Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sugar Production in Colonial Barbados

by Cryssa Bazos

A little sugar in your coffee, a little in your tea. Today, sugar is everywhere and most people don’t appreciate that at one time this commodity was a luxury and considered to be white gold. It fuelled British colonization in the Caribbean and it was built on the backs of men and women, enslaved and indentured. Colonial Barbados was at the centre of the sugar trade going back to the mid-17th century and was known as the Sugar Island.

Map of Barbados, 1736; [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Colonizing Barbados

The earliest English settlement was established in 1627 through a private venture corporation headed by the Courteen Company, Anglo-Dutch rivals of the East India Company. The soil in Barbados was good, there were plenty of wild hogs roaming the island, and the island was unoccupied by the native Caribs. Unfortunately for the Courteen Company, a dispute for proprietorship of the island came from another source just as the first settlers were establishing themselves. The company failed to obtain a patent for the island from King Charles I, and the oversight was discovered when the governor of St. Kitts, William Warner, acting through the Earl of Carlisle, obtained proprietorship of Barbados as well as a few other Leeward islands. James Hay, the first Earl of Carlisle, was a favourite of King Charles and his wife was an infamous court lady. To read more about Lucy Hay, read The Infamous Countess of Carlisle. Over the next several years the matter of the proprietorship of Barbados was litigated in favour of the Earl eventually leaving the Courteen brothers financially bankrupt.

In the early years, settlers were not yet producing sugar; instead, they grew tobacco, indigo, and cotton. Not being able to compete with the superior tobacco being shipped from Virginia, the plantation owners eventually began to grow sugar cane. Plants were obtained from Dutch controlled Brazil, and by 1642, sugar cane production had started.


In the early years, smaller plantations ranging from ten to thirty acres dominated Barbados, but as sugar production took off, wealthy landowners began to purchase and consolidate smaller plantations, in order to maximize their yields. Larger plantations of five hundred acres would have had approximately two hundred acres devoted to growing sugar cane, producing approximately 600,000 pounds of sugar in a 15 month growing cycle and generating an income of approximately £7,500 for the lowest grade (muscavado) brown sugar. Refined white sugar meant lower yields but even greater profits. To read about a 17th century plantation in Barbados, read St. Nicolas Abbey: 17th Century Sugar Plantation.

Indentured servants and slaves

Plantations needed field labourers. In the early years, owners would obtain indentured servants from the British Isles, mostly willing, though not always so. These servants would agree to indenture themselves for a period of 5 to 7 years after which time they would get their freedom dues in the form of land, or in later years, an agreed amount of sugar. As sugar production took over there were not enough indentured servants to supply the need, and plantation owners relied more and more on imported slaves from Africa. During periods of war and invasion in the 17th century, English Parliament forcibly shipped Scottish prisoners of war and displaced Irish men and women to work the fields.

Growing and harvesting sugar

The English settlers relied heavily on the Dutch for the knowledge of how to cultivate and harvest sugar cane. The Dutch not only taught them how to grow and convert the rich cane juice into lucrative sugar, they lent them the initial funds to purchase the equipment needed (ingenio).

Canes took approximately fifteen months to mature (they initially experimented with twelve months but their yields were low). Once cut, the sugar canes needed to be crushed within hours of being cut. Men and women would be working in the fields in ten hour days and during harvest time, it would not be unusual for them to be working into the night.

In the 17th century, cut stalks would be loaded onto a cart, piled vertically in the back of an ox-drawn cart such that the cane could be easily tipped and taken to the rollers. Alternatively, they were loaded on a crook rigged to the packsaddle of a donkey.

The crushing mills were situated on a high point of the plantation and designed like windmills. A team of oxen would turn the gears of the rollers. Crushed juice was collected into troughs, which ran downward through a series of tubes to the boiling house, which was situated at a lower elevation than the crushing mill.


The ingenio refers to the sugar works, or the equipment needed to crush the sugar cane and process the juice. This would include the crushers, rollers, the coppers in the boiling house and the stills. The end products include muscovado (brown unrefined sugar), refined white and rum (also called kill-devil in the 17th century).

The cut canes were passed through the rollers twice in order to extract all the juice. The remaining plant material would be carted away and used for pig fodder. Crushed cane juice would pass through a series of five boiling coppers followed by two cooling tanks. The entire process would take a week. The fires in the boiling house were kept alight day and night from Monday to Saturday at which point they were extinguished for Sunday. By the time the reduced cane juice reached the coolers, crystals would begin to form. The solid mass was then put into cone-shaped pots with plantain leaves on the bottom (where the molasses could be filtered out) and left in the curing house.

For muscovado sugar, the pots would be left to rest for a month before the sugar was ‘knocked out’ and bagged for transport to Bridgetown. For refined white sugar, after the sugar mass was put into the pot, a thin clay mixture was added right on top of the sugar to draw out the molasses content. The sugar would sit for four months after which time they would cut away the top and bottom (which was muscovado sugar and could be sold or passed through another round of boiling to process again) leaving the middle part which was pure white sugar.

Rum production used the skimmings of the boiling sugar during the clarifying process. The skimmings from the first two coppers would be discarded, but by the time the sap reached the third copper, the skimmings were syphoned off to the still house to be turned into rum. In the early days, the rum, or “kill-devil” was kept on the planation and given to the servants and slaves for various ailments. Whatever was in excess could be sold to the taverns in Bridgetown or shipped abroad.

Barbados dominated the sugar trade for the next few centuries. Today, sugar is still grown on the island, but it isn’t the major industry it once was. Next time you are asked, “One lump or two”, you will have a better appreciation for where it came from.

Recommended reading:

The True & Exact History of the Island of Barbados, by Richard Ligon; Originally published in London 1657.


Cryssa Bazos is an award winning historical fiction author and 17th century enthusiast with a particular interest in the English Civil War. Her debut novel, Traitor's Knot, is published by Endeavour Media and is the first in a series called "Road to the Restoration". Traitor's Knot is the Medalist winner of the 2017 New Apple Award (historical fiction), a finalist for the 2018 EPIC eBook Awards (historical romance) and the RNA Joan Hessayon Award. Cryssa is currently working on the second novel of the series called the Severed Knot, which follows Scottish POWs to the sugar cane fields in Barbados. The Severed Knot is slated to be released January 2019. 

Traitor's Knot is available through Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

Connect with Cryssa through her Website - 17th Century Enthusiast, Facebook, Twitter (@CryssaBazos). Sign up for her Newsletter to receive updates on future releases. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Editors Weekly Round-up, August 12, 2018

by the EHFA Editors

Here's what you missed last week on English Historical Fiction Authors. Enjoy!

by Jacqui Reiter
(an Editor's Choice from the Archives)

by Maria Grace

Giveaway: A Tale of Two Murders by Heather Redmond
Comment on the blog by 11:59pm Sunday, August 12, 
for a chance to win a hardback copy (US) or e-book (rest of the world)

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Real Origins of the Ice Cream Cone

by Maria Grace

It is suggested that ice cream cones were an invention of an ice cream vendor at a fair (possibly the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis) in need of a way of serving their frozen treats. Who that ice cream vendor actually was and at what fair were they selling ice cream is a matter of some debate.

It does not take very long to fell that myth though. We know Italo Marchiony was granted a patent for a multiple cone mold on December 15, 1903 so ice cream cones were clearly around before the 1904 fair.

But just how far back do ice cream cones go? That’s where it all becomes rather interesting.


Wafers, the stuff of which ice cream cones are made, date to the medieval era where they were an important part of a meal’s end. Over the next few hundred years, they came to be regarded as “stomach settlers,” served at the end to the meal to calm digestion.

Eventually—because creative cooks just can’t leave well enough alone don’t you know—wafers transformed into luxurious treats, making up an important element of the dessert course.  Rolled into three-dimensional shapes called funnels, cornucopias, horns or cornets they could be filled with all sort of fruit pastes, creams, and iced puddings—and chocolate, we must not forget the possibility of chocolate!

The first printed recipe for wafer cones is found Cleremont’s The Professed Cook from 1769.

Of Wafers and other Pastes

What is here meant by Cornets (Horn), is the thin Dutch Wafers twisted like a Horn.
Des Gaufres. 
Of Wafers. 
THE most fashionable are those made with cream. Mix as much powder-sugar as good flour, with a little orangeflower water-; put this into a proper vessel, and pour some good cream to it by little and little, stirring it very well with a spoon to hinder it from forming into lumps, and add as much cream as will make the paste or batter pour out pretty thick from the spoon. This is also made with Spanish, or sweet wine: mix an equal weight of sugar-powder and flour as before, and work it with one or two new-laid eggs, and sweet wine sufficient to make the batter of the same consistence as the first. They are also done with butter: use the flour and sugar as usual, add a little rasped lemon-peel, and a few drops of orange-flower water; mix as before by degrees, with very good butter melted in a little milk until it comes to the same consistence as others: the paste being prepared after this manner, of either kind, warm the waferiron on both sides, and rub it over with some butter tied in a linen bag, or a bit of virgin-wax; pour a spoonful of the batter, and bake over a smart fire, turning the iron once or twice until the wafer is done on both sides of a fine brown colour; if you would have them twisted, put them upon a mould ready at hand for that purpose; put it up directly as you take it out, and press it to the shape of whatever form you please, and so continue; always keep them in a warm place.

From Wafers to Ice Cream Cones

One might note that Clermont does not actually talk about what to do with those cones once they are made. That was left entirely to the cook’s imagination. It was not until Francatelli’s The Modern Cook (1846) more than seventy five years later, that we see a specific recommendation that these wafer shapes be used to hold ice cream.  He recommended filling the wafer cornets with ice cream and using them to garnish ice cream puddings, including the rather spectacular creation Iced Pudding à la Chesterfield.

GRATE one pound of pine-apple into a basin, add this to eight yolks of eggs, one pint and a half of boiled cream, one pound of sugar, and a very little salt; stir the whole together in a stewpan over a stove-fire until the custard begins to thicken; then pass it through a tammy, by rubbing with two wooden spoons, in the same manner as for a purée, in order to force the pine-apple through the tammy. This custard must now be iced in the usual manner, and put into a mould of the shape represented in the annexed wood cut; and in the centre of the iced cream, some macédoine ice of red fruits, consisting of cherries, currants, strawberries and raspberries in a cherry-water ice, must be introduced; cover the whole in with the lid, then immerse the pudding in rough ice in the usual way, and keep it in a cool place until wanted. When about to send the pudding to table, turn it out of the mould on to its dish, ornament the top with a kind of drooping feather, formed with green angelica cut in strips, and arranged as represented in the wood-cut; garnish the base with small gauffres, filled with some of the iced cream reserved for the purpose, place a strawberry on the top of each, and serve. (Emphasis added)

Were there Ice Cream Cones in the Regency?

But I’m pretty sure that someone made the leap to use wafer coronets for ice cream in that seventy-five year gap between Cleremont’s book and Francatelli’s. In fact, near the end of the Regency era, in The Italian Confectioner (1820), G. A. Jarrin “wrote, that his almond wafers should be rolled ‘on pieces of wood like hollow pillars, or give them any other form you may prefer.  These wafers may be made of pistachios, covered with currants and powdered with coarse sifted sugar; they are used to garnish creams; when in season, a strawberry may be put into each end, but it must be a fine’ . . . He suggested turning another of his wafers into ‘little horns; they are excellent to ornament a cream.” (Quinzio, 2000) Sounds like an ice cream filled cone to me!

Of course, that is only supposition, not concrete evidence. But fear not, we do have some tangible indication that ice cream cones might have been publicly consumed as early as 1807.

A colored engraving, titled Frascati, by Parisian Louis-Philibert Debucourt (1755-1832) published in 1807, depicted a Parisian café where at a “small table in the right hand corner of the engraving with two ladies and a gentleman. On the table is a carafe and a glass, and the buxom lady facing us appears to be eating out of a cone which she is holding in her right hand. The gesture is modern and familiar to all of us ice cream cone consumers in the 2lst century: cone slightly tipped, mouth open for a lick. Anyone would recognize this as an ice cream cone.” (Weir, 2004) (I can’t post the image here for copyright reasons, but you can find it HERE )

For more on Ice Cream in Jane Austen's World, click HERE.

Click Here for References


Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. 

After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

Click here to find her books on Amazon. For more on her writing and other Random Bits of Fascination, visit her website. You can also like her on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Exotic Visitors: "the last of the Mohicans" Come to England, 1766

by Jacqui Reiter

An unexpected visit 
The summer of 1766 was especially wet. The five children of British politician William Pitt were staying at the seaside town of Weymouth for their health, but the relentless rain kept them from doing much sea-bathing.

The children had been in Weymouth less than a week before an unexpected adventure broke the rain-sodden monotony. On 24 July, four men and three women from the Wappinger tribe of Mohecannuk in New York landed at Weymouth after a month-long journey across the Atlantic. Edward Wilson, the Pitt children's tutor, described what happened:
A message came from the Chiefs themselves to inform the Ladies & Gentlemen [Hester, John, Harriot, William, and James Pitt] that if they had known that any of Mr Pitt's family was in town they wou'd have paid their respects to them first; and that now they wou'd absolutely see nobody till they had done themselves that honour ... At their coming into the room, the Chief of the Mohecaunnuck [sic] Tribe made a speech to Master Pitt [nine-year-old John, the eldest son] in the Indian tongue, & at the conclusion, presented him with a written translation of it in English.[1]

The seven natives made a tremendous impression on the Pitt children, who ranged in age from ten and a half to six and had never travelled far from home. Their mother, in London, could well imagine "the surprise of honest little John at being so extraordinarily addressed ... an odder event I think cou'd not well happen".[2] At least two of the children, Hester and William, wrote letters about it to their parents (seven-year-old William's was in Latin), and the other three probably did so too. "We found by talking to them that they had Christian names the same as the English," Hester wrote to her mother.[3]

The Mohecannuk of Stockbridge

Statue of Daniel Nimham by Michael Keropian (Wikimedia Commons)

The "Christian names" of the four Mohecannuk men that so surprised Hester Pitt were Daniel Nimham (or Ninmaham), Jacob Cheeksaunun, John Naunaphtaunk, and Solomon Uhhaunauwaunmut. (The names of the three women are not recorded). They had come all the way to Britain out of sheer desperation: their ancestral lands had been taken from them, and they wished to petition the King in person to have then restored.[4]

The name "Mohecannuk", occasionally written "Mohican", is almost certainly familiar to many from James Fenimore Cooper's novel The Last of the Mohicans. In 1766 the Mohecannuk weren't quite as badly off as Cooper made them out to be, but, like many North American tribes, they were very much under threat from colonial expansion.

Land belonging to the Mohecannuk tribe in the 18th century (Wikimedia Commons)

The Wappinger were a subset of the Mohecannuk. The name possibly came from the Algonquian "Wapani", or "Eastern People", since they were the easternmost Mohecannuk people: their lands lay along the east bank of the Hudson River, across the border between New York and Connecticut, over 200,000 acres in all. The tribe was small but well-established: at the start of the 17th century they numbered about 1000, and their number had grown considerably by the mid-18th century.[5]

After initial struggles with the early Dutch and British settlers in the 17th century, the Wappinger decided the colonists were here to stay and they might as well do business with them, although culturally they kept themselves aloof. The problem was they had always been hunters and farmers, and they soon found their land parcelled up and sold, or simply taken, by the European arrivals.[6]

The Philipse family
By the time Daniel Nimham became chief, or Sachem, of the Wappinger tribe in 1760, much Mohecannuk land had already been lost to Dutch and British settler families such as the Van Renssalaers and the Livingstons. The real threat, however, came from a family called Philipse.

The Philipses were originally Dutch. Vrederic Felypsen had arrived in New Amsterdam in 1674, but he soon took an oath of allegiance to the British Crown and anglicised his name to Philipse. He and his son Adolph set about establishing themselves as one of the most powerful landowning mercantile families in New York. Through marriage alliances and strategic purchases the Philipse lands soon extended twenty-four miles in three counties, from Croton River to Spuyten Duyvil Creek, including parts of New York City.[7]

Frederick Philipse III (Wikimedia Commons)

 Felypson's great-grandson, Frederick Philipse III, took over the estate in 1751. He had considerable local clout: he represented Westchester County in the New York Assembly from 1751 to 1775, where he was well-known for supporting and proposing measures friendly to the British Crown.[8] When he decided to absorb the ancient Wappinger hunting grounds into his lands, therefore, he probably did not expect much resistance.

During the French and Indian War in North America, Daniel Nimham and his Wappinger joined forces with the British commander Sir William Johnson and fought against the French. Because most of the men were away fighting, the remaining Wappinger moved, temporarily (or so they thought), to Stockbridge, Massachusetts.[9]

While they were away, however, Frederick Philipse took possession of the empty Wappinger lands. His claim to the lands was, ostensibly, legitimate: in 1697, Adolph Philipse had engaged in a treaty with the Wappinger to purchase part of their lands in northern New York. The problem lay in interpreting the treaty. Nimham claimed the treaty had only sold a part of the Wappinger lands; Philipse claimed his ancestor had been granted the whole lot by the Governor of New York.[10]

The matter went to court. New York's legislature rejected the Wappinger case. They appealed to the Governor, who (on the advice of the Council – of which Philipse was a member) dismissed them out of hand in February 1765.[11] This left the Wappinger with no recourse but to take their complaint to the highest level: the King himself.

The Wappinger in England
Alien and exotic as they were, Nimham and his party attracted much interest, and considerable sympathy, among the English. They arrived with no money, but an official order was issued to look after them at government expense and local society fell over themselves to host and entertain them.[12]

After their visit to the Pitt children, the Wappinger travelled by coach to the Duke of Kingston's ball, where they "danced according to their manner, with the war whoop", and practised English country dances. They were taken on a tour of Stonehenge and Wilton House on their way to London, which they reached in early August, where their host (a Mr Lowe) showed them off at Marylebone Gardens.[13]

"The Sachems are remarkably tall and stout," the newspapers reported gleefully, "one of them six Feet and an Half high without Shoes, which they don't wear, of a brown shining Complexion, and bold manly Countenance, dressed in the Indian Manner. The Women, who are Ladies of Fashion, were of the same Complexion with the Men".[14]

Nimham had spent some time living with an English family as a child, and so could talk a little English. The Pitt tutor, Mr Wilson, noted that "one of them ... is a kind of Interpreter to the rest", presumably Nimham. Despite this, they travelled with an unnamed "Major", who acted as a barrier between the Wappinger and the curious crowds.[15]

They spent some weeks in London, waiting. They never did see the King, but they did receive a favourable response from the Lords of Trade, recently appointed under the new ministry of William Pitt (now Earl of Chatham). The Secretary of State, Lord Shelburne, instructed their lordships to report "there is foundation for further examination into the state of the facts and proceedings upon which the Complaint [of the tribe] is grounded". The Lords of Trade concluded the Governor and Council of New York had acted with "unreasonable Severity, the Colour of great Prejudice & Partiality and ... an intention to intimidate these Indians from prosecuting their claims".[16]

Unfortunately, the Lords of Trade did not have the last word. The King did not review the petition, and a second court case in the Colonies reached the same conclusion as the first. Philipse exemplified the old adage that possession was nine-tenths of the law.

Karma works in strange ways, and Philipse did not get to enjoy his spoils for long. He chose the wrong side in the American Revolution, and in 1776 was proscribed as a traitor to his country. New York appropriated all his land in much the same way as Philipse had dispossessed Nimham's people. Philipse died in exile in 1786.[17]

Nimham's story was no happier. Alienated by the inattention of the British Crown to his people's plight, he joined the rebel side during the Revolution. He and fifty Wappinger warriors were surrounded and killed by British and Loyalist troops at the Battle of Kingsbridge in August 1778.[18]

The remaining Wappinger were eventually absorbed into the Oneida Nation. They never, of course, recovered their land, and eventually moved west. Today their descendants live on a reservation in Shawano County, Wisconsin.[19]

It's a sad ending to a rather romantic tale. I wonder whether the Pitt children ever discovered what happened to the Mohecannuk Indians who visited them on that rain-swept July day in Weymouth.



[1] Edward Wilson to Lady Chatham, 26 July 1766, National Archives Chatham MSS PRO 30/8/67 f 3

[2] Lady Chatham to Edward Wilson, 29 July 1766, in Lord Ashbourne, Pitt: Some Chapters of his Life and Times (London, 1898), p. 3

[3] Lady Hester Pitt to Lady Chatham, 21 August 1766, National Archives Hoare MSS PRO 30/70/5/330a; William Pitt to Lord Chatham, [August 1766], in J.H. Rose, William Pitt and National Revival (London, 1911), p. 44

[4] Alden T. Vaughan, Transatlantic Encounters (Cambridge, 2006), pp. 176-8

[5] Patrick Frazier, The Mohicans of Stockbridge (Nebraska, 1992), pp. xi-xv, 2

[6] Frazier, pp. 9, 12

[7] State of New York, An American Loyalist: the ordeal of Frederick Philipse III (NY, 1976), p. 6

[8] An American Loyalist, pp. 8, 13-4

[9] Vaughan, pp. 176-8

[10] Report of the Lords of Trade on the Petition of the Wappinger Indians, 30 August 1766, in J.R. Brodhead (ed), Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, VII (Albany, 1856), 868-70

[11] Report of the Lords of Trade, 868-70

[12] New Daily Advertiser, 8 August 1766

[13] Caledonian Mercury, 11 August 1766

[14] Public Advertiser, 8 August 1766

[15] Edward Wilson to Lady Chatham, 26 July 1766, National Archives Chatham MSS PRO 30/8/67 f 3; New Daily Advertiser, 8 August 1766; Public Advertiser, 8 August 1766

[16] Report of the Lords of Trade, 868-70

[17] An American Loyalist, pp. 26, 31

[18] "Daniel Nimham" (Wikipedia), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Nimham (accessed 8/1/2015)

[19] Frazier, p. xi

This is an Editor's Choice and was originally published January 8, 2015


Jacqueline Reiter has a PhD in late 18th century political history from the University of Cambridge. A professional librarian, she lives in Cambridge with her husband and two children. She blogs at www.thelatelord.com and you can follow her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/latelordchatham) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/latelordchatham). The Late Lord: the Life of John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, a non-fiction account of John Pitt, was published by Pen & Sword Books in January 2017. Her novel about John and William Pitt, Earl of Shadows, was published by Endeavour Media in October 2017. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Giveaway: A Tale of Two Murders by Heather Redmond

A hardback copy (US) or e-book (rest of the world) of A Tale of Two Murders by Heather Redmond is being offered:

In the winter of 1835, young Charles Dickens is a journalist on the rise at the Evening Chronicle. Invited to dinner at the estate of the newspaper's co-editor, Charles is smitten with his boss's daughter, vivacious nineteen-year-old Kate Hogarth. They are having the best of times when a scream shatters the pleasant evening. Charles, Kate, and her father rush to the neighbors' home, where Miss Christiana Lugoson lies unconscious on the floor. By morning, the poor young woman will be dead.

When Charles hears from a colleague of a very similar mysterious death a year ago to the date, also a young woman, he begins to suspect poisoning and feels compelled to investigate. The lovely Kate offers to help—using her social position to gain access to the members of the upper crust, now suspects in a murder. If Charles can find justice for the victims, it will be a far, far better thing than he has ever done. But with a twist or two in this most peculiar case, he and Kate may be in for the worst of times . . .

For a chance to win a copy of this new release, leave a comment below. Don't forget to leave your contact details.

This giveaway will remain open until 11.59 pm on Sunday August 12 (Pacific Daylight Time)

[This giveaway is now closed and the winner will be notified shortly]

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Editors Weekly Round-up, August 5, 2018

by the EHFA Editors

Never miss a post on English Historical Fiction Authors. Enjoy this week's round-up:

by Lauren Gilbert

by Carolyn Miller

Carolyn Miller is offering an e-book copy of her book. 
Comment on the linked post by 11:59pm (Pacific) 
tonight, August 5, 2018, for a chance to win. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Royal Pavilion, Brighton

By Carolyn Miller

A few years ago, I was blessed by the opportunity to visit my sister who was living in London at that time. For an Australian who had long dreamed of seeing England, this was a wonderful opportunity indeed. One of the places I had to see was the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, something that seemed most fantastical, a monument to the excesses of the Prince Regent, and something I’d read about in works such as Georgette Heyer’s Regency Buck

Originally built as a farmhouse and situated on Brighton’s main thoroughfare, the Steine, the Prince Regent bought the property in the mid-1780s when he wanted an establishment outside London. The salubrious sea air, the distance from the pressure of court, and the position that enabled him to discreetly conduct his affair with Mrs. Fitzherbert, who resided nearby, were all doubtless strong inducements to settling in a place long recommended by his uncle, the Duke of Cumberland (known to enjoy gaming and the theatre).

In 1787 the Prince Regent requested architect Henry Holland’s assistance. Holland, who had previously worked on London’s Brook’s Club and the neoclassical remodelling of Carlton House, added a central domed rotunda, cream tiles and Ionic columns, and the former farmhouse became known as the Marine Pavilion.

John Nash was later called on to create designs that reflected the Regent’s interest in the Orient. According to John Morley who wrote the wonderful The Making of the Royal Pavilion, the Prince Regent was very hands on in specifying what he did and didn’t want, which is why we see the fantastic mix of the Oriental, Moorish, and Indian in the building today. Nash’s remodelling also had to take into account the Prince’s new stable block, built by William Porden in 1804-1808 with a great dome and minarets, that could accommodate sixty (!) horses, and which towered over the Marine Pavilion. A house fit for a Prince (and future king) had to be fashioned.

From 1815 to 1823, further transformations saw the construction of the Great Kitchen, the Music Room and the Banqueting Room, and the new king’s status saw the Royal Pavilion moniker adopted. The dramatic façade included many minarets, onion shaped domes and cupolas, an exotic contrast to Holland’s earlier classical designs. Inside, redecoration became necessary, and designers Frederick Crace and Robert Jones—with specific direction from the Prince Regent—were largely responsible for the chinoiserie-infused decoration schemes, which blended various elements of Chinese décor for dramatic effect. The decoration of the rooms is designed to increase in vibrancy as the visitor enters through the Asian-inspired yet subdued Octagon and Entrance Halls, to the crimson theatricality of the Long Gallery and the State Rooms beyond.

The Long Gallery seen today is not dissimilar to the illustration of 200 years ago, in Nash’s Views of the Royal Pavilion, (published 1827), with its painted glass ceiling, tasselled lanterns, bamboo furniture and richly patterned carpet. The 1950s restoration show walls that strongly resemble the original design of trees, leaves and birds, which together with the bell-lined ceiling and mirror-backed doors give the illusion of an endless corridor in an exotic Oriental pagoda. No doubt those who gathered for cards and conversation would have spent much time talking about the fantastic (garish?) décor, the likes of which many visitors would never have seen before.

Passing through the Long Gallery serves as dramatic entrance to the magnificence that is the Banqueting Room. Robert Jones is understood to have designed this interior, a fabulous gilt-laden room of Chinese inspiration, centred by a grand chandelier suspended from a silver dragon. This 30ft chandelier holds six more dragons who breathe light into glass lotus shapes, and is believed to have cost eleven thousand pounds sterling. Princess Lieven is reported to have said “I do not believe that, since the days of Heliogabalus, there has been such magnificence and luxury” (John Morley, The Making of the Royal Pavilion). Dragons are a feature of the room, and can be seen festooned on sideboards, the Spode torchere, gilt wood columns, and the large Axminster carpet, the sumptuous display designed to show off the host’s status and wealth.

Palm tree columns were used to hide the cast iron supports for the upper floors in the Great Kitchen, a place that also employed the latest technology to create lavish meals, such as the famous menu designed by the French chef Marie-Antoine Careme with 60 dishes! Apparently the Prince Regent’s visitors were escorted to see this room (also known as the King’s Kitchen), and the attention to detail here further demonstrates the desire to impress with the best money could buy.

Further rooms continue to emphasise such things. The Banqueting Room Gallery, part of the original farmhouse, consisted of two rooms, an anteroom and a breakfast room. These were combined in 1815 to form the Blue Drawing Room, after Frederick Crace’s colourful decorating scheme. Nash’s later design saw the room designated as a gallery for use after dinner, with a more subdued colour palette, designed for guests to relax after the Banqueting Room’s excesses. Palm tree columns and the Dolphin Furniture (c. 1810), decorated with maritime motifs, demonstrates the importance of the sea and Nelson’s victories over Napoleon.

The rounded Saloon, situated directly under the central dome, dates from Holland’s time, and while its physical shape remained unaltered by Nash’s renovations, the interior décor changed several times over the years, from neoclassical style, to Frederick Crace’s Chinese wallpaper and clouded ceiling, to Robert Jones’s opulent, regal theme, complete with Indian motifs, completed in 1823. Today’s visitor will soon see a freshly restored room of silver and white, silk panels, and a replica of the carpet designed by Robert Jones.

The Music Room Gallery, used for recitals and smaller concerts and occasionally for dancing, provided respite from the more ornately decorated State Rooms. Frederick Crace’s earlier design showed a bright yellow drawing room, complete with Chinese-inspired details, which was replaced by another Crace design in 1821 that was more restrained, perhaps more in keeping with the role of the new king.

George IV loved music and would often join in with the evening’s entertainment, singing whilst accompanying himself on the pianoforte, and the Music Room was a favourite place for him to indulge his passion. Designed to hold an orchestra as well as many guests, this State Room has a domed ceiling with nine chandeliers of painted glass shaped like lotuses, painted dragons supported canvases of Chinese scenes, silver dragons held up blue silk draperies, and the gilding used throughout. An astonishing room indeed.

Of course, not all of the Prince Regent’s contemporaries approved such lavish displays of wealth. A number of people, no doubt influenced by the extravagant costs associated with the seemingly constant refurbishments, and the fact the Prince ‘paid’ for such refurbishments via taxes, were quite critical. The Pavilion has been described as “like a collection of stone pumpkins and pepper boxes,” “long been the subject of laughter all over the country,” “as if the genius of architecture had at once the dropsy and the megrims…fantastical,” and “it looks as if St Paul’s Cathedral has come down to Brighton and pupped.”

But despite this criticism, I think the Royal Pavilion in Brighton is a must see. I’m so glad this splendid edifice to royal Regency (and questionable!) taste has been preserved through the years, so if you get the chance, take the hour-long tour, then spend time in the lovely gardens. The Royal Pavilion truly has to be seen to be believed.

[all photographs copyright of the author]


Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked part-time as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novels include The Elusive Miss Ellison, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Winning Miss Winthrop and Miss Serena's Secret, all available from Amazon, Book Depository, Koorong, etc

Connect with her:        website | facebook | pinterest | twitter | instagram

Carolyn is offering an e-book of The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey and the giveaway is open until Midnight (Pacific Daylight Time) Sunday Aug 5 2018. Click HERE for more info

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

John Dent Esquire

by Lauren Gilbert

John Dent Esquire was born August 21, 1761, 2nd son (but 1st surviving son) of Robert Dent (1731-1805) of London and Clapham, who was a banker. Robert Dent became a partner of Child’s Bank in 1763, when Robert Child became senior partner. John’s mother was Jane Bainbridge of St. James, Westminster. An old Westmoreland family with property in Appleby, his father was the son of a younger son of Robert Dent of Trainlands (1651-1702) and may have been a schoolmaster before he was hired as a clerk at Child’s Bank. Robert Dent purchased a house in Clapham, Surrey, and a share in the manor of Cockerham near Lancaster. John was initiated as a Freemason in 1788. As a Freemason, John served as Provincial Grand-Master of Worcestershire from 1792-1826 and as Grand Treasurer of the United Grand Lodge of England from 1813-1826.

John was married October 29, 1800 to Anne Jane Williamson, daughter of John Williamson, a brewer, who was also a justice of the peace and served as Mayor of Liverpool 1761-1762. He built Roby Hall near Liverpool. Anne and her sister Mary were co-heiresses of their father’s estate. John and Anne had 5 sons and 5 daughters.

John was taken into the firm of Child’s Bank in1795, and, like his father, became a partner in 1805 (the year his father died). He acquired a share of the manor of Cockerham, although he did not live in it. He also acquired a manor house on a cliff near Barton on the Hampshire coast. The family had a townhouse in Clapham; John also lived at the manor in Hampshire when Parliament was in recess.

John served as a Member of Parliament for about 30 years: he represented Lancaster (which includes Liverpool) from 1790-1812, and Poole (in Dorset on the coast). An active and diligent member, he was not considered a great speaker but was also not considered a poor one either. Serving during Pitt’s ministry, he generally supported the ministry but went his own way on certain issues. One issue which invoked strong feelings was his opposition to the abolition of the slave trade in 1793 and again in 1796 (as a representative of a constituency that included a major slave port, Liverpool, this was not surprising), supporting Col. Isaac Gascoyne who was married to his wife’s sister Mary and represented the constituency of Liverpool. He based his opposition to abolishing the slave trade on (among other things) the ideas that the abolishment of the slave trade would injure the planters who owned and relied on slave labour and that the slaves needed to be prepared for freedom before experiencing it. The issue was argued heatedly through the 1790’s; the slave trade was finally abolished March 25, 1807.

Another issue regarding which John Dent Esquire felt strongly was the Dog Tax. Byron and others referred to him as “Dog Dent” because, on April 5 1796, John proposed a tax on dogs, in support of which he followed up with vigour (he envisioned the elimination of nuisance dogs that were annoying property owners, and a tax affecting the rich with the funds raised being used for poor relief). Although Dent’s measure was not initially successful as it was considered unreasonable, Pitt later revised the measure and in 1798 it was combined in a bill that included the dog tax with taxes on carriages, horses (saddle and carriage) and male servants, to raise money for war expenditures. John supported the Bank of England in late 1796-early 1797 and stood against the establishment of a new bank. The records indicate that, throughout his career, John was a dedicated and busy Member of Parliament, contributing his thoughts and speaking on a wide range of issues. After Pitt’s government fell, he ultimately transferred his loyalty to Canning. In 1805, John declined the offer of a baronetcy.

In 1811, John Dent Esquire was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of London. He was a serious bibliophile (a catalogue of his impressive library was compiled in 1825). He was one of the eighteen founding members of the Roxburghe Club. (For more on the Roxburghe Club, go HERE.) As a member of the Roxburghe Club, he presented 23 books to each of the members (these books were reprints of rare texts, which were produced and bound at the giver’s expense to each member).

A copy of a portion of a rare print by Visschyer..."
the publisher is indebted to the liberality ofJohn Dent Esq; M.P. and F.A.S;
in whose magnificent library it is deposited." 

In the general election of 1812, John canvassed for the seat representing Poole but had to withdraw. Although there are indications that a seat for Petersfield was offered to him, he apparently refused it. In 1814, John changed his mind about the baronetcy and asked for it, but it was too late and the baronetcy was not awarded. In 1818, he stood for and won the seat representing Poole and held this seat until 1826.

In his later years, John suffered from tic douloureux. He suffered a great deal from this condition. He supposedly tried to kill himself in 1825 by jumping off a cliff near his villa (the cliff was too low, so the fall didn’t kill him). This condition is known today as Trigeminal Neuralgia and is a condition of the trigeminal or 5th cranial nerve in the face (there is one of these nerves on each side of the face). This disorder causes sudden, intense pain, usually on one side of the face, without warning, and is considered to be one of the most painful conditions known. The cause is not known, so there is no way to prevent the attacks. Although modern medicine provides some measure of relief today, little could have helped him except possibly laudanum.

John wrote his will July 29, 1824; his wife Anne was beneficiary. He died Nov 14, 1826. In his obituary, which appeared in the February edition of The Gentleman’s Magazine, his hiring at Child’s was attributed to “Accident and superior penmanship...” (1) His library, which was extolled in his obituary, was sold at auction March-May of 1827. His will was recorded March 5, 1827. His widow Anne died May 20, 1856.

(1) From The Gentleman's Magazine: And Historic Chronicle from January to June 1827 (GoogleBooks) cited below.

Sources include:

eMedicineHealth. “Tic Douloureux (Trigeminal Neuralgia)”. HERE

GoogleBooks. The Gentleman’s Magazine: And Historic Chronicle From January to June 1827. Volume XCVII Part the First HERE; British Freemasonry 1717-1813, Volume 5 HERE; A Catalogue of the Library of John Dent, Esq., M.P. F.R.S. HERE; A History of British Taxes and Taxation in England: From Earliest Times to the Present Day, Vol. III Direct Taxes and Stamp Duties by Stephen Dowell, pp. 293-304. HERE; Lord Byron: Selected Letters and Journals, p. 165. [Poem: "Dear Doctor I have Read your Play]

History of Parliament Online. “Dent, John (?1761-1826) of Clapham, Surr; Cockerham, Lancs; and Barton Cottage, nr Christchurch, Hants.” HERE

National Archives. "Will of John Dent Esq." Prob11-1722-272.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online. "Dent, John (1761-1826) by D. R. Fisher. First published September 23, 2004, this version May 26, 2016. (Thanks to Jacqueline Reiter who generously assisted me with this.) HERE

Image: Wikimedia Commons. (Image in public domain) HERE


Lauren Gilbert lives in Florida with her husband, with roses, hibiscus, plumeria and heliconias blooming and fresh pineapple ripening in the yard. She is working on her second novel, A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT. Her first published book, HEYERWOOD: A NOVEL is still available through Amazon and other fine booksellers. She has a BA in English with a minor in Art History and is a long-time member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. You can find more information on her website HERE.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Giveaway: The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey by Carolyn Miller

Carolyn is offering an e-book copy of The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey:

Tainted by scandal and forced to leave London for the quieter Brighton countryside, the Honorable Miss Clara DeLancey is a shadow of her former society self. She's lost the man she loved to another and, in a culture that has no patience for self-pity, is struggling with depression. A chance encounter brings her a healing friendship with the sisters of an injured naval captain. But Clara's society mama is appalled at the new company she's keeping.

Captain Benjamin Kemsley is not looking for a wife. But his gallant spirit won't let him ignore the penniless viscount's daughter--not when she so obviously needs assistance to keep moving forward from day to day. Can he protect his heart and still keep her safe?

When they're pushed into the highest echelons of society at the Prince Regent's Brighton Pavilion, this mismatched couple must decide if family honor is more important than their hopes. Can they right the wrongs of the past and find future happiness together--without finances, family support, or royal favor?

The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey is full of the captivating, flawed characters, fascinating historical details, and masterful writing that Carolyn Miller's fans have come to know in The Elusive Miss Ellison and The Captivating Lady Charlotte. If you love Lori Wick, Georgette Heyer, and other clean, wholesome Regency romance, you'll love this third book in the Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace series.

For a chance to win, simply comment below, and don't forget to leave your contact details. Giveaway remains open until midnight (Pacific Daylight Time) Sunday August 5 2018

(And look out for a guest post by Carolyn on this blog on Thursday Aug 2)

[This giveaway is now closed. The winner will be notified shortly]

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Editors Weekly Round-up, July 29, 2018

by the EHFA Editors

New posts on various aspects of British history every week! Enjoy our round-up:

by Kim Rendfeld

by Anna Belfrage

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