So as we move into June we start to think about sunny days, warm weather, the sound of leather on willow and lazy days. It’s Britain so let’s amend that to cloudy days, mild weather and the sound of rain on covers or sky’s so blue it’s unbelievable and it’s too hot to move. All this means its holiday season. Jetting off to far of places or staying in the UK, which ever you do it will be really different from the holidays of our ancestors.
Let’s start off with the obvious. May of our ancestors will never have had a holiday in their lives. They probably only had Sundays as a day of rest, but probably worked at home on this day.
So off to the seaside then. The main places to develop in the Victorian era as holiday places were Blackpool, Scarborough, Ramsgate and Brighton. Llandudno and Rhyl were the places to go in Wales.
Now we don our short and t shirts for a beach outing but think of our ancestor. They wore their everyday clothes or even their Sunday best. Men in 3 piece suits and women in so many layers they could virtually stand up without needing their legs. Can you imagine how hot they were?
They may have worn a straw bonnet instead of the normal hat but that would have been the only nod to the beach.
So they needed to cool down. What better way than an ice cream. No cone and lovely flavours for our ancestors though. You got a penny lick. Now this was a solid glass which had a small indentation on the top which would hold a small amount of ice cream. You paid your penny, ate your ice cream and gave the glass back. If you were really lucky the glass may have been rinsed before you got it, but not always. Think of it like hundreds of people sharing a spoon, gross.
Perhaps a donkey ride across the beach? These rides began in the Victorian era and continue to this day at Blackpool amongst others. The wind in their hair as the donkey trotted (well slowly walked) along the sand.
The best way to cool off was probably a dip in the sea. What better way. Not for me, seaweed, crabs, fish no thank you. Apparently you’re not supposed to squeal and run out of the sea claiming something touched your foot! Why? But not just a normal dip in the sea for our ancestors there was etiquette to consider. You had to be correctly dressed.
Ladies wore full length dresses to begin with made from a non transparent fabric and weighted at the hem so it wouldn’t float up and show an ankle, the horror! Later into the Victorian era women began to wear a pair of bloomers with a short dress over the top. Modesty at all times. Men began by wearing what looked like woollen long johns from ankle to wrist. Over time these became shorter and looked more like a modern ladies racing swimsuit. I’ve got a photo somewhere of my Grandpa in a thigh length bathing suit that when it got wet stretched out of all shape.
But I hear you cry how did they change? Well the answer was one of two ways. There was the bathing machine. This was effectively a garden shed on wheels. You went inside and got changed and then stepped out in you bathing attire. Some were wheeled from the promenade to the sea so you stepped out into the sea and then when you were done you were returned to dry land. It was usually only the rich who were taken into the sea. You could also use a sort of beach tent thing. We had one. It was like a huge towel with a hole in the top for your head. You simply got changed underneath it. Surfers use them these days to get out of wet suits. Another way ladies got around the need for a changing room was to use the bell dress type thing.
I’ll be honest it looks more like a drowning aid than a swimming dress.
So this summer when you’re lying on the beach in your chosen attire think of your Victorian ancestors and be grateful no to have to wear a suit or crinoline.
On the 24th May 1819 a baby girl was born who would live through one of the most developing periods in our country’s history. That little girl was Alexandrina Victoria the daughter of the Duke of Kent and the granddaughter of King George III. She was of course Queen Victoria.
It wasn’t such a great period of change for the Queen but also to a greater extent for our ancestor.
Can you imagine how life changed for our ancestors? In 1837 most of our ancestors will have lead very simple lives where their sole priority would have been the survival of them and their family. They literally worked to live. By the end of the Victorian era this would have started to change.
So what did change? I suppose what didn’t.
The Victorian era saw the introduction of the bicycle, trains became much more common and planes were not too far off. Then there was the steam ship and faster journey times.
The first post boxes arrived on the streets of Britain in 1859. They were green in colour and spread through the land. This meant you could post your letters easily and without anyone else knowing who you’re writing to. This was a great invention as before you would have had to go into the post office and hand over your letter. The first stamp appeared in 1840 with the penny black.
Easter eggs appeared in 1873 made by Fry’s chocolate and look how well they took off. Also jelly babies. They started in Lancashire in the 1860’s but then they were made in Sheffield by Bassets. They still exist today. Do you bite of the head or the feet first?
Close to my families heart comes and invention from 1846, the sewing machine. I have a lot of dressmakers and seamstresses in my ancestry. How much did life change for them. No longer did they have to sew garments by hand. The sewing machine would mean hems could be sewn in record time. This would have meant they could make garments faster and thus make more so more income. This did mean that anyone could buy a sewing machine after Signer perfected the design but you had to have the skill to use it.
The Bessemer converter. A big invention for my home town of Sheffield. This lead to the development of strong light steel. It also lead to people flocking to the city to live for the jobs the steel works provided. A big change if you’ve lived in the countryside all your life.
Not exactly but electric lighting was introduced and lightbulbs. Admittedly not many of our ancestors will have used them due to the cost, but it gave hope that one day they wouldn’t have to use candles and smelly oil lamps anymore. Then with the development of hydroelectric it became even cheaper to produce.
The Victorian ear saw the invention of the phonograph and the gramophone. So things could be recorded on the phonograph and played back on the gramophone. No more musically evenings round the piano forte! Also by the end of the era the radio was newly developed.
Now our ancestors, if they could afford it, could take to family and friends throughout the land.
So as the period developed so too did what our ancestors had access to. Some would have been dreams they could only wish for whereas others other would have revolutionised their lives. So know if someone asks what the Victorian era did for our ancestors you have some facts to offer them.
Last week I hosted the monarch awards based around the statistics of the monarch of England/Great Britain. This week the focus turns to their royal consorts.
Consorts whose children didn’t become monarch:
Well it might surprise you that in total 17 (or 18) consorts did not have children who became monarch of these fair lands. The first could have been Queen Matilda of Scotland the wife of Henry I. Her daughter of the Empress Maude or Lady of the English. So if you believe she was queen then it was Matilda of Scotland. If you don’t believe this then the first monarch to not have a child become monarch was Queen Matilda of Boulogne the wife of King Stephen. They did have a son William, but to keep the peace in England Stephen made Maude’s son Henry his heir. The last consort not to have children become monarch was Queen Adelaide the consort of William IV. They had 4 children all of which died when they were young.
Consorts who had more than on monarch/consort as children:
In this category the winner is Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine the wife of King Henry II. The couple had 8 children together and of these 3 were monarchs and 2 were consorts. There was Henry the Young King who reigned alongside his father, Richard I and John. Her daughter Eleanor was consort of King Alfonso VIII of Castile and Joan was consort of King William II of Sicily.
Consorts who had no children:
In this category there were 7 consorts. Admittedly 3 were the wives of Henry VIII, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr. The others were Berengaria of Navarre the wife of Richard I, Anne of Bohemia the wife of Richard II, Lord Guildford Dudley the wife of Queen Jane and Catherine of Braganza the wife of Charles II.
Consorts to have the most children:
Well the winner here is Prince George of Denmark the consort of Queen Anne who had 17 children no of which survived childhood. The female consort who had the most children was Eleanor of Castile with 16 by her husband Edward I. Coming in a close second was Charlotte of Mecklenberg, the consort of George III who had 15 children.
Queen Charlotte the consort of King George III holds the record for the longest tenure of consort, she held the post for 57 years and 65 days.
The shortest reign was Lord Guildford Dudley at just 9 days or if you doubt the credibility of Queen Jane then it was Anne of Cleves, 4th wife of Henry VIII at 186 days.
Age at accession:
The oldest consort to take up the post was Princess Alexandria, the wife of King Edward VII at 56 years and 53 days.
The youngest woman to hold the position was the wife of Richard II, Isabella of Valois. She was just 6 years, 11 months and 24 days. So I suppose she was the youngest girl to hold the post. Her new husband was 29 and it is believed the marriage was never consummated.
Number of Marriages:
Many consorts were either married before or after the monarch. The record does go to Katherine Parr who was married 4 times with King Henry VIII being her third husband. Her first 3 husband died and she finally married Thomas Seymour the uncle of her step son King Edward VI. She died in childbirth aged 36.
Some other facts:
Margaret of France the consort of Henry the Young King was a consort in 2 countries. After the death of Henry she went on to marry Bela III of Hungary.
The consort of King Richard II and Henry V were sisters. They were Isabella of Valois and Catherine of Valois. They were the daughters of King Charles VI of France. After their monarch husbands died Isabella married Charles Duke of Orleans and died in childbirth aged 19. Catherine went on to marry Owen Tudor and have around 6 children including Edmund Tudor the father of King Henry VII.
England/Great Britain has had 6 male consorts. The first was Geoffrey of Anjou in 1141 if you believe Maude was Queen, if not if was Lord Guildford Dudley the husband of Queen Jane in 1553 or if not it was Phillip of Spain who was known as Phillip of England and was monarch by right of his wife from 1554 to 1558. The other are Prince George of Denmark the consort of Queen Anne, Prince Albert the consort of Queen Victoria and our current consort Prince Philip the husband of Queen Elizabeth II.
15 of the consorts of England/Great Britain were the children of European monarchs.
Now as in the previous blog on the monarchy awards (http://www.familyhistoryresearchengland.co.uk/blog/monarchy-awards ) I will answer the questions which were asked on pointless:
The names of the British monarchs consorts since 1707 are:
George, Caroline, Charlotte, Adelaide, Albert, Alexandria, Mary, Elizabeth and Philip.
The decade in which a monarch died from 1000 to 2000 are:
1050’s, 1060’s, 1070’s, 1080’s, 1110’s, 1150’s, 1190’s, 1200’s, 1230’s, 1240’s, 1290’s, 1310’s, 1350’s, 1360’s, 1390’s, 1410’s, 1430’s, 1480’s, 1490’s, 1500’s, 1530’s (3 this decade all Henry VIII wives), 1540’s, 1550’s, 1590’s, 1610’s, 1660’s, 1700’s, 1720’s, 1730’s, 1810’s, 1820’s, 1840’s, 1860’s, 1920’s, 1950’s, 2000’s.
The consorts whose children (if they had any some of these listed didn’t) were never Monarch since 1154 are:
Berengaria of Navarre wife of Richard I. Margaret of France wife of Edward I. Philippa of Hainualt wife of Edward III. Richard II 2 wives Anne of Bohemia and Isabella of Valois. Joan of Navarre wife of Henry IV. Margaret of Anjou wife of Henry VI. Anne Neville wife of Richard III. Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr the wives of Henry VIII. Guildford Dudley the husband of Queen Jane. Phillip of Spain the husband of Mary I. Catherine of Braganza the wife of Charles II. Mary of Modena the wife of James VII (II). Prince George of Denmark the husband of Queen Anne. Caroline of Brunswick the wife of George II. Caroline of Brandenburg the wife of George IV and finally Adelaide Saxe-Meiningen the wife of William IV.
Scottish Monarchs and Consorts coming soon.
I was watching a repeat of Pointless Celebrities the other week and in the final the actor’s Neil Dudgeon and Annette Badland had questions in the final relating to the monarchy. The 3 questions were the names of the British monarchs since 1707, the decade in which a monarch died from 1000 to 2000 and the monarchs who were never succeeded by their offspring since 1154. Well I happy to say I got 3 pointless answers and the celebrities won the jackpot. It also got me thinking again about the statistics of the English/British monarch. So let me share them with you.
Monarch who were not succeeded by their children:
There have been 17 monarchs since 1066 that were not succeeded by their children. The first was the son of King William the Conqueror, King William II. He died under mysterious circumstances when he was shot by an arrow while hunting in the New Forest in 1100. He was unmarried and thus succeeded by his brother King Henry I. The most recent monarch to be succeeded by someone other than a child was King Edward VIII in 1936 when he abdicated and was succeeded by his brother King George VI.
Monarchs succeeded by more than one child:
It surprised me when I got looking that 7 monarchs have had more than one child become monarch. The first was King William the Conqueror. He was succeeded by 2 of his sons, William II and Henry I. Not surprisingly Henry VIII wins with 3 of his children becoming monarchs, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. The most recent monarch to have more than one child become king was King George V with Edward VIII and George VI.
Monarchs with no children:
Again this came as something of a surprise. 11 monarchs since 1066 have not had any issues. Of these 5 were married but just had no children for various reasons. Charles II was married but had no children with his wife. She suffered several miscarriages. He did have 12 acknowledged illegitimate children though. When you think about it 3 of the 11 of the monarch who didn’t have children were the children of Henry VIII.
Monarchs with most children:
The record is held by James VII (II) who had 20 children by his 2 wives. Coming a close second was Edward I who had 19 children by his 2 wives. Edward’s first wife was Eleanor of Castile and she gave birth to 16 children. George III and his wife Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz came in second place with her giving birth to 15 children.
Our current Queen Elizabeth II holds the record for the longest reigning monarch. Before her it was Queen Victoria at 63 years and 216 days and King George III at 59 years and 97 days.
The shortest reign was Queen Jane at just 9 days. For those who don’t believe Jane was Queen (I do) then it was King Edward V at 78 days. Neither monarch was ever crowned. The shortest reign of a crowned monarch was King Edward VII at 326 days.
Age at Accession:
The oldest person to become monarch was William VI. When he became King in 1830 he was 64 years old. The youngest to become monarch was King Henry VI who was just 8 years old.
Number of marriages:
Well of the winner in this category has to be Henry VIII at 6 marriages. That man either loved wedding cake or just wanted to collect lots of Mother’s in laws. He needed to take up knitting or something. Several other monarchs were married more than once but 2 is the most number of marriages besides Henry. It’s no wonder his 3 kids never got married. Nor did 3 other monarch.
So to fully answer the pointless questions:
The names of the British monarchs since 1707 are: Anne, George, William, Victoria, Edward and Elizabeth.
The decade in which a monarch died from 1000 to 2000 are: 1010’s, 1030’s, 1040’s, 1060’s, 1080’s, 1100’s, 1130’s, 1150’s, 1160’s, 1180’s, 1190’s, 1210’s, 1270’s, 1300’s, 1320’s, 1370’s, 1400’s, 1410’s, 1420’s, 1470’s, 1480’s (3 this decade), 1510’s, 1540’s, 1550’s (3 this decade), 1600’s, 1620’s, 1640’s, 1680’s, 1690’s, 1700’s, 1710’s, 1720’s, 1760’s, 1820’s, 1830’s, 1900’s, 1910’s, 1930’s, 1950’s, 1970’s.
The monarchs who were never succeeded by their offspring since 1154 are:
Edward III (grandson), Richard II (cousin), Henry VI (usurped), Edward V (uncle), Richard III (usurped), Edward VI (cousin and half-sister), Mary I (half-sister), Elizabeth I (cousin), Charles II (brother), Anne (cousin), George II (grandson), George VI (brother), William IV (niece), Edward VIII (brother).
On the 1st May 1707 Great Britain was born. Up until this point England (and Wales) and Scotland were separate entities sort of. England (and Wales) had a parliament in London and Scotland’s was in Edinburgh. We each had a separate monarch, sort of. It was the same person from 1603 they just had 2 crowns.
From the act of union onwards that all changed. No more separate coronations for monarchs, although Charles II was the last to really have separate coronations. Queen Anne became the first monarch of Great Britain. Also no more separate parliament. Everything was now done from London as that was where the monarch lived.
The most changes were probably seen in the border areas of England and Scotland. A lot of grey areas arose. For example the town of Berwick Upon Tweed has changed between England and Scotland loads of time. This meant that before the union they could swap sides to choose which parliament was best for them. After the union that would have changed.
The union was not popular as the Scottish wanted to remain independent but many felt the extra money that Scotland could get from England would be hugely beneficial to the country.
There had been attempts made before this. The Monarchies of England (and Wales) and Scotland had been marrying off their children to one another in order to try and exert some influence over their fellow monarchs as their grandchildren may have become monarch. In 1221 King John of England had married his daughter Joan to King Alexander II of Scotland. In this case no children were born so it didn’t work. John’s son King Henry III of England married his daughter Margaret to King Alexander III of Scotland but none of the couple’s son’s became King. Several other royal marriages between Scotland and England occurred but since 1066 the first union between the 2 royal families to produce a monarch who had an English monarch and a Scottish monarch as grandfathers was King James V of Scotland. He was the son of King James IV of Scotland and Princess Margaret Tudor, the daughter of King Henry VII of England. This was the connection that allowed James VI to take the English throne in 1603.
So what did this mean for our ancestors? Well in reality nothing. Nothing changed other than they became British rather than English, Scottish or Welsh. Although most probably still used them and we still do today.
Our Scottish ancestors did cling firmly to their Scottishness. They continued to hold on to their clan heritage and their pride in their tartans and customs. They even revolted during the Glorious Revelation in an attempt to keep King James VII (or II) on the throne of both England and Scotland. He was a Catholic and Protestants wanted him gone and replaced with his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange. After James was ousted and William III and Mary II took the throne jointly James VII grandson Charles Edward Stuart took up arms along with the Scottish Jacobite’s to put his father James Stuart,or himself on the throne. It failed.
The English hung on to their traditions as well.
So was there any impact on the Act of Union for us genealogists. Well not really when it happened. Birth, marriages and deaths were still only registered in the Church of either Scotland or England (and Wales). It wasn’t until 1837 in England and Wales and 1855 in Scotland that events had to be registered with the state.
So the Act of Union had no impact on our genealogy research or probably our ancestors but it was an important date in the history of our great country.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my Family History Ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!