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Aristocracy Class Leisure Notes

History Notes > British History VI: 1815-1924 Notes

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British Aristocracy and Class Revision David Cannadine, The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy (Yale, 1990).???????

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 PS30,000 a year ? all are millionaires
? Pinnacle of this group:
? Duke of Dorset,, Derby, Devonshire o Worth over PS75,000 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.

???

o Duke of Westminster becomes a Marquis purely because of his Olympian wealth. Wealth and Power o It was from the landed elite that men were recruited for local and national leadership. o The virtue of having land boasted a duty to compete for access to offices and public services. Smaller elite o Primogeniture, not splitting. Self-conscious?
o NO o Often don't know how much land, wealth they actually possess
? Lord Derby
? In 1870s asks for a government ownership inquiry and is shocked to see how much land they owned. o Varied experience
? Marginal landowner makes PS1,000 a year, compared to Duke of Westminster's, PS290,000.
? Ireland, Scotland and Wales
? A religious divide between owners and tenants. o YES o They ultimately knew they belonged to the British landed establishment.
? Joseph Schumpeter
? They boasted a 'simplicity and solidity of social and spiritual position'. o They believed they were God's elect ? superior. o History
? Saw themselves in partnership with the elites before them ? splashed out in pages of Debrett and Burke.
? They planted tees that only their descendants would see in full splendour
? They granted building leases for 99 years for their grandchildren. (IV) 1880s: The Troubled Decade Features o Collapse of agricultural economy
? Land was no longer the safest, securest form of wealth generation o Creation of plutocratic, prodigious fortunes in business, industry and in finance. o Rise of people's politics
? Passing of Third Reform Act (1884-5) ? democratises the country, wresting power from the gentry into the hands of the people.
? Demand for leasehold enfranchisement.
? Wales
? Rural unrest culminates in a tithe war.
? Scotland
? Crofters rebel against their landlords.
? Ireland
? Demands to abolish 'landlordism' and pressure for Home Rule. o Landed power eroded
? London high society is diluted
? Vulgar international plutocrats, American multimillionaires, Jewish adventurers who 'buy their way in'.

?

o o

o

Peerage gets given to men of non-landed background and honour system is no longer territorially based o This is in accommodation for an imperial and domestic non-patrician bureaucracy. Evidence of worry January 1883, Lord Salisbury's Quarterly Review article
? Attacks evils of unbridled democracy which seemed to strangle the noble, patrician rule + attack the H of Lords in an orgy of despoliation. W.H Mallock
? The Old Order Changes
? Warned that while the aristocracy 'may not yet be buried', it is but...dead'.
? Carew
? An aristocrat who, at the age of just 35, feels he has outlived his time.

Chapter 2: The Embattled Elite??

An assault on the landed interest. o Third Reform Act (1884-5)
? Creates a new, different representational structure for the whole Great Britain, in suburbs were the working-class electorate possessed the dominant voice. o People's Budget (1909) o Land Question o First World War 1883 o Corrupt Practices Act
? Curbs power of local constituency notable to spend sums of money on election campaign. 1884-5 o What changes here?
? Just note here that the Third Reform Act was not simply the product of a Downing Street compromise. Reform was on the agenda, many believed since as early as 1880 [Disraeli said something to this effect]
and in January 1884, 240,000 delegates from every trade union waited upon Gladstone himself. o Electorate increase ? 3 million ? 6 million. o Redistribution
? 150 small boroughs were abolished and redistributed to some larger towns. o Single member constituencies. o Significance
? The majority of the electorate is now working class. o Lords reject the Bill
? There is great public protest; 1,500 public meetings were held and one monster rally in Hyde Park. Attacks on the House of Lords o Salisbury negates this to an extent
? 'referendal theory'
? House of Lords necessary to protect the people's liberties.

?

But o

o??

1892 o 1893 o

Unconstitutional
? H of L has never been able to 'dissolve' the H of Commons Ties the Lords to the people ? if they are protecting the people, they should do as the people say (i.e. between 1909-1911).

Gladstone re-elected. The House of Lords throw out Gladstone's Home Rule Bill by an enormous majority (419-41).

1894 o

Rosebery takes over from Gladstone and told Queen Victoria that he supported the abolition of the House of Lords.
? Though
? He lacks the will to get this, nor can he face the Irish Question. There is a gap here: Page 46-54 missing

(II) The Assault on 'Landlordism'??Principles of landholding and ownership are points of key debate in the latter half of the 19th Century. A Land War is brought to the Landlords Why?
1871 ? Lord Derby publishes an inquiry into landownership patterns in Britain.
? Proved that 1/4 of English and Wlesh land was owned by 710 individuals and nearly 3/4 of the British Isles was in the hands of less than 5,000 people`
? Makes people question what exactly are grandees doing to justify unearned incomes.
? Gives Lloyd George the sanction to call them a parasitic class 'who toil not, neither do they spin'. Agricultural depression o Prices slump ? farmer's profits slump ? landowner's income slumps too. o Manifests most in Ireland o Bitter legacy of the Famine o Endless sub-division of peasant holdings o Anglophile Protestants are landowners while the Catholics are tenants. o Agrciultrual economy is again destabilised by bad weather, falling prices and falling output. o 1879
? Land League formed under Charles Parnell and Michael Davitt ? declare a war on landlordism. o Scotland
? Awful winter in 1881-2.
? Most farmers can't pay their rents.
? 'Battle of the Braes' on Skye
? Harcourt o Believes this agitation has opened a new land question.

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