Beards in the 18th century

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Beards in the 18th century

Post by Tod »

For the last 10 years at least I've heard numerous debates about facial hair in the 18th century, in particular around the middle of the century, and in Scotland.

My conclusion to date.
I can find only four pictures of any Scots with facial hair – I might be able to find more if I trawled the book collection but I think any others would be similar). All three are officers or gentlemen who have either a full beard (1 case) and a big moustache (3 cases).
The first case is Glenbucket and the picture was doctored in the 19th century but how I don't know, but I don't think the beard was added. However he is painted as an old man.
The other three are a piper and two gentlemen. These three all wear their moustaches in the style of the Europeans at the time, long and curled up at the ends. Military pictures from around 1740 show the soldiers and officers with this style of moustache, in fact the painting in Hanover Museum shows the whole of the Hanoverian Army and it looks like the British Army with 'taches drawn on. From that I have concluded that Brits abroad may have adopted the style of the Europeans.
There are very few pictures of the normal people of Scotland, and in particular the Highlands. Even in Burt’s letters from the north he shows clean shaved Highlanders and he was being as descriptive as possible. The Jacobite Army, although often described as being ragged and scruffy are not noted for having beards badgers could live in.
By the time of the Napoleonic wars the Highland Regts. had a rather “stand out from the crowd” image. The uniforms and the style of the soldiers made them an ideal candidate for painters. How many times have you seen pictures of the Highland Regts. fighting in the 19th century? The big bristling beards and the hard eyes must have put fear in their enemies. Add that image to the re-invented Highland garb and you get your stereo typical Highlander of legend.
People of the past were not stupid and I strongly believe in a logical approach to re-enactment. Given that it is freezing cold in the Highlands in winter and that beards (if you are used to them!) offer a certain amount of protection it seems likely that your average Highlander would not have shaved on a regular weekly basis, but as there is no evidence for the majority being beardy laddies it is improbable that beards were common. The Jacobite Army certainly did not have the opportunity on a regular basis to get the razor out, so in my opinion the soldiers and officers would have had serious stubble, even the incident at Culloden painting shows dark shadows as do many pictures of British soldiers (the painting is thought to have been painted later).
Personally I go for the long moustache in the European style and heavy stubble (beard trimmers are a wonderful thing), but then I am trying to portray an officer in the field.
Lowland Scots, and the rest of GB were certainly clean shaven in the vast majority. It often makes me laugh when you see some one of importance with a full beard in an 18th century drama. If you’re going to put on frock coat and tricorn take the beard off, it will grow back! The only reasonable explanation for any facial hair it that you are European or have just returned from abroad, other that it’s the clean shaved look – or researching some sort of facial hair that suits your character.

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Re: Beards in the 18th century

Post by Andy R »

That is one of the (many) things that annoyed me with Chasing the Deer.

Brian Blessed, big officer bloke in charge of much, and with a big out of period beard...!

Yet, you take the same actor, put him in another series set in 1745 by a better production company and he is clean shaven.

The portraits you are talking about with the 'taches are from the 1st quarter of the c18th aren't they?

I don't know any predispositions for taches in Scotland in the mid c18th, but they were getting more common place coming (as a fashion) from Hungary/Austria and they became quite common in Prussian armies and the elite wing of the French.

In the British military it only seems to have taken off with some of the officer class and the light cavalry at the turn of the c19th.
(although I have a lovely plate of the a sapper in the 7th Fusiliers with powdered and plaited hair, huge whiskers and a truly comedic (yet inspiring) tache. 1768 reform uniform if I remember right.
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Post by Andy R »

Just to add, the big victorian beards were as a result (according to TC) of the troops out in the Crimea. As such, they were not just adopted by the Highland regiments.
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Post by Wim-Jaap »

how about civilians?

If you look at the vietnam war, the hippies had long hair, but when pushed into the army their head was shaved.

I can imagine that Highland Civvies had beards and that when they join a regiment, they had to shave.

But hey, it's none sourced opinion, so don't get out yer muskets or lynchmob!

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Post by Andy R »

Wim-Jaap wrote:how about civilians?

If you look at the vietnam war, the hippies had long hair, but when pushed into the army their head was shaved.

I can imagine that Highland Civvies had beards and that when they join a regiment, they had to shave.

But hey, it's none sourced opinion, so don't get out yer muskets or lynchmob!

Greenthings Wim-Jaap
But I like musket and lynch mobs :(

And bayonets.

there's always room for 17.5 inches of triangular section goodness.

Anyway.

In the c18th military fashion and civilian fashion was interchangeable. As a rule of thumb, military clothing followed the civilian clothing but in a regular colour. (regimental distinctions non withstanding)

Same goes for hair and facial fuzz. It was the fashion of the time rather than military regulations (although regulations did say when you shaved and how long queued hair should be)

Also, as Phil Crawely stated in the fashion disasters thread (I think), the 60's heralded a new area when people stopped being so conscientious in their turn out and fitting in with "the norm".
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Post by Tod »

Wim-Jaap wrote:how about civilians?

If you look at the vietnam war, the hippies had long hair, but when pushed into the army their head was shaved.

I can imagine that Highland Civvies had beards and that when they join a regiment, they had to shave.

But hey, it's none sourced opinion, so don't get out yer muskets or lynchmob!

Greenthings Wim-Jaap
Sorry but Andy's right, plus the Jacobite Army whilst trying to impose some sort of disapline didn't issue any instructions/orders about hair length or shaving. It was just normal to shave.

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Post by Fox »

Well, this is you're fault, you pointed me here....

How does this apply in a naval context?

I'm thinking particularly in the context emerging from the GAoP, where clearly many nautical captains are famed eponymously for their facial hair.

Is there a more general change in the fashionability of facial hair moving into the 18thC.

Fox, wearer of facial hair since 1992.

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Post by Andy R »

Are you one of these fancy-dan revisionists who believe that sailors are people to? :)

Pirates are away from the norm. Was it blackbeard who had buring slow match in his beard to scare the bejesus out of people in the late c17th (a shaven period)

In these cases it could be done as an anti social thing for shock value (at a guess) which I could imagine would come in handy when pirating.

Regular sailors in paintings I have seen have been shaven, but I'll be honest and say that it is not something I have looked in to too closely other than in a "who put a damned sailer in this otherwise fantastic picture" kind of way.

I'm with Phil and Bucket - shooting pirate scum is the way forward.
(as is using that 3' socket bayonet in the Leeds Armoury that they have with the Excise Man's carbine)
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Post by Tod »

Dave Wilson (Wiz) from Senior Service (Navy part of Lace Wars) is the man to ask. I'll try and get in touch with him.

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Post by Fox »

Andy R wrote:Pirates are away from the norm. Was it blackbeard who had buring slow match in his beard to scare the bejesus out of people in the late c17th (a shaven period)
In these cases it could be done as an anti social thing for shock value (at a guess) which I could imagine would come in handy when pirating.
Ah, like long haired beardy bikers today.
Andy R wrote:I'm with Phil and Bucket - shooting pirate scum is the way forward.
(as is using that 3' socket bayonet in the Leeds Armoury that they have with the Excise Man's carbine)
I'm happy to do both sides, and my bearded deviancy aside, I'm really intested in forming a Dutch West India Company, if I could actually get a good idea of what the "uniform" should look like.

Sorry this is a slight Cuba, with that being a 1680-1720 type period.

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Post by zauberdachs »

I've been trying to find images of the Penicuik drawings but I haven't had any luck. I believe they mostly show the Highlanders clean shaven.
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Post by Andy R »

zauberdachs wrote:I've been trying to find images of the Penicuik drawings but I haven't had any luck. I believe they mostly show the Highlanders clean shaven.
yup, even the begger in rags.
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Post by Andy R »

Fox wrote:I'm happy to do both sides, and my bearded deviancy aside, I'm really intested in forming a Dutch West India Company, if I could actually get a good idea of what the "uniform" should look like.
B'ahh, I thought that would be an easy one.

And I was wrong.

As I recall, the Dutch usually had blue coats, but some may have had red.

There used to be a number of dutch re-enactors with photos of 1700 kit on the Age of Marlborough Smartgroup - but alas, it is no more.

And get Kelvin involved once his foot is better.
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Post by Neil Johnston »

Interesting debate

The only references to beards in the '45 I can remember off the top of my head is one of the Grants of Glenmoriston who came directly before the Prince on arrival in Edinburgh and was chastised for his beard which had grown during the journey.
He replied with "It is not beardless youths who are to do your Royal Highness's turn" or something like that.
That would imply that it was not the norm certainly for officers in the Jacobite army to have beards unless travelling or possibly on campaign.

Found it....it is a footnote in Waverley by Sir Walter Scott

I believe that BPC also grew a beard, which was specifically mentioned in reports at the time, whilst on the run after Culloden which was maybe a sign of the norm for Highlanders in their own glens but that it was considered unusual in those with status.

Also the Graemid by James Philp which has many descriptions of clans at Dalcomera in 1689 might mention beards... I can't remember.... although it can be a bit fanciful in its descriptions at times.

Who knows? Personally I usually shave mine to a two day stubble for events.

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Post by Tod »

I've never read of BPC having a beard although I could believe he would grow one or at least heavy stubble in order to disguise himself.

I would have thought Burt would have mentioned it as a sort of "they aren't as civilised as the rest of us but it's thier culture" comment if it were the norm.

In the 17th century beards were normal, even C1 had one, I think that later in the century they became more trimmed and as Andy said (I must stop agreeing with him, we'll having nothing to argue about) Highlanders tried their best to be fashionable.

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Post by Andy R »

Neil Johnston wrote: Also the Graemid by James Philp which has many descriptions of clans at Dalcomera in 1689 might mention beards... I can't remember.... although it can be a bit fanciful in its descriptions at times.
Now I have seen portraits from 1689 with well kept beards.

When did beards fall out of favour - the restoration?

So that would show a near as damn it 30 year gap between one fashion and another.
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Post by Andy R »

I thought BPC was more at home dressed as a big old girly girl.

Growing a beard in those circumstances doesn't say a lot of the locals :(

I went to the pub where Pitsligo spent 6 months as a bar maid in Fraserburgh. I'm not sure what is more worrying - how quick they were to cross dress at the drop of a hat, or how well they did as a woman.

And Tod, we can always discuss the length of pistols, and the inadequacies they mask :wink:
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Post by Neil Johnston »

I think we all agree beards are unlikely on mid 18thC men.
Ther is a portrait of a highlander with a beard in the same series as the other Grant paintings..hen wife, piper, champion etc in the National Portrait Gallery which is often referred to as his gardener because he is holding a kale stalk but it is in fact his fool or jester i.e. possibly someone with mental health problems.

http://www.clangrant-us.org/fool-of-grant.htm

Perhaps this means that beards were a sign of the very lowly or wilder parts of Higland society......who knows ???
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Post by Andy R »

Aren't the grant paintings from 1715 or there abouts?

Broken men, the highland tinkers, could also be imagined with beards - even the women..!

Richie Boyce was telling me of one of the more famous ones who was a rampant canibal :shock:
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Post by Neil Johnston »

Too true on the old cross dressing Andy.
Mind after looking at the Waitt paintings again I bet the hen wife of Grant could grow up a nice stubble after a few days :lol:

What is it with Tod? First mealy puddings; now pistols.... there seems to be something underlying these obsessions.
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Post by Tod »

The Grant paintings are earlier, and the fool does look a bit sad for himself.

It was Andy who started it, failing to deliver on the puddings then trying to impress me with his two tiny pistols. Unlike your fine self Mr Johnston, never was there a better mealy.
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Post by Andy R »

Voila..!
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Post by Tod »

Andy R wrote:
Richie Boyce was telling me of one of the more famous ones who was a rampant canibal :shock:
No surprise he knows that, and it was family that lived in a cave. Did you not get told stories when you were little.

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Post by Andy R »

Tod wrote: No surprise he knows that, and it was family that lived in a cave. Did you not get told stories when you were little.
I had nice stories, and as my dad was a chef he wouldn't want to tell tales of the "special meat" in case it put me off my curry.

(Curry was a do or die thing in our house, and one of my earliest memories of the army)
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Post by Fox »

I went looking for a James II beard. I couldn't find any on anyone of note; Charles II takes the throne and they evaporate, like morning mist, presuambly to remain only on thugs and rapscallions.
Andy R wrote:As I recall, the Dutch usually had blue coats, but some may have had red.
And that's as far as I got; no idea of any common style, badges/insignia or if it's just (as a lot seems to be in the period) broadly typical dress, with a given colour of jacket.

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Post by Andy R »

Fox wrote:
Andy R wrote:As I recall, the Dutch usually had blue coats, but some may have had red.
And that's as far as I got; no idea of any common style, badges/insignia or if it's just (as a lot seems to be in the period) broadly typical dress, with a given colour of jacket.
Found one in Cuba

Image

Dutch Blue Guard

To stay on topic, no beard, but stuble...
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Post by Fox »

CUBA!

What do you think the chances of a primary, or even solid looking secondary, source are?

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Post by Phil the Grips »

In general shaving was seen as a sign of being decent, having self respect and generally civilised- much as a Russians (or Finns) believe that an alcoholic is one that drinks straight from the botlte rather than using a glass, it was sign that you were "holding it all together" if you are shaved and well presented (still goes as a theory in some psychy wards today!).

To use an out of period comment- look at Orwell's "Down and out.." they are all skint but each man has a razor and shaves as a sign that they still have some self respect- the one time that a fella is truly at the bottom of the barrel is when he has to sell his razor.

Freud, even at his skintest, maintained his social status by having a barber come in once a day...

Shaving is a relatively cheap and simple way of being fashionable and maintaining ones standards.

Personally I have a very fine barber in Edinburgh and intend to visit him soon...

The problem is that people want to be the "hairy arsed" noble savage- effectively a "Hells Angel in a kilt" and the beard is anti-establishment so they carry that over into their recreation (much as Goths insist on making all their kit out of black and purple or Punks find ways to justify piercings in kit :roll: or Andy R finding a way to have his trews an inch too short and wear white socks with black and white checked saddlery :twisted: )
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Post by Andy R »

Fox wrote:CUBA!

What do you think the chances of a primary, or even solid looking secondary, source are?
As much chance as finding a beard in the mid 18th century.

Unless......

I'll try the Dutch to see what they can dig up.

I'll try the Blue Guard in case they are still up and running, and failing that the 14eme Cuirassier who may know how to do a search in Dutch..! :D
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Post by Mark P. »

See the 'dutch redoats' thread below for some pics of, well C18th dutch redcoats.

http://livinghistory.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=9931
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