Tuesday, February 19, 2013

News from a Country Town in 1815

I have just acquired a copy of the Norwich Mercury and Yarmouth, Lynn and Ipswich Herald for Saturday December 9th 1815. I love old newspapers and I particularly enjoy regional ones where the preoccupations of the readers are not always those of London folk.

These two advertisments caught my eye first. The top one is for a new stagecoach "The Day"  running out of the Rampant Horse inn in Norwich. Rampant Horse Street is still there, although the inn is long gone, and you often hear visitors commenting on the strange name. The proprietors promise the journey can be done in fourteen hours - and assure us there are only four "insides" or inside passengers  for added comfort. The owners include Richard Gurney - doubtless a relative of the Gurney banking family and Ann Nelson & Son - a good Norfolk name and an interesting example of the involvement of women in the stagecoach business.
Below it is a charming ilustration of a "Thieves' Alarm" - advertised as being more humane than man traps and spring guns. The inventor has patented something that looks like a cross between a trip wire and a shop door bell - yours for a mere 30 shillings.
There are two adverts for schools in the paper. Here is the one for young ladies -
Miss Ditchell does not give any information about the numbers of young ladies at her establishment, although the range of ages suggests a reasonable size, nor does she tell us what is taught. For 30 guineas (£31 and ten shillings) I would expect a varied curriculum!
1815 was Waterloo year and there are two items of relevance, plus part of a series on the Life of Wellington. The mayor and town council had obviously got up a collection to buy presentation swords for leading figures in the final campaign against Napoleon and - no doubt quivering with pride - His Worship was able to report back to the council that the Duke of Wellington had written to him -
The court pages, as well as reporting on the health of King George III - still suffering from "madness" - has a brief message from St Helena where Napoleon had just been exiled.
The remark that members of Napoleon's entourage were "heartily sick" of their new abode is not surprising: St Helena was considerd to be a thoroughly unpleasant place.
And finally, given recent concern about the quality of food in hospitals, I was interested in the advert inviting tenders to supply the General Hospital at Yarmouth. Virtually everything required, from meat to bread to port wine, must be of the "best". Salt and water must be used for the bread - not sea water; soap must be well-dried before delivery; beer should be of the quality "sold by the brewers to private families at six-pence per gallon"; sago, well sifted and free from dust and the tea must be "good Souchong". It is fascinating to read between the lines and to see to what extent food was adulterated  - milk, for example, must be "neat as it comes from the cow"!
 How much of these admirable provisions actually reached the patients is another matter, of course.
I am now going to settle down with a magnifying glass to read every detail of the scandalous crim.con. ("criminal conversation") case between Sir William Abdy and Lord William Cavendish Bentinck who was accused of seducing Sir William's wife, the natural daughter of Wellington's elder brother the Marquiss of Wellesley.
As this is a family blog I will spare you the details, other than to report that Lord William, after stalking Lady Abdy from London to Paris to Worthing, "rendered the unfortunate object of his illicit passion the most unhappy of women."
Louise Allen





Elizabeth Hawksley said...

Oooh, Louise! I want to know all the scandalous details! I hope Lady Abdy got her own back on Lord William Bentinck. Though, alas, I suspect that the lecherous rat got away with it.

Louise Allen said...

ECerche 3555

Louise Allen said...

I'll have anohter go at commenting - don't know what happened there!
Lady A eloped with him, Elizabeth, but I don't know what happened to her in the end. Her husband was awarded £7,000 damages against the love rat!

Kate Rothwell said...

what a treasure! thanks for sharing it. the bell trap illustration is fabulous.

Gail Mallin said...

I love old newspapers too. This one has a great mix of interesting info. Shame we don't know what happened to Lady A, but I wonder if all that money compensated her husband for being gossiped about.

Christina Courtenay said...

Some wonderful stuff there, Louise! Love it :-)

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

I love old newspapers and magazines also, Louise. Wish I could get my hands on some originals, but at least Google Books helps with my addiction :) Thanks for sharing your find.