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Worldbuilding: Background and Additional Material

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When I began my research for a fusion story based on "A Civil Contract" by Georgette Heyer, my first task was to make John Watson a member of the nobility. Naturally, I turned to his Scottish roots and began looking up Watsons in Scotland. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there was a Clan Watson Chief until the mid-1800s, a James Watson of Saughton, outside of Edinburgh.

According to the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, Edinburgh (in both 1988 and 2000), the Armorial Bearings recorded in the books of the Lord Lyon, Vol. 2, Folio 178, 1818, describe "James Watson, Esquire, as direct male line from Richard Watson of Saughton, to be described as: Chief of the name in Scotland.  That record states that James Watson of Saughton is a Chief of the Name in Scotland, eldest son and heir of Charles Watson of Saughton who was descended in the direct male line from Richard Watson of Saughton, proprietor of those lands in 1537."

Although James Watson had a number of children, most of them died young.  His only surviving child, a daughter named Helen or Helena, married into the Douglas clan.  She had one son before she died, and the current Douglas clan chief is descended from him.  All of James's siblings died without heirs, even his sisters, and the same is true all the way up the tree to Richard, so the clan chief position of the Watsons has remained vacant to this day.

Historically, the Watsons were influential landowners in the area for about three centuries from 1537. They were related to the Watsons of Rockingham castle in Northamptonshire (the Earl of Rockingham) and to Charles Watson-Wentworth, Lord Rockingham, who was twice British Prime Minister in the late 1700's. In fact, the Watsons were related to nearly every prominent family in Scotland and many in England because of their strategic marriages, although they were never elevated to the peerage. Through marriages into the Stewart/Stuart family, they were also distantly related to the Royal Family of England, and James Watson would have been a very distant 9th cousin to Queen Victoria. The family was also prominent in both the Army and Navy, and closely related to many members of the admiralty. They were also related to many of the prominent merchants and bankers in Scotland, as well as several artists and writers through the 18th and 19th centuries.

This made the Watsons of Saughton an ideal family for me to insert our John Watson into, especially since "John" was one of the family names.  I have made John the younger brother of the last Watson chief, James, and used an earlier death date for James (there is some confusion over whether he died in 1821 or 1836, and it may be that another James  - a son or nephew - was the clan chief from 1821-1836).  Harriet - Harry - Watson has also been added, and fused into the Dalrymple family line, which died out at about the same time; their land was absorbed by the same Douglas clan that Helen Watson married into. 

The chapter entitled "The Watson Connection" will list our fictitious John Watson's connection to famous/infamous persons of his time period.


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General Information and Current Status

A suburb of Edinburgh, Saughton lies 3 miles southwest of the city center.  First recorded in 1128, its early names included Salectun and Sachtone. The lands belonged to Holyrood Abbey between 1128 and 1587, then were then divided up among the Watson, Morison and Dalzell families and changed hands many times over the centuries.   In 1587 Saughton in its entirety was transferred to the Watson family who built the mansion house called Saughton House (later Old Saughton House) in 1623 and acquired more land – Saughton Mills (1657), Sighthill (1684) and Broomhouse (1699).  Saughton Road is mentioned as far back as 1590 and was once the way to the parish kirk. Saughton Mains was the farm of the House and was situated at the east end of the current Saughton Mains Drive.  Currently, the property that belonged to the Watsons of Saughton is the site of public housing centered around Broomhouse Primary School, which is on the site of Old Saughton House.  HM Prison Edinburgh lies on the southern side of the district and was also known as Saughton Prison.  The Home Farm is now part of the Edinburgh Zoo.


Saughton Hall - not to be confused with Saughton House, Old or New:  In 1600, the eastern parts of the Saughton lands bordering Dairy were deeded to the Morisons and later sold to Thomas Moodie of Dairy in 1639.  In 1660 Moodie’s daughter and heir sold this land (98 acres) in 1660 to Robert Baird, a merchant in Edinburgh, and he built Saughton Hall (not the current Saughtonhall used as a government building), which remained in the Baird family until the early 19th century.   It then became the Institute for the Recovery of the Insane, described as "a private lunatic asylum exclusively designed for the reception of Patients of the higher ranks".   The asylum was closed and the estate purchased by the Edinburgh Council in 1900 and turned into Saughton Park.  In 1908 Saughton Park held the Scottish National Exhibition which ran for 6 months. There was a palace of industries with ornamental towers, a machinery hall and a fine art gallery. There was also an amusement park.  It was then abandoned again until the house burned down and was demolished in 1954. The gardens now make up Saughton Park and Saughton Rose Garden. 

The only connection of Saughton Hall to our Watsons is that Robert Baird's granddaughter, Bathia, who was born in Saughton Hall, married James Watson of Saughton, our John's great-grandparents.  Also, when an asylum is mentioned in Watson's Folly, this is the one they are talking about.


The Watsons and Saughton House (Old Saughton House and New Saughton/Cammo House)

Old Saughton House

Old Saughton House was the primary home of the Watson family until the mid 1700s.  It stood on lands in the Saughton suburb of Edinburgh (see information above).  When the Watsons relocated to Cammo after 1741, the Old House became the Dower property until the Watson family died out, when it was sold.  It was eventually abandoned in the early 1900s.  The house was damaged by fire in 1920 and subsequently demolished. The site is now occupied by Broomhill Primary School and grounds.

Old Saughton House


New Saughton House (Cammo House)

The land was originally called Cammo Park and lies to the south of the River Almond, a half-mile southwest of Cramond Bridge and a mile east northeast of the freight section of Edinburgh Airport at Turnhouse.   The house was originally built for John Menzies in 1693, and the surrounding parkland was laid out between 1710-26 by amateur architect Sir John Clerk of Penicuik. In 1741, the estate passed to the Watsons of Saughton.   James Watson (son of James & Bathia above) renamed the property to Saughton Park and New Saughton House, to reflect the existing house and lands owned by the family.  He made several improvements to the estate, which were continued by his son, Charles, who added on the 2-story wing on the right, a beautiful set of gates, and a lodge in 1789.  His son, James, built a water tower and new stables in 1811 (both of which are still partially standing), and quite possibly the rear 3-story "L" shaped addition to the house, which can be seen best in the middle photo (the part jutting out at the left) and the 4th picture where the half-circle tower is very prominent.  All three Watsons improved upon the grounds, conforming to the preferences of the time that they lived in.  Either Charles or the younger James added a walled garden (the remains of which can still be seen) and a ha-ha, which has long since disappeared.  The current grounds contain some fine plantings, including a large ash that is thought to be the oldest in Edinburgh.  Below are two photos from early 1900s, a painting from the late 1700s, and an etching of the new addition from the 1820s.

New Saughton House   View of the grounds 



When the last of the male Watsons (James) died, the property passed to the Earl of Morton as he had married James Watson's only surviving child, Helen.  Morton had bought or inherited all the surrounding property, including Dalmahoy and Hatton House (both featured in my story).  He revised the entails of the Dalmahoy and Saughton estates as there were no more legal heirs on either side, so that the Morton title included the choicest parts around Dalmahoy.  New Saughton House, renamed Cammo House again, was then sold to the Maitland family and remained in their hands until 1975.  By this time, the house had fallen into disrepair and had been damaged by vandals.  It caught fire for the last time in 1977, and in 1979 and 1980 the majority of the remaining structures were demolished.  The first photo shows the house in early Edwardian times (note that the roof-line had changed from the previous look), and the last two show the ruined house between 1975-77, before it burned. 


Only the lower section of the walls of the central house survive today.  A grassy mound remains from the grand front steps, seen in the left and center pictures, which were carted away long ago. A disused walled garden and mid-18th century bridge, together with the ruins of the lodge and stables, all lie on the current grounds.  The estate was gifted to the National Trust for Scotland in 1980 and is now managed in association with the City of Edinburgh Council.  The "Friends of Cammo" have a Facebook page and are working to reclaim the gardens; they also hold annual picnics in August and other such events, so if you are heading to Edinburgh, you might want to look them up!  There are also several archaeological digs taking place on the property, notably in the stables and the pig farm (part of the Home Farm).


Ruins of New Saughton House    



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 Ahem.  So.  Originally, I had a couple of photos and a slightly blurry set of floorplans from which I devised the following base plan for the ground floor:


Original Draft - ground floor

And then I received digital copies of the layout of Cammo House from Hogg's time, as well as architectural line drawings showing the base layout and the additions over the 150 years that it was owned by the Watsons.  And, as you can see, the part that I thought was Saughton is only about 1/3 of the house (the wing on the right side in the line drawing below).  It's actually just the part that Charles Watson added onto the original rectangular house, shown by the thicker walls in the drawing, not including the back part with the curved tower. 


This back part (with the turret) was added onto the original house later as well, by a James Watson, although the documents aren't clear about whether it was the James Watson who bought it from Hogg in 1749 or the last James Watson, who would have added it after he inherited in 1811.  However; the painting on the left which is simply titled as "Regency Saughton" doesn't appear to show the back addition - you can see that it juts out from the house on the left-back in this photo from the early 1900s.  So it is probably safe to say that the last James Watson (or his heiress, Helen, and her husband) added it.  I have decided that this will be John's legacy, and it will be mentioned at the very end of "Watson's Folly", as well as in future stories that I have in mind.




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This is the original set of plans from when John inherits the estate.  The "boys" and "girls" rooms will become guest rooms until the children get older.  John will also contemplate completing the expansion that James planned for.  References to the house's layout have been changed in Part II of "Watson's Folly".  Right-Click  and View on the pictures to see a larger version.


 Basement  Ground Floor

1st Floor  2nd Floor


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Saughton House has been expanded, and just in time as I hear rumours of a second baby, and you know that there will be plenty of visitors.

No more brother-in-law across the parlour from John & Sherlock!  Guest rooms!  Expanded space for the servants!  Separate bedrooms for the children! A new conservatory!  (I wonder if John will let Sherlock winter his bees there?)  And the latest in indoor plumbing!

Right-click on the images, then choose View Image to see the plans in a larger format.  If you click on the image again, you'll actually be able to read the labels!




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Note that the 221 Baker Street layout has some differences from what we see in the show:

1) Speedy's isn't there

2) The kitchen is on the ground floor since Mrs. Hudson IS their housekeeper.

3) Sherlock's bedroom is on the 2nd floor instead of the 1st because his bedroom is needed for a workroom, as Mrs Hudson and Mycroft object to experiments in the dining room. 

4) The address in this story at the beginning is 221, not 221B.  As the producers and consultants for the Granada series, the Ritchie movies, and the BBC productions have noted, technically it should be 221 on the outside door with the separate units inside (i.e., Mrs Hudson in 221A, the basement apartment of 221C, etc.) but the address is famous.  However, I have my own fix in the works, which will get a separate page here when unveiled.

5) There are some differences in the WC and bathrooms between the series and this story to align with the times (and yes, there was indoor plumbing on a limited basis at this time, as shown in "A Civil Contract"). 

6) According to the Google Earth pictures, the building used for the series (on Gower Street) has a third floor which we never see.  Possibly that is used for storage, but in this world, that floor is used for the nursery and servant quarters.


EDIT on Jan 28, 2015: I have been doing some more research on Regency period homes, particularly those built along the area where Gower and Baker streets are.  These were called Regency terraces, and they had a major difference from the Georgian houses in that they had a half-basement, raising the ground floor a few steps above the street.  This basement often housed the kitchen and scullery, as water was piped into these buildings.  They also housed servant quarters, typically the scullery maid, cook, and/or housekeeper.  Regency terraces, like the Georgian houses before them, had two major rooms on each floor above the basement, until you reached the 3rd floor/attic where there were smaller rooms for the children and/or servants.  In addition, many houses had a rear extension added, and the kitchen was moved out here with a new extra bedroom above it (i.e., Sherlock's bedroom in the series).  Also, in those houses with the new-fangled indoor WCs, they were located in this extension as well.  On the outside front of the house, there is often a servant entrance staircase, enclosed by iron railings, leading down to the basement level.  Our 221B doesn't have this because of Speedy's outdoor seating area, but you can see this to either side of the Gower Street location on Google earth.  I've elected to keep the front of the current 221 Baker street without the servant's entrance, and have now included the basement.  Also, I've got the Kitchen at the back where we usually see Mrs. Hudson's flat, in keeping with the Regency practice, but I've put the scullery and maid in the basement, along with the pantry and coal bin. 


221 Baker Street

Basement Level                                               Ground Level                                                1st Floor

221B - Basement    221B - Ground Floor    221B - 1st Floor

2nd Floor                                      3rd Floor

221B - 2nd Floor  221B - 3rd Floor


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This is what 221 Baker Street looks like after the expansion into the Empty House next door.  Click on the link to see a larger copy.


Basement Level                                                                   Ground Level                                     

221 - Basement 221 - Ground Floor


1st Floor                                                               2nd Floor

221 - 1st Floor           221 - 2nd Floor

3rd Floor

221 - 3rd Floor

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General Genetics in the Saughton universe

Based on Variation Four in Omegaverse Genetics - One Theory, there are Alphas, Omegas, and Betas who have two of three alleles in their genetic code. 

Alpha genotypes are: AA, AO
Non-sterile Beta genotypes are: BA, BO
Sterile Beta genotypes are: BB
Omega genotypes are: OO

Percentages and procreative abilities are:

Alpha male - able to sire children - most common Alpha, 50% of male population
Beta male - able to sire children - 49% of Beta population, 37% of male population
Omega male - able to bear children - 8% of male population
Alpha female - able to sire or bear children - 25% of female population
Beta female - able to bear children - 51% of Beta population, 50% of female population
Omega female - able to bear children - most common Omega, 25% of female population

Double-Beta male or female - sterile, unable to bear or sire children, 3% of the Beta population
Double-Y males - non-viable, stillborn, about 5% of the general population


Fertility and Infant Mortality

Alpha/Omega combinations are the most fertile and produce the most viable offspring (i.e., less likely to die as children).  Their children are always Alpha or Omega or, occasionally, double-Y stillbirths. 

Alpha/Beta combinations produce offspring, but they are more susceptible to childhood illnesses and death.  Their children are usually Alpha or Beta, although occasionally pairs with recessive Omega genes produce an Omega offspring. 

Beta/Beta combinations produce numerous offspring, with average susceptibility to death and disease.  This is the most common combination among the general populace.  Usually they produce Beta offspring, but occasionally pairs with recessive Alpha or Omega genes produce those offspring.  They also occasionally produce BB offspring, who are sterile.

Omega/Beta combinations produce the fewest offspring, and they are generally Betas with Omega recessive unless the Beta has the recessive "O" gene.  This is because Omegas generally require Alpha pheromones to release an egg to be fertilized.  Because Omegas are rarer, they usually are married to Alphas during times of arranged marriages.

Alpha male/Alpha female combinations -  they are able to have children, but it is a difficult and usually contentious combination. 

Pairings between same sex Alphas are not illegal but are frowned on and they are non-penetrative.  Pairings between two Omegas regardless of their gender are illegal.  However, sexual liaisons between Alpha and Beta males are not uncommon, as well as between two Betas of the same gender, particularly in the military.  In civilian life, it is not uncommon for two "confirmed bachelors" (either Alpha/Beta or Beta/Beta) to take up residence together, and quite common for spinster Beta females - no one really questions if they are having sex. Although they cannot marry in the church, they can form a civil partnerships.  Generally, this is because no one really cares what Betas do, and there are always too many Alpha males for them to find sexual partners.   

Alpha females are able to sire children as well as carry them, however AA females find it easier to sire than conceive and are more likely to experience difficulties during childbirth.  On the other hand Ao females have an easier time with childbirth but they have an equally difficult time conceiving.  For this reason, Alpha females are more likely to pair off with Beta or Omega females, or occasionally with Omega males.


Heat, Knotting, and Other Technical Details

While I love reading stories with multiple day sex-romping, copious lubrication, etc., the object in this series is to make the omegaverse part of things appear more like our universe. (It is a Heyer pastiche so there isn't much overt sex.) So, unlike most omegaverse universes, in the Saughton universe "heat" is less overwhelming and more like normal ovulation in women.  Omegas of either sex are fertile at various intervals throughout a year, anywhere between one and twelve times, with the most common being three to four times a year.  The difference can be attributed to having a bonded Alpha partner whose pheromones stimulate ovulation in a bonded Omega.  Omegas are fertile for anywhere between one to three days during their cycle, at which time they produce an egg that can be fertilized by any Alpha or Beta male, or Alpha female.  However, they do not experience the overwhelming need to rut for days on end, nor are they irresistible to any potential partner in pheromone-sniffing distance.  In fact, it is nearly impossible for anyone other than the Omega to ascertain that they are fertile, although potential partners may find them more attractive at this time and be more interested in coupling.  The Omega will experience typical signs of ovulation: slightly more lubrication, increased sexual desire, slight rise in temperature, and increased sensitivity of nipples - however, these can also be mistaken for other conditions or can be so slight as to be ignored.  It is therefore possible for an Omega to get pregnant without anyone initially being aware that they are so.

Sex is similar to most omegaverses (without the copious lubrication and the multiple day sex romps). Omegas are always self-lubricating when properly stimulated, regardless of gender, and when having sex with an Omega of either gender, Alphas produce knots that can connect them to their partner following release for about15 minutes.  Depending on age and health, Alpha/Omega couples may have sex multiple times while the Omega is fertile, but more along the lines of normal refractory periods. 

Once pregnant, an Alpha/Omega pair are drawn to spend their time together and the Omega can actually become ill if they do not spend enough time physically touching their Alpha.  This is a hold-over from more primitive times when a pregnant Omega was more vulnerable and an Alpha needed to protect them.  If no Alpha is in the picture, through death or abandonment, the Omega would often miscarry so that they were less vulnerable and/or could form another pair-bond.  In more modern times, this biological need has been forgotten.

After childbirth, an Omega will not go into heat until shortly after they stop lactating.  This is nature's way of controlling the population since an Omega nearly always becomes pregnant if they have sex while in heat.  Theoretically, if an Omega didn't breast-feed or take birth control/heat suppressants, they could give birth to a child every 12-18 months, depending on their cycle.  In a world where food sources are scarce, an Omega would provide the primary nourishment for their baby for at least a year, reducing childbirth to every 24-30 months and keeping the population replacement rates lower.


Methods of Determining Presentation

Children come into their full sexual Presentation at puberty but there are early indicators for what they will be from birth.  A female with a penis is clearly an Alpha but the genitals in other presentations aren't fully formed until puberty.  However, since early times, an herbal mixture or "chrism" has been applied to the forehead and mixed with a bit of blood on the palms to both sanctify/baptise the child as well as determine their presentation.  If there is no reaction, the child is a Beta.  If the herbs turn bright red or green, the child is an Alpha or Omega respectively.  This was most commonly done during naming ceremonies and at the coronation of kings, but Christians have incorporated this "anointing" into certain rituals, like baptism or the taking of Holy Orders.  Members of the nobility are more likely to have their children baptised with the full ritual and thus learn the presentation of their child, whereas among the poorer classes or stricter Protestant religions they are less likely to use this special oil. 

In addition, at puberty most Beta females will start their reproductive cycle while the male's testicles descend.  If neither happens, then the child is infertile, unable to sire or bear children.  This occurs in about 3% of the Beta population.


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Traditional Forms of Address per Debrett's

Given the example of John Watson, the 9th Earl of Saughton, the 11th Viscount of Cammo:

John's Title

Obviously, there were no provisions for same-sex unions,  so the options for a male consort of either a male or female Earl are  either 1) call them Countess/Lady (Earldom) just like their female counterparts, 2) call them by a lesser title such as Count or Viscount, as is done for the heir, or 3) do something else entirely.  I tried looking at the current Bill before Parliament to address both gender equality and courtesy titles for same-sex partners, and what they are recommending really only addresses partners of life-peers (i.e., those knighted by the Queen but not given inheritable titles, like Sir Elton John).  Their solution is to call them the Honourable (Name) - in this case the Honourable Sherlock Holmes.  So - what to do?

(Okay, this might not be a big deal, but I was a Herald with the Society for Creative Anachronism for fifteen years, and I can't stand not to something in a plausibly heraldic manner.)

So what I have decided to do for Male Consorts of Peers in Saughton-verse is a combination.  They will take a lower title than their spouse (the same way that Prince Philip is a Prince, not a King), so a Duke's spouse would be an Earl, an Earl's would be a Viscount, a Viscount's would be a Baron.  However, unlike the Heir, they would not take the lesser title of their spouse if they have one (which they usually do) - in this case the Viscount Cammo - but instead would refer to the primary title, i.e., Saughton.   The word "of" would be dropped since they are not actually the holder of any property, only courtesy titles. 

 Sherlock's Titles

Hierarchy of Gender Rights and Privileges

General status order

Alpha Males
Beta Males
Alpha Females
Beta Females
Omega Males
Omega Females


Gender Rights - Overall Summary

In most cases, being male gives you more privileges and rights than being female during the time period of this story (Regency England).  Being a male entitles you to vote (unless you are Omega), to education of some type (depending on your class), to work in a field outside the home, to own property, and to make decisions for your dependents. 


Presentation Rights - Overall Summary

In general, being an Alpha puts you at the top and being an Omega puts you at the bottom, in terms of rights and privileges, with the exception that in some cases Beta males trump Alpha females (see details below).  Betas are right in the middle - not as many privileges but not as many restrictions. 


Careers based on Gender and Presentation

Hereditary Peers are always Alphas, either male or female (see the section on Alphageniture).  Life Peers (created by the King/Queen and not inherited, like Sir Elton John) can be Alphas or Betas, rarely Omega during the Regency time period, and can be of either gender, although extremely rarely are they Beta or Omega females at this time.  The Military is a common career for Alphas and Betas, as is the clergy (particularly for Bo Betas).  University professors are usually Betas, although it is not uncommon for Ao Alphas to pursue academic careers.  Careers in commerce, politics, law and medicine are also more common for Betas, but Ao Alphas also drift into those fields as well.  Occasionally, an AA Alpha will enter politics, but it is generally through another avenue first, such as being a military commander, as they tend to lack the patience and diplomacy to climb the ladder.  Female educators are almost entirely Betas, as are nurses, clerks, and nuns.  The occasional Omega female might take to the cloister, but this is usually among the lower classes as their rarity usually leads to them being pawns in dynastic marriages among the upper classes. 


Rights of Omegas

Substitute Omegas for women throughout history and you have a general idea as to their rights - which is practically none prior to more modern times.  Omegas are generally the property of their sire until they marry when they become the property of their spouse.  If their parent is dead, they are under the guardianship of their nearest Alpha or Beta relative.  Any property they have is passed to their spouse or Alpha children.  Mistreatment of Omegas is generally frowned upon but it is not unknown.  An abused Omega has very few rights and their only hope is to appeal to their family for help.  An Omega cannot testify against their spouse or press charges if they are being abused.  An Omega cannot vote or participate in politics, with the sole exception being among the Royal family.  This doesn't mean an Omega is basically weak, as there have been many strong and independent Omegas who have been the power behind the throne, but they are rarely the power ON the throne.  Omega females cannot hold jobs, although more recently Omegas have been allowed to be educated outside of the home at select boarding schools (Beta or Omega only).  More recently, Omega males have been allowed advanced education, but they generally do not live in college, as there were no colleges dedicated to Omegas until more modern times.


Rights of Alpha females

Alpha females are fairly rare in the population, but for the most part they have been treated like Alpha males ever since Henry VIII's time (Queen Mary and Elizabeth I were Alpha females).  They can vote, they can hold titles in their own names, they can own property and run businesses.  They are accepted into some professions, such as merchants, lawyers, doctors.  However, they cannot join either the army or navy, although they can take arms to defend their own lands when necessary.  They have been active in religious orders and most Abbesses have been Alpha females.  Alpha females have been local magistrates but they are rarely members of the House of Commons, although they can take a seat in the House of Lords if they are entitled to it.  Originally educated at home, they have more recently entered higher education and there are colleges at most major universities dedicated to Alpha female students. 


Rights of Beta females

Beta women have more rights than Omega females but less than Alpha females.  They can't vote or hold office and they are excluded from inheriting titles or passing them on to their spouse or children.  However, they can hold jobs although they tend to be menial or care-taking in nature, like teachers or nurses or household staff.  They are usually educated at home, at Dame Schools, or select boarding schools in more recent times. 


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Alphageniture, or Inheritance in the Saughton universe

Inheritance is based on the primogeniture (eldest son inherits) standard in our universe.  Betas are completely excluded from inheritance among the peerage. If a Peer only has Beta children, it is considered as if he didn't have any children at all.  This is because an Alpha is more likely to marry a Beta spouse (Omegas being rare), and two Betas have a 1 in 4 chance of producing a double-B (BB) child, which are sterile.  Until Henry VIII's time, inheritance was limited to Alpha males, but his Act of Succession put his two Alpha daughters in line for the throne behind his Alpha son, Edward (Mary was an Ao while Elizabeth was an AA).  Most peerages in England followed suit, putting Alpha males first and then Alpha females, however there are some countries like Germany where females cannot inherit titles.  The Act of Settlement of 1701 changed things further, allowing for the inheritance of the British throne to pass to an Omega heir of either gender, failing a legitimate Alpha heir.  This paved the way for Queen Victoria to ascend to the throne in Britain but not in Germany, where females were still barred from inheritance. 

When a Peer dies, the usual Inheritance is as follows:

First to his Alpha male heirs

Then to his Alpha female heirs

Then to his Alpha siblings in order of birth, or to their Alpha children in order of birth if they have preceded him in death

Then to the last lord's Omega heirs successively, being held by their husbands in trust for their Alpha offspring

Then to the previous lord's Omega heirs successively

& so forth up the tree

If no living heirs Alpha or Omega are located, then the title and lands shall be held in abeyance.


So, given the following hypothetical family (this is not necessarily the breakdown of the Watsons in my story):

Charles Watson, Earl of Saughton

Eldest son - James - Alpha: no living Alpha descendents, one Omega offspring

Second son - George - Alpha: deceased with an illegitimate Alpha son

Third son - Charles - Beta: one Alpha son

Youngest son - John - Alpha: one Omega son

Youngest daughter - Harriet - Alpha: one Omega daughter


James would inherit the title of Earl of Saughton.  Upon his death, his Omega offspring would be displaced by

George, except that he is dead and has only an illegitimate son.  Possible for the boy to inherit some lands but not the title or entail

Charles, passed over completely because he is a Beta, even though he has an Alpha son.  However, he could marry into another family and his Alpha son inherit there.

so John would inherit the title.  If John dies after he has Alpha children, they inherit in gender/birth order.  If he dies with only Omega descendents, then the title goes to

Harriet.  If she dies with no more children, then her Omega daughter would inherit because Harriet was the last Alpha lord to hold title. 

However, if Harriet has no heirs, then the title goes to John's Omega son because he was the last lord before Harriet to hold the title.  If John has no Omega heirs, then James's Omega offspring would inherit. 

However, there is another spanner in the works - what if Harriet marries into another peerage?


Relinquishment of Title

In some cases, an heir relinquishes their rights to a title.  This is what happened when Edward VIII gave up the throne in order to marry a divorced woman.  However, it can also happen in less dramatic circumstances, for instance when an Alpha is marrying the Omega heir of a different peerage.  For example, if Clara  is the Omega heiress to the Earl of Dalmahoy peerage, and it is not an included junior branch of the Watson family's peerage (i.e., the Watsons of Dalmahoy), then the marriage settlement might require Harriet to relinquish her claim to the Saughton title upon her marriage to Clara.  Harriet (and any of her descendents) would cease being a Watson heir and instead take on the Dalmahoy title of Clara's family, and Harriet Watson-Dalmahoy would become the Earl of Dalmahoy.  Their children might keep the hyphenated last name or return to the Dalmahoy one, but they would not be Watsons.  This was to keep family names and peerages from dying out.  After their marriage, Harriet is no longer in line for the Earl of Saughton peerage, even if John dies without an heir - so in the above example, the peerage would then revert to James's Omega offspring. 

In some cases, the relinquishment of a title might only apply to the person marrying into the other peerage and their eldest child, allowing a second Alpha child to inherit the title that their parent had relinquished.  In other words, if John died without offspring and Harriet had two Alpha children and the eldest Alpha child already had an Alpha heir to ensure that line, then a younger Alpha child could inherit the Watson title. An example of this is William Maule, Baron Panmure, who was born William Ramsay, a younger son of the Earl of Dalhousie, who inherited the title of Panmure from his mother's line and changed his name subsequently.

This is usually clearly spelled out in Marriage Settlements (which is why they caused Harriet Vane such despair in the Wimsey series, having to go through all the possible ramifications of anyone's death within the Wimsey family).  Sometimes, the lines of inheritance are also spelled out in the original granting of the title, but in any case the lines are usually restated when there is a new heir to a title and revised upon the birth of children.  I have listed the original granting of the title charter in a separate chapter, as well as John & Sherlock's marriage settlement agreement.


Illegitimate Issue

Usually, those born on the wrong side of the blanket are out of luck as concerns inheriting anything.  If they are lucky, for example, if their Alpha parent is a King or a Duke with lots of extra land and titles floating around, they might be made the 1st Viscount or Earl of Puddleditch and given some nifty door-prizes for playing the game (i.e., being loyal to Daddy and not trying to kill off the legitimate siblings).  If their Alpha parent is lacking heirs and can finagle it, they can sometimes be legitimized - usually by a belated marriage to the mother and official recognition by the father, particularly in Scotland where marriage at any point before death legitimized bastard children, even if they weren't born in wedlock.  In some extremely rare cases, if there are no legitimate heirs and there are wars and such going on, a bastard can get the title, but this usually only involves the really big prizes, like being king, and it also usually involves a lot of tearing up of the landscape in the form of wars.  Clan chieftains can be a different thing, and legitimacy isn't as big a deal as being the strongest Alpha around. 

There was also this peculiar thing called the "irregular marriage" in Scotland.  These are what we sometimes call "common law marriages" today.  A couple was considered married in Scotland even without an official marriage by: 1) exchange of promises before two witnesses and officiated by a citizen of Scotland, 2) betrothal agreement between two parties followed by consummation (sex), or 3) by cohabitation and repute (living together as husband and wife). This led to the "Gretna Green" elopements so beloved of in Regency Romances.   After 1856, at least one of the parties, preferably both, had to be Scottish or have their residence in Scotland for at least 21 days. 

It also caused quite a fracas when the John Dalrymple, the Earl of Stair, (who would be a distant great-uncle to our Clara), took up with a Miss Johanna Gordon.  They exchanged vows, he called her his wife in private letters and they had sexual relations, but the relationship was never formalized and was kept secret because he feared being disowned.  When he inherited, he decided he could do better than a simple Miss Gordon and disavowed their relationship, marrying a Miss Laura Manners in the usual way.  Miss Gordon objected and took the matter to court; she won on the basis of "cohabitation and repute", and the second Mrs. Dalrymple retired into seclusion.  However, there were no children of either marriage and a cousin inherited the Stair title.



Chapter Text

CAVEAT: Most of this page is fictional, as there is no Earl of Saughton.


History of the Earldom of Saughton

The ancestor of the Watson clan originated in upper Scotland, near Aberdeen, although the name is not recorded.  This ancestor, the son of Watts, moved from Aberdeen to Yorkshire sometime prior to 1400, probably in service to one of the nobility, and settled there.  Richard Watson was born in Yorkshire and migrated back to Scotland sometime around his marriage to Janet Stanhope in 1528, also in some form of service to royalty.  He settled in the area of Saughton, outside of Edinburgh, and was a noted landholder there by 1537.  Before his death in 1553, he had also acquired lands on the other side of the Firth in Fife, holding Dunfemline there as well as Saughton.  He passed Saughton on to his eldest son, James, and Dunfemline to his second son, John.

This is where actual history takes a slightly different turn, as the Watsons never received titles, whereas in my story line both Dunfemline and Saughton were baronies.  While in the real world the Watsons continued expanding their lands and their fortunes, marrying into the prominent peerages and gentry of the area until they were one of the leading families, in Saughtonverse they also got titles to go along with the lands.  James continued expanding the family lands, acquiring the title of Viscount Cammo and the lands to go with it.  However, it was his son, also named James, who built up the family fortunes and was made Earl of Saughton in 1584.  Since then, the eldest son and heir has always been designated Viscount Cammo.


Original Wording of the Charter to the Earldom of Saughton

By order of His Majesty James VI, King of Scotland, the Earldom of Saughton is to be granted to James Watson of Saughton, Viscount Cammo, with remainder to the heirs general of his body.

James, by the grace of God, King of Scotland, To all whom these presents shall come, greeting. Know that I have made James Watson of Saughton, Earl of Saughton, hereditarily, wherefore I will and grant and firmly direct that he and the heirs general of his body after him by hereditary right shall hold of me and my heirs well and in peace and as freely and honorably as other Earls of my land hold the earldoms whence they are earls with all dignities and liberties and customs with which my other Earls hold.  And for the maintenance of such estate we have granted the lands of Saughton and of Cammo, and confirm the earlier granting of the title of Viscount Cammo with its lands comprising Corphinstine, Broomfield, and Cammo.

In succession to James shall be  the Alpha male heirs of his body successively, and to the Alpha male heirs of their bodies successively; whom failing, to the Alpha female heirs of the body; whom failing, to the next Alpha heir of the previous Alpha heir and his Alpha heirs; whom failing, to the eldest married Omega heir of the body of the last heir in possession of the lands; whom failing, to the eldest married Omega heir of the preceding heirs in possession.  Should no heirs Alpha or Omega be located, the title and lands shall revert to the Crown.  

In witness whereof we have caused these our letters to be made patent.  Witnessed ourselves at Edinburgh, on the 17 day of May in the year of our Lord 1584 , in the 17th year of our reign.

(signature and seal of James VI, King of Scotland)


Marriage Settlement Agreement of John Hamish Watson and William Sherlock Scott Holmes

(In reference to the inheritance of the title):

"Male Alpha heirs of my body begotten on Sherlock
Female Alpha heirs of my body begotten on Sherlock
Omega heirs of my body begotten on Sherlock
If my marriage produces no heirs, then to the heirs of my siblings, as provided by law."




Chapter Text

Why Keep Records?

The original purpose of the General Registrar's Office and all the legislation involved in recording vital statistics like birth, marriage, and death wasn't to help out future generations of genealogists.  (That is just a nice benefit)  The real reasons were:

1) for proof of pedigrees, to facilitate the claims to real or personal property

2) to collect statistics on births (including stillbirths) and deaths

3) to enforce compulsory vaccinations for children starting in 1853


Record-keeping Prior to 1837

For many hundreds of years, people lived in a generally fixed area all of their lives so all the details about them - their birth, their parents, their legitimacy, their death - were known by most of the residents in the area, and certainly by the parish priest.  Even after the Protestant Reformation, the local clergy generally had the pertinent information in their parish registers.  However, in the 18th century and onwards, religion became increasingly fractured with various religious sects forming, and people became more mobile.  The various wars in Europe and the Industrial Revolution meant that people often moved away from the villages of their birth, marrying and having children and dying in distant towns and cities.  And as the standard of wealth moved from fixed property to a more portable type of wealth in goods and coinage, disputes over inheritance became more popular such that in Dickens's time period, court cases over inheritance often stretched over years ("Bleak House" being a prime example).  Thus centralized record-keeping became more and more important, and a series of laws were passed to facilitate these.  The first was Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act in 1753 which set down the requirements for legal marriage in England and Wales, such as a minimum age of 16, parental consent till age 21, and performance of the ceremony by a recognized member of the clergy.  The first census was conducted in 1800, based on the parish registers - which proved a problem as there was no recognized universal format for keeping records.  The Parochial Registers Act in 1812 set out the standard form for registering baptisms, marriages and burials but it only referred to the Anglican church.  The Marriage Act of 1836 and the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1836 established the present system of civil registration.

"Prior to the creation of the General Register Office (GRO) in 1837, there was no national system of civil registration in England and Wales. Baptisms, marriages, and burials were recorded in parish registers maintained by Church of England (Anglican) clergy. However, with the great increase in nonconformity and the gradual relaxation of the laws against Catholics and other dissenters from the late 17th century, more and more baptisms, marriages and burials were going unrecorded in the registers of the Anglican Church.  The increasingly poor state of English parish registration led to numerous attempts to shore up the system in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Marriage Act of 1753 attempted to prevent 'clandestine' marriages by imposing a standard form of entry for marriages, which had to be signed by both parties to the marriage and witnesses. Additionally, except in the case of Jews and Quakers, legal marriages had to be carried out according to the rites of the Church of England. Sir George Rose's Parochial Registers Act of 1812 laid down that all events had to be entered on standard entries in bound volumes. It also declared that the church registers of Nonconformists were not admissible in court as evidence of births, marriages and deaths. Only those maintained by the clergy of the Church of England could be presented in court as legal documents. This caused considerable hardship for Nonconformists. A number of proposals were presented to Parliament to set up centralised registries for recording vital events in the 1820s but none came to fruition."  (Higgs, E. Registration before civil registration )

"Eventually, increasing concern that the poor registration of baptisms, marriages and burials undermined property rights, by making it difficult to establish lines of descent, coupled with the complaints of Nonconformists, led to the establishment in 1833 of a parliamentary Select Committee on Parochial Registration. This took evidence on the state of the parochial system of registration, and made proposals that were eventually incorporated into the 1836 Registration and Marriage Acts. In addition, the government wanted to survey things like infant mortality, fertility and literacy to bring about improvements in health and social welfare."(Higgs, E. The early development of the General Register Office )


Between 1837 and 1875

Following the Births and Deaths Registration Act in 1836, birth registration with the state began on 1 July, 1837. The birth was registered in the birth district and at the end of each quarter, the registrar sent a copy of all entries to the Registrar General.  In some areas, records were collected all the way back to 1790 and submitted to the Registrar General, whose offices were in Somerset House in London until the middle of the twentieth century.

During this time period, the registrar was responsible for collecting information on births, deaths and marriages in their jurisdiction.  Because of this, records were not complete.  After 1875, the parents were required to register their child or pay a fine.  Deaths had to be recorded within 5 days.  Marriages were already required to take place in approved churches or synagogues, and that information reported to the records offices.   In addition, because of the danger of records being damaged, the Anglican Church in Ireland required that parish registers be sent to the Public Records Office for safe-keeping, and the information in these records was added to the official Public Records, in some cases back into the middle of the 1700s.  However, the centralization of records caused a problem for historians and genealogists when the records stored in the Dublin office were damaged in a fire in 1922, as many of the records were original registers and there were no copies made.  


Scottish Marriages

The Marriage Act of 1753 required those under 21 years of age to have parental consent.  However, this law didn't apply to Scotland where the minimal age for marriage without parental consent was 14 for boys and 12 for girls.  Also, under Scottish law, there were three forms of "irregular marriage": mutual agreement, a public promise followed by consummation, or by "cohabitation and repute" (living together as man and wife).  This caused the famous "Gretna Green" marriages, where runaway couples went to the first town over the Scottish border and were married "over the anvil" by the local blacksmith.  In 1856 Scottish law was changed to require 21 days' residence for marriage, and since 1929 both parties have had to be at least 16 years old (though there is still no parental consent needed). A further law change was made in 1940 to abolish these irregular marriages by declaration.


Differences in the Saughton Universe

Because of the importance of being able to record birth and marriage lines in the Saughton Universe, several of the record-keeping acts have been combined into the "Birth, Marriage, and Death Registration Act of 1812", which meant that every district was required to submit copies of existing parish registers for the past generation (about 25 years) to London, and to send quarterly updates. This information was housed in district offices and in the General Registrar's Office in Somerset House in London. This allowed the government to generate statistics on population, life expectancy, causes of death, and in our Omegaverse it also allowed them to track the percent of Alphas, Betas, and Omegas born.

Chapter Text

The Watsons of Saughton were well-connected to the leading people of the land, as well as many famous writers and artists.  If our John Watson was real, this would be some of his connections:

Law and Politics

Most of the Solicitor Generals of Scotland during the Regency & Victorian time period would be related to John, including:

David Monypenny - 2nd cousin

Charles Hope - 2nd cousin and husband of 1st cousin

John Hope - 2nd cousin once removed

James Wedderburn - 3rd cousin

John Clerk - 4th cousin


In the British Government:

Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville - Home Secretary from 1791-94, 1st Lord of the Admiralty from 1805-1806 - husband of 1st cousin

Robert Dundas, 2nd Viscount Melville - 1st Lord of the Admiralty from 1812-1827 - stepson of 1st cousin

William Dundas (another branch) - Secretary of War 1804-1806, Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty from 1812-1830 - 3rd cousin

Thomas Erskine, 1st Baron Erskine - Lord Chancellor 1806-1807 - 5th cousin

James Broun-Ramsey, 1st Marquess Dalhousie, Governor-General of India - 5th cousin

Sir George Clerk, MP for Edinburgshire - 6th cousin

Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham and former Prime Minister - 6th cousin

William Ewart Gladstone, future Prime Minister - 7th cousin



Lt. General John Hope - led 5th Division at Salamanca - 2nd cousin

Lt. General John Hope of Hopetoun (not the same person) - led 7th Division at Salamanca - 1st cousin once removed

General George Ramsey, 9th Earl of Dalhousie, Governor of Nova Scotia, Governor General of British North American, Commander-in-Chief of India - 4th cousin



William Carnegie, 7th Earl of Northesk, Rear Admiral of the White during Napoleonic wars - Maternal uncle

John Hope, 4th Earl of Hopetoun (see Lt. Gen. John Hope of Hopetoun above) - 1st cousin once removed

Clara Dalyrymple, heiress to Baronetcy of Dalmahoy - 2nd cousin once removed (and sister-in-law)

Clementina Drummond, aka Clementina Drummond-Burrell, aka the Baroness of Gwyndyr, aka Baroness Willoughby de Eresby - 5th cousin, however in the Society pages, her mother (Clementina Elphinstone) was in Edinburgh society with Margaret Carnegie, later Watson, so they were acquaintances and possibly friends

John Clerk, 2nd Baronet Penicuik (and architect of the grounds at Saughton Park) - 3rd cousin

Charles Hamilton, 8th Earl of Haddington - 3rd cousin and husband of 1st cousin

James Broun-Ramsey, 1st Marquess Dalhousie - 5th cousin

Henry David Erskine, 12th Earl of Buchan - 6th cousin

William Kerr, 6th Marquess of Lothian - 7th cousin

George Sholto Douglas, 17th Earl of Morton - 7th cousin

George, Prince Regent (later George IV) and Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Hanover (future Queen Victoria) - 9th cousins


Scholars, Writers, Artists

James Clerk-Maxwell, mathematical physicist - 2nd cousin

George Watson, artist - 3rd cousin 1 time removed

John Watson Gordon, artist - 4th cousin

Sir Walter Scott - novelist, playwright, poet - 6th cousin, 2nd grand-nephew of Walter's mother



Chapter Text

Medical Training during the Napoleonic Wars

I know that a number of people will comment about the changes I made to John Watson's medical training, and these were of necessity.  We know that ACD John Watson went to the King's College in London, did some training or residency at St. Barts, then went to Netley before joining his regiment.  The problem is that during the time period I have set this series in (1809 to 1821) only St. Barts existed of those three.   University College of London wasn't founded till Feb 11, 1826.  King's College wasn't opened until 1831, and Netly Hospital wasn't built until 1856. 

In addition, there wasn't a set training program for doctors in civilian life at this time, much less in the military.  The Apothecaries' Act of 1815 empowered the Society of Apothecaries to examine and grant licences to successful candidates and to regulate such practice through a syllabus of studies.   On July 1, 1826, Director General James McGrigor laid down a specific course of education for military medical personnel, but these were mostly liberal arts studies unless like Greek, Latin, Natural Philosophy, Mathematics and Natural History in all its branches.  The Royal Warrant of October 1, 1840 emphasized that unless a medical candidate had passed his examination at the Royal College of Surgeons of London, Edinburgh or Dublin, he would not be eligible for a commission.  The Medical Act of 1858 for the first time attempted to better regulate medical practice throughout the United Kingdom with a minimum standard of medical education. The standards of entry to the medical profession were defined by the Amending Medical Bill in 1886, when for the first time a medical student had to qualify in General Medicine, Surgery and Midwifery before his name could be entered on the Medical Register. A diploma of the Society of Apothecaries, if obtained under the conditions of the Act of 1886, was an acceptable qualification for those seeking a commission into the Army Medical Department.

But all that happened AFTER the events in my story, so I was required to dig into some historical documents, which I've included in the end notes and bibliography.  Apprenticeships and attendance at lectures were the main entry route into the profession at the time that John would have begun training. Those who could afford a university education pursued a three to four year course before graduating with the degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD).  At that time, the University of Edinburgh Medical School (established in 1726) and The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh were responsible for the development of systematic medical teaching on a sound scientific basis. Many of those wanting to be military doctors went to Edinburgh (80% of regimental surgeons with formal medical education), and since John's family home was close by, it makes sense that he would go there.  Following that, there were two avenues for further training: apprenticeship to a doctor with his own practice, or additional training as a surgeon.  Surgery wasn't part of the basic education for a doctor as it was still perceived by many as a manual craft rather than an intellectual discipline.  However, the majority of regimental surgeons also held the Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries (LSA) and the Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS). So if John was thinking about the Army as a career, he would have wanted to take additional training in that area. 

At the time, John would have had a couple of options for surgical training: continue at Old Surgeons Hall in Edinburgh, go to London, or go to the Continent (the best, actually, for training in military medicine but not a safe bet given the current wars).  In London, he would have enrolled in the London Hospital Medical College, which had been founded in 1785, or St Thomas's Hospital Medical School, which was established in 1550. I chose St. Thomas's for John because 1) King's College wasn't yet built but 2) the London School of Medicine was later made up of St. Thomas's, Guy's Hospital, and King's College Hospital.  At the time John would have been there, Guy's hadn't yet split to become a separate identity, but was the branch hospital of St. Thomas's for "incurables".  However, John would have also had access to classes and lectures at the various hospitals around London, such as St. Bartholemew's Hospital, where John Abernethy was a popular lecturer on anatomy.

Here is an example of the training of James Barry, who later rose to Inspector General :  "Following his 1809 arrival in Edinburgh, Barry began studies at the University of Edinburgh as a 'literary and medical student'. He qualified with a Medical Doctorate in 1812, then moved back to London. There he signed up for the Autumn Course 1812/1813 as a pupil of the United Hospitals of Guy’s and St Thomas'. On 2 July 1813, Barry successfully took the examination for the Royal College of Surgeons of England, subsequently qualifying as a Regimental Assistant."  (excerpts from "Army Medical Officers and the Malta Garrison", link in footnotes.) (Additional note: James Barry was later proved to have been born Margaret Ann Bulkley.)


Medical Officers in the Army

Medical gentlemen who wanted to enter the army medical service had to demonstrate orally their knowledge of surgery before one of the Royal Colleges. From 1798, they also had to prove their abilities as physicians before the Army Medical Board. Candidates could opt to be examined for a simple assistant's diploma at a cost of 1 guinea or a regimental surgeon's qualification at 3 guineas. In 1809, the fee rose to 2 guineas and 5 guineas respectively. Most recruits to the army medical service during the French wars joined in their early twenties as hospital mates. The majority of these hospital mates expected to get promoted to assistant regimental surgeon of an infantry regiment and remain with that regiment for a considerable time, before returning to civilian life on half-pay.  However, those who had received their Doctor of Medicine degree and were licensed surgeons usually chose to take the regimental surgeon qualification path, becoming an assistant regimental surgeon much sooner.  

Patronage and the purchase of regimental commissions played a significant part as to which regiments medical gentlemen were appointed to pre-1800, but this practice was abolished in 1783, in favor of the Army Medical Board passing candidates and the Horse Guard making regimental appointments.  The Army Medical Board examined candidates for commission on the first and the third Thursday of each month. At the onset of the French Revolutionary Wars the Army Medical Board consisted of a Surgeon-General, a Physician General and an Inspector of Regimental Hospitals. Thomas Keate, as Surgeon-General, nominated staff surgeons and regimental surgeons to the Commander-in-Chief at the Horse Guards for appointments to line regiments. At overseas stations, appointments to vacancies in regiments were usually made by the local garrison commander on the advice of his Principal Medical Officer.

The British army was formed on a regimental basis, and by 1684, every regiment of infantry had a Surgeon (MO) and a Surgeon's Mate or Regimental Mate who was a warrant officer. The MO was also concerned in the continuing health of his troops, and not limited to just battlefield medicine.  Starting in the 1780s, the MO and his staff were required to keep a log of any health issues concerning the men in their regiment and their treatment, to travel and live with their regiment, and to consult with the Colonel in charge of their battalion.  The Royal Warrant of 30 November 1796 gave Regimental Surgeons the relative rank of captain. It also made the regimental mate a commissioned officer with the title of Assistant Surgeon. It increased his pay to 5 shillings in peace and 7s 6d during war. Assistant Surgeons had the equivalent rank of Subalterns for allowances.  Regimental Surgeons were promoted from the ranks of Assistant Surgeons or from the hospital staff.  In September 1803, a second Assistant Surgeon position was added to regiments with over 500 men; on 27 April 1826 another was added to regiments deploying to India.  This regimental basis of appointment for medical officers continued until 1873, when a coordinated army medical service was set up. 

At the start of the Napoleonic Wars, most entrants to the department began their careers at the Army Depot at Newport, Isle of Wight. Others went to Portsmouth and served at the barracks at Gosport and Hilsea. Towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars, newcomers spent their first few months at the Duke of York Hospital, Chelsea.

Here is an example of a contemporary medical office, Theodore Gordon, who had received a private education and was the son of the Inspector General.  "On 28 November 1803, Gordon entered the Medical Department as a Hospital Mate. He was only 18 years old.  On 23 November 1804, Gordon became Assistant Surgeon 91st Highland Regiment and went to Ireland. In July 1808, Gordon and the 91st left Ireland for Portugal with the army of Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley. He was present at the Battle of Vimiera on 21 August 1808.  The Battle of Corunna was fought on 16 January 1809; during this campaign, Gordon was shipwrecked in the Douro on his passage to Oporto with a detachment of invalids from Sir John Moore's army. He was one of seven survivors, the rest of his eighty ill fated shipmates having perished in the vessel.  On arriving at Lisbon, Gordon was promoted surgeon of the 2nd Battalion of the 89th Regiment.  On 28 March 1811, Gordon became Surgeon to the 4th (King's Own) Regiment who were at Ceuta. He proceeded with them to reinforce Wellington's Army in the Peninsula. Gordon was present at the Battles of Salamanca (22 July 1812), Vitoria (21 June 1813), and the sieges of Badajos (16 March-April 1812) and San Sebastian (31 August 1813 ). During the retreat from Burgos in October 1812, he was wounded in the leg by a shell.  Gordon was promoted Staff Surgeon in September 1813. He accompanied the victorious army into France, but sadly while crossing the Bidassoa River, (7 October 1813), he was wounded in the neck by a rifle ball. The projectile was not extracted until he returned to Portsmouth, where he was granted leave to spend the winter of 1813 with his relations in Scotland. He had been on constant active service for ten years. On 9 September 1813, Gordon was appointed Staff Surgeon at Chelsea Hospital. He took the opportunity to obtain an MD from King's College, Aberdeen, and remained at Chelsea Hospital until the Battle of Waterloo, when all the medical officers were called up for service. He proceeded at an hour's notice to Brussels, and took charge of one of the largest hospitals for the wounded." (excerpts from "Army Medical Officers and the Malta Garrison", link in footnotes.)

Chapter Text

As we all know, ACD John Watson was appointed to the 5th Northumberland Fussiliers, but was with the 66th Berkshire Rifles during the battle at Maiwand.  Fortunately for me, ACD picked two great battalions for John to be in as far as the Regency re-setting of the characters goes.

During the Peninsular wars, the 5th (at that time known as the 5th Northumberland Regiment of Foot) was at the thick of most of the important fighting.  The 1st Battalion was in Spain from 1808-1809 when they were relieved by the newly reformed 2nd Battalion while the 1st Battalion returned home to recruit and recover.  The 2nd Battalion was then attached to Picton's 3rd Division under Charles Colville and they saw a lot of service, most notably at the battles of Bussaco (1810), the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo (1810),  and the battles of Badajoz, Salamanca (where the 1st Battalion tagged back in and the 2nd went home to England for R&R), Vittoria, Nivelle, Orthez, and Toulouse (which ended Napoleon's first run at ruling the world).  They were mentioned frequently in dispatches, and earned the nicknames of "the old and bold 5th", "the fighting 5th", and "Lord Wellington's Bodyguard".  This would be a perfect Regiment for our war-doctor Watson to be a part of as he would have had quite a lot of dangerous excitement.  (Being a doctor wasn't a guarantee of safety - see the description of Theodore Gordon's career.)

At this point, the 5th went to the Americas - but fortunately for John Watson, the 66th was heading out to Ceylon, Bengal, Nepal and Calcutta after Toulouse, so it's easy to transfer him to that Regiment so that he is in the right part of the world to get into mischief (and add another continent to his repertoire).  Following that, the 66th was assigned guard duty of the deposed Napoleon at St. Helena, which is an interesting twist.  And what's more, Walter Henry ("Events of a Military Life") was an Assistant Surgeon and then Surgeon with the 66th, so there is authentic material to draw on!


John Watson's Uniform

Canon ACD John Watson would have worn the AMD (Army Medical Department) "Blues" for dress or the "summer whites" dyed to khaki when in India and Afghanistan. (You can see the "Blues" during the restaurant scene in RDJ's "Sherlock Holmes".) However, during the Napoleonic Wars, regimental medical officers wore the same uniform as the combatants in their regiment - usually scarlet coats with white trousers - but were distinguished from them by their cocked-hat with black swan feathers and by their black belts.  Like all British army uniforms, the 5th's regimental dress was scarlet. The facings were "gosling" or pale, dull green, the lace plain white and the waistcoat and trousers were white with black knee-length gaiters. The uniform was topped off by a grenadier (fusilier) felt cocked cap embellished with a white hackle plume worn on the left side to commemorate the Regiment's victory over French grenadiers at St. Lucia in the West Indies. The 66th wore similar regimental dress with a scarlet coat and white trousers. Their facings have been described as a pale yellow-green to begin with, later becoming dark green, and their lace was silver for the officers.

Uniforms of officers were not provided from stores, but were required to be purchased by the officer. The commander of the regiment could decide what details he wanted, such as epaulettes, buttons, and so forth. Walter Henry has an amusing passage about purchasing his uniforms: "Next day I went to an army tailor to order my uniform. The awful black feather in my cocked hat was calculated to raise unpleasant ideas; and I considered it scarcely fair for the Commander in Chief to put me in mourning so early for any accidents amongst my patients." (except from Walter Henry's book, "Events of a Military Life" in the end notes.)

So John Watson would have worn a uniform like the officers of his regiment, except for a black plume in his cap and a black belt to identify him as a medical officer.  He would have purchased all of this himself, and most of the personal accounts noted that they had at least two sets of uniforms with them on campaign as well as several white shirts which were worn under the uniform coat. John would have looked after all his kit on his own, as army orders in 1811 restricted the medical staff's use of personal servants to one allowed to the regimental surgeon only.  Below is a picture of an officer (left) and a soldier (right) from the 5th - note the white plume in the hat. 

Officer and Soldier in the 5th Regiment

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Law and Order in Regency England

First of all, there was no single and unified police force in London until after 1829.  Part of this was because the city operated like small villages pushed together for a long time, and also because the people of London didn't want what amounted to an army telling them what to do. Also, there was a different view on crime at the time, and it wasn't the constant threat that it became in Victorian times and later.  Poverty was the root of most crime, but it was usually restricted to certain areas of the city that the general populace knew to avoid.   When a murder was committed, for the most part everyone knew who did it because they were found over the body with the murder weapon and usually crying out a confession.  Petty theft was much more of a risk, pick-pockets and cut-purses, but generally the people protected themselves.  So for the purposes of this story, the "Met", Scotland Yard and all that familiar landscape has yet to be developed - there are no "peelers" or "bobbies" to enforce the law and investigate crime.  So what do you have in its place in London? 


Night Watchmen and Day Patrols

"The Watch", as they were called, were a small number of men who were hired to patrol the streets of the better part of the city.  Night watchmen patrolled the streets between 9 or 10 pm until sunrise, and were expected to examine all suspicious characters.  In the City of London, daytime patrols were conducted by the City Marshall and the beadles. Like the night watch, their primary responsibilities were to apprehend minor offenders and to act as a deterrent against more serious offenses. They would summon the constables when needed, but did not investigate crimes.



These were private individuals hired to capture criminals, in part because of the rising crime rate in the city.  They were very much like bounty hunters, only they were usually engaged by the victim or the victim's family instead of by a bail bondsman.  Thief-takers also made money from collecting bounties offered by the authorities.  Sometimes they would act as a go-between, negotiating for the return of stolen goods.  However, they were often corrupt and extorted protection money from crooks or even committed the crimes and then turned in a patsy for the reward. 


Sheriff of the City of London

They were responsible for collecting taxes and enforcing the law, and London had two of them.  They were the representatives of the king and had some judicial duties, but they were not involved in the investigation of crime or the capture of criminals.



They were unpaid and traditionally two were elected in every parish by the parishioners and later appointed by the local justice of the peace.  They were to be the "eyes and ears" of the court.  Constables were required to apprehend anyone accused of a felony and bring them before a justice of the peace. They also had a general responsibility to keep the peace, but there was no expectation that they should investigate or prosecute crimes.  Constables also had enlarged responsibilities as a result of their obligation to execute the commands of higher justice officials, i.e. the Sheriff, the Coroner and especially Justices of the Peace.  As the person involved in the administration of sudden or suspicious deaths, the constable was responsible for taking the appropriate action such as informing the coroner, distributing his warrants, calling a jury and dealing with the corpse.  They were incorporated into the Metropolitan Police in 1829-1839.


Bow Street Runners

These are always a favorite of Regency authors, this has been called London's first professional police force.  They were founded in 1749 by author Henry Fielding ("Tom Jones"), and operated until 1839 when they were folded into the Metropolitan Police Force.  They were the first to be paid a retainer, under the idea that this would make them less likely to be corrupted.  Fielding's initial force was made up of 8 constables who also investigated crimes handed over to them by the volunteer constables and watchmen.  They were identified by the tipstaff they carried which had a royal crown on it and a compartment inside to store official identification and documents.  The number later expended to 25.  They did not patrol the city but instead served writs and arrested offenders on the authority of the magistrates.  They also made a comfortable living out of the fees they charged for their services, the rewards they received from victims for identifying suspects, and the rewards from the state for successful convictions.  Later they were expanded to include the Bow Street Horse Patrol who wore a distinctive scarlet waistcoat under their blue greatcoats, earning them the nickname of "Robin Redbreasts".


London Marine Police Force

Established in 1798, they were set up similarly to the Runners in that they were salaried.  The force was initially made up of 50 Constables assisted by 1000 registered dock workers.  They were originally formed to reduce the amount of stolen cargo at the docks and warehouses, and also to prevent crime along the riverfront.  They are widely regarded as the first modern police force in the world, as they were responsible for the prevention of crime as well as investigation.  They are also the oldest police force in continuous operation. 

Originally established at the current site of the Wapping Police Station, they were organized as follows: a Superintendent of Ship Constables with 5 surveyors to patrol the river in open galleys rowed by three police watermen each.  Four surveyors worked the docks, visiting ships being loaded and unloaded, along with Ship Constables.  A Surveyor of Quays with two assistants and 50 Police Quay Guards watched over cargo on shore.  By the time the Met was being formed, the London Marine Police Force had three stations and over 200 employees.  In 1839 they were renamed the Thames Division and incorporated into the Met.

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Distances and Travel Times

Saughton is about 400 miles from London along the most common route - the Great North Road.   In 1821, most of these roads were not paved in any fashion, although Tilford and MacAdam were making plans in that direction (see below).  Roads had been improved since the mid-1700s, primarily due to the creation of Tolls to pay for the maintenance of the roads, rather than relying on the local parish.  In 1750, it could take 2 weeks to get from London to Edinburgh by carriage but by 1830 that time had been reduced to 45 hours, although this was primarily the Mail coaches which were pulled by teams of 4-6 horses and only stopped briefly along their route to change horses. 

A Regency gentleman usually travelled by post; he rented a carriage and horses, changing the horses at posting inns along the way, similar to renting a car.  Those who could afford to run their own carriages (like Mycroft) also used rental horses if he travelled more than 15 miles in a day, the longest a team could run in harness without a rest.  These rental horses were accompanied by a postillion to the next station where they would rest, then returned to the original posting house with a fare going in that direction.  It was very rare for a gentleman to stable his own horses all along the route, although some extremely wealthy gentlemen who travelled regularly along a short path (London to Brighton) might do so. 

A man on horseback could travel about 100 miles in a day with changes but private carriages were slower.  Also, they were restricted to travelling during daylight hours or during full moons since there were no street lights.  During the summer, carriages could travel 12 hours (subtracting time for changing horses and meals) at about 7-8 miles per hour or a distance of 70-80 miles, depending on terrain and weather.  But during the winter they could only manage 50-60 miles, and that was if the weather was cooperating.  In addition, there was very little travel on Sundays. 


Paved Roads

There was nothing like the tar or concrete roads that we are used to driving along.  While there were some decent roads in southern England, mostly supported by the tolls, the roads to the north were often not much more than dirt (or mud).  However, starting in 1815, England began upgrading its road-system, with roads engineered by John MacAdam and Thomas Telford.  Both were Scottish but they had different ideas for road construction, although both were concerned with drainage and durability, and both used crushed stone or gravel.  Telford's roads were designed to carry heavy weights and drain off water, while MacAdam's were geared towards a more gentle slope with layers of differing sized stones.  While it is hard to find detailed information on which roads were "macadamized" when, it is probable that roads south of York were done first and then the northern roads begun.  The project was halted in the late 1830s due to the running of the railroad systems.  However, it is highly probable that Mycroft Holmes would find a way in this universe to speed up the improvement of the roads that his brother is likely to travel along.



While the road from London to Doncaster was pretty much standardized, from then on the route to Edinburgh was a hodge-podge until you reached Darlington, where everything merged back again.  Quoting from A-1 The Great North Road:

"North from Doncaster the Great North Road took various routes. [see map below]  The A1 is the most westerly, past Ferrybridge, Wetherby, Boroughbridge, Leeming, Scotch Corner and Darlington.  In horse-drawn days, only the Glasgow coaches went to Scotch Corner.  The Edinburgh road turned east at Dishforth for Topcliffe, Northallerton and Darlington.  Much of the traffic went via York and then either left the city through Micklegate Bar for Boroughbridge, or north through Bootham Bar for Thirsk before reaching Northallerton and Darlington.  But there were two alternative routes to York from Doncaster.  Just north of Ferrybridge, at Brotherton, the road divided, the eastern branch taking the traffic through Sherburn-in-Elmet and Tadcaster before reaching York from the west by Micklegate Bar while another road branched east earlier on leaving Doncaster.  This road went through Askern, Selby and Riccall, entering York from the south through Fulford and Fishergate."



This is the usual route from London to Doncaster at the time.                               And the route from Doncaster to York in Chapter 17

  Lon-Don                                                  Don-York


 From then on, I am having them bypass York, for reasons that will be clear after reading that chapter. I had thought about having them go to Scotch Corner and then Darlington, but all the records from the period show either the York-Easingwold-Thirsk-Northallerton route, or the Ferrybridge-Boroughbridge-Thirsk-Northallerton route when heading to Edinburgh, so I went with them. I think that Thirsk must have had a protection racket going on or at least a cut of the coaching business.



From then on, it was a pretty standard route from Darlington to Edinburgh along the coast, the same path as the A-1 today. Looking at the map, I'd think the route along the A-68 would be shorter, but no one seems to travel along that route, so the area around Northumberland National Park must be scarier than it looks.

Alnwick             Edinburgh



There are a lot of good resources on The Great North Road for this time period, before trains replaced road travel.  The ones I have used are:

General Info:
The Great North Road (Wikipedia) - general info on the Great North Road
Stage Travel in Britain - interesting info on travel during the time
The Great North Road Carved By Feet and Hooves - a very lyrical look at this historic road
The Old Inns of England, Part 1
The Old Inns of England, Part 2
The Stagecoach in Days of Yore, Part 1 by Charles Harper
The Stagecoach in Days of Yore, Part 2 by Charles Harper


The Great North Road, Part 1 and The Great North Road, Part 2, by Charles Harper - - set about 80 years later but written for cyclists so roughly similar to travelling by coach. Lots of good info on each stop along the way.  Harper uses the Armstrong routes, and I haven't been able to get my hands on a digitized version of that.   [Armstrong, Mostyyn John, 1776 An Actual Survey of the Great Post-Roads between London and Edinburgh.]  He has a very upper-middle-class view on places and on Industry, which is reflected in his text.  He also tends to ramble in some places (York takes 50 pages) but his books have some lovely drawings as well. 

A-1 The Great North Road - a very interesting e-book about the History of the Road. It looks at the old Roman road (Ermine Street), at the modern A-1, and the Old Roads in between. It includes pictures and information about places along the way, similar to the Harper book, but also tries to cover more than the Armstrong route.  It's quite a lovely site with lots of great details.


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John Watson's family tree (4 generations) - larger pdf file link 

John Watson family


Family Charts - these show 1 generation with parents and children each, listing the Presentation and whether they have died.  I am not displaying them here since there are so many - click on each link to open up the pdf page for each.  When the story is finished, I will add the link for John Watson's family page as well.

Charles Watson, 7th Earl of Saughton (John's father) - showing John's siblings

James Watson, 8th Earl of Saughton (John's brother) - showing James's children with Janet

John Watson, 9th Earl of Saughton - showing husband and offspring (SPOILERS!)

John Watson's Family Tree - showing his children and grandchildren (SPOILERS!)

Harriet Watson, 2nd Earl of Dalmahoy (John's sister) - showing Harry's wife and children

Georgia Watson-Dalrymple (John's niece) - showing her wife and children (SPOILERS!)

Saraid (Sarah) Murphy (James's mistress) - showing her children with Sean Martin

Sean Murphy (Sarah's father) - showing Sarah's siblings and parents

Murphy Family Registry Page - Massive Plot Spoilers!


As you can tell by looking at the Watson family tree, there was a very specific naming convention in Scotland, which makes them dream for genealogists, and the Watsons and their kin really did follow it. Here's a list of the patterns .




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Sherlock's Family Tree

Click on the image to open a PDF version if you want a bigger view.


Family Chart for Sherlock's immediate family (separate pdf)

SIger Holmes' Family


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Click on image to open a PDF version. I recommend zooming in to 100%



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The Watson arms                               The Watson tartan                                    The Watson badge





Molly's opera dress - no wonder
Sherlock was worried she'd catch cold    


Pictures from "To the Ends of the Earth" and "Amazing Grace" - for an idea of how Sherlock might look





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Military and Medical Links


Army Medical Services and the Malta Garrison - an excellent set of articles.

Historical Record of the Fifth Regiment of Foot, or Northumberland Fusiliers  - An accounting of the postings and campaigns of the various battalions of the regiment from 1674 till 1837

The 66th Berkshire Regiment - An accounting of the postings and campaigns of the various battalions of the 66th regiment from 1758 till 1881

Roll of Commissioned officers in the Medical Service of the British Army- a listing of all the medical personnel who were commissioned from 1727 to 1898.  The listing shows the first year that a medical officer was commissioned (usually as Assistant Surgeon) and their duty post (regiment, in most cases), and then their subsequent postings until death or retirement.  There are also notifications for Peninsular service and half-pay/full-pay status.  Once you get the trick of the short-hand, it is easy to find out who was in each regiment.  The only confusion is that there are no records of battalion, and as there could be up to three medical officers (one surgeon and two assistants) per battalion at any time, figuring out who was where and when can be tricky.  I have made a chart for the 5th and 66th.

British Regiments and the Men Who Led Them: 5th Regiment of Foot - The Napoleon Series in general is excellent for information on the various aspects of the wars, no matter which side you are interested in.  This page in particular lists the stations for each battalion in the regiment and combats by year, as well as short biographical information on the officers of the regiment.  Unfortunately, there isn't a similar page for the 66th Regiment


In Print

Ackroyd, Marcus. Advancing with the Army: Medicine, the Professions, and Social Mobility in the British Isles, 1790-1850. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. Print.

Blanco, Richard L. Wellington's Surgeon General, Sir James McGrigor. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1974. Print.

Cantlie, Neil. A History of the Army Medical Department. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 1974. Print.

Howard, Martin R. Wellington's Doctors: The British Army Medical Services in the Napoleonic Wars. Staplehurst: Spellmount, 2002. Print.

Kaufman, Matthew H. Surgeons at War: Medical Arrangements for the Treatment of the Sick and Wounded in the British Army during the Late 18th and 19th Centuries. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2001. Print.


First Person Accounts

Events of a Military Life by Walter Henry - regimental surgeon to the 66th and a very amusing writer

The Journal of an Army Surgeon during the Peninsular War  by Charles Boutflower - Regimental surgeon to the 40th.  Interesting in particular because he is there at the same time that I have placed John Watson.  Boutflower comments more on the people and societal aspects of his service, and is much snootier than Walter Henry, but it is fascinating reading.

The Autobiography of Harry Smith - If you are a Georgette Heyer fan, than you probably already know Harry Smith - he is the soldier-husband of "The Spanish Bride".  Harry's writing is amusing and gives the flavour of life as a soldier during this war.