What happened in…

So here I was tearing out my hair. February 21 is not a particularly auspicious day when it comes to exciting births, deaths, or events. So I thought I’d go and look up some newspapers for February 21, 1813. After a spectacular fail at a site where I would have had to pay, I found that, joy of joys, The Georgian Newspaper Project is once again online, with archives 1770-1800 of The Bath Chronicle. Or maybe it always has been and I’d mislaid it. Thank you, thank you, to all the volunteers who put this together.

455553I had a quick look to see what was going on in February in Bath in various years. Some of it was the stuff of scandal–look at this from February 8, 1770: Finance: Robert Yeeles of Longdean, Wilts repudiates liabilities of his wife Mary Yeeles, from date of advert. She has eloped & is not to be trusted.

The city was a hotbed of crime. This, and most of the examples below are from February 2, 1786. I think this is interesting because of the variety of fancy goods available in one shop. Crime: robberies – from Wm Moore’s shop, Orange Grove, Bath. Shell inkstand mounted in silver & 2 silver pens (12 months ago); pearl jessamine fancy pin – value 4 guin (1 month ago); 4′ 6″ oilcloth umbrella (on 22 Feb). Reward 5 guin each item on recovery & conviction, or 2 guin/ea if being pawned or sold.

Then there’s the case of the great horse exchange. While robbers looted Mr. Moore’s shop, criminals roamed the countryside. Crime: horse theft – iron grey gelding stolen on 30 Jan, the property John Brittan, Dyrham, Gloucs. Reward for information leading to conviction from John Brittan of 1 guin over amount allowed by Act of Parliament. But on the same day, this notice was posted: Notices: abandoned horse – brown mare left in field where iron grey gelding removed (property of John Brittan, Dyrham). Owner requested to reclaim.

While in Bath, you’d probably order tea, coffee and candles (tea and coffee, yes, but candles in the same shop?) from Coles tea warehouse. Goods: fine fresh teas, Coles tea warehouse, 7 Northgate St, Bath. 16 varieties tea. Best Bohea 2s, Congou leaf 2s 6d, Congou tea 3s, very good do 4s, very good Souchong 5s, v fine do 6s, superfine do 7s, fine green 3s 6d, fine single 4s 6d, v fine do 5s. But another ad mentions imported cowslip flavour 10s. That surprised me. Although you’d expect to find herbal teas for medicinal use, you wouldn’t expect to find them in a tea and coffee (and candles) store. Cowslip tea’s main use is as a sedative. And imported from where? It’s native to England.

More luxury goods. I almost feel sorry I’m two centuries late for this sale: Fashion: sale of silks by James & Peter Ferry, retiring silk weavers & mercers, cnr Gallaway’s Bldgs, Bath. Remainder of stock at a quarter less than any shop or warehouse in England, includes crepes & bombasines.

Posh arrivals to Bath were announced in the newspaper. Visitors: arrivals in Bath – Hon Mr Williams [no other titled people], Admiral Collins. Sometimes “no other titled people” was shortened to NOTP.

The fashionable churches demanded reservations: Churches: Octogon Chapel – no access to pews for visitors unless seats reserved via clerk, Mr Bullman at Mr Herschel’s in New King St, Bath; or at vestry 1 hr before services on Sundays, Wednesdays & Fridays. And yes, that is Mr. William Herschel, organist, composer, and astronomer whose house on New King Street is now a museum.

_41353654_bath_chron203And if you wanted to leave the city of luxury and pleasure, you’d turn to the newspaper: Travel: coaches Bath to London, summary – a) Bristol & Bath mailcoach from Three Tuns at 5.30pm; b) coach from Lamb Inn at 4pm; c) coach from Three Tuns & Lamb Inns at 4am. Inside passengers only £1 10s. Perfomed Willimas & Co Bath, Wilson & Co London.

I love this stuff! What do you think the story is behind the eloping Mrs. Yeeles or the great horse exchange?

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5 Responses to What happened in…

  1. Elena says:

    This is really cool. Now I’m tempted to go browse–but maybe when I’m out of story ideas that are already begging me to write them!

    Obviously, someone in a terrible hurry left the exhausted brown mare and took the grey gelding for the next part of his journey. What could cause such desperation? Maybe it was all that silk on sale?

  2. librarypat says:

    Interesting. I love getting my hands on old papers and magazines for the insight they give into the time they were written.
    As to Mrs. Yeeles, she could have married for money and realized it wasn’t worth it when someone she fancied came along. Or, maybe he was an abusive husband, and she was finally able to escape him.

    The horse? The owner of the brown mare may have been on an urgent trip and the mare just couldn’t make it. Seeing the grey gelding, he made the switch so he could continue on. Then again, maybe Mrs. Yeeles took the grey and left the mare when she ran away from her husband so he wouldn’t know what horse to look for when/if he tried to track her down. So many possibilities you could have fun with.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Lil says:

    What a great site. I’d say thank you, but I didn’t really need another time-suck. Aw, I’ll say thank you anyway.

  4. Oh now this is entirely too tempting! I love sites like this! I could lose myself for hours reading all of these little bits of life from so long ago.

    Apparently the owner of the brown mare swapped one horse for another and apparently Mrs. Yeeles did the same ! LOL

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