This is the last installment of Regency Tidbits. Next month the Embracing Romance jumps ahead two hundred years.
Before we get started, I want to apologize for not having a post last Wednesday. Unfortunately, I did not have a sufficient internet connection to get online. To make up for it I’ll give away two, winner’s choice, of the books in The Marriage Game series.
I also want to announce the winner from the previous Wednesday. Congratulations to Glenda Martillotti!!
I had thought to go over titles, but then I decided it would be more interesting to tell you about some of interesting foibles or rules of the Regency.
Ladies did not live alone. Don’t try to translate this into modern times. It was the custom both before the Regency and for a while afterward. That is the reason we have companions. Naturally, a companion had to be of gentle birth. Therefore, a lady’s maid was not sufficient for the job. A companion could be either hired as a companion or a governess who lingered on, a relative, or an unmarried daughter. Even unmarried lady with an independence, could not even set up her own household without causing a scandal until she was in her thirties. However, a widow, after her year of mourning was up and no matter her age, could set up her own household.
Gentlemen could live alone and frequently did. Even if a man had use of the family’s London house, he was more likely to take “rooms”. The apartments consisted of a bedchamber, parlor, and dining room. There would also be a place to house his valet. Many of these houses were in the vicinity of St. James St. where the most famous gentlemen’s clubs were located. Needless to say, ladies were not welcome. In fact, a lady’s reputation, even a widow’s reputation would be ruined if seen entering or leaving a bachelor’s abode of any type. However, I suppose if a mother or other older lady arrived in her town coach with footmen, no one would bat an eye.
As I mentioned in a few weeks ago, it was extremely fashionable to be seen driving a dashing sporting carriage. But, where were they kept? Many houses had a mews, an ally, behind the house where the stables were located. If a gentleman or lady did not have access to their own stables, they would use one of the many stables that hired out space, as well as horses for those in need. Ladies would always travel with either another lady or a groom. Gentlemen could go out alone if they wished, but frequently had a groom or a young boy dressed in livery called a Tiger.
By now you’ve probably noticed that gentlemen could do pretty much as they pleased and unmarried ladies could not. This was one of the reasons marriage was so desirable for a lady. Naturally, we think of love matches, but they were really just coming into fashion during the Regency. Until then, and even into the Victorian era, marriages were arranged by one’s parents. That had been going on for centuries. Love matches were new and dangerous. Vulgar was a term commonly applied to them.
I was asked recently if young ladies were as innocent or ignorant as portrayed in many books, and the answer is yes. The thinking was that if they knew nothing, they were unlikely to try to experiment. We’ve heard this before, yes? Married women were allowed to discuss and know everything, and young ladies knew they would not be allowed to have that knowledge until they were married. Also, who was going to tell them? Not a maid. That would be a quick path to unemployment. Gentlemen, on the other hand, were encouraged to sew their wild oats. Ah, the inequities of the past.
All these rules give a romance writer a great deal of fodder, also called tropes. What is your favorite trope, having a young lady compromised into marriage, young lovers torn apart and reunited, or something else?