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|Its a comparative poverty, Jan
Written by JulieW
(9/18/2006 3:27 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, I agree, penned by Jan
I agree, their reduced income sounds quite generous compared to that of a field worker. But, unlike people of lower classes, remember, they could not work to supplement their income without sacrificing their claims to gentility and the prospect of a respectable marriage.
But only conisdering their finances and the reduction in their income , I agree, does not really give the full picture: what we ought to consider is the reduction thery have suffered in regard to their status.
If you consider what their old income would have entitled them to ,by way of servants and what the new one can afford them, say with reference to a contemporary source such as Sarah and Samuel Adams book The Complete Servant,( 1825) it might hep illuminate my point :-)
For a family with an income of £500 they considered a household of A Gentleman and lady with one two or three children could afford to keep the following servants:
Three females and a boy; viz- a Cook, a House-maid and a Nursery Maid with a Boy as Groom and to assist in the House and Garden .A gardener occasionally
The Dashwoods limit their servant to 3 : two female and a man, which if you combine the cost of keeping a Nursery maid with the Boy, as envisaged above, would probably amount to the same household expenses as envisaged by the Adams duo. Certainly it is well within the number of staff they calculate, and as the Dashwoods have no need of a nursery maid this fits in.
But when it comes to an income of £4000 p a, the difference in the ammount of staff they can afford is astronomical.
Eleven Female and thirteen male servants. Viz- A Housekeeper, Cook, Ladies Maid, Nurse, two Housemaids, Laundry Maid, Still Room Maid, Nursery Maid, Kitchen Maid and Scullion with Butler , Valet, House Steward, Coachman, Two Grooms, One Assistant Groom, two Footmen, three gardeners and a Labourer.
The Adams'duo ( who were both in service) also gave this interesting Rule with regard to how a gentleman should divide his income every year.
...The Following Rule though given in round numbers, may be considered as affording Gentleman a brief but tolerably correct , idea of the most eligible and affordable mode of appropriating a large income-
33per cent or one third for household expenses, including Provisions and all other Articles of household consumption
25 per cent or One-Fourth, for Servants, Equipage, including Horses Carriage and Liveries.
25 per cent or One -Fourth for Clothes, Education of Children, Medical Assistance, Pocket, Private and Extra expenses including entertainments etc
12 1/2 per cent or One-eight, for rent Taxes and Repairs of House and Furniture
4 1/2 per cent as a Reserve for Contingencies.
The Complete Servant ,Page 15.
On £4000 per annum the sums are quite large.
33% = £1320
But on £500 the figures are considerably less( of course).
33% = £165
Also we ought to bear in mind what the Adams have to say about Smaller incomes:
Smaller incomes must be appropriated in a different manner; and according to the number of children in the family: thus the Expense of a family with children will be from 1-4th to 1-3rd for each of the Principals and about 1-10th or 1-12th for each child..
So you see, Mrs Dashwood has gone from being a woman who has had only to supervise her grand household, with an army of servants at her command to a woman in very reduced circumstances with only three staff to tend to her needs. Her status has been very visibly reduced, IMHO.
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