Category: Updates

The Bullies of 1860’s Victorian England

It’s not often that I write a book in four weeks. Of course, it’s only the first draft and editing begins, i.e. rewrites, embellishments, additions, deletions, etc. After that comes the other kind of editing–grammar, sentence structure, syntax, spelling, punctuation, and further reviews with the help of ProWriting and Grammarly. Then off to Victory Editing to be poked at again.

Some of what you’ll read in Toil Under the Sun may shock you and lead you to believe that I have an evil imagination. The incidents you’ll read about are actual occurrences I discovered while researching and reading the proceedings of the Manchester Assize Courts in 1867. These acts make Boucher throwing a rock in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South appear like child’s play.

Here is a short, but shocking list, of terrorist-like activities, perpetrated by union members against those who defied their rules. You’ll read about those rules in the book, which were put in place to supposedly protect the trade. The newspapers and courts called them “outrages.”

  • “Bottling” – throwing bottles full of combustible substances into rooms where brickmakers, their wives, and children slept.
  • Use of pistols to intimate watchmen and shoot watchdogs during their nightly raids.
  • Hamstringing of horses or slitting their throats. Setting stables on fire and burning horses alive.
  • The stabbing of cattle and other livestock owned by brickmakers.
  • Brutal beatings of employees, including young boys who worked for brickmakers, often resulting in permanent physical damage.
  • Destroying bricks sometimes as many as 60,000 or more at a brickmaker’s business.
  • Destroying buildings under construction that used machine-made bricks or bricks not made by union men.
  • Blowing up brickmaking machines with gunpowder.
  • Other atrocities that earned them this comment in the newspapers that their acts were the “despotism of their own class.”

As you can see, brickyard bullies were the hooligans of the day who would do anything to protect their trade, including murder those who stood in their way. A policeman was killed at one of their outrages.

Keep checking back for updates!  While editing, I’m going to dive into book two, Slave to None, and continue to the next era of 1870’s and how the trade changed and businesses grew. These are the years of prosperity and growth, and the foundation for family riches.

 

Time Served

I’m scrolling through England and Wales Criminal Registers on Ancestry.com.  I need one of my characters to serve time and wondered what the penalty would be.  Boy, interesting read!  Here’s a few examples:

  • Larceny – Ranges from 3-6 months.
  • Attempting to commit suicide – 2 months
  • Attempting sexual relations with an underage child – 1 year
  • Embezzlement as a servant – 6 months
  • Maliciously killing a horse – 1 year
  • (No laughing at this one) Adjudged as an incorrigible rogue – 9 months.
  • Attempting to commit buggery (that’s an old term for homosexual acts) – 10 years
  • Obtaining goods by false pretenses – 3 months
  • Keeping a disorderly house (conduct of inhabitants are a public nuisance) – 1 year
  • Keeping a house of ill fame (brothel/prostitution) – 18 months
  • Assaulting a police officer – 3 to 6 months

Well, it’s an interesting read for sure. I can’t imagine the horrors of serving time in a Victorian-era prison.

Vicki

Progress Update

I’ve worked extremely hard this past four days to push the book forward into the last stage of draft one.  Writing is a daunting task.  The first draft can be a breeze because a writer’s brain is buzzing with characters, dialogue, and a storyline that needs to get down on paper before we forget it.  However, that’s only the start.

Afterward, at least for me, comes the pain.  The process of revisions and self-editing that can take time and tears.  Then it’s off to the professional editor, to take the last pass before release, finding your goofs and stupid errors your eyes didn’t see the first time.

As I’m staring at the end of book one, I’m overwhelmed by the hours I’ve spent reading union news and testimony regarding the hooligans of the nineteenth century involved in the trade. I’ve found absolutely fantastic resources online through the British Newspaper Archives and Google Books, which contain the scanned text of trade reports and investigations dating back to the mid-1860’s. 

Of greater concern, is the name of my second great grandfather that repeatedly came up in testimony as one of the regulars who went about enforcing the union rules, as they were, sometimes violently.  He died in his early forties, which makes me wonder if his lifestyle contributed to his early demise.

Nevertheless, next post as I near the end, I’ll give you a short glimpse into the world of trade unions. Some of what you’ll read in Toil Under the Sun may surprise and sicken you, but the occurrences were taken from actual events. The names were changed to spare those involved and their ancestors. However, I felt it important to make this saga historically correct, including actual events, for my own sake and that of my readers.

Stay tuned as I look at the end of my first draft.  Thankfully, no one will wallop me over the head with a brick after I’m finished.  Apparently, a few watchmen of brickyards suffered that fate.

All my best, Vicki

1860s Dress Fashions

Source: 1860s evening dress fashions, descriptions and fashion plates, Vintage Victorian

It’s very easy to like the fashions of past decades.  Once again, I’m not that enthralled with the 1860s  when it comes to gowns. Some of them were so voluminous, you wonder how they sat, walked through a door, climbed into a carriage, or managed in the powder room.

If you visit the link below, you’ll find all sorts of beautiful 1850-1860s pictures of dinner and evening dresses. However, those beautiful dresses were for the upper 10% of society who had the incomes to afford the fabrics and dressmakers.  Source: 1860s evening dress fashions, descriptions and fashion plates, Vintage Victorian

To find out what the poor wore in 1860, we need to time travel through old photographs.  From the ones I see, most women didn’t wear the voluminous gowns but dressed in plain skirts and blouses, wrapped in shawls. I’m sure they couldn’t afford the huge crinoline cage or multiple petticoats that adorned the bodies of the more affluent ladies.

Perhaps it was a good thing because apparently, over 3,000 women died from their crinoline cages catching on fire! Yes, you read that right.  Dress at your own peril, ladies.  Read the article, “c. 1857-1867 Crinolinemania Victorian Fashion goes to extremes by National Museum of Scotland”

To add to the perils of going up in flames, you could die from the color.  Green-colored fabric in dresses and other clothing contained arsenic. The term “drop dead gorgeous,” came about when women wearing clothes filled with arsenic got sick. Their skin absorbed the poison. While swirling around a ballroom, the dress gave off fumes that were dangerous to those nearby.

If all of the above wasn’t bad enough, the dress fashion was the target of many jokes in caricature cartoons.

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DressLaugh

 

How long does it take to dress 1860’s style?  If you want to watch one woman dress in the fashion, follow the LINK HERE.  Unfortunately, I cannot embed the YouTube video into the blog post.

Here are a few fashions from the day below.  Enjoy!

Vicki

 

 

1860’s- Hats & Bonnets

1860’s and hats!  It’s the bonnet, which frankly isn’t my favorite.  On a personal note, I can’t stand anything tied underneath my chin. Wearing one of these hats with a huge ribbon underneath my jaw would have led me down the road of perdition by not covering my head while out in public.

I am definitely going to refer to this website as we go through the decades on fashions. Meet Mrs. Parker’s Millinery and Mercantile.  Hats are for sale if you wish to purchase a replica and play Victorian dress-up for fun.

Your heroine in book one is Mary Booker (see note below). She’s a young lady who lives with her uncle, the vicar of St. George’s. He believes women definitely should be married, birthing children right and left, and keeping the home. After all, that’s what the good book says.  Mary, however, would love to work in a hat shop until the right man comes along.  Truth be told, I think she already found him.

Any hats that you like from the 1860’s.  A beautiful example of Margaret Hale from North & South in her mourning bonnet.

Source: 1850’s-1860’s- Hats & Bonnets

Vicki

NOTE:  As usual, I’m grabbing names from my family tree.  Mary Booker is my fifth great-grandmother from Yorkshire, England, born 1768. 

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