The Swan Circle

A story of Georgian networking

In the news…

18th Century Digressions, Entertainment & Culture, Health & Medicine, Love & Marriage No Comments »

Lost PropertyWe have all experienced that kind of day when we switch on the rolling TV news channels and find there is not much going on. A slow day for news we call it, and for the news channels it must feel like the silly season comes more than once a year. They have to scrape out the ridiculous, the ephemeral, the shallow vapid tales and make them newsworthy – persuade us we want them. The same goes for our daily newspapers, and it has to be said, the online news and blogs. Has that changed in three hundred years? Judging by the evidence derived from contemporary newspapers of the mid-eighteenth century, it appears that it has not. In 1764, it was thought worthy to add a paragraph to one London newspaper concerning someone's pet parrot who had laid four eggs over a period of ten days. Then there was some letter about the militia 'dancing' to music during exercises! Dotted interlinearly between the serious and the ridiculous are the stories, adverts and announcements that were considered of some importance to individuals, such as petty crimes and pleas for lost property, but to us, these may appear unintentionally amusing. And out of interest, what about Mr William Shakespear below? Doing his duty for poor old Isaac Elias – "if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?"

'Northern climes have always been observed to be most favorable to population, but we seldom meet with so curious an instance as the following, communicated to us by a correspondent at St. Petersburgh. There now lives in the district of Schuiske, a villager of the name of Foedor Vassili, who, of two wives he married successively, has had a very extraordinary number of children. The first, in 27 years, made him father of 69, having had four at a time at four successive births, three at each of seven following lyings-in, and two at a time in 16 more. The second wife was brought to bed only eight times; at six of her births she had two at a time, and three in the two ones subsequent, so that the above two wives in 35 lyings-in, made him father to 87 children, four only of whom died young, and his family now consists of 83!'

'A Gentleman in Suffolk writes thus to his friend in London: "Whilst you have horse and foot patrolling to protect you from the poor Spitalfields Weavers that are up in arms thro' want of their daily bread; we have at Bury 500 of our Militia learning to dance, and march to the sound of the fife. The new recruits are exercising morning and afternoon, without arms, to teach them first to make use of their legs. Picture to yourself a very awkward country fellow, whose legs are always left half a yard behind him, teaching to move to music, and stand upright. The scene is better conceived then can be expressed: To me it is excessive droll; though I heartily pity the poor Serjeants, and think they need more patience than Pedagogues: but let me do the justice to those who have been taught the exercise, to say, they are quite equal to the regulars, and both officers and men do that credit to their country which a well disciplined Militia was intended for, and may serve every other good purpose of a standing army."'

'Chelmsford, Nov. 16.
Monday the Fair began here, and Cattle in general sold dear. At Night a Tradesman found his Son in Company with a common Prostitute, and on desiring him to leave her, was refused; on which the Father got a Warrant, took up the Woman, and carried her before a Magistrate, who ordered her to the House of Correction; but as the Constable was conducting her, some young Bloods knocked him down, and carried off the Nymph in Triumph. In the Fray the Constable lost his Hat and Wig.'


'Yesterday John Eason, a soldier, who was on a recruiting party at Walton upon Thames, Surry. was committed to the New Gaol in Southwark, by William Shakespear, Esq; for breaking open a room, and robbing Isaac Elias, a travelling Jew, of his box, containing money, jewel, plate, and other effects, to a great value.'

A Plea
'If the benevolent Author of a Pamphlet, called the History of a Gentleman cured of HEATS to his face, would be so good, as by a line in this paper, to be particularly explicit, how the drops of the medice he reats of called Red Speedwell, are made and how many are to be taken in the day, and where the herb is to be procured, he will oblige one who hopes for relief from the use of them, and to be indebted to them for the benefit.

'Dr Lowther's Nervous Powder [for]
A Relaxation of the whole Nervous System, attended with Tremors, Lowness of Spirits, and great Dejections, Retchings, Startings, Hectic Heats, Wailing of the whole Habit of Body, greatly oppressed with Wind, Want of Appetite, indigestion, and violent Reaching for many Years, &c.

Lost Property
'Left in a Hackney Coach that set a Gentleman down at Westminster-hall Gate, on Friday the 25th of February last, between Six and Seven o'clock in the evening, a Row of ARTIFICIAL TEETH. Whoever will bring the same to Mr Meckleson, dentist, in Coventry-street, Piccadilly, shall receive a Guinea reward.

An Announcement
'This morning Laurence Richardson, esq; of Hampton Hedges in Leicestershire, was married to Miss Sally Essex, of Kensington; what renders the union remarkable is, that each of the parties have lost an eye, and were both born the 26th day of June, 1740.

From the Gossip Column
'Two or three absurd paragraphs have crept into our paper within this day or two, fabricated with the elegant design of giving uneasiness to one of the few amiable and repectable Ladies of St. James's. It is needless to observe that the paragraphs alluded to were written in a female hand, and the orthography required no small degree of correction!

Finally, this delightful piece of sarcasm about Sally the Small, subject of many articles on my other blog, Theatre History:

'Wonderful Intelligence. – "Sally the Small is as well as can be expected after her lying-in." To which we may add, by way of companion to this, that "yesterday died Jowler, only dog to Mr. Marrowbones, of Clare-market." – And now the public have information enough for one day!'

And that just about sums it up, only Yahoo OMG could do better. I must dash, having a hectic heat.


All stories taken from various London newspapers: London Chronicle, Morning Chronicle, Westminster Journal etc. between 1766-1795

The Perfect Hoop Petticoat

18th Century Digressions, Society and Politics No Comments »

Various petticoats a la mode

The new fashion for the circular hoop petticoat was picked up by Parker's General Advertiser and Morning Intelligencer on the 26 April 1783 in the following biting paragraph:

'The perfect hoop petticoat is to undergo a material alteration before the Summer commences, and is to be a perfect imitation of that magnificent one worn by the fair islanders of Myconia, which is perfectly circular, and of course furnishes that beautiful simile of comparing a woman to a star ; as then it may be truly said, that every lady moves in her own orb, and shines in her own sphere. There may indeed arise some objections to those kind of ornaments, viz. that a slender woman in such a dress stands upon a basis so exorbitantly wide, that she resembles a tunnel; and that a woman of low stature, when she moves, gives us a perfect idea of a child in a go-cart.'


MJ Holman


Brest’s Coffee-House, 1773

Family History, The Georgian Home, The Swan Circle 2 Comments »

Seven Dials circa 1740

Seven Dials, Covent Garden circa 1740


William George Brest advertised the trial opening of his new coffee-house at Christmas in the year of 1773. Two years earlier he had been working as a book-keeper to Mr Prater of Charing Cross and was a close friend and brother-in-law of William Mercer (see previous post). His coffee-house was situated in the area of Covent Garden known as the Seven Dials. Today it is swanky, upmarket and home to one of my favourite theatres 'The Donmar', but by the 19th century the area had become a slum and part of the notorious St Giles rookery.
   The fate of Brest's Coffee House is unknown, but Brest's advertisement serves to illustrate the expectations and requirements of the gentlemanly patrons of coffee houses during the eighteenth century:


Soups, Dinners, Wines, Coffee, &c.

"BREST'S Coffee-House. WILLIAM GEORGE BREST previous to acquaint his Friends and the Publick, that he has very com…..lly and genteely fitted up his House, the Corner of Great Earl-Street, Seven-Dials, near Long-Acre as a Coffee-Room and Tavern. For the Coffee-Room (the entrance of which is in Earl-Street) he takes in all the Morning Papers, Evening Papers, &c. and Gentleman resorting it will always find different Soups, Coffee, Tea, Wines, and every other requisite Article of the very best Kinds. He has also engaged a professed Cook; and any Gentleman or Company may always depend on dining or supping in the Coffee-Room, or in a Private Room as a Tavern, equal (in respect to Dispatch, Attendance, Accommodation, and Goodness) to the first Houses in London, and on Terms that will, he flatters himself insure him the Continuance of those Gentlemans Custom who now honour him with a trial."


Content Protected Using Blog Protector By: PcDrome.