A Lady Traveller Etiquette Abroad as a Grand Tourist

Pleasant and Innocent Indulgences

With the boom in European tourism in the 19th century came a flurry of guidebooks. These books, think Rick Steves and Lonely Planet, detailed sight-seeing destinations, passport requirements, as well as recommendations on hotels and restaurants. A fair few of them were also geared towards ladies' travel. A contemporary of Franklina, British author Lillias Campbell Davidson wrote:

The power ... has become the right of every woman who has the means to achieve it—of becoming her own unescorted and independent person, a lady traveller.”

Davidson’s travel manual, Hints to Lady Travellers, was drawn from her travels across Europe and the Middle East—and was liberating for many women in the late Victorian world. It catered to the fledgling market of independent women travelers with practical and opinionated advice.

The book included chapters on cycling tours, mountain climbing, rail and sea travel, as well as tips on dress, packing, teapots and toilet requisites. It became a best-seller for those women who chose to pursue “wanderings abroad.”

One Steamer Trunk

For their two years abroad each traveler in the Hewes party was limited to one steamer trunk and a valise. Writing to her fiancé, William Bartlett, Franklina commented on the contents of her trunk:

I have exactly three winter dresses. A green silk, last winter’s black silk made over and retrimmed, a travelling dress of dark blue which is both stylish and comfortable. I have a very warm and pretty cloak and my hat. I have a quantity of pretty neckties and gloves, and I assure you I always look well-dressed. In America a young lady with three dresses would be a disgrace to society. Of course, I have some pretty summer dresses which do for evening wear and one lovely ball dress.”

(Image: Franklina in her Alpine hiking outfit, 1875. Camron-Stanford House Collection. Gift of Tracey Bartlett, 2018.)

George Bradshaw’s guides, a series of railway timetables and books published in London between 1839– 1961, included this handy checklist in its 1875 edition:

Lost luggage is often a frustrating inconvenience to modern day travellers. Imagine losing your bag after crossing half of the world and having no customer service to help with the search! This was the case when the Hewes party arrived in Liverpool. Luckily, the last trunk was found so no one had to go without their necessities for the night.

Found three trunks but the valises and the fourth trunk did not put in an appearance. At last in despair we got into the four o’clock train with our remaining valuables and left Mr. H to wait for the missing box.”

Journal, Saturday, July 17, 1875, Chester, England

Nowadays, airlines provide checked bags with barcoded tags for tracking and retrieval. Not so in 1875! Porters on board ships and trains were in charge of unloading passenger belongings. If they couldn't find an item, prospects looked bleak. Popular etiquette writer, Eliza Leslie suggested to lady travellers in her 1853 Behaviour Book to:

Engage one of the servants of the boat, (promising him a shilling or two,)... to see that her baggage is safe."

(Pictured: "In a Baggage Room," from Horace Porter's Railway Passenger Travel 1825-1880 (1888). Franklina's trunk would have been similar to the one carried by a porter in this image.)

My Own Expenses

I pay every cent of my own expenses.”

Letter, Sunday, July 2, 1876, Paris, France

So proclaimed Franklina in a letter to her fiancé, William. Franklina and her mother were accustomed to a high standard of living but Matilda’s status as a widow left them anxious about money. And while Franklina prided herself on her frugality she expected to always travel first class. She proudly reported that at the end of the first year, she had spent $600 for “all ornaments and clothing” telling William “If you know anything of ladies expenses you will understand how economical I have been.” Franklina was no doubt unaware that a quarter of that sum, $150, often covered a year’s clothing expenses for a family of four in America.

So how much did Franklina’s first class tour of Europe and the Middle East cost? Here is an itemization of her major travel expenses with the amounts paid in 1875 (in black) and that amount adjusted for inflation (in red).

These numbers suggest that Franklina spent roughly $73,450 in today's money for her two year Grand Tour, after factoring in room and board and travel for the extent of the trip. Keep in mind that a domestic servant in San Francisco at the time made between $25 and $40 per week. A domestic servant would have to save all of their wages for 2 to 3 years to travel like Franklina.

A Lady Correspondent

Having inherited a vast sum from her late father, Franklina did indeed pay her own way through her Grand Tour. However, her fortune was not always certain. Following his death, Franklin Gray's first wife, Mary Ann Gray, attempted to reverse their divorce decree. Franklin's brother William and Franklin's business partners also laid claim for shares of the estate. As such, Franklina was always prepared to work if she had to make a living for herself.

A talented and entertaining writer, Franklina arranged with the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin to send in occasional articles as she travelled. While she was paid for her work, probably between $6 and $10 per submission, she was not credited by name. Her contributions were instead highlighted as: “FROM A LADY CORRESPONDENT.”

Though she was certainly interested in her finances, both in the present moment and for her future, Franklina wrote to William when she heard the news of the San Francisco Bank Panic of 1875:

Remember love, how many worse things there are than loss of money."
The front page header of the Evening Bulletin. First published in 1855, the newspaper ran successfully until 1918 and was purchased in 1929 by media mogul William Randolph Hearst.
Can you imagine anything funnier than the Bulletin and Chronicle correspondents travelling together?”

Letter, Monday, February 7, 1876, Cairo, Egypt

Charles Warren Stoddard toured the world as the San Francisco Chronicle’s special correspondent from 1873 to 1878. Franklina was delighted to discover that Mr. Hewes had arranged for Stoddard to join them on their Nile cruise. Stoddard later documented this journey in his 1881 book Mashallah! A Flight into Egypt.

During their time together afloat on the Nile, Franklina and Stoddard often wrote about the same events. Their narratives, however, differ significantly! Recounting the same invitation to coffee at the local Governor's palace, Franklina noted the humors of language barriers and the taste of the coffee while Stoddard devoted most of his description to the entertainment: jingling and "exquisitely graceful" belly dancers!

Though she was still writing as an affluent white woman, Franklina's stories diversify the predominantly male-written narratives of the time.

(Pictured: A Room in the House of Shayk Sadat by Frank Dillon – similar in style to the room where Franklina and Stoddard were entertained by the Governor in Egypt.)

Other perils of traveling as a woman, especially a yet-unmarried woman, were the constant questions from men and women alike about Franklina's engagement. During her time abroad, Franklina received no less than 2 marriage proposals from hopeful bachelors, including one from a baron. Likewise, she was pestered by older women about the details of her mysterious and absent fiancé. Steadfast in love, Franklina was unbothered by these interactions and recounted them humorously to William in her letters. In fact, an important task throughout her travels was the collection of art and souvenirs to furnish their home together, as well as purchasing her wedding trousseau.

Photograph of Baron Roman de Neuhof-Lay, 1877, from Franklina's album. The Baron offered his hand in marriage while in Mentone, France, which Franklina recounted in a letter to William: "Is it goodbye forever then? the young man said with a white dazed look which struck to my heart. Forever, I answered & as I turned hastily away I saw him burry his face in both his hands."

Click to the next section to learn more about what the Hewes party purchased and why.

Franklina C. Gray: The Grand Tour / An Online Exhibit Presented by Camron-Stanford House.
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