Regency Era Lexicon
Abbey School – Founded in 1887, the Abbey School is currently to an independent selective day school for girls in Reading, Berkshire. The novelist Jane Austen attended Reading Ladies Boarding School within Abbey Gateway, circa 1785, which is commemorated by, and incorporated into the Abbey School’s crest.
acceptance – putting one’s name on a bill of exchange; writing “accepted” across the bill meant one was liable to pay the bill
Admiral of the Fleet – the highest rank of a military naval officer – The Admiral of the Fleet is often reserved for wartime and ceremonial appointments. Frank Austen held the rank. As was customary, the admiral who was the oldest and held the most seniority was given that rank.
advowson – having the right to appoint someone to a benefice (a church office that provides a living for its holder through an endowment attached to it)
Age of Sensibility – During the Age of Sensibility, literature reflected a rational and scientific approach to religion, politics, and economics. The period is marked by a secular view of the world and a general sense of progress.
ague – a disease (originally malaria) marked by fever and chills
alderman – a member of the government from a municipal borough; elected by a council; were to support the mayor of the borough
almshouse – lodgings for the poor, which were supported by private funds rather than public charity
amiable – To be amiable was to be friendly and easy going.
Almack’s – a social club in London from 1765 to 1871; one of the first to admit both men and women; Almack’s came to be governed by a select committee of the most influential and exclusive of London’s haut ton: Ameila Stewart (Viscountess Castlereagh); Sarah Villiers (Countess of Jersey); Emily Lamb (Lady Cowper); Maria Molyneux (Countess of Sefton); The Hon. Mrs. Drummond Burrell; Dorothea Lieven (Countess de Lieven); Countess Esterházy
annuity – A set sum paid out to the terms of a will or settlement; after the death of a husband, the annuity was the woman’s only source of income
antimacassar – Victorian gentlemen applied macassar oil to their hair; to prevent it from coming off on the furniture, ladies pinned antimacassar (small white doilies) to the backs of chairs and sofas; the gentlemen could lean his head back on the furniture without staining it
apoplexy – a stroke
apothecary – the lowest ranking medical men in the social sphere – They dealt with selling their items; therefore, apothecaries were considered tradesmen.
apron – part of a bishop’s formal garb
aristocracy – used to designate the peerage
articles of marriage – The family lawyer for a wife with a dowry would consult with the future husband’s man of business to draft the “marriage articles.” This marriage settlement stipulated how money was to be settled upon the man’s wife and children. The marriage settlements determined upon what the woman would live if her husband passed before her.
assembly room – In the 18th and 19th Century, assembly rooms were gathering places for member of the upper social class. For a ten-guinea subscription, a person could purchase twelve weeks of a weekly ball and supper.
assizes – Outside of London, justice was dispensed by justices of the peace at petty or quarter sessions. Capital cases and other criminal cases were adjudicated by circuit-riding judges from the superior common law courts in London of Common Pleas, King’s Bench, and the Exchequer after they finished their regular terms. The semi-annual sessions were known as the assizes.