BRIDGET WHELAN writer

for writers and readers….

The Absence of Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper EXPLAINED and a Warning to Widows ISSUED

Mrs Finnegan craves your indulgence. Mrs Finnegan WOULD like to apologise. Mrs Finnegan BEGS you to remember that last week was the FIRST time an episode of her POPULAR chronicle has been missing in OVER 100 weeks.

Dear Reader

I know many of YOU have been worried. Some may even have been scared I would not return.

I SUPPOSE all of you were left in a questioning STATE of wonderment.

Some readers saw…nothing.
Those who (so wisely) SUBSCRIBE to my ingenious MAIL service (see below) were directed towards the brief BUT lively History of MY Life (which now I come to think of it was not perhaps the MOST approriate place given that it contains certain inaccuracies). However, I still recommend The Flaming Red Years.

When I sat down at my writing table with my newly-sharpened quill in my hand I FULLY intended to satisy your NATURAL curiosity by mentioning a SUDDEN shortage of ink in the West Brighton area, coupled with a coach disaster and the HEAVY burden of being the Housekeeper at The Regency Town House, but I could not DO it.
My loyal readers deserve

The TRUTH

The reason my CHRONICLE did not appear in its usual place at its usual time was BECAUSE it was not written and it was not written because of a severve

ATTACK

of Embarrassment. I dwelled in a valley of humiliation, mortified to the marrow of my bones. If I was a lady I’d have taken to my bed, instead I THREW myself into my work scrubbing the glaze off the SECOND best set of china, treating the wainscoting as if it was guilty of petty larceny and washing the kitchen floor so throughly Little Sissy was SURE there had been a flood.

AND then the letters started to

ARRIVE

It was what I had been dreading ever since I MADE the painful disclousure to Master Peregrine and Owen Merryweather Talbot. And shared it with you, dear reader.
To WIT there was no Mr Finnegan. There had never BEEN a Mr Finnegan. He did not die because he had never lived.
I stand before you a spinster. I sit at my desk a wretched woman

I expected OPPROBRIUM but now having read evey single missive, I would like to thank most of the people who wrote (not the lady from Donkey Row who scribbles in green ink and uses an unneccessary AMOUNT of capital letters). Kind words of condescension have been a BALM to my troubled soul.
However, it was a letter from Canada that touched me the most. Let me quote a little from it.

I was very sorry that you had to make up a marriage to maintain your independance. Though I was very, very glad of it because I was very worried for your future, worrying that this shambles of a man might take advatange…

I like the phrase shambles of a man. How very apt. This excellant paragraph EXACTLY sums up my own feelings.

I believe that you did the best thing for yourself by Fabricating a Mr Finnegan. I hope your friends understand…now I think you are in danger of having two suitors knocking on your door more often…

No, not so. I blush at the thought.
I am past that STAGE of life when courting is as NATURAL as daffidols in spring. Never in my THOUGHTS, never in my widlest dreams…no!
But yes, I was concerned how Master Peregrine and Merry would react.

Would they think I was no longer to be trusted?
Would I become the subject of jokes?

And idle gossip?

A juicy morsel for the gap-toothed elderly to chew over?

The two gentlemen behaved LIKE gentlemen.
Both swore they would never mention my TRUE marital status to ANOTHER soul. They added that they quite understood how it came about (although being men I don’t think that can be STRICTLY true HAVING never suffered under the yoke of womanhood themselves) and said that there was no NEED for anyone else in the household to know.

Master Peregrine then drafted an advert for the Brighton Gazette which he will insert at his OWN expense.

To whom it may concern; the man representing himself as Mr. Finnegan, husband of Mrs. Finnegan [widow] of Brunswick Square, is hereby avowed to be no such thing, and any bills addressed fraudulently to the said widow will not be honoured.

He will also visit a magistrate who is an old FRIEND to discuss what action needs to be TAKEN about the debts already RUN up. I appreciate the generosity MORE than I can say for I know how reluctant Master P is to visit anyone.

And what of Owen Merryweather Talbot (Merry to his close friends)? What did he do in my half hour of NEED?

I do not know.
He said it was better not to ask, but he promised that there would NO more bills arriving by post and no MORE knocks on my door at the dead of night. I was getting quite nervous until he assured me that he would personally help “Mr Finnegan” to climb aboard the NEXT stage coach out of Brighton.

BUT WAIT

This is not the END of my sorry tale. It seems that heartless IMPOSTERS are knocking at more doors than MINE! Take these letters as a WARNING

From Lady X, Ottery St Mary

Seeing your long-dead husband just before breakfast, begging for money, can be shocking Mrs Finnegan. I know because it happened to me.

There he stood, the man taken tragically taken from my arms by a merciless sea 40 years ago, and he was not even wet.

Through a chance conversation with an acquaintance (who pens dreadful poetry) I learned of your travails with ‘Mr Finnegan’. Could it be the same man that darkened both our doorsteps?

As a lucrative novelist of high romance I do touch gently upon the subject of my dashing Admiral’s cruel fate in twenty-one of my books.

Have we both been taken on a long carriage ride without a proper destination? 

Fron the Secret Poetess of Ottery St Mary

Deception is a ghastly game. 
He whispered me my Christian name.
He needed money, Mrs Finn.

He claimed to be the man I lost.
He said to me, in him just trust.
Is this REALLY him dear Mrs Finn?

Your husband returned, so I read
Even though he too was dead
You didn’t trust him, did you, Mrs Finn?

I read your chronicles, I got sharp,
He’ll not play me like a harp,
I’ve got a plan now, Mrs Finn.

I will confront him at my door
I will smite him to the floor,
I will do him in, with a rolling pin, Dear Mrs Finn.

Please note that publictation of this verse does NOT indicate that I approve of EITHER the soubriquet Mrs Finn (certainly not!) or smiting in general, with or without rolling pins.

From a dressmaker, Ottery St Mary

My dress shop was visited at a late hour by a man claiming to be my long dead husband. 

This morning I nearly did myself an injury with my dressmaking pins when Lady X told me of HER dead husband turning up on HER doorstep. Not only this, but she said it had happened to her verse-writing friend and to YOU, Mrs Finnegan.

How I wish I could be like you and say that my late husband t’was ONLY a figment of my imagination.

What to Make of It?

I consulted a gazetteer in the Master’s library (I really must dust in there more often) and discovered that Otterly is a parish in Devon and there are no direct coach services to Brighton. Is the west country man peddling lies door to door the same PERSONAGE who claimed to be Mr Finnegan? Did he perhaps first practise his DECEPTION in a sleepy village before TRYING his HAND with a sophisticated lady in the STAR of the South Coast? OR is there a national gang of FAKERS abroad?
I have no way of knowing. All I can say with CONVICTION is that there seems to be a FASHION for dead husbands POPPING UP. Widows beware!

A FAVOUR to ask

Merry visited last night to tell me there is still a PROBLEM to fix. I did not know what he meant until he REMINDED me that there was another party to my secret.

You, dear reader.

Call me foolish, but I think of you all as my CLOSE personal friends so it was natural for me to confide in you.
Natural, but perhaps not sensible.
Will you STAND BY me?
Or will you BLURT out my secret to all and sundry?

I am talking to Mistress JT of a very fine establisment near Norfolk Square and under housemaid Lizzie of Steyning High Street; I am reaching out TO Jill, Gilly and Jenny and to MASTERS Nicholas, Philip and Paul and ALL my readers. I know I can rely on TC of Regina, but Can I rely ON YOU?

I am resolute.
I SHALL remain Mrs Finnegan of Brunswick Square, widow.
And we shall never speak of these last few weeks again. Or of a certain man in a top hat who knocked at my door late at night.

The Chronicles of Mrs Finnegan are a regular feature written by Bridget Whelan working with a host of volunteers at The Regency Town House. This week there is a longer than usual list of Thank Yous.

Mrs Finnegan is grateful to the following:
Paul Couchman
Matt Williams
Peregrine Hillderbrace
Tiffany from Regina

Owen Talbot
Sarah Waldock

A special service for DISCREET readers. If you click HERE Mrs Finnegan will send a note every TUESDAY to let you know when the ink is dry and her (confidential) chronicle is ready to be read. 
This service is provided ENTIRELY FREE of charges, taxes and tips.

6 comments on “The Absence of Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper EXPLAINED and a Warning to Widows ISSUED

  1. Sarah Waldock
    March 1, 2022

    Why, Mrs Finnegan need not fear, for the assumption of the title ‘Mrs’ is only the right and proper honorific of someone in so responsible position as a housekeeper. It is indicative of years of experience and the knowledge which goes with that, and serves in the same way as the letters after the name of a learned man, proof of education in an appropriate field.
    It can but be liberating to any man who might have concealed shy hopes of romance in his manly breast, fearing to speak of his feelings when a departed rival might be too sorely missed for his chances to succeed; yet without the shadowy Late Mr. Finnegan to dog his suit, he might dare to whisper words of the deepest regard and admiration.
    If such an one should come forward, I certainly recommend the marital state.

    • bridget whelan
      March 1, 2022

      Mistress Waldock! I thank you for your kind words but as regards the other matter for the first time in my life I find myself in urgent need of a fan (to cool my burning cheeks).

  2. Glen Available
    March 1, 2022

    This is so brilliantly good it deserves to be inscribed on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or the like.

    To almost do oneself an injury with one’s dressmaking pins due to surprise and shock is testament to the ‘high stakes’ on offer here.

    Resolute indeed!

    • bridget whelan
      March 1, 2022

      I think YOUR words will be engraved on my tombstone…I shall leave instructions to that effect.

  3. beth
    March 1, 2022

    my lips are sealed.

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This entry was posted on March 1, 2022 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged , .

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