ganseys guernseys History

“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.


3 replies on ““I See (Absolutely) No Ganseys!””

Fabulous selection – thanks for posting them!

Looking forward to seeing the clothes from the June event.


But of course. (I can think of someone who won’t believe you!) Are you popping in to WF or too involved with this?


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