Maniac Ravings or Little Boney in a Strong Fit, by James Gillray, which ridiculed Napoleon and annoyed the French. Courtesy of Wikipedia
Maniac Ravings or Little Boney in a Strong Fit, by James Gillray, which ridiculed Napoleon and annoyed the French. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Despite a temporary peace that was achieved between France and Britain in 1802, the English remained on edge. They became more panicked when a new dispute with France broke out and resulted in Britain declaring war against France in 1803. Almost immediately rumors were rife about the ill effects Englishmen would suffer if Napoleon was victorious. In July of 1803, the rumors came to life when one concerned magazine published an article stating what they believed were Napoleon’s schemes.

According to the magazine, one of Napoleon’s main schemes was the confiscation of property, similar to what had happened in France during the first years of the French Revolution. Based on this idea of property confiscation, they also asserted that assignats (French money) were being prepared and would allow the bearer to bid for confiscated property as soon as the French set foot on English soil. Moreover, when the assignats were offered, Englishmen would have to accept them “on pain of death.” Continue reading

Fortune-Telling with Moles in the Georgian Era

fortune-telling
“The Fortune Teller” in the Nineteenth Century by John Opie, (c) University of Greenwich; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

One person wrote, “Ever since the world began, a laudable curiosity has excited all ranks of people in all countries, to know the events, vicissitudes, the turns of good or bad fortune.” Among those intrigued by the turns of good or bad fortunes were people living in the eighteenth century. Their fortunes were told to them by fortune tellers who used astronomy, physiognomy, palmistry, card tossing, or the reading of coffee dregs. However, one of the most unusual and interesting ways of fortune-telling was the examination of a person’s moles.

Georgian fortune tellers read moles because as one eighteenth-century writer put it, “[moles] bear a strong analogy to the events that are to happen to a person in the future.” When examining moles, fortune tellers looked at a variety of things. For instance, a mole with a few long hairs denoted the person’s undertakings would be prosperous but if the mole was hairy, misfortune was expected. Continue reading

Wrong Doings of Married Women

Married women, Courtesy of Wikipedia

In 1833, two English women — a Mrs. Emma Lush (wife to a groom employed by the Royal Family) and Mrs. Sarah Wolfe (a servant in a distinguished family) — decided to go on a shopping excursion. After making several purchases, they fell into the company of two strangers who prevailed upon them to accompany them for drinks. Despite not knowing the men — John Clack and a man named Faulkener — Mrs. Lush and Mrs. Wolfe decided to have some enjoyment and went with the men. Continue reading

Qualifications for A Georgian Wife or Husband

Georgian wife
Crossing a Dirty Street by James Gillray, Courtesy of Museum of London

Marriage was something almost every Georgian man and woman expected but they also wanted the “perfect” mate to marry. This caused one author to write, “Let those women who seek a perfect husband, or those men who desire a perfect wife, be told by the Christian to look to some other quarter; let them indeed; be directed to some other planet than that on which we dwell.”

One magazine thought that perhaps listing the “mental and personal qualifications” for a wife, written by a single gentleman, and those necessary for a husband, written from the perspective of a single lady, might produce the perfect mate for each. Here are those qualifications provided verbatim: Continue reading

Executed for Jealousy, Elizabeth Richardson

Elizabeth Richardson and Pilmott's Murder
Pilmott’s Murder, Public Domain

Elizabeth Richardson (alias Forrester) was seduced at an early age and when older, she subsisted on wages made from “casual prostitution.” It was her casual prostitution that allowed her to meet an attorney named William Pilmott (perhaps Pilmot or even Pimlot or Pimlott). His chambers were located at Symond’s Inn.

Their relationship seemed to be filled with passion, and Pilmott liked Richardson enough to keep her. It is unclear whether or not the pock-marked Richardson had cause for jealousy, but whether she did or not, she was intensely jealous of Pilmott. In fact, her jealousy drove her to regularly visit Pilmott at his chambers thinking she would find him engaged in some sort of compromising situation with another woman. Continue reading

School of Love: Dorimon and Alithea

love

In 1773 answers for the love lorn could be found in an eighteen century magazine. The magazine had the School of Love providing the advice, and among those who had concerns about their love life was an eighteenth century married woman named Charlotte. Charlotte posed the following question to the School of Love:

“My husband and I have lived happily for seven years. Of late his affections have begun to wander from me: I do not know upon what account, but I fear there is some other woman behind the screen. — In any case, what am I to do?” Continue reading

Detecting the Villainous in Georgian London

Georgian London Pickpockets
Pickpockets, Author’s Collection

Country folk visiting Georgian London and returning unscathed with their purse or their virtue intact was a rare thing. It was easy for gullible country visitors to be taken advantage of by nefarious crooks. Crooks sought to obtain a country person’s hard-earned cash or to despoil an innocent virgin and turn her into a whore. Moreover, country visitors could not readily tell whether a person was good or bad. A Londoner’s  clothing was no clue as to who was good or bad: Quacks dressed like physicians wearing great wigs, sharpers pretended to be gentleman in fancy waistcoats, and procuresses always dressed in the best finery. Continue reading