Tagged with 18th century history

Georgian Care for Mentally Ill

Before mental health services were established, it is generally assumed that people suffering mental illness were locked away as with Mrs Rochester, or put on display to e mocked at Bedlam. But in small communities, matters could be dealt with on a local level. There was a wider range of employment than today; everyone could … Continue reading


This is a legal term that crops up with reference to women’s marital rights. Most people claim it was a draconian piece of law, but it is far more than this. Like wife selling, lots of people opposed it, and just as lots wanted wife selling made illegal, a lot of people wanted the law … Continue reading


This is one of the most horrific pieces of legislation ever passed by a government headed by Robert Walpole, of rich Whigs who had taken land in Royal forests for estates and hunting lodges. When a group called the Blacks responded by damaging some of their property, this act was the result. It was aimed … Continue reading

Scolds Preventing Marriages

I am intrigued by this piece, as it is one of the best arguments I can imagine for making divorce available. It has a ring of veracity to it, and explains why there were so many batchelors in the 18th and 19th century when there were so many women desperate for marriage. It is also … Continue reading

Captives Returned

Most people know about the Pirates of various nationality in the Caribbean, but few know of the many sailors captured by North African ships, attacking places like Cornwall, and the Bristol channel hunting merchants coming to the annual fairs. They even  took the whole town of Baltimore in Ireland. Sailors were held for ransom, or … Continue reading

The Success of Mobs

In 18th century England, food riots, which peaked in 1766, were common, increasingly due to hoarding of food, so in the absence of any formal controls, the riots were allowed to happen in order to keep the poor fed. But how successful were uprisings overall? This is again from George Rude’s The Crowd in History: … Continue reading

A Law unto Himself

This comes from Laurence Stone’s brilliant, huge book The Road to Divorce: One of he dominant figures in English divorce law of the late 18th century was Lord Erskine as council for plantiffs who did brilliant work standing up for the misbehaving wives. His wife died in 1805 and had been having a long term … Continue reading

Reverend on the Run

This comes from Laurence Stone’s Road to Divorce: In the late 18th century, response to a woman committing adultery was increasingly for the husband to bring a case of ‘criminal conversation” against her lover by means of obtaining compensation for the loss of her company, but lawyers increasingly encouraged judgement by juries to find damages … Continue reading

Food Riots

I’ve been interested in this 18th century topic for a long time but always thought it was about food shortages, missing the fact that they were often aimed at stopping food – i.e. local grain – from being shipped out of the country, a matter encouraged by bounties brought in in the 17th century when … Continue reading

Dangerous Show

For much of human history, wherever people gathered, there was always a chance of something dangerous happening, but this seems to have been particularly common for shows, as many people often crowded into a small space, often lit by open flames. One of Cambridgeshire’s greatest tragedies happened at a puppet show. This is from Honor … Continue reading