King George III’s Children – Part 2

King George III’s Children – Part 2

Before succumbing to his illness, George III had a sometime tempestuous relationship with members of his family.

Frederick, Duke of York

Frederick, Duke of York

The king’s second son, Prince Frederick, Duke of York, found himself in a scandal, along with his mistress, Mary Ann Clarke. They were both accused of profiting from the sale of army promotions during the Napoleonic campaign. The Duke was found not guilty of corrupt practices, but he was relieved of his duties as Commander-in-Chief of the Army. As the king’s favorite, this was a great blow to the Royal family. Earlier in his career, Frederick had fought a duel in defense of his brother, the Crown Prince. One of the queen’s ladies had insulted both Frederick and Prince George. Frederick gave the woman a good set down. Then the lady’s son challenged Frederick to a duel. His opponent came within an inch of placing his bullet in the prince’s head.

Ernest Augustus I of Hanover George Dawe - National Portrait Gallery: NPG 3309  ~ Public Domain

Ernest Augustus I of Hanover
George Dawe – National Portrait Gallery: NPG 3309 ~ Public Domain

Ernest, Duke of Cumberland, was once brought under suspicion of murder. He was the least likeable of the king’s sons. Ernest was said to be vain and easily rowed to anger. He had an war injury, which caused his left eye to have a sunken look. Ernest often spread malicious gossip about his family members. Some felt that Ernest was “too fond” of his sister Sophia. Many thought the prince to be bisexual or homosexual. When the duke’s valet (Joseph Sellis) was found in the ducal apartments with his throat slit, people believed the two had had a homosexual relationship, and that the valet was blackmailing Ernest. Sellis’s death was ruled a suicide, but the finding was questioned. For the wound to be self-inflicted, Sellis would have had to be right handed. Ironically, the man was left-handed.

King George preferred Frederick to his heir, Prince George. The king found his eldest son too effeminate. By the Golden Jubilee, the king was 72 years old, and the Crown Prince was 50. By this time, the two very much despised each other…more than likely wishing the other would “meet his Maker.”

 

Princess Amelia

Princess Amelia

George III preferred his daughters over his sons; however, she and her sisters lived in fear of their mother. The princesses were well-educated but raised in a rigidly strict household. Though he disliked the idea of matrimony for his daughters, King George had intended to find them suitable husbands when they came of age. However, the King’s recurring bouts of madness, as well as the Queen’s desire to have her daughters live their lives as her companions, stopped would-be suitors from offering for the most of the princesses. As a result, Sophia and all but one of her sisters grew up in their mother’s cloistered household, which they frequently referred to as a “Nunnery”.

As George III prepared for his Golden Jubilee, his daughter, the Princess Amelia (age 27) lay dying within the palace. Princess Amelia was born on 7 August 1783, at the Royal Lodge, Windsor, the youngest of George III and Queen Charlotte’s fifteen children as well as the only of her siblings born at Windsor Castle. It is often said that she was her father’s favourite; he affectionately called her “Emily”. She was born after the early deaths of her two elder brothers, Octavius (23 February 1779 – 3 May 1783) and Alfred (22 September 1780 – 20 August 1782). These deaths left a gap of almost six years between Amelia and her nearest surviving sibling, Princess Sophia. She was twenty-one years younger than her eldest sibling, George, and nearly seventeen years younger than her eldest sister, Charlotte. As the daughter of the monarch, she was styled Her Royal Highness the Princess Amelia from birth. The girl gave her father a keepsake by which to remember her. It was a ring containing one of her jewels and a lock of her hair. The inscription read: “Remember Me.” Amelia had fallen in love with Charles Fitzroy, one of the king’s equerries, but had not been allowed to marry him. Ironically, she left everything to Fitzroy in her will.

By the Golden Jubilee, only Princess Charlotte had married. The king’s other daughters were approaching middle aged (for that time period). They were not “attractive” women, and they found few prospects.

Princess Charlotte

Princess Charlotte

Princess Sophia

Princess Sophia

Though she never wed, rumours spread that Princess Sophia became pregnant by Thomas Garth, an equerry of her father’s, and gave birth to an illegitimate son in the summer of 1800. Other gossips declared the child was the product of rape by her elder brother the Duke of Cumberland, who was deeply unpopular. Historians are divided on the validity of these stories, as some believe she gave birth to Garth’s child while others call them tales spread by the Royal Family’s political enemies. A third set of rumors say the family spent a great deal of time trying to hide from the king the fact that Princess Sophia had borne an illegitimate child, whose father was an ugly, dwarf, some 33 years older than Sophia.

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The Children of King George III

The Children of King George 

George III’s and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz’s many children and grandchildren included:

(1) George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales (and later King George IV) was the heir apparent (1762-1830). George IV married Caroline of Brunswick. Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales was their only child (1796-1817).

(2) Frederick Augustus, Duke of York (1763-1827), who married Fredericka of Prussia had no legitimate children.

(3) William Henry, Duke of Clarence (and later King William IV) (1765-1837) married Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen. Their children included Princess Charlotte Augusta Louisa, who was born in 1819 but who did not survive, and Princess Elizabeth Georgina Adelaide, who suffered a similar fate.

(4) Charlotte Augusta Matilda, Princess Royal (1766-1828) married Frederick I of Wurtemburg. They had no children.

Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, by Sir William Beechey (died 1839).  William Beechey - National Portrait Gallery: NPG 647 ~Public Domain

Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, by Sir William Beechey (died 1839).
William Beechey – National Portrait Gallery: NPG 647 ~Public Domain

(5) Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent (1767-1820) married Victoria Mary of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield. These were the lucky parents of the future queen, Alexandrina Victoria of Kent. QUEEN VICTORIA (1818-1901) married Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

(6) Princess Augusta Sophia (1768-1840) did not marry.

(7) Princess Elizabeth (1770-1840) married Frederick of Hesse-Homberg, but they had no children.

(8) Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (and later King Ernest of Hanover) (1771-1851) married Fredericka of Mecklenberg-Strelitz. King George V of Hanover was their son.

(9) Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (173-1843) first married Lady Augusta Murray, by whom he sired Augustus Frederick d’Este (1794-1848) and Augusta Emma d’Este (1801-1866). Later, he married Lady Cecilia Letitia Buggin. Lady Cecilia presented Augustus with no children.

Ernest Augustus I of Hanover George Dawe - National Portrait Gallery: NPG 3309  ~ Public Domain

Ernest Augustus I of Hanover
George Dawe – National Portrait Gallery: NPG 3309 ~ Public Domain

(10) Adolphus Frederick, Duke of Cambridge (1774-1850) married Augusta of Hesse-Cassel. Their children included George, Duke of Cambridge (1819-1904), Princess Augusta of Cambridge (1833-1927), and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge (1837-1897).

(11) Mary (1776-1857) married William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester of Edinburgh. They had no children.

(12) Princess Sophia (1777-1848) never married.

(13)Prince Octavius (1779-1786) died in infancy.

(14) Prince Alfred (1780-82) died in infancy.

(15) Princess Amelia (1783-1810) died in infancy.

Tomorrow, we will take a closer look at the intrigues surrounding the Royal family and the “madness” of King George III.

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Regency Era “Hell’s Kitchen”: Marie-Antoine Carême, the First Celebrity Chef and One Time Head Chef for the Prince Regent

TX719_C27c2v1In Private Households during the Regency, the lord and lady of the manor took great pride in employing chefs of great renown. The most influential great French chef of the time was Marie-Antoine (Antonin) Carême (8 June 1784–12 January 1833), the one time head chef to the Prince Regent.

Marie-Antoine Carême was an early practitioner and exponent of the elaborate style of cooking known as grande cuisine, the “high art” of French cooking: a grandiose style of cookery favored by both international royalty and by the newly rich of Paris. Carême is often considered as one of the first internationally renowned celebrity chefs.

Royalty and noblemen throughout Europe courted Carême. Carême’s history was recorded by the French novelist and gastronome, Alexandre Dumas père, who relates how Carême was the sixteenth child of a stonemason.

Abandoned by his parents at the age of 11 in Paris in 1794, at the height of the French Revolution, he worked as a kitchen boy at a cheap Parisian chophouse in exchange for room and board. In 1798, he was formally apprenticed to Sylvain Bailly, a famous pâtissier with a shop near the Palais-Royal. The post-revolutionary Palais Royal was a high profile, fashionable neighborhood filled with vibrant life and bustling crowds. Bailly recognized his talent and ambition. By the time he was prepared to leave Bailly, he could stipulate that he should be free to leave his new employer when a better offer came along. He opened his shop, the Pâtisserie de la rue de la Paix, which he maintained until 1813.

Piece montee caleche

Piece montee caleche

Carême gained fame in Paris for his pièces montées, elaborate constructions used as centerpieces, which Bailly displayed in the pâtisserie window. He made these confections, which were sometimes several feet high, entirely out of foodstuffs such as sugar, marzipan, and pastry. He modeled them on temples, pyramids, and ancient ruins, taking ideas from architectural history books that he studied at the nearby The Bibliothèque nationale de France, thanks to the enlightened attitude of his first employer Bailly. He is credited with the inventions of gros nougats and grosses meringues, croquantes, made of almonds and honey, and solilemmes.

He did freelance work creating pieces principally for the French diplomat and gourmand Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, but also other members of Parisian high society, including Napoleon. While working on his confections at many private kitchens, he quickly extended his culinary skills to main courses.

Napoleon was famously indifferent to food, but he understood the importance of social relations in the world of diplomacy. In 1804, he gave money to Talleyrand to purchase Château de Valençay, a large estate outside Paris. The château was intended to act as a kind of diplomatic gathering place. When Talleyrand moved there, he took Carême with him.

Carême was sent a test by Talleyrand: to create a whole year’s worth of menus, without repetition, and using only seasonal produce. Carême passed the test and completed his training in Talleyrand’s kitchens. After the fall of Napoléon, Carême went to London for a time and served as chef de cuisine to the Prince Regent, later George IV. Returning to the continent he followed the invitation of Tsar Alexander I to come to St. Petersburg, where he lived so briefly he never prepared a meal for the Tsar before returning to Paris, where he was chef to banker James Mayer Rothschild.

He died in his Paris house on the Rue Neuve Saint Roche at the age of 48, due perhaps to many years inhaling the toxic fumes of the charcoal on which he cooked. He is remembered as the founder of the haute cuisine concept and is interred in the Cimetière de Montmarte.

In his first major position, Carême worked as chef de cuisine to Talleyrand who actively encouraged Carême in the development of a new refined food style using herbs and fresh vegetable, simplified sauces with few ingredients. Talleyrand became a famous host during the Congress of Vienna – when the congress disbanded, not only the map of Europe but also the culinary tastes of its upper classes were thoroughly revised.

Carême studied architecture, especially classical Grecian, Roman, and Egyptian buildings. His passion for architecture showed itself in the elaborate pièces montées he created. Carême’s tables were decorated with exact replicas of classical temples, bridges, etc., created from spun sugar and pastry. The centerpieces were held together with wax and poisonous glues and so were not edible.

Carême’s impact on culinary matters ranged from trivial to theoretical. He is credited with creating the standard chef’s hat, the toque; he designed new sauces and dishes, he published a classification of all sauces into groups, based on four mother sauces. He is also frequently credited with replacing the practice of service à la française (serving all dishes at once) with service à la russe (serving each dish in the order printed on the menu) after he returned from service in the Russian court, but others say he was a diehard supporter of service à la française.

Carême wrote several books on cookery, above all the encyclopedic L’Art de la Cuisine Française (5 vols, 1833–34, of which he had completed three before his death), which included, aside from hundreds of recipes, plans for menus and opulent table settings, a history of French cookery, and instructions for organizing kitchens.

Le Pâtissier royal parisien, ou Traité élémentaire et pratique de la pâtisserie moderne, suivi d’observations utiles au progrès de cet art, et d’une revue critique des grands bals de 18
Le Maître d’hôtel français, ou Parallèle de la cuisine ancienne et moderne, considéré sous rapport de l’ordonnance des menus selon les quatre saisons. (Paris, 2 vols. 1822)
Projets d’architecture pour l’embellissement de Sainte Petersburg. (Paris, 1821)
Projets d’architecture pour l’embellissement de Paris. (Paris, 1826)
Le Pâtissier pittoresque, précédé d’un traité des cinq orders d’architecture (Paris, 1828; 4th edition, Paris, 1842)
Le Cuisinier parisien, Deuxième édition, revue, corrigée et augmentée. (Paris, 1828)
L’Art de la cuisine française au dix-neuvième siècle. Traité élémentaire et pratique. (Volumes 1-5. [Work completed after Carême’s death by Armand Plumerey.] Paris, 1833-1847)
The royal Parisian pastrycook and confectioner ([From the original of Carême, edited by John Porter] London, 1834)

Information for this post came from…

CooksInfo.com, Encyclopedia Britannica, and Wikipedia.

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An Age of Indulgence, Supper with the Prince Regent

Gillray's take on the Prince Regent's fete decor: admiring the table-top canal. The public were invited to view the party decorations after it all was over. http://zipzipinkspot.blogspot.com/2014/08/journal-journey-into-year-1811-la-belle.html

Gillray’s take on the Prince Regent’s fete decor: admiring the table-top canal. The public were invited to view the party decorations after it all was over. http://zipzipinkspot.blogspot.com/2014/08/journal-journey-into-year-1811-la-belle.html

This long excerpt comes from “The Age of Indulgence” in Venetia Murray’s An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England. It is the menu for a supper served on 15 January 1817 by Careme at the Prince Regent’s Brighton Pavilion. There are more than 100 hot foods on the list.

Table de S.A.R. Le Prince Regent

Servie au pavillon de Brighton, Angleterre

15 Janvier 1817

Menu de 36 entreés

QUATRE POTAGES

Le potage à la Monglas

Le potage d’orge perleé à la Crécy

La parbure aux chous

Le potage de poisons à la Russe

QUATRE RELEVÉS DE POISSONS

La matelote au vin de Bordeaux

Les truites au bleu à lad Provençale

Le turbot à l’Anglaise, sauce aux homards

La grosse anguille à la régence

QUATRE GROSSES PIÈCES POUR LES CONTRE-FLANCS

Le jambon à la brouche, au Madere

L’oie braisée aux raciness glacéea

Les poulardes à la Périgeux

Le rond de veau à la royale

TRENTE-SIX ENTRÉES, DONT QUATRE SERVENT DE CONTRE-FLANCS

Les filets de volaille à la maréchale

Le sauté de merlans aux fines herbes

La timbale de macroni à la Napolitaine

La noix de veau à la jardinière

Les filets de volaille à l’Orléans

Le Jambon à la Broche

La darne de saumon au beurre de Montpellier

Le sauté de faisans aux truffles

La fricassee de poulets à l’Italienne

Le turban de filets de lapereaux

Les Truites au Bleu

Les boudin de volaille à la Bechamel

Le sauté de ris de veau à la Provençale

Les ailes de poulardes glacées à la chicorée

Les galantine de perdreaux à la gelée

L’Oie Braisée aux Racines Glacées

Les petites canetons de volaille en haricots vierges

Les poulets à la reine, à la Chevry

Les petities croustades de mauviettes au gratin

Les côtelettes de mouton à l’Irlandaise

Les filets de sarcelles à la Bourguignotte

Les petits poulets à l’Indienne

Les petites patés de mouton à l’Anglaise

L’épigramme de poulardes, purée de céleri

Le faisan à la Minime, bordure de racines

Les Poulardes à la Périgueux

L’aspic de blanc de volaille à la rivigote

Les filets de perdreaux à la Pompadour

L’emincé de poulardes au gratin

La cote de boeuf aux oignons glacés

Le Turbot à l’Anglaise

Le sauté de poulardes làa Provençale

Le salmis de cailles au vin de Madére

Les escalopes de volaille aux truffles

La salade de filets de brochets aux huîtres

Le Rond de Veau à la Royale

Le pain de carpes au beurre d’anchois

Les côtelettes d’agneau glacées à Toulouse

Le vol-au-vent de quenelles à l’Allemande

Les ailerons de poulardes aux champignons

Les pigeons à la Mirepoix financière

POUR EXTRA, DIX ASSIETTES VOLANTES DE FRITURE

5 De filets de soles

5 De filtets de gelinottes à l’Allemande

HUIT GROSSES PIÈCES DE PÂTISSERIE

La brioche au fromage

Le croque-en-brouche aux pistaches

Le nougat à la Françasise

Le biscuit àà l’Orange

La ruine d’Antioche

L’hermitage chinois

L’hermitage Syrien

La ruine de las mosquée turque

QUATRE PLATS DE ROTS

Les coqs de Bruyères

Les canards sauvages

Les poulets gras bardés

Les gelinottes

TRENTE-DEUX ENTREMETS

Les truffles à la cendre

La gelée d’oranges moulée

Les épinards à l’essence

La Brioche au Fromage

Les homards a gratin

Les petits pains à la duchesse

Les sckals au beurre

Le pouding de pommes au Muscat

Les mirlitons aux citrons

Les Canards Sauvages

Les bouchées perlées aux groseilles

Les oeufs brouillés aux truffles

Le Nougat à la Française

Les pommes de terre à la Hollandaise

La gelée de punch renversée

Les champignons à la provençale

Les navets glacés à la Chartre

Les coqs de Bruyères

Les gâteux glacés aux abricots

Le fromage bavarois aux

La purée de haricots

L’Hermitage Chinois

Les petits panniers aux confitures

Les Poulets Gras Bardés

Les génoises glacées au café

La charlotte à l’Amérucaube

Les choux-fleurs au Parmesan

L’Hermitage Syrien

Le céleri en cardes à l’Espagnole

La crème Française à l’ananas

Les petits soufflés d’abricots

Les Gelinottes

Les gateaux de feuilletage pralines

Les huîtres au gratin

Les Croques-en-Bouche

Les petites carottes à l’essence

La gelée de citrons moulée

Les laities farcies à la Béchamel

Les Biscuits de Fécule à l’Orange

Les truffles à l’Italienne

POUR EXTRA, DIX ASSIETTES VOLANTÉS

5 De Petites soufflés de pommes

5 De petites soufflés chocolat

Below is a rough translation of the dishes for those of you who have forgotten your French lessons. This is from a French-English translating program. My French and Spanish often become mixed in a not so kind manner. LOL!!! Disclaimer! This is not a perfect translation, but it will assist those of you would are most curious. In other words, do not ask me what “spinach gasoline” is.

Table S.A.R. The Prince Regent

Served at the Pavilion in Brighton, England

January 15, 1817

Menu of 36 entries

FOUR SOUPS

Soup to Monglas

The pearl barley soup at Crécy

Parbure to the cabbages

Soup of poisons Russian

FOUR FISH RECORDS

The stew wine from Bordeaux

Trout in blue lad Provençale

The English turbot, lobster sauce

The big eel in the regency

FOUR LARGE PARTS FOR COUNTER-SIDES

The Ham brouche at Madeira

The braised goose with raciness glacéea

Pullets to Périgeux

The round veal Royal

THIRTY-SIX INPUTS WHICH SERVE FOUR SIDES OF COUNTER

Fillets of chicken with Marshal

Sauté whiting herbs

The timbale Macroni the Neapolitan

Nuts gardener Veal

Nets Poultry Orleans

Ham to Pin

Salmon steak butter Montpellier

Sauté pheasant with truffles

The fricassee of chicken with Italian

The turban nets rabbits

The Trout in Blue

The roll of chicken with Bechamel

The sautéed sweetbreads Provencal

Pullets wings glazed chicory

The galantine partridge in aspic

Goose Braised with Glazed Roots

Small ducklings poultry beans virgin

Chickens to the queen, the Chevry

The Small pies wimps au gratin

The mutton chops to the Irish

Nets teal to Burgonet

Small chickens Indian

Patés small sheep in English

The epigram pullets, celery puree

The pheasant Minimal, border roots

Pullets in Périgueux

The aspic of chicken stock to rivigote

Nets partridge in Pompadour

The pullets Sliced ​​au gratin

The cote de boeuf with glazed onions

Turbot in English

The LAA jumped pullets Provençale

The quail stew of Madeira wine

Cutlets of chicken with truffles

Salad filet of pike oyster

The Round Veal Royale

Bread carp anchovy butter

Lamb chops glazed Toulouse

The vol-au-vent with German dumplings

Fins pullets mushroom

Pigeons in Mirepoix financial

FOR EXTRA TEN FLYING PLATE OF FRIED

5 From sole fillets

5 From filtets of grouse in German

EIGHT LARGE PARTS OF PASTRY

Brioche cheese

The croque-en-brouche pistachios

The nougat to Françasise

The biscuit àà Orange

The ruin of Antioch

L’hermitage Chinese

The Syrian hermitage

Ruin las Turkish mosque

FOUR DISHES ROTS

Bruyères cocks

Wild ducks

Wrapped chicken fat

The grouse

THIRTY-TWO CAKES

The truffles to ash

Jelly orange molded

Spinach gasoline

Cheese Brioche

A lobster gratin

Buns Duchess

The sckals butter

Pudding apples Muscat

The kazoos lemons

The Wild Ducks

Bites beaded gooseberry

Scrambled eggs with truffles

Nougat in French

Potatoes to the Dutch

Jelly reverse punch

Mushrooms Provencal

The turnips to the Charter

Bruyères cocks

The senile frozen apricots

Bavarian cheese

Mashed beans

The Hermitage Chinese

Small baskets with jams

Chickens Gras Bardés

The Genoese chilled coffee

The charlotte Amérucaube

Cauliflower with Parmesan

The Hermitage Syrian

Celery chard in Spanish

French cream with pineapple

Small apricot soufflé

Grouse

The pastry cakes chocolates

Oysters au gratin

The Croques-in-Mouth

Baby carrots with gasoline

Lemon jelly molded

The laities stuffed with Béchamel

Biscuits of starch in Orange

The truffles with Italian

FOR EXTRA~TEN flying disks

5 Of Small puffed potatoes

5 Small chocolate soufflés

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Regency Era Lexicon – We Are Up to “H”

7433803_sRegency Era Lexicon – Time for the Letter “H”

Haberdasher – a man who dealt with small items for sewing, such as thread, needles, buttons, ribbons, etc.

Hack – a general-purpose riding horse; not used for hunting or military purposes

Hackney Coach – one for hire; the taxicabs of the early 1800s

Ha-Ha – a landscaping technique; a dug trench or sunken fence, not easily seen unless one was close to it

Hair Ring – a ring made from the hair of one’s sweetheart

Half Crown – an English coin worth two shillings and sixpence

Half Pay – a payment which kept military men on the active list; a step toward retirement

Handsome – a term used during the period to describe women, buildings, dresses, etc. (but not men)

Ha’Penny – a halfpenny

Hardtack – biscuits for sailors

Harrow – a frame with iron teeth which broke up the earth after the plowing was completed

Harvest – the cutting of the corn crop (Note: hay was “made” rather than cut)

Hatchment – a shield bearing the coat of arms of recently deceased person; was displayed on the front of the house and then in the church

Hedgerow – a row of hedge which served as a barrier to keep cattle/sheep from moving about too freely upon the land

Heir Apparent – the heir to property, regardless of any contingencies that might occur

Heir Presumptive – the heir who would inherit if certain contingencies did not occur

Hessian boots – long boots worn by German mercenaries who fought the colonists during the American War of Independence; were popular in the early part of the 1800s

High-Lows – a type of lace up boots

Hob – beside the grate; a place to put kettles to keep them warm

Honeymoon – the honeymoon actually meant the first time a couple had marital relations (not necessarily the journey celebrating their marriage); frequently, the bride’s sister or a close friend accompanied the couple

Honourable – a title used for all members of Parliament; also a “courtesy title,” one not accompanied by any legal rights (bestowed on viscounts and barons and the younger sons of earls)

Horse Guards – the cavalry who guarded the monarch; nicknamed the “Blues”; had barracks at Whitehall

Hostler (or Ostler) – tended to the horses of travelers at inns

Housekeeper – the top ranking female servant in a household

Housewife – a small case for carrying around items such as needles and thread to mend clothing (pronounced “huzzif”)

Hulks – old ships pressed into use in 1776 as “temporary” floating prisons; not abolished until 1858

Hundred – an ancient English unit of government, being the unit next down from a shire

Hunter – a horse bred specifically for fox hunts

Huntsman – the man at a hunt who kept the dogs under control and on the scent

Hussars – a cavalryman who wore a flamboyant uniform

Hyde Park – a 388-acre park in London’s West End; was the most fashionable park of the time

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“Fertile” Fortunes: The 19th Century’s Importation of Guano

Living in one of the Southern states in the U.S., the season when I do not “fight” the battle of bird droppings on my Buick Lacrosse does not exist. It is a fact of life that I pay for the sunshine and days of moderate temperatures. That being said, I found my recent research on Alexander von Humboldt and guano had me looking at the “gifts” from my fine feathered friends a bit differently.

Guanay Cormorant (Phalacrocorax bougainvillii) in the Walsrode Bird Park, Germany.  uploaded to Wikipedia by Quarti CC BY-SA 3.0

Guanay Cormorant (Phalacrocorax bougainvillii) in the Walsrode Bird Park, Germany.
uploaded to Wikipedia by Quarti CC BY-SA 3.0

What is “guano”? Guano is the excrement of sea birds (especially the Guanay cormorant, the Peruvian pelican, and the Peruvian booby) , cave-dwelling bats, pinnipeds, and birds, in general. The fertilizer created from these leavings is known for its high levels of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium, all essential to plant growth. The guano trade rose in the 19th Century becoming a soil builder for land greatly depleted from over production.

Before Humoldt’s expeditions, the Andean indigenous population collected guano from the sea islands along the Peruvian coast. Spanish colonists documented the means to which the rulers of the Inca Empire went to restrict access to guano, even punishing offenders with death. [Cushman, Gregory T. (2013). Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World: A Global Ecological History. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press] The Incas reportedly divided the guano-bearing islands among the provinces within their kingdom and dictated when and where it could be harvested.

Europe learned of guano’s use as a fertilizer from Alexander von Humboldt, who brought samples back to Paris from his 1806 voyage. Humboldt investigated guano’s fertilizing properties at Callao in Peru and later wrote of the topic. He gave the samples to Pourcroy and Vanquelin of Paris, who published the results of their experiments in the “Annales de Chimie” (volume 56). The western scientific community began to replicate the experiments.

One must recall “the Year without Summer” (1816) left much of Europe, England, and the United States in a devastated state. What the Napoleonic Wars had not destroyed upon the face of Europe the volcanic ash of Tambora did. Also, the early use of a three-crop rotation in England had taken its toll on the soil.

The first practical application of guano came in 1824. The editor of American Farmer purchased two barrels of guano and gave samples of it to various people in the Baltimore area. Edward Lloyd, the ex-governor of Maryland, declared guano “the most powerful manure he had ever seen applied to corn.” (Archipelago Bat Guano)

Twenty barrels of guano were received in England in 1840. “But notwithstanding the astonishing results from its application to the soil, the fear that enormous crops realized under its stimulus exhaust the land of its productive elements, deterred the great body of farmers availing themselves of so valuable a fertilizer.” [Journal of the American Geographical and Statistical Society (1895)]. Yet, the initial fears proved fruitless, and from 1841-1857, the United Kingdom imported over two million tons of guano fertilizer.

During the guano boom years, large quantities of the bird droppings were removed from the Peruvian guano islands, the Caribbean, the Central Pacific atolls, and the islands off the coast of Namibia, Oman, Patagonia, and Baja California. Some deposits were 50 meters deep. In 1856, the United States passed the Guano Islands Act, which gave U. S. citizens exclusive rights to unclaimed island deposits. A Peruvian-Chilean alliance fought the a war against Spain from 1864-1866 over the guano deposits. Saltpeter replaced guano as a fertilizer of choice by 1870. [“Guano”] Current DNA testing has suggested that new potato varieties imported alongside Peruvian seabird guano in 1842 brought a virulent strain of potato blight that began the Irish Potato Famine. [Dwyer, Jim (10 June 2001). “June 3-9; The Root of a Famine.” The New York Times. p. 2.]

1884 Advertisement for Guano - Public Domain

1884 Advertisement for Guano – Public Domain

In his Presidential address of 1850, President Millard Fillmore said, “Guano has become so desirable an article to the agricultural interest of the United States that is the duty of the Government to employ all the means properly in its power for the purpose of causing that article to be imported into the country at a reasonable price. Nothing will be omitted on my part toward accomplishing this desirable end.” [Salon]

By 1900, chemical fertilizers had replaced guano, but not before fortunes were made. Peru exported 20 million tons of guano and made a profit of $2 billion. Corporate giants such as W. R. Grace & Company, a Maryland chemical conglomerate, grew from their association with guano importation.

The Peruvian government “transferred the contract for the extraction of the guano to Anthony Gibbs & Sons” in 1855. “The firm’s profits from the guano trade were between £80,000 and £100,000 a year in the 1850s and 1860s with William [Gibbs] receiving between 50% and 70% of this until 1864, when he began to withdraw his capital. [Mark Girouard (1979). The Victorian Country House. Yale University Press.] William became the richest non-noble man in England, and remembered in the Victorian music hall ditty: “William Gibbs made his dibs, Selling the turds of foreign birds.” [James Miller (25 May 2006). Fertile Fortune – The Story of Tyntesfield. National Trust.] William Gibbs used the fortunes they earned from guano importation to build Tyntesfield Estate (Wraxall, North Somerset) and St. Michael and All Angels Church (Exeter).

Popular Fiction References:

• In Joseph Conrad’s 1900 novel Lord Jim the characters Chester and Captain Robinson attempt to recruit the eponymous lead character for an expedition harvesting guano.
• The setting of Ian Fleming’s 1958 installation in the James Bond series Dr. No is on a Caribbean guano island, and the villain dies at the end buried in guano.
• In Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, Colonel “Bat” Guano leads an attack on the airbase responsible for sending a nuclear attack order to bomb the Soviet Union.
• The 1994 film Men of War centers on a band of mercenaries who are hired by an investment firm to seize a tropical island for its extensive guano deposits.
• In the 1995 film Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Jim Carrey’s character attempts to save an African tribe from being dispossessed of a fortune in bat guano. (“Guano”)

Meet Regina Jeffers:
A master teacher, for thirty-nine years, Regina passionately taught thousands of students English in the public schools of West Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina. Yet, “teacher” does not define her as a person. Ask any of her students or her family, and they will tell you Regina is passionate about so many things: her son, children in need, truth, responsibility, the value of a good education, words, music, dance, the theatre, pro football, classic movies, the BBC, track and field, books, books, and more books. Holding multiple degrees, Jeffers often serves as a Language Arts or Media Literacy consultant to surrounding school districts and has served on several state and national educational commissions.

Coming in 2015:
The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin: A Pride & Prejudice Mystery
Mr. Darcy’s Fault: A Pride & Prejudice Vagary
Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep
A Touch of Emerald: The Conclusion to the Realm Series

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Historical Fiction Author, Sheila Dalton, and Her New Release “Stolen”

I am pleased to welcome to my blog multi-talented author, Sheila Dalton. 

31pyz7kh5HL._UX250_Sheila Dalton was born in England, and now lives in Canada. She has published novels and poetry for adults, and picture books for children. 51srX0s0tOL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Her YA mystery, Trial by Fire, from Napoleon Press, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award. Her literary mystery, The Girl in the Box, published by Dundurn, reached the semi-finals in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, and was voted a Giller People’s Choice Top Ten. UnknownStolen is her first book of historical fiction.

 

Introduction to Stolen:

Lizbet Warren’s parents are captured by Barbary Corsairs off the coast of Devon, England. How can she discover what has happened to them? How will she even survive as a woman alone in 17th century England?

Lizbet sets off for London with the only other survivor of the raid, Elinor, a girl from The Home for Abandoned and Unwanted Children. Bonds form, but the young women are separated when Lizbet is arrested for vagrancy. Rescued by Jeanne Vallée, a French merchant and privateer, she helps him with his language skills, and with the extensive library he has no time to read, but must study in order to further his ambitions at the English court. Later, Lizbet sails with Captain “Gentleman Jake” Norris, a pirate and black slaver, who endeavors to learn, through her, what happened to his missing sister, as Lizbet endeavors to free her mother, with his help, from slavery in Morocco.

And Now for an Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Stolen

Oh, to be sure, I was aware that young men found me at least somewhat pleasing to the eye; I was not blind to their glances and smiles. Nor was I above a little flirtation. But Mother made it sound as though I could not walk a yard without attracting a horde of eager swains; worse, ones whose intentions were dishonorable.

Yet I was tempted by Newton Abbot. Torn between a love of village life, and a growing restlessness to discover more of the world, I knew I must soon arrive at a decision.

However, scarce did I know that less than three hours later, the decision would be made for me, in the cruelest manner imaginable.

When I returned to the village on foot, proudly shod in my new shoes, that pinched but a little despite the long trek, I stared ahead of me at Teignmouth, puzzled. I walked nearer, and was worried; closer yet, and my heart began to pound. People should be in view, and horses, carts, cattle. I saw nothing but a few cows running loose at the outskirts, back and forth and back again, as though lost, swinging their great heads aimlessly.

I called out. Only silence answered. The miller’s dog came hurtling towards me, barking as it ran. I reached down to pat it; it collapsed panting at my feet. When I stroked its head, it howled, got up and raced away from the village that had always been its home.

My breath now coming in sharp gasps that hurt, I broke into a run until I reached Teignmouth, where I stopped as suddenly as I had started, and stared ahead of me, transfixed. Doors swung on their hinges, broken chairs and barrels spilled across the lanes, an empty cradle rocked up and down on a mound of refuse, rustling the ghostly silence. A hatchet poked, blade up, out of a pile of hay.

A sudden gust of a wind, and a tin pot rattled down the street, coming to rest against my feet. I kicked it away, and sat down hard upon the ground. A lone sheep stood amidst the wreckage and stared at me out of a blank, black face. By its open mouth, I knew it bleated, but I heard nothing save a roar that came in equal measure from the sea behind me and the devastation of my heart.

What in God’s good name had happened? Where was everyone?

On the beach, I found them, strewn like broken dolls, each one a villager I had known, who had known me. It wasn’t until I recognized the back of little Thomas’s head, his long blond curls, his cheek resting on his arm as though sleeping, a rope of blood running from his head to his waist, that I screamed. He was only four years old. I’d taught him how to button his shirt just the morning previous.

My feet felt heavy as though my new shoes were cast in lead or stone. I forced myself amongst the bodies, crouching down beside those who bore even the remotest resemblance to my mother, or my father, who may have come back early from the sea. I turned some over with the toes of my new shoes. The heaviness, the staring eyes, the flesh like candle wax made me swallow bile and shudder. Twice, I sat down amongst the dead, and cried into my hands. Many I cared for lay lifeless on the sand. Many others were gone I knew not where.

As I stumbled away, a girl stepped from behind a pile of stones, her face as white as those of the corpses. It was Elinor from the Workhouse for Abandoned and Unwanted Children. I often called her, in my mind, the Red-Haired Fury, for her temper and wild ways. To see her, such a spirited little thing, so pale and subdued struck such fear in me, I very nearly ran from her.

She fell towards me. I had no choice but to fold her into my arms and let her cry, though I was in sore need of comfort myself. I begged her to tell me what had happened. At first she could not speak for tears.

“Two great ships come in,” she said at last, in a voice like dark brown ale, unusual in such a tiny girl, even one a deal older than she looked. The Red-Haired Fury was then about fifteen years of age, though if I had not known better, I might have guessed her to be twelve. For though the huge eyes in her small sharp face had a knowing look about them, I’d seen that look in beggar children, grown old before their time.

“Them ships was all bristly with oars.” She smeared the tears across her cheeks with both grubby hands at once. “Hordes of awful men spilled off ‘em and spread across the beach like … oh, oh, I dunno … summat you knew were going to swallow you up.” She held her hands to her ears. “It were awful. They was shouting and yelling, our folk screaming and running and everything were so awful, I didn’t know what to do.

“They …” she choked out, “cut folks down with these huge great swords. I ent never seen swords so big and wide. I ran for my life, tripped up behind them rocks and stayed where I fell. I saw ‘em chaining people up and dragging them onto their ship. Then they sailed away. Oh, dear God.”

“Who where they?” My mouth was dry; I had to run my tongue under my lips to free them from my teeth. “Where did they come from?” Where is my mother? I thought, in anguish. Had Elinor seen her killed? I dare not ask, for details of her treatment at the hands of these fierce villains would be more than I could bear.

“I ent never seen men like ‘em before.” She was twisting her hands in the apron of her homespun dress, and scrunching up her face like a raisin. “They had on robes like clergy almost, but their arms was bare. Dark-skinned they was, and ugly, their faces horrible and mean.” Her eyes grew wider. It was as if her words came at me from far away, I heard them but did not grasp them. “They wasn’t speaking English, I don’t what they was speaking. Whatever else about ‘em, there’s one thing sure—they had no hearts. The smithy …” She gulped and took a big breath. “… the smithy were screaming that his legs was broke. They tried to make him walk all the same. Till someone picked up a rock and bashed his head in. Oh, they was terrible!”

“Is there no one left at all?” I said.

“After the coast was clear of ‘em, I come out from the rocks, and looked round everywhere. I did not find a single soul. Them that got in the way was killed, and them that was wounded, once they got ‘em on the beach, they killed them, too.”

“Babies? Old folk?”

“They killed the old, and took the babies along with their mams.”

I fought the rising panic that would take away my reason if I did not push it down. “What about our fishermen?” Though they were not due till nightfall, oftentimes they sailed home early. “Had they come back?”

“No.” She shook her head so vigorously her hair flew out like rusty water from a pail. “The only boats I seen were those them heathens sailed.”

My heart near stopping in my chest, my head pounding so hard I could barely hear my own words, I whispered, “My mother, Elinor …?”

She threw herself into my arms once more, and curled like a fist against me. “They took her.” Her words were muffled in my bodice; still they rang clear as day over the noises in my head. “A monster of a fellow picked her up and threw her over his shoulder. He carried her out into the water to the ship. She was crying and calling on God. They did hit her once or twice to tame her, then carted her off like she were a sheep or a goat.”

Purchase Links:

Stolen is available on Amazon U.K., Amazon Canada and Amazon U.S. It is also available for Kobo, Nook, and iTunes. In addition, readers who subscribe to Scribd will find it there.
Stolen eBook: Sheila Dalton: Amazon.co.uk: Books

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