Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Research for "The Charming Devil"

After a month of illness in November, and a busy December with ARC's and details regarding my February release, The Charming Devil, to be completed, as well as Christmas, my blog was neglected. But I am back now, promoting my new book, and giving you some idea of how it was created.

For "The Charming Devil" most of my research had to do with location. The Charming Devil is not a time travel, or a 'journey' book, nor is it based in a city, so I was involved in exploring Wiltshire. In particular, I was learning about the north of Wiltshire, near the Vale of Pewsey. It is a beautiful part of England, and there are many websites devoted to it.

Milk Hill, highest point in Wiltshire

I was intrigued by the Wiltshire dialect, and found two of my characters, the Cromer sisters, using terms like 'cack-handed' (awkward or clumsy) and 'sprawny' (sweetheart). A good resource is A Glossary of Words used in the County of Wiltshire from
Kesiah Cromer is a good cook and creates local delicacies such as bacon fraise and lardy cake.

The fictional village I created and called Houldam lies somewhere east of Devizes, a prosperous wool and market town during the Regency.
The market cross in Devizes, a replacement built in 1814
The nearest large house in the neighbourhood of Houldam is 'Brasehill', which I also invented. I imagine it looking somewhat like Grove Park, the seat of Thomas Villiars, Earl of Clarendon, near Watford below.
from onlinegallery
Houldam itself is small with just two or three shops and an inn. It looks, in my mind's eye, rather like Lower Quinton in Gloucestershire as sketched by W. A. Green in the mid-1900s.
Finally I leave you with a picture below that to me illustrates my heroine Cecily and her daughter Lucy.
by Marguerite Gerard
Please visit my website for more details about "The Charming Devil". And come back here for more blog posts in the coming year!

'Til next time,

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Friday, July 5, 2019

No Ticket, No Chance -- Regency Lotteries

I have never really given much thought to lotteries. I buy the occasional ticket, never win anything, and that's about it.

Then I began to notice advertisements in British newspapers of the Regency, mainly for the the State Lottery, and I began to wonder how prevalent and how popular lotteries were in the period 1800-1820. I discovered that the 18th century was the heyday of lottery play in Britain and that from 1815, they were dying out.

Hereford Journal - Wednesday 15 January 1800
The first notice in the British press of a lottery is from 1569, and the prize then was 'plate'--silver and gold in various forms. The next mention was in 1586 and the prize was 'armor', very fine armor apparently. The popularity of these initial forays in public gambling were so successful that government and royalty took note, and the first state lotteries took place. At one point around 1800 the government garnered half a million pounds per annum.
London Courier and Evening Gazette - Wednesday 10 April 1805
By 1700, there were literally hundreds of lotteries as well as the state and city events. There were private lotteries, and fraudulent lotteries with fines of 500l. for cheating. People then, as now, had their favourite numbers. Tickets were expensive, 10l. and up, and ticket sharing schemes, and companies, were popular. So was forgery and counterfeiting of tickets and corruption of ticket-drawing persons.

Worcester Journal - Thursday 29 November 1810
There were dozens of licensed lottery dealers: Hornsby and Co., Swift & Co., Sir J. Branscomb & Co., J. Warner, and T. Bish among them.

T. Bish (in business for some thirty years) became among the best known particularly because of their flamboyant ads after about 1812. Below are two simple advertisements; most included cartoon woodcuts.
Westmorland Advertiser and Kendal Chronicle - Saturday 15 July 1815
Ackermann's Repository of Arts, Literature etc. 1816
Between the state and city lotteries there were smaller events known as 'little goes'. Prizes were anything and everything; books enjoyed a vogue as prizes at one time. The following advertisement appeared in a Calcutta newspaper:
The Every-Day Book and Table Book by William Hone 1830
(There is a large section devoted to 'Lotteries' in this 1830 edition of Hone's Every-Day Book.  I recommend it.)

But by 1815 the tide of public opinion was turning against lotteries though in 1820, they still existed.

 In 1826 the government finally passed legislation which banned lotteries.

There was rejoicing but also disappointment and the furor leading to the final lottery drawing was intense. The companies who had the most to lose by the lottery closure were the most noticeable.
A final flourish from a newspaper of 1826 was recorded in Hone's Every-day Book:
In 1830 Hone noted that

And indeed it was not killed, for lotteries are with us still.

'Til next time,


Sources: British Newspaper Archive
               Hone's Every-Day Book and Table Book, download available at