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Thread: Clerical pay

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Clerical pay

    19th century economics often intrigues me. I often wonder how Anglican clergy were justified in being paid so much money. I do not think every Church of England vicar was paid much, but those in Victorian novels do. When the position of the Dean of Barchester Cathedral is worth 1200 a year; that was a lot of money. According to the Horatio Hornblower books, a ship's lieutenant earned 100 a year and a commander, 144. Thomas Hardy's fictional farm workers earned about 25 a year. Those jobs were surely much more difficult and responsible than whatever of Dean of Barchester Cathedral did. In the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, the protagonist was very scathing about the amount of money clergymen were paid for reading out blessings or speeches. Nonconformist ministers took care of their flocks for much less. I do not know about the Catholic clergy. I think they were paid less than Anglican clergy.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    In "Last Chronicle of Barset" Reverend Crawley makes 70 Pounds a year, which keeps him impoverished (he has a wife and three children). He can't afford to buy decent clothes. I'm not sure where the money comes from -- I think some came from the Government, and some from endowments. The "living" from a parish appears to have varied quite a bit -- which probably would not be the case if most of the money came from the Government. I know absolutely nothing about this except what I've read in novels.

    Hornblower was contemporary with Austen; the pound was probably worth more then than 50 years later.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    inflation

    There was not much inflation in the nineteenth century. I think prices may have been higher during the Napoleonic Wars because of the difficulties of doing trade. All the same, productivity and GDP must have gradually increased, although the population was too. I'd quite like to read a book about it if I could find one. In this book, a widow receiving 1200 a year marries a newly appointed dean, earning 1200, so they are nicely off. Another clergyman is offered 70 (iirc) for the post of curate. I don't know how these differences in income were justified. The bishop would receive more than the dean.. I think bishops were expected to do a lot of entertaining, but all the same.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Another weird thing is that senior church positions, like bishop and dean, were appointed by the government. I thought the Church of England's internal government was called the synod and assumed they would appoint these positions, but apparently not.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I was thinking about the bit in The History of Tom Jones where the narrator draws attention to the relatively low status of the clergy at that time. Two peasants had claimed to have clergymen as grandfathers. By Jane Austen's time it was one of the few gentlemanly professions, a sort of parachute profession for the downwardly mobile second sons of the gentry. It occurred to me that in Tom Jones' time, Bonnie Prince Charlie's forces tried to overthrow King George II (I think). If they had succeeded, they would probably have made Roman Catholicism the state religion. In which case, the clergy would not have been such an attractive profession, because they would have had to stay celibate. Then Barchester Towers could not have been written.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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