Apr 182017

In an earlier  post I mentioned about Richard worrying about events around him – none more so than the British weather.

Here is a page reviewing the weather trends in 1794/5:Scan_20170321The page opens with the comment  that January 1794 saw considerable frosts and that it was slippery walking. At the latter end of January there was much snow – which lay on the ground. The weather was described as “sharp”. March saw much wet weather – occasionally it was very fine, and with very little frost. However, June and July saw “fine hay-making”. It was very warm, a very dry season. Richard notes that rain was “much wanted” and that he only got a small crop of gooseberries and currants (“much blited”). The summer saw much Lightning and Thunder but there was a fine harvest. Richard states that the year ended  with heavy snowfalls: “December 24th 1794 a frost set in, much snow in the night of 25 December – held on ’til Tuesday January 27th.” In other words snow lay on the ground for the period of an entire month. The thaw then set in “and at night a great flood” Typical British weather – it then turned cold again, with snow, and it froze very hard.

Ten days later on February 9th on “Thursday morning about 8 o’clock a second flood took place, greater than the former. About this time great floods were very general in places throughout the kingdom – great damage done to bridges,  a large number of them. A distressing time”. Apparently the flood at Cambridge was almost a foot higher than the remarkable one of October 1762, while the flood in Oxford and its neighbourhood on February 7th was “so great as has not been known for 22 years”. This suggests to me that Richard gleaned this information from reports in the newspaper and then wrote things up in his diary – and indeed some of the weather entries relate to far-distant places such as St Petersburg and Berlin.

The next page of the day book is taken up entirely with his records for bottling off currant wine, before meandering off into a memorandum about powers of attorney, the sale of £500 South Sea Stock intended for the benefit of Horsleydown School in London (of which he was a trustee) and more payments to have his short and longcase clocks cleaned.

This particular note book ends with a review of the days on which he did his laundry – or rather, as her put it, the days when he “wash’d a great wash”. March 27 1794 was apparently warm enough to do the first laundry of the Spring – presumably because the bedding could be hung out on the hedges to dry – and was repeated on June 2nd. The next time he did any washing was a double dose on September 10th and 11th. That seems to be it for the year, so unless he had rather a lot of sets of bedding that would suggest a change of sheets just three times a year…. no wonder the Georgians got bed bugs!



Apr 162017


My ancestor was a real worrier – and the older he got the more he worried – and the more he filled his diaries with notes about what concerned him. Those concerns spilled out into his collection of day books and informal jottings – and here is one example.

It starts off with the comment that 1792 saw “very catching Haymaking  – good crops”. This was followed up with the words “Very Catching Harvest – large crops”. He saw a pretty good crop of fruits – “little Wall fruit, but large quantity of Gooseberries and Currants. Many plumbs and a great many damsons.” So far, so good (and I assume that ‘wall fruit’ are those grown espalier-style against a wall, such as apples, figs and peaches).

The next entry was made a year later: 1793 January and February it was “very sickly”  – particularly in the village where Richard Hall lived (Bourton on the Water) and the villages adjacent. A sore throat and fever prevailed. The seasons seemed ‘out of synch’ in the sense that there was very little frost and hardly any snow. Then in March it turned very cold, with high winds. Come April 1st  it was a very snowy day – more snow than at any time all winter long.

Richard saw it as a “melancholy time for War and great failures” – first from country banks and then to numbers of individuals. It was, he surmised, “perhaps the greatest number of bankruptcies in a short space of time that was ever known.”

May was remarkably cold, but the haymaking and harvest were good and then Richard appears to have cheered up – the wheat harvest was particularly good, there was a medium crop of fruit, and the weather turned warm in October and stayed mostly mild until the end of the year.

Punctuating these comments were the facts that on April 1st 1793 Mr Fox cleaned his upstairs clock, and came back on January 6th 1794 to clean the short clock (I assume that this was his bracket clock – unfortunately no longer in the family). He seems to have lost faith in William Fox and his ability to sort out his clocks, because that summer he resorted to having the upstairs clock cleaned by Mr Hardyman. Elsewhere he records that the cost of cleaning the clock was half a crown (2 shillings and sixpence). Mr Hardyman was certainly a handy fellow in the village – he also acted as barber! Richard remarks that on July 2nd 1792 he began to shave with My Hardyman – and in those days a shave was a probably a whole-of-head experience

The next page of his jottings was taken up with a couple of shopping lists – the things he needed to get from Mr Johnson’s shop. In case you wish to do your own deciphering of Richard’s scrawl – here it is:

Scan_20170320 (2)

In subsequent years, as war with France dragged on, and the National Debt grew ever-larger, Richard’s jottings became even more troubled and haphazard, ending up with pages and pages of scrawl about the iniquity of Income Tax, about “the Irish Question” and about the sky-rocketing price of bread. As I said at the start, poor Richard, he was a worrier all the time!

Mar 172017

The diary entry of my ancestor Richard Hall, for March 1800, reads: “The Queen Charlotte Man of War took fire and blew up – it is feared not less than 700 lives are lost.” It was typical of many such diary entries of my ancestor, who seemed to get more and more agitated in his old age about accidents and calamities around the world.

The destruction by fire of the British warship HMS Queen Charlotte on 17 March 1800 was one of the most disastrous naval accidents of the era. The flagship of Admiral Lord Keith was anchored off the Italian port of Livorno (otherwise known as Leghorn) in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It had been intended that the ship would sail to capture the island of Cabrona from the French; but the Admiral and a number of the ship’s officers had gone ashore for the night. At about six in the morning a match, which had been kept alight to fire a signal gun, accidentally set ablaze some hay left on the half-deck. There were some 900 men on board and for five hours they struggled to get the blaze under control. In vain they flooded water into the lower decks to stop the fire spreading. Equally in vain, they tried to hurl buckets of water up into the blazing sails and rigging.

At about 11 in the morning the fire reached the massive gunpowder store and blew the ship to smithereens. 673 of the officers and crew on board perished, with only 165 survivors being picked up. The British Register ‘State of Public Affairs’ for April 1800 recounts the story:

We have the painful duty to state the loss of his majesty’s ship Queen Charlotte, of 100 guns, captain Todd, which was burnt off Leghorn on the 17th of March, when the commander and nearly 800 of the crew perished by the explosion. Vice admiral Lord Keith, whose flag was flying on board of her, was, at the time, with some of the officers, providentially on shore. Twenty commissioned and warrant officers, two servants, and 141 seamen, were the whole of the persons who escaped destruction. The particulars are detailed by Mr John Braid, carpenter of the Queen Charlotte: as he was dressing himself about six o’clock, he heard throughout the ship a general cry of ” Fire.” He then states the particulars until half past ten o’clock, when, finding all efforts to extinguish the flames impossible, lie jumped from the jib boom, and swam to an American boat approaching the ship, by which he was picked up and put into a Tartan, then in the charge of lieutenant Stewart, who had come off to the assistance of the ship.

On the morning of the accident. Lord Keith being, as above stated, on shore at Leghorn, had the mortification of discovering the Queen Charlotte on fire four or five leagues at sea. This sight rendered Lord Keith almost frantic – he immediately gave orders for all the vessels and boats to put off, and every assistance to be given; and in this service he was zealously seconded by the Austrian General, and all ranks in Leghorn. They came to an anchor, as the wind blew strongly off the land, but the flames were so rapid that very little hopes could be entertained of saving her. Between eight and nine o’clock the masts and rigging caught fire, and made a most awful blaze; the crew, however, cut the masts by the board ; and, going over the ship, they no longer threatened mischief; but the fire had taken strong hold of the body of the vessel, and continued to rage. The guns began to go off, and the people in the boats and other vessels, who had gone from Leghorn, were much alarmed for fear of the shot, that they would not approach the ship.

It was an ignominious end to a ship named after the wife of George III, and built in 1790 only ten years earlier. In 1796 she had been Admiral Howe’s victorious flagship at the Battle of the Glorious Ist of June, and it is shown here guns blazing away at two French ships of the line. Six were captured and one was sunk.

The Glorious First of June was the first major fleet battle of the French Revolutionary War, 1793-1801. Fast forward to 1800 and it must have been a most appalling experience for Admiral Keith to have to watch as his pride and joy went to its watery grave in a ball of flame.

On the left: a carving of Queen Charlotte in full regalia, in miniature. It was probably made before the full-size carving for the figurehead was commissioned, and would have been used to obtain Royal approval to the design.

Nov 202016

1759 thanksgiving

A week after the naval victory over the French at Quiberon Bay, Richard noted the “Day of General Thanksgiving, observed for the great and plentiful harvest, and the train of successes the Lord has been pleased this year to give us over our Enemies in Europe, Asia, Affrica and America”. The Battle of Quiberon Bay was the icing on the cake, rounding off the ‘annus mirabilis’ which saw British forces triumph around the world.

File:Quibcardinaux2.jpg                Courtesy of the National Maritime Museum.  ‘The Battle of Quiberon Bay’ by Nicholas Pocock, painted in 1812.

Quiberon Bay is situated off the French coast near St Nazaire. The English fleet under Sir Edward Hawke had been attempting to bottle up the French navy in Brest harbour so as to stop any possible invasion plan; a vicious storm had developed, forcing the bulk of the English fleet to run for cover in the Channel, but enough ships remained to see the French attempt to break the blockade under cover of the storm. The English with 24 ships of the line, re-grouped and chased the French into Quiberon Bay, notorious for its shallows and rocky passages. In the teeth  of the gale Hawke’s ships cornered the French under the command of Marshal de Conflans. After a battle which lasted for hours in the storm-lashed bay, the English captured, or forced aground, six of the French ships of the line.


Battle of Quiberon Bay, the Day after. Richard Wright, 1760.

Marshal de Conflan’s flagship, the mighty Soleil Royal, was driven onto the shallows, and torched.  Two and a half thousand experienced French sailors were killed or captured. Although a number of large French ships escaped, they were but a shadow of the original force, and posed little threat to the British navies for the rest of the Seven Years War. The battle was a turning point in the balance of sea power, and so when news of the victory reached London, the Day of Thanksgiving was announced. The clergy took to their pulpits in droves to praise the Lord for helping us trounce our enemies, and Horace Walpole remarked that “our bells are worn threadbare with ringing for victories”.

For Richard and the rest of the population it was apparent that the very real threat of invasion by the French was completely finished – it must have been a huge relief. After years of demoralizing news the country had triumphed over the French in every theatre of war. With hindsight it can be said that 1759 marked the occasion when the British Empire eclipsed the French one. And Richard was able to sit down with a sharp pair of scissors, spectacles perched on the end of his nose, and cut out a piece of paper to show the might of Britsh Armed Forces.

Nov 092016

Tuesday 9th November 1779 – Richard Hall noted “Saw the Lord Mayor’s Show by water. Wet in morn’g. Was fine at the time of the show, afternoon fair, not cold.”


London had a mayor way back in the reign of King John, although there wasn’t a ‘Lord Mayor’ until the fifteenth century. The first mayors were appointed but in recognition of the support given by the good burghers of the City, the monarch granted them the privilege of electing their mayor – but on one condition: once a year the mayor had to present himself at Westminster to pledge allegiance to the Crown. And so it was that the new mayor, with his retinue of supporters from the various Livery Companies, made his way upriver from the City to Westminster. And for nearly 800 years each mayor has done the same, with a few breaks for the odd war or civil insurrection.

Nowadays the Lord Mayor is met by the Lord Chief Justice rather than by the monarch in person*, but for centuries it has been a pageant, with much finery on display, with tableaux and floats (indeed the name ‘float’ originated form the elaborate displays which were brought up-river on decorated barges).

Some time in the fifteenth century the Lord Mayor , then a draper called John Norman, decided to make at least part of the journey by boat, and the livery companies vied with each other for grand barges to accompany the procession. It became the ‘done thing’ to view proceedings from the water – hence Richard’s reference to it in his diary. It would have been a grand spectacle, with music, singing and great displays. No wonder Canaletto, on one of his visits to the City, painted a couple of views of the pageant, viewed from the Thames.

The Thames and the City, Canaletto

File:Canaletto Westminster Bridge 1746.jpg

London Westminster Bridge From The North On Lord Mayors Day

Just twenty or so years before Richard’s diary entry a decision was made to use a formal carriage to enable the Lord Mayor to make the journey in style. An earlier mayor had fallen from his horse when being barracked by a woman variously described as a flower seller and a fishwife. Maybe she was both, but it was a serious case of lèse-majesté and a coach was accordingly ordered to be made. It cost over a thousand pounds to be built in 1757 – and each of the aldermen had to cough up some sixty pounds (nearly £5000 in today’s money). It is a wonderful sight, with its side panels decorated by the Italian painter Cipriani.lord-m

In Richard’s day all the apprentices would have been given the day off to follow the procession and to see the tableaux and wonder at the sheer glitter of it all. London was indeed a city of huge wealth, just as much as it was a place of grinding poverty.

Historically the show was held on 29 October each year but when the calendar changed  in 1752 it moved on by the ‘missing’ 11 days to 9th November. Since 1959 it has been moved to the second Saturday in November, and hence this year will be on 12 November.


*My thanks to Tracey Hill for pointing out that the monarch did not personally receive the Lord Mayor – this was done on his behalf by the Barons of the Exchequer.

Oct 202016

washed a great wash 001I am not sure whether he did it to save paper, or because he was somewhat dis-organized and chaotic towards the end, but my ancestor Richard Hall used every scrap of paper he could lay his hands on. There seemed to be no method that I can discern as to what information was jotted down – or where.

This page is a case in point: on one side there is a poem about the pleasure of being dead (“In one moment – sick and sad/ In the next both well and glad/Never more to know a pain/Not a tear, nor sigh, nor groan”). On the back is a note to the effect that Mr Griffith (his son in law, living in Bath, and married to Richard’s eldest daughter Martha) had ‘got into his new house 2 April 1792″

The next line informs the world that Richard began shaving with Mr Hardiman on Monday July 2nd 1792 – presumably a whole-of-head shave which would have kept him nicely free of head-lice. He then goes on to list the times he did his laundry (as in “Washed a great wash”) – something which took place in July, November, March and June, which seems a bit excessive but may just have shown how Richard had enough changes of bedding to be able to go four months before running out of changes of linen. Or, more probably knowing my lot, he reckoned the sheets could easily last a few months especially when it got colder….

Interspersed with his laundry records are the  dates when he brewed beer – 4 bushels on November 12 1793 and the same again in February the following year. That kept him going until September 1794 – time for another four bushels. My recollection is that a bushel was 64 pints, so that meant he was brewing around 250 pints of barley at a time. I am unsure how many pints of beer he ended up with, but it must have helped pass the time of day while waiting for the next wash day to come round…

brew 001On a totally separate piece of paper I then came across some more brewing records, from 1792 through to 1797. Here  though the brewing seems to have been spread over several days, with an interval of a day in between. He also slipped in a wash in January 1794 – though why that wasn’t shown in the middle of the other washing list is quite beyond me!

Sep 232016

soldiers 001An interesting snippet from one of Richard Hall’s jottings: Fifty soldiers came from Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds and took up quarters at Bourton on Friday 27th 1795. Ah just think of the fluttering hearts and  girlish giggles of the village girls, a la Lydia Bennet! Those fine uniforms! Those randy soldiers… ah well, life got back to normal two weeks later, as the soldiers departed on April 11th.

Jane Austen's George Wickham, shown courtesy of BBC pictures

Jane Austen’s George Wickham, shown courtesy of BBC pictures


Sep 052016

worms 001I am always fascinated by the way my ancestor liked to jot down gossip and trivia about the royal family – presumably he picked it up in the newspapers of the day. This entry concerns Princess Elizabeth: the poor girl had been getting headaches. According to this diary entry, all it took was for the good Dr Taylor, from Manchester of all places, to recommend a particular type of snuff, and eh voila! she  voided a worm from the nose and her complaint totally ceased!

Unfortunately Richard did not give a date for the entry – but as the previous note was a jotting to the effect that his youngest son had just enrolled in Mr Collett’s school (July 11 1791) it is safe  to assume that the incident with the worm was about that time. If so Princess E  would have been 21.

princess EI find it strange to realize that 250 years ago the school term started just as it ends nowadays.  As an aside, poor Benjamin (Richard’s son) was terrified of Mr Collett, who had an exceedingly large girth. Benjamin’s diaries reveal a headmaster of gargantuan proportions. Well, he certainly never had worms …. but I gather that they were not an uncommon side effect of eating poorly cooked meat, especially pork.

May 012016

I thought that for a change I would simply list some of the expenses incurred by my ancestor in 1774, so as to show how different items have changed in cost in relative terms over the intervening years. Some are hard to compare – as with “charitable donations”. My ancestor gave one penny per head to each of the 126 children in the local school, every Valentine’s Day. He also gave three sailors, begging, six pence each. It is a reminder that when the country was not at war large numbers of sailors were laid off, scant reward for risking life and limb in the service of His Majesty.

The Distressed Sailor, by S W Fores

A Distressed Sailor, by S W Fores

For a poor woman who broke her leg he gave the not inconsiderable sum of five shillings, the same as he gave a local farmer called Giles Lawrence who had got into financial difficulties, and who was saving up to buy a new horse.  Another poor farmer, called Mr Bings, called round with a petition and was given one and sixpence, while a genteel beggar who was “raising money to publish his life story” was rewarded with a shilling for his initiative. He paid an annual subscription to Gloucester Royal Infirmary of a guinea, and when poor John Philips lost his house in a fire he stumped up five shillings towards the cost of  renting alternative accommodation. Another local, John Charlicot “who had been long afflicted” was paid half a guinea. For some reason he took pity on young Tidmarsh from Great Rissington when he was discharged from Gloucester prison, and gave him a shilling, the same as he gave a “poor man, ship burnt at sea.” The postman got a Christmas Box of a shilling, the same amount as was given to the local boys, who received a donation  for the bonfire on November 5th.

Guy Fawkes night at Windsor Castle, 1776, via Wikipedia

Guy Fawkes night at Windsor Castle, 1776, via Wikipedia

Closer to home, in November my ancestor paid two shillings for a couple of widgeons, and two days later one and sixpence for a woodcock. Later that month he fancied “a side and shoulder of  fine doe venison” and forked out five shillings to the butcher for his pains. He also paid him one shilling a seven pence for two pounds of sausages, much the same price as he paid for a brace of rabbits. A hare set him back two bob, the same price as it cost him to acquire two wild ducks for the dinner table. A barrel of oysters came to three shillings and sixpence whereas 25lbs of sugar came to fourteen shillings and sevenpence (ie sevenpence a pound weight). Loaf sugar came in slightly cheaper at sixpence a pound. He was able to buy six Banbury cakes for a shilling – the same price as he paid for figs. He bought prodigious quantities of cheese – on one occasion bringing home eighteen  cheeses weighing a total of 239lbs. That set him back £3.14.3, “to include two sage cheeses”.

Clothing was  an important item. That year he forked out £5.0.6 for embroidered stockings, four shillings and sixpence for  dyeing a gown, and  one shilling and tenpence for a pair of rabbit gloves. Doeskin gloves were three times that price. A pair of shoes cost him six shillings and sixpence, whereas “soling and heeling” came to one shilling and ninepence. He paid  six shillings and sixpence for three pairs of worsted hose, and a whopping three guineas for three yards of superfine Pompadour cloth for his wife. Making it up was another £2.14.0. A set of black shoe buckles cost sixpence, and a set of plain buttons twopence.

Repairs included “bottoming two chairs and mending several” for half a crown, knife grinding was sixpence and cleaning watches five shillings. When he broke the neck of a smelling bottle it set him back half a crown to mend it. He was happy to pay eleven shillings for five days paper-hanging  (nice red flock wall paper in the best bedroom!).

When he bought a new horse (black, three years old) it cost him £21.0.0. It meant having his saddle altered – and so another shilling changed hands. He also paid out ten pounds for “a cow, five years old, with a week-old calf”. He happily paid Will Lawrence a shilling for catching moles, whereas his daughter Sarah got paid a piece-rate  and earned herself three shillings and ninepence (that is: threepence a mole).

Mole shown courtesy of

Mole shown courtesy of www.liveanimalslist.com

He paid sixteen shillings each for two pigs, bought off Mr Herbert. He obviously believed in using “live” scare crows and was happy to pay fivepence a day to deter the birds from eating the new crop in the Harp i.e. the big field at the back of the house. Mr Cox was rewarded for pruning his fruit trees to the tune of  5/3d.

Wages for the farm-hands were derisory: John Twining and William Hyett each got eight pounds a year “with victuals”, plus a roof over their heads. Sarah Clifford, who lived-in as housemaid, got four pounds a year plus her victuals. The servants generally got handed down clothing, plus the cost of getting the garments altered to fit.

Mr Brewer the coach maker was paid £17.3.6. for a new conveyance, and greasing the wheels of the said chaise set him back a shilling. It occasionally needed repairing, as in August 1774 when he paid out two shillings for “mending the iron stay of the chaise”.

travel 3One of Richard Hall’s paper cut outs of his horse-drawn carriage.

Unfortunately my ancestor never listed the cost of individual meals, so I am left wondering what he paid for his Sunday lunch on 17 November 1775. It consisted of a mouth-watering and fine “whole cod, some greens, potatoes, aunts pudding, a leg of mutton some pigs fry (? mmm, not sure, maybe bacon?) apple pie, puffs and a couple of ducks with sauces”

I think we can take it that my ancestor ate well, drank well, lived well – and paid his staff a pittance. That was life in the eighteenth century…

Mar 242016
Funeral scene, shown courtesy of the Ephemera Society

Funeral scene, shown courtesy of the Ephemera Society

It never ceases to amaze me that I am still coming across memorabilia from my ancestor Richard Hall, who lived between 1729 and 1801.1 Chas Hall memorabilia Francis Hall funeral accou 2 (4) Last week I had lunch with my cousin and he produced the funeral account from when  Francis Hall died. Francis was Richard’s father – a man born in 1699,  who had been faced with financial disaster in 1720 when the Stock Market crash of that year wiped out the family’s fortunes (“The South Sea Bubble”). He buckled down, got a job as a hosier making silk stockings in Red Lyon Street Southwark (just by the Borough Market) and poured all his energies into educating Richard and bringing him up on the straight and narrow.

By the time he died Francis had lived to see Richard marry extremely well. His bride, Eleanor Seward was a wealthy heiress and when her parents both died, Eleanor (or more accurately Richard) copped the lot: stately pile in the Cotswolds, investments, cash, and a large quantity of plate….

When Francis died Richard obviously wanted to show that the family knew how to put on a proper show. Even so £54 was a huge amount to pay for the funeral of a humble hosier, who was to be buried at London’s Bunhill Fields Burial Ground. Francis was a Baptist, and this was the favourite burial place for dissenters. It is easy to imagine the solemn scene as the funeral procession wended its way through the streets of London, with the black horses,  black ostrich feathers, black pall and so on. The details are fascinating – from dressing the home with black crepe, to the cost of sending out funeral invitations, to the type of cloth, the gloves, the scarves and so on. I have had a go at deciphering the various entries:

2 Chas Hall memorabilia Francis Hall funeral account (1)To a strong English Oak coffin with a Double Lid covered with fine black cloth sett with two rows all round of the best burnished brass nails close drove, and ornamented with gilded (?) drops, a large mettle plate of inscription and four pairs of  best Contrast hand (?) gild lyned and ruffled with fine crape. To a superfine crape shroud sheet pillow and mattress to the bottom  £8.18.6d

To Ticketts of Invitation and Inviting the Company 5/-

Burning three pounds of wax candles cost 7/6 and the actual pall (best velvet) another ten shillings. Then came the slate lid adorned with five ostrich feathers (17/6)and  “eleven pairs of lac’d Gents shammies” (presumably soft gloves) at £2.15.0. Two pairs of women’s laced Danzicks came to ten shillings – I believe ‘Danzick’ referred to linen from Danzig renowned for its discreet geometric patterns, but no doubt someone will be able to correct me  if I am wrong.

Ten pairs of women’s plain gloves were required at £1, and someone obviously made do with their own pair but they were altered by adding “old lacing” which cost another four shillings. Five pairs of ribbon-bound kid, and half a dozen “rich Ducape silk scarves” were needed for the pall bearers, tied with “black Paduasoy silk ribbons” at 31/6d a go, totaling another nine guineas.

4 Chas Hall memorabilia Francis Hall funeral account (3)Two longer scarves were needed for the Clergy along with 8 “Allamode Hattbands” at eight shillings each. Five fine cloaks were needed for the mourners and the clergy (you might have thought that the clergy would have their own funeral weeds!). The two horsemen needed “porters equipment with Gowns and staves covered with silk” at a cost of one pound and they too needed “hattbands and gloves” costing five shillings. Then there was the actual hearse (“herse”) and six horses (£1.15.0). These were adorned with no fewer than seventeen plumes of ostrich feathers for “ye herse and horses”, setting the family back another two pounds. That still left a set of velvet and fringed coverings at a cost of £1.10.0, and then there were the men in mourning, eight of them, “to attend the herse as pages and to bear the body with velvet caps and truncheons” costing one pound. They each needed gloves and favours – eight, costing another sixteen shillings.

3 Chas Hall memorabilia Francis Hall funeral accou 2 (3)The funeral director had to pay eight shillings in cash for the coaches involved in “extra fetching and carrying home the Company, with men to attend ’em” and then there was nine shillings paid out for turnpike fees as the cortege wended its way through the City. The mason and bricklayer both got in on the act, and half a guinea was payable as a burial fee. A large elm case, made to cover the remains of the late Mr Hall, with proper assistance, came to another guinea and finally there was the “Mourning Coach and pair, one day to Meeting” at fifteen shillings. The funeral director then had to swear an affidavit at a cost of one shilling and that rounded the total up to a hefty £54. Compare that with what Richard was paying a house servant for the whole year  (- £7.10.0) and you can see what an expensive show of family sorrow and grief this was!

5 Chas Hall memorabilia Francis Hall funeral accou 2 (2)

My thanks to cousin Charles for the use of the original document. And to end with, a copy of the Rowlandson print I have just acquired, showing Death outside the window looking in and about to strike, as the patient lies on the bed with his toes curled up. The undertaker has obviously just been tipped off and arrives at the door, with the coffin strapped to his forehead. I love it, but for some inexplicable reason My Dear Lady Wife hates it and says she doesn’t want it up on any of the walls! Weird eh? What’s not to like…

Rowlandson medical print