Back to Top

Tag Archives: Pets

Romancelandia thrives on strange pets, but the creatures authors give their characters are by no means stranger than those real people kept during the Georgian era. There was a large menagerie at the Tower of London, that included apes, leopards, lions, even a polar bear that was let loose (on a long chain) to hunt fish in the Thames. Many wealthy people kept private menageries, or strange pets.

The Moose
George Stubbs

William Wilberforce, the abolitionist politician, had a domesticated menagerie of foxes and hares and hedgehogs that roamed about his house. In 1824, Wilberforce founded the first animal welfare society in the world. The Duke of Richmond kept a famous collection of animals that people traveled far and wide to view. He had everything from lions and tigers to bears (too many bears!) and even a moose. One of my favorite stories about his collection is when he tried to acquire a sloth, but ended up with yet another bear (this reminds me of the people in China who keep ending up with bear cubs with they try to buy Tibetan Mastiffs).


I received your letter I am obliged to you
for it. I wish indeed it had been the sloath that
had been sent me, for that is the most curious
animal I know; butt this is nothing butt a
comon young black bear, which I do not know what
to do with, for I have five of them already. so pray
when you write to him, I beg you would tell
him not to send me any Bears, Eagles, Leopards,
or Tygers, for I am overstock’d with them already.

I am Dear Sir,
Your Faithfull
humble servant

Another pet that is dear to my heart, and that I may have to someday make use of, is Gilbert White’s tortoise, Timothy. Timothy had originally belonged to Gilbert’s Aunt Snooke. White inherited the tortoise from his aunt in 1780 and it lived with him for the rest of White’s life (Timothy outlived White as well as the aunt). Timothy was reportedly a great favorite in the village and during the summer months would range all over White’s five acre garden. Timothy hibernated during the cold English winters (and this clearly didn’t harm him as he lived a good, long life).

There are documented races in London parks between cheetahs and greyhounds. There was an emporium in the London docks that specialized in exotic animals. There was a constant influx of odd animals brought ashore by sailors and brought home by travelers. Everything from elephants to giraffes to dodo birds. To date, I’ve made do with dogs, but someday I just might have to go with something a little stranger…

I read somewhere in my time wasting serious research online that the way to improve traffic to a blog was to cover certain topics so I thought I’d give it a try.

First, PETS. Here’s Samuel Johnson’s cat Hodge, of whom Boswell wrote:

362px-Hodgecat_flickrI recollect him one day scrambling up Dr. Johnson’s breast, apparently with much satisfaction, while my friend smiling and half-whistling, rubbed down his back, and pulled him by the tail; and when I observed he was a fine cat, saying, ‘Why yes, Sir, but I have had cats whom I liked better than this;’ and then as if perceiving Hodge to be out of countenance, adding, ‘but he is a very fine cat, a very fine cat indeed.’

colin-firth111COLIN FIRTH Picture of Colin Firth with wet shirt for no particular reason.

1814 v11 Ackermann's fashion plate 4 - Promenade DressNext, FASHION. PROMENADE COSTUME. From Ackermann’s January 1814: A Plain cambric robe, with long gathered sleeve and high arched collar, trimmed with net lace or muslin. A Spanish lappelled coat of fine orange Merino cloth; full epaulette ornaments on the shoulders: the whole lined throughout with white sarsnet, and trimmed with a raised border of white velvet or swansdown. A small, provincial bonnet of the same material as the coat, ornamented with a full curled ostrich feather. White spotted ermine or Chinchilli muff. Gloves grey or light blue kid. Half-boots of orange-coloured jean, or velvet. But she still looks cold.

firth2You may not ever have considered that when COLIN FIRTH plunged into that pond he might have encountered certain aquatic life forms. His attitude of discomfort may well have been not because he appeared in a state of undress but because he was anxious to get rid of certain attachments to his person

There is actually a bit of dialogue, struck from the script that goes as follows:

Darcy: Madam (bows). Would you have some salt upon your person?

Elizabeth: Salt, sir?

Darcy: A match, then?

Elizabeth: Oh, certainly. (Takes a matchbook from her reticule)

Darcy: The Meryton Go-Go Swingers’ Club? Ridiculous. Matches haven’t even been invented yet. I suppose I’ll have to wait until I get into the house.

Sucking_leech… Bringing us onto the next hot topic of HEALTH.  I thought this picture spoke for itself. I hope you appreciate that I passed over some truly disgusting pics to find one that showed the business but would not make you lose your lunch.

RichardArmitage05Talking of which, FOOD is always popular too, but I thought that instead, for a change, we’d have RICHARD ARMITAGE. Although I did find several artistic shots of his behind, I hate to tell you that it looked OK but pretty much like anyone else’s. Unless you were on very intimate terms with Mr. Armitage (and someone certainly was) you’d never have known whether it was his or his bottom double’s.

So there you have it, the Big Popular Topics and I expect our numbers will soar.

But seriously, is there anything you’d like to see us blog about here that we haven’t yet covered? Any celebrity bottoms?

Apologies in advance for the extremely maudlin and sentimental start of this post! Those who wish to skip the gushy part can just go on to the heading BACK ON TOPIC.

Last week, we lost the redcap that my youngest daughter has had for about half of her life. As it wasn’t convenient to hold a proper service at the time, Frisky spent several days in a plastic bag in our freezer, but this weekend we held the burial. Yes, I know the traditional funeral for fish is through the porcelain gates, but my children think that’s “yucky”. So our tradition is to do a backyard service, with everyone saying a few words in memory of the departed pet and setting a seashell or pretty stone on the gravesite.

This is the second time we’ve done this, and just like last time, I cried almost as much as the kids. I never used to be this sentimental—not to say mawkish! But I can’t help relating to my children’s feelings—these pet burials have been their introduction to the whole idea of death and grieving, and I do want my children know that it’s OK to grieve. Maybe dealing with a pet’s death will in a small way prepare them for bigger losses. Yeah, maybe that’s why I cry—to set a good example.

Or maybe there are permanent hormonal changes when one becomes a mother that make tears come so much more easily than they ever did. Shall I blame it on the hormones? No, overall I’d rather tell myself I’m doing it to set a good example.

(getting tissue, blowing nose…)


Of course, it makes me wonder if Regency folk had funerals for their pets. I did a little googling on the subject and found little about “our” period, but some other interesting tidbits:

  • In 2004, the “carefully interred remains of a human and a cat were found buried with seashells, polished stones, and other decorative artifacts in a 9,500-year-old grave site on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.” Complete article at the National Geographic website.
  • The ancient Egyptians mummified dogs, cats, monkeys and birds.
  • During the Medieval period, people who were too obviously friendly with their pets might have been suspected of witchcraft, so the idea of pet burial was frowned upon. People still did it, or tried to. “As one French cleric arranged a formal Christian funeral for his little dog, news of the plan leaked to his supervising bishop, who demanded he appear before a tribunal to answer charges of heresy.” More at
  • Queen Victoria grieved for the loss of her first dog, a spaniel named Dash, leading the way for Victorians to conduct elaborate pet funerals. But then, Victorians never seemed inclined to keep anything simple.

I didn’t find anything in “our” period, but I haven’t had time to search for long. My guess is people who were really into animals, like Frederica, Duchess of York, who kept a veritable zoo at the Oatlands estate, must have done something for the dearly deceased.
Does anyone know?

Anyway, is it ridiculously sentimental to commemorate a pet’s death? At what point does it get too OTT (Over the Top)?

Elena, off for some more Kleenex…
LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE, a Romantic Times Top Pick!

Posted in Regency, Research | Tagged , | 6 Replies
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By