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Encyclopedia > Landed gentry

Landed gentry is a term traditionally applied in Britain to members of the upper class with country estates often (but not always) farmed on their behalf by others, and who might be without a peerage or other hereditary title. Upper class refers to a group of people at the top of a social hierarchy. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ...

Contents


Origin of the term

In Great Britain and Ireland, and especially in England, gentry was a term used from the late 16th century onwards to refer to people of good social standing. The phrase "landed gentry" referred in particular to the untitled members of the landowning upper class. Motto: (French for God and my right) Anthem: Multiple unofficial anthems Capital London Largest city London Official language(s) English Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification    - by Athelstan 927  Area    - Total 130,395 km² (1st in UK)   50,346 sq mi   - Water (%) Population... Gentry is a term meaning one thing in the UK: landed gentry. ... (15th century - 16th century - 17th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 16th century was that century which lasted from 1501 to 1600. ... A landlord is the owner of a house, apartment, condominium, or land which is rented or leased to an individual or business, who is called the tenant. ... Upper class refers to a group of people at the top of a social hierarchy. ...


During this period, the most stable and respected form of wealth was landownership. The government of the country was largely in the hands of the "landowners". This term referred to those who owned sufficient land to be able to live on the proceeds of letting their property to tenants, or possibly to employ a steward or bailiff to farm all or part of it for them, rather than farming it personally. The terms steward or stewardess can refer to a number of different professional roles. ... A Bailiff in a United States courtroom Bailiff (from Late Latin bajulivus, adjectival form of bajulus) is a governor or custodian (cf. ...


Development

The primary meaning of "landed gentry" encompassed those members of the landowning classes who were not members of the peerage. It was an informal designation: one belonged to the landed gentry if other members of the class accepted that one did so. Up until at least the early 19th century, a newly rich man who wished his family to join the gentry (and they nearly all did so wish), was expected not only to buy a country estate, but also to sever all financial ties with the business which had made him wealthy in order to cleanse his family of the "taint of trade". However, during the 19th century, as the new rich of the Industrial Revolution became more and more numerous and politically powerful, this expectation was gradually relaxed. The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... A Watt steam engine in Madrid. ...


Members of the landed gentry were upper class, not middle class, and at the time this was a highly desirable status. Particular prestige was attached to those who had inherited landed estates over a number of generations. These were often described as being from "old" families. Upper class refers to a group of people at the top of a social hierarchy. ... The middle class (or middle classes) comprises a social group once defined by exception as an intermediate social class between the nobility and the peasantry. ...


The agricultural sector's middle class, on the other hand, was comprised of the larger tenant farmers, who rented land from the landowners and employed agricultural labourers to do the manual work, and yeoman farmers. A Yeoman was at one time defined as "a person qualified by possessing free land of 40/- annual [feudal] value, and who can serve on juries and vote for a Knight of the Shire. He is sometimes described as a small landowner, a farmer of the middle classes." (See The Concise Oxford Dictionary, edited by H.W. & F.G.Fowler, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1972 reprint, p.1516; note the definition does not apply to 1972, but to an earlier time). Anthony Richard Wagner, Richmond Herald, wrote that "a Yeoman would not normally have less than 100 acres" and in social status is one step down from the Gentry, but above, say, a husbandman. (English Genealogy, Oxford, 1960, pps: 125-130). So while Yeoman farmers owned enough land to support a comfortable lifestyle, they nevertheless farmed it themselves, and were excluded from the "landed gentry" because working for a living, other than in a few professions connected with the upper class men's role as the governors of the country (the established clergy, the armed forces, the diplomatic and civil services, and the bar), was considered demeaning by the upper classes. A tenant farmer is one who resides on and farms land owned by a landlord. ... It has been suggested that Yeoman Farmer be merged into this article or section. ... Richmond Herald of Arms in Ordinary is an officer of arms of the College of Arms. ... Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. ... The armed forces of a state are its government sponsored defense and fighting forces and organizations. ... A civil servant or public servant is a civilian career public sector employee working for a government department or agency. ... English barrister A barrister is a lawyer found in most common law jurisdictions who principally, but not exclusively, represents litigants as their advocate before the courts of that jurisdiction. ...


Burke's Landed Gentry

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the names and families of those with titles (specifically peers and baronets, less often including those with the non hereditary title of knight) were often listed in books or manuals known as "Peerages", "Baronetages", or combinations of these categories, such as the "Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage". As well as listing genealogical information, these books often also included details of family coats of arms. Jane Austen, who was herself a member of the gentry, shrewdly summarised the appeal of these works, which was particularly strong for those included in them, in the opening words of her novel Persuasion (1818): A peer is a person of the same age, status, or ability as another specified person. ... A baronet (traditional abbreviation Bart, modern abbreviation Bt) is the holder of a species of knighthood known as a baronetcy. ... The silver Anglia knight, commissioned as a trophy in 1850, intended to represent the Black Prince. ... Heraldry is the science and art of describing of coats-of-arms, also referred to as achievements or armorial bearings. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Persuasion book cover Persuasion is the last completed novel Jane Austen wrote, and was first published posthumously, in 1818. ...

"Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs changed naturally into pity and contempt as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century; and there, if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history with an interest which never failed."

In the 1830s, one peerage publisher, John Burke, hit on the idea of expanding his market and his readership by publishing a similar volume for people without titles, which was called "A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, enjoying territorial possessions or high official rank" or Burke's Commoners for short. This was published in four volumes 1833–1838. Events and Trends Electromagnetic induction discovered by Michael Faraday Dutch-speaking farmers known as Voortrekkers emigrate northwards from the Cape Colony Croquet invented in Ireland Railroad construction begins in earnest in the United States Egba refugees fleeing the Yoruba civil wars found the city of Abeokuta in south-west Nigeria...

Typical entry in Burke's Landed Gentry (from volume 2 of the 1898 edition)
Typical entry in Burke's Landed Gentry (from volume 2 of the 1898 edition)

The expression "Commoners" was quickly replaced by the more flattering description "Landed Gentry" in a new edition of 1837–1838 which was entitled "A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry; or, Commons of Great Britain and Ireland" or Burke's Landed Gentry for short. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (370x653, 104 KB) Out of copyright, published 1898 Extract from Burkes Landed Gentry, 1898 edition. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (370x653, 104 KB) Out of copyright, published 1898 Extract from Burkes Landed Gentry, 1898 edition. ...


Burke's Landed Gentry continued to appear at regular intervals throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, driven, in the 19th century, principally by the energy and readable style of the founder's son and successor as editor, Sir John Bernard Burke (who generally favoured the romantic and picturesque in genealogy over the mundane or even correct). The last three volume edition of Burke's Landed Gentry was published between 1965–1972. A new series, under new owners, was begun in 2001 on a regional plan, starting with Burke's Landed Gentry; The Kingdom in Scotland.


The popularity of Burke's Landed Gentry gave currency to the expression "Landed Gentry" as a description of the untitled upper classes in England (although the book included families, also, in Wales and Scotland and Ireland, where, however, social structures were rather different).


Families were arranged in alphabetical order by surname, and each family article was headed with the surname and the name of their landed property, e.g. "Capron of Southwick Hall". There was then a paragraph on the owner of the property, with his coat of arms illustrated and all his children and remoter male-line descendants also listed, each with full names and details of birth, marriage, death, and any matters tending to enhance their social prestige, such as public school education, university attendance, military rank, and other honours. Cross references were included to other families in Burke's Landed Gentry or in Burke's Peerage and Baronetage: this encouraged a form of browsing through connections analogous to the way in which we now browse through the internet via hyperlinks. Professional details were not usually mentioned unless they conferred some social status, such as those of clergymen and barristers. Southwick is a small village in Northamptonshire, England. ... A modern coat of arms is derived from the medi val practice of painting designs onto the shield and outer clothing of knights to enable them to be identified in battle, and later in tournaments. ... A public school, in current English, Welsh and Northern Ireland usage, is a (usually) prestigious independent school, for children usually between the ages of 11 or 13 and 18, which charges fees and is not financed by the state. ... Representation of a university class, 1350s. ... Burkes Peerage & Gentry is a guide to the titled families of Great Britain and Ireland. ...


After the section dealing with the current owner of the property was a section entitled "Lineage" which listed, not only ancestors of the owner, but (so far as known) every male line descendant of those ancestors, thus including many people in the ranks of the "Landed Gentry" families who had never owned an acre in their lives but who might share in the status of their eponymous kin as part of a Landed Gentry family.


Contemporary status

A prolonged agricultural depression in Britain at the end of the 19th century, together with the introduction in the early 20th century of increasingly heavy levels of taxation on inherited wealth, put an end to agricultural land as the primary source of wealth for the English upper classes. Many estates were sold or broken up, and this trend was accelerated by the introduction of protection for agricultural tenancies, encouraging outright sales, from the mid-20th century.


So devastating was the effect of this on the ranks formerly identified as being of the landed gentry that Burke's Landed Gentry began, in the 20th century, to include families historically in this category who had ceased to own their ancestral lands. The focus of those who remained in this beleaguered class shifted from the lands or estates themselves, to the stately home or "seat" which was in many cases retained without the surrounding lands. Many of these buildings were purchased for the nation and preserved as monuments to the lifestyles of their former owners (who sometimes remained in part of the house as lessees or tenants) by the National Trust, which accelerated its country house acquisition programme during and after the Second World War (it had originally concentrated on open landscapes rather than buildings). Those who retained their property usually had to supplement their incomes from elsewhere than the land, sometimes by opening their properties to the public. A stately home is, strictly speaking, one of about 500 large properties built in England between the mid-16th century and the early part of the 20th century, as well as converted abbeys and other church property (after the Dissolution of the Monasteries). ... The standard of the National Trust The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, usually known as The National Trust, is a British preservation organization. ... Combatants Allies: Soviet Union United Kingdom United States and others Axis Powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Franklin Roosevelt Joseph Stalin Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tojo Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000,000 Total dead: 50,000,000 Military dead: 8,000...


In the 21st century, the term "landed gentry" is still used to some degree, as the landowning class still exists in a diminished form, but it increasingly refers more to historic than to current landed wealth or property in a family. Moreover, the respect which was once automatically given to members of this class by most British people has almost completely dissipated as its wealth, political power and social influence has declined.


See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Landed gentry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1066 words)
Landed gentry is a term traditionally applied in Britain to members of the upper class with country estates often (but not always) farmed on their behalf by others, and who might be without a peerage or other hereditary title.
This term referred to those who owned sufficient land to be able to live on the proceeds of letting their property to tenants, or possibly to employ a steward or bailiff to farm all or part of it for them, rather than farming it personally.
Burke's Landed Gentry continued to appear at regular intervals throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, driven, in the 19th century, principally by the energy and readable style of the founder's son and successor as editor, Sir John Bernard Burke (who generally favoured the romantic and picturesque in genealogy over the mundane or even correct).
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