The Fashionable Society List appeared weekly in the local papers to let people know who was in town. Another popular column was Hotel Arrivals. The gentry were actively encouraged to give details of their movements, in order that they could be published. Balls were frequently mentioned in the papers, often listing those present, and, in the case of Fancy Dress Balls – very popular throughout the late 19th century-, giving a detailed list of the costumes worn.
The New Year Festivities of January 1856 included the following:
GENTRY’S BALL – The first of a series of annual new-year’s balls took place at the Town-hall on Tuesday, under the stewardship of Colonel Harvey, Captain Hancock, RN, Capt. Carden, 77th, and Capt Le Marchant. The attendance was quite as good as could be expected, considering the numerous private engagements usual at this time of year, – the bereavement which some of the leading families has sustained, – and the unavoidable absence of Colonel Harvey, the first steward. Those present included Lady Clifford, the Misses Clifford, Miss Hughan, and Capt. Clifford, RN; The Hon J P Ward, the Misses and Mr Ward; Mrs Young, Miss Young, Miss Garrett, and Mr Young; Mr and Miss Brigstocke; Mr and Mrs Lees, Miss Mears, and Mr Mears; the Misses Ferguson, Capt. Ferguson and Mrs Ferguson; Mrs Justly Hill, the Misses Hollingsworth, Miss Menzies and Mr Menzies, RN; Mr and Mrs Bloxam, Mr Lock, and Mrs Lock; Capt. Breedon, Capt. Hancock, RN, Rev J Le Marchant, and Capt. Le Marchant;Mrs Duff, Miss Astley, and Capt. Duff; Mr Barry, Mr Phillips, Mrs T B Hearn, Miss Fisher, Miss Brickman, and Mr T B Hearn; Mr Oliver &c., &c. There were about 75 present, nearly all of whom staid until the programme was concluded, at a little after 3am on Wednesday morning. The rooms were tastefully arranged for the occasion, under the superintendance of Mr McKay, who provided the supper consisting of white soup, raised pies, game, poultry, jellies, and indeed every luxury of the season, in the greatest profusion. The band (which was pronounced excellent by all) was most spiritedly conducted by Mr Jones, and we were pleased to see on this first occasion of Mr Jones’s management of our balls several townsmen in the band, including Mr Austin, lately returned from Jullien’s band. We understand that Mr Jones will have another ball about the end of this month. Great satisfaction was expressed with regard to all the arrangements; and, doubtless, the “Ryde New-year’s Ball” will take its stand amongst the local attractions for which that town is renowned.