Saturday, December 31, 2011

Yearly Income per Head 1688 England (Part 1)

Understanding social class is an important task during the tree climbing experience. Often it will help the genealogist place a family in the context of the culture being explored. This is especially true for those coming from the big island called Albion.

The yearly income for the head of family is given for the year 1688 England. It is recorded in pounds sterling. One usually stars at the top of the social latter, so I will start at the bottom!

Beggars 2
Vagrants; as Gypsies and Thieves 3
Common Soldiers 7
Cottagers and Paupers 2
Labouring People and Out Servants 4
Common Seaman 7
Military Officers 15
Naval Officers 20
Artisans and Handicrafts 9
Shopkeepers and Tradesman 10
Persons in Liberal Arts and Science 12
Farmers 8
Freeholders of the lesser sort 10
Freeholders of the better sort 13 be continued.

A comment on society outside the church is shown by the list above.

The information is abstracted from The World We Have Lost: England Before the Industrial Age, 2nd Ed., by Peter Laslett, pp. 36-37.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Poor to Peerage : Becoming an Adult 1650 England

Social class has been a part of culture since they started burying all those important things with the dead. Life had to come first of course, and your social position had to do with lots of things held valuable to those in the community. Iron weapons, chariots, swords, gold, silver, drinking cups, and all sorts of things were valued and buried with the folks who needed a little extra help to make it in the afterlife.

The figure to the right shows an outline of the social class in England around 1650. Here, social class was an accepted phenomena in life, and your beginning "class" was rarely changed. The "poor" held down one end of the social chain, and the "peerage" the other end. In a broad general sense, there were the "laborer", "merchant/trader", "yomen", and "knight" forming the other links in the chain of social order.

From infancy to adult life, the expected activities were organized. "Infancy" = birth to approximately 5 years of age; "Primary Education" = usually at 5-6 years lasting to age 13-15 years; "Apprentice" or "Secondary Education" [depending on social class] begin after this. The "Apprentice" generally started around age 10-11, and was sent to live with the owner of a trade. On average, these lasted roughly seven years. "Secondary Education" generally began around 13-15 years of age and included years at Oxford/Cambridge, and the "Inns of Court". For the male, adult life would then be considered appropriate. Thus, for the genealogist dealing with family during this period, roughly 1400 - 1700, a social structure can be applied. Many times, this approach has helped me around the brick wall.

The main source for this summary is:

Laslett, P., The World We Have Lost, England Before the Industrial Age, 2nd Edition, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971.

Other texts:

Reed, M., The Age of Exuberance 1550-1700, The Making of Britain, Routledg & Kegan Paul, London, 1986.

Howell, W.S., Logic and Rhetoric in England, 1500-1700, Russell & Russell, NY, 1956.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Conceptualize Content

For some of us, references and texts are not always dull and boring. [They call us genealogists!] However at times, even the best reference gets a little tiresome. One way to help is to conceptualize the content in a way that makes it interesting or important to you and your tree climbing. Just what do these references contain? How might they be utilized? What content is hidden among the pages?

For me, such was the case with Cavaliers and Pioneers, by Nell Nugent. See post:

They ended up being a seven volume set of information on the abstracts of Virginia land patents and grants. Seven volumes mind you! Over time, they ended up being one the most helpful references in my own family's tree climbing. Along the way it was helpful to ask just what information did they offer, and how was this organized. It became clear that the English way of doing things was transferred to these new colonies. Land ownership was the goal of many younger sons as they came across the great pond. Each entry followed the same pattern, and soon it became evident that the content was repeated in the same manner for each entry. They were:

Name(s) of Individuals Responsible for the patent,

Number of Acres surveyed,

Geographic Identifier, usually a county or river course

Date [not always given],

Description of Survey

List of individuals transferred [total numbers not always given in abstract].

Wow! So if any of these items surfaced during my tree climbing, I would know if this group of references would help. For example, if the name of a river or county appeared, I knew that I could use the index to each text to help locate those who might have landed along this river. If a term like "Jones Creek" and a date would appear, I would know that these references would list all the creeks that were listed among the abstracts. What a deal...conceptualizing content.