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|Not quite ;-)
Written by JulieW
(9/18/2007 5:00 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Repairs to the Deane parsonage (letter 31), penned by Maisy
We have to make a distinction between the house resided in by the priest who held the living , and any other houses in other livings where he did not reside ,but had instead installed a curate.
This was the situation with George and James Austen . Mr Austen held the livings of Deane and Steventon. When James was ordained, GA appointed him as the curate to Deane. GA paid him a salary out of the tithes he collected form the Deane living.
So- Mr Austen was the incumbent of Dene and Steventon but only lived at Steventon Rectory.
Now let's look at what Irene Collins says in detail.
The Church of England in Jane Austens time accepted no responsibility for repairs: each clergyman was supposed to keep his own house in order and is he failed to do so his successor could claim compensation for "dilapidations" either form his predecessor or, if the latter had died , from his executors.
OK – so Mr Austens successor to the living at Steventon or Deane could have e asked him to make good the properties, that is the two houses in each parish.
This often led to bitter dissention among clergy and clergy widows. "Dr Grant and Mrs Norris were seldom good friends", we are told in Mansfield Park ." their acquaintance had begun in dilapidations".
JA and the Clergy, Pages 73-4.
Note that James is not Mr Austens successor: not yet anyway . He was to be merely the curate at Steventon, not the Rector. Mr Austen was to pay him a salary out of his tithes.
It was a greed( that on the Revd GA leaving Steventon for Bath-JW ) James and his family would move into Steventon Rectory so that he could act as his fathers curate….."My father is doing all in his power to encrease his Income by raising his Tythes etc., and I do not despair of getting very nearly six hundred a year." Out of this James would have to be paid for his curacy of Steventon, and also another curate would have to be found for Deane ,at a stipend of £5-0 per year. Madam Lefroy's daughter Jemima Lucy was now engaged to the recently ordained young Mr Henry Rice and he it was who accepted the position , marrying Jemima Lucy later in the year
However, while :
A curate living in a parsonage house at least helped to keep the fabric warm and hence relatively free form damp: but curates seldom had enough money to carry out the most essential repairs necessary to maintain the property
(See JA and The Clergy as above, Page 73)
And, rather importantly
Nobody had ever worked out whether an incumbent's obligation to carry out repairs extended to clergy houses in which he did not himself resides: George Austen seems to have accepted responsibility for repairing the little house at Deane to the tune of £100 when his son James who has lived their as curate, left it in 1801.
So- to conclude: James, as a mere curate, had little money to affect any repairs to Deane and legally it was uncertain if he had the responsibility either. Steventon was in good repair. James would move into Steventon, leaving Deane vacant for the new curate. Henry Rice would move into Deane. James could not afford to undertake the repairs on Deane, which was also remember, to be inhabited by the daughter of a close family friend, so Mr Austen did the decent thing, on a point not legally decided, and paid for the dilapidations himself.
Is that clearer now?
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