Friday, November 27, 2015

Cerise asks, Is Mr. Darcy rich with 10,000 pounds a year income?

Darcy fans ask the burning question: How well would Lizzie Bennet really live after she married Mr. Darcy?

That leading statement that he had “ten thousand a year” sounds rich…but it’s enlightening to learn the facts.

To help you savor the possibilities of stepping into Lizzie’s shoes, I found a wonderful website that translates previous years’ British pounds into current British pounds. So for this Black Friday and your titilation, here’s a sample of the real cost of living for Mr. Darcy and his bride. I’ve added as examples the cost of a hired carriage ride, a girl's boarding school education, a few dresses and hats, a dinner party a month and a ball. The cost of paying his servants’ salaries is included in a percent recommended for expenses based on one's annual income. (Yes, all costs are those I took from original sources or experts of the period, give or take a few years on the publication date of Jane’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE which is 1813.)

A London carriage ride, hired hackney, 1-2 miles
(ex: Charing Cross to Hyde Park Corner)                                          1-2 pounds

Ladies hat, chip straw                                                                        18 pounds
Trim: Ex: Lace trim, 6 shillings per yard

Gown: Fine India Muslin, white, 13 per yard*                               39-65 pounds
(3-5 needed for full length dress)
*Sewing extra
(Alternate fabric: chintz 7-8 pounds per yard)

Dinner party, food and wine, for 16-20                                              20 pounds
Dinner for family of 4, 3-4 courses                                                       5 pounds 

To educate (a daughter) at boarding school, including
Transportation to, from                                                                        43 per year

Recommended expenditure for running complete household:
33% of all income should go to household expenses                                       3300
20% to servants’ salaries, equipage (i.e. horse, carriage)                                 2000
TOTAL:                                                                                                           5300

So, let’s do the math!
Darcy has income of 10,000 pounds a year.
To run his country home, he spends 55% a year of 10,000 =  5300. pounds

He gives one dinner party a month x 12  = 240.
1 ball for 100 = (equivalent of 5 dinners) = 200
Total entertainment of others per year     =                                     440.

5 new dresses for his wife, Lizzie =        65 x 5= 325
5 new hats for Lizzie,                              18 x 5=   90
Total for Lizzie:                                                                                    415.

What remains for him to expense:
·      Clothing for himself, rest of family
·      Education for children
·      Books, entertainment, etc.
·      His club dues, social responsibilities
·      Etc.
And of course, the total to run his London townhouse is not listed here. That amount would be approximate to that of running his country estate. So add another 5300 pounds to his annual expenses as a gentleman.

And by that rule of thumb alone, he would already be in debt by several thousand pounds.

And what does 10,000 pounds in 1813 equal in British pounds today?
638,000 pounds
Converting that into American dollars at today’s inflation rate, we get
Darcy is a millionaire. But if he’s running two households, I hate to say this, he’s in financial trouble.
A few who are not in trouble, are the men in my Regencies! Please pick one up, will you? They have rather good reviews and I'm awfully proud of them.
Here's my website for a list: http://cerisedeland.com
MASQUERADE is #3 in my Regency Romp series, debuting soon!



Tina Donahue said...

Fascinating post, Cerise. Loved it. :)

Cerise DeLand said...

Thanks, Tina. I thought the comparison intriguingly!

jean hart stewart said...

Intriquing...I love it. A fascinating post. Can't help but wonder why a lady's hat almost equals a dinner party. Doesn't make sense to me.