Back from Obscurity- Terence Dugan, Linen Bleacher 1699-1800

Georgian newspaper obituaries were brief. Name, age, location and occasionally something about the nature of the death were as much as most people got. If you reached 100, things were different. If you were rich, you would gain a few extra sentence of praise. If you were poor, then you would become the material for a moral story, normally about the value of being sober and hard-working.
Not all lives were brief. ‘Terence Dugin’ was nearly 101 when he died on 4 December 1800. He was rewarded with the convoluted extra sentence ‘a gentlemen not more respectable for his abilities in his line of his profession, then eminent for the integrity of his conduct and uprightness in private life’.
The Scots Magazine had got his name wrong- there was a lot of copying between newspapers in the late Georgian period and not always a lot of desire to get the details correct. His actual name was Terence Dugan, sometimes Duggan, and he was a man who deserved to be remembered.
Duggan was a linen bleacher. Bleaching fields were common in places where there were textile factories, and this included the suburbs of Edinburgh, where Dugan lived. Dugan appears regularly in the Scottish newspapers from the 1760s onwards, first at the Ford Bleach field and later at Kevock Hills.

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He was no ordinary bleacher. The Dugans were an Irish family; Mr Dugan had been brought over in 1749 by the British Linen Company to improve their techniques and it was his work that ended one of the bottlenecks in the production process. Linen no longer needed to be sent to Holland to be bleached. To the end of his days he received an annuity from the Trade Organisation and he regularly won prizes; the fact that there were prizes for bleaching shows how important it was for the Scottish and Irish industries.

This is from the 1756 Scots magazine;
Prize III Thick Plain WHITE Lawn. A piece 12 yards in and 31 inches in breadth the property of William Hill manufacturer Canongate, woven by Clement Carse at Picardy, bleached by Terence Dugan at Kevock .

When he died, he was a ‘gentlemen’- that was post-mortem generosity. I have been unable to find any references to the Terence Duggan that are not advertisements. Mr Dugan advertised in the newspaper consistently until 1795, by which time it had become Terence Dugan and Son. In his early days, he was situated at the Ford Bleach field and then later moved to the Kevock Hill Bleach field, nearer Edinburgh. His son was Francis Dugan, and it seems that Father and son ran the Kevock Hills site as partners. They leased the site for 38 years in 1774 with 30 acres of fields, a house where they lived and orchards. Buying the property would have been a problem, as they were both Roman Catholics who could not pass on property after death  very easily
One of the Dugan family had some problem in 1775 with a servant.

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By 1775 it seems that Francis was running the company offering bleaching by the Irish or Dutch methods and still boasting of the skilled Irishman that were brought over. Frances seemed to have enjoyed a 25 year retirement, common today but worthy of note in the late Georgian period.
When he died in 1800, the whole Dugan bleaching Empire was about to expire. New methods of chlorine bleaching would make the family another victim of the technological revolution , but the main problem at the time was the early death of Francis Dugan, who died in 1801 at more or less exactly half his father’s age .
His funeral was a touching story ‘He was borne the church yard by his own servants …two of them witnessed his interment bad been fifty years in his employ. He was the first invited to this Country about 70 years ago by the Hon Board of Trustees the improve the state of bleaching linen’
Francis Dugan was less than a month dead when the beaching fields and house were sold off and later the contents of the house. Sales of the crops growing in the fields were postponed until they were ready-liquidation of goods was an efficient and emotionless process.

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—————————————————————————————————————————————– If you like my interest in the ordinary people in Georgian Britain, you will like this. If you like it a bit but not enough to buy one, please ask your library to stock one!

 

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Gin Shops in the Regency; the ‘blue ruin’ before the Hipsters discovered it

 

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The Gin Shop ‘Every street is their tap room’

In January 1816, Worcester businessman Mr S Cohen drank himself to death. He was visiting Mr Moncks, an Evesham Hatter in the afternoon and their business went well, and some personal longstanding disagreements were settled. Mr Cohen was overjoyed and accepted the invitation to stay overnight. He was so overjoyed that he drank ‘cider, brandy, gin, wine and ale rather freely’-with his breakfast. The men then travelled back to Worcester, with Mr Cohen driving the gig. It was to be a fatal breakfast, not because of drunk driving but because Cohen fell asleep, was put in the back of the gig and was later found dead.

This was a bad thing. It was, in the words of the newspaper, a ‘melancholy incident’. But it was not a threat to public order, the productivity of the nation or a danger to morals. However, the drinking of the poor was a different matter.

Alcohol consumption was increasing during the Regency. The fact that it  were taxable meant that consumption levels were known. High taxes and depressed wages meant that the poor migrated even more to  cheaper porter, gin and the gin shop. When poor people drank more, the establishment were not happy. In 1816, the Morning Chronicle used alcohol to prove that wages, in London anyway, were too high. It went like this; alcohol was increasing in price but consumption was rising- especially gin and beer which are ‘never considered as superfluous indulgences by the higher orders’. So the reason why Londoners were able to drink so much was their high wages, which if lowered, would lead to less drinking. As a start, the Hampshire Chronicle suggested a little bit of Sabbatarianism would do the poor good; the gin shops ‘lighted up to attract notice’, should be shut on that day.

What was a Gin shop? It was not a Gin Palace of the 1840s, but a stripped down public house. They were growing in number in the Regency, responding to the demand for cheap alcohol. They would strip out all the fixtures, fittings and features of the public house -the bar, the tap room, the newspapers, the food service and even the seats, in order to save money and offer cheaper gin and beer. Owners who wanted a gin shop but could not bear the magistrates scrutiny, would get a pub licence and sell gin, with a mouldering and undrinkable barrel of porter beer in the back room to keep the authorities happy.
In 1816, concerned Surrey magistrates commissioned a report on the rapid increase in Gin shops. Surrey magistrates were worried about the damage done by these shops on the lower orders and increasing the ‘middling sort’. In the regency, Surrey was a larger area than today, including the areas of Lambeth and Southwark; there was a lot of drinking going on in Surry and the magistrates were alarmed enough to investigate the reason for the increase in gin shops.

It was certainly true that it was not difficult to obtain a licence to sell ‘ardent spirits’ and selling them kept the poor in work. One of the arguments against restricting the licences was that it would create destitution that would have to be solved with local ratepayer’s money rather than by the poor drinking themselves to insolvency. Magistrates suggested that it might be useful to try to nudge the poor to beer by only giving a license to places that sold a large amount of beer compared to gin and who allowed not drinking in private with just a large public bar. One of the magistrates suggested that the beer was just as likely to do harm – especially if it were purchased in a gin shop.
The Gin shop, said the Chester Courant in 1816, was up there with the Pawn Shop and the Lottery Office as a way that the poor were kept themselves poor. The pawn shop may seem out of place of the three, as your need property to pawn, but the conservative Courant made it clear that pawn shops were a temptation to steal an employer’s belonging and to turn them into cash.
So, Gin shops were not the same as public houses; pubs mostly sold beer on the premises while gin shops were much more likely to be takeaways. Police constables would be on the lookout for places with two main entrances –one would be a takeout door – as a sign that they were selling gin only.

The vast majority of unskilled urban workers were paid their wages on a Saturday night; shops and pubs were open and money would be spent on alcohol. Their pockets were still reasonable full on the Sabbath, and this was a problem for the authorities
One report on The Police in the Metropolis in August 1816, noted that in a ninety period between half six and eight o’clock, 105 people were seen entering and leaving an establishment in Holborn, perhaps made worse by the fact that this was a Sunday morning, not the afternoon, and that most of them were women. For many commentators the profane language was just as bad as the drinking

This also meant that Gin shops could encourage vice and drunkenness without being easily spotted by the magistrates as a house of ill repute. By operating takeaway only, the corruption of gin is spread to all of the streets and houses nearby. This is from 1817

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The owners of such places believed, implausibly, that they contributed to family life. This is from a later Victorian publican, the Gin Shop, but the argument is the same
No one … is allowed to sit down and therefore not likely to tipple away the money that may be wanted at home for the support of the family. No tap rooms are provided, no tables, no benches, no indulgences to tempt men to remain away from their families
Not many people believed this, often not even the people who said it. The opposite argument was more compelling. Consumption would increase, as prices were about 25% lower than alcohol bought in public houses, but the grim truth, more or less universally acknowledged, was that people bought more instead of saving money. It was also common to send children to the ‘bottle and jug’ to collect the alcohol and moralists pointed out that the youngsters would be traumatized by what they saw, and then, in the fullness of time, be inured to it, which was worse.
The comment, from a temperance society, is dated 1835 but could easily be twenty years earlier
We see children in the street…. sent by parents to a gin shop and the same as when a child goes to a baker’s shop .You see them picking the bread as they go home, you see them tasting the spirits from which they imbibe the habit, and, if they get a halfpenny or a penny given to them afterwards it goes for the getting of spirits the habit being so engendered by the practice
Have you any recollection of the youngest age which yon have ever seen persons drink?
I have seen them drink I should say at five and six months old……….

 

If you share my interest in the ordinary people of Regency Britain,  you may be interested in this

 


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Before the Butchery- The Manchester Cavalry before Peterloo

 

image001In March 1817, there was ‘panic’ in the North of England as 30,000 men assembled on Kersal Moor then marched into Manchester, seizing the North Mail, demolishing two factories and setting fire to a whole street of buildings. This was according to the papers. It was untrue; the Manchester Mercury, being a local paper, stopped the panic by pointing this out.

It did not hide the fact that Manchester was undefended by a volunteer force of yeomanry cavalry that existed in other, smaller towns in the United Kingdom; indeed this may have been one of the reasons for the spread of rumours. It was a febrile atmosphere, and there had been real social and political protest.

By late 1817, such a force was being created. The Manchester and Salford Yeomanry cavalry were a new, angry organisation. Most volunteer militias had been formed in the 1790s and had some experience of successful action. The Manchester cavalry was a much more recent militia force, formed in 1817 in a blind panic after the Blanketeers’ meeting at St Peters Field and the social tensions in Manchester and Salford.

An advertisement in the Chester Courant advised that anybody who wanted to be a Sergeant Major or Trumpeter in the new unit should report to a named office of the local constables.This already filtered the type of people who would apply. In May 1818 and (again in 1819) the Officers of the new unit were sponsoring a competition at the Manchester Races for horses belonging to their members. Perhaps they knew that they were recruiting inexperienced riders and soldiers and felt that they need to motivate them to do better.

By September 1818, the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry were on official service. Weaver’s strikes in Blackburn had spread to Manchester and the unit was readied for action, but were not needed. Small wage increases were obtained by the weavers and fustian workers of Manchester, Chadderton, Middleton and Failsworth and the Manchester Yeomanry supported the authorities when employers blacklisted 200 weavers. The Leeds Intelligencer, an ultra Tory paper, declared that the Cavalry has ‘marched to ensure tranquillity’ and the rest of the papers followed with exactly the same words the next day. The Cavalry stayed long enough to allow the employers not to honour a second pay rise that had been promised as part of the original settlement.
The Manchester Yeomanry were also involved in assisting the civil power in Burnley in the same month. There were thirty-six of them, under Captain Hindley. Seven men who broke into the Burnley House of Correction to rescue a strike organiser were imprisoned in Lancaster Castle. Their role seemed to involve not much more than merely turning up in the town and allowing the locals to regain control.This was a national, not local piece of news and it is the first time that the Manchester Cavalry made a national impression; the second was much more tragic.

There was more than one Manchester political demonstration led by Henry Hunt in 1819. He was there in January 1819 and some of the events may explain the Cavalry’s hatred of him in August. Hunt was the lead speaker amongst a crowd of 10,000 people carrying red caps of liberty and banners reading ‘Rights of Man’ ‘No Corn laws’ and ‘Hunt and Liberty’. The actually meeting was ‘on the ground near to St Peter’s Church’. Hunt and the other speakers had their hustings on a scaffold near this land, which was actually being used by the Manchester Cavalry for their training. The events of August proved that they did not train particular well there.

I am sure that this did not endear them to him; in any case, after an hour the scaffold collapsed, with no injury except to Hunt’s ego. Hunt then repaired to the local Windmill public house where he tried to continue his ‘harangue’, but he was ejected by the landlord who reminded him that he had a licence to sell beer, not spread sedition. Another possible perspective is that this man’s livelihood depended on a licence issued by the same magistrates who were opposing Hunt today.

Of the 101 members of the Manchester yeomanry present at Peterloo whose occupation is known, thirteen were publicans. Sixteen were involved in the upper echelons of the Manchester cotton trade and were therefore on the side of capital rather than labour, and the rest were high-class workmen and shopkeepers who depended on the patronage of the rich.
In June 1819, the Cavalry were being preening and ornamental at the celebrations for the King’s birthday, still not having taken part in any real action. The newspapers in the summer of 1819 contain mostly sporting news about the officers in the unit; this changed on 13 August 1819 when the radical reformers were back in Manchester. The Morning Post reported that the Manchester authorities were concerned about more men congregating in the hills, marching using bugles and practicing with pikes. This was the insurrectionary army that they partly feared and they partly conjured up for their political advantage. Manchester was tense, according the Tory papers, and ‘the Manchester Yeomanry Cavalry were in arms all today’. All this was done in the belief that Hunt was about to do something in Manchester-but he then left town.

It’s no surprise that when the Yeomanry Cavalry were told to take the leaders from the hustings at Peterloo, they really wanted to get him.

There are two chapters about Peterloo in my bookGoogle it for the best price……..

Nancy Perriam- a woman in the Georgian Navy (Guest Post)

Written by Christine Hobson, presently working on a project on noteworthy women of the Georgian/ Victorian era

How many women have you ever seen in movies or on television working alongside men during naval battles? The answer if probably “None”, yet many were there! There were lots of women aboard navy ships during before, during and after the Napoleonic Wars. And some, like Nancy Perriam, taking ‘more of a man’s part’, in the action, as she put it later.
Ann Hopping, born Ann Letton and known as Nancy, was a woman from Exmouth, married to second gunner Edward Hopping. She went to sea with her husband in 1795 as a seamstress aboard ‘HMS Crescent’ and later, aboard ‘HMS Orion’, when she heard the drums beating the sailors to their posts for battle she began carrying gunpowder cartridges to the gun deck, working alongside the sailor boy ‘powder monkeys’.
What made her do it? Well, life at home would have been hard for a woman like Ann with 2 small children and a husband away at sea. In the late 18th century a sailor had to wait for the ship to return to its home port before being paid. Voyages could last for months so women faced real financial hardships ashore, aside from the pain of being separated from a cherished husband for long periods. But she could easily have stayed below decks sewing during the battle and instead chose to put her life in danger to help the gunners on deck.
Only certain ranks of sailor were allowed to take a wife on board but there were still many women sailing with the crew and working alongside them. When the ‘Royal George’ sank in dock at Spithead in 1782 there were as many as 300 women aboard, some, but not exclusively, ‘visiting’ prostitutes who took the opportunity to smuggle liquor aboard under their skirts for a party. Sadly most of the 300 women, along with around 60 children, were lost.
Partly because some women, like captains’ wives, were at sea against navy rules, records of women aboard were not usually kept. Only in exceptional circumstances was any note made in the ship’s muster book, for example when 4 women aboard ‘HMS Goliath’ had helped the injured and dressed their wounds. They were awarded extra food rations and given money in gratitude for what must have been heartbreaking and dangerous work done in the midst of their grief.

The expression ‘show a leg’ comes from the time when, being woken for work, it was shouted so if a woman’s leg was shown in the hammock she would be left alone. The coining of this expression appears to confirm there were sufficient women aboard ship for it to be necessary.
Women worked in various roles aboard navy ships including sewing and repairing clothes and tending the sick and injured. There were other women powder monkeys besides Ann Hopping but she was the only woman ever recorded by name who worked on a navy ship during the Napoleonic Wars.
During every battle there were casualties aboard, often requiring surgery to remove limbs. We know that Ann Hopping, once she had finished carrying gunpowder cartridges, made her way to the cockpit on the ship where the surgeon carried out his work. She helped the surgeon and tended the wounded and dying.
Women aboard would often have fallings out and fights aboard. This was exacerbated by often being herded together in the cockpit, below deck, and especially if they had been drinking liquor. It was said that the cockpit on a ship was so named because the women fighting there reminded the men of a cock fight ashore. Women identified as the culprits by their badly scratched faces would be reprimanded or turned off the ship if it was in port.
Ships’ rules had to be obeyed by both sexes and for much of the time women were kept out of the way. Women could make extra money by doing washing and some broke the rules by exceeding their ration of precious drinking water to wash clothes – a serious offence on a long voyage.
Ann worked aboard the ‘Orion’ for 5 years, carrying out the job of powder monkey at several important battles in the Napoleonic Wars.
During these battles some women were wounded and killed and it was quite common for women to give birth during a noisy and stressful battle. One story tells of a Mrs McKenzie aboard ‘HMS Tremedous’ who gave birth to a baby boy in the bread room, naming the child Daniel Tremendous McKenzie.
Another story tells of the wife of an Irish sailor who left off helping the surgeon when she heard her husband had been injured. In the midst of the battle, as she held him in her arms on deck her head was shot off, upon which her husband promptly died. She had given birth only a few weeks before this and the crew kept the orphaned baby alive with milk from the Captain’s goat and donated some of their food. Only a list of men injured or killed in the battle was entered in the Captain’s log, with no mention of the wife or baby girl at all.
After the Battle of the Nile – Edward Hopping was paid off and whilst working on a civilian ship he was shipwrecked and drowned in 1802. Ann remarried 3 years later to John Perriam, a ship’s pilot and it is not known whether or not she went to sea again. Ann’s husband, John Perriam, a ship’s pilot died at sea in 1812.
In 1847 a Naval General Service Medal was issued to all living survivors of sea battles fought between 1793 and 1840. This was given to more than 20,000 men and even included the baby boy born aboard ‘HMS Tremendous’! As for the women who worked during these battles, despite many of them putting in claims and assurances being given they would be awarded the medal they were at last refused it on the grounds that it would set a precedent.
Ann was paid a pension of £10 a year by the navy in recognition of her work, although this was not enough to live on and she was 1 of only 4 women to receive a navy pension at this time. Up to the age of 80 Ann walked the streets of Exmouth selling fish until she was too ill and old to do it. She died in Exmouth aged 96. The newspapers reported that she was a remarkable woman, not only for her age, but for her ‘brilliant continuous services afloat’.