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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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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I wonder if I have been a bit hard on 19th century clergy. I have been inclined to regard it as a racket, a sort of parachute profession for the younger sons of landowners. However, there was not much in the way of welfare back in those days. There were workhouses from about the 1830s on. Other than that I think there was only parish relief. This was paid for out of local rates paid by the landowners. So if you were really in trouble, say a widow with children or too old to work, you could get some financial help. This would need to be administered by someone with a certain amount of education, so maybe this is where the clergy made themselves useful. I do not really know enough about it. I think the parish relief system must have broken down in the 19th century. because of the growth of the industrial towns and cities.
    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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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I don“t know anything about the 19. C clergy in England, but Dickens was very critical of these institutions for the poor pointing out their corruption and abuse of the children.

    On the other hand it was usual in some countries, maybe it still is, that poor families with many children, destined one of the boys to the priesthood. It was a way to secure an education for him, without having to pay for it and a profession.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Yes, but in Catholic countries those boys would not be able to marry, which seems harsh.

    I need to read a book about this. I have often wondered what the clergy did. I think many of them were involved with education. I think many may have been involved in directing parish relief. I doubt it justified the large incomes some of them received, but not every clergyman did receive a large income. Some were poor. The Brontės for example. Their father, Patrick Brontė, was a clergyman with a degree from Oxford, but I do not think they were wealthy. They were tiny, which indicates they were underfed.
    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 have started reading a book called The Victorian Clergy by Alan Haig. It's quite interesting. In the first half of the 19th century, university graduates mostly either entered the law or the clergy. Many of the richer graduates entered the law, because it took longer to build up a practice and start earning. That reminded me of the lawyer in Lady Audley's Secret. He never had a brief. He did not need any. He was independently wealthy. There was a lawyer in Our Mutual Friend who rarely has any work to do. There were some good livings, but most new clergymen struggled to earn enough to marry on. There is a book called The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler. In was published in 1903, but it was written in the Victorian era. The story was based on the author's experiences as a clergyman. It sounds interesting.
    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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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I have read The Way of all Flesh ages ago, but don“t remember anything about it. Only that I liked it.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    My book on Victorian Clergy is quite interesting. It's an edited version of a PhD thesis. Apart from Oxford and Cambridge, I think there were two other universities that offered degrees: Trinity College Dublin and Durham. I think there was also Kings College in London, which is now a university or part of one, and Queen's College in Birmingham, which I had never heard of before. I was surprised Edinburgh was not mentioned. I wondered what they actually studied at university. Was it mainly classical Greek and Latin literature? I wondered why such an education was considered so valuable for clergymen (but then I often wonder what's so great about a university education). Interestingly, university did not completely equip students for becoming clergymen. There were training colleges that graduates could attend, but they were optional and most didn't because of the extra expense. More interestingly, there were non-graduate theological colleges that offered two-year training courses. They were like vocational colleges for the clergy. They often attracted men who could not afford to study at a university. They had quite an interesting intake. There were sons of gentry who had failed at university because they were too idle or too stupid. There were older men who had done other jobs. Some of these men were over thirty. There were sons of humbler origins, for example: farmers, merchants, tradesmen. There were lay preachers and sons of dissenting ministers. Quite a large percentage were from Wales, Ireland, or from the more hilly regions of northern England. The Welsh entrants were often at a disadvantage because their first language was Welsh. The chapter I was reading concentrated on a college called St Bees Theological College, which I am sad to say closed down in 1895. It is sad because the main college looks beautiful.
    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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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Interesting, kev. I think in other countries it was usual that poor families often with many children sent one of them if they could to have a clerical education, just to warrant a solid education and a secure income in the future. It was, for example, the case of the German writer Lessing, who discovered the plays of Shakespeare during his studies. Or of Portuguese Vergilio Ferreira whose novel "Manhć Submersa" ( Submerged Infancy) relates the strict routine in a clerical school.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Were they all Catholic families? Their experience seems a bit different. The clergy was regarded as a profession for gentlemen in England, even though some of them were from fairly humble backgrounds. Men entered the clergy when they were adults. The church seems to have been regarded as something other than a profession in Catholic countries. I wonder whether all those boys had a great deal of choice in entering the priesthood. My maternal grandparents are from Ireland, which is a mostly Catholic country. Many families were large. True, they were more religious then than now, but encouraging their sons and daughters to become priests and nuns was partly a form of population control. The nuns anyway, there were a lot of nuns.
    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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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    You are right. Lessing was being prepared to be a Lutheran minister, while Vergilio Ferreira was intended to be a priest.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    The more I read about the Church of England clergy, the more I think it was a racket. There were problems with those theological colleges, but the main problem was that the clergymen they ordained were not gentlemen. I wonder if the Church of England actually minded dissenting churches. The Methodist Church was doctrinally not very different from Anglicanism (I say from a position of ignorance, but I get that impression). Their sermons were led by lay preachers, who could not parse much Greek, but often knew the Bible inside out. Methodist and other dissenting churches tended to be more active in the north of England, in the big industrial cities, and in Wales. All the places where your Oxbridge educated clergyman did not want to go.

    Anthony Trollope is referred to quite a few times in the book. The first quote is:

    the man who won't drink his wine, and talk of his college, and put off for a few happy hours the sacred stiffness of the profession and become simply an English gentleman...

    Thomas Hardy wrote a story entitled "A Tragedy of Two Ambitions", which was about the son of a millwright who enters a theological college for social climbing reasons.
    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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