...about Jane Austen's Life and Times -- everything you ever wanted to know about entailment and more besides.
- What of this odious entailment business?
- How much would Mr. Darcy's £10,000 a year be worth today?
- What, exactly, is white soup?
- Aren't Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram first cousins? How can they get married?
- What is that ribbon thing hanging at the waist of men's pants?
- Why do some women wear those little white caps in the house?
- What is purchasing a commission in the army?
- What did Jane Austen read?
- I'm writing a novel set in the Regency. Can you help me with my research?
- Was the character of Fitzwilliam Darcy inspired by Jane Austen's love affair with Tom Lefroy?
Jane Austen's House Museum
The web site of Jane Austen's House in Chawton.
Jane Austen in Hampshire
The Hantsweb pages devoted to Jane Austen .
Jane Austen's Bath
A collection of period illustrations of Bath at the British Library.
Jane Austen's fiction manuscripts
a digital resource reuniting all the known holograph surviving manuscripts of Austen’s fiction in an unprecedented virtual collection. This is a work in progress.
Jane Austen's Family
The genealogy of the Austen family: Jane Austen's ancestors; the descendants of her brothers; and details of many of the other families associated with them
Jane Austen's History of England at the British Library
Jane Austen's History of England in her hand, digitized for online reading in a "turn the page format.
Jane Austen's will
Digital scan of Jane Austen's will at the National Archives.
The John Murray Archive
Including digital scans of letters from Jane Austen.
Jane Austen's Music Online
The purpose of this site is to facilitate the study and playing of the music in Jane Austen's music notebooks and the Austen family music notebooks held by the Jane Austen Memorial Trust.
Ivan Day's Historic Food Site
Ivan Day is "the" historical food expert". This site is fascinating,replete with recipes,fabulous illustrations and tempting details of his courses.
The famed publishers of cookery books, especially facsimile editions of historical treasures. The glossary of historical cookery terms is an invaluable resource.
The Works of Thomas Wilson, dancing master to the Kings theatre
This site contains on line versions of his books which are used today by many country dance societies.
The Regency Page
Including Cathy Decker's compendious Regency Fashion Page,with numerous clothing illustrations.
The Kyoto Costume Institute
Justifiably famous for its staggering collection of European costumes, the page representing the 18th early 19th century are totally awe-inspiring.
The Geffrye Museum
The Geffrye Museum in London shows the changing style of the English domestic interior in a series of period rooms from 1600 to the present day.
Manchester Museum Costume Collection
The world famous Gallery of Costume, Platts Hall Manchester. Stunning examples of 18th and 19th century clothes.
Restored Georgian townhouse located in York.
The Jane Austen Collection at Goucher College
A significant research collection.
The Costume Society of Great Britain
Jessamyn's Regency Costume Companion
How to make a period dress &tc
Illustrations and Clothing Information
Brock illustrations from the novels and specifics on garments.
The National Maritime Museum,Greenwich, UK
Wonderful searchable site for British naval history.
Warship photo gallery
A site intended as an aid for modelmakers, but it contains some good information and links about naval history in general -- not all Regency.
Titles & Rank
Details about honorifics, part of the Jane Austen information pages.
British Titles of NobilityLife and Times board archive
Laura Wallace's introduction and primer to the peerage.
Special Monthly Topic on the life of Jane Austen
Names used by Jane Austen
A database of the character names Jane Austen used in all of her work, collected by Pemberley citizens.
Other scans of Regency pictures
Part of the Jane Austen information pages
A Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson
1822 edition at Google Books
Growing list of source material contributed by the readers of this board.
The DiCamillo Companion to British & Irish Country Houses
Curt DiCamillo's wonderful, exhaustive database of English Heritage.
WHAT OF THIS ODIOUS ENTAILMENT BUSINESS?
Why can Anne DeBourgh inherit Rosings, but the Bennet girls have to give up Longbourn to Mr. Collins? For answers to many of these questions, see the entailment section on the Jane Austen Info page.
HOW MUCH WOULD MR. DARCY'S £10,000 A YEAR BE WORTH TODAY?
This is a question without an easy answer. The Mysterious H.C. has a post discussing the relationship between Income and Status. Kate2 posted a message about index-linked currency values for the 18th century. The National Archives of the UK has provided a Currency Converter that does an excellent job of translating wealth from earlier eras to the present in terms of both money and buying power.
WHAT, EXACTLY, IS WHITE SOUP?
The Penquin edition of Pride and Prejudice says that white soup is ""made from meat stock, egg yolks, ground almonds and cream, and served with negus (hot sweetened wine and water) as a warming and intoxicating beverage at balls." Laura W adds, "I think it must mean that the soup was actually served as a beverage (and therefore not limited to the supper room).
Jane Grigson in her book English Food , writing about White( or almond )soup states that it is "a beautifully white soup which goes back to the cookery of the middle ages, the courtly cookery of England and France.(The French name is soupe a la reine). Almonds then played an even larger part in fine dishes than they do today…In the country it was a favourite soup for winter parties_ in Pride and Prejudice Mr Bingley declared his intention of giving a ball at Netherfield 'as soon as Nicholls had made white soup enough I shall send round my cards'.
Eliza Acton remarked that when she gave a recipe for Westfield White Soup,…she had not varied the original at all "as the soup made by it…seems always much approved by the guests of the hospitable country gentleman from whose family it was derived, and at whose well-arranged table it was very commonly served".
Here are some traditional White Soup Recipes as well as a modern equivalent.
AREN'T FANNY PRICE AND EDMUND BERTRAM FIRST COUSINS? HOW CAN THEY GET MARRIED?
Henry Churchyard writes that, "the brief answer is that marrrying one's first cousin has been legal in England since the 16th-century (when England basically adopted the list of prohibited marriages in the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament, following the break with the Catholic church). Here is a Table of Kindred and Affinity from The Book of Common Prayer, 1769, printed by John Baskerville for the Cambridge University Press.
WHAT IS THAT RIBBON THING HANGING AT THE WAIST OF MEN'S PANTS?
Marie-Bernadette is proud to provide the answer to this question: The object of your inquiry is called a watch fob. It is attached to the chain of a gentleman's watch and is kept in a little pocket on the bearer (waistband) of his trousers called the watchpocket (which is also called a fob pocket). The fob is a ribbon with a little loop at the end from which are suspended seals for impressing sealing wax on letters.
The fob is a ribbon with a little loop at the end from which are suspended. A gentleman may also have a watch key on this loop. The watch key was used to wind the watch. The watch fob made it easier to retrieve the watch from the pocket. Eventually it became the fashion to have two watch fobs-- one actually attached to the watch and another on the other side merely as decoration.
WHY DO SOME WOMEN WEAR THOSE LITTLE WHITE CAPS IN THE HOUSE?
Patricia Bingham on the L&T Board writes, "Generally it is the married ladies and spinsters who wear 'caps' though unmarried ladies often did wear caps too under their bonnets for comfort. The caps were worn around the house both day and evening, except for formal occasions, in which these ladies would likely prefer a turban or veil or something else which would also cover the hair but with some decidedly evening elegance. But married ladies did not necessarily cover their heads for formal wear." To see why this is so, read Caroline's post, Put yourself their shoes, er caps...".
WHAT IS PURCHASING A COMMISSION IN THE ARMY?
Captain Everett has provided this detailed explanation of purchasing a commission:
Up until the Reforms of 1871, officers in the British Army “purchased” their Commissions. That is, they paid a set price for the rank which they held. This was intended to attract the men of fortune and character who would know how to look after the nation’s interest. As “owners” they would supposedly be more responsible of their “property” (even though legally it was held by the Crown). As the Crown had not given them their position, it also made them appear less likely to be used against the “People.”
At the start of the French Revolutionary Wars, the British Army was weak in numbers, disorganized, and lax in discipline. Commissions had been sold to the most unsuitable of candidates, including infants and women, and officers often lacked even basic training. In 1796, the new Commander-in-Chief, the Duke of York, instituted a series of reforms, which marked a turn around which would lead to the victory at Waterloo. Better training, new manuals, and other reforms greatly improved the Army.
Officers in the Cavalry or Infantry had to purchase their first “Commission," the lowest rank in their branch of the service. (Artillery and Engineer officers did not buy their commission, they received specialized training and all promotion was by seniority.) Candidates had to be “gentlemen," able to read or write, be at least 16 years of age (although a few younger did slip through), and be vouched for by a superior officer. Usually, the candidate would have an “Agent" who specialized in such transactions handle the negotiations.
During the Napoleonic Wars, most advancements were made by promotions based on seniority within the regiment to fill vacancies; secondly promotions by merit. Third came promotion by purchase, by paying the difference between his and the next highest rank. (See Table below.) Above Colonel, advancement was by seniority only. There were many regulations stating that no other moneys, or other incentives could be offered. The Duke’s reform also insisted that an officer serve a minimum number of years at each step along the way. A Subaltern (Lieutenant and below) had to serve at least three years before becoming a Captain; at least seven years in service (two as Captain) to become a Major; and nine years in service for Lieut.-Colonel. However, lack of vacancies, or of the money to pay the difference, could mean that an officer, especially in the junior ranks, could spend several years without advancing.
When an officer retired or was killed, the disposition of the commission was also through the Crown. Only money actually paid for a commission could be recovered by the individual (not the unpaid advancement portion). The officer could not sell out to whom he chose, as it reverted to the Crown. This could only be done after 20 years of service, or the ill-health of the officer.
RANK Horse Guards Dragoons Foot Guards Infantry Lieut.-Colonel £4950 4982/10/- £6700 £3500 Major £4050 £3882/10/- £6300 £2600 Captain £2950 £2782/10/- £3500 £1500 Lieutenant £1350 £ 997/10/- £1500 £ 550 Ensign £1050 £ 735 £ 400
Other Links of Interest:
- Army Ranks
- Officers’ Pay
- Rise in rank
- Ranking amongst officers
- Resigning Commissions
- Army/Navy Relative Ranks
WHAT DID JANE AUSTEN READ?
Gillian Dow and Katie Halsey have written Jane Austen’s Reading: The Chawton Years in JASNA's Persuasions Online. While not an exhaustive list of all Jane Austen's reading, the article pulls together the Chawton years from a wide variety of sources.
I'M WRITING A NOVEL SET IN THE REGENCY. CAN YOU HELP ME WITH MY RESEARCH?
The purpose of the L&T board is to assist the Pemberley community in better understanding JA's novels. If you are, instead, looking for information to help you write a piece of fiction and are not a participating member of the Pemberley community, without wishing to offend we must tell you that you are asking in the wrong place; we cannot help you. We do not have the resources to do general Regency era research.
WAS THE CHARACTER OF FITZWILLIAM DARCY INSPIRED BY JANE AUSTEN'S LOVE AFFAIR WITH TOM LEFROY?
What we know for certain about these events in JA's life is to be found in a few pieces of correspondence among Jane's family, some bits of scholarly research, and a brief mention of it in a posthumous memoir of Jane by her nephew. This is all that is known about Jane Austen and Tom Lefroy. In 1795-6, she met Thomas Lefroy (an Irish relative of Jane Austen's close older friend Mrs. Anne Lefroy, who lived at Ashe Rectory).
She mentions him in some of her letters.
In Letter Number 1 (From the Le Faye Edition of Jane Austen's Letters), she wrote:
To Cassandra Austen: written from Steventon: Saturday, January 9th 1796:
In the first place I hope you will live twenty-three years longer. Mr. Tom Lefroy's birthday was yesterday, so that you are very near of an age
You scold me so much in the nice long letter which I have this moment received from you, that I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved. Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together. I can expose myself however, only once more, because he leaves the country soon after next Friday, on which day we are to have a dance at Ashe after all. He is a very gentlemanlike, good-looking, pleasant young man, I assure you. But as to our having ever met, except at the three last balls, I cannot say much; for he is so excessively laughed at about me at Ashe, that he is ashamed of coming to Steventon, and ran away when we called on Mrs. Lefroy a few days ago…
We had a visit yesterday morning from Mr. Benjamin Portal, whose eyes are as handsome as ever. Everybody is extremely anxious for your return, but as you cannot come home by the Ashe ball, I am glad that I have not fed them with false hopes. James danced with Alithea, and cut up the turkey last night with great perseverance. You say nothing of the silk stockings; I flatter myself, therefore, that Charles has not purchased any, as I cannot very well afford to pay for them; all my money is spent in buying white gloves and pink persian. I wish Charles had been at Manydown, because he would have given you some description of my friend, and I think you must be impatient to hear something about him…
After I had written the above, we received a visit from Mr. Tom Lefroy and his cousin George. The latter is really very well-behaved now; and as for the other, he has but one fault, which time will, I trust, entirely remove -- it is that his morning coat is a great deal too light. He is a very great admirer of Tom Jones, and therefore wears the same coloured clothes, I imagine, which he did when he was wounded.
In Letter number 2, she wrote:
To Cassandra Austen: written from Steventon: Thursday ,January 16, 1796:
Friday. -- At length the day is come on which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy, and when you receive this it will be over. My tears flow as I write at the melancholy idea. Wm. Chute called here yesterday. I wonder what he means by being so civil. There is a report that Tom is going to be married to a Lichfield lass. John Lyford and his sister bring Edward home today, dine with us, and we shall all go together to Ashe. I understand that we are to draw for partners. I shall be extremely impatient to hear from you again, that I may know how Eliza is, and when you are to return.
She wrote Letter number 3 (dated Tuesday 23rd August 1796 from Cork Street in London). Deirdre Le Faye in Jane Austen: A Family Record, assumes that she stayed there with Tom Lefroy's uncle and benefactor, Mr. Benjamin Langlois, who lived in that street in London.
It is thought that Tom Lefroy was, at that time, staying with his uncle while he studied law in London. It is not known if he met Jane Austen while she stayed in Cork Street.
Tom Lefroy visited Ashe rectory in October/November 1798. He did not meet Jane Austen while he was staying there.
Deirdre Le Faye in Jane Austen : a Family Record wrote about their friendship, as follows:
"It is highly unlikely that Tom proposed or that Jane ever really believed he would do so. However, Mr. and Mrs. Lefroy had seen enough of their mutual attraction to take fright at the idea of an engagement between so youthful and penniless a pair, and Tom was sent off rapidly to London to live under the watchful eye of his great-uncle Benjamin while he studied at Lincoln's Inn.
The Lefroy parents were vexed with him, and told their sons that Tom was to blame for paying attentions to Jane when he knew full well that he was in no position to think of marriage; and years later George and his younger brother Edward Lefroy recalled how '[their] Mother had disliked Tom Lefroy because he had behaved so ill to Jane Austen, with sometimes the additional weight of the Father's condemnation..
Although Tom stayed at Ashe again in the autumn of 1798, no meetings with the Austens took place during this visit, and it was not until Madam Lefroy called at Steventon parsonage in mid November that Jane had any news of him. " (Page 93-4)
In Letter Number 11 dated Saturday 17-Sunday 18th November 1798 Jane Austen wrote about this visit :
To Cassandra Austen
…Mrs. Lefroy did come last Wednesday, and the Harwoods came likewise, but very considerately paid their visit before Mrs. Lefroy's arrival, with whom, in spite of interruptions both from my father and James, I was enough alone to hear all that was interesting, which you will easily credit when I tell you that of her nephew she said nothing at all, and of her friend very little. She did not once mention the name of the former to me, and I was too proud to make any inquiries; but on my father's afterwards asking where he was, I learnt that he was gone back to London in his way to Ireland, where he is called to the Bar and means to practise…
Descendants of Jane Austen made these comments on her friendship with Tom Lefroy:
Lord Brabourne (Edward Hugessen Knatchbull-Hugessen, the first Baron Brabourne, lived 1829-1893), who published the first edition of Jane Austen's letters in 1844 wrote in that first edition:
The first two letters which I am able to present to my readers were written from Steventon to Jane Austen's sister Cassandra in January, 1796. The most interesting allusion, perhaps, is to her "young Irish friend," who would seem by the context to have been the late Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, though at the time of writing only "Mr. Tom Lefroy." I have no means of knowing how serious the "flirtation" between the two may have been, or whether it was to this that Mr. Austen Leigh refers when he tells us that "in her youth she had declined the addresses of a gentleman who had the recommendations of good character and connections, and position in life, of everything, in fact, except the subtle power of touching her heart." I am inclined, however, upon the whole, to think, from the tone of the letters, as well as from some passages in later letters, that this little affair had nothing to do with the "addresses" referred to, any more than with that "passage of romance in her history" with which Mr. Austen Leigh was himself so "imperfectly acquainted" that he can only tell us that there was a gentleman whom the sisters met "whilst staying at some seaside place," whom Cassandra Austen thought worthy of her sister Jane, and likely to gain her affection, but who very provokingly died suddenly after having expressed his "intention of soon seeing them again." Mr. Austen Leigh thinks that, "if Jane ever loved, it was this unnamed gentleman"; but I have never met with any evidence upon the subject, and from all I have heard of "Aunt Jane," I strongly incline to the opinion that, whatever passing inclination she may have felt for anyone during her younger days (and that there was once such an inclination is, I believe, certain), she was too fond of home, and too happy among her own relations, to have sought other ties, unless her heart had been really won, and that this was a thing which never actually happened. Her allusion (letter two) to the day on which "I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy" rather negatives the idea that there was anything serious between the two, whilst a later reference (letter ten) to Mrs. Lefroy's "friend" seems to intimate that, whoever the latter may have been, any attachment which existed was rather on the side of the gentleman than of the lady, and was not recognised by her as being of a permanent nature.
Deirdre Le Faye in an article written for the Jane Austen Society in 1985 wrote:
In the late 1860s, when James-Edward Austen-Leigh was planning Memoir of Jane Austen, he consulted his sisters, Anna Lefroy and Caroline Austen, for information relating to any romantic episodes in Jane's life, and in particular to her flirtation with Tom Lefroy at Ashe Rectory in the winter of 1795-96.
By the time of these enquiries, Tom had become the austere, venerable Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, head of a large family and the owner of a rich estate in Co. Longford.
In April 1869 Caroline wrote anxiously to her brother, maintaining that the flirtation had been brief, that Tom could not be said to have jilted Jane in favour of marrying for money elsewhere, and that any rumours to the contrary had been spread by another branch of the Lefroys, settled in York, who had their own reasons for disliking him; she would prefer that no mention of the episode be made in the Memoir, in view of the fact that Tom was still alive.
However, only a few weeks after Caroline's letter, Tom died, aged 92, and almost immediately Anna Lefroy wrote to James-Edward's wife Emma, passing on just the kind of rumour that Caroline wished so much to stifle:
"Mrs. Austen Leigh Southern Hill Bray Vicarage Reading Maidenhead May 24th [postmark 1869]
My dear Emma,
few days ago I recd. a long letter from Tom Lefroy in the course of which he tells me of a conversation he had with his late Uncle last September [i.e., September 1868] on the subject of his early acquaintance with my Aunt Jane - I wish I were at liberty to copy verbatim, as I think Tom's own remarks rather amusing, but as the conversation was private he thinks it ought not to be made use of - in the way of publication I suppose - In reply I assured him he need have no fears of that sort, as, in the first place it was no part of the Memorialist's plan (as I believed) to enter upon those sort of particulars, & in the next that I am the only person who has any faith in the tradition - nor should I probably be an exception if I had not married into the family of Lefroy - but when I came to hear again & again, from those who were old enough to remember, how the Mother had disliked Tom Lefroy because he had behaved so ill to Jane Austen, with sometimes the additional weight of the Father's condemnation, what could I think then? Or what now except to give a verdict, as Tom himself expressed it "under mitigating circumstances" As - First, the youth of the Parties - secondly, that Mrs. Lefroy, charming woman as she was, & warm in her feelings, was also partial in [Page 3] her judgments - Thirdly - that for other causes, too long to enter upon, she not improbably set out with a prejudice against the Gentleman, & would have distrusted had there been no Jane Austen in the case. The one thing certain is, that to the last year of his life she was remembered as the object of his youthful admiration - They were within a short month of the same age . ... Believe me my dr. Emma yr. affect. Sister, J.A.E. Lefroy"
Anna's opinions had obviously been formed from information given by her elder brothers-in-law, John Henry George and Christopher Edward Lefroy, who were 13 and 10 years of age respectively when their Irish cousin Tom had visited Ashe in 1795-96. She would also have heard more from her son-in-law, a member of that York branch of the family who, as Caroline said, had been at odds with the Lord Chief Justice in past years.
James-Edward then wrote direct to T. E. P. Lefroy, who cautiously confirmed that his uncle had admitted to a "boyish love" for Jane; and in the event only a very brief reference to the matter appeared in the Memoir. (JAS Report 1985. Pages 336-338. )
James Edward Austen Leigh wrote in A Memoir of Jane Austen:
At Ashe also Jane became acquainted with a member of the Lefroy family, who was still living when I began these memoirs, a few months ago; the Right Hon. Thomas Lefroy, late Chief Justice of Ireland. One must look back more than seventy years to reach the time when these two bright young persons were, for a short time, intimately acquainted with each other, and then separated on their several courses, never to meet again; both destined to attain some distinction in their different ways, one to survive the other for more than half a century, yet in his extreme old age to remember and speak, as he sometimes did, of his former companion, as one to be much admired, and not easily forgotten by those who had ever known her. (Page 56.)
This is all that is know about Jane Austen and Tom Lefory. The rest is speculation.
On February 17, 2007, in an interview in the Telegraph Magazine regarding promotion for "Becoming Jane," Deirdre LeFaye says,
The vexed question , of course, is whether any of it is true. "Its nonsense " argues Dierdre Le Faye..."You might as well say Lady Hamilton was a vestal virgin living in a convent"
Le Faye doesn't dispute the meeting, flirtation and family disapproval- it's all in a letter from Jane to Cassandra...But Le Faye maintains it was all short lived: "She'd obviously been flirting with him. And it does rather sound like, for a time, Jane was regretting his absence,but that is all there is to it"
Jane never saw Lefroy again after his Christmas visit.
And as for Lefroy inspiring her to write:" Its like saying Shakespeare murdered people to give him enough information to write "Macbeth". Poppycock. She was a highly intelligent girl. She'd have been a good writer in any circumstances"
LIFE & TIMES BOARD