“I See (Absolutely) No Ganseys!”

22nd Dec. 1801
Tuesday 22nd Still Thaw.  I washed my head.  Wm [William] & I went to Rydale for letters, the road was covered with dirty snow, rough & rather slippery… As we came up the White Moss we met an old man, who I saw was a beggar by his two bags hanging over his shoulder, but from a half laziness, half indifference & a wanting to try him if he wold speak I let him pass.  He said nothing, & my heart smote me.  I turned back & said You are begging? ‘Ay’ says he–I gave him a halfpenny.  William, judging from his appearance joined in I suppose you were a Sailor? ‘Ay’ he replied, ‘I have been 57 years at sea, 12 of them on board a man-of-war under Sir Hugh Palmer.’ Why have you not a pension? ‘I have no pension, but I could have got into Greenwich hospital but all my officers are dead.’ He was 75 year of age, had a freshish colour in his cheeks, grey hair, a decent hat with a binding round the edge, the hat worn brown & glossy, his shoes were small thin shoes low in the quarters, pretty good–they had belonged to a gentleman.  His coat was blue, frock shaped coming over his thighs, it had been joined up at the seams behind with paler blue to let it out, & there were three Bell-shaped patches of darker Blue behind him where the Buttons had been. His breeches were either of fustian or grey-cloth, with strings hanging down, whole and tight & he had a checked Shirt on, & a small coloured handkerchief tyed around his neck…

Dorothy Wordsworth, Grasmere Journals

We’ve been busy making a shedload of 1800 period costume, for this event next month.

And the final complete costume to make is something approximating to this sailor. So…  I started collecting images of ordinary seamen, from around the 1800 mark.  Here’s my Pinterest board. Not. A. Gansey. In. Sight.