Tag Archives: England

Succession for a Peerage by Regina Jeffers

Today, Regina Jeffers will be discussing issues of succession and the release of her new novel, THE EARL CLAIMS HIS COMFORT.

What happens to a peerage if the peer cannot be found or is presumed dead? What becomes of his wife? His children? This is a familiar plot in many Regency novels. I used it in the first book of my Twins’ trilogy, Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep. Angelica Lovelace’s father is the third son in the family, but when his eldest brother goes missing and the second son is dispatched with in an unusual plot twist, Horace Lovelace becomes the heir presumptive to the title. However, no one can be certain of the eldest’s death. People saw the Peer go overboard on his “honeymoon,” but there is always the possibility of his still being alive. [No “Gilligan’s Island” plot, but anything is possible.] Obviously, the authorities must wait to see if the Peer’s wife is pregnant and if she delivers forth a son, who would then be the heir apparent and displace Horace in the line of succession, but then what?

Such a search could take forever if there is no child to become the heir. We customarily think that after a person is missing for seven years, that he is declared dead, but that is not so in the case of a peerage. The search could take several lifetimes, though the Committee on Privilege of the House of Lords and the College of Arms may choose to set a time limit. Until the Peer is officially declared dead, his “widow” cannot remarry.

It could be possible for the heir apparent or the heir presumptive to act in the Peer’s place to oversee the property and the business of the peerage, but he cannot officially claim the title until a decision on the Peer’s death has been made.

Another incidence of inheritance plagues book 2 of the Twins’ trilogy, The Earl Claims His Comfort. In it, a doppelgänger attempts to unseat Levison Davids, 17th Earl of Remmington, by claiming the earldom is his rightful heritage. So what really occurs when there is a question as to the line of succession?

First, let us clear up some misconceptions. The most confusing of those, for some, is the difference between an heir apparent and an heir presumptive. The heir apparent can only be the peer’s oldest living son or the oldest of his grandsons ( son of the oldest son), if the peer’s oldest son is deceased. What’s most important to remember is that “if a man inherits a peerage, it is because he is the eldest surviving legitimate male who can trace a direct (father to son) lineage back to an earlier holder of the peerage. In other words, he doesn’t inherit because he was the brother or the cousin or the uncle of his predecessor, but because his own father, or grandfather, or great-grandfather, or great-great-grandfather, etc., was an earlier holder of the peerage. [“Eldest” in this context doesn’t mean that he happens to be the oldest of several different living men who can trace a direct line back to an earlier holder of the peerage, but rather that his line is the eldest, i.e., eldest son of eldest son; and all other lines senior to his have died out.]” (“Hereditary Peerages” https://www.chinet.com/~laura/html/titles03.html)

Although it has taken various forms, the Peerage Roll has existed since the Roll kept by Garter Principal King of Arms in 1514. The early ones still in the custody of the House of Lords are those from 1621, 1628, and 1661. Garter’s Roll was the official roll of the House until 1827. From 1827 to 1999, a sessional Roll became a part of Parliament’s history. After the passing of the House of Lords Act in 1999, the Clerk of the Parliaments ceased to preserve the Roll. Since the enactment of this parliamentary law, the Crown Office issues the Writ of Summons to those 92 hereditary peers remaining in the House of Lords. There is no longer an automatic entitlement to a Writ of Summons to the HOL, but this was not so during the Regency.

To claim a peerage during the Regency (and even now), certain statutory declaration evidence must be supplied by the claimant. For a son, this would include evidence of his birth, his parents’ marriage (and that they were married BEFORE his birth, not necessarily before his conception), the previous Peer’s death, and evidence that the late Peer had no legitimate surviving male issue before the birth of the claimant (meaning he had no elder legitimate surviving brothers). For a brother to succeed, the claimant would need all of the above plus evidence that the late Peer had no legitimate male issue and there was no surviving male issue between the birth of the Peer and that of the claimant (meaning the late Peer had no surviving sons). For a nephew to succeed, the person needed proof of his birth, his parents’ marriage, the birth of his father, the death of his father, the death of the deceased Peer, evidence that the late Peer had no surviving legitimate male issue, that there was no surviving legitimate male issue between the birth of the late Peer and that of the claimant’s father, and the claimant’s father had no surviving male issue before the birth of the claimant.

To make such a claim from a position of collateral succession, meaning those who stand to receive a portion, or all, of a deceased individual estate, but who are not direct descendants of the deceased person, the claimant needed to provide evidence of his birth, evidence to show the claimant is descended from the collateral relations of the Peerage/grantee, and evidence to show that all male lines from the very first Peer are senior to that of the claimant are extinct, and that no male senior to the claimant in. his. own line is still living.

Resource for parts of this piece come from the Ministry of Justice, Crown Office, House of Lords “Guidance Notes on Succession to a Peerage…” http://www.college-of-arms.gov.uk/GuidanceNotes2.pdf

Jeremy Turcotte has a lengthy list of extinct British peerages that was compiled in September 2013. I thought it might be of interest to some of you. Find it at https://jeremyturcotte.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/a-listing-of-extinct-british-peerages/
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Introducing The Earl Claims His Comfort: Book 2 in the Twins’ Trilogy, releasing September 16, 2017, from Black Opal Books

– a 2016 Hot Prospects finalist in Romantic Suspense

Hurrying home to Tegen Castle from the Continent to assume guardianship of a child not his, but one who holds his countenance, Levison Davids, Earl of Remmington, is shot and left to die upon the road leading to his manor house. The incident has Remmington chasing after a man who remains one step ahead and who claims a distinct similarity—a man who wishes to replace Remmington as the rightful earl. Rem must solve the mystery of how a stranger’s life parallels his, while protecting his title, the child, and the woman he loves.

Comfort Neville has escorted Deirdre Kavanaugh from Ireland to England, in hopes that the Earl of Remmington will prove a better guardian for the girl than did the child’s father. When she discovers the earl’s body upon a road backing the castle, it is she who nurses him to health. As the daughter of a minor son of an Irish baron, Comfort is impossibly removed from the earl’s sphere, but the man claims her affections. She will do anything for him, including confronting his enemies. When she is kidnapped as part of a plot for revenge against the earl, she must protect Rem’s life, while guarding her heart.

Purchase Links:
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EXCERPT
“Cannot recall the last time I slept in my own bed,” he murmured to no one in particular as he stood to gain his bearings. The room swirled before his eyes, but Rem shook off the feeling. Of late, it was common for him to know a dull vibrating sound marring his thinking.
Levison Davids, the 17th Earl of Remmington, set the glass down harder than he intended. He had consumed more alcohol than he should on this evening, but as his home shire often brought on a case of maudlin, he had drowned his memories. He turned toward the door, attempting to walk with the confidence his late father always demanded of his sons. Lev was not trained to be the earl. His father had groomed Rem’s older brother Robinson for the role, but Fate had a way of spitting in a man’s eye when he least expected it.
Outside, the chilly air removed the edge from the numbness the heavy drink provided him, and for a brief moment Rem thought to return to the common room to reinforce the black mood the drink had induced. A special form of “regret” plagued his days and nights since receiving word of his ascension to the earldom some four years prior, and he did not think he would ever to be comfortable again.
“Storm comin’,” the groom warned when he brought Rem’s horse around.
“We’re in Yorkshire,” Remmington replied. “We are known for the unpredictable.”
Customarily, he would not permit the groom to offer him a leg up, but Rem’s resolve to reach his country estate had waned. He had received a note via Sir Alexander Chandler that Rem’s presence was required at the Remmington home seat, and so he had set out from France, where he had spent the last year, to answer a different call of duty.
Sir Alexander offered little information on why someone summoned Rem home, only that the message had come from the estate’s housekeeper. Not that it mattered who had sent for him. Tegen Castle was his responsibility. The journey from France had required that Rem leave an ongoing investigation behind, a fact that did not please him, even though he knew the others in service to Sir Alexander were excellent at their occupations. Moreover, the baronet had assured Rem that several missions on English shores required Remmington’s “special” skills, and he could return to service as quickly as his business knew an end.
He caught the reins to turn the stallion in a tight circle. Tossing the groom a coin, Rem kicked Draco’s sides to set the horse into a gallop.
As the dark swallowed them up, Rem enjoyed the feel of power the rhythm of the horse’s gait provided. He raced across the valley before emerging onto the craggy moors. At length, he skirted the rocky headland.
He slowed Draco as the cliff tops came into view. When he reached Davids’ Point, he urged the stallion into a trot. Rem could no longer see the trail, but his body knew it as well as it knew the sun would rise on the morrow. After some time, he jerked Draco’s reins hard to the left, and, as a pair, they plunged onto the long-forgotten trail. He leaned low over the stallion’s neck to avoid the tree limbs before he directed Draco to an adjacent path that led upward toward the family estate, which sat high upon a hill overlooking the breakwaters.
When he reached the main road again, he pulled up on the reins to bring the animal to a halt. Rem patted Draco’s neck and stared through the night at his childhood home, which was framed against the rising moonlight. It often made him sad to realize how much he once loved the estate as a child and how much he now despised it.
“No love left in the bricks,” he said through a thick throat. “Even the dowager countess no longer wishes to reside here. How can I?”
It was not always so. Although he was a minor son, Rem always thought to share Tegen Castle with his wife and children—to live nearby and to relate tales of happier days.
“But after Miss Phillips’s betrayal and then, likewise, that of Miss Lovelace, I possess no heart to begin again.”
In truth, of the two ladies, Rem had only loved Miss Delia Phillips.
“Fell in love with the girl when I was but fourteen and she, ten.”
He crossed his arms over the rise of the saddle to study the distant manor house.
“Perhaps Delia could find no solace here,” he murmured aloud.
Even today, it bothered him that Delia had not cared enough for him to send him a letter denying their understanding. He had learned of Delia’s marrying Baron Kavanagh from Sir Alexander, with whom Rem had served upon the Spanish front. Sir Alexander’s younger brother delivered the news in a cheeky letter.
“I suppose Delia thought being a baroness was superior to being Mrs. Davids. Little did she know I would claim the earldom. More is the pity for her.” A large raindrop plopped upon the back of his hand. “If we do not speed our return to the castle, my friend, we will arrive with a wet seat.”
He caught up the loose reins, but before he could set his heels into Draco’s sides, a shot rang out. By instinct, Rem thought to dive for the nearby ditch. Yet, the heavy drink slowed his response, and before he could act, Remmington knew the sharp sting of the bullet in his thigh.
Draco bolted forward before Rem had control of the stallion’s reins. He felt himself slipping from the saddle, but there was little he could do to prevent the impact. He slammed hard into the packed earth just as the heavens opened with a drenching rain. The back of his head bounced against a paving stone, and a shooting pain claimed his forehead. Even so Rem thought to sit up so he might take cover, but the effort was short coming. The piercing pain in his leg and the sharp sting claiming his vision fought for control. The blow to his head won, and Rem screwed his eyes closed to welcome the darkness.
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AngelComes...

Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep: Book 1 of the Twins’ Trilogy
– a 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense finalist
-a SOLA’s Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Award finalist for Historical Romance

Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, being tended by an ethereal “angel,” who claims to be his wife. However, reality is often deceptive, and Angelica Lovelace is far from innocent in Hunt’s difficulties. Yet, there is something about the woman that calls to him as no other ever has. When she attends his mother’s annual summer house party, their lives are intertwined in a series of mistaken identities, assaults, kidnappings, overlapping relations, and murders, which will either bring them together forever or tear them irretrievably apart. As Hunt attempts to right his world from problems caused by the head injury that has robbed him of parts of his memory, his best friend, the Earl of Remmington, makes it clear that he intends to claim Angelica as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit her to align herself with the earldom or claim the only woman who stirs his heart–and if he does the latter, can he still serve the dukedom with a hoydenish American heiress at his side?
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Meet Regina Jeffers

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With 30+ books to her credit, Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era-based romantic suspense. A teacher for 40 years, Jeffers often serves as a consultant for Language Arts and Media Literacy programs. With multiple degrees, Regina has been a Time Warner Star Teacher, Columbus (OH) Teacher of the Year, and a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar and a Smithsonian presenter.

Every Woman Dreams: https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com
Website: http://www.rjeffers.com
Austen Authors: http://austenauthors.net
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Regina-Jeffers-Author-Page-141407102548455/?fref=ts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/reginajeffers
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Regina-Jeffers/e/B008G0UI0I/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1479079637&sr=8-1
Also on Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.
Now for the GIVEAWAY. I have two eBook copies of The Earl Claims His Comfort available to those who comment below. The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on Wednesday, October 4.

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Filed under 19th century England, Guest post, Regency era, Regina Jeffers, Writing

Watch this space!

richard collins 1727 A Family of Three At Tea

A Family of Three At Tea by Richard Collins 1727

On October 1, 2017, we will be entertaining a guest! Noted author Regina Jeffers will be posting on this site, discussing some knotty issues of inheritance, and her new release. Please don’t miss it!

Illustration: “Family of three at tea” by Richard Collins, 1727 (here )

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I’m visiting Austen Authors blog today!

sir_roger_newdigate_in_the_library_at_arbury_arthur_devis

 

I have an article posted on the Austen Authors blog today, titled The Significance of Books and Reading in Jane Austen’s Novels.  Please join me on their site at Austen Authors.

 

Illustration: Sir Roger Newdigate in the Library at Arbury, by Arthur Devis (18th Century) via Wikimedia Commons Here

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In the news in July and August of 1808

by Lauren Gilbert

One of the articles I most enjoy in Jane Austen’s Regency World magazines provides snippets of news articles that would have appeared in England in Jane Austen’s time.  In the current edition, the following item intrigued me:

“By order of council, no licenses are to be granted to neutral ships to import French wines or French brandies.  This will operate to the advantage of the trade of Portugal and Spain, and quicken the sale of rums.” (1)

In view of the Napoleonic wars, the ban on the import of French wines and brandies by neutral countries made sense.  Since Spain requested aid from England against the French earlier in 1808 (and several English firms were vested in the wine trade in Spain and in Portugal which Spain had overrun with France), the desire to advance their trading interests was logical.  However, the desire to boost the sale of rums specifically caught my attention, and inspired me to look at that more closely.

England’s relationship with rum goes back to its colony on Barbados (1625) and to Jamaica (the British took Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655).  Rum was a by-product of sugar, and Jamaica especially made rum from molasses, producing a darker rum with a fuller taste.  As such, it was a product of England’s West Indian sugar plantations and slave labor.  Rum was introduced to England in 1714.  It was a popular ingredient in rum punch, which was made with rum, hot water, fruit, and spices.  The Royal Navy issued a ration of rum twice daily, mixed with water and lemon or lime juice to its sailors.  It was an important trade commodity, traded heavily with the American colonies, and competed with rum made in the French colonies (rhum agricole which was made from cane juice-it retained the flavor of sugar cane and was frequently  more expensive).

I wondered why the council would specifically consider the need to boost the sale of rum, as it would seem to have had a fairly secure place in British commodities.  I do not believe that it was a coincidence that this concern for the sales of rum arose at this particular time.

Abolitionists had been lobbying against slavery for decades.  In 1706, in the case of Smith vs Brown and Cooper, the chief justice indicated that a man may be a peasant in England but not a slave.  In spite of the fact that fortunes were made by English landowners who owned plantations in colonies worked by slaves, the issue would not die and in fact became more contentious.

663px-wedgwood_-_anti-slavery_medallion_-_walters_482597

Pro-abolition consumers boycotted products made by slaves, including sugar from the British colonies.  Rum could have fallen into this category.  Sugar from the East Indies became a popular alternative (originally Dutch, but this too came under French control).  Finally in 1807, the slave trade was banned  to the extent that slaves could not be transported in British ships, nor could they be bought or sold in British territories.  The act stopped short of banning ownership, so the plantations continued operating with the existing population of slaves (and their children), even though tarnished in reputation.

Maybe I have the business of politics on the brain, but it seemed possible that the desire to boost the sale of rum had as much to do with improving the fortunes of the plantation owners (who also tended to be wealthy landowners involved in the British political world) as making a patriotic statement.  Certainly the guise of “doing down” the French at this time would tend to make a controversial product more marketable, at least to some consumers.  It would not be the first time, or the last, that an apparently logical and reasonable act in politics had a seamier aspect as well.  (If this seems unduly cynical, please blame it on my current surfeit of political campaign material.)

It’s important to note that slavery was finally banned in England in 1833.

(1) Jane Austen’s Regency World.  July/August 2016.  Lansdown Media Ltd, Bath, England.  p. 38

Illustration from Wikimedia Commons: Anti-Slavery Medallion ordered by Josiah Wedgewood from William Hackwood 1787.  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wedgwood_-_Anti-Slavery_Medallion_-_Walters_482597.jpg

 

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Princess Esterhazy: The “Bonne Enfant” of Almack’s


Portrait of Prince and Princess Esterhazy with their children c. 1850

She was born Her Serene Highness, Princess Maria Theresia, Hereditary Princess of Thurn and Taxis on July 6, 1794. Her parents were Karl Alexander, the 5th Prince of Thurn and Taxis, and Duchess Therese of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (a niece of the late English Queen Charlotte). She was their third child, and second daughter. Princess Maria Theresia was born in Regensburg, Bavaria. She maintained an attachment to the city of Regensburg throughout her life.

Princess Maria Theresia was married to Crown Prince Paul Anthony Esterhazy III (date of birth March 11, 1786) of Galantha on June 18, 1812 in Regensburg, not quite 18 years old to his age26. The prince’s father, Prince Nicholas II, travelled extensively and had lived for some time in England. From an ancient Hungarian family, Prince Paul Esterhazy had begun a diplomatic career young, serving under Louis, Prince of Stahremberg, in London. He was apparently liked and respected in English society as well as in diplomatic circles. It seems Princess Esterhazy was already active in London society and established as a Patroness of Almack’s by 1814, so it is obvious that she plunged right in to the social mainstream. After attending the Congress of Vienna in 1814 with Metternich, where Princess Esterhazy was much admired, Prince Paul was appointed to the Prince Regent’s court in 1815 as Austrian ambassador, at the Prince Regent’s request.

The youngest of the Lady Patronesses, Princess Esterhazy was an attractive young woman, based on the descriptions. She was apparently dark, plump, pretty and lively. Countess Lieven (later Princess) described her as “small, round, black, animated and spiteful”. She was very formal, and known to have a distaste for status seekers. Her love of ceremony and etiquette were attributed to her German background. As wife of the Austrian ambassador, Hereditary Princess of Thurn and Taxis in her own right, and connected with English royalty (cousin to Princess Charlotte, niece of the Duchess of Cumberland), Princess Esterhazy was at the top of the social strata from the beginning. Her knowledge protocol and of Austro-Hungarian, German and central European aristocracy would have been invaluable to her as a hostess for her husband.

Princess Esterhazy’s youth, personal attractiveness, and connections put her into a position of influence, had she chosen to use it. Supposedly Countess Lieven felt Princess Esterhazy to be a threat to her own position, at least initially. Information about Princess Esterhazy as a spiteful person appears in Countess Lieven’s letters to Prince Metternich. Countess Lieven was known for her efforts to influence European politics in Russia’s best interests, and apparently feared that the Austrian ambassador’s young wife would attempt to compete with her on the political stage as well as in society. It’s interesting to speculate that her malicious comments about Princess Esterhazy were an underhanded way to undercut Prince Paul’s position as Austrian ambassador. Ironically, there is no reference to Princess Esterhazy having any interest in political maneuvering. According to the Memoirs of the Comtesse de Boigne, Princess Esterhazy missed her home and was bored in London.

Princess Esterhazy was primarily associated with high society in her capacity as Lady Patroness of Almack’s. She was one of only two foreigners accorded this position (the other being Countess Lieven). As previously mentioned, she was a very high stickler. She was noted for her love of new dances, and was especially fond of waltzing. She was frequently partnered by Baron de Neumann, secretary at the Austrian Embassy.

Prince and Princess Esterhazy had 3 children, two daughters and a son, Nicholas Paul. It is interesting to note that their son was born in Regensburg in 1817, and married Lady Sarah Frederica Villiers, the daughter of Lord and Lady Jersey.

Her father-in-law passed away November 25, 1833, at which point her husband Paul became the 8th Prince Esterhazy of Galantha. Princess Maria Theresia’s full title became Princess Maria Theresia Esterhazy, Princess of Galantha, Princess of Thurn and Taxis. (The questions of lineage and title were apparently contributed to Countess Lieven’s dislike of Princess Esterhazy; her dislike appears to have been returned. When Count Lieven was made a prince in 1826, the now-Princess Lieven told Lord Grey that they were the only ones granted that title. Princess Esterhazy had no hesitation in showing her disdain for the Russian title, which did not endear her to Princess Lieven.) It is worth noting that the only source I found that dwells on Princess Esterhazy’s spiteful nature seems to be Princess Lieven.

Prince Esterhazy served as the Austrian Ambassador from 1815 to 1818, and again from 1830 to 1839. Prince and Princess Esterhazy also ruled Galantha from his father’s death and returned there in 1842. The Prince was active in political affairs for the Austrian empire and for Hungary, serving briefly as minister of foreign affairs to the King of Hungary, trying to mediate between the two governments. He left public life completely when Austrian and Hungarian relations broke down in 1848. I have found little data of Princess Esterhazy’s life after leaving England or during the years in Hungary. Sources indicate that Prince Esterhazy (and, by extension, Princess Esterhazy) had spent beyond his means, and that his last years were made difficult by money problems. He died May 21, 1866 in Regensburg (Maria Theresia’s much loved home city), at which time their son Nicholas became Crown Prince.

Princess Maria Theresia lived until August 18, 1874. She died in Huttledorf, Vienna, Austria. It is known that her son eased the family’s financial straits by selling the family’s famous art collection to the Austro-Hungarian Empire about 1870. Her rooms are the focus of an exhibition at the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria. I requested more information about her from the Esterhazy Palace, but have yet to receive a reply. I will post an update with any additional information about her, when received.

Sources include:
Chancellor, E. Beresford. LIFE IN REGENCY AND EARLY VICTORIAN TIMES An Account of the Days of Brummell and D’orsay 1800 to 1850. London: B. T. Batsford, Ltd. 1926.

Also by Chancellor: Memorials of ST. JAMES’S STREET and Chronicles of Almack’s. New York: Brentano’s, 1922.

Charmley, John. The PRINCESS and the POLITICIANS Sex, Intrigue and Diplomacy, 1812-1840. London: Penguin Group, 2005. [This is actually about Princess Lieven, but talks about her issues with Princess Esterhazy.]

Gronow, Captain Rees Howell. Reminiscences of Captain Gronow. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1862. Reprinted by IndyPublish.com, McLean, VA.

King, David. VIENNA 1814 How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna. New York: Random House, Inc. 2008
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Kloester, Jennifer. GEORGETTE HEYER’S Regency World. London: William Heinemann, 2005.

Quennell, Peter, ed. THE PRIVATE LETTERS OF PRINCESS LIEVEN TO PRINCE METTERNICH 1820-1826. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc. 1938.

Robinson, Lionel G., ed. LETTERS OF DOROTHEA, PRINCESS LIEVEN, during her Residence in London, 1812-1834. London: Longmans, Green and Co. 1902.

Candace Hern’s blog. “Leaders of Society and the Demimonde.” Princess Esterhazy (1794-?) http://www.candacehern.com/regency.htm

Unusual Historicals blog. “Fashionable People of the Regency- – Time for a Reassessment?” by Michelle Styles, posted 7/10/2012. http://unusualhistoricals.blogspot.com/2012/07/fashionable-people-of-regency-time-for.html

GoogleBooks.com. An Irish Beauty of the Regency by Frances Pery Calvert (the Hon. Mrs.) Great Britain: John Lane, 1911. Page 341. http://books.google.com/books?id=_LA_AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA341&lpg=PA341&dq=princess+esterhazy+regency&source=bl&ots=VfO–gHncf&sig=dpn5TZy–v898ruToxfX9z2Q6pY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=jw0gUe6vCpT09gTfzYHQCA&ved=0CDIQ6AEwATgU#v=onepage&q=princess%20esterhazy%20regency&f=false

GoogleBooks.com. Memoires of the comtesse de Boigne, Volume 2. (1815-1819). by Louise-Eleonore-Charlotte-Adelaide Osmond Boigne (comtesse de). M. Charles Nicoulaud. London: William Heinemann, 1907. http://books.google.com/books?id=6VUoAAAAYAAJ&q=The+diplomatic+body+paul+esterhazy#v=snippet&q=The%20diplomatic%20body%20paul%20esterhazy&f=false

GluedIdeas.com. From “Chambers Encyclopedia 1880”, Vol. 5 Escitria to Fagging, ESTERHAZY entry. http://gluedideas.com/content-collection/chambers-5/Esterhazy.html

ThePeearage.com. “Maria Theresia Prinzessin von Thurn und Taxis.” Person #32081. http://www.thepeerage.com/p32081.htm#i320810; “Pal Antal Furst Esterhazy von Galantha.” Person 320811. http://www.thepeerage.com/p32082.htm#i320811

Wikipedia.com. “Princess Maria Theresia of Thurn and Taxis.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/index.html?curid=25561257
Image: Wikipedia Commons Prince Pal Antal Esterhazy and his Family c 1850 artist unknown http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3a/Prince_P%C3%A1l_Antal_Esterh%C3%A1zy_and_his_Family_c._1850.jpg/595px-Prince_P%C3%A1l_Antal_Esterh%C3%A1zy_and_his_Family_c._1850.jpg

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Women and Politics In Jane Austen’s Time

     As we are heating up for presidential elections, politics of course is becoming all-consuming.  What were politics like in Jane Austen’s time, and what were women’s concerns?  This is a big subject, and I would like to present some thoughts in a two-part article.  The first will present some thoughts and information about the political situation of the time; the second will address some ideas about politics and Jane Austen’s novels.

PART I

     Politics in Jane Austen’s time have little in common with politics today.  Before 1832, only 5 to 6% of the male population could vote, made up largely of aristocrats who were large property owners.  Parties (and party loyalty) were much more fluid.  Rhetoric was much more uncontrolled.  After the French Revolution, a more cautious spirit pervaded the English political landscape, reigning in ideas of change and individual rights.  Although women had been actively involved with politics in the previous generation (witness the Duchess of Devonshire and her sister soliciting votes for the Whigs, and the political hostess Mrs. Crewe; and women at the lower ends of the social scale participating in mobs and rallies), by the time Jane was a young woman, women were discouraged from concerning themselves directly with political activity.  Does that mean that women, and in particular Jane Austen, were uninformed or uninterested in politics?  For that matter, what were the issues in politics during Jane’s time that might have interested women? 

     A general political overview is helpful.  In Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Whigs succeeded in removing James II (and the exclusion of James VII/II from the throne) and establishing a constitutional monarchy  (William and Mary, followed by Queen Anne; after Anne’s death, Elector of Hanover was invited to rule.)  The Whig party felt that they had saved the realm and expected to be rewarded.  They embraced ideals of the American and French revolutions, but wanted to retain the existing structure.  Whig power declined due to their support of the French Revolution (popular until the Terror and the executions of the King and Queen).   The Tory government was much more conservative, wanted to win the Napoleonic Wars, and concerned with  fiscal responsibility.

     Political parties were not like today.  Membership was fluid: members of all sides switched with various issues.  There was cooperation as well as conflict (see Ministry of All The Talents-both Whigs and Tories –formed by Lord William Grenville, in place 2/1806-3/1807).  Party affiliations were often drawn along the lines of one issue, which resulted in strange partnerships and fluid alliances.  Forming of factions was characteristic of the period.  There were three basic groups active during this time, with movement back and forth at will.

     The Whig party supported a landowner-controlled monarchy (constitutional), and was somewhat reform minded (i.e. favored education as expected gratitude and support, supported some expansion of suffrage but didn’t expect or desire basic social structure/class changes), and sought electoral, parliamentary and philanthropic reforms within their constitutional position.  They resented the king’s control of patronage.  The Whig families controlled polite Society  (The “Upper 400”, the London season).  During Jane Austen’s era, they were the minority party, but still wielded great power on the social level.   They supported Prince of Wales.  George III hated the Whigs.

     The Tory party supported strong monarchy, and the Church of England.  More conservative, the Tories considered moves toward political reform dangerous.   Hard work, and personal worth allowed individual advancement.   The Tories took a more pragmatic, fiscal-minded view, and believed that the king should determine the direction of the state.   Country gentry, tradesmen and official administrative groups were most often allied to Tory goals.

     A third group, the Radicals, were much more independent.   They wanted broad reforms (expanded suffrage, broader religious freedom, etc.)

     Parliament was made up of two houses: the House of Lords consisting of peers of the realm (dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts and barons), with the bishops and archbishops of the Church of England (Pool, p. 35), and the House of Commons (from the Norman French “Communes” or localities-elected from boroughs (towns) in the shires by electors whose right to vote was determined by sheriffs and the rules varied widely.)  For elections, seats were not linked to population, so representation was uneven, and a disproportionate number of seats were controlled by a few powerful men.  As a result of the Septennial Act of 1716, parliamentary elections were required every 7 years, with by-elections held between the general elections to replace a sitting member who died or resigned.  A very small number  were eligible to vote, and votes were bought and sold (both parties involved with this, even though illegal).  Public opinion had little effect on outcomes.  “Pocket boroughs” were small localities owned by one man who controlled the few resident voters, and were even bought and sold (see Duke of Bedford, Duke of Devonshire).    Both parties (Whigs and Tories) were entrenched in political system of patronage and nepotism.

      Jane Austen is often considered a Tory sympathizer, but did not disclose her personal opinions at length, as far as we know.  (Her brother Henry in 1818 was at pains to state that she was “thoroughly religious and devout” and “her opinions accorded strictly with those of our Established Church.” (CAMBRIDGE COMPANION p. 154)  This implies strong Tory leanings.)   Her mother Cassandra Leigh was connected to James Brydges, the 1st Duke of Chandos and Lord Leigh of Stoneleigh Abbey, but her immediate family had no money or influence (her father was a clergyman).   Jane’s father’s family was professional (George Austen’s father was a surgeon, his uncle a lawyer).  (George Austen was born in Tonbridge in Kent, one of four children of William Austen, a surgeon, and Rebecca (nee Hampson).) Both parents died before George was nine, and he was raised by his uncle, Francis Austen, a wealthy lawyer, who paid for George’s education at Tonbridge School and St. John’s College, Oxford.  In 1755, he was ordained in Rochester Cathedral.

                Various factors in Jane Austen’s life would have awakened an interest in many issues.  Her father, George Austen, a landless clergyman, had no money or property, leading to inheritance problems for his daughters.   Her cousin Eliza was the daughter of an East India merchant and her father’s sister who was sent out to India to find a husband (again, no money); Eliza’s mother took her to France where she married a minor French aristocrat connection.  During the French Revolution, Eliza’s husband was guillotined, a victim of the Terror.  (Eliza subsequently married Jane’s brother Henry.)  Jane’s  brother, Edward Austen-Knight, was a landowner with money, but had to be adopted to achieve his rank and fortune.    She had two brothers in the Navy, participating in war; for both the rank of admiral was achieved-they rose by merit and hard work.

     There were specific political issues that would be of particular interest to women, including Jane Austen.  First would be war; with husbands, fathers, sons, etc. going to war, there was a loss of protection and income for many (pay was slow to come, if issued at all; prize money could not be counted on).  Secondly were moral issues, such as the questions of slavery, and civil and criminal laws and penalties.  Although the slave trade was abolished in 1807, ownership was still legal.  Aunt Perrot’s trial for theft of a card of lace would have been an immediate concern, especially as possible penalties included being transported to a penal colony.  Thirdly, and for many most importantly, were marital issues; although much was written about love, marriage had more to do with property.  Frequently, family pressure was applied to compel young people to marry appropriately.  Once married, women had little or no control of their assets (in essence, they and anything they owned became the property of their husbands).  Divorce was hugely expensive and time-consuming, involving a  petition to Parliament; women had great difficulty gaining custody of children, or funds. 

     Another issue of huge importance was inheritance law-the issues primogeniture (property and money going to the oldest son), entail (restrictions on the disposal of property), etc. limited women’s ability to inherit.  With few opportunities available to support themselves, women were frequently left at the mercy of the intentions and generosity of male family members to provide support.

     General reform was a major topic of the day on many levels.  Regarding slavery issues, William Wilberforce (and his Anti-Slavery league) was active during her life.  Although the slave trade in the British Empire was abolished in 1807, there was still on-going activity to abolish ownership of slaves.  In education, Hannah Moore (a prolific writer, founder of schools) and Mary Wollstonecraft (who wrote about women’s education) brought issues of education to the forefront,  as availability of education to all was not considered a right, or even desirable.  Election reforms, including suffrage and other rights for Catholics and non-landowners were also major issues.   In the political climate of the time, given the loss of the American colonies and the French Revolution leading to the destruction of French society and the rise of Napoleon, these were sensitive issues, not to be embraced lightly. 

    The fear of revolution in Britain was real, and issues of reform exacerbated these fears.  Indeed, laws were passed to restrict the press from publishing material that could be construed as critical or seditious.

Bibliography:

Washington & Lee University, “The World of Jane Austen” 2009 Alumni College – Dr. Taylor Sanders-  Lectures: ‘The British Empire at Full Attention (or Why were all those men in uniform?)’ on 7/21/09, and  ‘The Court Jester: Was George III Truly Mad?: The Political Scene’ on 7/23/09; Dr. Marc Conner-Lecture ‘The Economies of Jane Austen: Wealth/Religion/Marriage’ on 7/24/09.  (Outlines and my notes)

Austen, Jane.  PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.  London: 1813.

                          PERSUASION.  London: 1817.                       

Copeland, Edward and McMaster, Juliet, ed.  THE CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO JANE AUSTEN. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.  “Religion and Politics” by Gary Kelly, PP. 149-169.

Erickson, Carolly.  ROYAL PANOPLY Brief Lives of the English Monarchs.  “Epilogue: Historical Turning Points, ‘England in 1714’”, pp. 350-352.  New York: History Book Club, 2003.

Johnson, Claudia L.  JANE AUSTEN Women, Politics, and the Novel.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988. 

LeFaye, Deirdre, ed.  JANE AUSTEN’S LETTERS. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Mitchell, Leslie.  THE WHIG WORLD. London and New York: Hambledon Continuum, 2005.

PERSUASIONS, No. 24, 2002.  “Jane Austen and the Enclosure Movement: The Sense and Sensibility of Land Reform,” by Celia Easton.  PP. 71-89.

Pool, Daniel.  WHAT JANE AUSTEN ATE AND CHARLES DICKENS KNEW From Fox Hunting to Whist-the Facts of Daily Life in 19th Century England.  New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

ELECTIONEERING (from Robert Southey’s “Letters from England,” written in 1802 [originally published in 1807])

On-Line Research Sources:

Bloy, Dr. Marjory.  A WEB OF ENGLISH HISTORY – THE AGE OF GEORGE III.  http://www.historyhome.co.uk

FIND A GRAVE http://www.findagrave.com

 THE EFFECTS OF THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION ON POLITICS , http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/history/A0858818.html    

GEORGIAN BRITAIN: British History Under George I/II/III/IV and William IV http://www.ukstudentlife.com/Britain/History/Georgian.htm 

A WEB OF ENGLISH HISTORY: THE AGE OF GEORGE III                                                 http://www.historyhome.co.uk/c-eight/ministry/ldgrenmi.htm

THE GEORGIAN INDEX http://www.georgianindex.net/Election/election.html 

REGENCY COLLECTION.  “Whig or Tory?”  http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~awoodley/regency/whig.html

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