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Friday, January 16, 2015

Solomon Eccles and an interesting use of Chafing dishes - Jessica Cale

I am kicking off the year with a fellow 17th century passionista (my crusade to prove the 17th century is the new Regency appears to be working!).

Welcome to author Jessica Cale, whose debut novel TYBURN (just the very word is evocative) is set in Restoration London. Jessica  is a historical romance author and journalist based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a BA in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. You can visit her at 

Jessica is offering a GIVEAWAY of TYBURN! Like her on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and leave a comment here but don't forget to say that you read about the GIVEAWAY here... 

As you know I ask my guests to share a tid bit of interesting research they discovered in writing their book and, if possible, to show how it is reflected in the book itself. 

Jessica's Friday Fun Fact is on an interesting Restoration sight (rather than the person himself)... Solomon Eccles. Thanks for a fascinating post, Jessica!

Solomon Eccles

 Westminster Hall was a popular place to shop in Restoration London. It shared its space with the law courts, and the heads of Cromwell and two of his generals were displayed there until the 1680s. Perhaps the most memorable sight there, however, was Solomon Eccles. Eccles, sometimes known as Solomon Eagle, was a composer and a Quaker who began to appear in Westminster Hall as early as 1665. Spurred on by the plague, he urged shoppers (and presumably lawyers) to repent.

Solomon Eccles - modesty preserved...

Daniel Defoe mentioned him in A Journal of a Plague Year:  “He, though not infected at all but in his head, went about denouncing of judgment upon the city in a frightful manner, sometimes quite naked, and with a pan of burning charcoal on his head. What he said, or pretended, indeed I could not learn.”

Pepys came into contact with him on July 29th, 1667, writing: “One thing extraordinary was, this day a man, a Quaker, came naked through the Hall, only very civilly tied about the privities to avoid scandal, and with a chafing-dish of fire and brimstone burning upon his head, did pass through the hall crying, ‘Repent! Repent!’”

Eccles was arrested in Southwark in 1665 and briefly imprisoned. He burned his music, but had two sons who also became composers. He died in Spitalfields in 1682.

READ AN EXCERPT FROM TYBURN (featuring and encounter with Mr. Eccles...)

“Repent! Repent!”
Wrath was taken aback as a man leapt before him, naked as the day he was born, with a chafing dish of smoking brimstone on his head. His face was red with heat and pain, his features contorted into an expression of ecstatic madness. “Repent!” He cried as he rushed through the crowd.
Most of the shoppers paid him little heed as he ran between them. They averted their eyes at his nudity, stepping out of the way of any cinders falling out of the chafing dish in his wake. He ran to the end of the hall and back again, shouting, “Repent! Repent!”
Wrath increased his pace. He was nearly out of the hall and Charlie waited with his carriage in the street outside. He’d had quite enough madness for one day.
The man crossed Wrath’s path once again, and he stopped so abruptly that the chafing dish flew from his head and extinguished itself on the floor. He stood in Wrath’s long shadow, his red face glistening with sweat. His mouth hung open slightly, and he stared at Wrath as if he could see into his soul. It was unsettling, to say the least.
Wrath cleared his throat. “I suppose you’re going to tell me to repent?”
The man’s face twitched. He sat on the floor beside the chafing dish, covered his eyes, and began to weep.
Wrath felt a chill go down his spine but dismissed it. He pushed the man out of his way with the end of his polished black cane and walked through the exit. “Bloody lunatics.”


Sally Green is about to die.

She sees Death in the streets. She can taste it in her gin. She can feel it in the very walls of the ramshackle brothel where she is kept to satisfy the perversions of the wealthy. She had come to London as a runaway in search of her Cavalier father. Instead, she found Wrath, a sadistic nobleman determined to use her to fulfill a sinister ambition. As the last of her friends are murdered one by one, survival hinges on escape.

Nick Virtue is a tutor with a secret. By night he operates as a highwayman, relieving nobles of their riches to further his brother’s criminal enterprise. It’s a difficult balance at the best of times, and any day that doesn’t end in a noose is a good one. Saving Sally means risking his reputation, and may end up costing him his life.

As a brutal attack throws them together, Sally finds she has been given a second chance. She is torn between the tutor and the highwayman, but she knows she can have neither. Love is an unwanted complication while Wrath haunts the streets. Nick holds the key to Wrath’s identity, and Sally will risk everything to bring him to justice.
Unless the gallows take her first.
Buy TYBURN from ALL reputable ebook stores:  Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and if you go direct to Liquid Silver there is 25% off until Jan 31

Connect with Jessica Cale: 

Twitter: @JessicaCale