About Me

William Savage

Pen and Pension is the blog of William Savage, who writes historical mystery novels set in Norfolk between 1760 and 1800.

“I started to write fiction as a way of keeping my mind active in retirement. Throughout my life, I have read and enjoyed hundreds of detective stories and mystery novels. One of my other loves is history, so it seemed natural to put the two together. Thus began two series of murder mystery books set in Norfolk, England.

All my books are set between 1760 and around 1800, a period of turmoil in Britain, with constant wars, revolutions in America and France and finally the titanic, 22-year struggle with Napoleon.

The Ashmole Foxe series takes place at the start of this time and is located in Norwich. Mr Foxe is a dandy, a bookseller and, unknown to most around him, the mayor’s immediate choice to deal with anything likely to upset the peace or economic security of the city.

The series featuring Dr Adam Bascom, a young gentleman physician caught up in the beginning of the Napoleonic wars, takes place in a variety of locations near the North Norfolk coast. Adam builds a successful medical practice, but his insatiable curiosity and knack for unravelling intrigue constantly involve him in mysteries large and small.”

Check out my author page here now.

The Dr Adam Bascom Mystery Series

1. An Unlamented Death

2. The Code for Killing

3. A Shortcut to Murder

4. A Tincture of Secrets and Lies

5. Death of a Good Samaritan

6. The Reluctant Heir

The Ashmole Foxe Georgian Mysteries

1. The Fabric of Murder

2. Dark Threads of Vengeance

3. This Parody of Death

4. Bad Blood Will Out

5. Black as She’s Painted

6. A Sickness in the Soul

7. Foxe and the Moon-Shadowed Murders

8. Foxe and the Path into Darkness

9. Foxe and the Cost of Wild Oats

52 Responses to About Me

  1. Ilinca Vlad says:

    Dear Sir,
    By sheer chance I discovered your site, and now, hours later, I still can’t stop reading your articles. History is a passion, and through the years, I must have read hundreds of books and articles on various historical subjects, but none were both as well documented and well written as yours. Reading that you will no longer write these wonderful insights saddened me quite a lot, but I can’t wait to begin devouring your books, whilst continuing to read your past articles.
    Thank you for this incommensurable pleasure you bring to us all: to make us see Georgian times with Georgian eyes, is a true gift.
    With all my gratitude, I. V.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gareth Lewis says:

    Hello William. I have just read your article about Solicitors in 18th C London. I wonder if you might be so kind as to give me an opinion on something. I have an ancestor who was born in the parish of St Clements Danes, City of London in 1798. In later Census´s for him he is described as being a Lawyers Clerk or a Solicitors Clerk. It seems that he never became a full Lawyer or Solicitor. There is a record of someone with the same name as him ( William Payne ) on a Certificate of Articles of Clerkship in 1815. This would have put my William Payne as being 17 years of age if it is him. The record states that the young William was to serve a 5 year apprenticeship under an Attorney who also happened to have the same name as him and who was in fact his father. Do you think that it is likely that my William Payne was this 17 year old Solicitors Clerk and was it common to just going on being a clerk and not becoming a Solicitor or Attorney ?


    • I can’t say for certain. Maybe he simply failed to complete his articles or fell out with his father. Some people spent their whole lives as clerks, either because they lacked the means of proceeding further or lost the inclination to undertake what would have been a Munich more demanding role. A clerk was an employee with a salary. A fully-fledged attorney had to earn his money as best he could. You might try to check if the father died before 1820 or your William Payne married young and couldn’t face the uncertainty of trying to establish his own practice with a wife to support. Articles were expensive to obtain, since the person to whom you were articled expected a large premium for the task of training you. If your William was articled to his father, there would presumably have been no charge. But if the father died, he might well have been unable to raise the money to take up articles with anyone else.


      • Gareth Lewis says:

        Thanks so much for the information William. My Gt x 3 Grandfather´s full name was William Joseph Payne (1798-1891). The Articles of Clerkship I mentioned only record the name William Payne. Were they particular in those days about writing down all of the Christian names I wonder ? Perhaps this isn’t my William Payne after all. I am also trying to make a connection with the famous or rather infamous William Payne the little Carpenter (1718- 1782) who lived in Bell Yard. Bell Yard is situated almost opposite to my William Payne´s church, St Clements Danes although it´s not in the same Parish.


      • anncrowleyatlaw says:

        Hello- I came across your work doing some preliminary research as I am following your path, hoping to write in retirement. I am sorry to hear you are unwell.
        If you happen to come across my response, I would very much appreciate any direction in finding sources for information about the practicalities of the practice of law in around 1800, especially civil practice. I am heading down a rabbit hole and would be grateful for any guidance! Thanks


      • I’m afraid I know nothing specific that might help. I would start with a series of Google searches for the subject, hoping to track down useful books and articles. You could also try Google Scholar, which will include academic papers and even some Ph. D. theses.


  3. Tom Oxenham says:

    Hi William,

    Love your brilliant blog- Wondered if you could help with this: would you be able to give any insight into how the legal profession was in the late 18th C? I know there were attorneys/men of business looking after grand estates, but looking at something there for an educated, aspirational young man who is working up to that position.

    Thanks so much,


    • It seems that attorneys could be either men of business or also lawyers, depending on the trading they had. All such training was by apprenticeship. It wasn’t until a little later that all the professions became formalised and then “closed shops” as today.


  4. Lajuana, a.k.a. Parrot Lady says:

    Have sincerely loved the Dr. Adam Bascom books so far. Tried the Ashmole Foxe books but were a little bit too risque’ for me. Will stick to the ” Doctor” books. They are clean reads and very enjoyable! I appreciate your talent.


  5. Matthew Franklin says:

    Hi, William – saw your recent post on 18th Century Customs. I’m looking into this also. Found a very interesting book with a loose Norfolk Reference via Thomas Paine: ‘The Rise of Thomas Paine and the Case of the Officers of Excise’. It gives some insight into the procedures Customs Officers had to go through, but it centres on Thomas Paine’s brief activity as a Customs Officer. It explores the situation on the ground for Officers in light of his pamphlet, but also shows that the pamphlet was prompted – or at least actively encouraged – by one of the Excise Commissioners who empathised with Paine’s political leanings.

    In the book, there is reference to an obscure text which has not been widely published: George Hindmarch’s ‘Thomas Paine: The Case of the King of England and his Officers of Excise’. This seems to contain some astute assessments of the Officers’ daily procedures, and Hindmarch was the first author to conclude that Paine had not written the pamphlet out of working-class sympathies and outrage per se, but rather was commissioned to write it by a top-level Commissioner who wanted to publicise the need for structural reform.

    Although not Norfolk specific, I hope this might be of interest to you, as I have found it rather difficult to get a clear picture of what a Gauger’s lifestyle must have been, and this shed light on some of the real conditions permeating the Service.

    Matthew Franklin


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  7. Jeni Molyneux says:

    Dear William,
    I am researching an ancestor of mine a serving Reverend
    1773-1824 appointed for these years. He was also a bit of an antiquarian.
    I have found much of his notebooks , correspondence etc. It’s a brilliant insight into Georgian Northamptonshire and the life of a curate … he was a Welsh boy from
    Carmarthenshire. He lists his costs in one of his notebooks under incidents, letters and vials! Any idea what vials might be?
    Eg Vials 1780
    Samuel Eaton £1.11.6
    Mary Eaton £1.11.6
    Mr HB’s servant £1.1
    Ambrose 1

    Is it do you think clergy payment to servants?
    Just if you have a minute to reply if not no worries
    Kind Regards


    • Vials were “tips” expected by the servants of houses you visited and stayed in. The staff concerned could get quite nasty if you didn’t give them enough! By the nineteenth century the practice had pretty much died out. Those notebooks sound fascinating! Would you consider using them as the basis for a guest blog post here?


    • PS Have another look at the entry. The usual spelling is Vails. He may simply have written Vials instead, or his writing may be unclear.


  8. Jessica de Schipper says:

    Dear Mr. Savage,
    I hope this message finds you well. A while ago my husband sent you the Bowles family story.
    From this Saturday, my husband and I will be in Norfolk to enjoy a holiday. And of course we will be visiting some significant places such as the villages that ancestors were born and raised.
    We will be in Norfolk for two weeks and I was wondering if you would be willing to meet with us to do a little brainstorming over tea or drinks for an hour or so. We would really appreciate your views.
    Kind Regards,

    Jessica de Schipper & Jan Ritsema


    • Sorry for the delay in replying, but I’ve had some difficult health problems lately. I’ll be happy to meet with you both over tea, so long as you can come to north Norfolk where I live. Send me a DM via Facebook (@penandpension) about your availability and I’ll suggest a location.

      Kind regards,


  9. Jessica de Schipper says:

    Dear William Savage,
    Thank you for your informative blog. I am writing from the Netherlands. My husband and I are researching a late 18th, early 19th Norfolk branch of his mostly Dutch family history. We have the dates and names and the outlines of a story but the social context is hard to grasp for us. Central to the story are a major-general in the East India Company and his housekeeper whom he married on his deathbed. From this marriage a son was born, nine months and a day after the general’s death. This sparked a long-running courtcase over the general’s inheritance.
    The housekeeper is a very intriguing character who marries four times, gets one divorce, and has two children that are baptised under different and multiple last names.

    My husband has written an short article about these events. If we send you the link would you be willing to read it and give us your impressions? I am not asking you to research anything but I am hoping that with your expertise you can maybe point our research in new directions.

    Kind Regards,

    Jessica de Schipper


  10. Sarah Toner says:

    Dear William,
    I am enjoying reading your interesting content, it is wonderful.
    I’d just like to know is your piece on The Gordon Riots of 1780 fictional? As it seemed rather informative and ideal as a source for a project I’m doing at the minute. Alternatively, what were your sources for this piece?
    Kind Regards, Sarah Toner


    • Dear Sarah,

      I’m somewhat thrown, since that post has not been published yet! It’s scheduled for the beginning of May. No it’s not fictional either and the source is clearly given in the post itself.


      • Sarah Toner says:

        Dear William,
        Thank you for your reply! I’m referring to a post from Nov 24,2015.
        I apologize for the confusion, I can’t find a source on it either. Is this old post from 2015 also non-fictional?
        Thank you for your help,


      • Dear Sarah,

        It will definitely not be fiction. Nothing on this site is other than as historically accurate as I can make it. I’ll see if I can track down the sources for the old post, but it may be next to impossible after such an interval. I don’t routinely cite my sources, since I’m writing for a general, non-academic audience.


      • Sarah Toner says:

        Dear William,
        Thank you very much for help, it is greatly appreciated, Thank you also for providing such exceptional historical work, it is a pleasure to read.
        Many Thanks,


  11. Nigel Royall says:

    Dear William,
    I have just read your most interesting article on the Norfolk and Suffolk Beach Companies, it may be of interest to you to know that the last of the beach companies to give up and sell their assets were the Storm and Gorleston Salvage Companies At Brush Bend. They were true beach companies although they actually carried out what they called boat work in the harbour area although this also included transferring harbour pilots, manning the local lifeboats and salvage work. The members were called boatmen, not beachmen as along the coast. Their work really started to dry up from the mid 1930’s when the Gorleston harbour pilots provided their own motor launch thus excluding the two companies boats from this work.The boats that they used were known as Gorleston Four Oared Salvage Boats, a quite distinctive type, twenty feet long overall by six foot four inches beam, the sheerstrake was painted black with white hulls and red waterlines. The old yolls lay mostly unused either side of the slip at Brush Bend opposite the Belle Vue Hotel positioned between the two company headquarters which both had the distinctive white ship lap lookouts on their roofs. The Four Oared Boats were mostly kept ready for instant use in the slip and were also used to help turn and wind the ships passing the warps between the quay and tugs as well as helping the tugs and lifeboats with their various salvage operations. By 1939 the Storm Company Hq (now a cafe) was used as a store room for deckchairs and tents and the two companies seem to have more or less joined together, certainly the crews of the Gorleston Volunteer Lifeboat (Rangers) ELIZABETH SIMPSON and the RNLI lifeboat (Storms) were often mixed up along with a sprinkling of non company members. Because of wartime restrictions the harbour at Great Yarmouth was not nearly so busy with large shipping but in any case neither company did any work for the duration and the boats appear not to have been launched. In February 1946 the members of the Gorleston Salvage Company decided to call it a day followed closely by the Storms, the last of the Beach Companies to finish along the whole of the coast. My great grandad Chris Dido Royall, otherwise known as Arnie purchased two of the remaining Four Oared Boats at this time, possibly the CALM and STORM and selling one to purchase an engine had my grandad convert the other into a motor launch for himself at the Carrow Works Boathouse Section boathouse at the rear of the Carrow Road football club at the top of Carrow dyke by the malting’s. Chris and this boat, renamed WILLING BOYS after a celebrated Lowestoft sailing smack that he did one trip in which although he hated the experience must have left some mark, were then a fixture of the Norwich river for many years. Chris came from a long line of Norwich, King Street wherrymen who left the water and joined the prestigious Carrow Works Fire Brigade in 1915. Anyway the jist of all this is that I still have and use regularly this boat which not only is probably the last Four Oared Salvage Boat to survive but was also one of the last if not the last boats in use by the old beach companies. By the way I meant to say that the first Four Oared Boats began to appear in photographs about 1895 or 96 but both CALM and STORM I think originate from about 1904 certainly STORM appears in the early Gorleston regatta results held in the bay at that time.
    Perhaps the WILLING BOYS which has had quite an interesting time of it since her conversion is the last of the old Beach Company boats afloat.
    I do hope that this is of some interest,
    Very best wishes,
    Nigel Royall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for this, Nigel. Truly fascinating. I’m going to repost your comment on my blog later this month to make sure as many people as possible have the opportunity to read it.


    • Jenny Cockrill says:

      Where can I find this article ? I’m trying to find out more information around this as my great great grandfather apparently was coxswain of the Elizabeth Simpson lifeboat around 1890-1902. I’d love to know more


      • Hi Jenny,
        Do you mean my article or my sources? If the latter, I consulted a large number of books and academic articles when writing it. By 1890, all lifeboats were operated by the RNLI. Consulting them would probably be a good start, then visiting the lifeboat station where your ancestor’s boat was kept — once we are all free to move about again. Local record offices may also have both papers and photographs, though the best source for contemporary information would probably be the British Newspaper Archive, which you will find online. My own article is on this penandpension site.


  12. DiannMcBee says:

    I love your Ashmole Foxe books, however, the punctuation drives me crazy. Please consider having an English major proofread!


  13. FreyjasOdyssey says:

    I was just passing, so I thought I’d stop by.
    I’m thrilled you are writing more about MR Ashmole Fox, as I can’t get enough of the books, I have them as ebooks but I intend to purchase them as hard copies over the next few weeks, I much prefer a real book to an iPad/phone screen.
    I adore your blog, and I adore your books, what a gifted writer you are! You make the era(s) come alive, and they fulfill my all consuming passion for history quite nicely. Thank you for all the effort you put into them both. It is deeply appreciated.
    Manja-Freyja Gustafsson (Bookaremyblood).

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Joceline Rennie says:

    Hi William, I’ve just discovered your lovely verse for English Country Garden on Regina Jeffers blog. May I quote your verse on my Facebook volunteers page for Side by Side, which is a free singing group for visitors to an older folks day centre here is Penzance, Cornwall. Your verse makes much more sense that the US version which I never understood! If you’d like to check us out on FB please search for Side by Side at Pengarth Day centre. Every so often I like to post a bit of background about some of the songs we sing – for interest and as an excuse to post something!

    Thank you so much. Hope to hear from you soon. Joceline

    “How many song-birds make their nests in an English country garden?
    I’ll tell you now of some that I know, and those I miss, I hope you’ll pardon.
    Babbling, coo-cooing doves, robins and the warbling thrush,
    Blackbirds, lark, finch and nightingale.
    We smile in the spring when the birds all start to sing in an English country garden.”


  15. Sharon says:

    Just seen your article on the Noverre family they are part of my family the black & white pic that say possible Jean Georges is correct I do have a couple of others of him aswell I have a lot of family from Norwich/Norfolk.

    Liked by 1 person

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  17. artandarchitecturemainly says:

    Thanks for the posts so far. How do I leave a comment or question about a specific post?


    • Add it in the section specially provided for comments. It will come to me for moderation first, then appear on the post itself, at the bottom.


      • Sarah Drew says:

        Apologies, I can’t see a Comments section under the post I am interested in. I was reading your fascinating post on The Georgian Way with Debt. I’m particularly interested in whether women (specifically widows) were sued for debt – was any gender-specific leniency applied for poor widder-women? Were there any London jails women-only, or did the Marshalsea have a special women’s wing? Many thanks for this blog, which is always interesting!


      • I’m not sure I can help much. I’m not aware of any leniency aimed specifically at women debtors. As you may know, married women could not undertake financial transactions separately from their husbands. Only widows and single women could do that, but most single women were under the control of their fathers until they married. Thus almost all women debtors would have been widows. As to gaols in London, that’s well outside my area of interest and knowledge. Sorry.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sarah Drew says:

        Many thanks for your reply.



  18. carriekwiatkowski says:

    Oh! That’s perfect! Thanks so much. And keep these blog posts coming. They’re very enjoyable.


  19. carriekwiatkowski says:

    Hi William! For some reason I can’t find the link to make comments on the article on physicians, apothecaries, and surgeons. Hopefully, typing it here will be okay. I’m interested in 18th/19th century medicine for a character of mine. Do you know what specific text (or texts) a physician would use back then?


  20. Julie Davis says:

    Hi William I am on the Alburgh parish council and we have been contacted by a descendant of Abigail Hambling who is trying to find out the location of her house in Alburgh would you have any information on this could you also give me your cost for speaking to local groups


  21. Diane Challenor says:

    Ah! I had an inkling that I was incorrect. I do a bit of editing and it flows over to my reading. Best wishes!


  22. Diane Challenor says:

    Hello, I’ve read An Unlamented Death and I’m enjoying The Fabric of Murder. Excellent storytelling, thank you. There’s possibly a repetitive typo related to dyes, that is, the word “receipts” appears where I think the word should be “recipes”.


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