Cara King, Author


by Cara King (all rights reserved)

When looking through Regency newspapers, one may find surprising -- or surprisingly ordinary -- things.

My first selections all come from a wonderful book compiled by Sheila M. Hardy entitled “1804: That Was the Year...”  (Brechinset Publications, 1984.)  Her extracts are from the 1804 Ipswich Journal.

First, some proof that women did more than sew samplers and milk cows:

Mrs. Mary Gurney (widow) has taken over the running of Peele’s Coffee House and Tavern and Hotel at 178 Fleet-street.  She continues to take in all London, Irish, Scotch and Provincial Newspapers, the old files of which go back to 1752 -- the London Gazette to 1760.

The Master Shoemakers had no sooner brought their Journeymen to obedience, on Saturday last, than the female shoe banders mutinied and struck for ‘more wages and less work.’

Now, some military trivia:

Lads under 18 years of age, if well limbed and likely to grow, may be taken, for infantry of the line or general service, as low in stature as 5’3.

A Private in the Coldstream Guards was ordered 300 lashes at a Court Martial for pretending to be a crippled beggar in off duty hours.

Advertisements, helpful hints, and notices of sales are a gold-mine of information (and for you time-travel writers, note that Dan Quayle apparently visited the past):

The noble mansion and fine estate of Fisherwick-park, in the County of Stafford, the residence of Lord Spencer Chichester, was sold on Thursday at Garraway’s Coffee House, for the sum of 143,000 pounds, to a potatoe merchant.

Tea kettles, furred with stoney concretions, may be cleaned by occasionally boiling potatoes in them; potatoes being boiled in a new kettle, no concretions will afterwards form.

Dr. Arnold’s Pills, celebrated for their superior efficacy and peculiar mildness, in perfectly eradicating every degree of the Venereal Disease, without the least trouble or confinement.  Full and plain directions are enclosed in each box, which will enable all persons to cure themselves, without the knowledge of anyone. 2s 9d a box.

One must keep in mind that people during the Regency had no clothing treated to be fire retardant, and their clothes must often have been imbued with oil and wax from candles, lamps, and cooking.  Notices such as the following are surprisingly common in papers of the period:

Sunday, as the wife of John Brew, a watchman in Whitechapel, was reading the Bible at the fireside, a spark flew from the fire and set her clothes in a blaze; and before any assistance could be got, she was so miserably burned, that she languished until Monday and then expired.

If you are ever in Bath, try to spend time in the wonderful library perusing the (very readable!) microfilmed newspapers.  Here you get a weekly update on arrivals, fashions, concert and theatre listings, and of course, more advertisements.  Here are a few selections from the 1819 Bath Chronicle:

Miss Everitt undertakes the education of six young ladies, to instruct them in Music, French, Drawing, History, Geography, Writing, Arithmetic, and Work, for Eight Guineas a year.

Wednesday, January 6:  UPPER ROOMS:  The Master of the Ceremonies’ Ball will be on Monday January 25th, 1819.  Tickets to be had at Mr. Heavisides, [?] Russell Street; at the principal libraries; and at the Rooms.

We take leave to remind our Clerical Friends, who are non-resident by reason of their residence on any other benefice, that if they omit to notify to the Bishop of the diocese, within six weeks from Jan. 1st, the cause of their non-residence, each person, so omitting, will incur the penalty of 20 pounds.

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Last updated 26 July 2005.

All text and images copyright 2005 by Cara King