Off to Gretna Green and a giveaway!

Off to Gretna Green and a giveaway!


Do you just love those scenes in Jane Austen fanfiction where a couple we care about elopes to Gretna Green?Road to GG London Illustrated News 1871 2

The Elopement by John Collet
The Elopement by John Collet

Whether it’s Darcy and Elizabeth or some other couple we are rooting for, it seems so romantic to picture them rushing off to be married. Of course, we also cringe when a naughty couple such as Wickham and (fill in the blank) do the same. Still, I love to read about Gretna Green, and I thought I would share just a little about this life-changing village in Scotland and why it became legendary.


Arrival at Gretna Green
Arrival at Gretna Green

The reason for the exodus to Gretna Green was the Marriage Act of 1753—Lord Chancellor Hardwicke’s Act for the Prevention of Clandestine Marriages. The law passed after a good deal of debate about regularizing marriages to protect wealthy families from having their offspring preyed upon. Prior to this, London was infamous for “Fleet marriages” performed by clergymen who were in Fleet Prison for debtors.

Fleet Prison
Fleet Prison

Clergymen could live in the “Rules” area, just outside the prison (meant to provide them a sanctuary) and there they performed questionable marriages. They could not be fined for performing these marriages and were effectively beyond the law. The Fleet weddings were the bane of many a rich family. Underage heiresses were tricked or kidnapped and forced into marriages by unscrupulous men. Fathers also complained of sons who had married unsuitable brides. Even two dukes saw their sons married in these secret ceremonies. However with the Marriage Act, by 1754 the informal wedding had been swept away.

Under the act, clandestine or common-law marriages in England were made illegal. Now marriages required an official ceremony performed by a Church of England priest, unless the couple was Jewish or Quaker. The groom and bride had to each be 21 years of age, or have the consent of their parents or guardians. The wedding had to take place during daylight hours in a parish church within the Church of England’s jurisdiction. Banns had to be read for three Sundays prior to the ceremony, and the curate would ask if anyone knew any reason why either the man or woman could not marry. If the couple lived in separate parishes, the banns had to be called in each. Lastly, a license had to be obtained and the marriage recorded in the parish church.

Special Licenses avoided all these requirements but had to be obtained from the Archbishop of Canterbury,4589307480_3f83dfee60 and the names of those to be married had to be written on the license. These constraints did not help those wishing to marry against the wishes of their families. By requiring parental consent, the act gave parents the right to reject any marriage they considered undesirable. A clergyman who performed an illegal marriage could be transported for up to fourteen years. Yikes!

This act also applied in Wales and Ireland. However, it did not apply to Scotland which was under its own legal system and where the age of consent was 12 for girls and 14 for boys. Hence marriages at Gretna Green became popular. It was not the only Scottish Border village destination, though it was the first village over the border on the main west coast route from England. It was not the closest place if you went north from London. If you went up the Great North Road to Scotland, it would take you to Coldstream Bridge or Mordington or Lamberton Toll, all on the eastern side of the country.

Moreover, marriage records show a number of Irish couples married in Scotland to thwart the Irish marriage laws. Gretna Green was not the most popular venue for the Irish, however. Instead they headed for Portpatrick in Wigtownshire on the far west coast because there was a daily packet boat service from Ireland to that village. Finally, the eloping couple didn’t necessarily need to go to Scotland at all. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man also allowed for clandestine marriages before their laws were changed.

Gretna-Green-Scotland-Eloping-Three-1024x768One had to be absolutely certain they were in Scottish territory when the marriage took place. The Berwick toll keeper, who usually presided over the weddings for those who crossed into Scotland there, was sent to prison for performing a ceremony in Berwick town itself, which was in England.

Under Scotland’s irregular marriage traditions, anybody could perform marriages whether they were farmers, the blacksmith, the toll masters, the landlord of the local tavern, a passing highwayman or a local smuggler. So, contrary to the common tradition of “anvil priests,” the blacksmith was not the only person who could marry a couple.

After reading this, I began to wonder if I would actually feel married if the ceremony was performed by a blacksmith, much less a highwayman or smuggler! How binding would that seem? I would love to hear your views on the subject.

 Information in this post came from the following:  and



I had new covers created for my books, “Fitzwilliam Darcy An Honourable Man” and “Mr. Darcy’s Forbidden Love” and in celebration, I am giving away a Kindle e-book of each. Just leave a comment to this post by Midnight Friday (CST) if you would like to be in the drawing. Fitzwilliam Darcy An Honourable Man Mr. Darcy's Forbidden Love


The Dreaded Freak Carriage Accident

Shared from Austen Authors post!

One of the things I love about writing Regency stories is thinking of ways to dispose of characters, especially characters we all love to hate. A lot of acronyms have sprung up on Jane Austen Fan Fiction forums over the years, and one such acronym is FCA. On occasion a new reader will ask what FCA stands for and this post provides the answer. Freak carriage (or coach) accidents are used often in JAFF tales, and I thought it would be fun to look into one of our favorite plot devises.

As we investigate numerous reasons why these accidents may have happened, I couldn’t help but add my own thoughts in bold. Please indulge me.



Drivers were often careless, furious, intoxicated or even ignorant.

Careless driving often resulted because a driver was not paying attention and turned corners too fast, driving up banks or into ditches, or crashing into other vehicles or obstacles. Not too much different from today, what with women wearing the latest skimpy fashions!

Driving while angry or furious was not a frequent cause of accidents, mainly, I suppose, because the coachmen/drivers wished to keep their jobs. There were no penalties for it. It was suggested, however, that if the guilty driver gave a false address, they should be prosecuted for a misdemeanor. So road rage was not a big problem in the Regency era.

Thomas Rowlandson -The Runaway Coach

Driving while intoxicated was deterred by having stiff penalties inflicted upon the employers of known drunkards and then ensuring that full penalties were meted out to the guilty parties. DUIs started with carriages? Unbelievable.

Ignorant driving relates to those who did not know the best way to hold the reins. Tips for doing so included never driving with the reins too slack. In the article I found, there was an explanation of how to loop the reins so that they pulled on the hand, not the fingers. Supposedly, holding the rein in this way levelled the pull on the horse’s mouth. However, I could not make heads or tails (pun intended) of the instructions. Should you be scheduled to drive a team of horses in the near future, you can follow the link listed at the end of this post for more detailed instructions.

Bad road conditions.

The main obstacles in towns were the blocking of streets for the loading and unloading of goods or for performing work on them. As for vehicles outside the town limits, mail coachesCarriage Accident and others had to keep an eye out for dangerous items in the roads. Some of the things regularly encountered by coaches were plows, tree branches and doors and gates, gates being the most common item found in roadways. Sound like the morning rush-hour traffic report to you, too?

As someone of that era said, “It was never clear if these obstacles were placed there to facilitate robbery, or out of sheer wantonness . . . [as the] instances of such acts of wickedness were frequent.”

In addition, cart and wagon owners often used large stones to block a wheel while they loaded or unloaded their carts or wagons. If left in the road, these loose stones were particularly dangerous to horses traveling downhill, and it was a situation easily prevented by a little thoughtfulness. So many road problems could be prevented by a little of that.

Collisions with Other Vehicles.

These occurred primarily because of runaway horses, although it was claimed that a good driver could avoid them. The rule of the road was keep to the left side and to pass vehicles going in the same direction on the right. The advantage to the rule was that everyone knew what to expect, and a driver could use his whip without accidentally lashing pedestrians. Hmm. I wonder if he might not lash someone when he went to the right to pass.

Georgian Carriage AccidentAnother way to avoid collisions mentioned in my research was for a less experienced driver to collide with something that would stun the horse and force it to stop rather than hit another carriage. Can you imagine the poor creature crashing into a tree? Methinks it might stun not only the horse, but the occupants!

Horses presented a myriad of problems.

Relying on horses for transportation presented many problems included bolting, shying or rearing when a horse became frightened or was in pain. A good driver was aware of his horses’ conditions and noted the prick of their ears, so they could be ready to stop before an accident happened. For horses which pulled carriages, jibbing was more common than rearing. Jibbing was stopping and refusing to go, a habit hard to eradicate. Drivers were advised if their horse was a jibber, they should not attempt to have it pull a four-wheeled carriage, except as one of a pair. Moreover, it was suggested that jibbers pull gigs rather than other kinds of carriages. I love horses and prefer to blame all their eccentrics on the inexperience of their handlers.

On occasion a horse might have stomach staggers which made him giddy, stagger sideways, and fall by sinking to the ground on its hind legs first. It was frequently caused by over feeding a horse on dry oats and hay and was remedied by feeding the horse steamed corn or a bran mash. There were also several other reasons for this malady, including excessive driving, a badly fitting collar pressed against the horse’s windpipe, or a tight bearing rein. Poor animal!

 Runaway Horse

Other Causes of Carriage Accidents: Harness and Carriage Issues, Passengers.

Harness issues were too numerous to mention but included breaking bands, straps and bolts. The main advice given to avoid harness accidents was for drivers to double check their harnesses for any defects before driving. Carriage issues involved going too fast downhill or having the carriage lose ground and run backwards when going uphill. Had to smile at that one, for I imagined Lady Catherine in the coach!

As for passengers, women were advised to leave their hands free, even while being helped in or out of a carriage by a gentleman and to watch that their long skirts did not catch onAscending and Descending a Carriage-M-1189 the steps. That puts a damper on all the scenes where Darcy helps Lizzie in or out of a carriage and they look longingly at each other, doesn’t it!

Riders were advised never to jump out of a carriage in motion, which was a risky proposition. You think? However, if a horse bolted and the person needed out, he was advised to jump in the same direction as the horses were going. I cannot see that ending well, either.

When riding in carriages, passengers were advised to be careful to secure themselves so as not to slide off the seat if there is any sudden movement. Sitting in Mr. Darcy’s lap would be my safety suggestion. If not the safest position, at least it would be the most enjoyable.

One important side note about carriages: The choice seat in a carriage was the one on the right hand side facing the animals; this was usually reserved for women or the elderly. Refer to my note above regarding Darcy’s lap.

Now that we have gone over the many causes of FCA, please tell me your thoughts. Do we writers rely on them too often? Or are they to be expected given the times? I have to admit that I love them as a plot point no matter how many times I read them.

Information for this post came from:


Winners of Austen Authors’ Summer Giveaway!


Congratulations go out to the following winners from the
Austen Authors Summer Quarterly Giveaway!!!


If your name is below, contact Regina Jeffers at [email protected] to claim your prize. Follow the directions below.

If your prize is an eBook, please indicate the email address to which the prize should be delivered.

If the prize is a print book or a gift card, please include your mailing address.


519EqZc52sL._AA160_Vesper Meikle will receive an eBook of
Elizabeth’s Adams‘ The Houseguest518CvSvjQVL._AA160_


Ginna has a choice between an eBook or a print copy of
Brenda Webb‘s Fitzwilliam Darcy: An Honourable Man.




Kris M has a choice between an eBook or a print copy of
Brenda Webb‘s Darcy and Elizabeth: A Most Likely Couple. 


cards fashion plates

Michelle Jolley will receive a Regency Fashion Plate Card Trio
created by Sharon Lathan for her latest book,
Regency Prints Refined: A Lady’s Diversions




Susan Heim has a choice of an eBook or a signed print copy of
Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One from Sharon Lathan. 


51myrGfDELL._AA160_Elissa Berg will receive a signed paperback of
Sense and Sensibility: A Latter-Day Tale from Rebecca Jamison. 




From Regina Jeffers, Dung will receive a
copy of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park

51VIuU6Em1L._AA160_Caryl Kane will receive a copy of Juliette Shapiro’s
Mr. Darcy’s Decision, donated by
Regina Jeffers. 



51xrutEDXpL._AA160_51TG04NXCzL._AA160_Shannon Romein will receive a DVD duo of
Pride and Prejudice 2005 and Br51Rl-LpkMgL._AA160_itish Cinema Collection from Regina Jeffers. 


Patricia Finnegan will receive a copy of
Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron by Stephanie Barron,
donated by Regina Jeffers. 




41QswpWl3ZL._AA160_Chiara Lanzi will receive an eBook copy of
Elizabeth Adams‘ Green Card

Molly Wilsbacher will receive a
$15 Amazon Gift Card from Cecilia Gray. 


Winners of Regina Jeffers’ Release of “A Touch of Emerald: The Conclusion to the Realm Series”

3 balloonsCongratulations go out to Charlene Davis and Becky C., the latest winners on Austen Authors. Ladies, you will receive an eBook copy of Regina Jeffers’ A Touch of Emerald: The Conclusion of the Realm Series. A prize notice has been sent to your email addresses. atoe-ebook-cover-green-text

Winners from Brenda Webb’s “Have You Had Your Biscuit Today?”

Sharing from Austen Authors blog!

Giveaway Posted on August 15, 2015 by Regina Jeffers • 0 Comments 3 balloons

Austen Authors is happy to announce the winners of Brenda Webb‘s “Have You Had Your Biscuit Today?” The Little Book of Scones by Liam D'Arcy3 balloonsGiveaway. Kathy Berlin and Ann Todd will receive a Kindle eBook copy of Little Book of Scones by Grace Hall and Liam D’Arcy. Ladies, to claim your prize, please send Regina Jeffers an email at [email protected] In your message, indicate to which email address the prize notice should be delivered. Congratulations! The Little Book of Scones by Liam D’Arcy Sharing is Caring!

Have you had your biscuit today?

Shared from Austen Authors website

One of the first things you learn about writing stories based in the United Kingdom is that what Americans call a certain item is not necessarily what the British call it. To name all the differences would take too long. Besides, if you are a Jane Austen fan, you probably know most of them already. However, lately I learned something new about British biscuits (cookies to us in the States) and thought I would share it with you. First, here is the Oxford Dictionary’s explanation of the difference between a cookie and a biscuit, from the British and American perspective:

 Biscuit:  In the UK, your biscuit might be topped with chocolate or have currants in it. You might dip it in your cup of tea, or have one as a snack after lunch. If you were in the US, you might put bacon and eggs on it or smother it in gravy and have it for breakfast. Or you might put a piece of chicken on it and have it for dinner.

How did these two very different meanings come to be? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word biscuit comes originally from the Latin biscotum (panem), which means bread “twice baked,” which would explain the hard, crunchy quality of a British biscuit. An American biscuit is similar to what the Brits would call a scone (and an American scone is something else entirely). It’s unclear how these two different foods came to have the same word, and we can only speculate about the influence of the French language in the southern United States.

Cookie: The word cookie opens up a whole other can of worms. In the UK, a cookie is a soft, squishy, moist biscuit, for lack of a better word. British cookies tend to be bigger and more substantial than a British biscuit. In the US, a cookie covers both what the British would call a biscuit and a cookie. The word comes from the Dutch koekje, meaning “little cake,” and could have been popularized in the US through the early Dutch colonization, though we don’t know for sure.

So, a British biscuit is an American cookie and an American cookie is a British cookie and an American biscuit is a British scone and an American scone is something else entirely. Simple!


Napoleon 4ANow that you have mastered all of that, allow me to continue. While watching the made for television movieDeath Comes To Pemberley, I noticed that when Mrs. Reynolds was showing Mrs. Darcy what food was to be served at the ball, she mentioned “Prince of Wales” biscuits. I thought nothing of it, for who has not heard of foods named after kings, queens and even celebrities. Anyone care for a slice of Napoleon?

However, a friend shared a link to a lovely blog, Food History Jottings, which opened up a whole new side of biscuit-making for me. That is the practice of using stamps to mark the biscuits for celebrating historic events and/or the monarchy. I knew about cookie cutters, but I had no idea there were stamps. These little tools stamped biscuits with printed motifs by hand before mechanised processes took over during the course of the nineteenth century

Below is a picture of Prince of Wales Biscuits and the recipe.

Prince of Wales Biscuit


Prince of Wale’s Biscuit

1 lb butter and 3lb 8ozs of flour. To be mixed the same as hollow biscuits; and to be stamped with the prince’s feather; they must be pricked with a fork; and baked in rather a slower oven. From Joseph Bell, A Treatise of Confectionery (Newcastle upon Tyne: 1817).

This fine stucco of the Prince of Wales Feathers adorns the space Prince of Wales Feathers above the back entrance to the prince’s kitchen wing at Brighton Pavilion. This emblem was the motif printed on the Prince of Wales biscuits.



York Biscuits were invented to commemorate the marriage of the Duke to Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia in 1790 and continued to be made well into the twentieth century. A picture of a boxwood York stamp is included below.








 Duchess of York’s Biscuits

1 lb butter, 8 oz. of sugar, 3 lb of flour. Rub the butter into the flour; then add the sugar, and mix it up into a stiff paste with milk; rolle the paste out about a quarter of an inch thick, they must be cut square and stamped with a proper stamp of the happy union and baked in a good oven. From Joseph Bell, A Treatise of Confectionery (Newcastle upon Tyne: 1817).

Lastly, here is a biscuit stamp with a strong connection to George III, father to all three brothers – the Prince Regent,RarebiscuitdockerfromNapoleonicwars the Duke of York and the Duke of Clarence. It is carved with a royal crown and engraved with the words Royal Volunteers Biscuit. The use of the long s, rather like an f, dates this print prior to 1810. Volunteer militias were raised throughout Britain during the Napoleonic Wars, and perhaps these biscuits were enjoyed in the officers’ mess with a glass of wine.

The pictures below depict the biscuit making process. First, the dough is rolled out and cut into strips using the rolling pin as a ruler. The other illustrates how the biscuit prints or stamps were used.



In addition to stamps, every kitchen drawer in the Regency period also housed a docker, which was a device for punching tiny holes into the biscuits to stop them from bubbling up. Many of the biscuit prints, like those discussed above, also incorporated their own little docking nails to combine the two steps.

b0a5ccbc-aa56-4edb-bbbe-67f9254e83d5_zpswleh6bwbThe biscuit in the centre has not been docked correctly and has blown up into a bubble. It will, therefore, easily flake and fragment, making it no good for keeping (but great for eating right away!).






This is just the kind of information I love to discover in my research. If you have time, be sure to check out the Food History Jottings blog at the link below. It may inspire you to do some biscuit/cookie baking of your own.


Now, I leave you with a picture from this blog showing a large selection of biscuits and a giveaway. In the foreground are millefruit biscuits, sweetmeat biscuits, filbert biscuits and rolled wafers. The round biscuits on the plate in the middle printed with the feathers emblem are Prince of Wales biscuits. In the background can be seen some spice biscuits and more rolled wafers.


Have I made you hungry? I hope so, for I am giving away two Kindle E-booksThe Little Book of Scones by Liam D'Arcy of THE LITTLE BOOK OF SCONES from Grace Hall and Liam D’Arcy. I chose this book instead of a book on biscuits, simply because I like the author’s name! Just comment before midnight Saturday to be in the drawing to win a copy.











Most of the information for this post is from:


Winners of Rose Fairbanks’ “Stranger Danger” Giveaway

Reposted from Austen Authors:

3 balloonsAusten Authors is proud to announce that Tresha and Sheila L M will receive an eBook copy of Rose Fairbanks’ A Sense of Obligation as part of Rose’s “Stranger Danger” giveaway. To claim your prize, Ladies, please contact Regina Jeffers at [email protected] In your response, indicate to which email address the prize notice should be delivered. Congratulations!!5108FYM9VLL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

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