The collective memory of 19th century Britain is dominated by novels in the style of Jane Austen. The focus is on young women who fear for their status. Far from the real social changes of brutal industrialization, it is primarily about finding the right match and, if possible, with a halfway right man. For pages there is discussion about what is appropriate and what is not. The greatest drama in this world is a house with many daughters, but without the necessary means for a proper marriage.
The image of a demure idyll that the British love so much is conveyed. But the fact that this century began with the era of the "Regency", in which wild riots became common even in the highest circles, is just as forgotten as the extreme increase in prostitution. It also doesn't fit into Jane Austen's world that large and not always modest body tattoos, like piercings, became fashionable in society at that time. Even today, a common genital piercing of the penis is named after Prince Albert.
In the British "Telegraph" the historian Emily Brand presented Emma's wild sisters based on a source found. It's about the voyage of the "John Bull" from England to Australia in 1821. The "John Bull" brought 80 young women to a new home. Not entirely voluntarily, because they were prisoners. Their small crimes were not enough for the death penalty, which was often imposed at the time. According to the government's unromantic wedding plan, she should provide Her Majesty's descendants and new subjects in the colonies.
To put it cynically, the voyage was her wedding ball. Because once they arrived in Australia, they had little choice but to accept a husband in order to survive.
The trip was recorded in a doctor's diary. Dr. William Elyward was supposed to ensure that the female cargo, including some children, reached the other side of the world alive.
"By moving away from the candlelit ballrooms, we gain a richer view of the diversity and raw disorder of 19th-century women's lives," says Brand. There can hardly be a greater contrast to ballroom than the stuffy belly of the "John Bull". The doctor quickly became stressed from his trip. He didn't just have to struggle with malnutrition and other health problems, as he thought. Above all, the wild nature of his pupils bothered him.
The pious man was horrified to discover that below deck of the "John Bull" it was like a harbor bar. Margaret Brennan, for example, didn't want to stay lonely at night. She moved from bed to bed with her crying child following her. But unfortunately one sleeper did not respond to her advances with pleasure, but instead let out a horrified scream. Whereupon a rough fight between the two began. The fornication on board could hardly be contained. The sailors were – typical of the time – generously supplied with tobacco and brandy. The women, on the other hand, were left high and dry, but they knew how to get the coveted goods in this way.
32-year-old Jane Hamilton ended up being locked in a room with a tarpaulin barrier after she threatened her fellow prisoners with bloody revenge. The tarp was also intended to keep the woman away from the sailors. The beautiful 22-year-old Londoner Mary Ryan was also imprisoned after she "hid" in his cabin with the ship's second officer for a whole day - as the ship's doctor shamefully put it - and then returned to the women's quarters completely drunk.
Mary Downs, 26, accidentally torched almost the entire ship. She lit a rag by the lanterns on deck to smoke a pipe in her quarters. The rag accidentally started a fire, which was extinguished. Other women fought with the sailors. And apparently it was common practice to hide in chests to avoid communal prayer. This allowed women to start drinking earlier in the day.
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