The History of Love



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Dear Readers,

I have been a sporadic poster (postress?) of late, & as the vast majority of my work now focuses on the history of romantic (and not-so romantic) relationships in the c18th I have decided to go & live over at this house:

If you tremble at the thought that I have spurned the worlds of lewdness and debauchery, fear not! It’s normal service on the bedding & booze front & the bawdiness shall continue unabated.

I have an exciting summer ahead with my very first television filming & book festival appearances, & plenty of other lovely things in the pipeline. Please do follow my posts at the other blog, or keep up to date with my doings at



Yours &c,

Miss B–d

Why ladies fancy a man with mustachios, 1707


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“If you find him with Mustachios, he’s certainly a Size above ordinary in his own Conceit; aye, and is fancied so too by the Women, who wisely infer, that a stiff Pair of Whiskers must needs spring from some secret stiffening Cause or other.”

moustache- Ned Ward, The Wooden World Dissected (c.1707)


mustachiosWhat do we think, ladies?


The lewd women made me do it, 1752


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Poor old James Holt, a man who went to the scaffold not entirely convinced that the death sentence was the proper punishment for a teensy bit of smuggling (although it’s perhaps more justified than “being out at night with a blackened face” or “stealing from a rabbit warren”, which also warranted capital punishment in the late eighteenth century).

If in doubt, of course, blame the lewd women and their unreasonable demands!


- Derby Mercury, Friday 10th July 1752

“Yesterday the Eleven Malefactors, under sentence of Death were executed at Tyburn; they all behaved with more Decency and seeming Concern than is usual when a Number of Felons are executed together. It is remarkable, that of the eleven who suffered Yesterday, seven of them ascribe their Ruin to the Association of Lewd Women, who drove them to unlawful Courses, in order to support the Extravagancies of those Daughters of Plunder. James Holt the Smuggler, behaved very penitently, but did not seem convinced that his Sentence was just, or that Smuggling merited Death. Amongst his last Words, were: It is very hard to be hanged for Smuggling.”


A Scene on the Main Deck, 1824


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“EXPLANATION.– In the fore-ground are three Seamen playing at cards, one of whom, by the archness of his countenance, appears to have an advantage, and seems desirous of betting with his Antagonist, who, by his clenched fist, is evidently losing: the third, from his gravity, seems to be doubtful of the result.

The Group to the right consists of two, apparently, Messmates, the one reading a letter with much satisfaction; while a Female is slily looking over the gun, listening to the contents, and seems, by her smiling, to enter into the full enjoyment of it. In the middle Group are represented two Seamen and their Girls dancing a reel; the Fiddler, supposed to be the Ship’s Cook by his wooden leg, is evidently groggy, from his having one eye closed, while the other is significantly employed: the principal Male Figure, who set to his Partner, has had more than his usual allowance of grog, being in the act of snapping his fingers, and literally reeling towards her: the younger Female and her Partner are no less interesting from their attitude.

On the left is a Sailor-Boy with a can of grog in his hand; his attention being wholly taken up with the Group dancing, occasions him to spill the liquor, which a Seaman underneath is eagerly catching. Near these figures, to the right, is seen a fair Damsel descending the ladders, and is received into the arms of her Admirer. Next to them appears a Sailor handing down a box, supposed to contain the wares of an Israelite, brought on board for sale, who, from his attitude and countenance, appears most anxious for their safety. The two figures behind the Jew are seemingly a Brother and Sister joyously meeting.

The Group near the quarter-deck-ladder represents an affray between two Females, who are jealous of each other, to the no small delight of the surrounding Seamen. On the quarter-deck-ladder is seen the flowing robe of a Female descending.”

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Beware the ‘Squeaking Woman’!! (1728)


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In eighteenth-century London, it seems it was not only the living who were disturbing the peace – the city also echoed with the cries of the dead.

Despite the march of scientific thought, superstitious and supernatural beliefs were still widely held by the general public. The folks of St Margaret’s parish in Westminster seem to have been particularly susceptible to fears about ghostly goings-on, as this account of Long Margery ‘the squeaking Woman’ attests.

Hearing loud shrieks while a women lies in childbirth? Unfathomable!


“The Parish of St. Margaret in Westminster.

The people here, it seems, are extreme cautious of being out too late at Night because of the squeaking Woman, call’d Long Margery, who is a great Haunter of this Parish. This Apparition (as the Tradition saith) appears in various Shapes and Forms, and has been seen and heard by many of the Women in this Part of the Town. The particular Office of this Ghost being to visit the Doors of Women in Child-bed only, and if they are not for this Life, to give them fair Warning by three loud Shrieks; and if a Midwife or a Nurse do but report they have heard anything like this, though the Woman shall be in the most happy Way of Recovery, the Husband would be thought worse than an Infidel, if Preparations are not immediately made for his Wife’s Funeral.

I have heard it would be as difficult to persuade these People out of this Notion, as it would be the Foot Guards out of their Tobacco and Geneva, so strongly are they confirm’d in it.”

- A View of London and Westminster, or, The Town Spy (1728)


A gown, metamorphose’d into a ghost!!, Isaac Cruikshank

Drunken Lovers, 1798


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face“Observe how I step in the Line,
Though eight Quarts I have carried away;
O Bet! you will never be mine
If thus you get drunk every Day.

As drunk as a Piper thou art;
O tell me how could’st thou do so;
Thou wilt ne’er from the Ale-house depart
Till unable to walk, stand, or go.”

drunken lovers

Drunken Lovers by Thomas Rowlandson (1798)


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