LLÁMANOS (81) 2230 8010 / (81) 27034063  
         

Bridgerton reintroduced the public to the sort of bodice-ripping scandals that gripped Georgian Britain, but the truth is that the goings-on of what has been dubbed the nation’s ‘wildest century’ are even more outrageous than the TV show. 

From cross-dressing female pirates who ran off to terrorise the seven seas to a mistress who bed-hopped her way to the top of high society, the hedonistic escapades of the Georgians are documented in a new book. 

The period (classed as roughly 1714 to 1830) marked the end of the violence and religious conflict that shrouded the 17th century – and Britons celebrated with a range of hedonistic pleasures, including gambling, sex and booze. 

But alongside the decadence of the era came a host of new social movements, with Brits being able to question their belief in God for the first time in history and a growing population of free black and mixed-race people. 

History teacher Robert Peal explores some of the most deliciously juicy stories that gripped the nation at the time in his new book, Meet the Georgians: Epic Tales from Britain’s Wildest Century, out now. Here, FEMAIL shares some of the best…    

THE PIRATES QUEENS OF THE CARIBBEAN

Anne Bonny and Mary Read were among the most feared pirates of the Golden Age of Piracy which lasted from the mid-17th century to the 1720s. Pictured, a drawing of Mary Read killing an opponent with a sword

Anne Bonny and Mary Read were among the most feared pirates of the Golden Age of Piracy which lasted from the mid-17th century to the 1720s.

Pictured, a drawing of Mary Read killing an opponent with a sword 

The Golden Age of Piracy lasted from the mid-17th century to the 1720s, and saw bloodthirsty pirates wreak havoc on the ‘treasure fleets’ and merchant ships travelling across the Caribbean. 

Among the most feared were the foul-mouthed, cross-dressing pirates of the Caribbean Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who became pals after bonding over their tumultuous childhoods as illegitimate children. 

Anne had grown up in Cork and was the product of father’s affair with the housemaid. After leaving his first wife, Anne’s father would dress her as a boy and take his daughter to his legal practice to work as a clerk. 

When his estranged wife revealed the true identity of Anne to the town, her disgraced father moved to South Carolina, with the housemaid in tow, where he established a new legal practice and eventually became a wealthy merchant.  

Anne Bonny (pictured) sailed to pirate town Nassau with James Bonny, a penniless sailor when she was just 20 and joined the pirate brotherhood

Anne Bonny (pictured) sailed to pirate town Nassau with James Bonny, a penniless sailor when she was just 20 and joined the pirate brotherhood 

Despite her father being desperate for 20-year-old Anne to find a suitable husband, she fell in love with James Bonny, a penniless sailor ‘not worth a groat’ and married him without permission. 

With no prospects in South Carolina, in 1718 the pair ran away to pirate town Nassau – a former British colony, that been burnt to the ground by the Spanish in 1703 and eventually taken over by pirates.  

Anne was likely left working as a bar maid or prostitute while James went to sea, looting ships travelling from Mexico to Spain for gold and silver while stealing rum, sugar and tobacco from those leaving Cuba and Jamaica. 

Boats sailing from Europe to the US would ensure them weapons watches, and bottles of wine and brandy.

Slave ships coming from West Africa meant some slaves joined the crew as free men.  

In 1718, seven Royal Navy ships sailed into Nassau and appointed a new Royal Governor, Woodes Rogers, to the Bahamas. Anne and James were spared, but watched as their fellow pirates were hung from the gallows under Governor Rogers’ crackdown on piracy. 

By the following year only one pirate ship was operating out of Nassau, which was soon taken over by Jack ‘Calico’ Rackham – known for his love of flamboyant clothing.  

By 1719, only one pirate ship was operating out of Nassau which was captained by Jack 'Calico' Rackham. Pictured, a drawing of the 18th century pirate

By 1719, only one pirate ship was operating out of Nassau which was captained by Jack ‘Calico’ Rackham.

Pictured, a drawing of the 18th century pirate 

After gaining Anne’s affections, he took her out to sea where – with a machete in hand – she became the most fearsome member on the fleet, and met crew member Mary Read.  

Mary also grew up concealing her gender after being born as an illegitimate child and as a young woman joined the British army, still posing as a man. She soon married a Flemish soldier and eloped to the city of Breda in the Netherlands, where she and her husband became the proprietors of a pub. 

When her husband died five-years later, Mary travelled to the US- but joined Calico Jack’s crew and travelled with them to Nassau after her ship was ransacked on the journey.

The pair would dress in the same way as their male counterparts, and Anne only discovered Mary’s true identify when Jack threatened to cut her throat because he thought Mary’s good looks had caught his lover’s eye. 

When they were eventually caught by the British Navy, Calico Jack convinced Governor Rogers to let his crew walk free, but went to sea again soon after when he wouldn’t allow him to wed Mary – threatening to imprison her if their relationship continued. 

They were captured for Popo Florist good in October 1720.

Jack was tried for piracy and sentenced to death the next day. Mary and Anne, they were tried ten days later but saved themselves from hanging by telling the executioner they were pregnant. 

Anne is said to have told Jack before his death: ‘I am sorry to see you here, but if you had fought like a man, you need not have hanged like a dog.’   

Five months after the trial, Mary caught a fever and died while some evidence points to Anne having returned to South Carolina after her father secured her release from jail.

BRITAIN’S FIRST ‘LESBIAN’ COUPLE WHO RAN AWAY FROM ARISTOCRACY  

Sally Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler - also known as the Ladies Of Llangollen - were upper-​class women who eloped to Wale to live together. Some historians believe the duo were one of Britain's first openly lesbian couples

Sally Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler – also known as the Ladies Of Llangollen – were upper-​class women who eloped to Wale to live together. Some historians believe the duo were one of Britain’s first openly lesbian couples 

Sally Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler – also known as the Ladies Of Llangollen – were upper-​class women whose relationship sent waves through Anglo-Irish aristocracy, when they eloped together to rural north Wales. 

The couple referred to each other as ‘the beloved of my soul’ and slept in the same bed. Some historians believe the duo were one of Britain’s first openly lesbian couples. 

Sally was sixteen years younger than Eleanor and came from a prestigious family of Irish aristocrats.

She was orphaned at the age of seven and moved in with her distant step-mother and half-brother. 

When she was 13 her step mother died and she went to live with Lady Betty Fownes, a cousin living in southern Ireland who sent her to school in Kilkenny. 

Lady Betty’s husband was a politician named Sir William Fownes who, when Sally turned 21, began making advances at her – keen to make her his second wife when her cousin eventually died.  

Eleanor was a well educated woman who after returning from school in France had struggled to find a husband.

By the age of thirty-seven, she was a confirmed spinster and her father wanted to send her back to France to become a nun. 

Sally and Eleanor’s family were friends and the pair had bonded over their love of books. Both desperate to break free from society, they began to plot their escape.  

After one failed escape attempt Eleanor was forced to move into her brother-in-law’s house, but escaped once again and hid in Sally’s wardrobe, aided by Sally’s housemaid Mary Carryll, who smuggled food into the bedroom. 

They were soon discovered and shared with their family their plans to elope.

Despite Sir William’s pleading, Lady Betty listened to Sally’s wishes, but Eleanor’s father initially refused. 

However ten days later, a letter arrived from Kilkenny Castle revealing that Eleanor’s father had allowed the pair to leave Ireland.

He would later leave his daughter nothing in his will. 

They convinced their reluctant families to provide them with a small income and after travelling Wales they retired from society to hide away in rural beauty of the village of Llangollen. 

They lived happily, with their housemaid Carryll, from their small patch of land and animals.

They taught themselves Italian, and employed a local vicar to teach them Latin – acquiring a great number of books over the years. 

The pair soon became Georgian celebrities; with a continual stream of statesmen, celebrities and royalty coming to visit until Eleanor died in 1829. Eleanor’s death brought the entire village of Llangollen to a standstill and grief-stricken Sally died two years later. 

THE FAMOUS MISTRESS WHO ROSE THROUGH THE RANKS OF ARISTOCRACY  

Lady Emma Hamilton became a celebrity after moving to London and becoming a mistress to high-powered aristocrats despite being born the daughter of a poor blacksmith

Lady Emma Hamilton became a celebrity after moving to London and becoming a mistress to high-powered aristocrats despite being born the daughter of a poor blacksmith

While it was difficult to change your social class during the Georgian era, the veracious mistress turned celebrity Lady Emma Hamilton is proof that it wasn’t impossible. 

Lady Hamilton was born to illiterate parents in a small coal-mining village in the north west.

Her father, a blacksmith, died when she was just two and, according to local legend, she was soon sent out by her mother as a child to sell coal on the side of the road. 

At 13 Lady Emma hitched a ride to London in the back of a horse-drawn cart and began to work backstage in the theatres of Covent Garden. She soon became a dancer – with word of her beauty quickly spreading throughout the city. 

Politician and playboy Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh invited Emma to his country estate in Sussex when she was just 16 – where she spent the summer partying with London’s elite. 

She quickly became pregnant with Sir Harry’s baby and with no support from the  politician she turned to Charles Greville, a kind friend of Harry’s who had taken a liking to her. 

He agreed to take care of Lady Emma in exchange for becoming his mistress and sending her daughter back to Cheshire to be raised by her grandmother. Set up in small house on the outskirts of London, Charles helped Emma smoothen her edges and become a more reputable society Lady. 

Deja una respuesta

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *