The Scandalous Regency Era Criminal Conversation Case of Aston v. Elliot

Symptoms of Life in London, or Love, Law, and Physic by George Cruikshank,, 1821.(image via Wellcome Library.)
Symptoms of Life in London, or Love, Law, and Physic by George Cruikshank,, 1821.
(Image via Wellcome Library.)

In January of 1818, on the second page of a small Irish newspaper, was a brief article with the sensational headline: “Projected Divorce in High Life.”  This case, which would soon become notorious in both England and France, was not, in fact, a divorce.  It was an action for criminal conversation – a tort, long extinct, in which an aggrieved husband could make a claim for damages against the lover of his adulterous spouse.  These sorts of cases were always deliciously scandalous, and none more so than that of Aston v. Elliot – a case which involved noblemen, prostitutes, syphilis, a veteran of Waterloo, and some of the highest ranking members of the beau monde.[…]Continue Reading

Wolves in Medieval England: Guest Post by Regan Walker

On this week’s edition of Animals in Literature and History, I bring you bestselling author Regan Walker with a guest post on Wolves in Medieval England!

Wolf after sheep, Bestiario Medieval.
Wolf after sheep, Bestiario Medieval.

Their prevalence

Wolves were prevalent in England during the medieval era.  One of the earliest references to them is contained in a 6th century genealogy of the East Anglican founder of a dynasty called Wuffa, whose tribe was known as the Wuffings, or “wolf people”.  They were believed to have originated in Scandinavia.[…]Continue Reading

The Shocking Death of Victorian Servant Eliza Bollends

A Scullery Maid at Work by Charles Joseph Grips, 1866.
A Scullery Maid at Work by Charles Joseph Grips, 1866.

Many historical novels feature a serving girl who has gotten herself into “trouble.”  In fiction, the understanding mistress of the house is quick to intervene and, in short order, the serving girl’s future is secured to everyone’s satisfaction.  In reality, female servants of the 19th century were expected to preserve their reputations in order to maintain genteel employment.  The character of one’s servants was a reflection on the house as a whole.  To that end, no respectable Victorian lady wanted a light-skirt for a housemaid or a wanton for a cook, and many mistresses strictly forbade male callers or “hangers on.” […]Continue Reading

19th Century Marriage Manuals: Advice for Young Wives

The Bride Adorned by Her Friend by Henrik Olrik, 1850.
The Bride Adorned by Her Friend by Henrik Olrik, 1850.

Covering a range of topics, including domestic economy, conjugal duties, and submission to one’s husband, the bulk of 19th century marriage manuals were directed at young wives occupying the middle and upper classes.  These manuals were written by both men and women and were so numerous during the Regency and Victorian eras that some of the books contain notices wherein the author preemptively defends himself against future allegations of plagiarism.  In author William Andrus Alcott’s 1837 book The Young Wife, or Duties of Woman in the Marriage Relation, Alcott begins by assuring his readers that:[…]Continue Reading

The Last Ravens in 19th Century London

A Raven by T. A. Coward, 1919. (Image from The Birds of the British Isles.)
A Raven by T. A. Coward, 1919.
(Image from The Birds of the British Isles.)

In medieval London, ravens were a common sight.  By the late eighteenth century, however, they had been almost entirely eradicated.  According to nineteenth century ornithologist William Henry Hudson, the last pair of wild ravens in London resided in a large elm tree in Hyde Park.  This pair bred annually up until 1826 when one of the park keepers pulled down their nest, which at that time contained two of their young offspring.  Deprived of their home and their young, the pair of old ravens quit the park and were never seen again.[…]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