Posted by Julieanne on April 24, 1998 at 18:26:58:
In response to How did the widows of Waterloo cope?, written by Leanne S on April 24, 1998 at 14:51:50
] Having just recently read one of the Derbyshire Writer's Guild fanfics which involved Lydia moving in with Elizabeth after Wickham had been killed in battle -- *and* after reading Georgette Heyer's "An Infamous Army" with thousands of soldiers and officers killed at Waterloo ... I wondered: would all of the women moved back in with family? or gone street-begging/finding another profession? or taken care of by some sort of charity??
It would have depended on what money and property they were left with. Women did not have professions, apart from governessing and the oldest profession - I mean women of the gentry, whose husbands would have been commissioned. Commissions were purchased by families or by the incumbent. Remember how Darcy bought Whickam his commission? There were no pensions - injured returned servicemen might be reduced to begging on the streets. JA, her sister Cassandra and her mother were reduced to being dependent on JA's brothers after the death of JA's father, and he was reduced to an income of 6oopounds per annum after he resigned his two livings. That is why they lived in rented houses before Edward set the three of them, together with Martha Lloyd (brother James" wife's sister, and later Frank Austen's wife), up in his house at Chawton. Any money women might inherit from a husband was commonly a life-interest only, which reverted to children upon the death of the widow. The only public system of relief came from the Church, really - Miss Bates talks of John Ostler going to Mr Elton for relief 'from the parish' when his father became ill, and Mrs Norris talks of how much was wasted at the parsonage by 'odd comers and goers' during her husband's life. JA in her letters to Cassandra discusses clothes they are making for distribution to poor families several times - this was an expected duty and occupation of female members of the gentry. Mrs Norris scolds Fanny for not helping more with with the sewing from the poor basket, also.
- A Correction Caroline 22:00:43 4/24/98 (5)
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