Do You Know Welch Surnames?

©Cheryl Bolen

It’s amazing how mail-order retailers know how to tap into demographics. I’m not quite sure how I got recognized as an Anglophile—which I am—but I regularly get interesting catalogues with all manner of offerings from the British Isles. Today’s had an interesting page offering Welch tartans.

A lot of us are familiar with Scottish names, like Campbell, Douglas, Hamilton, MacKay, Mac Kenzie, and a lot more surnames that start with Mac.

Many of us know the Irish names like Fitzgerald, McConnell, O’Connor, and O’Malley. If it starts with Mc or O’, it’s gotta be Irish.

But I have to plead a certain ignorance of Welch names, even though I knew my maiden name of Williams had Welch origins. Because I read a lot of books by British authors from all eras, I knew a handful of Welch names, like Thomas, Jones, and Evans.

The Welch poet, Dylan Thomas

The Welch poet, Dylan Thomas

For those of you not fortunate enough to get these catalogues, here is a list of Welch names:

St. David, Davies, Edwards, Ellis, Evans, Beynon, Griffiths, Gwynn, Harris, Hopkins, Howell, Hughes, James, Jenkins, Lewis, Llewellyn, Lloyd, Meredith, Morgan, Morris, Owen.

Also, Powell, Phillips, Pope, Powys, Price, Pritchard, Prosser, Reece (or Rhys), Rice, Richard, Roberts, Rosser, Thomas, Vaughn, Walters, Watkins, and Wynn.

First Family of Biographers

© Cheryl Bolen

Those of you who read my blogs know I’m a passionate reader of biographies, especially ones about dead Englishmen and women. Quite by accident a few years ago, I realized many of these biographies I’d read were written by three generations of women in a remarkable British family.

These non-fiction titles from my personal shelves were all penned by members of Lady Elizabeth Longford's family.l

These non-fiction titles from my personal shelves were all penned by members of Lady Elizabeth Longford’s family.

This dynasty began with the intellectual Elizabeth Longford (1906-2002), a mother of eight and wife of Frank Packenham, later 7th Earl of Longford (a descendant of the 1st Duchess of Wellington). Elizabeth’s firstborn is eminent biographer Antonia Fraser (b. 1932), and Antonia’s daughter Flora (b. 1958) is one of the premiere biographers in England today.

I hung on every line of Elizabeth’s 1986 autobiography, The Pebbled Shore. She and her future husband were in the first wave of Oxford intellectuals following the first war and were contemporaries and friends with Evelyn Waugh and Lord David Cecil and later were acquainted with Churchill and T.E. Lawrence. They spent the early years of their marriage working toward the social reforms that would later be put into practice throughout the British Isles.

Lady Longford did not come into her own as a biographer until she was in her sixties, but her works were remarkably well researched, especially for that era. Among these are two volumes on the Duke of Wellington, a biography of Lord Byron, and another on Queen Victoria.

Lady Longford, left, and the 8th Duke of Wellington research at Salmanca for her work on the 1st Duke of Wellington.

Lady Longford, left, and the 8th Duke of Wellington research at Salmanca for her work on the 1st Duke of Wellington.

Her always-precocious daughter Antonia has written in several genres, and her body of work is impressive, but she too is a first-class biographer. Among those she has done biographies on are Mary Queen of Scots, King Arthur, Cromwell, Charles II, and most recently, Marie Antoinette.

Perhaps the finest biographer of the three is Flora Fraser, one of Antonia’s six children. No one researches more meticulously. She spends years on her subjects, which have included the six daughters of George III, Queen Caroline, Pauline Bonaparte, and Emma Hamilton. (Note all these lived in the Regency, and of course I’ve read them all!)

The literary Longfords were celebrated at a Foyle's lunch in 1967. Lord Longford's wife is on one side, daughter Antonia on the other, and five more of their children also were authors.

The literary Longfords were celebrated at a Foyle’s lunch in 1967. Lord Longford’s wife is on one side, daughter Antonia on the other, and five more of their children also were authors.

There were many other writers in this esteemed family, including the patriarch. In fact, I’ve got Lord Longford’s History of the House of Lords.—Cheryl Bolen, whose novella A Christmas in Bath will continue her Brides of Bath series set in Regency England.

The Suicide of Lord Castlereagh

© By Cheryl Bolen

Since I strive for authenticity in my Regency-era historicals, especially in my Regent Mysteries, I try to use many personages who actually existed. English Foreign Secretary Lord Castlereagh makes a few appearances in my A Most Discreet Inquiry (Regent Mysteries, Book 2).

Born Robert Stewart in Ireland in 1769, he was elevated to Viscount Castlereagh at the age of 26 when his father became the Earl of Londonderry. Two years earlier he had entered the English House of Commons, where he would serve until his death in 1822 and which he would lead for the last decade of his life.

Lord Castlereagh

Lord Castlereagh

The same year he entered the English Parliament, 1794, was also the year in which he married Amelia (Emily) Hobart, daughter of John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire. Castlereagh’s maternal grandfather (Francis Seymour Conway, 1st Marquess of Hertford) as well as his father-in-law had both served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Lord and Lady Castlereagh were devoted to each other but never had children. Lady Castlereagh became well known in London as one of the patronesses of Almack’s.

As Secretary of War in 1809, he challenged Foreign Secretary George Canning to a duel at Putney Heath. In the duel, he shot Canning in the leg and had to leave government for the next three years.

He returned in 1812, at the age of 43, becoming Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, a position her held for ten tumultuous years, while also leading the Tories in the House of Commons. Despite that he worked tirelessly for his country to ensure a lasting European peace, he was extremely unpopular not only with the populace he served but also among newspaper editors and political cartoonists.

He succeeded his father as Marquess of Londonderry in 1821, but since it was a non-representative Irish peerage, he could still serve as leader of the House of Commons of Great Britain.

Two weeks before his suicide the next year he began suffering from paranoia, which could be attributed to the years of abuse by an angry citizenry and press, overwork, or even gout. He imagined himself persecuted from every quarter and became irrational and incoherent. His devoted wife continued sleeping with him but removed pistols and razors from his reach and kept in close contact with her husband’s physician, Dr. Bankhead, who had cupped him.

Three days before his death he met with King George IV, who became upset over Castlereagh’s mental state, as did the Duke of Wellington, with whom he was close. Knowing that he was losing his mind, Castlereagh left London for Loring Hall, his country estate in Kent.

The morning of his death he became violent with his wife, accusing her of being in a conspiracy against him. She left their bedroom to call the doctor. That was when her husband went to his dressing room with a small knife which he had managed to hide. He stabbed himself in the carotid artery. Just as Dr. Bankhead entered the room, he said, “Let me fall on your arm, Bankhead. It’s all over!”

The suicide of Lord Castlereagh

The suicide of Lord Castlereagh

The nation was shocked. Even his bitter parliamentary opponent Whig Henry Brougham mourned him. “Put all their other men together in one scale, and poor Castlereagh in the other – single he plainly weighed them down,” Brougham said. “Also he was a gentleman, the only one amongst them.”

Lord Byron did not agree. He wrote over his grave:

Posterity will ne’er survey
A nobler grave than this:
Here lie the bones of Castlereagh:
Stop, traveller, and piss.

Despite the circumstances of his death—attributed to insanity—the longtime Foreign Secretary was buried in Westminster Abbey near his political ally and mentor William Pitt. –Cheryl Bolen, whose novella, A Christmas in Bath, continues her Brides of Bath series set in Regency England.

London’s Burlington House

© Cheryl Bolen

Burlington House, located on London’s busy Piccadilly near the Piccadilly Circus, is now seen by thousands who view exhibits there of the Royal Academy.

But the former aristocratic home is significantly altered from what it was when Richard Boyle, the 3rd Earl of Burlington, engaged Scottish architect Colen Campbell to redesign it in 1718 when the earl was 26. Indeed, the earl’s home significantly altered the previous home there, built in 1667 by the 1st Earl of Burlington. The 1st earl engaged William Kent to design the baroque interiors, some of which remain today.

During the 1st earl’s lifetime, Burlington House was a hub for artists, including Handel, who reportedly lived there for three years, Swift, and Pope.

The 3rd earl succeeded at age 10. (See my previous blogs on the 3rd Earl of Burlington in “Chiswick House: Quintessentially Georgian” http://cherylsregencyramblings.wordpress.com/?s=chiswick+house and “The Grand Tour” http://cherylsregencyramblings.wordpress.com/?s=the+grand+tour.)

Campbell was heavily influenced by Italian Andrea Palladio—whom the earl also came to emulate when he designed his Chiswick House as a Thames-side villa.

This is a view of Burlington House from Piccadilly as it looked in the lifetime of the 3rd Earl of Burlington

This is a view of Burlington House from Piccadilly as it looked in the lifetime of the 3rd Earl of Burlington

Burlington House was one of a handful of London residences that were constructed on large plots of land with outbuildings. (I’ve previously blogged on Devonshire House and Albany, both located on Piccadilly near Burlington Houston, and both of which were on large plots set back from the street.) The main house is some distance away from the Victorian archway into the forecourt in front of the house.

Campbell’s Palladian main house remains today, but a third story was added in Victorian times. Also added in Victorian times was the building, centered by a huge open arch, which lines the sidewalk on Piccadilly. This building houses the various “learned societies” which occupy the site and is not open to the public.

The earl’s estate passed to his grandson, the Duke of Devonshire, who never resided there. In 1815, the 6th Duke of Devonshire sold Burlington House to his uncle Lord George Cavendish, and Lord George built the adjacent Burlington Arcade (see my previous blog).

In 1854, the property was sold for £140,000 to the British government, which eventually leased it to the Royal Academy for 999 years. It also was chosen to house five “learned societies.”

Burlington House today (now the Royal Academy), note the third floor added in Georgian times

Burlington House today (now the Royal Academy), note the third floor added in Victorian times

The main house’s John Medejski Fine Rooms, often open free to the public, were restored in 2004 to what they would have looked like when The Earls of Burlington lived there. I have had the good fortune of viewing these lovely rooms, which include some designed by Kent 300 years ago. For those planning a trip to London, I would suggest seeing The Royal Academy on the weekends, when more rooms are open.

Kent's ceiling today

Kent’s ceiling today

Kent's dinner room

Kent’s dinner room

Sidewalk (on Piccadilly) entrance today. This addition was completed in Victorian times.

Sidewalk (on Piccadilly) entrance today. This addition was completed in Victorian times.

 

London’s Burlington Arcade

© Cheryl Bolen, 2014

Almost two hundred years after it was built, the Burlington Arcade still remains one of the most prestigious shopping areas in London. The upscale shopping promenade, which features arcades, bowed store fronts, and a glazed roof, opened on Piccadilly in 1819. The “mall” was to serve as a prototype for its many imitators over the past two centuries.

Burlington Arcade is adjacent to Burlington House, which the 6th Duke of Devonshire sold to his uncle, Lord George Cavendish (1754-1834) in 1815. Lord George loved his house and adjacent garden, which was one of a handful of aristocratic London homes that were surrounded by gardens. Unfortunately, the wall around his garden was no deterrent to those who threw oyster shells, dirt, and broken bottles onto his property.

Burlington Arcade, 1837

Burlington Arcade, 1837

To keep his garden clear of litter, Lord George commissioned Samuel Ware to design the arcade to run along the western perimeter of his property, and it opened in 1819 with 72 two-story units. The arcade separated Burlington House from Albany, another magnificent home built by Lord and Lady Melbourne nearly three decades earlier. Like Burlington House, the walled property around Albany consisted of a parking court, outbuildings, and garden.

inside arcade

Inside London’s posh Burlington Arcade today

Just steps from Piccadilly Circus, Burlington Arcade’s shops offers high-quality goods ranging from fine cashmere and jewelry to leather goods. Just as it was during Lord George Cavendish’s lifetime, the arcade is still patrolled by beadles in top hats and frock coats, modeled after Lord George’s regiment, the 10th Hussars. And it still is a go-to place for top-quality goods. Next blog: Burlington House

A bit of writing news

Though I normally address English historical events rather than writing news on this blog, I’m veering over to writing news today because the delightful Regina Scott, who has published dozens of sweet Regencies, has tapped me for a blog tour with just a few special friends. Be sure to visit Regina’s blog, Nineteen Teen. And since this is my only blog, I’m posting the pertinent info here.

Here are the questions I was asked:

1. What am I working on?

I’ve had readers request sequels to Falling for Frederick (A Stately Homes Murder) and Regent Mysteries, and I’ve begun both projects. However, I have decided to build a series around my most popular book, a stand-alone originally published in 2000 and titled A Lady by Chance.

2000 edition at left, new edition on right. A Duchess by Mistake coming in late 2014.

2000 edition at left, new edition on right. A Duchess by Mistake coming in late 2014.

 

This book has sold so well that Amazon Crossings is currently working on a German translation that should be available by the end of the summer. The new series will be the Haverstock Chronicles, and I’m about 30 percent finished with book 2, to be titled A Duchess by Mistake. Look for it later in 2014.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My books are not built around a sexual premise as are so many of today’s Regency-set historicals. Whenever I start a book, my goal is to build a sigh-worthy romance. Sure, there are conflicts, but I seldom have my hero and heroine at dagger-points with one another. As I’ve matured, I’ve been more conscious of writing books that appeal to me, therefore there must be humor. Humor, touching romance, and perhaps a little mystery. (And like so many readers, I confess to loving marriage-of-convenience stories!)

3. Why do I write what I do?

I love the whole experience about falling in love and hope that I can convey that thrill in my books.

4. How does my writing process work?

When I start a new book I revisit some of my favorite books about plotting — Christopher Vogler (Writer’s Journey), Blake Snyder (Save the Cat), Deb Dixon (GMC) and start playing “what if?”. I try to write every day (upon returning from the gym) and typically stop at the end of a scene. I spend just as many hours editing my work as I do writing it.

Now next Monday–if not before–I’d like you to visit the blogs of my friends Ella Quinn and Joan Reeves.

Amazon and Barnes & Nobel bestselling author Ella Quinn’s studies and other jobs have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, were her escape. Eventually her love of historical novels led her to start writing them.

She is married to her wonderful husband of twenty-nine years. They have a son and granddaughter, Great Dane and a Chartreux. After living in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa, England and Europe, she and her husband decided to make St. Thomas, VI home.

Ella is a member of the Romance Writers of American, The Beau Monde and Hearts Through History. She is represented by Elizabeth Pomada of Larsen-Pomada Literary Agency, and published by Kensington.

Blog http://ellaquinnauthor.wordpresscom

And now for contemporary author Joan Reeves: Joan, who writes funny, sexy romance, is a bestselling ebook author and is multi-published in print. Her popular romantic comedies are available as ebooks and audio books. Joan has published the popular blog SlingWords — Reading, Writing, & Publishing — since 2005. She offers free newsletters for writers and readers. Subscribe links can be found on her blog. Joan can be found online at: Blog: http://SlingWords.blogspot.com, Website: http://www.JoanReeves.com.

© Cheryl Bolen, 2014

 

The English Noblewoman Who Married a Sheikh

Born to a distinguished English family in 1807, Jane Digby scandalized society through a widely publicized affair that resulted in a divorce from Lord Ellenborough when she was 19. Banished to the Continent, she commenced with a string of lovers—which culminated with her most scandalous act: her marriage to a Bedouin sheikh twenty years her junior when she was 47.

Throughout her life, she was ruled by flaming passions that outweighed public censure, estrangement from her family, and estrangement from the surviving children of the six she bore.

Holkham Hall's marble hall. Where Jane's mother grew up.

Holkham Hall’s marble hall. Where Jane’s mother grew up.

Jane Digby was the daughter of Admiral Digby, who served at Trafalgar, and Lady Andover—who, as the custom of the day prescribed, for the rest of her life used the title of her higher ranking deceased first husband. Moreover, Jane’s mother was born to vast wealth and privledge. She grew up in one of the great English homes—Holkham Hall. Thomas Coke, her father, possessed vast wealth and eventually succumbed to accept the title of Lord Leicester.

An unfaithful wife

At 17 Jane married Lord Ellenborough after a promising, romantic courtship that soon fizzled after the marriage. Lord Ellenborough found joy with a mistress while Jane embarked on an affair with her cousin. She never told her husband, “their” son was fathered by her cousin. When the cousin tired of her, Jane’s affections were lavished on a German prince, Felix Schwartzenberg, who professed undying love for her.

She was so passionately in love with the prince that she begged for a divorce, even knowing intimate details of her sexual rendezvous with Schwartzenberg would become fodder for every newspaper in Britain during the divorce trial. Not only would she and her family be held up to public scandal, but she would lose all connection to the son she had never been close to.

Jane Digby (the infamous Lady Ellenborough) in her twenties

Jane Digby (the infamous Lady Ellenborough) in her twenties

Indeed, her eldest brother was cut off from inheriting the wealth of his grandfather, Lord Digby, because of Jane’s sins. He did inherit the title but not the money that went with it.

In all fairness to Lord Ellenborough, he provided handsomely for Jane, who never lacked for riches during her long life, and he was never bitter, nor did he ever speak with malice toward her. He truly loved the baby boy Jane left behind, but the child soon died.

While Lord Ellenborough treated Jane kindly, her dashing prince treated her shabbily while stringing her along for a number of years—and through the birth of two more children, a daughter his family eventually raised, and a son who died days after he was born.

In Bavaria

She eventually ended up a fixture at the Court of King Ludwig of Bavaria, who was reputed to be the father of her second daughter, who turned out to be hopelessly mad. It was at this time Jane finally realized the Catholic prince she had loved so well and for so long had no intentions of marrying her. She allowed herself to be wooed in a marriage with Baron Carl Venningen, a man madly in love with her and who she knew she didn’t love him.

Together, they had son, and he claimed paternity for the daughter who was mad. During this marriage, Jane became passionately in love with a Greek, Count Spiro Theotoky , whom she eloped with, leaving both children with Venningen, who never held malice for her, never remarried, and stayed relatively close to Jane until the end of his life.

Making her home in Athens

With Count Theotoky, Jane had her sixth and final child, a son who was the only child to whom she was ever attached. Marriage to the count turned out badly. He took up with a mistress and lived off Jane’s money.

Though Jane brought much shame to her family, her parents never withheld their love or support of her. Indeed, she and her mother would be close until her mother’s death. It was while she and her mother were meeting in Italy that Jane’s little six-year-old son would die. Impetuous like his mother, he began to slide down the banister of their three-story villa, falling to his death on the marble at his mother’s feet.

After his death, his broken-hearted mother returned to Athens. While going through the lengthy divorce process from Count Theotoky, Jane fell in love with an Albanian general twenty years her senior and lived openly with him—sometimes in caves! She fancied herself in love with him and built a fabulous house for both of them and took an active, affectionate interest in his young daughter.

When she discovered him having sex with her so-called devoted lady’s maid, she fled to the Levant. She had a sexual relationship—but not romantic—with a sheikh who first showed her the country which would soon claim her heart.

Always a true horsewoman who could ride better than most men, Jane fell in love with Arabian horses, the desert, and ancient cities like Palmyra. While Shiekh Medjuel el Mazrab was escorting her to Palmyra, he apparently fell in love with Jane. At the end of their journey, he asked if she could ever consider marrying him. She was stunned.

Falling for the sheikh

After they parted she could not free her thoughts from him, and since Jane was incomplete without a passionate love affair, the idea of being a desert princess began to appeal to her. Of course she had never been intimate with Medjuel, and he’d not told her he loved her. He had two wives.

When she later returned and he spoke of love, she consented to marry him on the condition that she be his only wife. One of his wives had died, and he agreed to divorce the other. Jane kept chiding herself. She was nearly 50; he was in his late 20s. But Jane loved to be involved in passionate love affairs.

Fluent in nine languages

jd - arabic dress

Madam Jane Digby el Mezrab Watercolor by Carl Haag 1859

The British consul in Damascus attempted to dissuade her from marrying a Bedouin, but nothing could dissuade her. The 47-year-old Jane married Medjuel, and she immersed herself in assimilating into the Bedouin culture. She died her hair black, kohled her eyed, and dressed in veils and flowing gowns. She also learned Arabic fluently. It was the ninth language in which she was fluent.

She built a spectacular house in Damascus, where she spent half the year. The other half, she followed the tribe on the back of a camel, sleeping in Medjuel’s low-slung black tent. They experienced extreme temperatures. Summer heat was known to reach a reported 140 degrees Fareneheit, and winters could be bitterly cold.

While living in Damascus, she dressed as a European and entertained European visitors as the grand dame she was. To the English, she would always be referred to as Lady Ellenborough of the scandalous divorce. One of those visitors was the Prince of Wales. She was also close to Sir Richard Burton and his wife and imparted much information that would assist him in his Arabian Nights. She also spoke to him of the sexual practices in harems (where she had full access) which helped in his translation of the Kamra Sutra.

Jane’s marriage to Medjuel brought her the passion she craved, and she tormented herself with worries that Medjuel would take another wife or lose his heart to a younger woman of his own tribe. Many of her thoughts were poured out in the diaries she kept the final three decades of her life and which ended up with the Digby family.

The marriage to Medjuel was easily the happiest of her four marriages and would endure until her death at  age 74. There was one rocky patch when she discovered he had taken a young bride forty years younger than Jane, but Jane forced him to give her up.

In  death, she eschewed the Bedouin practice of burying the dead in unmarked desert graves on the day of their death. Her final resting place is in a European cemetery in Damascus where the stone proclaims she was Jane Elizabeth, daughter of Admiral Sir Henry Digby, born April 3, 1807, Died Aug. 11, 1881. Medjuel brought stone from Palmyra, where they had been so happy on their honeymoon, and on it he carved, in Arabic, Madam Digby el Mezrab. He never remarried.

Those interested in reading all the rich details of Jane’s life are encouraged to track down Mary S. Lovell’s fine 1995 biography of Jane, A Scandalous Life. –By Cheryl Bolen, whose fascination with dead English women contributes to many of the articles that can be found at http://www.CherylBolen.com or http://cherylsregencyramblings.wordpress.com/.

© Cheryl Bolen, 2014