BRIDGET WHELAN writer

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To Wed or Not? Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper Makes Her Decision

Mrs Finnegan, leading housekeeper of her generation, SOUGHT advice from READERS about whether she should marry or NOT and was grateful so MANY wrote in. She has also STUDIED the pages of a range of respectable journals for guidance.

My head was still spinning and I therefore decided to write a LIST of reasons why I should MARRY Master Peregrine and another list of WHY I should not.

I share it in confidence under the strictest possible conditions. No one else must SEE it.

The Lady’s Magazine says such an endeavour is only useful when the white-hot FLAME of truth scorches the paper. I’ve been so honest I fear I would BURN at the Stake of Brunswick Square’s SCORN if it should be made public.

When written down the answer seems clear, does it not?

Many of you were worried that I would GIVE UP my independence were I to marry a gentleman with money troubles. That is a good point, an excellent point, but for one thing: I’m not sure I have very much of that commodity to give up.

If I had money and status it would be a different story, although I look at Miss Martha who has both (as well as youth) and wonder if she would count herself truly independent. She may be in time, but if her parents do not control her and she hasn’t acquired a husband than I think society’s good opinion might hold her in check. We suffer from a congenital disadvantage – we’re women.

Of course, if we were POETS and didn’t give a roasted FIG for reputation and had decided to die young then we might dance to a very different tune, but I’ve tried my HAND at rhyming and got little APPRECIATION for my trouble so fell at the first fence . (It’s harder than you might think.)

So I said yes WITH conditions. These are:

  • I am always and for ever to be made FULLY aware of all financial transactions
  • I have a personal allowance of 15 shillings a month which is to be spent on NOTHING else. (He said yes and smiled while he said it. Do not think me foolish, I know it may not happen every month or even every year, but he has given me a stick to beat him with and that is not to be SNEEZED at)
  • We will go shopping together for a new Sunday bonnet
  • It will not be BROWN.

Are you proud of me?
Is there something you would have added?

On our wedding day we went by different routes to the church as is the custom and it seemed the whole of Brunswick Square joined us. Dear little Sissy begged me to go into Master P’s kitchen at number 61 before we departed (and of course now MY kitchen) to show her wedding present.

The dear child has been polishing all the brass and copper in secret. It was almost worth getting married for that collection of pans alone.

A bitter wind blew through St Andrew’s and I was almost glad for the dead WEIGHT of my wedding dress as it offered some protection. And the itchy, scratchy cloth took my mind off the sermon. It was a masterpiece of tedium embroidered with a scattering of saliva-splashing mumbles, topped with a brace of yawns that allowed us a perfect view of the vicar’s tonsils.

And then it was done. Two of us went to altar and we came away as ONE.
But it was not quite over.
Master P (I should decide on another name for him) had arranged music, beer and wine in the Market Hall.

There was dancing and Master P – MY husband – was more nimble than I expected. Fortunately someone had the foresight to bring a wheelbarrow and it was no problem getting him home.

Home…

I had planned to be back with you next week but I FEAR that I have a PRESSING task that must be completed first and it will take some time. I intend to study my husband’s account books. There are two shelves of them and he is punctilious in writing down every farthing of expenditure. Alas he does NOT appear to READ what he writes and fails to make any calculations, believing that arithmetic is for shop workers and not for gentlemen.

Well, he has a wife (me!) capable of doing his counting for him.

(not drawn from life)

Have no fear I shall return!

In the meantime, subscribers will receive accounts of past adventures, a ragbag of recipes and a tombola of triumphs. I have no idea what exactly. I’ll leave that to the gentleman in charge of the delivery coach.

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4 comments on “To Wed or Not? Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper Makes Her Decision

  1. beth
    January 10, 2023

    congrats to you on our new endeavor and I think you made a great list of demands. you are the wise one in the couple and always will be and this will see you through.

  2. Cathy Cade
    January 10, 2023

    A new era.

  3. Sarah Waldock
    January 10, 2023

    I can see why a home of your own outweighs the pressing weight of the disadvantages. However, with an efficient hand at the helm, taking over the family finances, and ruling him with a rod of iron, even if carefully wrapped in silk so he has no idea, should work wonders. I am sure that his little profligacies can be ironed out, and if all else fails, you can sell his toby jug collection. Or offer a genteel academy to young ladies devoid of the housewifely tasks necessary for embarking on matrimony, which will also give you servants paying for the opportunity whilst you train them ruthlessly in how to hold a household.

  4. seghopkin
    January 10, 2023

    Congratulations, Mistress P! Or what are we to call you now?

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This entry was posted on January 10, 2023 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged , , , .

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