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|The Ferrars - source of wealth
Written by Tallybalt
(10/30/2013 3:12 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Mr Ferrars wealth, penned by Bridget D
Just a reminder that not all trade was looked down on. While land ownership was preferred there were established city merchants with family owned businesses that spanned generations who would have been socially acceptable. There were established "commercial" families who sneered at the lesser merchants. Mr. Jennings could have been a mere clerk who built up a trading empire of his own but because of his jovial, happy go lucky and cheerfully vulgar nature (as a husband of Mrs. Jennings would have to be) and lack of a family background he would have been looked down at by the owners of the old established trading houses.
Then we do have other elements of capitalism. Banking, for example. Perhaps Mr. Ferrars was a successful private banker and bankers weren't sneered at in the way that common merchants would have been.
It's unlikely that the Ferrars' wealth is from land because when Mr. Ferrars died the wealth passed to Mrs. Ferrars, not to the oldest son (Edward) as would have been the case had the Ferrars been a conventional landowning family. That the mother controlled all the family's wealth and could divide it as she wished implies some kind of commercial origins. Even if there was an estate and no entail, it's very unlikely Edward would have been skipped over for Robert.
The division between trade and the landed gentry isn't as severe as one may think - plenty of intermarriages as Austen showed us with the Jennings' daughters and the Bingleys. At the end of the day if you had enough money doors opened for you.
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