Nov 282017

Following on from my recent post about  the remarkable 18th Century palace at La Granja, near Segovia, here are a few more pictures to whet the appetite. The first five are all based on official photos used on postcards issued by ‘Archivo fotografico del Patrimonio Nacional’:

One of the fountains in its full majestic flow – well, it surely wasn’t when I visited!


The view from the centre of the main façade looking down the formal gardens….

Another view of the bed which wasn’t there….

The view of the building approached from the town

Extract taken from a fascinating ‘conversation piece’ showing King Philip V and his wife Isabella of Farnesio. He commissioned the palace – she swanned around in it.

In yesterday’s post I mentioned the buildings, scattered throughout the town, decorated with fine stencils. Here is just one example – in a long building now used by the Parador for its conference rooms etc:

And to end with, a picture of the clipped yew hedges enclosing rose beds, with the mountains beyond. And the Georgian Gentleman’s Dear Lady Wife adding distinction and class to an otherwise anodyne view…


Nov 272017

One of the advantages of being a Georgian Gentleman is that time-travel doesn’t only have to be backwards – it can also be sideways, giving a chance to explore what else was going on in the world while we in Britain were saddled with the Hanoverians… That’s my excuse for visiting the impressive royal summer palace known as La Granja in the small Spanish town of  San Ildefonso, near Segovia and some 80 kilometres north west of Madrid. It really is extraordinary – it shows that with  an endless pot of money, a whole army of architects all pulling in different directions and with a sense of humour (‘La Granja’ means a farm…) you can end up with a most impressive set of buildings, alongside beautiful gardens and enough fountains to sink a battleship. Well, if they were working…. normally the fountains operate at weekends in the summer but this year water shortages restricted the number of days when the fountains are in use. Somehow a fountain with no water erupting from every orifice is not unduly spectacular. In fact it is utterly pointless…

So to start with, the building or rather buildings. This is the impressive baroque façade of the ‘farmhouse’- I have to say it isn’t much like any other farmhouse I’ve ever visited…

To give you a better idea of the size of the ‘farmhouse’, here is a picture of the central part of the building, viewed from above a flight of cascades and fountains.

Actually there is a lot more on either side….




Yup, I think you can say that those royals lived on a rather different planet to the rest of us, even in the Georgian era! It was commissioned by Philip V – the first Bourbon King, and he wanted a summer retreat to get away from all those other palaces he owned around Madrid, so in 1720 he started on this. Clearly influenced by his grandfather, Louis XIV, who gave the world that understated little number Versailles, he spent a fortune on landscaping a sloping site situated near the area where earlier Spanish kings enjoyed  hunting – in the mountainous and heavily forested area of the Sierra de Guadarrama. The resulting gardens are amazing – the complete antithesis of everything Capability Brown stood for! Nothing natural, everything incredibly geometric and balanced.

Part of the building involved a cour d’honneur – a beautiful courtyard at one side of the building,  and known, I think I am right in saying, as the Patio de la Herradura :

Pulling back slightly to show one of a matching symmetrical pair of structures on either side of the courtyard:

From the town of San Ildefonso you get a totally different impression of the building   

To the right of the present museum entrance is the royal chapel – a stunning piece of recently restored baroque architecture, all the better for being totally empty at the time of my visit. Talk about gilding the lily! There is gold leaf absolutely everywhere, but I appear to have forgotten that photography is strictly forbidden…

Inside the palace there are a number of rooms containing tapestries – not my cup of tea at all – but also an impressive array of rooms utterly dominated by the floors (highly coloured Carrara marble) and ceilings (amazing trompe l’oeil representations of mythical battle scenes etc).. And then there are the chandeliers! Obviously it helps having a glass factory right in the town, so the poor workmen didn’t have to haul them very far, and they are certainly magnificent.

There would normally be the chance to view the Royal Bed – but as with so many other treasures in Spain, that has been nicked by Madrid and in its place a rather unimpressive 4-poster bed has been substituted, complete with very ordinary bedspread. This is what it is supposed to be:

Ah well, the floor is still impressive, the Madrilanos weren’t able to roll that up and take it away! The dining room, shown next, was also impressive, and indeed practically all the rooms, bar one, have amazing plasterwork ceilings. The one exception was a room destroyed by fire in 1918 – now fully restored, but with a completely plain ceiling, which I cannot be bothered to show!

Apparently the King, Philip V, intended to retire to this summer palace and use it as a retreat but in 1724 his son went and died, so the retirement idea had to be put on hold and what had been a much simpler edifice just grew and grew as it became a full-time centre of government.

It really is well worth a visit – and if you do go, try and stay at the Parador a few hundred yards away – it is a fascinating building, one of many in the town where exterior details have all been stencilled in, from window shutters to pediments, from columns to niches and statuary, complete with dark edges on one side to show ‘shadow’.

My thanks to Wikipedia for the first three pictures, and for the fountains at the end of this post. All the others I took myself using my wife’s phone …. I never can get the hang of new technology!


Nov 222017

I always feel sorry for Dorothea Jordan. I have blogged  about her before (here). She was an actress with a stunning pair of legs, who delighted audiences on the London stage, and who also went by the name of ‘Dora’ and ‘Dorothy’. She was persuaded to become the mistress of the Duke of Clarence, who later became William IV, and she stood by him for years and bore him ten children – all of them bearing the surname ‘Fitzroy’. She was then dumped unceremoniously the moment he saw that he had a chance to become king and needed to marry. She was treated most shabbily, and died impoverished and abandoned in 1816.

What I find intriguing is the viciousness of the attacks on her when she became the Duke’s paramour. Caricaturists such as Gillray must have whooped with delight at being able to have a go at someone with a surname (Jordan) which was an obsolete slang word for a chamber pot.

Courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library

Courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library

From 24 October 1791 we got “The devil to pay : the wife metamorphos’d, or, Neptune reposing after fording the Jordan” with its highly derogatory depiction of a chamber pot under the bed, bearing the words “Public Jordan. Open to all parties.” It shows Dorothea sitting up in bed alongside her sleeping Prince, imagining that the last night has all been a dream.

Courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library

Courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library

The day after, print-maker W Dent published “The royal tar and country girl from Oldford, or, An Englishman in all his glory” showing the sailor prince  sweeping Dorothea off her feet. The map behind his head contains the words “directions for steering up the River Jordan”

J3A week later Isaac Cruikshank came out with “The pot calling the kettle black, or, Two of a trade can never agree” drawing attention to the differences – and similarities – between Maria Fitzherbert (mistress of the Prince of Wales) and Dorothea Jordan. The “trade” was of course being a royal whore, although that was a bit hard on Maria who had at least gone through a form of marriage ceremony with her prince.

j4Not all representations of the couple were so derogatory: in December 1791 another Isaac Cruikshank print appeared, entitled “The hambug or An attempt at tragedy”  and showing Dorothea on stage at the Drury Lane Theatre in front of the Royal Box. She is shown sinking back as if fainting, and is supported by the Duke of Clarence who kneels  on one knee, offering her a wine-glass.


j5More crudely, another image entitled “The Tar and the Jordan” shows the prince running past a group of four horrified women as he cries “Why what a rout is here about a damned crack’ed Bum Boat. B”’t the Jordan. I wish it was at the bottom of the deepest Jakes [i.e. lavatory] in England.” He wears a chamber pot on his head as he hurtles towards a flock of startled sheep, while a second pot is dragged behind him along the ground. The print, by Richard Newton, appeared in around 1797.

The ‘cracked jordan’ was a source of regular guffaws, with both lavatorial and sexual connotations. This is nowhere more apparent than in Gillray’s “Lubber’s Hole” (otherwise better known as ‘The Crack’d Jordan’) which appeared in November 1791. The prince has practically disappeared inside the suggestively shaped fissure of the jordan. His coat hangs on a peg while he shouts “yep yee yeo”.

Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

Poor Dorothea – how she must have dreaded walking past a print-shop window! How she must have winced at the crude portrayal and smarted at the suggestion that she was a common whore! No-one had bothered much about her morals before, but as soon as she bedded the prince she was fair game for all. No matter that it was the prince who had spent most of his naval career becoming an expert on the brothels of Jamaica. No matter that she stood loyally by him for two decades, rearing his children and still appearing on stage. She was totally devastated when she was turfed out by the ungrateful prince in 1811, after a relationship which had lasted some 21 years.

So to endj44 with, a kinder portrayal of a popular comic actress who strutted her stuff on stage for nearly thirty years, and shown courtesy of the Twickenham Museum. 22 November was the old girl’s birthday – so Many Happy Returns of the Day, Dorothea. Or Dora. Or Dorothy. More than 250 years on, and still going strong.

She does of course feature in my book “In bed with the Georgians; Sex, Scandal and Satire” which is published by Pen & Sword and is available from you know where – well, here actually!



Nov 222017

Of all the pirates in the so-called ‘Golden Age’ none typified the image of the swash-buckling buccaneer better than Edward Teach – the man known to history as ‘Blackbeard’.  Much of what we know about his exploits comes from Johnson’s History of the Pyrates, and the ten pages in that book which are devoted to Blackbeard help paint the picture of a man of ‘uncommon Boldness and personal Courage.’

Johnson states that Edward Teach was born in Bristol and was in the Royal Navy during the War of Spanish Succession, and did not hold a command until ‘he went a pyrating’ towards the end of 1716. Johnson helps show him as a man of appalling depravity, mentioning his fourteen common-law wives, the last of whom he married when she was sixteen. After he had lain with his wife all night, it was, says Johnson, Blackbeard’s custom ‘to invite five or six of his brutal Companions to come ashore, and he would force her to prostitute herself to them all, one after another, before his Face.’ No wonder genteel English readers were fascinated, but horrified, by his wanton behaviour.

Johnson also pays much attention to Blackbeard’s image – and in particular his beard – saying that it was ‘like a frightful meteor, which covered his whole face’ and that it frightened America more than any Comet that had appeared there for a long time. ‘The Beard was black, which he suffered to grow of an extravagant Length’ and apparently he twisted the ends and tucked them in behind his ears. At times of battle, he was stated to have threaded slow burning fuses into his knotted beard. ‘… his eyes naturally looking fierce and wild, making him altogether such a Figure, that imagination cannot form an Idea of a Fury, from Hell, to look more frightful.’ This perhaps was Blackbeard’s secret: he looked the part. He did not have to behave with extreme cruelty, he just had to look ferocious, sword in hand, three brace of pistols ‘hanging in Holsters like Bandoliers’ and with oily smoke swirling around his dark face. No wonder that on many occasions his victims gave up without a fight.

His surname was variously given as Thatch, Thack, Theach and Titche; the wide range of monikers may have been an attempt to ‘protect the good name of his family’ or may simply reflect the fact that in an age of widespread illiteracy, spelling accurately was not especially important and even legal documents often used different spelling in the same official deed. He may well have been living in Jamaica when he started off as an apprentice to  the pirate Hornigold. He moved his operations to the Bahamas and while working with Hornigold captured a French merchant ship called La Concord. At the time the vessel was just a hundred miles off Martinique, on a mission to deliver slaves to that island. She was able to offer little resistance when Teach appeared on the scene, because the French crew had already suffered a number of casualties (including 36 suffering from scurvy and dysentery). Teach, in command of two sloops, one with 120 men and a dozen cannon, the other with thirty men and eight cannon, quickly captured La Concord with the minimum of damage caused. The cabin boy on La Concord informed Teach where the captain had hidden a cache of gold dust – and was rewarded by being allowed to join Teach’s crew. Three other crew volunteered to join Teach, and a further ten were forced to join – pilots, cooks, carpenters and surgeons. Teach was happy to allow the remaining captives, including the captain, to continue their journey on one of his own sloops – Teach had his eyes on converting La Concorde into a fighting machine the likes of which had not been seen in the Caribbean.

She was refurbished as a battleship, armed with forty cannon, and re-named the Queen Anne’s Revenge.  On his new flagship Teach caused mayhem as he sailed northward up the Lower Antilles, from Bequia to St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Nevis, and Antigua, seizing shipping along the way. By early December 1717 he had reached Puerto Rico. Four months later he was in the Bay of Honduras, and while there captured the sloop Adventure, under the captaincy of David Herriot. The reluctant captain was forced to join the pirates as they sailed in a small but powerful flotilla up past the Caymen Islands towards Cuba. Teach then settled on a really audacious plan – to sail up to the major South Carolina port of Charles Town and to blockade it, holding it to ransom. In particular he was in urgent need of medical supplies. The blockade lasted a week, during which time a number of vessels, including the Crowley were captured. Teach then threatened to kill all the prisoners taken on board the Crowley unless a medicine chest was delivered to him. The ‘ransom’ was brought to him, and the prisoners were released unharmed, leaving Teach to sail northwards towards Old Topsail Inlet (now known as Beaufort Inlet) in North Carolina.

What happened next is clear enough – both the Queen Anne’s Revenge and the sloop Adventure ran aground. ‘Why’ is not so clear – the captured Captain David Herriot later stated that he thought that the grounding, on a sand bar across the front of the inlet, was deliberate. By then, Teach’s followers numbered more than 300 men, and he may have been keen to retain the plunder himself, casting many of the crew  ashore. Whatever the reason, Teach was able to sail away from the inlet with all of the spoils and a very much smaller, hand-picked, crew.

A few months later (June 1718) Teach and perhaps twenty of his crew reached Ocracoke Inlet, in North Carolina. Sailing up-river some fifty miles to the small town of Bath, Teach appears to have decided to settle down and to abandon his piratical ways.  It was at Bath that he bought a house, and according to Johnson in A General History, took a young girl as his common-law wife (as mentioned earlier). He also applied for the King’s Pardon and this was granted by the Governor, Charles Eden. It is far from clear how far the Governor was in cahoots with Teach, and certainly some have suggested that the two were close friends at this time. What is known is that Teach quickly became bored with shore-based life, and decided to resume his old career. When he re-appeared in the colony with a French merchant ship in tow he apparently told the governor that she had been found ‘abandoned’ – albeit with a cargo of sugar. The Vice Admiralty Court which was promptly called by Governor Eden came to the conclusion that the ship was derelict and hastened to award the cargo jointly to Eden (sixty hogsheads of sugar) the President of the Court (twenty hogsheads) and to Teach and his crew (whatever else remained of the cargo). This certainly suggests an element of corruption and collusion may have been present.

After a brief but boozy reunion off Ocracoke Island with his old colleagues ‘Calico Jack’ Rackam and  Charles Vane, Teach was beginning to alarm the authorities – not just in North Carolina but in Pennsylvania, and Virginia, where law-abiding folk took a dim view of large numbers of former pirates apparently wanting to settle in their midst. People had serious doubts about whether the men were complying with the terms of their Pardon, and were not convinced that Governor Eden and his cronies were willing to take appropriate enforcement action. In the end it was Governor Spottswood of Virginia who financed what was technically a raid on North Carolina territories. After a ferocious struggle Teach was killed on board his ship 22 November 1718; his head was then cut off and hung from the bowsprit of the ship commanded by the victorious Captain Maynard, Royal Navy pirate-hunter, and taken back as a trophy and as a warning to others.

In the aftermath, mass hangings of the captured pirates took place, and the news that Blackbeard, the most infamous pirate of all, had met such a grisly fate at the hands of the authorities (twenty sword lacerations to his body as well as five musket-shot wounds) sent shock waves which rippled throughout the Caribbean territories. Teach is thought to have captured more than forty ships in a career which lasted just over two years, but the manner of his appearance, and his apparent unwillingness to use violence (as opposed to threatening it) ensured his reputation as a heroic and gallant figure. After 22 November 1718 piracy was never going to be the same again, and myth took over from reality….


Edward Teach will feature prominently in a book I have just completed, to be called ‘Plunder – Pirates and Privateers in the 18th Century”. Well, that is its working title but no doubt Pen & Sword will come up with something more catchy (or, do I mean, ‘less obvious’?!). I hope to hand in the manuscript next month, so that I can then get on with my next project, which is a book about lesser-known Georgian inventors, explorers, scientists and game-changers. I have been commissioned to write it  – again, by Pen & Sword – and I need to get into writing mode immediately after Christmas. Watch this space!


Nov 192017

Philip Thicknesse – a miniature by  Nathaniel Hone, 1757

In yesterday’s post I looked at the earlier part of the life of Philip Thicknesse – today I wanted to show how his notoriety as a quarrelsome bully was reflected in contemporary prints. The National Portrait Gallery has an almost inoffensive one by Gillray, of all people, used as the frontispiece to James M. Adair’s ‘Curious Facts and Anecdotes, not contained in the Memoirs of Philip Thicknesse, Esq.’

©  National Portrait Gallery. Thicknesse by Gillray, 1790,

O.K. -“No ties can hold him, no affection bind, And fear alone constrains his coward’s mind…” is hardly complimentary but it was nothing, but nothing, to what Gillray moved on to. As will be seen, Gillray was not going to let a good target go undamaged….First though, an offering from Isaac Cruikshank:

Thicknesse, complete with his ‘Foul Letter bag’, according to Cruikshank…

The reputation of Philip Thicknesse as a ball of bile led to various caricatures, including the one above, but my favourite is this one below showing Thicknesse with his codpiece marked Genius but also standing on Moral and Religious Duties, with legs of Deceit and Hypocrisy. In his right arm he holds a quill pen marked Assassination and he has a stomach for Cruelty, Cowardice Quackery and Buffoonery. On his left thigh the Devil is shown chasing a figure of Thicknesse,  kicking him away from the flames of Hell, saying, “I won’t be troubled with you – you are too bad for me; this is Hope”.

© The Trustees of the British Museum.   A man of many parts….

Beneath the title is etched: ‘Most heartily Addressed, (without permission) to Phil. Thicknesse, Esq. Formerly a Lieutenant Governor and lately Doer of the St. James’s Chronicle, but now Nobody at his Hut in Kent.’ (This, a reference to the fact that Thicknesse had been living for a time in a converted barn on the South coast, with views over towards France). The image, by W Dent, is entitled  ‘The cutter cut up, or, the monster at full length.’

Thomas Rowlandson also had a pop at Thicknesse – the British Museum site shows a pen and ink drawing by him entitled ‘Philip Quarrel the English hermit and beaufiddelle the mischievous she-monkey, famous for her skill on the viol de gamba’ with a picture of Thicknesse and his third wife, complete with references alluding to her affair with Lord Jersey, allegations of blackmail and extortion, and so on.

But an even more vicious personal attack was to come from James Gillray. You might think that Gillray would be nice to a fellow dyspeptic, always complaining about one thing or another. Wrong! Gillray managed in 1790 to produce a caricature in which just about every single misdemeanour associated with Thicknesse in his long history of grumbling, bullying and blackmail was exposed, in his ‘Lieut goverr Gall-stone, inspired by Alecto; or, the birth of Minerva.’ By way of explanation, Alecto was one of the Erinyes, or Furies, in Greek Mythology and Minerva was the goddess of strategic warfare.

© The Trustees of the British Museum.

It is a complicated caricature, described by the British Museum in its site as follows:

“Philip Thicknesse writes at a table; he listens to Alecto who whispers slyly in his ear, her right hand on his right shoulder; she is seated partly on his knee partly on a cloud behind him which rises from the jaws of Hell, the gaping mouth of a monster in the lower right corner of the design. Alecto  is a winged hag, with hair of writhing serpents, one of which coils round Thicknesse’s right arm, its poisoned fang touching the tip of his pen. He is seated on a close-stool inscribed ‘Reservoir for Gall Stones’.

An explosion issues from the crown of his head in the centre of which is Minerva who is shot into the air surrounded by books written by Thicknesse. She is a classical figure in back view; her head is the source of a billowing pillar of smoke which conceals it. In her right hand she supports a gun, which rests on her hip, and is inscribed ‘The Coward’s delight or, the Wooden Gun’.

On her left arm is an oval shield, cracked and bordered with serpents, inscribed: ‘Acts of Courage and Wisdom. Running away from my Command in Jamaica, for fear of the Black-a-moors, Refusing to fight Lord Orwell, after belying him; & afterwards begging pardon. Extorting 100 pr Annum from my eldest Son by a Pistol – Swindling my youngest son Phil: out of £500 by a forged Note of Hand – Debauching my own Niece, on a journey to Southampton – Horsewhipping my own Daughter to death for looking out at Window. Attempting to gull Lord Thurlow. Extorting £100 pr Annum from Lord Camden for suppressing his confidential Letters to myself. Gulling of Lord Bute: – Ditto Lord Bathurst: – Ditto Lord Coven: Causing my Footman to be pressed from Bath & cruelly Flogg’d for refusing to Father my own Child by the Cook Maid, Scandalizing Women of Virtue, to be reveng’d upon their Husbands: – Noble defence before the Court Martial for embezzling the Kings Stores; – Patient endurance of my Sentence in a Goal: – and heroic bearing of my discharge from the Service for Cowardice.’

The Museum description continues:

“Beside Minerva (right) is her owl, flying towards the spectator and holding three papers including ‘Character’ by Sam Foote. (Phill: is as stupid as an Owl; as senseless as a Goose; as vulgar as a Blackguard; & as cowardly as a Dunghill Cock). On the writing-table is a pile of books on which stands an ape-like creature dressed as a postillion and flourishing a whip above his head. In his left hand he holds up a bottle labelled ‘Laudanum, or the Preservative of Life – prepared by Lieut Genl Jackoo, Spanish Postillion to Dr Viper – O Death! where is thy Sting?’ A bottle protrudes from each coat-pocket, one inscribed ‘Extract of Hellebore’, the other ‘Extract of Hemlock’. One bare claw-like foot tramples down the broken end of a long spear, held by Death, a corpse-like body, almost a skeleton, who stands on the extreme left, frowning and raising a denunciatory hand. Between Death’s legs lies a dead dog on its back; a pamphlet beside it is inscribed ‘Elegy on the death of my favourite Dog. – Horsewhipped to Death for Barking while I was kissing my Wife’.. ..Over the front of the table hang two prints:

[1] a rat-trap inscribed ‘Landguard Fort’, “a Frontier Garrison of importance”.

[2] a boy wearing a cocked hat and holding a hammer and a hoop: ‘The Cooper’s Boy, turnd Soldier – an old Song’. Under the table are ‘Extortive Letters’ spiked on a file and a number of money-bags, three being labelled: £100 pr A’, ‘£100 pr Annum from Lord Comb. and £100 from Lord B.’ The background is covered by scenes and objects interspersed among the clouds produced by the fires of Hell and the explosion from Thicknesse’s head. Behind the table the apex of an obelisk partly obscures a framed picture of a building inscribed ‘St Ardres Nunnery or, a Grave to immure my Daughters alive; to keep their Fortunes myself’. “

It really was an extraordinary attack on Thicknesse and shows a very detailed knowledge of his misdemeanours – and a willingness on the part of Gillray to leave himself open to an action in defamation. But although Thicknesse printed a card by way of a response (see his printed announcement to ‘The Nobility and Friends’) no retaliation seems to have occurred.

In 1792 Mr and Mrs Thicknesse set off for Italy but it was a journey he never completed. He had a massive stroke in Boulogne and died there on 19 November. His poor wife Ann was promptly locked up for being a foreigner and had to spend eighteen months in a convent, until after Robespierre’s execution. She died in 1824.

And why am I interested in the curmudgeonly old fellow? Well one of the men he crossed swords with (wrong word: ‘crossed quill pens with’) was a chap called Edmund Rack.

Edmund Rack

Rack was an interesting guy: the founder, in 1770, of the Bath and West of England Agricultural Society – still going strong as the ‘Royal Bath and West’ with its annual show at Shepton Mallet. During his time in Bath, Rack was believed by Thicknesse to have been the author of a somewhat insulting ‘A Letter addressed to Philip Thickskull, esq.’ and Thicknesse called him out with his reply: ‘A Letter from Philip Thickskull, Esq., to Edmund Rack, Quaker’. Handbags at dawn boys, and may the best man win!

I have been asked to give a talk about the city of Bath in 1780, to coincide with the publication of a book based on Rack’s journals, by the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute. The BRLSI are hosting a trio of talks on 24 March 2018 under the title ‘Science, Scandal and Society in Georgian Bath’, The event will be held at 16 Queen Square Bath BA1 2HN and although it is a while off, tickets can be obtained from Bath Box Office 01225 463362

Talk details:

24 March 2018 10.30 to 13.00

Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institution

Science, Scandal and Society in Georgian Bath

Dr Andrew Swift, author and local historian

‘Inspir’d by Freedom’

Catharine Macaulay was one of the most remarkable women of her age – an eminent historian and avowed republican who inspired and influenced both the American and French Revolutions. She shocked Bath society by running off with ‘a stout brawny Scotsman of 21’.

Stuart Burroughs, Director at Museum of Bath at Work

Experimental Roots: Edmund Rack & the Origins of the Bath and West

Edmund Rack, a Quaker and the son of a Norfolk labouring weaver, moved to Bath in 1775. Dismayed by the poor farming practice in the West Country, he initiated the founding of an Agricultural Society to investigate ways of improving the agricultural resources of the country.

Mike Rendell, writer on 18th century social history

Bath in the 1780s: Quakers, Quacks & Quadrilles

A look at everyday life in the Georgian ˜City of Fun” its diversions and eccentricities.

Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institution, 16 Queen Square, Bath BA1 2HN

Visitors £6 Members/students £4 – (plus £1 booking fee)

I hope to see some of you there!

Nov 182017

Philip Thicknesse painted by Thomas Gainsborough

I can think of two good reasons to blog about Philip Thicknesse: the first was that he was a seventh son and I haven’t blogged about one of them since doing a piece on Alexander Selkirk. So, it gives me a chance to link to one of my favourite Georgie Fame song ‘Seventh Son’ dating from 1969, with the lyrics

‘I’m the one, I’m the one The one they call the seventh son’

(You know you want to hear it again – you can, here.)

The second reason is that Thicknesse was a world-class act – a man so unbelievably objectionable and argumentative, so full of bile and vitriol that it is amazing that his own mother didn’t drown him at birth. He was born in Farthingoe in Northamptonshire in 1719. His father was a vicar, who died when Philip was six, and poor mother had two daughters to bring up, in addition to the seven sons. Never a keen scholar, Thicknesse spent most of his time honing his truancy skills before becoming apprenticed to an apothecary. There he learned (and tested) the various tinctures and cordials which were the staple of the apothecary – in other words, opiates – which must have stood him in good stead in later life when he became addicted to laudanum.

Aged 16 he decided it was time to visit Georgia, and he accompanied the Wesley brothers, John and Charles, as they set off for America in 1735.   Having reached Georgia he then decided to become a hermit, as one does, and constructed himself a nice little log cabin, on the side of a creek. I suspect that the rest of the world wished that he had stayed there longer, but after a two-year stint he returned to England and took a job working for the Georgia colonists – ostensibly drumming up followers who could be persuaded to part with their cash and head for a new life. The problem was that Philip painted such a dire picture of the place that no-one wanted to come, so he was fired. He then headed for Jamaica  – it is unclear what the islanders had done to deserve him, but he was made captain of a group of militia tasked with hunting down escaped slaves. This, he reckoned, gave him a useful insight into the plight of slaves. What he apparently learned was that slavery was perfectly OK, as long as the slaves were not treated too barbarously.

His fellow officers couldn’t stand him, and he came back to England, basing himself in Southampton where he became captain-lieutenant in a marine foot regiment. Brawling in a public tavern, and then getting involved in a duel with a fellow officer who accused him of running away from the slaves, Thicknesse then set his eyes on marrying into money. His selected victim was Maria Lanove, daughter of a prosperous Huguenot family with a £40,000 inheritance to her name. They eloped in 1742 after he managed to seize Maria from under the noses of armed guards. Having married his girl and got her pregnant he then went off to the Med for a year on board HMS Ipswich. Sadly he returned, whisked Maria off to Bath, and set about spending her money at the gaming tables.

Rowlandson’s “The Kick-up at the Hazard Room” from 1787.

He also sired two more children by her. And then disaster struck: Maria and two of the girls caught a form of diphtheria and all three died, leaving Thicknesse with a young daughter called Anna. His in-laws, with whom he had fallen out, both died suddenly – father in his sleep, mother when she jumped out of a window in Southampton High Street at the exact point where her daughter had been abducted, impaling herself on the railings below the window in the process.

This left Thicknesse with a problem: how to get his hands on mother’s money. It was a dilemma which occupied him for most of the rest of his life, and involved an application to the House of Lords. He lost. Meanwhile he moved to Queen Square in Bath, developed gallstones, and as a result became even more vitriolic and argumentative than before. Opium helped, and he regularly advised all gentlemen acquaintances to take ‘ten to twenty drops of strong laudanum daily’ – or so the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography helpfully tells us.

Within a year Thicknesse had re-married – this time to a well-connected Roman Catholic girl six years his junior. She was Lady Elizabeth Touchet, eldest daughter and heir of Lord Audley, and despite her father’s objections to the match she brought with her a dowry of £5000. That was enough to make Thicknesse king of one particular castle – he purchased the lieutenant-governorship of Landguard Fort in Suffolk, guarding the entrance to Harwich harbour.

© National Trust Images. Landguard Fort from around 1780

Once installed he began to fall out with everyone else in the pecking order above him – especially Colonel Vernon of the Suffolk militia. He was later to become Lord Orwell, but first had to put up with an awful lot of grief from Thicknesse. The latter even went to the expense of buying his own printing press so that his vituperative outpourings were unrestricted, and so that he could say all manner of nasty (and untrue) things about Vernon when he stood for Parliament. It culminated in ‘the case of the wooden gun’. Thicknesse found a floating log, shaped like a cannon, and sent it to his Lordship as an insult (presumably having first wrapped it in pretty paper and put the appropriate stamp on it). Vernon was not amused and sued Thicknesse for previous libels, and won. Exit the detestable Thicknesse for a 3-month stint in prison. He was also hit with a £100 fine and bound over to keep the peace for seven years with a surety of £1000.

Having tried to blackmail Lord Bute, Thicknesse then had to contend with the death of his second wife in 1762. She had never really recovered from giving birth to a son two years earlier, despite being looked after fastidiously by her close friend Ann Ford. Ann had previously been involved in an alleged affair with the ageing Lord Jersey, who had allegedly offered her an annuity of £800 to become his mistress. She declined, amidst rather a public spat with his lordship, and had been living with the Thicknesse family at Landguard Fort for some time. Within months of the death of Wife Number Two she had become Wife Number Three.

Ann Ford, later the third Mrs Thicknesse, holding her viola da gamba when painted by Thomas Gainsborough

Ann was an accomplished singer and a fine player of an instrument known as the viola da gamba. Thomas Gainsborough painted her with her viola da gamba sitting on her lap. Ironically, Thicknesse had helped ‘discover’ the talented Gainsborough, encouraging him to take up portraiture and to set up his studio in Bath. Years later, Thicknesse was to fall out with his artist friend – well, given time, he fell out with absolutely everyone (except his wife). The happy couple remained married for thirty years, and had six children, two of whom died very young. In addition, of course, he still had a daughter by his first marriage and two sons, George and Philip, by his second. George had a very public spat with his dad, and insisted on changing his surname to Touchet to distance himself from father, and in due course became Lord Audley, baron of Castlehaven. To Thicknesse it was intolerable to think that he had given pocket money to the young upstart, and that the ungrateful son was now declining to pick up all of Dad’s bills or to provide him with a comfortable life – I mean, what else are children for? No, don’t answer that!

    In 1776 Thicknesse went on a European tour, and while passing through Ardres dropped off one of his daughters in a convent, where she remained, willingly or otherwise, for the rest of her life. He wrote up his travel experiences in his ‘Observations on the Customs and Manners of the French Nation’ (1766) followed up two years later by his ‘Useful Hints to those who Make the Tour of Franc’e. On his return to England the family settled in Bath. A bitter dispute with the actor-playwright Samuel Foote led to the latter giving Thicknesse the moniker ‘Dr Viper’. Others knew him as ‘Philip Thickskull’.

By the mid-seventies Philip Thicknesse senior had given up all hope of getting his hands on the estate of his first mother-in-law. He took to writing helpful guides on how to live life to the full in a provincial town such as Bath. So we had the 1778 ‘The New Prose Bath Guide’ and the 1780 ‘The Valetudinarian’s Bath Guide, or, The Means of Obtaining Long Life and Health’. These contained the somewhat intriguing suggestion that wine and drink taken to excess were good for you, as was the frequent ‘inhalation of the breath of young women’. Nowadays you get locked up for that sort of thing!

From the 1760s onwards Thicknesse was a regular contributor to the Gentleman’s Magazine using the pseudonym of ‘Polyxena’.  He also contributed regularly to other magazines and demonstrated a wide-ranging if not always accurate interest in matters as diverse as man-midwifery, deciphering, gout, and the exhibition in London of fraudulent automata (including chess-playing machines) by those mischievous foreign johnnies…

While in Bath he fell out with most of the movers and shakers of the city – not least with James Mattrick Adair who was a medical man accused by Thicknesse of being a quack and a charlatan. By now his enmity with his two sons was developing nicely – he resorted to trying to swindle and defame the boys in order to get his hands on their inheritance. He never hesitated to air his dirty linen in public, culminating in the publication of a three volume diatribe entitled ‘Memoirs and anecdotes of Philip Thicknesse, late governor of Landguard Fort, and unfortunately father to George Touchet, Baron Audley’. Things never did really back on an even keel after that – so much so that when he wrote his will Thicknesse directed that on his death his executors should cut off his right arm ‘and send it to his eldest son as a reminder of his filial duties’. Nice one! As a lawyer I can remember being asked to prepare a will in which the testatrix left her son nothing but a glass of brandy. I pointed out that she would have to specify which glass, which brandy, and in the end persuaded her to change it to a bequest of £5 with the expressed hope that he would spend the money on buying a double brandy to celebrate her departure. But a whole hand! That shows real determination and spite!

I leave my son my right hand….

The dedication to the Memoirs shows that Thicknesse believed that these personal attacks often led to him being paid money to shut up and go away. He writes”it be true, that I quarrel with three out of four of my friends, I find that turns up more profitable than living well with them.I know not what I should have done to make both ends meet, in my old age, if it had not been for the repeated kindnesses of my enemies. I can at any time muster ten or a dozen knaves and fools, who will put an hundred pounds or two into my pocket, merely by holding them up to public scorn.”

And there we will leave Philip Thicknesse, until Part Two which will follow tomorrow….


Nov 162017

Had you been around in London this day in 1724 there is a one in four chance that you would have been in the procession (some two hundred thousand strong) wending its way in a carnival atmosphere towards Tyburn Hill, where the empty gallows were being prepared for a hanging. One in four, because the crowd represented at least a quarter of the capital’s population at the time, and they were all there to ‘honour’ one man: the diminutive Jack Sheppard. Daniel Defoe is presumed to have been hard at work scribbling the final touches to a biography which was on sale ‘hot from the press’ by the time of the execution. And the 22-year-old Jack, his cart escorted by uniformed guards, paused long enough at the City of Oxford Tavern in Oxford Street to sink a pint of  sack (sherry), no doubt bemoaning the fact that one of his prison guards had discovered a pen-knife secreted about his person, and thereby scotched his chance of escape. And escaping was what Jack was good at, and why the crowds turned out in their thousands.

For there was no doubt that the baby-faced Jack Sheppard was a thief, and was getting his just rewards from a legal system designed to protect the wealthy. But over and over again he had escaped justice with his daring escapes, and no doubt the throng wanted to see if he could pull off the final escape, the big one, from Death itself. There was to be no such luck, and the  lad finally went to meet his Maker this day nearly three centuries ago.

File:Sheppard Cruikshank.jpg“The Last Scene”engraved by  George Cruikshank in 1839, over a hundred years after Sheppard died,  to illustrate  the serialised novel, Jack Sheppard by William Harrison Ainsworth.

Sheppard had been born in 1702 into abject poverty in the deprived area of Spitalfields: his father died when he was young and his mother had little choice but to send him to the Workhouse when he was six years old. Jack was lucky –  eventually he was placed  with a  draper on The Strand called William Kneebone, as a shop-boy. Kneebone took the lad under his wing, taught him the rudiments of reading and writing and encouraged him to become apprenticed as a carpenter  (a seven year indenture, which was signed in 1717 when Jack was 15). His master was Owen Wood, whose premises were in Covent Garden.

All went well for five years – an exemplary pupil, who showed every aptitude for carpentry and hard work. Then, well, he went off the rails. Maybe it was too many visits to The Black Lion off Drury Lane; maybe it was the blandishments of the young whore Elizabeth Lyon (otherwise known as Edgeworth Bess) whom he met there; or maybe it was the company he fell into while frequenting the establishment, and in particular the notorious Joseph ‘Blueskin’ Blake or the duplicitous  Jonathan Wild (who styled himself the Thief-Taker General, though in reality he was a thief himself, but one who turned in his acquaintances whenever it was opportune to do so). Whatever the reason, the fact was – young master Jack turned himself to a life of petty crime, and soon there was no way back. For a while it was pilfering – helping himself to odds and ends from people’s houses while on carpentry errands. But by 1723 he had jacked in his apprenticeship, and set up home with Mistress Bess.  Naturally she wanted to be spoiled rotten; naturally she was not content with the proceeds of minor shop lifting; she wanted Jack to show her the good life. He turned to burglary ( an offence which carried the death penalty). Mistress Bess was arrested after they had moved to Piccadilly from Fulham: Jack broke in to the jail and rescued her!

Jack and his brother Tom, aided by Bess, embarked on a series of robberies until Tom got caught. The previous year he had also been apprehended (and suffered the painful penalty of being branded on the hand). This time he shopped his brother Jack to save his own skin, and a warrant for Jack’s arrest was issued. Knowing this, and anxious to get his hands on the forty pounds offered as a bounty, Jonathan Wild betrayed Jack to the constables and he was arrested and locked up in the very prison from which he had rescued Elizabeth. Within hours of his incarceration he had cut a hole in the ceiling (leg irons notwithstanding) climbed on to the roof and dropped down to join a crowd who had gathered when news of his escape became known. Diverting attention by announcing that he could ‘see someone on the roof over there’ he calmly shuffled off in the opposite direction…

In May 1724 Jack was arrested for a second time – caught while in the act of lifting a pocket-watch from a gentleman in what is now Leicester Square, and was taken off to Clerkenwell prison, where he was locked up with his mistress. A few days passed while Jack, active with a file, cut through the manacles which chained them both, and then removed one of the iron bars on the prison window. He lowered himself and his buxom Bess down to the street on a knotted bed-sheet (no mean feat given his lack of stature) and off they went into the darkness.

Things escalated – they tried their hand at highway robbery and burglary, stooping so low as to break into the home of his old employer and helper William Kneebone, but the greedy Jonathan Wild was closing the trap. He found Elizabeth Lyon, plied her with alcohol to loosen her tongue, and by this means established where Jack was staying. Again he was arrested, again he was sent to prison (this time to the notorious Newgate), and guess what, he escaped from there as well! On 30th August a warrant for his death was being brought to the prison from Windsor – but by the time it arrived it was discovered that Jack had escaped. Aided and abetted by Bess he had removed one of the window bars, dressed in female clothing brought into prison by his accomplice, and made good his escape via boat up the river to Westminster.

By now he was renowned for his escapades. He was every cockney’s hero, Jack the Lad whom no bars could hold. After all, he hadn’t killed anyone, he was the ultimate cheeky chappy who always got away from the law in the nick of time. Added to that he was good looking in a baby-faced sort of way, young, strong and very agile. This was the stuff of which legends would be made…

Jack lay low for a few days but was soon back to his old tricks, and on 9th September was captured and returned to the condemned cell at Newgate, His fame meant that he was visited by the great and the good – gawpers who wanted to say that they had met Jack Sheppard. All this time he was not just in leg-irons, but chained to iron bolts in the floor of the cell. Cheekily he had demonstrated to his guards his ability to pick the padlocks with a bent nail, and they in turn had increased the security by having him not just hand-cuffed but bound tightly as well. Having trussed him up like a turkey, they retired for the night….  and Jack set to work. He couldn’t get rid of the leg-irons but he could free himself from the other restraints. He managed to break into the chimney, where his pathway was blocked by an iron bar. This he dislodged, using it to break a hole in the ceiling and as a crow bar to open various doors barring his way.  At one point he went back to his cell to retrieve his bed clothes, as he needed these to drop down on to the roof of a building next to the prison. He waited until midnight, let himself into the building via the roof, and calmly walked out the front door (still in his leg-irons).

The lad must have had a fair amount of chutzpah, because after lying low for a couple of days he was able to persuade a passer-by that he had been imprisoned elsewhere for failing to maintain an illegitimate son – and would he mind fetching some smithy tools? The passer-by obliged and within a few hours Jack had broken his fetters, and was off to taste a freedom which was to last all of a fortnight. It was at this point that the journalist Daniel Defoe was brought in to pen Jack’s story,  which he did anonymously as The History of the Remarkable Life of John Sheppard.

On the night of 29th October Jack Sheppard broke in to a pawnbrokers shop in Drury Lane, helping himself to a smart black silk suit, a silver sword, rings, watches, a peruke wig, and other items. He then hit the town, dressed in style, and passed the next day and a half drinking and whoring. Finally, in a drunken torpor, he was  arrested on 1st November, dressed “in a handsome Suit of Black, with a Diamond Ring and a Cornelian ring on his Finger, and a fine Light Tye Peruke”.

Back he was taken to Newgate, imprisoned in an internal room and weighted down with iron chains. His celebrity status meant that he was visited by  the rich and famous, and had his portrait painted by James Thornhill, painter to his Majesty King George I.

 Jack Sheppard sits for his execution portrait, to be done in oils by Sir James Thornhill. Also shown  is one Figg, prizefighter (to Jack’s right); the playwright John Gay (to Jacks’s left); while William Hogarth sketches him on the right.

There was  a clamour for his release but the authorities were adamant: Jack must pay the price for his notoriety. And so it was that on 16th November a huge and happy crowd escorted Jack to the gallows, where he did what prisoners were supposed to do – hang. After a quarter of an hour he was cut down, rescued from any attempt by the vivisectionists to claim his body, and buried in the churchyard at St Martin’s-in-the-Fields.

That was the end of Jack Sheppard but not the end of his story. Pamphlets, books and plays were written, all singing the praises of this swash-buckling hero. His name quickly became an icon and his story inspired John Gay to write The Beggar’s Opera in 1728. It was hugely popular. Others piled into print and for the next one hundred years the tales based on Jack’s exploits were legion. It got so bad that at one stage the Lord Chancellor’s office banned the production of any plays containing Jack Sheppard’s name in the title – for over forty years – for fear that it would encourage lawless behaviour.

                                                    Courtesy of East London Theatre Authority.
Let us remember Jack Sheppard – a twenty-two year old who went to the gallows for offences which today would merit little more that an ASBO or a Community Service Order. The boy did wrong, but his memory lives on in our collective consciousness, kept alive by every episode of Minder and every tale of Jack the Lad.

A mezzotint engraving, after the Thornhill portrait mentioned above.FAP173.JPG


(This is a repeat of a blog first posted six years ago, but Jack remains one of my favourite rogues of the Georgian era.)

Nov 132017

John Peel, Cumberland farmer and keen huntsman.





Prudence suggests I preface my words with a confession: I am not here to express an opinion one way or another about hunting. I have never hunted, but have never sought to sabotage a hunt either. I simply comment on the life of a man who lived to hunt (pine marten and hares mostly, but foxes if the chance arose). He is immortalised in a song, written in his lifetime by a close friend, and I thought it was worth finding out about the man behind the song.

The words were written by John Peel’s hunting companion, a man called John Woodcock Graves, in Cumbrian dialect. Graves frequently refined and altered the song, and over time some of the lines have changed. It seems clear that the original version referred to ‘a coat so grey’ – nowadays it is usually ‘a coat so gay’ (referring presumably to the fashion for wearing ‘hunting pink’, allegedly after the tailor named Mr. Pink. Legend has it he was a London tailor who bought large quantities of red material after the American War of Independence in 1783, and became popular for hunting attire. Mr Pink may however have been apocryphal since no-one has located his place or date of business).

It is in any event more likely that John Peel, a rugged farmer in a desolate area of the moors, hunted in a coat woven from the local Herdwick sheep, which are about as grey as you can get.

Grey rather than Gay – and certainly not Pink!
                   Herdwick rams – Courtesy of Wikipedia.


John Peel was probably born in 1776 – the records show that he was baptized the following year. The family lived at Greenrigg in the parish of Caldbeck, a remote area on the Cumbrian Fells where farming was hard and the population sparse.




When he was twenty he fell head over heels with the eighteen year old Mary White, daughter of a local (more prosperous) farming family. Her family were aghast and forbade the marriage. Mary’s mother interrupted the banns as they were being read with the words ‘I forbid the banns. They’re far ower young!’ Undeterred the impetuous John Peel borrowed ‘Binsey’ (his father’s fleetest horse) and eloped with his lovely lady. She shimmied down from her bedroom window at midnight (ah, the stuff of romance!) and together they galloped up to Gretna Green (across the border in Scotland). They returned, married, a few days later.

And the circumstances in which the song was written? Leave that to Graves, the song’s writer: “Nearly forty years have now wasted away since John Peel and I sat in a snug parlour at Caldbeck, hunting over again many a good run, when a flaxen-haired daughter of mine came in saying “Father, what do they say to what Granny sings?” Granny was singing to sleep my eldest son with a very old rant called “Bonnie (or Cannie) Annie.” The pen and ink for hunting appointments being on the table the idea of writing a song to this old air forced itself on me, and thus was produced, impromptu “D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so gray.” Immediately after I sang it to poor Peel, and I well remember saying to him in a joking style, “By Jove, Peel, you’ll be sung when we’re both run to earth.”

                                         A paper cut-out of horse and hounds, made by my ancestor Richard Hall c. 1780.

For many years Peel kept his own pack of hounds – an expensive hobby, costing about £40 a year. He would start the day’s chase on horseback, mostly on his 14-hand dun gelding called Dunny, but would then abandon the horse to make the pursuit over the rough scree slopes on foot (a custom known locally as ‘chasing the ace’).

Typically he would set off at daybreak and hunt all day, covering as much as 50 miles of the roughest terrain before returning to sink a pint (or three) at the Sun Inn at Ireby. He must have made a striking figure – a tall man, who stood bolt upright, with chiselled features and bright blue eyes.

He died in 1854 aged 78 and is buried in St Kentigern’s Church at Caldbeck.





John Peel’s memorial, before it was desecrated and smashed by hunt saboteurs.




And Graves, the man who immortalised Peel? He went to live in Hobart, and died there in 1886. When I was in Tasmania a couple of years back I had the chance to look out his memorial in Hobart’s St David’s Park.

So, all together now:

D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so grey,

D’ye ken John Peel at the break of the day,

D’ye ken John Peel when he’s far, far away,

With his hounds and his horn in the morning?



For the sound of his horn brought me from my bed,

And the cry of his hounds which he oft-times led;

Peel’s view halloo would awaken the dead,

Or the fox from his lair in the morning.


Yes, I ken John Peel and Ruby too!

Ranter and Ringwood, Bellman and True,

From a find to a check, from a check to a view,

From a view to a death in the morning.


Then here’s to John Peel from my heart and soul,

Let’s drink to his health, let’s finish the bowl,

We’ll follow John Peel thro’ fair and thro’ foul,

If we want a good hunt in the morning.


D’ye ken John Peel with his coat so grey?

He lived at Troutbeck once on a day;

Now he has gone far, far, far away;

We shall ne’er hear his voice in the morning.


Nov 102017

A couple of years ago I found myself in Bergerac on Bastille Day (July 14th): Roads were cordoned off, crush barriers erected, stands became packed, and at the appointed hour there was a solemn march-past of be-medalled and be-ribboned members of the armed forces. Then there was silence and a lone man approached the microphone and sang an unaccompanied solo version of La Marseillaise. It was stunning and very moving.

I remember how strange it was to feel a lump in the throat listening to such a beautiful and stirring patriotic song, when it wasn’t my country which was being eulogized. It made me wonder at the origins of the song….

On 25 April 1792, the mayor of Strasbourg requested that his guest Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle compose a song “that will rally our soldiers from all over to defend their homeland that is under threat” At the time France was at risk from invasion by armies from Austria and Prussia. That evening, Rouget de Lisle wrote ‘Chant de guerre pour l’Armée du Rhin’ (‘The War Song of the Army of the Rhine’) and dedicated the song to Marshal Nicolas Luckner.

Here is a picture painted fifty years later, showing the composer singing his rendition of the song:

The melody soon became the rallying call of the French Revolution and was adopted as La Marseillaise after the melody was first sung on the streets by volunteers from Marseille at the end of May 1792. A young officer from Montpelier called Francois Mireur had sung it at a patriotic gathering in that city. Later, when volunteers entered the city of Paris on 30 July 1792 printed copies were handed out to supporters, and the troops adopted it as the marching song of the National Guard of Marseille. The irony is that Rouget de Lisle was actually a royalist, and he narrowly escaped a trip to the guillotine…

Subsequently La Marseillaise was made the official French national anthem (14 July 1795) although it subsequently fell out of favour. Napoleon disliked it, and later French rulers banned it altogether. In the middle part of the eighteenth century it became the anthem of the international revolutionary movement, being adopted as such by the Paris commune in 1871. Its status as the national anthem was restored in 1879.

This is how Richard Newton illustrated the words in a drawing published on 10th November 1792

Newton is one of my favourite caricaturists from the end of the eighteenth century – he only lived to the age of  21 and died in 1798 but in his lifetime displayed an irreverence and a sense of humour – often lavatorial – which I still find appealing!

This is his self portrait:I have often included Newton in my blogs – see here for a post about him from way back in 2012.