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The Memoirs of Pascal Bonenfant

Welcome to the Pascal Bonenfant website.

The Unfortunate Deaths of Jonathan Wild

The website started as somewhere to keep my research data when I started writing my series of novels - The Memoirs of Pascal Bonenfant - but it got rather out of hand. It now contains quite a bit of information on the 18th century in Britain. Have a look at the 18th Century Resources page or click on one of the menu items on the left.

The first volume of the Memoirs is now available - The Unfortunate Deaths of Jonathan Wild. It is available at Amazon.

Along the way I produced a book on the Thieves' Cant - the language of the Georgian Underworld - also available at Amazon.

If you want to contact me, you can email username contact at this site or use the Contact link on the menu.

Journal


First volume of the Bonenfant Memoirs now available!

13th April 2014
The Unfortunate Deaths of Jonathan Wild

After several years, I am able to make available the first volume of The Memoirs of Pascal Bonenfant - The Unfortunate Deaths of Jonathan Wild.

The book is an historical urban fantasy set in the years 1724-1725 at a time when Jonathan Wild (a real person) was the crime boss of London.

The law finally caught up with Jonathan Wild and he was hanged in May of 1725 but, three days after his execution, his body went missing.

Probably the corpse was taken by body-snatchers - Resurrection Men as they were ironically known - but I got to thinking, what if it was something else? A spot of necromancy perhaps?

This slightly Lovecraftian novel is a result of these musings. It is available in eBook format at amazon.com and I plan to make a print version available in due course.

If you would like a review copy, just email me, or you can buy one at Amazon for US$2.99 or £1.85 (click on the image on the right for a direct link).

Cant - now available in print format!

10th April 2014
Cant - A Gentlemans Guide

As requested by various people, Cant - A Gentleman's Guide is now available in print format.

It looks really great and, in my humble opinion, is easier to read than the eBook as you can flip casually through the pages and spot interesting bits as you go past.

You can buy it at Amazon.com here or click on the cover image.

The perfect gift for that special rogue or roguess in your life.

 

Pyrates!

2nd March 2014
Pirates

Aargh, Jim lad! Hoist the parrot and feed the Jolly Roger. It's pirate time!

We tend not to think of the 18th century as being a great time for pirates and for most of it that is true. But up until 1725 there were plenty of pirates still on active duty.

Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, is probably the most famous but the Dread Pirate Bartholomew Roberts also rates a mention as do several of his contemporaries. The two best known female pirates - Anne Bonny and Mary Read - both belong to this period.

For your delectation therefore I present to you Pirates of the 18th Century.

Have fun.

Cant - Free Review Copies Available!

13th January 2014
Cant - A Gentlemans Guide

My thanks to all those people who have bought Cant: A Gentleman's Guide. I hope you found it both interesting and edifying.

But it occurs to me that there may be people who are unable or unwilling to stump up the purchase price (US$2.99). For you, I am now making available a Free Review Copy.

The deal is: you get the free ebook but in return you promise to do an online review, preferably on Amazon or iTunes but your blog or social media are also perfectly acceptable. Let me know when it is done - I am always interested in reader feedback.

Email me via stephen at pascalbonenfant.com and let me know whether you prefer MOBI format (Kindle) or ePUB (everything else) and I will send you a copy.

 

Cant - A Gentleman's Guide

31st October 2013
Cant - A Gentlemans Guide

My new eBook is out!

It is a fairly lighthearted look at Thieves' Cant - the language of the criminal underworld - in Georgian London. There are chapters on:

  • Food
  • Drink
  • Money
  • Medicine
  • Gaming Hells
  • Crime
  • Beggars
  • Thieves
  • Death
  • Imprisonment
  • Sex
  • and much more

Hopefully, it will entertain as well as enlighten.

My thanks to all those people who kindly read the Beta version and gave be feedback - the book is much improved as a result.

Click here for more information about the book and where you can buy it.

London in 1731

21st August 2013

I have reached the stage where I found so much information in Don Manoel's account that I have put all the extracts in their own section - London in 1731. I have created the following pages:

This is by no means all that Don Manoel has to offer but I think I will probably stop now. You can read the whole thing for yourself at Project Gutenburg.

Food and Markets

15th July 2013

Browsing once again through Don Manoel Gonzales' London in 1731 I discovered some useful information on London markets and food. I've extracted it into a Food and Markets page for ease of access.

Clubs, Coffee-Houses and Taverns

24th April 2013
Database Search

In 1866 John Timbs published a two-volume work entitled Club Life of London, subtitled With Anecdotes of the Clubs, Coffee-Houses and Taverns of the Metropolis During the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries.

It is one of those documents which switches between utterly fascinating and amazingly tedious with no discernable pattern. The word Anecdotes gives it away - some fun, some not.

I have done my usual trick of dividing it up into individual entries for each club, coffee-house and tavern. There is an Index and a Database Search

Try searching for someone you are interested in, such as Johnson, or for the name of a venue or club, such as Almack's. You can pick up quite a lot of interesting information.

Postal Service

27th March 2013

Don Manoel (see previous post) also had some interesting things to say about the postal service.

He records, as well as postal charges, the days on which you could despatch mail to most of western Europe and to anywhere in Britain and Ireland. It is interesting to cross-reference the frequency of the postal service with the volume of trade.

Trade

26th March 2013

There is an amazing amount of information in some of the original sources. While browsing through London in 1731 by Don Manoel Gonzales I came across data on imports and exports between Britain and other countries. The lists are remarkably detailed.

For your delectation I have extracted this information into a table and you can find it on the Imports and Exports page. The full text is available from Project Gutenberg.

Technically, there is no such person as Don Manoel Gonzales. There is some debate as to the real author, into which I have no desire to buy, but you can read about it in the introduction to the Gutenberg edition.

I have every intention of mining more data from this fascinating document but in the meantime check out some of the details of British trade in the early Georgian Period.

Kent's London Directories

6th November 2012

I recently discovered Kent's London Directories. They were business directories published annually between 1732 and 1828. I have found the years 1740 and 1794 available on the web (references on the directories page) and have done my usual trick of putting them into the database.

I found it extremely interesting to run comparisons between 1740 (when the Industrial Revolution had barely kicked off) and 1794 (when it was in full spate). The 1794 directory is, of course, much bigger.

As always in this period there is little value given to consistency so you need to use a bit of imagination when doing a search but I found it a lot of fun. Enjoy.

Ebook Experiment

June 9th 2012

By way of an experiment, I am planning to produce several books in electronic format which relate in some way to this site. Amazon.com provides the ability for you to publish your own ebooks on their site so I am taking advantage of it.

The first is an account by Samuel Smith, Chaplain of London's Newgate Prison in the late 17th century of his conversations with fourteen Catholic prisoners before their executions. It is, in effect, the precursor of the Newgate Calendars. The account itself is, of course, in the public domain. I have cleaned up a rather poor OCR version I found on Google Books and made it available here. I have added a commentary and some historical notes which is my 'value add'.

Amazon (quite reasonably) won't let you give books away so I have put the minimum price on it (99c or 75p depending on where you are). Feel free to buy one.

An Account of the the Fourteen Late Popish Malefactors : $0.99/£0.75
amazon.com

Occupations

June 8th 2012

I've add a list of occupations, most of which belong to the 18th century or earlier. I'm not completely sure where I got it from (I've had it a long time) but it is similar to a list from the 1891 London census.

I have removed the more obvious anachronisms such as the Daguerreotype Artists but I may have missed one or two.

If you don't know what an Antigropelos Maker is, this is your chance to find out.

WordPress begone

March 10th, 2012

I've removed WordPress from my site. I wasn't using it much anyway - just the front page and one or two others. WordPress can be a bit vulnerable to hackers and I was getting tired of removing spurious files. Also, I'm a programmer. I prefer writing raw HTML anyway for the control it gives me.

What does this mean for you? Hopefully the only change you will see is that this page will load a bit faster. You may see one or two odd results initially on a couple of pages - usually because of browser caching. A page reload will generally sort that out.

Let me know if you spot anything odd. I have a script that generates the site so it should be ok but you can never tell.

Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals

February 21st, 2012

In 1735 Arthur L. Hayward published Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals. It is in essence his own "Newgate Calendar" covering the decade from 1720 to 1730.

I have therefore added it to my Newgate Calendar collection. As usual, I have divided it up into individual stories (about 160), created an Index to the Stories and added them to the Newgate Calendar Database Search.

Well worth a look and includes such notable criminals as Jonathan Wild, the godfather of the early 18th century, and Jack Shepherd, one of the worlds great escapologists.

More Travel Information

January 30th, 2012

While researching Coaching Inns, I realised I didn’t know much about travel times and costs.

I’ve added a page with the information I have got thus far which may be of interest:

Travelling around Britain in the 18th century

Coaching Inns

January 16th, 2012

As you may or may not know, William Stowe published in 1722 a list of all Coaching Inns in London, together with the available destinations and which days they were available and also the type of transport (Coach, Carrier or Wagon).

I have taken this list and turned it into an easy-to-read table and added the ability to list by Destination or by Coaching Inn. Try looking up your favourite destination to plan your trip, then see what other services leave from the same place.

Here is the link: Coaching Inns in 18th Century London.

Pharmacopeia Update

September 27th, 2011

I’ve updated my Pharmacopeia database to include three sets of data: Fuller’s Pharmacopeia Extemporanea from 1710; Buchan’s Domestic Medicine from 1769; and a few recipes from the Reverend William Twigg dating to about 1715.

You can see more details on the Pharmacopeia Index page.

Page for Vaux’s Glossary

October 6th, 2010

I’ve finished adding subject categories to Vaux’s glossary. I thought it worth making a separate page for this one, given that it is not part of the “B.E.” group (see the discussion of sources for more details) and has an Australian connection.

You can find it here.

London Livery Companies

August 21st, 2010

While I was researching the Barber-Surgeons guild as part of 18th century medicine, I came across the London Livery Companies. I had been vaguely aware of The Worshipful Companies of Mercers/Fishmongers/etc but knew very little about them.

I discovered they were responsible for regulating various trades, having grown out of the medieval guild system. They also acted as lobby groups, periodically petitioning the monarch of the day for special privileges and monopolies.

The 18th century saw most of the Worshipful Companies diminish into social and charitable organisations as the crafts they represented were taken over by machines. At the beginning of the century, however, many of them still had considerable power to regulate their crafts even if by the end of the century they were moribund.

For anyone who is interested, I have made a few notes about the Companies, together with links for anyone interested in following up further.

Pharmacopeia Extemporanea

July 15th, 2010

I’ve been doing a bit of research into 18th century medicine. Like most things in the 18th century it evolves from the end of superstition through to beginnings of science.

I’m still very much working on it but, during the course of things I found the Pharmacopeia Extemporanea, produced in English by a Thomas Fuller from an earlier Latin edition in 1710. A Pharmacopeia, in case you didn’t know, is a recipe book for medicines. As is my wont, I have divided it up and put it in a searchable database.

Have a look at the indexed version and the database search. The latter is very useful if you are interested in what particular ingredients were used for.

I haven’t linked Medicine into the rest of the site yet but help yourself to a sneak preview.

Oh yes, and I’ve done more of the interminable task of putting Thieves Cant into subject categories and have nearly finished Vaux’s glossary.

Thank you to my visitors from now 50 countries. I hadn’t realised interest in the 18th century in general and Thieves Cant in particular was so widespread. Let me know if there’s anything else you’d particularly like me to add to the site.

New cant source added

January 1st, 2010

I’ve added a new source of cant terms from the Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux published in 1819. Vaux was an English criminal transported to New South Wales in the early 19th century. At the end of his memoirs he includes a glossary of some 700 cant terms.

Vaux’s list overlaps with the material I currently have in the database but contains quite a lot that is new. I have added Vaux to the database but not yet added them to any category. However, the terms will appear in database searches with a date of 1819.

I have also added a new page discussing the sources used which might be of interest.

Thank you to everyone who has written in with feedback and suggestions. The Vaux material is a direct outcome of a suggestion of well-known lexicographer who indicated he did not wish to be quoted but whose help has been much appreciated.

A happy new year to all.

Newgate Calendar Database

June 25th, 2009

The Newgate Calendar Database Search is now available!

I have followed a similar format to the one for Thieves’ Cant. You can search by Names, Tagline (the punchy little one-liner provided with each entry) or by the Body Text.

I’ve had a lot of fun poking around, finding stuff I never even noticed when just reading the text. Try searching for your favourite English town in the Body Text. A surprising number of the larger ones are in there.

As always, please let me know if you find any bugs or if you have any suggestions. I’m keen to make this as useful as possible.