British Aristocracy and Class Revision
⇒ Who are the British elite? (I) Land o Small landowners Local village squire or the rentier, owns between 1,000 – 10,000 acres. o Middling proprietors 750 families, with estates ranging from 10-30,000 o Territorial magnates 250 families < 30,000 acres of land Generate more than £30,000 a year all are millionaires Pinnacle of this group: Duke of Dorset,, Derby, Devonshire o Worth over £75,000 a year. An economic elite that are the wealthiest and own most of the land. Benefit from the Industrial Revolution o 1840 – 1870 Agricultural value goes up. (II) Status Monopolise titles o In 1880s, there were 580 peers, of whom 431 were hereditary members of the House of Lords, by virtue of possessing UK peerages. Legal privileges o Only they used settlement and entail over heirlooms, houses, titels and estates. o Middle Classes Split their money equally, do not practice primogeniture. Education o Oxbridge Leisured class o They had no occupation Marriage o Endogamous A British phenomenon o Scotland and Ireland are absorbed into this system. (III) Power Until 1880 o Parliament was effectively a landowner’s club. As late as 1860s, 1/3 of Commons is filled by no more than 60 families. o Monopolise the central offices. Popular sanction o Aristocrats were expected to govern, people accept their right to rule. Land = wealth (reliable and stable asset), status (ownership conferred celebrity) and power (over locality, county and nation). o Wealth, status and power are closely entwined. 450 peers own 2,000 acres Don’t overstate? o ‘poor dukes’ exist but majority are actually loaded. o Of the 29 richest men in the country, 12 were dukes in 1883.