The random—and not so random—musings of a quirky Regency romance writer.
No one with that many people in her head can possibly be normal...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

~Regency Wednesday~ Mourning

To go along with last week's post on funerals and wills, this week's post is about mourning customs and mourning attire. 

The mourning period differed depending on which relative died. The longest period of mourning was reserved for a spouse, 12 months. Half that time (6 months) was spent mourning a parent or a parent-in-law. Half again (3 months) for a brother or sister, uncle or aunt. Six weeks of mourning was for a sister-in-law (brother-in-law too, I assume), aunt or uncle (I wonder if this was for an aunt or uncle by marriage, rather than blood; one source suggests closeness to the aunt or uncle as a possible reason for the repetition). For three weeks one would mourn the loss of an uncle or aunt (now I'm just confused), an aunt who remarried, or a first cousin. Two weeks was considered the proper length of time to mourn a first cousin (not sure on the redundancy here), and one week of mourning was acceptable for a first and second cousin, and husband or stepmother's sister.

It sounds as though the mourning periods were a bit flexible when it came to more distant relatives.

During this period of mourning, black was worn and the one grieving wouldn't attend entertainments. According to several sources, crêpe or silk bombazine were the materials of choice for their matte finish. Jet or black amber jewelry could be worn, also acceptable due to their matte finish. Dying gowns black or trimming clothing with black were common practices for mourning, especially if one couldn't afford to purchase new mourning clothes. Ladies went about in black until a period of half-mourning, or second mourning, was reached. Then grays and lavenders were acceptable.

Gentlemen typically wore black anyway so they weren't held to such strict rules when it came to mourning attire. Black gloves, cravat, shirt, or an armband were the norm.

In my Regency serial, My Lady Coward, Maria must don mourning. (She hates jet.) She would have had to mourn for six months, though her grief went much deeper than simply observing proper etiquette.

In The 11th Commandment, the serial Regency I'm writing for InD'tale Magazine, the story opens just after the death of the Duke of Jarvis. His widow returns to England for the reading of the will and she was so rushed to arrive and get the visit over with that she didn't have time to have mourning clothes made. She settled for the darkest colors in her wardrobe, though, out of respect.

My fictional character, the Duke of Derringer, wears all black all the time. More than one of his acquaintances commented on him going about in constant mourning.

♥Happy reading, writing, and blogging!!♥

There's a jukebox in my head. It's currently playing
♫♪ Hinder ~ I Don't Wanna Know


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