Tuesday, September 13, 2011

18th Century Girls Gone Wild

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Loretta reports:

Though I’ve blogged about Lady (Seymour) Worsley before (here and here), I only recently read Hallie Rubenhold’s book, The Lady in Red.  In it we find not only a more detailed picture of the lady, her strange marriage, and the sensational 1782 crim. con. trial, but insights into the world of the 18th century English aristocracy.  We're familiar with aristocratic Men Behaving Badly.  But in Rubenhold’s book you’ll find episodes of Girls Gone Wild. 

On 14 January 1779, Lady Worsley, age 21, and her friends, the two Misses Cramer, unable to persuade their host to lend them a coach for a trip to Leeds, rode off with his cart horses.

“En route the ladies ‘stopt at one of the inns and ordered the waiter to show them into such a room, which he told them he could not do, as it was kept for the officers of the Militia and their colours, etc., were there’.  Upon hearing this, Seymour and the Miss Cramers became ‘determined to go in and took the pokers and broke open the door, then they heated them red hot and pop’d them into the colours which set them in a blaze’ . . . ‘How do you think they quenched the flame their own fair selves had caused?  The did not call water!  Water!, it was more at hand . . .’  These three well-bred young ladies . . .lifted their silk skirts ‘and fairly pissed it out . . .’”

After which they had fun at the windows.  “One of their victims . . . had the misfortune of sauntering by in ‘his best coat & wig & laced waistcoat’.  As he passed beneath them ‘they threw some water,  I really don’t know what sort upon him, and immediately a large bag of soot which covered him entirely over’ . . . After they had thoroughly raised terror at the inn, the gang proceeded on their cart-horses to  . . . the home of Walter Spencer Stanhope, where ‘they broke upon his library, threw all his books about, and  . . . took away a pockett book full of Bank Notes’.”

The girls went on like this for three days.

Illustration:  Thomas Rowlandson. Two Girls Tippling.  Courtesy Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

11 comments:

Mrs. Strange said...

I always said I wished I had been born 200 years earlier, and that day would be the particular day...and it was a party that sounds like hollywood starlets behaving badly. I can get behind that.

Sandra said...

Is it worth reading? :-)

The Time Sculptor said...

Wow! This makes Eastenders look like a tea party with your stuffy maiden aunts!
Jane Gray

Vicky Dreiling said...

Wild women indeed! What a great post-thanks for the morning laugh!

Connie said...

That wild behavior probably gave the gossips enough fodder to last for many months!

Allison said...

I finished reading Lady in Red a few weeks ago and highly recommend it. The story of the trial is amazing - Lady Worsley sacrificed her own reputation to help her lover's case.

Anonymous said...

What charming young ladies. They make the stars of the supermarket tabloids seem positively tame.

Hallie Rubenhold said...

Thanks for the mention! Lady Worsley was indeed a rather strange one - as was her husband, Sir Richard. Although I didn't mention it in my book, as I didn't want to add too much of my own speculation without the documentation to back it up, I believe that Lady Worsley was probably bi-polar. Sir Richard, her nemesis, had a variety of emotional problems too. Together, this made for a rather disastrous pairing!

Isobel Carr said...

I loved that book. It was a great inspiration for the behind the scenes life of my heroine in RIPE FOR PLEASURE (and where I got her “real” friends, the New Female Coterie). But my favorite character in the book was Lady Linogier. I REALLY want a book about her.

gio said...

Wow! Those women were wild! Thanks for this great and fun post.

Shinjinee said...

For Isobel Carr:
Surely, you mean Penelope, Lady Ligonier. An interesting and very sad story. I hope she was happier in her second marriage to that obscure man.

Her parents were handsome, but seriously estranged after some time. I did some research on the family, as I was interested in their Fox-Pitt and Lane-Fox descendants via the youngest sister Marcia.

Her brother Lord Rivers, who had illegitimate children, but never married, and was notoriously involved with Caroline, Princess of Wales, and was apparently discovered rolling around the floor with her!

The title passed to the issue of the second daughter Louisa who was involved with her husband's cousin William Beckford of Fonthill, and her male-line descendants inherited the barony Rivers by special remainder granted to the father George, 1st Baron Rivers, a career diplomat and favorite of George III.

This is from memory, so I am probably making a lot of mistakes. There were four children in adulthood - Penelope (Lady Ligonier), Louisa (Mrs Beckford), Marcia (Mrs Lane-Fox) and of course Horace, 2nd Baron Rivers.

Someone needs to write a book about this family and their eccentric ways.

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