Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Frequently Asked Questions

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When was the Regency Period that your novels are based on?

The Regency Period was 1811 to 1820.  When King George III became mad and could no longer function as Monarch, his son, Prince George IV was named Regent in his stead.  When the king died in 1820 George IV was finally crowned king.

What is the "Ton"?

Ton is a term commonly used to refer to Britain's high society during the Georgian and especially the Regency era.  The term ton comes from the French word meaning "taste" or "everything that is fashionable" and is pronounced the same way as tone.  The full phrase is le bon ton, meaning good manners or "in the fashionable mode" - characteristics held in ideal by he British ton.

The term Beau Monde, French for " beautiful world" and "polite society" have been interchangeable with le bon ton during different periods.

Ton has also been used as an interchangeable term with the Upper Ten Thousand of later 19th century society, including most of the peerage, aristocracy and the wealthy merchants or bankers of the City.

Fashion, etiquette, manners, social customs, and many other aspects of social life were all dictated by the ton.  The ton's generally acknowledged leaders were the Lady Patronesses of Almack's.

What is Almack's?

As London's most exclusive mixed-sex social club, Almack's represented the best and wealthiest among the ton.

The conventions of ton life were highly structured and complex, and difficult for anyone born outside of the highest circles to fully understand.  Social acceptance was crucial and based primarily, but not exclusively, on birth and family.  Acceptable social behaviors were different for men and women;  these behaviors were based on an intricate system validated primarily by the patronesses of Almack's, who determined who could be given vouchers for admission to the club's functions, the clothing they must wear, which young ladies would be given permission to waltz.  They had first, to be presented to the Queen in order to receive permission.

Wednesday evenings was when Society met at Almack's and no one was allowed entry past 11:00.  It is said that the Duke of Wellington himself was once refused admission when he appeared 10 minutes too late and not in the correct dress.

Advice to Julia

All on that magic list depends;
Fame, fortune, fashion, lovers, friends
'Tis that which gratifies or vexes
All ranks, all ages, and both sexes.
If once to Almack's you belong,
Like monarchs, you can do no wrong;
But banished thence on Wednesday night,
By Jove, you can do nothing right.

By Henry Lutttrell

Unfortunately, the previous poem is true.  Without being granted a voucher to Almack's, it would indeed be difficult to be received.  You would probably never get beyond the butler in any aristocrat's home, for every butler knew who was and who wasn't to be received.

A Ball at Almack's Assembly Rooms in London.
Almack's Assembly Rooms in King Street, St. James, London. Late 18th or early 19th century.
What is "The Season"?

The Season was the name given to the months between late January and early July.  It officially began when Parliament re-opened in London and was an endless parade of social entertainments - balls, theatre parties, dances, masquerades, military reviews and many other social pleasures to be enjoyed by the ton.

Families with marriageable children used the Season to present their children to the ton in hopes of arranging profitable marriages.  For this reason, the Season has also been referred to as the "Marriage Mart" by notable Brits such as Lord Byron.

For marriageable girls, the Season was an intense period of social networking in which any misstep or breach of social etiquette spread like wildfire through gossip circles at Almack's and would have potentially ruinous effects on her marriage and social prospects within the ton.

The Little Season ran from September until early November and was an opportunity for girls to attend a few social events before being presented during the full Season.

Can you explain the social ladder of the ton?

Ton society was intensely class-conscious and the social hierarchy was incredibly rigid.  Birth, wealth, titles, and other factors determined class standing:

  • God
  • Monarch
  • Aristocracy
  • Gentry
  • Artisans & Trades people
  • Servants
  • Laboring Poor
  • Paupers

Notice that the Monarchs are second only to God.  Members of the ton came from the aristocracy, the gentry and of course, royalty and monarchs.  Though some wealthier members of the middle classes might possibly have harried into the lower ranks of the gentry, such unions would not have been completely accepted by the elite ton.  Social positions could be altered or determined by income, houses, speech, clothing or even manners.  Climbing the social ladder could take generations, particularly into the aristocracy who did not readily accept those of interior birth into their ranks.

Titles of Aristocracy from high to low can be remembered by using this mnemonic:

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Duke - Marquess - Earl - Viscount - Baron