Choosing a day in the Week

Let it not be said that I don’t research when it comes to writing my books! When you’re talking about getting married on a certain day of the week in 1863, a calendar is important!  I found one!

What day of the week did I choose for the first marriage in this lengthy saga? According to a Victorian Wedding article, a popular rhyme went like this:

Marry on Monday for health,
Tuesday for wealth,
Wednesday the best day of all,
Thursday for crosses,
Friday for losses, and
Saturday for no luck at all.

I noticed that Sunday wasn’t in the rhyme, but strangely enough, my second great uncle married on a Sunday.  Hmm…I’m confused.


Early Victorian Clothing for Men at Historical Emporium

When I look at men’s fashions in the Victorian era, I don’t think they changed as drastically as the female dresses did over the years.  Of course, looking at these outfits, as shown on fashion website linked below, we’re talking about the well-dressed male of the 1850s to 1870s.

The males initially in book one, Toil Under the Sun, are dressed in far less fashionable trends for being common laborers in the construction business. Dirty clothes, tattered sleeves, worn shoes are the norm. They represented the stark contrast between the class line of laborer and master in a world of the haves and have-nots.

To read more about the male fashions, enjoy the site below.   You can even purchase a few items to dress up your husband or boyfriend just for fun!  Throw away those blue jeans and put some class back into his life.

(1850 – 1870) Full Line of Men’s Early Victorian Style Clothing. Everything a gentleman needs, from head to toe. Hats, coats, shirts, shoes, ties, trousers and beautiful vests. Period correct for theatrical and reenactor use.

Source: Early Victorian Clothing for Men at Historical Emporium

Patented Brickmaking Machines  

The fear of men losing their jobs because of automation has continued since the dawn of the industrial revolution.  Even in our lifetime, robotic counterparts are replacing human workers and jobs are being lost.

Can you imagine the fear this must have instilled in the man of 1860 who made his life hand-molding bricks?  An inventor comes along and makes this huge monster machine that threatens his usefulness and income as a laborer in Victorian England.  No wonder he hates it — no wonder he wants it destroyed.

Progress, however, continues whether humans like it or not, and such was the case during these turbulent years when the union fought against industrialization in brickmaking.  Attacks were regularly made on master brickmakers who purchased these devices.  Owning one meant it took jobs away from other able-bodied men who once worked in the clay fields and hand-molded bricks like craftsmen. There were various patented machines from different inventors introduced throughout the years as early as 1859 and many newer versions introduced in the subsequent decades.

Owning one of these contraptions is a point of contention in Toil Under the Sun.   In 1865, the Manchester Bricklayer’s Union would not allow machine-made bricks to be used in the district.  It wasn’t until many years later that they changed the ruling, but even afterward there were instances where union members would attack businesses and attempt to destroy the machines out of anger.

How many more jobs will be lost in the decades ahead from machines being invented to take our place?  I dare say many more, which will have the same effect on the human counterpart–loss of income and a sense of uselessness.  Like the brickmakers of the past, workers learn to adapt or starve.  Sometimes it’s a hard lesson.

From: The Mechanics’ Magazine: Journal of  Engineering, Agricultural Machinery, Manufactures, and Shipbuilding, Vol. 2, No. 50, Dec. 9, 1859.  Source: Clayton’s Patent Brickmaking Machine (Thanks to the Brickfrog Blog for posting this article information.  Excerpt below:

The Production of solid bricks has of late received much of the attention of engineers and architects, with a view of their being produced more economically, of a better quality, and with greater facility, than by the time-honored means known as “hand-moulding;” and although many mechanical contrivances for making bricks have been introduced, not one has realised the requirement practically, or been considered worthy of adoption, until Mr. Henry Clayton, of the Atlas Works, London, produced and patented his brickmaking machine. On an average 20,000 to 25,000 good bricks are made daily by each of Clayton’s large machines with the attention of two men and four boys.

Your latest historical tidbit!

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.




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!




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


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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