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Chatsworth House and the Emperor Fountain ©Austenonly

Chatsworth House and the Emperor Fountain ©Austenonly

It has been a pleasure to visit country houses this Diamond Jubilee Year, for most  I have visited have celebrated the Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by creating displays of their own Coronation memorabilia. I visited Chatsworth some weeks ago for my annual treat, and yes, as expected, their displays were the best I saw this season. Chatsworth is, as you are no doubt aware, the Derbyshire home of the Duke of Devonshire, whose family name is Cavendish. And of course, Chatsworth is one of the places Elizabeth Bennet visited with the Gardiners  in Pride and Prejudice, and some would contend that it was the model for “Pemberley ( not me,however!) and so it holds a special interest for Janeites .

The West and South façades of the house have now been stunningly restored, and it was simply breathtaking to see it glinting- with all the newly re-gilded windows and stone ornaments on the roof- in the summer sunshine, and to enjoy the refreshing (and very welcome!) spray from the fountains.

The Emperor Fountain ©Austenonly

The Emperor Fountain ©Austenonly

In addition to having a display of the clothes worn by the 10th Duchess, the 11th Duke and Duchess and their son,who is now the 12th Duke, at the 1953 Coronation, Chatsworth also put on show the carriage that the 11th Duke  his Duchess and their heir used to travel to Westminster Abbey.  Their State Chariot, plus liveried footmencoachman and a phantom horse were on display, to great effect, in the wonderfully large Painted Hall. You might remember this room from the “Pemberley ” scenes in Joe Wright’s production of Pride and Prejudice of 2005, which I discussed some time ago, here.

The Chariot in the Painted Hall ©Austenonly

The Chariot in the Painted Hall ©Austenonly

This is the view of the Chariot display from the top of the stairs seen in the phonograph, above. It is testament to its great size that  having a carriage and “horse” set out in the Hall did not make it feel at all crowded.

The view down onto the Chariot from the stairs in the Painted Hall

The view down onto the Chariot from the stairs in the Painted Hall

As, quite unexpectedly, we seem to have been covering the theme of Jane Austen, Livery and Heraldry this year, I thought you might like to see photographs of this display, as they help to reinforce and explain various points that we have discussed before.

The Devonshire State Chariot ©Austenonly

The Devonshire State Chariot ©Austenonly

Though this Chariot may have been made slightly later than our period, (it came into the Cavendish family upon the marriage of the  8th Duke to the Duchess of Manchester in 1892) you can see, by comparing it to William Felton’s engraving of a Neat Town Chariot, below

"A Neat Town Chariot" from Felton's "Treatise on Carriages etc." (1797)

“A Neat Town Chariot” from my copy of Felton’s “Treatise on Carriages etc.” (1797)

and his engraving of an Elegant Chariot

An "Elegant Chariot" from Felton's "Treatise on Carriages etc." (1797)

An “Elegant Chariot” from my copy of Felton’s “Treatise on Carriages etc.” (1797)

that this version would have been very familiar to Jane Austen. The Devonshire State Chariot is, as we have now come to expect, decorated with many details which would make the identity of its owners easy for those “in the know” to recognise.

Side View of the Chariot, showing the Cavendish Arms on the Door Panel ©Austenonly

Side View of the Chariot, showing the Cavendish Arms on the Door Panel ©Austenonly

The door and side panels are decorated with the Cavendish coat of arms

The Cavendish Coat of Arms painted on the Door of the Chariot

The Cavendish Coat of Arms painted on the internal side  of the door of the Chariot

and with emblems associated with the family…

Close-Up of the Cavendish Coat of Arms ©Austenonly

Close-Up of the Cavendish Coat of Arms ©Austenonly

You can compare the painted example, above, to the example of the newly restored and painted stone version of the Cavendish Arms on the West Front of the House, below:

The newly restored and coloured Cavendish coat of arms on the West Front of Chatsworth House ©Austenonly

The newly restored and coloured Cavendish coat of arms on the West Front of Chatsworth House ©Austenonly

The side panels of the Chariot were decorated with the Ducal coronet, with its strawberry leaves, and with the Order of the Garter (and its chain), the highest order of chivalry that can be awarded by the monarch in England and Wales. All the Dukes of Devonshire, with the exception of the current Duke, have been recipients of this very important Order .

The Cavendish Arms on the Side Panel ©Austenonly

Detail of the Side Panel: the Garter Badge and Chain ©Austenonly

Around the roof of the Chariot, silver versions of the Cavendish emblem, the coiled snake, can be seen…

The Cavendish emblem of the Snake in silver, adorning the Chariot side Panels ©Austenonly

The Cavendish emblem of the Snake in silver, adorning the Chariot side panels ©Austenonly

The Hammercloth, which you can see below, and which covers the coachman’s seat, is a  very extravagant affair and is made up in the colours to be found in  the Devonshire family’s coat of arms, that is, their heraldic colours. I must admit that I prefer these  to Sir Walter Elliot’s colour scheme:

 ”He is rear admiral of the white. He was in the Trafalgar action, and has been in the East Indies since; he has been stationed there, I believe, several years.”

   ”Then I take it for granted,” observed Sir Walter, “that his face is about as orange as the cuffs and capes of my livery.”

Persuasion, Chapter 3

Here is William Felton’s  plate showing the different styles of Hammercloths from his Treatise on Carriages,etc (1797)

Examples of Hammercloths from Felton's Treatise of Carriages etc (1797)

Examples of Hammercloths from Felton’s Treatise of Carriages etc (1797)

As you can see, the Devonshire Hammercloth was also adorned with the Ducal coronet and with a version of the Cavendish arms,  in silver:

The Cavendish Coat of Arms( in silver) on the Hammercloth

The Cavendish Coat of Arms( in silver) on the Hammercloth

The family’s heraldic colours were also used in the sumptuous interior decoration of the Chariot.

The Interior of the Chariot ©Austenonly

The Interior of the Chariot ©Austenonly

You can clearly see that the status of the family is reinforced at every point: the representations of their arms, emblems and heraldic colours advertise to the world exactly who  are its exalted and rich owners:

The Upholstered Interior of the Chariot

The Upholstered Interior of the Chariot

The Leather-covered Folding Steps

The Leather-covered Folding Steps

The heraldic theme is even continued on the horse’s harness and reigns. Only one example was on show- on a ” horse” armature which reminded me of the animated horses in the National Theatre’s production of  War Horse!

The Harness, embellished with silver mounts ©Austenonly

The Harness, embellished with silver mounts ©Austenonly

Made of leather, the harness set is embellished with silver mounts, some which depict the Cavendish arms…

The Harness, embellished with silver ornament

The Harness, embellished with silver ornament

and some the Ducal Coronet:

Detail of the silver embellishments on the reigns and harness ©Austenonly

Detail of the silver embellishments on the reigns and harness ©Austenonly

You will recall that if a family were possessed of the right to bear arms, their servants-  the footmen and coachmen-, could, in Jane Austen’ era, wear uniforms made of colours dictated by the heraldic colours used in the family’s coat of arms:

A gentleman may wear garments of any colour his fancy may dictate, but he is not permitted such license with regard to the uniforms of his servants: the colours of these depend entirely on the tinctures upon his Escutcheon. In both, the dominant colour should be the same: the subsidiary colour of the livery ( or, as a tailor would call it, the trimmings- that is, the collar, cuffs lining and buttons) should be the colour of the principal Charge.

(The Handbook of Heraldry etc., (1869,  John Cussans, Page 314.)

Do note however, that these liveries were made, IMHO, at a later date than the mid 19th century, as the colour yellow- to represent gold( or more correctly, Or) was used, and that was not thought strictly correct at that time. The colour of the Coachman’s uniform of great-coat and tricorn hat,  was derived from the Cavendish family’s heraldic colours: the black hat decorated with silver thread, and his coat made to match the blue of the hammercloth

The Coachman's Uniform

The Coachman’s Uniform

The footmen’s livery again complied with the rules we have previously learnt: their bicorn hats were decorated with silver thread as were their jackets and waistcoats:

The Cavendish Footmen's Livery ©Austenonly

The Cavendish Footmen’s Livery ©Austenonly

The livery  jackets were yellow, but the cuffs, waistcoats and breeches were blue, again to comply with the rules regarding the use of heraldic colours . The silver buttons on the livery were also embossed with the Cavendish arms,not the crest:

Buttons should always be of the dominant metal in the Arms and charged with the master’s Badge- not his crest. The latter belongs exclusively  to the bearers of the Arms; servants have no right whatever to them. 

(Cussans, as above, page 316)

You might care to note that, because he had admired them on visit to Chatsworth, the 11th Duchess sent a set of these 18th century silver livery buttons to President John F. Kennedy as his inauguration gift .

The rear view of the Chariot ©Austenonly

The rear view of the Chariot ©Austenonly

This rear view shows the step where the footmen stood while they travelled with the family, and also gives a good view of the detail of the back of their liveries. Here is a slightly closer view:

View of the Footmen's Livery

View of the Footmen’s Livery

This is, I hope you will agree, a wonderful example of the use of coaches and liveries to make a statement, according to the heraldic rules and regulations.

If you would like to see the clothes worn by the 11th Duke and Duchess ( and their son) at the Coronation, then do go here to my Pinterest Page on the Coronation of Elizabeth II. I won’t continue it here because it has precious little to do with Jane Austen, but you might like to know that the robe worn at the Coronation by Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire was thought originally to have been a set worn by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and they are  quite breath-taking and very beautiful.

The 11th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and their son, The Marquess of Hartington on the way to the Coronation in 1953 ©Austenonly

The 11th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and their son, The Marquess of Hartington on the way to the Coronation in 1953 ©Austenonly

I shall be writing more about Chatsworth next year…in my celebration of the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Pride and Prejudice and I do hope you will join me.

Chatsworth House from the south-east @Austenonly

Chatsworth House from the south-east @Austenonly

I thought that, in order to tie up all the loose  ends in our recent discussion on Livery,Coats of Arms and Crests, we ought to look at another crest associated with the Austen family- the Knight family crest, as this was specifically mentioned by Jane Austen when her brother, Edward Knight was purchasing some bespoke china from Wedgwood at his London showrooms in St James Square in 1813.

In her letter to her sister Cassandra Austen, dated 16th September 1813, Jane Austen wrote:

We then went to Wedgwoods where my Brother and Fanny chose a Dinner Set. I believe(sic) the pattern is a small Lozenge in purple, between Lines of narrow Gold, and it is to have the Crest.

Here is a photograph of some of these pieces which still exist and are on display in the Jane Austen’s House Museum:

You can see that these pieces of china are, indeed, decorated as Jane Austen described them:

And the Knight family crest is added to each piece, which can be seen at the top centre of each border of purple lozenges.

The crest of the Knight family is a friar. Here is its technical description:

Crests:  a friar, habited ppr., holding in the dexter hand a cinquefoil,arg., and in the sinister , a cross suspended from the wrist, the breast charged with a rose, gu, for Knight.

(See: A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain (1852) by Sir Bernard Burke).

So , therefore, you can see that the Knight crest is a friar wearing a purple habit, holding in his right hand a five petalled flower, and having a cross suspended from his left wrist. The purple of the heraldic crest is reflected in the purple of the design on the china.

Burke’s book explains that, Edward Knight…

… whose patronymic was AUSTEN assumed the surname  and arms of KNIGHT upon inheriting the estates of that family.

Do note that you can enlarge all these image to see every detail. And so, I think we have finally come to the end of this series ;) But there is a little post script to the entry in Burke’s for Knight of Godmersham, and I thought you might like to read it:

The Rev.Geroge Austen who m. Miss Cassandra Leigh and had issue…..Jane b 16 Dec. 1775 and d. 18 July 1817. This lady acquired high reputation as a novelist and has left behind her some of the best modern productions in that walk of literature. we need only name “Sense and Sensibility” ” Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma”. Miss Austen’s style was her own- domestic, interesting and original.

Jane’s fame, indeed.

“There! you see!” cried Mary, in an ecstacy; “just as I said! Heir to Sir Walter Elliot! I was sure that would come out, if it was so. Depend upon it, that is a circumstance which his servants take care to publish, wherever he goes. But, Anne, only conceive how extraordinary! I wish I had looked at him more. I wish we had been aware in time who it was, that he might have been introduced to us. What a pity that we should not have been introduced to each other! Do you think he had the Elliot countenance? I hardly looked at him, I was looking at the horses; but I think he had something of the Elliot countenance. I wonder the arms did not strike me! Oh! the great-coat was hanging over the pannel, and hid the arms, so it did; otherwise, I am sure, I should have observed them, and the livery too; if the servant had not been in mourning, one should have known him by the livery.”

Persuasion, Chapter 12.

Last week I bored you all silly by my explanations of livery, the significance of livery colours and how they were worn in Jane Austen’s era by  certain servants of the rich. Today I’d like to consider livery and coaches, for it is an integral part of the livery story and we ought to discuss it for the sake of completeness.

The passage from Persuasion quoted above is so gloriously funny-I love the way this glimpse of William Walter sets Mary Musgrove on to long descriptions of  the Elliot Countenance –( shade of Mrs Austen and the Austen nose, perhaps?)but it draws our attention to how livery was used, and how significant it was. Because Mr Elliot’s servant is in mourning for Mr Elliot’s dead wife,  -he is wearing black, not the usual livery of a coachman-  Mary Musgrove is unable to recognise the orange cuffs and capes of the Elliot livery.  She was also frustrated in making a positive identification of her father’s errant heir by the fact that his Arms, painted onto the side panel of his curricle, are hidden from view by a great-coat.

If you were wealthy enough to afford a carriage and all its attendant expenses, and, of course, you were possessed of Arms, then you could have these painted on your coach to announce to the world just who was the owner of the vehicle.  Jane Austen’s father, George Austen, at one point owned a carriage when they lived at Steventon, and this was decorated with teh Austen crest. In Jane Austen : A Family Record by Deirdre le Faye, we find these comments:

It seems that by now Mr Austen’s income was reasonably good, because entries in his bank account suggest that in the summer of 1784 he brought a chariot- a small carriage drawn by two horses and carrying three passengers- for the benefit of his wife and daughters.

(Page 50)

Anna Austen, the daughter of  Jane’s eldest brother, James Austen, wrote about local rumours that spread about the carriage -which was either new or newly repainted-at the time of her uncle, Henry Austen’s marriage to Eliza de Feuillide in December 1797, and this is also quoted in Le Faye’s book:

About the time of  Mr Henry Austen’s marriage with his first Wife his father set up a carriage which not unnaturally, joe on its panels( pic) the family crest; namely a Stag on a Crown Mural. The latter circumstance was accounted for, in his own way, by a neighbouring Squire, who reported that “Mr Austen had put a coronet on his carriage because of his son’s being married to a French Countess”.

THis is one of George Austen’s bookplates, and it is decorated with the Austen crest,  quite as Anna Austen described it. This would have appeared on his coach, on the side door panel. The squire mentioned by Anna Austen- a Digweed?- obvious was not aware that Mr Austen was entitle to bear his own arms and crest. The glory of the Austen’s coach was short lived: in 1798 it was put away in storage for new taxes imposed on carriage owners made it far too expensive for George Austen to continue to maintain.

If we look at some images of carriage from the time, it will become clear as to where the Arms would have been on show. These images are all taken from my copy of William Felton’s Treaties on Carriagescomprehending coaches, chariots, phaetons, curricles, whiskeys, &c. : together with their proper harness (1794). Fenton was a London coachmaker and his book, in two volumes, gives us a mass of intricate detail as to how  carriages  in the late 18th century were made, complete with all their fittings.

The first we shall consider is a chariot, in this case a neat town chariot.

You can see, and do remember you can enlarge all these images by clicking on them, in order to examine the details, that the coat of arms of the owner and his crest are placed centrally on the door and side panel of the coach. You can appreciate  that the arms and crest of the owner are clearly visible and would be very noticeable to any passer-by.

And here, below, is  an image of an elegant Chariot, very elaborately decorated, but again with the arms of the owner clearly visible on the door panel.

Mr Elliot is riding from Lyme to Bath in a curricle, that smart gentleman-about-town’s vehicle so beloved of Charles Musgrove, who was eager to compare it with his own,

They had nearly done breakfast, when the sound of a carriage (almost the first they had heard since entering Lyme) drew half the party to the window. It was a gentleman’s carriage, a curricle, but only coming round from the stable-yard to the front door — somebody must be going away. It was driven by a servant in mourning.

Here is  Felton’s impression of a Proper Curricle:

The Arms of the owner are shown on the side panel.  These would of course be hidden from view if covered by a coat slung over the side as in Mr Elliott’s case at Lyme.

Here is Felton’s page illustrating the different ways in which Arms could be used to decorate a coach:

They range from the simple to the hideous in my very humble opinion.Here is his price list for adding such ornament to a vehicle :

So, that is why Mary Musgrove’s attempts to identify the owner of the curricle were stymied: in this case neither the arms nor the livery  of the servant could help her because neither were on show.

I ought to tell you, however that, had Mr Elliot been in a larger coach, and  had  he and his servant not been in mourning for his unlamented wife, there was another way to discern the identity of the owner. Hammer clothes, which covered the coachman’s seat and which could be very decorative items, were also another way to identify the family’s livery, as they were often made in livery colours and could be embroidered with representations of the family’s coat of arms. Here is Felton’s description of them:

Hammer-cloths are among the principal ornaments in a carriage; they are a cloth covering to the coachman’s seat, made to various patterns agreeable to the occupier’s fancy. The fullness of the plaiting of the cloth , its depth and the quality of the trimmings thereon proportions the expense (sic-jfw) to almost any amount…

And here are some very elaborate examples:

John Cussans , in The Handbook of Heraldry, tells us  that

The Colours of Hammercloths are regulated by the same laws as liveries.

Page 314.

Now, I have no reference for this but I doubt that a colourful hammer cloth covered in gold or silver lace and made in the heraldic colours of a family’s livery would be on show  at a time of full mourning. If the servant who normally would have worn  livery was dressed in black due to the custom of mourning, then I feel sure that a hammer cloth would also be subdued in hue. So if one had been on display it would still not have helped Mary Musgrove locate the owners identity in the inn- yard at Lyme. But as Mr Elliot was in a curricle and not a larger coach, no hammer cloth was to be seen. Poor Mary, therefore could only rely on her  interpretation of The Elliot Countenance, and the information supplied to them by the waiter.

Liveried servants were the preserve of the rich, and were a status symbol. Their very presence in a household serving at the dining table,  answering the door etc, or more importantly, being visible outside the household- going on their masters’ errands in the street, or adorning a coach-  indicated wealth and status on the part of the employer. We have learnt about the heraldic and historic background to liveries in our last three posts.Today we shall look at these special uniforms as they developed throughout the 18th/early 19th centuries.

The uniforms were expensive, and  in the late 18th/early 19th centuries, they certainly stood out, for they were becoming archaic in style, harking back to a past era. Liveries of the early to mid 18th century still retained a relation to military uniforms and court drew, but that all changed as the century wore on:

At the start of the century the footman’s livery was still relatively close to its origins in military and court dress, evocative of the gentleman retainer.  As the century progressed fashions changed while livery ossified. ..By the 1790s..the kind of silver lace decorations that adorned a velvet livery coat stolen in London in 1795 was almost entirely confined, among civilians at least, to footmen. Livery had become a sartorial fossil albeit one that…was becoming increasingly elaborate and ostentatious in the second half of the century, a trend that may of some way to explain its fossilisation.

(John Styles, The Dress of the People, page 300-301.)

You can see this progression, from fashionable to arctic, in these illustrations, again, all taken from John Styles’ book.

Above is a painting by John Collet from 1763,  illustrating a scene from Townley’s 1759 play High Life below Stairs. Both male servants wear restrained liveries…

Above is a mezzotint from 1772 showing another  below-stairs scene in a grand household: the livery worn by the male servant, shown trying to impress the maid seated at the table, is  now much more elaborate, his waistcoat adorned with much gold lace, as are the facings on his coat, which also sports gold buttons.

And finally we come to our favourite, (well my favourite) debunker of pomposity , Thomas Rowlandson in 1799. Here were have two Country Characters being rather forcibly  “impressed’ by a fancy London footman in his full regalia, gold lace trimmed, note, topped with his powdered wig and bag.

This hair powder was an additional expense for the employer. As we have seen, footmen, in full regalia, wore powdered wigs. A tax on hair powder was levied between 1797 and 1869. This tax was introduced by Pitt  and it was originally envisaged that the tax would raise £200,000 per annum for the Treasury.  Virtually every man at that time either wore a wig which was powdered, or added powder to his own hair. Charles Fox, in opposition to Pitt, thought that the idea was delusional. He understood, quite rightly, that only half a dozen leaders of fashion needed to decide to change the mode of dressing their hair and the object of the tax would be frustrated. The effect of the introduction of the tax was quite dramatic, and was as Fox predicted: most people simply gave up wearing powder in their hair/wigs. Very soon only die-hards and liveried servants wore hair powder. Thus adding to the ever archaic appearance of servants in livery.

It might amuse you to know that  the political opposition ceased to wear hair powder immediately on the introduction of the tax, and took to calling those who still wore the powder “guinea pigs“( in reference to the fee payable to the Treasury). In 1796 the yield for the tax was £210,136 but from then on the number of registered tax payers fell dramatically. By 1855 only liveried servants wore the powder. In that year only 997 servants were registered to be taxed on their powder( 951 in England, and 46 in Scotland). The yield by that time was £100 per year and it was discontinued as being unproductive, and too expensive to collect.

(See : A History of Taxation and Taxes in England by Stephen Dowell).

Not only did the use of powered wigs in livery uniforms add to the archaic effect, it also, among  the ranks of the noveau riche, with their newly commissioned coats of arms, newly purchased houses in town and newly bought country estates, produced the desired effect of  being from ancient lineage and of old money.

In addition to the cost of the livery and the tax on hair power, from 1777 male servants were subject to a special tax. An annual tax of one guinea per male servant was levied by the government. This tax was originally intended to help finance the war against the American’s struggle for independence, but, not surprisingly, the tax was retained after that war had ended. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that it was not repealed until 1937.

So, you can see just how expensive it was for an employer to set up a household with liveried servants.The extra expense of the uniform and the additional taxes paid on them mad ether expensive walking status symbols. And before I end this small series on livery, I have to share with you a set of photographs of some outstanding and extravagant  livery,which explain all the elements I have tried to explain in the last four posts.

This set of livery was commissioned by the 3rd Earl of Ashburnham of Ashburnham Place, Sussex, in 1829 for his installation as Knight of the Garter at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Here are his footmen, in all their splendour, adorned  with their powdered wigs, and wearing a costume(what else can you call it, seeing how theatrical it is?!) based on the colours used  in his Arms- Gules(red)  and Vert (green); and in addition, the gold lace or trimming is replaced by a woven braid made of a repeating pattern of a depiction of  the Arms themselves.

You can see all the heraldic elements are very noticeably in place: he has taken the heraldic themes and run with them, to be brutally honest.

Even the braid festooned from the epaulettes has been woven in his heraldic colours. There is no mistaking that these servants are very definitely in his service, for they are walking advertisement for his ancient and costly lineage.

Yesterday we talked about coats of arms, heraldic colours and how important they were for determining the colours of liveries. Today, let’s look at the practical application of all we learnt.  We know that the colours on a family’s coat of arms (or, more simply,  Arms) were to be used as the colours of their livery uniforms, for…

A gentleman may wear garments of any colour his fancy may dictate but he is not permitted such license with regard to the uniforms of his servants: the colours of these depend entirely upon the tinctures upon his Escutcheon.

(J. Cussans, The Handbook of Heraldry (1869) page 314.)

But how did this work? Cussans tell us…

In both ( the Escutcheon and the livery-jfw) the dominant colour should be the same: the subsidiary colour of the livery ( or as a tailor would call it, the trimmings – that is, the collar, cuffs,  lining and buttons) should be the colour of  the principal charge. 

So, Cussans now gives us some examples:

For example, a gentleman bears arms Azure( Blue-jfw) a Fess Or ( Gold-jfw); in this case the coats of the servants should be blue faced with yellow. But, supposing the tinctures were reversed and that the Field were “or”  and the Fess “azure”,  how then? Would the coat be yellow and the facings blue? No, custom has decided that we must not dress our servants in golden coats. Instead of yellow we should employ drab.

So, in George Austen’s case, had he ever possessed the resources to dress a footman in livery, we can see, from the Austen family coat of arms below,

his livery would  have taken the form of  a drab coat with red facings. This is  because,,on his coat of arms the field( the principal part) is  coloured Or (gold) and as we must not dress our servants in golden coats, the coat would be made in a coat of drab coloured cloth. Note that Drab was not just a single color, but rather a range of colors in the grey-brown family. It is originally thought to refer to the natural color of linen cloth. The Chevron on the arms  is gules(red) and so the facings of the Austen livery coat- the collar, cuffs etc would be red, for that is not the dominant but the secondary colour.

Cussans give us some more examples:

Argent ; a Lion rampant azure. Coat light drab; Facings, blue.

and

Gules; an Eagle displayed or, within a Bourdure argent Coat, claret or chocolate; Facings, yellow; buttons and Hat-band, silver.

and

Or; a Fess cheque argent and azure, bewteen a Mullet in chief gules, and a Crescent of the the third in base. Coat, dark drab; Facings, blue; Buttons and Hat -band, silver; and to represent the Mullet, the edges of the coat might be bound with red, or the rim of the hat looped up with red cord.

(Cussans, as above, page 315)

To get back to one of Jane Austen’s characters, we know that Sir Walter Elliot has orange cuffs on his livery:

”Then I take it for granted,” observed Sir Walter, “that his face is about as orange as the cuffs and capes of my livery.”

Persuasion, Chapter 3

Therefore, applying the rules we now know,  this would indicate that the stain ( colour), Tenné ,which is similar to the untutored eye to the colour orange, was included in a secondary way on the Elliot coat of arms. Patric Baty tell us here that this Heraldic colour or tincture had a specific attribute; ambition. I suppose this is very fitting for the socially ambitious Sir Walter, as evidenced by his desperate attempts to be received by Lady Dalrymple in Bath.  I’m sure Jane Austen would be aware of what she was insinuating when she gave his livery orange cuffs and capes.

The details of the livery were also decided by heraldic rules.

Buttons should always be of the dominant metal in the Arms and charged with the master’s Badge- not his crest. The latter belongs exclusively  to the bearers of the Arms; servants have no right whatever to them. 

(Cussans, as above, page 316)

Therefore, George Austen’s servants would wear gold coloured buttons and not silver. Here are some examples of Livery Buttons, from the early to mid 19th century:

It might interest you to note that there were special rules for widow’s servants liveries:

The uniform Livery of widows is white with black facings.

(Cussans, as above, page 315)

Im sure that Lady Russell’s liveried servants at Kellynch lodge would have worn this livery.

There are also special rules regarding the wearing of cockades by servants in their hats:

It is usually held that the privilege ( of a wearing cockades-jfw) is confined to the servants of officers in the Soverign’s service, or those who by courtesy may be regarded as such; the theory being that the servant is a private soldier, who, when not wearing his uniform retains this badge as a mark of his profession.  Doctors’ servants, though  frequently to be seen wearing Cockades, have no right to them whatsoever, unless their master’s names are to be found in the Army or Navy List.

The Cockade worn by the servants of military officers is composed of black leather, arranged in the form of a corrugated cone and surmounted by a cresting like a fan half opened ( fig 327, above). The servants of naval officers, deputy-lieutenants and gentlemen holding distinct offices under the Soverign bear a plain Cockade as at fig.328. In both cases the ribbon in the centre may be either black or of the Livery colours.

Epaulettes could also be part of the livery uniform: but they were only worn by servants of gentlemen who were entitled to have their servants wear Cockades.

The male servant in the double portrait above,  one Daniel Taylor, wears a livery coat of blue with yellow facings, silver buttons and epaulettes of gold. That would indicate that his master was a gentleman, in military service, whose arms had the dominant colour of Azure,(blue) with a secondary colour or Or ( gold) and with some use of Argent ( silver),and this would accord with the fact that his master was  John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset (24 March 1745–19 July 1799), a rather dissolute character, but who never the less served teh Crown as an ambassador  and was as Lord Lieutenant of Kent.

 

This is a fascinating portrait  for it shows Daniel and another female servant, Elinor Low. She does not wear a specific uniform, note. It was painted in 1783 by Arnold Almond and is included in John Styles book, The Dress of the People.

Next, in this series, why servants dressed in liveries were seriously expensive status symbols ;)

In our last post we discussed the historical background to liveries. Today, we will look at the rules regarding the colour schemes of these liveries -uniforms if you like- for the footmen and coachmen in Jane Austen’s era.

It may interest you to know that the colours of a family’s livery was not a matter of choice:

A gentleman may wear garments of any colour his fancy may dictate, but he is not permitted such license with regard to the uniforms of his servants: the colours of these depend entirely on the tinctures upon his Escutcheon. In both, the dominant colour should be the same: the subsidiary colour of the livery ( or, as a tailor would call it, the trimmings- that is, the collar, cuffs lining and buttons) should be the colour of the principal Charge.

(The Handbook of Heraldry etc., (1869,  John Cussans, Page 314.)

Lets examine how this works. First, in order to proceed, we are going to have a short heraldry terminology lesson. This is a ferociously complex subject, but for you to understand how livery colours were used, I’ve tried to simplify the essential descriptions / terms.  Do remember that most heraldic terms derive from Norman French or Latin.  An Escutcheon is a shield or shield-shaped emblem, which displays a coat of arms.

A Charge is any figure placed on a shield, which is then charged  with the device. There were two classes of charges, Ordinaries and Common Charges. Ordinaries can be incredibly simple, as in  the Chief-an ordinary which occupies the upper third of the shield, shown below:

or can range to the extremely complex: as in this example of a Gyron of eight, below: a Gyron is formed by a diagonal line bisecting a quarter bendwise.(see below)

Here is a page from Cussan’s book showing some of the more simple Ordinary Charges:

Common Charges are anything depicted on a shield other than the ordinaries. Anything animate ( lions, birds, fish, serpents) or inanimate (a castle keep, for example) : even imaginary creatures like Dragons qualify. Here are examples of Lions,  shown  Salient  (fig.144 : With both hind legs on the ground and fore paws elevated equally, as if he is about to spring on his prey), Sejant ( fig. 145:  Sitting down)

Heraldic colours, or Tinctures, are important,because there were so few of them.  There were two Metals, Or ( Gold ) and Argent ( Silver). The most commonly used were Gules(Red),  Azure (Blue),  Sable (Black ), Vert (Green) and Purpure ( Purple) There are two other colours, Stains, which were rarely used:  Tenné ( bright chestnut)and Sanquine (maroon)If you go here to the wonderful Patrick Baty’s page on Tinctures you can see exactly how these tinctures were used, and read about their attributes.(In addition, there was also  colurs or patterns called FURS: these were patterns suggesting ermine and other costly furs worn by the rich-we don’t need to worry ourselves about these here)

These colours were engraved in specific ways , so that expensive coloured paints and inks did not have to be used when depicting them, but that the depiction could still be accurate:

If we apply this to George Austen’s Coat of Arms (via Wikipedia):

you can see that the escutcheon- the shield-  (and I’m not giving a technically correct description, or blazon,  here , please do note!) is of Or ( Gold) with a Gules (Red) Charge in the form of  a Chevron. It also has three lions paws- Gambes or Jambes erased ( i.e.  cut off at the middle joint) coloured Sable( Black). You can see an example of this in Anne Austen’s ( neé Matthews) memorial in Steventon church:

Her arms, on the right are impaled ( that is, shown on the same shield)  with those of James Austen, her husband. He was George Austen’s eldest son and Jane’s eldest brother. His arms- of his branch of the Austen family – are on the left. You can see the gold background, the red chevron and the three black lions paws.

Next, how these colours were used in liveries.

 “He is rear admiral of the white. He was in the Trafalgar action, and has been in the East Indies since; he has been stationed there, I believe, several years.”

   “Then I take it for granted,” observed Sir Walter, “that his face is about as orange as the cuffs and capes of my livery.”

Persuasion, Chapter 3

My mention of liveried servants in yesterday’s review of the book, Vauxhall Gardens: A History has prompted quite a number of you to contact me to enquire about liveries.There seems to be some confusion out there- some thinking the these were merely fancy costumes, picked out on a whim by employers-others not knowing what they looked like at all, so I’ve decided to write about them in the next few posts. I do hope you won’t be bored.

Liveries are mentioned by Jane Austen  in Pride and Prejudice and in Persuasion. What exactly were they ? For this answer we have to undertake a little history lesson. My authority for most of today’s content is The Handbook of Heraldry (1869) by John E. Cussans, and I’m using this mid-19th century book because it refers to the 18th century use of liveries, and also because changes in the world of Heraldry, like the mills of the Gods, grind exceeding slow:

This is a fascinating book; a well written, plain explanation of this rather complex subject. Today we will look at what it has to say about the history of livery uniforms.

The custom of distributing clothes -or what in the present day would be styled uniforms-  amongst the servants of the Crown- such as Judges, Ministers ,Stewards etc- date from a period nearly coeval with the Conquest.( circa 1066A.D.-jfw) This distribution was termed a “Livreé”: hence the more recent expression, “Livery”.

(Cussans,Page 311)

…the great feudal barons subsequently distributed liveries amongst their dependants and retainers. It must not be considered that the wearing of liveries was confined exclusively to the menial servants of the household, as at present, or was considered in any way more degrading than an officer of the Crown regards his distinctive uniform. The son of a duke would wear the livery of the prince under whom he served; and an earl’s soon might don the livery of a duke, without derogating from his dignity.

(Cussans,page 311)

The practice of allowing some servants to wear liveries eventually became the only example of such marks of distinction being worn:

The primary purpose Liveries were intended to serve has long since been forgotten amongst us, and our coachmen and footmen alone remain as representatives of the splendour which once marked the households of the feudal nobility.

(Cussans,page 314)

It ought to be remembered that during the late 18th century/early 19th century most household servants did not wear a distinctive  uniform, such as we are used to seeing in adaptations of fictional Edwardian households such as in Downtown Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs. Female servants wore what was practical, and often wore cast-offs from their mistresses, though moralists detested this practise.  Sophie von La Roche wrote, during her travels in London in 1786 of the serving girls she saw in the streets of London:

…the maids, women of middle class and the children. The former almost all wear black taminy petticoats and heavily stitched, and over these long English Calico or linen frocks, though not so long and close-fitting to the body as our tailors and taste cut and point them. Further they mostly wear white aprons; though the servants and working women often appear in striped linen aprons

Jane Austen’s kinswoman by marriage, and friend of her aunt and uncle, the Leigh Perrots, Mrs Lybbe Powys wrote in her diary of her visit to the Jackson family at Weasenham Hall in Norfolk in 1756, and of her astonishment in finding the female servants were actually wearing a uniform:

Never did a landlord seem so beloved, or indeed deserve to be so, for he is a most worthy man, and in however high a stile( sic-jfw) a man lives in in town, which he certainly does, real benevolence is more distinguishable in a family at their country -seat, and none do more good than where we now are. Then everything here is regularity itself , but the master’s method is, I take it, now become the method of the servants by use as well as choice.

Nothing but death make a servant leave them. The old housekeeper has now been there one-and-fifty years; the butler two or three-and-thirty……I was surprised to see them all ,except on Sundays, in green stuff gowns, and on my inquiring of Miss Jackson how they all happened to fix so on one particular colour, she told me a green camblet for a gown used for many years to be an annual present of her mothers to those servants who behaved well, and had been so many years in her family, and that now indeed, as they all behaved well, and had lived there much longer than the limited term, this was constantly their master’s New Year gift.

I thought this in Mr Jackson a pretty compliment to his lady’s memory, as well as testimony of the domestics still deserving of his good opinion.

See page 4, Passages from the Diaries of Mrs Philip Lybbe Powys of Hardwick House, OXON(1756-1808) edited by Emily Climenson (1899)

Some people,Daniel Defoe amongst them, thought that female servants should all adopt a modest uniform, as quoted in Anne Buck’s magnificent book , Dress in Eighteenth-Century England. Female servants very often received fine dresses as perks of the job. And many employers didn’t seem to object to those dresses being worn by the said female servants. As Anne Buck concludes:

Contact with well dressed women developed the eye and taste of many serving maids and helped them to dress with understanding of the fashion they followed. The absence of any uniform, on or off duty, left them free to follow fashions according to their own taste and means.

If they dressed too finely for their station they might be censured, but the readiness of women to pass on their own clothes to their servants shows there was no sharp division of dress, nor even a social convention against servants occasionally buying the same garment at the same time as their mistress :

“Nancy bought of Bagshaw this mornings…a very genteel Shawl at 10 shillings. Both my maids brought 2 Shawls the same as Nancy.”

Parson Woodeford records this as a fact without any judgement or comment

For some male servants, however as we have note, the situation was different and a uniform was provided by the employer. Footmen and coachmen wore liveries, if they were entitled to by the social rank of their employer. In our next post, we shall look at these uniforms and their colours in more detail.

 

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