Archive for ‘servants’

January 17, 2014

A New Play

called Canterburie His Change of Diot. Which sheweth variety of wit and mirth : privately acted neare the Palace-yard at Westminster….Anon  (well it would be wouldn’t it?) 1641

Not so much a play, more a short series of sketches which probably lasted no more than five minutes, this is a scurrilous portrait and morality tale of Archbishop Laud in four acts. There are three illustrations that go with the text.

Act 1, the Bishop of Canterbury having a variety of dainties, is not satisfied till he be fed with tippets of mens ears. Enter the Bishop of Canterbury, and with him a Doctor of Physicke, a Lawyer and a Divine; who being set down, they bring him variety of Dishes to his Table…He knocking there enter divers Bishops with muskets on their necks, bandeleeres and swords by their sides.

Here is the jolly crew around the table. Archbish second on the left, I assume the  divine next with the ruff and the lawyer seated to his left. I think the doctor is standing far left, but he also looks like a serving man in doublet and breeches. A doctor ought to be wearing a gown. The  two bishops on the right have the aforementioned muskets and bandoliers.

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Act 2, he hath his nose held to the Grinde-stone. Enter the Bishop of Canterbury into a Carpenters yard by the water side, where he is going to take water, and seeing a Grindle-stone, draweth his knife, and goeth thither to whet it, and the Carpenter follows him.

This is in retaliation for the cutting off of the ears in act one it would seem. The Carpenter is in doublet and breeches with a small brimmed hat and wide linen band. The boy turning the wheel is dressed similarly, though it would seem he has the short “roundhead” hair cut of an apprentice and is also wearing a short apron.

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Act 3 he is put into a bird Cage with the Confessor. Enter the Bishop of Canterbury, and the Jesuit in a great Bird Cage together and a fool standing by, and laughing at them, Ha ha, ha, he, who is the fool now.

Here they are in the cage, the fool on the right is wearing the standard cap with bells and a cloak over doublet and breeches.

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Act 4 The Jester tells the King the Story.

Sadly no pictures!



November 29, 2013

Family Portrait

This picture came up for sale at Christies in London in 2011, and is described as “Family portrait, small three-quarter-length, in black, red and white dress”. It has scant provenance, and in fact is inscribed on the frame with a story of how it turned up: ‘This oil painting washed ashore at Rottingdean with other wreckage from the Australian ship “Simla”,: Run down by the ship City of Lucknow, Feb 25th 1884’. It’s a lovely picture of a typical family from the seventeenth century and has the look of those Dutch master paintings of ordinary folk that hardly ever turn up in portraits by English artists

The people in the picture are dressed in clothes that place the time of the picture in the 1640s or thereabouts, and seem to be as described, a family group. They mostly look at us from the picture, though the three figures on the right look across the picture at the eldest member of the family.  He is presumably the grandfather of the family and is dressed in a gown and ruff collar with a lace edged day cap. The husband and wife (I imagine) are in their best blacks. The wife with a neat plain layered kerchief and a black hood over hers (perhaps this refers to a lost child), whilst the man of the house is in a plain black doublet and a neat falling band. If you look closely though, he has left the lower buttons unfastened so you can see his shirt. The three children are all dressed in petticoats and aprons and there is no way to tell if they are boys or girls from what they are wearing. The seventh figure  is partly hidden by an open door and seems to be wearing a red waistcoat over petticoat skirts and an apron and kerchief.

Family portrait, small three-quarter-length, in black, red and white dress

November 13, 2013

Queen Henrietta Maria and Jeffrey Hudson

I’m going to annoy the professional historians for a while with some more pretty pictures, starting with this portrait hanging in the  National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.  It was painted by Anthony van Dyck in 1633, and is more naturalistic somehow than most of the other portraits of the French Queen of England, showing her supposedly dressed ready to go hunting, though I’m not sure how practical a taffeta petticoat would be on horseback. Henrietta was twenty four years old when van Dyck made this picture and Sir Jeffery, the court dwarf and great friend of the Queen only fourteen.

Henrietta is wearing a blue taffeta tabbed bodice and matching petticoat with a laced neckerchief and falling band confection around her throat. She has a wide brimmed hat ready to go abroad on the hunt and her linen is picked out with contrasting pink ribbon. Sir Jeffery wears a red velvet doublet and breeches, lace edged falling band and soft leather gloves and riding boots.


Henrietta Maria and Jeffrey



If you look closely at the fabric of her bodice you can see lots of tiny holes punched in the silk, the decorative process known as pinking. It is also continued across the petticoat skirts. Notice also the complicated gathers of her laced cuffs.


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And in the modern vernacular, to be fair, a close up of Mr Hudson and his monkey.


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April 9, 2013

The Teares of Ireland

wherein is lively presented as in a map a list of the unheard off cruelties and perfidious treacheries of blood-thirsty Jesuits and the popish faction : as a warning piece to her sister nations to prevent the like miseries, as are now acted on the stage of this fresh bleeding nation / reported by gentlemen of good credit living there, but forced to flie for their lives… illustrated by pictures ; fit to be reserved by all true Protestants as a monument of their perpetuall reproach and ignominy, and to animate the spirits of Protestants against such bloody villains. Written by James Cranford and published in 1642. This is as you may imagine a lurid tale of atrocities in Ireland during the rebellion of 1641. There are 12 plates throughout the book, uncredited, though the British Museum attributes them to Wenceslaus Hollar. First picture (© The Trustees of the British Museum) is a kind of picture book compendium of all the pictures.

Teares of Ireland



Here a more detailed look at the first two images. Owen Macke-onell according to the text was a servant who overheard the plans by Irish Catholic gentry to effect a coup and take over the government of Ireland. He is shown in the first picture, presumably in his servant’s livery doublet, breeches, falling band and shoes being menaced by some soldiers smartly dressed in doublets and boots.

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The second pane is a bit more lurid. One scene of rape and torture enacted by an Irishman in doublet and breeches and the second image, a crowd of protestants stripped and chased off into the hills by a similarly dressed mob of “papists”.



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March 21, 2013

The Kitchenmaid

From an earlier set of engravings by Hollar, Ornatus Muliebris, published in a book in 1640. These were exclusively English women, mostly pretty high class, but this one is supposed to be a servant of the kitchen, although she must be in her Sunday best as there is a lot of decorative edging here. She has a lace edged coif on her head, plain linen neckerchief and a waistcoat with gathered sleeves that have some decoration, possibly applied embroidery or simple lace.  She has two petticoat skirts, the outer one is also decorated along the lower edge. Her shoes are heeled and fashionable and are raised up on pattens to keep her out of the mud. In her basket are artichokes and some kind of root vegetable, possibly purple carrots or radishes.

Is this a servant or someone of higher status pretending to be a kitchenmaid. Who knows?


March 20, 2013

Eikon E Piste

Or, the faithfull pourtraicture of a loyall subject, in vindication of Eikon basilike. Otherwise intituled, the pourtraicture of His Sacred Majestie, in his solitudes & sufferings. In answer to an insolent book, intituled Eikon alethine: whereby occasion is taken, to handle all the controverted points relating to these times 1649. As the title suggests this was an reaction to Eikon Alethine which declared that the King’s book Eikon Basilike wasn’t actually written by the King. The picture is also an answer to the frontispiece of the previous book. Again a disembodied hand pulls back a curtain to reveal the author of Eikon Alethine as a fool, having a jester’s cap placed on his head. He is trying to whip the King’s crown from his head whilst poised to replace it with a square cap in his right hand, an indication that many people thought (actually not without cause) that the King’s book had been written by a cleric. The King looks particularly fed up, perhaps writer’s block?

All a bit complicated, but not unusual for the times, there were often exchanges in the printed press like this, very much like in the tabloid press we have now. Anyway, the three figures are wearing  doublets, the fool has tabs cut up to the waistline with no obvious waist seam; whilst the chap with the cloak seems to have a longer bodied style, one of those gravity-defying collared cloaks that were the fashion and a nice pair of square toed boots. The jester’s cap is one of the traditional eared ones with bells.

In case you are wondering, the chicken’s head on the cap is quoting Horace the Roman lyric poet: “Spectatum admissi risum teneatis”. If you saw such a thing, could you keep from laughing? This was also the caption over the picture in Eikon Alethine. Image © The Trustees of the British Museum


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March 6, 2013

The Royal Oak of Brittayne

Political propaganda from 1649, published in a book, Anarchia Anglicana by Clement Walker. This is stirring stuff, Cromwell is directing a bunch of soldiers and workmen as they chop down an oak tree that is hung with symbols of the English state, the crown and sceptre, the Bible, Magna Carta and Eikon Basilike, the book widely thought to be Charles’ posthumous autobiography. He is standing on a ball suspended above the mouth of hell and seemingly about to be struck down by a bolt of lightning.

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Here’s a close-up of two soldiers with axes laying into the tree. They’re wearing soldier’s coats simply cut with baldricks to hold their swords. Chap on the left has quite large cut outs in his shoes.

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A small bunch of what I think are workmen are cutting branches away with billhooks. They have no swords and are dressed in doublet and unconfined breeches with ribbon decoration. The doublet tabs are small and look like they are integral to the body of the doublet, rather than being sewn on as per higher quality examples. The guy in the foreground looks like he’s wearing a ruff.

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These two guys are making off with some of the boughs. i’m not sure what they represent, but they’re wearing tall crowned hats, ragged coats and breeches.

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March 5, 2013

Three Prodigies

…of the present age. Broadside published in 1636 by Michael Sparke, engraving by George Glover. Two of the three we’ve met before. Jeffery Hudson the Queen’s Dwarf and Old Tom Parr the oldest man in the country. The figure on the left is William Evans, porter to King James and Charles. He is the tallest Welshman on record, being two and a half yards high. A favourite party trick was to produce Mr Hudson from his coat pocket to the amusement of all concerned. How they must have laughed!

three prodigies of the present age, george glover

William wears a normal set of clothes for the time, but outsized! I liked this detail of his doublet. Notice how the belt that closes across his belly ends in a set of ribbon points making the closure line up to the down pointed waist line that was the fashion.

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Here’s Jeffery in what I think is a suit made of motley (speckled) wool. A typical garb for the royal fool. Looks like his band is motley too. Those heels would have been essential to gain a few extra inches.

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And good old Tom is asleep. I don’t blame him, he would have been 152 by the time the picture was engraved. I see he has two doublets, possibly to keep him warm in the days before cold winter payments and what looks like a 12 paned day cap.

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All pictures © Trustees of the British Museum

February 13, 2013

A Manual of Directions

 for the Visitation of the Sick with sweet Meditations & Prayers to be used in time of sickness by Lancelot Andrewes late Bishop of Winchester. Andrewes was one of the more moderate independant clergy and had some influence on the young Charles, though he was dead long before war broke out. In the frontispiece by Hollar from the 1642 edition, we see two professional gents (either could be doctor or priest) visiting a poor soul in his sickbed with a serving girl busying herself behind a table.

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Looking at the picture in more detail we can see the woman on the left is dressed in a laced bodice, over which she wears a neckerchief and linen coif on her head. The two gents are dressed professionally, on the left in a cloak, ruff and wide brimmed hat and on the right in a gown and day cap. It’s almost impossible to decide which is doctor and which is clergy as both professions would have worn either garb, though maybe the vicar is the one on the right with his hand raised in blessing. The patient has a fringed night cap on his head and presumably a shirt, though the detail is a bit scratchy when you look closely. It does look however that he’s thrown his doublet over the top of his bed. Nice collection of living history objects on the table.

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February 3, 2013

A Prophecie

Of the Life, Reigne, and Death of William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury. One of the anti-Laud tracts printed after the Archbishop’s execution. This one from 1644.

Poor Laud is depicted as the great beast with the number engraved on his forehead and a set of antlers growing out of his Canterbury cap. He’s wearing his bishop’s weeds, rochet and chimere with a starched ruff around his neck. The guy on the right hand side offers some of the hated symbols of the high church, prayer beads, a crucifix, and the surplice, whilst the Devil proffers a cardinal’s hat He and the other chap, who is holding a barrel representing the monopolies that Laud was connected with, have short tabbed doublets, breeches, hose and shoes. Spot also the corded hat band.

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