Explore Your Archive: Sir John Pakington and the Purchase of Wigs
The word wigs comes from
"periwigs" which was the name of the particular long, curly wigs that
became popular after Charles II was returned to the throne in 1660. They were used
to simulate real hair and primarily used for adornment. However at the time, head lice were everywhere, and nitpicking
waspainful and time-consuming. Wigs
stopped lice infesting people’s hair, which had to be shaved for the peruke to
fit and the lice would infest the wig instead. Delousing a wig was much easier
than delousing a head of hair: the dirty headpiece was send to a wigmaker, who
would boil the wig and remove the nits.
Sir John Pakington became the 6th
Baronet in 1748 the at the age of 26. Very little is known about his life only
that he married at the age of 38 and died at the age of 40.In 'The Pakingtons
of Westwood' by Humphrey and Richard Pakington it states 'the only clue- if such it can be called – to his character
and appearance is the purchase of one of those elaborate French wigs…'
Wigmakers bill: With kind permission of Lord Hampton
In England, bag wigs came into
fashion around 1730. It was claimed that this type of wig had originated in
France. French servants would apparently tie their hair back into a leather bag
to keep it off their face when serving, it was not deemed appropriate to have
free flowing hair.
Bag wigs got their name because
they were exactly that, a bagged wig. In England, the long hair at the back of
the wig was placed in a black silk bag. Then the ribbons attached to the bag
were pulled to the front and tied in a bow.
The other wig mentioned in Sir John Pakington's bill is the bob-wig. This also became popular in the 1700s, arriving in England during George II’s reign. What made this wig popular was its apparent resemblance to real hair and was mostly worn by the general public. The best examples were made from natural hair, however horse and goat were used as a cheaper alternative.
In 1795, the British government levied a tax on hair powder of one guinea per year. This tax effectively caused the end of the fashion for wigs.