Jumps: What, where, when, and why…
This is a resource page dedicated to collecting textual references to women’s jumps, a somewhat mysterious undergarment of the long 18th century. I have excerpted definitions, translations, news articles, court records, and published books and magazines from 1702-1882.
For a general overview of corset terminology, check out The Dreamstress.
For a list of extant waistcoats, see the Larsdatter page on women’s waistcoats. Note that it is possible that some of these garments are not what would have been described as ‘jumps’ in the 18th century; many have been given that name recently and do not have provenance to prove that their wearers considered them ‘jumps’ rather than a ‘waistcoat’, ‘stays’, ‘bodice’, or something else. In the images below, for example – would either of these have been called ‘jumps’ in period? We can’t know for sure.
Without making any assumptions, what the literary references tell us is this:
- Jumps appear to be a kind of support garment for ‘easier wear’ than stays. They are satirized as pinching just as stays might, but in later sources are sometimes defined as a ‘loose garment for the sickly’. Some women used them during and after pregnancy. In some cases, it may have been considered fashionable to wear jumps rather than stays.
- Materials mentioned: tabby (glazed silk or wool), ticking (strong linen), silk, silk satin, calimanco (fine glazed wool), canvas (unbleached hemp cloth or linen).
- They often had stomachers. They could close with laces, buttons, ribbon ties, clasps, or buckles. They opened in the front.
- Stomachers may have been pinned onto the shift/chemise or another underlayer before the jumps were put on over top.
- Stomachers did not have to match (tabby body with silk stomacher, or silk body with fustian stomacher, etc.) Lacings could also be in contrasting colors. Stomachers could be pasteboard, ‘made as usual’, and/or decorated (though that may be satire). Extant boned-front jumps with matching stomacher visible here.
- Wealthy, elite women like duchesses could wear them
- They are juxtaposed with waistcoats, stays, sulteen-stays, and bodices. Theft records show that there were women who had both a pair of stays and a pair of jumps, or two pairs of jumps.
- Jumps and quilted waistcoats in some cases were considered separate garments, with jumps being a midway point of stiffness between stays and quilted waistcoats, but definitely stiffened in some way
- In at least some cases, ‘jumps’ simply indicated a support garment that opened in the front instead of in the back (does this mean that front-opening stays are actually jumps?)
- Sack gowns, or robes à la francaise, could be worn over them (though this may be satirical)
- The word ‘jumps’ to refer to a supportive undergarment may have come into formal use in the UK and France before 1729, based on dictionary entries. The French gourgandine and justaucorps appear to be older terms for this garment, and may or may not actually be the same. (Be careful with ‘gourgandine’; it usually meant ‘prostitute’ from this era onward.)
- By the 1750s, “corset” (fr.) could refer to any kind of supportive undergarment
- Both “jump” and “jumps” were considered the singular by various dictionaries.
Jumps in Dictionaries & Translation (1702-1882)
- “A Jump (or Coat) for a Woman, Un Justaucorps de Femme, Un Jupon.” Dictionnaire royal francois-anglois (et anglois-francois) etc. by Abel Boyer, 1702, p. JUK/169.
- “Gourgandine. Ajustement de femme qui consiste en un corset ouvert par devant, & qui laisle voir la chemise. Plusieurs Poëtes comiques de ces derniers tems l’ont tourné en ridicule.” Dictionnaire de la langue francoise, ancienne et moderne, de Pierre Richelet, Vol. 2 (E-O), 1728.
- “Jumps, (a sort of light bodice, and stomacher, for women) Une gourgandine, un corset de femme ouvert par devant.” “Gourgandine, (Corset de Femme ouvert par devant), Jumps.” The Royal Dictionary, French and English, and English and French by Abel Boyer, 1729, p. 9, JUR.
- “Jumps, eine Art einer geineinen Schnürbrust. v. Stays or Bodice.” The universal etymological dictionary by Nathan Bailey, 1736, p. JU.
- “JUMPS (S.) an inferior kind of stays or bodice, worn by some women, not so stiff or full-boned as stays, but higher and stiffer than a quilted waistcoat or jacket.” A New General English Dictionary... by Thomas Dyche & William Pardon, 1740, p. JUN.
- “Jump: justaucorps de Femme.” The short French dictionary in two parts by Guy Miegè, 1750, p. JU.
- “Corset…Bodice, jumps, or a quilted waistcoat.” “A Jump for a Woman, Un justaucorps de femme, ou jupon...Stomacher, S. (that women wear before their bodice) Gourgandine.” The Royal Dictionary Abridged by Abel Boyer, 1751, n. p.
- “JUMPS [S.] inferior kind of stays or limber bodice, worn by some women.” A New Complete English Dictionary by John Marchant & Daniel Bellamy, 1760, p. JUP.
- “Jumps, (a sort of light bodice, and stomacher, for women.) Un corset de femme ouvert par devant.” “Stomacher (that women wear before their bodice.) Piece de corps-de-jupe, gourgandine….gorget.) A stomacher of ribbons. Échelle de rubans.” Dictionnaire Royal François-anglois Et Anglois-françois, Vol. 2 by Abel Boyer, 1768, p. 352, 601. (Later edition of 1702 dictionary).
- “Corset, jumps.” The New Pocket Dictionary of the French and English Languages, Vol. 2 by Thomas Nugent, 1781, p. 63.
- “Stays: Corps de jupe (m)…Stómacher: Piéce (f)….Bodice: Corset (m)….Jumps: Brassières (f, pl).” The Complete Vocabulary in English and French, 1785, p. 83.*
- “Corset, m. jumps, boddice” Nouveau dictionnaire. Chambaud’s Dictionary, Vol. 1 by Louis Chambaud, 1787, p. 75.
- “Jumps, Corset, m. […] Stomacher (plain), Piéce, f.” The Practical French Grammar by J. Porny, 1789, p. 195.
- “Jump, s. un faut. A jump for a woman, un corset ouvert par devant.” Boyer’s Dictionary Abridged, English and French, 1797, p. JUM.
- “Jumps, s. (fr. jupe) a waistcoat, a kind of loose or limber stays worn by sickly ladies.” The Synonymous, Etymological, and Pronouncing English Dictionary by William Perry, 1805, p. JUN.
- “JUMPS, s. stays.” Archaeologia, Or, Miscellaneous Tracts, Relating to Antiquity Vol. 17, 1814, p. 150. (under “ancient words”)
- “A Jump or jumps for a woman, un corset ouvert par-devant.” Dictionnaire Francais-anglais Et Anglais-francais, Abrege de Boyer. Vol. I., 1816, p. 356.
- “Jimps, s. pl. A kind of easy stays, S. Jumps, E.” An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language by John Jamieson, 1818, p. JIN-ILL
- “Jump, s. un saut, un corset de femme.” Boyer’s French Dictionary, 1827, p. 16.
- “Corsé, sm. jumps” Pocket Dictionary of Spanish and English by Henry Neuman, 1831, p. 86.
- “Jump, s. sálto; giustacôrpo; sórte felice m.” New Italian and English Dictionary in Two Parts With a New and Concise Grammar by F. C. Meadows, 1835, p. 513.
- “des brassières, f.” for jumps, and “la pièce or “une échelle [de rubans]” for stomacher [with ribbons]. French and English Self-taught by Xavier Méfret, 1882, p. 15.
Jumps in the news: sales and theft records, 1733-1782
- “For Stays, Canvis, and Taby, from 1l. 6sl to 1l. 13s. For Stays Taby all over, from 1l. 16s. to 2l 10s. For Jumps, Canvis, and a Taby Stomager, 1l. 3s. For Jumps, Taby all over, to Button before, for 1l. 16s. Jumps to tye with Ribbons, for the same Price. Jumps to clasp with Silver-Clasps or Buckels, from 3l. a Pair, to 7l.” The Newcastle Weekly Courant Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, England 24 Nov 1733, Tue • Page 3
- “womens and childres stays, jumps and boddice, whalebone and iron busks” The Pennsylvania Gazette Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 13 Jun 1745, Sun • Page 4
- “Childrens, girls, and womens stays; Boddice, jumps, steel and bone busks.” The Pennsylvania Gazette Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 26 May 1748, Sun • Page 4
- “one pair of tabby jumps” 16th October 1751, Old Bailey t17511016-44
- First testimony: “two pair of stays or jumps, one red, the other white….” Second testimony: “There were two pair, one was pink-colour, the other white”.
2nd July 1755, Old Bailey t17550702-36.
- “blue cloth jumps, and stomacher.” (Of Wallburg Demen, 22 years old, a “Dutch servant woman”). The Pennsylvania Gazette Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 10 Jun 1756, Thu • Page 3
- “a Pair of Womens Jumps of white Tyking, Silk-tabby breasted” The Caledonian Mercury Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland 25 Jul 1758, Tue • Page 3
- “a Pair of Womens Jumps very good, for 15s” The Public Advertiser London, Greater London, England 23 Oct 1758, Mon • Page 3
- “a Pair of Jumps, with a Pasteboard Stomacher” The Public Advertiser London, Greater London, England 14 Nov 1758, Tue • Page 3
- “Benjamin Whitcomb, Stay-Maker…Makes stays, jumps, and sulteen-stays.” The Maryland Gazette Annapolis, Maryland 10 May 1759, Thu • Page 3
- “one Pair of white Sattin Jumps with Pink Lacing before, with a broad Stomacher covered with Fustian” The Public Advertiser London, Greater London, England Wednesday, September 15, 1762 • Page 4
- “one pair of green jumps, value 3 s” 3rd July 1771, Old Bailey t17710703-15
- “A Pair of white Callimanco Jumps, almost new; two Woman’s Dimity Waistcoats” The Public Advertiser London, Greater London, England 31 Jan 1775, Tue • Page 4
- “a blue Tabby Waistcoat…a Pair of new white Silk Jumps, a Pair of old white Silk Stays.” The Public Advertiser London, Greater London, England 03 Feb 1775, Fri • Page 4
- “a pair of green jumps, value 2 s” 20th February 1782, Old Bailey t17820220-17
Jumps in books, stories, and poetry (1747-1828)
- “The Stay-Maker is employed in making Stays, Jumps, and Bodice for the Ladies…” The London Tradesman by R. Campbell, 1747, p. 224.
- “a pare of Stays, a pare of Jumps, 2 white Stomachers, & one black ditto.” “A Catalouge of the Dutchess of Richmond’s Cloaths that were under Mrs. Turner’s Care…June 28th, 1751” in The Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist, Vol. 6, 1866, p. 237.
- “A Receipt for Modern Dress….A short Pair of Jumps half an Ell from your Chin, / To make you appear just like one lying-in; / Before, for your Breast, pin a Stomacher Bib on, Ragout it with Cutlets of Silver and Ribbon…Let your Gown be a Sack…a Hoop eight Yards wide” The Caledonian Mercury Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland 08 Oct 1753, Mon • Page 1. Also found in Pennsylvania Gazette, 26 Feb 1754.
- “often forced to change their stays for jumps.” The London Magazine, Or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer Vol. 32, 1763, p. 314.
- “Lady Bolingbroke increased in size, insomuch that she was obliged to have a pair of stays let out for her…and had also a pair of jumps, such as are worn by women with child, and the deponent, in lacing the said stays or jumps, particularly observed her bigness, and that the said jumps would not latterly come to close as they had done before…” Trials for Adultery Or, The History of Divorces Vol. 1, 1779, p. 17-18.
- “I intend to make my stays into Jumps…I can make them myself. Jumps are all the fashion.” […] “I hope…you will not be so ridiculous as to spoil your shape by wearing jumps. Indeed, I think, you have both dressed very loose lately. It is an odious fashion for girls to appear as if they were ready to lie-in.” “Genuine Memoirs of two Half-Sisters.” in The Town and Country magazine, 1780, p. 424.
- “Jumps are most commonly worn [during pregnancy] yet the buckles and straps, with which they are fastened, make them aukward and troublesome. There are some upon a different construction, that are much more commodious. Instead of buckles and straps, the fore-parts of the stays are made wide enough to pin over the stomacher…..” An Essay on the Management and Nursing of Children in the Earlier Periods of Infancy by William Moss, 1781, p. 297-8.
- “her body was loosely attired, without stays or jumps” The History of Jonathan Wild the Great by Henry Fielding, 1785, p. 43.
- “With Nature’s hips, she sighs not for cork rumps, / And scorns the pride of pinching stays or jumps;” The Works of Peter Pindar, Vol. 1 by John Wolcot, 1797, p. 169.
- “HONGRELINE, a kind of short waistcoat stiffened like jumps or stays, worn by the Hungarian ladies…” A New and Enlarged Military Dictionary In French and English Vol.1, by Charles James, 1810, p. 15.
- “The Females wear generally scarlet jumps or under-waistcoasts, of which the sleeves hardly reach beyond the elbows, and are fastened there by means of a button…The under waistcoat cut out at the fore part, and leaving the breast free, is at the upper and under part fastened by clasps; the breast or bosom is covered by a scarlet stomacher…” [describing women ‘of the isle of Schokland’]. Reynold’s Miscellany of Romance, General Literature, Science, and Art, 1828, n.p.
Happy jumping, and do drop me a line if my research has helped you! Please let me know if you have run across additional historical material or definitions that you think I should add.
*: Indicates that this is a source behind a paywall or was found in a physical book; i.e. there is no online link that will show you the page itself. If I am unable to link directly to the source, then I have provided the library catalog link instead.