Victorian Magistrate Orders Child Horse Thieves to be “Well Birched”

A Girl and a Boy Riding Ponies in Wales, 1885 .(National Library of Wales)
A Girl and a Boy Riding Ponies in Wales, 1885 .
(National Library of Wales)

Stealing a horse during the 19th century was a serious crime.  Those convicted could be heavily fined, sent to prison, sentenced to hard labor, or even executed.  But what if the horse thief in question was only a child?  Unsurprisingly, there were many incidents of child horse thieves in Victorian England.  Not all were hardened street criminals.  Some were simply immature youths tempted by the opportunity of an open stable door and the chance to make an easy few pounds.  An 1886 issue of the Dundee Evening Telegraph reports just such a story.  The fiendish criminal in question?  A ten-year-old boy from South Yorkshire.[…]Continue Reading

From Duels to Suicide: The Perils of Consorting with Cyprians

Lady Hamilton as Bacchante by George Romney, 1784.
Lady Hamilton as Bacchante by George Romney, 1784.

Often referred to as “Fair Cyprians” or “Dashing Cyprians” by Regency era newspapers, a Cyprian was, quite simply, a high-class prostitute.  The truly celebrated amongst them could take their pick of protectors – gentlemen of means who could provide the discerning Cyprian with a fine house, expensive jewels, and a carriage of her own.  Once established with such a gentleman, a Cyprian might be kept by him for a number of years.  But what happened when a Cyprian grew old or lost her beauty and allure?  And what happened to those gentlemen foolish enough to lose their hearts to these high-class prostitutes?  Or the gentlemen who ran out of money with which to afford them?  Below are a few 19th century reports which illustrate the hazards of being a Cyprian – and the perils of consorting with them.[…]Continue Reading

The 1830s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade

Individual Images of Gowns via Met Museum and V&A Museum.
Individual Images of Gowns via Met Museum and V&A Museum.

The 1830s was another transformative decade in 19th century fashion.  Like the 1820s, it was a span of years which stood between the Regency era (1811-1820) and the Victorian era (1837-1901), providing a bridge from the often extreme, gigot-sleeved confections of the 1820s to the tight-sleeved, form-fitting bodices of the 1840s.  The 1830s was also the decade in which the pendulum of fashion swung from large, ornate sleeves to large skirts embellished with various pleats and trimmings.  Or, as fashion historian C. Willett Cunnington describes it, the decade in which women’s gowns moved from the “exuberantly romantic” to the “droopingly sentimental.”[…]Continue Reading

Mrs. Ellis's Pumpkin Pie: A 19th Century Thanksgiving Recipe

Home To Thanksgiving, published by Currier and Ives, 1867.
Home To Thanksgiving, published by Currier and Ives, 1867.

Thursday November 26th is Thanksgiving here in the United States.  Originally a commemoration of the First Thanksgiving (a 17th century feast between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans), it is now one of the major holidays and, for many of us, the official start of the Christmas season.  There was no Black Friday or Cyber Monday during the 19th century.  Instead, the Thanksgiving holidays were a time for family to gather together from near and far and share a holiday meal.  This usually involved the women of the family cooking a Thanksgiving dinner with roast turkey and all the fixings.  Amongst these fixings was one of the most traditional Thanksgiving desserts: pumpkin pie.[…]Continue Reading

The 1820s in Fashionable Gowns: A Visual Guide to the Decade

1820s Gowns Collage
Individual Images of Gowns via Met Museum

There were many important, transitional years for women’s fashion during the 19th century.  For example, in a single decade sleeves might transform from slender and straight to enormous gigot or leg o’mutton style sleeves.  While skirts which began a decade flowing loose around the legs might end the decade standing several feet wide atop a crinoline.  In my previous post on the evolution of 19th century gowns (available HERE), I gave a brief, decade-by-decade visual overview of the ever-changing silhouettes of women’s silk dresses in the 1800s.  For the transitional years, however, a single image can never sum up an entire decade.  With that in mind, I bring you the first in my new series of visual fashion guides to those decades of the 19th century during which women’s fashion underwent the most extreme change.[…]Continue Reading

This website uses cookies for a better browsing experience and to analyze site traffic to improve site performance. Find out more about how cookies are used on this site and how you can manage cookies in your browser by reading the Cookie Policy