Friday, 18 September 2020

Love locks and round heads

Men wearing their hair long was one of the big issues for certain Puritans. William Prynne wrote two pamphlets on the subject, The unloveliness of lovelocks in 1628 (1) and A gagge for long hair’d rattle-heads who revile all civill round-heads in 1646 (2). Henry Peacham in the Truth of our times in 1638 spoke of the “proud coxcombe in the fashion, wearing taffeta, and an ill-favoured lock on his shoulder.” (3)

What precisely were they complaining about, well you can see a style in the caricature from around about 1650 (left). In the caricature long locks are brought forward over both shoulders and tied with a ribbon bow, this is an extreme. A single lock, as in the 1634 portrait of Henri II of Lorraine (below left -Anthony van Dyck. Henri II de Lorraine, 1634. Washington DC: National Gallery of Art), was more common, but still considered an affectation. With the single love lock style usually the hair on the left side of the head was grown long, and the right hand side was shorter. You can see this both in the Henri Lorraine portrait, and in the classic Charles I in three positions portrait, also by Van Dyck. (below right)

The hair could just be worn long, though for certain professions it was discouraged, clergymen with long hair were described as “appearing like ruffians in the pulpit”(4), while at Oxford University in 1636 heads of houses were admonished, “to appear nowhere abroad without their caps, and in apparel of such colour and fashion as the statute prescribed, and particularly they were not to wear long hair, nor any boots, nor double stockings rolled down or hanging loose about their legs, "as the manner of some slovens is," nor to wear their gowns hanging loosely, with their capes below their shoulders.” (5)

What constituted long hair, and does it necessarily say anything about the person wearing it? I suppose it depends on your definition of long. Prynne himself wore his hair longer than his ears, though to be fair as his ears had been cut off as a punishment, this was to hide the scars. The fashion for really short hair among the London apprentices was quite short lived. Lucy Hutchinson, even though her husband was of the Parliamentarian party, complained of those whose hair was cut “close round with so many little peaks as was ridiculous to behold” She said that her husband had “a fine thickset head of haire… although the godly of those days, when he embrac’d their party, would not allow him to be religious because his hayre was not in their cut.” (6)

The term roundhead to indicate not simply short hair, but specially cropped hair, appears just before the outbreak of the Civil War. John Rushworth thought the first usage was in 1641, writing: “The House of Commons met on Monday Decemb. the 27th. [1641]... There being three or four Gentlemen walking near, one of them named David Hide a Reformado in the late Army against the Scots..began to bussle and said he would cut the Throat of those Round-headed Dogs that bawled against Bishops (which passionate Expressions [sic] of his, as far as I could ever learn, was the first miniting of that Term or Compellation of Round-heads, which afterwards grew so general). (7) Richard Braithwait in the same year linked the term to William Prynne writing, “Lord, with what pricked up eares, these round heads harken to their oratour Prinner and admire in hearing him.” (8) In 1642 at least four pamphlets were published using roundhead as a pejorative term. (9)

By the time in 1646 that Prynne wrote his “A Gagge”, wigs, that would be worn by men for the next 150 years, were beginning to make their appearance, for as he pointed out, when “peri-wigs at bed time are laid by” their owners are themselves roundheads. (2)


1.      Prynne, W. (1628). The Unlovelinesse of Love-Lockes; or, a Summarie discourse, prooving the wearing and nourishing of a locke or love-locke, to be altogether unseemely and unlawfull unto Christians.

2.      Prynne, W. (1646). A Gagge for Long-Hair'd Rattle-Heads who revile all civill Round-heads. [In verse: By W. Prynne.].

3.      Peacham, H. (1638). The Truth of our Times: Revealed out of one mans experience, by way of Essay.

4.      Hall, T. (1654). Comarum akosmia. The loathsomnesse of long haire: Or, A treatise wherein you have the question stated, : Many arguments against it produc'd, and the most materiall arguguments sic for it refell'd and answer'd, with the concurrent judgement of divines bot. Printed by J. Grismond. for Nathanael Webb and William Grantham at the signe of the Bear in S. Pauls Church-yard near the little north door.

5.      'Charles I - volume 330: August 1636', in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles I, 1636-7, ed. John Bruce (London, 1867), pp. 83-109. British History Online [accessed 18 September 2020].

6.      Hutchinson, L. (1806) Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson, now first published from the original manuscript by the Rev. Julius Hutchinson. London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, by T. Bensley

7.      Rushworth, J. (1692). Historical Collections of Private Passages of State, Weighty Matters in Law, Remarkable Proceedings in Five Parliaments: The third part. 1640-1644. London: Tho. Newcomb.

8.      Brathwait, R, (1641) Mercurius Britanicus, or The English intelligencer. A tragic-comedy, at Paris. Acted with great applause. London

9.      i) The answer to the rattle-heads concerning their fictionate resolution of the Round-Heads. ii) A Description of the Round-head and rattle-head. iii) A dialogue betwixt rattle-head and round-head. iv) An Exact description of a Roundhead, and a long-head shag-poll








Saturday, 29 August 2020

Jessamy gloves

 Jessamy gloves are perfumed gloves, more specifically they are gloves perfumed with the scent of
jasmine. The art of perfuming gloves appears to have become popular in Italy in the 16th century, there are many legends around this crediting either RenĂ© le Florentin, who perfumed gloves for Catherine de Medici, or Muzio Frangipani, a man whose existence cannot even be proved. The fashion seems to have been brought to England by Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford who, on his return from Italy in 1575, presented Queen Elizabeth with a pair of perfumed gloves, John Stow says that for many years this scent was known as the "Earl of Oxford's perfume”. (Stow & Howes, 1631) John Florio’s work, also published in the 1570s, gives translations into Italian of many phrases to use when purchasing gloves in Italy, for example; “These Gloves, are they wel perfumed,” “‘Who hath perfumed them,’ and ‘I will haue them perfumed.’ (Florio, 1578)

Many different perfumes could be used, not just jasmine, Evelyn refers to “Gloves trimm'd, and lac'd as fine as Nell's. Twelve dozen Martial, whole, and half, Of Ionquil, Tuberose, (don't laugh) Frangipan, Orange, Violett, Narcissus, Iassemin, Ambrett.” (Evelyn, 1690) Martial was Louis XIV’s personal perfumier and his gloves were purportedly sold for 30 sous a pair. By 1656 the perfuming of gloves was so common that Louis XIV granted a guild patent, Les Statuts des Maitres Gantiers Parfumeurs.

The giving of perfumed gloves as gifts at weddings, funerals and other special occasions was common in the seventeenth century. When James I visited Cambridge University in 1615, he was presented with “a fair pair of perfumed gloves with gold laces.” (Cumming, 1982) The mother of a groom to be writing about the need to give gloves as presents at the wedding wrote in 1611 that, “I could not get so many women’s Jessamy gloves as wrote for; and at the last was fained to pick upon cordinant [cordovan leather] for men and perfumed kid for women. I had them perfumed better than ordinary that they might give consent.” (Duggan, 2011)

Perfumed gloves could be purchased in England for between 2s 6d and 4s. (Robertson, 1883) The perfuming could be done, or renewed, by the use of pastes, often referred to as butters, as for example “3 Ounces of Jessimy-butter..and 6 pair of Jessimy-Gloves.” (Duffett, 1675), or by the use of powders. In 1655 James Master paid, “for a pound of jessamin pouder and a pa of white gloves 6s 6d” (Robertson, 1886). It may be that the butter and paste were used to perfume leather gloves, and the powder for fabric gloves, but that is conjecture.

Books were published with instructions on how to create and use such perfumes. In 1696 Simon Barbe’s work was translated into English and published as The French Perfumer, it included sections on how scent gloves, part of which is quoted below. (Barbe, 1696)

“The manner of Preparing and Perfuming Gloves.

Clean and Wash your Skins as you have done before; cut and sew your Gloves, then Colour them as you please; if you will Perfume them with other Perfumes, do it before you Perfume them with Flowers, as you'll find hereafter; being thus prepared, put them in a Box, lay in a Bed of Flowers and a Bed of Skins, continue so doing till you have no more Gloves nor Flowers; let them lye in the Box till the next day, for 24 Hours at most, then take them out, dry them in the Air upon a Line for an Hour; rub them after that well, open them and turn them, cover them again with fresh Flowers on the wrong side of the Skin; continue so doing on both sides four or five Days; then rub them, and prepare them again, they will be well Perfum'd. You must Perfume once or twice the Paper you beat them in, lest it should lessen the smell.

 The Gloves and Skins you Perfume with precious Perfumes, as Amber, Musk, and Civet, will be well Perfum'd without any Flowers.

 How to Perfume Gloves or Skins before you Perfume them with Flowers.

Grind on a Marble Stone with a Muller, a Gros (or the eighth part of an Ounce) of Civet, with two or three Drops of Essence of Orange-flowers, or other Flowers made of Ben Oyl, being well mixt together, drop to it a little of Millefleur-water, then grind alone as big as a Small nut, Gum of Adragant dissolved with Orange▪flower-water; after that mix your Civet, dropping a little of the Millefleur-water; continue so doing till it is all well mixt together, then put your Composition in the Mortar; pour more Water in it, stirring it till it is reduced to a quarter of a Pint; then lay your Perfume very even on your Gloves with a Spunge, dry them in the Air upon a Line; being dry, rub them, open them, and Perfume them with Flowers as before.

 Perfumes made with Musk.

Grind upon a Marble Stone two Gros of Musk, with three Drops of Essence of Flowers, as before, and being well mixt, let them lye on the corner of the Marble; then grind half a Gros of Civet, with a few Drops of the same Essence, lay it on another corner of your Marble; then grind as big as a Nut Gum of Adragant dissolved with Millefleur-water, mixt with three or four Drops of Essence of Amber; after that mix them all together very well with the last Water, dropping it gently; and when the whole is well mixt with the Water, put it in a Mortar, pouring more Water, and stirring it with the Pestle, till it is reduced to half a Pint; then rub your Gloves and Skins, and let them dry.”


Barbe, S., 1696. The French perfumer teaching the several ways of extracting the odours of drugs and flowers and making all the compositions of perfumes for powder, wash-balls, essences, oyls, wax, pomatum, paste, Queen of Hungary's Rosa Solis, and other sweet waters .... London: Printed for Sam. Buckley.

Cumming, V., 1982. Gloves. London: Batsford.

Duffett, T., 1675. The Mock Tempest; or, the Enchanted Castle.. London: s.n.

Duggan, H., 2011. The Ephemeral History of Perfume: Scent and Sense in Early Modern England. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Evelyn, J., 1690. Mundus muliebris: or, the Ladies dressing-room unlock'd, and her toilette spread. In burlesque. Together with the Fop-Dictionary, compiled for the use of the fair sex.. London: Printed for R. Bentley.

Florio, J., 1578. Firste Fruites which yeelde familiar speech, merie prouerbes, wittie sentences, and golden sayings. Also a perfect induction to the Italian, and English tongues, as in the table appeareth. The like heretofore, neuer by any man published. london: Thomas Dawson, for Thomas Woodcocke.

Robertson, S., 1883. The expense Book of James Master 1646-1676 [Part 1, 1646-1655], transcribed by Mrs Dallison.. Archaeologia Cantiana, Volume 15, pp. 152-216.

Robertson, S., 1886. The expense Book of James Master 1646-1676 [Part 2, 1655-1657], transcribed by Mrs Dallison.. Archaeologia Cantiana, pp. 241-259.

Stow, J. & Howes, E., 1631. Annales, or, a general Chronicle of England; begun by J. Stow ... continued and augmented ... unto the end of ... 1631, by E. Howes.. London: Printed by A. M. for R. Meighen.

Monday, 3 August 2020