18th Century Tax on Gloves – All Things Georgian

Britain was struggling financially and so, needless to say, the government looked for ways to raise much needed revenue to balance the books. If it could be taxed, it probably was! In a previous po…

Source: 18th Century Tax on Gloves – All Things Georgian

Sir John Falstaff, the Notorious Highwayman – Here Begynneth A Lytell Geste of Robin Hood…

So committed to historical accuracy were Alexander Smith and Charles Johnson that in their respective History of the Lives and Robberies of the Most Noted Highwaymen (1714) and Lives and Exploits of the Most Noted Highwaymen (1734) they give us the life of Sir John Falstaff.

Falstaff lived, we are told by Smith and Johnson, during the reigns of Henry IV and Henry V. Being born of no great or distinguished parentage, they tell us that Falstaff took to the road with three accomplices to support his extravagant lifestyle. He was a very fat man, and his nicknames were:

– Ton of Man (a pun on the Biblical term ‘Son of Man’)
– Chops
– Sack and Sugar
– Fat-Kidneyed Rascal
– Bombast

Apparently Henry IV, who Smith tells us took to life upon the road for a short while, said to him:

You are so fat-witted with drinking of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, and sleeping upon benches in the afternoon.

He was also a womaniser, and could often be found in the lowest bawdy houses of London, according to Capt. Charles Johnson.

Then came the wars of the roses, we are told by Smith and Johnson, and as a consequence of his acquaintance and friendship with King Henry, Falstaff received a commission to serve as a…

Source: Sir John Falstaff, the Notorious Highwayman – Here Begynneth A Lytell Geste of Robin Hood…

Marie Antoinette’s silver boudoir at Château de Fontainebleau

Located between the chambers of the Queen and the King on the lower level of the château de Fontainebleau is one of Marie-Antoinette’s private boudoirs commissioned by Louis XVI…

Source: Marie Antoinette’s silver boudoir at Château de Fontainebleau

18th Century Hearing Aids

All Things Georgian

Ear trumpet Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Hearing aids have made some quite dramatic progress since the Georgian era . Towards the end of the 18th century the use of an ear trumpet was commonplace, with collapsible ones being made on a one off basis for customers. Well known models of the period included the Townsend Trumpet (made by the John Townshend) and the Reynolds Trumpet (specially made for painter Joshua Reynolds) which funneled sound into the inner ear.

One of the quirkiest objects we have come across to assist with hearing is this image. It is a flower vase receptacle made by F. C Rein about 1810. The object would sit in the middle of a dining  table once filled with flowers. Each of the six openings, or “receptors,” would act as sound collectors.*

This one below, manufactured in ivory was made for and used by Admiral John Borlase Warren (1753-1822).


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18th-century art in the news: How a long-lost Polish painting, likely stolen by Nazis, ended up in Ohio

reveries of a dixhuitièmiste

Portrait of a Young Man by Polish painter Krzysztof Lubieniecki, 1728 (Photo: FBI)

From Washington Post’s Elahe Izadi:


Polish baroque painter Krzysztof Lubieniecki finished “Portrait of a Young Man” sometime around 1728, and the work of art eventually made its way to Poland’s National Museum in Warsaw.

Then, like thousands of other European artworks, the painting fell into Nazi hands during World War II. For many years the Lubieniecki painting existed only on lists documenting looted art, accompanied by a black-and-white photo to prove its existence.

Now, decades after its theft, “Portrait of a Young Man” is back with Polish officials, the FBI announced Monday.

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On this day: Great Britain adopts the Gregorian calendar

In Times Gone By...

On the 2nd of September, 1752, Great Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar. Most of Western Europe had adopted the calendar some two centuries earlier, changing from the Julian calendar.

Included in this reform was the British Empire, including parts of what is now the United States.

The Julian calendar is still used alongside the Gregorian calendar in some parts of the world, which is the reason some countries in the east of Europe celebrate Easter and Christmas on different dates.

The Gregorian Calendar

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Sir Peter Lalonette and His Fumigation Machine

All Things Georgian

We would like welcome our latest guest writer  the lovely Geri Walton author of the blog 18th and 19th Centuries  who has very kindly written a fascinating article for us about an eighteenth century cure for venereal disease.


Ancient people believed in the idea that cures could be achieved by providing nourishment through the skin and often used perfume in the form of vapors, known as fumigation. When the bubonic plague ravished Europe, fumigation seemed to be effective in curing it. The idea of fumigation interested Georgian physicians who believed fumigation could be an effective medicinal remedy.

Among those who believed fumigation was a viable medicinal cure was Sir Peter Lalonette (sometimes referred to as Lalouette). Lalonette was, by the late 1700’s, a distinguished doctor and regent of the faculty of Physics at the University of Paris. He also believed the best way to cure venereal disease was by using…

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Gervase Thompson – a most unfortunate death (1781) | All Things Georgian

Gervase Thompson, a tapster at the White Swan inn at Ferrybridge in the West Riding of Yorkshire, suffered a most unfortunate death in the February of 1781.

A gentleman, named as Charles Frederick Vanburgh, Esquire, an officer in the Guards, (and not, as mistakenly reported, a son of Lord V___), was travelling in his carriage with his new wife.  They were returning from a ‘matrimonial excursion’ to Scotland, and stopped at the White Swan, an old coaching inn with grounds stretching down to the river Aire.

After the couple had rested and refreshed themselves, they alighted into their carriage and continued on their journey. When the staff at the White Swan were cleaning up, after their departure, they found that the gentleman had…

Read original: Gervase Thompson – a most unfortunate death (1781) | All Things Georgian.

On this day: the First Fleet in 1788

In Times Gone By...

View_of_Botany_Bayengraving of the First Fleet in Botany Bay at voyage's end in 1788

On the 20th of January, 1788, the main body of the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay, modern-day Australia.

The First Fleet, consisting of eleven ships of convicts, marines and seamen, had left England in 1787.

Botany Bay was deemed unsuitable for a colony, with concerns about the lack of fresh water and the swampy land, and the fleet moved further north, to Port Jackson. The fleet’s arrival in the second port is marked by Australia Day on the 26th of January.

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The History Girls: ‘Sister of the more famous William’: some reflections on the life and career of Caroline Herschel by Christina Koning

With comets very much in the news these past few days, following the spectacular success of the Rosetta mission, I’m been thinking some more about Caroline Herschel (1750-1848), the first professional female astronomer, and the subject of my 2011 novel, Variable Stars. Between 1786 and 1797, Herschel discovered eight comets – one of which (35P/Herschel-Rigollet) bears her name. There is also an asteroid (281 Lucretia) named after her, as well as a crater on the Moon (C. Herschel). During her long life – she lived to be 97 – she was also responsible for cataloguing over 2,500 nebulae, an achievement for which she was awarded not one, but two, gold medals. She fraternised with the most eminent astronomers of the age, and was described by one of them, the German astronomer Karl Felix Seyffer, as the ‘most noble and worthy priestess of the new heavens’. She was, in a word, something of a superstar.

With so starry a C.V., it may seem surprising that Caroline Herschel is not better known, but in spite of her achievements, she remains a relatively obscure figure. The reason for this is not hard to find. For, remarkable as it was, Caroline Herschel’s life has been largely overshadowed by that of her brother, William – discoverer, in 1781, of the planet Uranus. As William Herschel’s assistant and amanuensis, Caroline might also be said to have contributed to this discovery, and to others that followed, such as the discovery of infra-red radiation. However, the fact remains that, when her existence is acknowledged at all, she is often dismissed as no more than a…

via The History Girls: ‘Sister of the more famous William’: some reflections on the life and career of Caroline Herschel by Christina Koning.

Considerations Upon the Union… “from the will and humour of the people”

Echoes from the Vault

As we approach the fevered climax of the Scottish independence referendum, we thought it would be interesting to compare this situation with the debate surrounding the mirror-image of this referendum, when the Articles of Union were under discussion by the Scottish parliament in late 1706.


A particularly striking feature of the current debate, of course, is that it has been marked by an almost unheard-of engagement of the people in the street. There is realistic expectation of an extraordinarily high turn-out at the polls; for once, the debate seems almost to have been lifted out of the hands (or mouths) of the politicians, and is being conducted on the street corner, in the workplace, in pubs and coffee shops. People seem not to be following slavish adherence to party, but are individually informed, and are making personal decisions based on those issues which matter to them most. This is possible…

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