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Anciennes et nouvelles aristocraties

 | 
Didier Lancien
, 
Monique de Saint-Martin

II. Anciennes et nouvelles aristocraties avant 1914

Bateman Revisited: The Great Landowners of Great Britain (1883)

Barbara English

Texte intégral

1Down the centuries of history governments have made successive attempts to collect reliable statistics of property and wealth. The statistics were invariably and inevitably flawed: the ingenuity of the government in devising ways of measuring property and counting wealth has been matched by the ingenuity of the governed in evading accurate returns. The two greatest national surveys were eight hundred years apart: in 1086 William I surveyed England to find out “how much land his archbishops had, and his diocesan bishops, his abbots and his earls... and what or how much each man who was a landholder here in England had in land... and how much it was worth.” In 1872 the House of Lords called for an investigation “for ascertaining accurately the number of proprietors of land and of houses in the United Kingdom, with the quantity of land owned by each.” The surveys became known to their contemporaries as Domesday Book (1086) and the New Domesday Book (1874). This article is concerned with the statistics of the New Domesday Book and the reworking of the data by John Bateman, in successive editions of his Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland (Bateman 1876, 1878, 1879, 1883).

2Bateman’s Great Landowners (of which the fourth and final edition of 1883 is the most commonly used) has become a standard source for twentieth-century historians writing on landownership. It was used by Francis M. L. Thompson for his English Landed Society in the Nineteenth Century (Thompson 1963), and by Heather Clemenson for her study of landed estates (Clemenson 1982); it marks the terminating date of Lawrence and Jeanne Fawtier Stone’s study, An Open Elite? with its subtitle of England 1540-1880 (Stone and Stone 1984); it formed part of the background for J. V. Beckett’s study of English aristocracy to 1914 (Beckett 1986), David Spring’s Tawney lecture on Edwardian landowners (Spring 1984), and many other studies by different historians.

  • 1 Until the 1880s more than 80% of British millionaires were landowners (Thompson 1991: 165, from Ru (...)

3John Bateman’s work provides a unique opportunity to examine some features of the British landed elite in the last years of its long ascendancy. The landed interest which had survived the repeated attacks of the radicals was, in the last third of the nineteenth century, under pressure on many fronts. The third Reform Bill of 1884, which gave the vote to rural householders who did not possess a property qualification, and which also redistributed seats, weakened the political control formerly exercised by the landowners in the shires. The elitist public schools and universities that educated many members of the landed classes were admitting an increased number of men from the middle classes seeking a share of the educational cake. The old methods of purchase of commissions in the army, the old ways of restricting access to the more desirable posts in the civil, consular and diplomatic services to those with the right family connections, were being replaced by new ideas of competition and qualification. In addition, the long agricultural depression at the end of the nineteenth century was, in the end, to force the landed classes into a weaker economic, and therefore political, position. But in 1883, when John Bateman published his final revision of Great Landowners, there was still an aura of power surrounding the landowners, whose adaptation to changing pressures and changing circumstances had proved their resilience as a class. The recent debate between W. D. Rubinstein and Francis M. L. Thompson has centred around the question of the proportion of very rich businessmen and merchants who bought landed estates, and although there seems to be no general agreement about this proportion, there is a consensus that, whatever other elites existed in England of the 1880s, the landowners were still dominant.1

4Because Bateman’s book lies behind a number of important analyses of the landed classes, the most powerful class, it is worth considering in more detail. What does Bateman tell us, and from where is his information derived? How accurate is it likely to be? What patterns of landownership can be drawn from analysis of the Great Landowners?

5In the fourth and definitive edition of Great Landowners, the information is presented in condensed, tabular form; there are some 494 pages of entries with five pages of addenda and corrigenda, an additional preface by Bateman and a number of appendices. There are in all around 2,500 of these entries, and a further 1,300 “below the line.” The information can be divided into economic, social, demographic, educational and political factors; each of these categories is considered below.

  • 2 The analysis was published in The Times of 1 February 1864.

6Bateman’s pages, however, were the culmination of a long chain of events and publications. The first event that was to lead to Bateman’s volumes was the publication of the analysis of the 1861 national census. For many of the middle years of the nineteenth century “the land question” had been debated, the radicals alleging that the great landowners’ monopoly of land was tightening; the conservatives asserting that land was always freely available to purchasers. The radicals called for “Free Trade in Land”: the conservatives asserted this already existed. Neither side had any quantifiable data on which to base their beliefs, merely their own impressions. But when the occupational analysis of the 1861 census was published in 1864, it appeared to show that there were only 30,766 landowners in England and Wales.2 This seems to have been a quirk of the census categories, as the radical commentator George Brodrick wrote:

“Only 30,766 persons described themselves as land-proprietors, and these figures were most persistently quoted as official evidence on the subject, in the face of the patent fact that above half of the whole number were females. The probable explanation of this circumstance is that women owning land feel a pride in recording their ownership; whereas thousands of male landowners returned themselves as peers, members of Parliament, bankers, merchants or private gentlemen.” (Brodrick 1881: 157.)

  • 3 Spring 1971: 7-8, from Report of the British Association (1862: 211-212).

7The taunt of “only 30,000,” however flawed, was repeated by men of influence. John Bright appears to have been the first to use the figures, in a speech at Birmingham on 26January 1864, a week before the census report was published (Bright presumably saw the report at the House of Commons before its official publication) (Rogers 1868: 456). The mid 1860s also saw reference made to the census figures on landownership in the Westminster Review (July 1864), in other journals and pamphlets, and by Cliffe Leslie (Leslie 1867: 329). In April 1871 Wren Hoskyns quoted the census figures in a House of Commons debate, and asked for more statistics. John Stuart Mill also mentioned the “30,000” in a speech on land tenure reform in May 1871 (Robson and Kinzer 1988: 420-421). In the same year F. P. Fellows, speaking to the Statistical Section of the British Association meeting at Edinburgh, suggested that, to settle the matter, there should be a survey of government and private landed property, which he called “a new Domesday Book.”3 The pressure was sufficient to drive the government to action. On 19 February 1872 Lord Derby asked in the House of Lords:

  • 4 Hansard, 3rd series 209 (18/2); Lords, 19 Feb. 1872 col. 640. Derby had previously mentioned the m (...)

“Whether it is the intention of Her Majesty’s Government to take any steps for ascertaining accurately the number of Proprietors of Land or Houses in the United Kingdom, with the quantity of land owned by each... [The Lords] all knew that out-of-doors there was from time to time a great outcry raised about what was called the monopoly of land, and, in support of that cry, the wildest and most reckless exaggerations and misstatements of fact were uttered as to the number of persons who were the actual owners of the soil. It had been said again and again that, according to the Census of 1861, there were in the United Kingdom not more than 30,000 landowners; and, though it had been repeatedly shown that this estimate arose from a misreading of the figures contained in the Census Returns, the statement was continually re-produced, just as though its accuracy had never been disputed. The real state of the case was at present a matter of conjecture; but he believed, for his own part, that 300,000 would be nearer the truth [...] and believed that through the agency of (he Poor Law Board it would be easy to obtain statistical information, which would be conclusive.”4

  • 5 Prefaces to the Parliamentary Papers: PP 1874, LXXII, pts I and II, Return of Owners of Land, Engl (...)

8In reply, Viscount Halifax agreed that such a return was desirable, and that valuations of land in every parish already existed. The government directed the Local Government Boards of England and Wales, and Ireland, to prepare returns; and the same information was required from Scotland, where it became the responsibility of the Surveyors of Stamps and Taxes, a branch of the Inland Revenue.5 The basis and compilation of the English returns is followed further here.

  • 6 Union Assessment Committee Act (25 & 26 Vict. c. 103).
  • 7 Fowle (1898), Webb and Webb (1929 vol. 2 especially 224-248). The Union Chargeability Act of 1865 (...)

9The new Poor Law of 1834 had authorised the combination of the welfare functions of parishes and townships into Poor Law Unions, but only administrative and not financial unity was achieved. The Union Assessment Committee Act of 18626 went further, and transferred some of the responsibility for the assessment of the poor rates from the 13,661 parishes of England to approximately 600 Poor Law Unions, managed by an elected committee of Guardians with a paid clerk.7 Each parish or township in the Union submitted valuation lists of property to the Union Assessment Committee, who decided if the valuations were accurate. The lists for the whole Union, once they had been agreed by the Board of Guardians, were kept by the Union clerks.

  • 8 There is no trace of the original lists in the Public Record Office, according to B. L. James (196 (...)
  • 9 Subsequently a statistical analysis of the Return was published, PP 1876 (335) LXXX.I Summary of R (...)

10The form of the valuation lists had been laid down in 1862 by central government, and was standard in every county. It was those lists that the government agreed should provide the basis of the Return of Owners of Land. In September 1872 the Secretary to the Local Government Board wrote to all clerks of the Poor Law Unions asking for four categories of information, the names and the addresses of owners of lands, the extent of their lands, and the gross estimated rental. This information was provided by the clerks from their valuation lists, with the exception of the addresses of the owners, which were supplied by the clerks from their own knowledge or from other records. In some Poor Law Unions the lists were revised annually, but in others left unchanged for years: as long as the rates were paid, there was no need for revision. This meant that the lists, and therefore the information in the Return of Owners, might be ten years out of date, or a later revision: in other words, the information was derived from any point between 1862 and 1874.8 Numerous difficulties at every level were encountered in the making of the Return. It took nearly two years for every Union clerk to reply; the first examination of the replies disclosed nearly 250,000 defects which had to be remedied. There was a particular problem with duplication: the Union lists had to be recast in London to consolidate each man’s landholdings, on a county basis: that is, if John Smith occurred in one county five times, in five different Unions, and if it could be ascertained that all of the five john Smiths were the same man, then the holdings had to be amalgamated in the Return. More than 300,000 separate letters were sent to the clerks to try to clear up questions about duplicate entries; by no means all of them were solved. There were thirty-four John Smiths and four Mr. Smiths entered as separate landowners in the Return for the West Riding of Yorkshire, all recorded as holding small amounts of land; it is unlikely now that they could ever be identified either as individuals or duplications within one county, let alone in all the counties in which john Smiths occurred. It was not until August 1874 that the Return for England and Wales was laid before Parliament, and not until 1875 that it was published.9 The Return of Owners of Land was a very exceptional document in British history; no comparable survey of landowners exists, except that of 1086 to which it has been compared.

11Once published, the Return was immediately criticised, both in and out of Parliament, for defects in its form, and inaccuracies in its detail. Constant complaints about its inaccuracy brought a disclaimer from the President of the Local Government Board that he had no intention of issuing a corrected version, but a record had been made of the corrections sent in to the office. In the House of Commons he repudiated any legal status attaching to the record:

  • 10 Hansard 3rd series 228 (1876) col. 1758 9.

“The Return was only a compilation from the various rate books of England and Wales; and inasmuch as (hey had never been relied upon as evidence of legal title, so far as he was aware, the hon. Gentleman might feel assured that no evidence of title or ownership could possibly be rested upon the statements in this Return.”10

  • 11 Bateman (1883: 517) cites the various forms entered for Captain J.H. Edwards-Heathcote, who was re (...)
  • 12 In Bateman’s list a peer (or great landowner) was only entered once, in the county of his largest (...)

12Some aspects of the Return are considered below. In form, the chief defect of the Return was that although attempts were made to amalgamate owners’ holdings within each county, many duplications and inconsistencies remained in the county lists. Mistakes arose from landowners with double-barrelled names: for example, in the East Riding of Yorkshire, the Reverend Yarburgh Lloyd Greame was entered four times, as Greame-Lloyd, Revd Y. G., of Sewerby; Greame, Revd M. L. L. of Muston; Greame, Revd Y. L. of Bridlington; and Lloyd-Greame, Revd Y. G. of Hull; in the North Riding he occurred as Graeme Revd T. G. L. of Sewerby.11 More seriously, no attempt was made to collect the different entries for one man from different counties. The Spectator of 4 March 1876 asked for a return based on national rather than county landownership, but this did not materialise: England seemed wedded to the county system. The number of landowners given in the analysis of the Return was greatly inflated, perhaps more than doubled, by this failure to take into account the multiple entries. For instance, 28 dukes are recorded in the Return 157 times and 194 earls 640 times. Each occurrence was added to the total number of landowners. If the inflation of the number of landowners was a deliberate ploy, intended to quiet the agitation about landed monopoly, it failed, for it was immediately and constantly criticised, and the figures from the Return were reworked in different ways by the critics, although they too introduced other confusions and duplications (Arnold 1880, Brodrick 1881).12

  • 13 An exclusion never explained but perhaps because of the immense difficulties in establishing owner (...)
  • 14 The percentage of omissions is my own calculation, based on an examination of every 26th page of t (...)

13After the names and addresses, the third category of information in the Return was the extent of land of each owner. All rateable land was supposed to be included. Of the 37,319,221 acres of England, as measured by the Ordnance Survey, 34,538,158 acres (92.5%) were accounted for in the Return, either as owned land or as estimated waste land. 2,781,063 acres (7.5%) were not included. These missing acres were partly accounted for by the exclusion of London from the Return,13 unmeasured waste, some woods and some mines, rivers, roads, crown property which was not leased, churchyards and other unspecified lands that were not rated. In addition many estimates of landowners’ acres were inaccurate and in about 2% of cases were omitted altogether from the Return, so that against the landowner’s name there is a blank for the acreage.14

  • 15 The percentage of omissions is again my own calculation, based on an examination of every 26th pag (...)
  • 16 Rateable value was the net annual value, calculated by deducting” from the gross annual value “the (...)

14The fourth and final column of the Return was “gross estimated rental,” a column with very few missing figures, only 0.04% of the total, as it was upon this figure that the Unions based their calculations of rateable value and rate assessments.15 The gross estimated rental was not the sum actually received by the landlords, but, according to the 1862 Union Assessment Committee Act, “the rent at which a hereditament might reasonably be let from year to year, free of all usual tenant’s rates, taxes and tithe commutation rent charge, if any.”16 “Might” is important, for the Return does not allow calculation of how much land was rented, and how much kept in hand.

  • 17 Bateman 1883: XXV.
  • 18 Bateman seems to have used various editions of Burke’s Peerage and Landed Gentry, and possibly his (...)

15The publication of the Return aroused much interest, and became something of a best-seller among parliamentary papers, as landowners investigated the landed income of their fellows. As an Essex landowner, John Bateman, discovered that his two volumes were continually consulted by his house guests; and that the volume of one of the London clubs was reduced to rags and tatters within a fortnight of its arrival. Bateman extracted the entries relating to the greater landowners from the Return, revised them, added to them, and created a book “simply as a labour of love, when no one else seemed disposed to attempt it; it is, no doubt, full of errors, but such errors would be tenfold were the process repeated by any one who, unlike myself, lacked a fair knowledge of who’s who.”17 Bateman described the methods that he used in correcting the Return in the prefaces to his published work, which went through four different editions. He used his own knowledge, standard reference works, and also wrote personally to each landowner asking for corrections and to friends asking them for information.18 A letter he wrote in November 1878 to Sir Tatton Sykes, of Sledmere in East Yorkshire, has survived among the Sykes papers. It reads:

  • 19 Brynmor Jones Library, Hull University, DDSY 101/77. Sykes never replied, but filed the note, appa (...)

Sir: May I ask you to verify as ‘fairly right’ or roughly to correct the enclosed slip-its source (the Govt, return of 1873) being often wrong sometimes grossly so.
Your obedly
John Bateman.19

16The fourth and final edition of The Great Landowners (1883) included full entries on all landowners who possessed 3,000 acres or more, worth £3,000 or more in gross annual value. At the foot of each page, below a line, Bateman included shorter entries for those with 2,000 acres or more worth £2,000 or more. In his fullest entries, Bateman recorded each landowner’s name, address, education, club or clubs, date of birth, of succession and of marriage or marriages, his acreage with the addition of his woodlands and the gross annual value of his land county by county, and, if applicable, his military service, membership of the House of Commons, and any central government post held.

17The names, addresses, acreage and rentals in Bateman’s volume are based in the first instance on the Return, and may, therefore, be information as old as the Union Committee Assessment act of 1862 (but not older). But in many cases the landowners corrected the entries relating to themselves; Bateman had a system of asterisks ranging from three to zero (three being the most fully corrected); *** meant that the landowner believed his entry to be correct, ** fairly correct, and * only partially correct. No asterisk at all meant that Bateman had received no information from the landowners, and in this case the information is merely that in the Return, with any addition that Bateman could find from other sources (this would not include revisions to acreages or rentals). Out of the 1,363 English landowners in Bateman’s volume (the set considered in this article, defined below), 21% entries were fully corrected, 38% fairly correct, 5% partially correct, and 36% uncorrected. Bateman himself understood, and warned his readers, that the landowners’ revisions were not necessarily more accurate than the Return as there was a tendency of landowners to inflate their acreage: “The amount given in the blue book would, unless the laird had bought lands in the meantime, be often nearer the truth than the corrected acreage” (Bateman 1883: XVIII).

18The most regretted omissions are the rentals of the great cities’ landlords, particularly those of London. The treatment of leaseholds was inconsistent in the Return and Bateman noted where he thought landowners’ incomes had been inflated by the addition of the whole rent, instead of the ground rent (Bateman 1883: XXIII).

  • 20 A similar but not identical selection was carried out by Dr Clemenson and she also arrived at the (...)
  • 21 The criteria means the inclusion of landowners who might more properly be called Scottish, Irish o (...)

19It can be seen that there are problems with the data that Bateman had to use. With all its faults and uncertainties, however, his compilation is the best picture of great landowners in the 1860s-1880s that could be created. His own work seems to have been meticulous: a considerable number of checks made on English landowners found only three mistakes, one being a mistake in the addition of acreage, two in dates of marriages. For the present paper, details of all great English landowners were extracted from the entries for Great Britain in Bateman’s 1883 edition: that is, all the information Bateman published about those who held 3,000 or more English acres, worth at least £3,000 a year. The total number of great English landowners by this definition in Bateman’s 1883 edition is 1363.20 Landowners with property in Scotland, Ireland or Wales are not included in the present analysis, unless they had sufficient English acres, of sufficient value, to qualify. Throughout this article, phrases such as “great English landowners of 1883” refer to this data set of 1,363 English landowners.21

  • 22 In addition twelve of them gave no address at all.
  • 23 There is however anecdotal evidence that landowners in Wales and Scotland considered themselves, a (...)

20The great landowners thought of themselves as countrymen: so much so that all but eight of them gave country addresses, even though from other sources it is clear that many of them owned London houses, and many of them lived in their country houses for only a few months of the year.22 Many of them recorded their address as “Chatsworth, Bakewell &,” an indicator that they held more than one country seat. While some of these may have been minor residences, such as hunting lodges, the “&” often serves as a pointer to a number of estates having come into one ownership. It seems probable also that some of the greatest magnates, such as the Duke of Devonshire, the Duke of Sutherland, Lord Leconfield, did not think of themselves as belonging to any particular county, but as English landowners, as indeed they were; or, perhaps as Linda Colley and David Cannadine would persuade us, as British landowners (Colley 1992; Cannadine 1994).23

  • 24 Thompson’s tables are based on a qualifier of 10,000 acres, not, as in this paper, 3,000 acres.

21Yorkshire had the largest number of great landowners (152 with a Yorkshire address) as befits the largest county, followed by Norfolk (62), Hampshire (53) Kent and Shropshire (52 each) and Northumberland (50). Francis M. L. Thompson has published rankings of counties in order of density of country seats in 1865 (the top five were Rutland, Stafford, Hertford, Huntingdon and Kent), and counties in order of the proportion of land occupied by estates over 10,000 acres in 1883 (the top five were Rutland, Northumberland, Nottingham, Dorset, and Wiltshire (Thompson 1963: 30, 32, tables I and II).24

  • 25 See above.

22As has been written above, the production of the Return was in response to public anxiety about the monopoly of land. Comments on the Return, and on Bateman’s reworking of the Return, have been chiefly concerned with the number of landowners in each category of wealth or acreage. The following tables show the set of 1,363 English landowners of 1883 divided into bands of landed wealth, and bands of acreage. “Wealth” is used here to mean the gross annual value of the total estate in Britain, originally included in the Return and in many cases corrected by Bateman. These seven bands of wealth are used later in this article, rather than the acreage, as (although the two are closely connected) landed income seems a more useful marker of a landed elite than acreage, because of the fluctuating value of the acre, and also because of the much higher percentage of acres omitted from the Return.25

TABLE 1: GREAT ENGLISH LANDOWNERS OF 1883
Landed Income from all Acreage in Great Britain

Rental income

Landowners in income group

Number in income group as percentage of whole N=l,363

£3,000 – £9,999

792

58.1

£10,000 – £19,999

323

23.7

£20,000 – £29,999

98

7.2

£30,000 – £39,000

63

4.6

£40,000 – £49,999

32

2.3

£50,000 – £99,999

42

3.1

£100,000 – £217,163

13

1.0

Source: Bateman 1883
Note: The landed income includes that from land in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, provided that the owners had at least 3,000 English acres worth £3,000 a year

TABLE 2: GREAT ENGLISH LANDOWNERS OF 1883
Cumulative Percentage of their English Acreage

1

person owned

0.6%

10

persons owned

3%

100

persons owned

12%

250

persons owned

20%

500

persons owned

28%

1,000

persons owned

37%

1,363

persons owned

41%

Source: Bateman 1883
Note: Unlike Table 1, the table relates to acreage in England only. The man who owned 0,6% was the Duke of Northumberland

  • 26 These tables, which were based on information corrected up to Christmas 1877, were also printed in (...)

23Political commentators of the late nineteenth century were much concerned to know how much land belonged to how many people. There were many statistics, hastily produced, around the time of the Return. The Spectator of 4 March 1876 published a list of 710 men who between them owned more than a quarter of England and Wales (Spring 1971: 12). The “Seven Hundred” that the Spectator found does not appear to have survived Bateman’s reworking of the Return, but according to Brodrick’s tables, 1,688 landowners owned 41% of England and Wales (Brodrick 1881: 164-165,173-197).26 Without wishing to complicate matters further, the following table relates to English acres only, showing the percentage of England owned by the greatest landowners.

TABLE 3: GREAT ENGLISH LANDOWNERS OF 1883
Cumulative Percentage of Gross Annual Value of their English Land

1

person was entitled to

0.2%

10

persons were entiled to

1.4%

100

persons were entiled to

6%

250

persons were entiled to

10%

500

persons were entiled to

13%

1,000

persons were entiled to

17%

1,363

persons were entiled to

19%

Source: Bateman 1883.
Note: Unlike Table 1, the table relates to acreage in England only. The man who owned 0.2% was the duke of Northumberland

24In most parts of England, the gross annual rent of agricultural land was at least £1 an acre (Bateman 1883: XIV). The concentration of English landed wealth shows therefore a similar picture to that of acreage.

25An obvious deduction to be made from the names of the great England landowners is that the great majority were male.

TABLE 4: MEN AND WOMEN AMONG GREAT ENGLISH LANDOWNERS OE 1883

Number N=1.363

Percentage of whole set

Men

1,271

93.3

Women

86

6.3

Joint

6

0.4

Source: Bateman 1883.
Note: The small number of joint owners covers the position where men and women held property together

  • 27 It is difficult to identify “Lady Bracknell” as the wife of viscount, baron, baronet or knight. Th (...)
  • 28 Arithmetical mean.

26Possibly the dominance of the male is exaggerated in these figures, as Bateman assigned “the Dowager’s property, in every case where it will probably go back to the main estates, to her eldest son, and the wife’s property to the husband” (Bateman 1883: XVII). However, even if there were more women actually holding property than would appear in the survey, dowagers or wives held such land for their life-time only, and they would in almost every case have no power to dispose of it. Women were “at an appalling proprietary disadvantage” in the world of property ownership (English and Saville 1983: 32). The improbability of women owning great landed estates was (and still is) emphasised in England by the rules governing the descent of peerages and baronetcies. Very few giants of peerages, and no grants of baronetcies, allowed the succession of women. Of the eighty-six women in the set of great English landowners, twenty-three were titled, sixty-three were commoners: a lesser proportion of titles than in the whole set.27 The women were less wealthy than the male landowners, their average landed income28 being £10,021 as opposed to £14,861 in the whole set. The lowest income band of £3,000 to £9,999 contained 74% of the women landowners, as opposed to 58% in the whole set. In each successive higher income band the women’s income compared unfavorably with that of the men, and there were no women in the highest income group (£100,000 upwards). The woman with the largest landed income was Baroness Willoughby d’Eresby, with an income of £74,000 a year, from land in Lincolnshire, Wales and Scotland. Lady Holland, credited with an income of £7,500, would undoubtedly have had a much larger income had her London property been included.

  • 29 Although there were archbishops, bishops and at various times either two or four law lords.

27Many of the great landowners bore hereditary titles, as there was a close association between peerages, baronetcies and quantities of acres. At this time Britain had no life peerages.29

TABLE 5: GREAT ENGLISH LANDOWNERS OF 1883 BY RANK

Number

Percentage of whole set Ν = 1,363

Peers

308

22.6

Baronets

208

15.3

Knights

9

0.7

Commoners

835

61.4

Source: Bateman 1883.
Note: The whole set is 1,363, but three of these were joint landowners, and so are not classified here

  • 30 Arithmetical mean.

28If the ranks of landowners are considered in relation to their income from land (that is, the gross annual value of their estates) it can be seen that most peers were richer than most baronets and most baronets richer than knights and commoners. The average landed income30 of the peers was £31,136; of the baronets £13,347; of the knights £10,514; of the commoners £9,287. The number of landowners of each rank, divided between seven income bands, is shown below in Table 6.

TABLE 6: GREAT ENGLISH LANDOWNERS OF 1883 RANK AND LANDED INCOME

TABLE 6: GREAT ENGLISH LANDOWNERS OF 1883 RANK AND LANDED INCOME

Source: Bateman 1883.
Note: The landed income includes that from land in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, provided that the owners had at least 3,000 English acres worth £3,000 a year. Three joint holders are not included, making a total of 1,300 landowners. Not all peers were great landowners, and Bateman provided a list of sixty-six peers, peeresses or dormant peerages with less than £3,000 a year

  • 31 All the ages in the next section called “average” are arithmetical means. The ages were calculated (...)

29The average age31 of the great English landowners in 1883, recorded for 1,241 of them, was fifty-five years. Women’s ages were hardly ever given; only in eleven cases out of eighty-six, and those women whose ages were published were all elderly; one might assume from late twentieth century behaviour that the women had switched from being unwilling to reveal their vanishing youth to being proud of surviving so long. Fifty-five is a high average age, but the landowners were a demographically biased set, since entry into the set was delayed until the landowner succeeded his predecessor, thereby cutting down the chances of early death affecting the average.

  • 32 Arithmetical mean. Calculated from their year of succession and year of birth.
  • 33 That Bateman included “succession” in every entry suggests that he believed landownership to be a (...)

30The landowners had succeeded their predecessors at an average age of 33.7 years.32 Not all of them had inherited from their father, but some from grandfather, uncle, brother or more distant relative, so that no calculation of life expectancies or replacement rates in different decades is possible. The range of age at succession was wide, as might be expected, stretching from under twelve months to eighty-two years. There was no significant difference in the ages at which different ranks of landowners inherited: it could not be said, for instance, than a peer’s predecessor would live longer than a commoner’s. Early or late succession did not affect the likelihood or otherwise of military service. At the end of the long Victorian peace military service had little effect on the age of succession.33

  • 34 Many of the 20% unmarried in Bateman’s set were still of age to marry, so the comparisons are not (...)

31Of those landowners who had married, dates of first marriage are recorded for 1,085, or 79.6% of the set. It cannot be assumed that the remaining 278 (20.4%) landowners were unmarried, although that was presumably true of the twenty-five landowners aged seventeen or less, and those twelve women landowners with the prefix “Miss.” Some other landowners, who failed to reply to Bateman’s requests for information, may well have been married. The number who apparently remained unmarried can be compared with that found by Hollingsworth for the nineteenth century peerage, and with the population at large in other published tables (Hollingsworth 1964: 17, table 8; Wrigley and Schofield 1989: 437, table 10.4).34

32The average age at first marriage was 29.3 years. This was younger than the age at first marriage of all the sons of British peers in the nineteenth century as recorded by Hollingsworth (Hollingsworth 1964: 25, table 17), but older than the general age of marriage in the nineteenth century, which was calculated by Wrigley and Schofield to around 26 years from 1851 to 1881 for males at first marriage (Wrigley and Schofield 1989: 437, table 10.3). Only eight landowners in the set married below the age of twenty-one (and two of these were women, married at eighteen). As soon as the age of majority was reached, the number of marriages increased dramatically (over a hundred were married aged twenty-one or twenty-two). Landowning men rarely married before they were twenty-one, as it was much more difficult to make a binding marriage settlement while they were under age; it required a private act of Parliament.

33Hollingsworth postulated “the general possibility that in every era age at marriage rises with social class” (Hollingsworth 1964: 13). The evidence from Bateman’s landowners appears to contradict this, even though it might be argued that “social class” as a distinction in a set consisting entirely of great landowners is an artificial one. Among the great English landowners, peers married earlier than baronets or commoners (54.9% of peers married in their twenties, as opposed to 44.7% of baronets and 39.9% of commoners). In their thirties, 31.3% of baronets married, 24.1% of commoners and only 22.4% of peers. Connected with this finding is the parallel one that richer men were more likely to marry in their twenties than those with lesser landed incomes.

34Whether or not a man went to university did not affect the age at which he married (for most men had left university by the time they would have married), but the comparatively small number of men who had served in the army or navy (293, or 21.5%) married later, more of them in their thirties than in their twenties.

35Some of the great landowners had married more than once: 152 had married a second time (at an average age of 44.3%), five a third time (at an average age of 49.6%) and one a fourth time, aged 75. It may be assumed that most of these remarriages followed the death of the former spouse, divorce being a rare occurrence (and unrecorded in Bateman). Peers and baronets were more likely to marry a second time than commoners, perhaps driven by the need to create heirs for the titles.

  • 35 In a study of the education of British peers (as opposed to English landowners) based on Bateman, (...)
  • 36 Rubinstein (1993) held that throughout the nineteenth century the largest group were the sons of p (...)

36John Bateman collected information on the education of 818 (60%) of the great English landowners by recording their school or university, or both. As an analysis of this has been published elsewhere (English 1991), the finding are summarised here. A large proportion of the landowners did not go to school or university, or perhaps did not choose to record the fact. None of the women was recorded as having a formal education outside the family. Of those (738) whose school was named, 56.1% went to Eton College, and 16.7% to Harrow School; other schools hardly counted.35 The richer the family, the more likely it was that the heir, if he went to school at all, would have gone to Eton: of the landowners whose income was £ 100,000 and upwards, all those who had been sent to public school went to Eton. Recently Rubinstein has cast doubt on the aristocratic nature of Etonians: his study however contradicts earlier work by Bamford (Rubinstein 1993: 116, table 3.4; Bamford 1961: 225, table 1).36

  • 37 As the army and central government offices seem to have rather higher proportions of the landed cl (...)

37Half the English landowners were known to have gone to university, and social status, income and date of birth appeared to be irrelevant in the choice whether to attend university or not. Of those who were sent to university, 59.3% chose Oxford and 37.5% chose Cambridge; other universities were little considered. The most popular colleges were Christ Church, Oxford, and Trinity College, Cambridge, and the most common combination was either Eton and Christ Church, or Eton and Trinity. Of the eight multimillionaires, however, (those with rent-rolls above £100,000 a year) who had been to university, other colleges had been preferred: Trinity and St. John’s at Cambridge, Balliol and Trinity at Oxford. If a man did not go to university, he might go into the army or (much less probably) into the navy. Some 21.4% of the whole set of landowners had been in the services (if the women are eliminated from the set, 28%) and men with titles were more likely to have been in the army than commoners.37

38Some indication of the landowners’ political affiliations can be drawn from their membership of clubs. Bateman’s analysis of the London clubs in the 1880s was that the Carlton, Junior Carlton, Conservative, St. Stephen’s and Beaconsfield were Conservative; that Brooks, the Reform and the Devonshire were Liberal (Bateman 1883: 497-499). Bateman suggested there were other gradations in politics and also differences in rank between the membership of different clubs: “From a man’s club may be pretty safely gathered his status, his politics and pursuits” (Bateman 1883: XXI). In this article, however, membership of a political club is considered only in the broadest terms, to denote a man Conservative or Liberal. It is probable that some landowners had strong political attachments, but did not belong to a political club, or did not reply to Bateman’s question; the analysis that follows is based on Bateman’s record of membership only.

39Somewhat less than half of the set of great landowners are recorded by Bateman as belonging to political clubs: 651 (47.8%). Those not belonging to any club include the eighty-six women landowners. Of those who belonged to clubs, 441 (67.7%) belonged to a Conservative club; 210 (32.2%) to a Liberal club.

TABLE 7: POLITICAL CLUBS OF THE GREAT LANDOWNERS

Political club

Number of landowners

Percentage of whole group Ν = 1,363

Conservative

441

32.3

Liberal

210

15.4

None recorded

712

52.3

Source: Bateman 1883.

40This ratio between Conservatives and Liberals (that is, approximately twice as many Conservatives as Liberals) recurred in every age band, every wealth band, and in all ranks. There were wide variations among counties. In the list that follows, the first number always denotes landowners belonging to Conservative clubs, the second number the Liberals. Strongly Conservative counties were Kent (27:4), Nottinghamshire (8:2), Oxfordshire (9:2), Shropshire (24:6) and Suffolk (10:2). Conservatives and Liberals were equal in Berkshire, Cornwall, Cumberland and Westmoreland. In only three counties did Liberals form the majority among landowners, by a slender margin, in Bedfordshire (2:3), Durham (6:7) and Somerset (6:7).

41In addition to membership of a political club, Bateman noted if a landowner had been a member of Parliament (and if he had represented an area in which he had territorial interests), and if he had held office under central government. County posts (such as Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriff or Justice of the Peace) were not recorded by Bateman, for as he wrote:

“Such local services [...] are the usual penalties of local greatness […] almost every great landowner worthy of his salt (and not a few quite unworthy) have filled one or more of these posts; had I inserted them the volume would have been far too bulky.” (Bateman 1883: XXVIII.)

  • 38 In 1883 there were 38 Scottish peers and 97 Irish peers without United Kingdom titles (Thompson 19 (...)

42Many of the great landowners had sat in the House of Lords, the House of Commons, or both. The question of who had the right to sit in the House of Lords is a jungle for the unwary. Peers of Great Britain, of the United Kingdom and of England might sit. “Lords” who were excluded were some of the Irish and Scottish peers (who had no general right to sit, but elected representatives, the Irish peers twenty-eight of their number for their lives and the Scottish peers sixteen of their number for each individual Parliament).38 Eldest sons of peers in their father’s lifetime, and younger sons who might carry courtesy titles (such as the Marquis of Hartington, eldest son of the Duke of Devonshire, and Lord John Russell, younger son of the Duke of Bedford) had no right to seats in the House of Lords, nor had peeresses, infants, felons, bankrupts or aliens. Peers’ sons with courtesy titles, and Irish peers who were not elected representatives, could sit in the House of Commons: for example, Lord Stanley, son of the Earl of Derby, and Lord Palmerston, an Irish peer, were members of the House of Commons. Scottish peers, however, could not be elected to the Commons. The final complication is that peers’ eldest sons could be summoned to the House of Lords by virtue of their father’s barony or other subsidiary title: during the nineteenth century, thirty-two sons were so summoned (Cokayne 1910, vol. 1: 489-495, appendix G).

  • 39 The number of Z74 is calculated from Burke and Cokayne. See also Thompson (1963: 50), Heywood (195 (...)

43The great English landowners of 1883 included 308 peers and peeresses; of these 274 were members of the House of Lords and therefore had the right to take part in central government.39 Of the landowning peers who belonged to political clubs, 141 were Tories, 07 Whigs, leaving 100 (including peeresses and minors) whose politics are not deducible.

  • 40 Calculated from Bateman (1878); this information is not included in the 1883 edition. Comparable f (...)

44A quarter of all the great English landowners of 1883 (352 men, i.e. 25.8%) had been, or were, members of the House of Commons. The sets of peers and MPs were by no means exclusive, for 133 (an amazing 43% of all landowning peers) had previously sat in the Lower House. Of the 352 landowners who were MPs, approximately 84% represented areas in which they had territorial interests (Bateman 1878).40 Modern commentators have pointed out the enormous advantage the sons of the political elite enjoyed in being able to enter politics easily and early in life, whereas their middle class contemporaries began the race for political power with more difficulty and later in years. This head start advantage is confirmed by data in Bateman’s edition of 1878, in which he included additional details of the political careers of eldest sons of landowners; forty-seven were, or had been, MPs, and forty-two (89%) of these represented constituencies in which their fathers had territorial interests.

45The 352 men who were, or had been, members of the House of Commons, included 184 who belonged to Conservative clubs, 117 to Liberal clubs, and 51 whose politics was not deducible from their club.

  • 41 Baronets and knights and some peers may of course have received their titles because of their link (...)

46Great English landowners who were peers, baronets or knights were more likely to have sat in the House of Commons than the untitled; 39% of the titled as opposed to 18% of the landowners who were commoners.41 There was a positive correlation between landed income and membership of the House of Commons; only 17% of the landowners with under £10,000 per year had been or were MPs; but 69% of those with £100,000 per year or over. Men who were in their sixties in 1883 were the most likely to have sat in the House of Commons (36% of that age group), followed by those in their fifties (31% of that age group). The men were not of course necessarily MPs in 1883, and not therefore necessarily MPs at that age; the figures only show those that were currently, or had been, MPs, and the age they had reached in 1883. The picture is therefore inevitably weighted in favour of the older men; nevertheless, the dominance of the sixty-year-olds is interesting. The comparative lack of men in their twenties and thirties may indicate that the successive reforms of the franchise were having an effect and the House was becoming more middle class; middle class men entered politics later.

47Only 143 (10.5%) of the great English landowners had held central government office. That small number (compared with the much larger number who sat in both Houses of Parliament) is to some extent deceptive; for many of those 143 had held a number of posts. For instance Lord Mount-Temple had been a Lord of the Treasury, Lord of the Admiralty, Under-Secretary for the Home Department, President of the Board of Health, Vice-President of the Council for Education, Vice-President of the Board of Trade, First Commissioner of the Board of Works; Lord Brabourne had been Vice-Chamberlain of the Household, Lord Chamberlain and Master of the Horse; Sir Robert Peel (son of the Prime Minister) had been Attaché at Madrid, Chargé d’Affaires in Switzerland, Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary to a Special Mission to St. Petersburg, and Chief Secretary for Ireland. Those three men showed the three different paths a man might follow in working for central government. The first involved holding political office, when a man’s political friends were in power; with many moves and some years spent in opposition, without office. The second path was promotion at court through the ranks of those who surrounded the Queen, the Prince Consort and the Prince of Wales. A third path led through the diplomatic or consular service to the heights of Ambassador or Governor General. The three paths were not entirely separate as a man might move from politics to an embassy, or from the household to the diplomatic service.

  • 42 The great officers of state and their holders are listed by Cokayne (1910-1959: vol. 2 appendix D)

48Men with less than £ 10,000 a year in landed income were the least likely to hold central government office: only 5% did so. All successive bands of wealth above the lowest showed a higher percentage of holders of governments than the mean of the whole group; the progression was not even, but the most likely to be employed in this way were those whose landed income was between £40,000 and £49,000; 41% of them had held office. Commoners had only a slight chance of appointment, and 85% of government office holders recorded among the set of great landowners were men with titles. This picture is undoubtedly distorted by the inclusion of the great offices of state, with prestige but not necessarily power, which were likely to be granted to peers.42 More men from the oldest age bands (those in their 70s and 80s) had held office than men in any of the younger age bands, and there was a positive correlation between age and the probability of office in every decade, except that the 50-year-olds were more likely to have held office than the 60-year-olds. Only half those landowners who held government office had been or were in the House of Commons.

49No other occupations other than those in central government or in the services were recorded; the great landowners did not “work”, and seemingly were not members of any profession, although some of them were entitled ‘Reverend’ and may have practised as clergymen; and, as Bateman remarked, most of them held unpaid offices in the shires.

  • 43 The latter part of this sentence is derived from Thompson (1903: 30, 32, tables I, II).

50In conclusion, it is possible to produce a picture of the “typical” great English landowner of 1883; although this has as much, or as little, validity as the picture of a “typical” English academic or any other social category. He (the landowner was almost invariably male) habitually gave a country address. More great landowners lived in Yorkshire than in any other county, although Rutland and Northumberland were the shires with most acres in great estates, and country seats were more densely packed in Rutland (again) and, surprisingly, Staffordshire.43 His landed income was about £ 15,000 a year, derived from around 13,000 acres in Britain. He was more likely to be a commoner than to hold a title; if he did hold a title, he would be a peer or a baronet, as a knight holding a large estate was a rarity. He was aged 55, had married when he was 29 and had inherited when he was 34. If he had been to school (an even chance) it was likely to be Eton; if to university, it was probably Oxford, and Christ Church. There was a fair (one in three) chance that he had been, or was, in one of the Houses of Parliament. He was more likely to be a Conservative than a Liberal, but might be not politically active. He was unlikely to have been in the army or navy; or to have held central government office. He did not have any employment, but while in the county (in which he thought himself resident) he took part in the local administration of the shire.

  • 44 In descending order of landed wealth they were the Duke of Buccleuch, Sir John Ramsden Bt, the Duk (...)

51The ten richest landowners all had several houses. They all had titles, that is, there were five dukes, three earls, a baron and a baronet;44 all had more than £ 120,000 a year in landed income. They married younger, were more likely to have been to Eton than the “average” landowner, and much more likely to have been in Parliament. The ten poorest landowners reflect the obverse; they gave only one address, they had about £3,000 a year in landed income, married later, were less likely to have been to school or university, or to have sat in Parliament. In politics and in their age of succession to the estate, both ends of the spectrum showed the same characteristics.

52Historians will continue to find new ways of using the information contained in Bateman’s Great Landowners; it could be used, for instance, to analyse landownership county by county, or region by region. Why did Cambridgeshire have so few great estates? Why did landowners from certain counties favour the university of Cambridge over Oxford? The landowners “below the line,” with less than £3,000 from 3,000 acres, have been little studied, but as improved computer programs encourage the analysis of large data sets, the men below the line could be added, and even those who are named in the Return of Owners of Land, holding amounts of land as small as one acre. Both Bateman and the Return analyse landownership for only one brief moment of time, and that of course restricts their usefulness. The achievement and the record were, nevertheless, remarkable. The maintenance of their monopoly of land by the British aristocrats for so many centuries, even while the economy was becoming industrialised, was a feat unusual in European history.

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Notes

1 Until the 1880s more than 80% of British millionaires were landowners (Thompson 1991: 165, from Rubinstein 1981: 60-63, tables 3.1, 3.2, 3.3). See also Thompson (1994), Rubinstein (1990).

2 The analysis was published in The Times of 1 February 1864.

3 Spring 1971: 7-8, from Report of the British Association (1862: 211-212).

4 Hansard, 3rd series 209 (18/2); Lords, 19 Feb. 1872 col. 640. Derby had previously mentioned the matter in a speech to the Manchester Agricultural Association in September 1871: “Is a Domesday Book more difficult now than in the days of the Conqueror?” (Spring 1971: 9, from Derby 1894: vol. 1, 141).

5 Prefaces to the Parliamentary Papers: PP 1874, LXXII, pts I and II, Return of Owners of Land, England and Wales 1872-3 (C.1097: published in 1876); of Scotland PP 1874 LXXII, pt III (C.899: Edinburgh 1874); of Ireland, PP 1876 LXXX (C.1492: Dublin 1876).

6 Union Assessment Committee Act (25 & 26 Vict. c. 103).

7 Fowle (1898), Webb and Webb (1929 vol. 2 especially 224-248). The Union Chargeability Act of 1865 (28 & 29 Vict. c. 79) also altered the administration of the Poor Law, but from the archives of unions, it is clear that 1862 marked a more significant change.

8 There is no trace of the original lists in the Public Record Office, according to B. L. James (1966: 320).

9 Subsequently a statistical analysis of the Return was published, PP 1876 (335) LXXX.I Summary of Returns of Owners of Land in England and Wales.

10 Hansard 3rd series 228 (1876) col. 1758 9.

11 Bateman (1883: 517) cites the various forms entered for Captain J.H. Edwards-Heathcote, who was recorded four times in the Return for Staffordshire, as Edwards, H.T.H.; Heathcote, Captain E.; Heathcote, J.Ε; and Heathcote, J.H.E.

12 In Bateman’s list a peer (or great landowner) was only entered once, in the county of his largest holding, but in the appendix to Bateman 1883 by Brodrick (also printed in Brodrick 1881), while the peers and landowners were assigned only to that county where they had their principal residence, the acreages for all peers (or great landowners, squires and so forth) were totalled for each county. So for instance the table for East Yorkshire (Bateman 1883 511) reads “6 peers... 134,619 acres.” It would be a natural assumption to say “therefore they held an average of 22,436 acres each.” But in fact 17 peers and peeresses held land in East Yorkshire, although only 6 were based there. Lord Leconfield, with 13,247 acres in East Yorkshire was omitted from the 6 because he held 30,000 acres in Sussex, as was Lord Middleton, because he had more land in Nottinghamshire; both, however, were among the top 10 landowners in East Yorkshire.

13 An exclusion never explained but perhaps because of the immense difficulties in establishing ownership in London. The commissioners of 1086 also failed to record landholding in London.

14 The percentage of omissions is my own calculation, based on an examination of every 26th page of the Return for English counties. The Return of 1876 (the summary) gives the same percentage of omitted extents for England and Wales, that is 6,448 cases where the acreage was omitted occurring among 260,547 names of I acre and upwards (Brodrick 1881: 138). Some counties made more complete returns than others.

15 The percentage of omissions is again my own calculation, based on an examination of every 26th page of the Return for English counties. The Local Government Board counted 113 blank entries among 269,547 owners in England and Wales, also 0.04% (Return 1876; Brodrick 1881: 158).

16 Rateable value was the net annual value, calculated by deducting” from the gross annual value “the probable average annual cost of repairs, insurance and other expenses if any, necessary to maintain them in a state to command that rent” (East Riding of Yorkshire County Record Office, Poor Law Union Pocklington, PUP 12/1 p III; printed particulars of the basis of gross annual value). There was however no national scale of deductions, and even in one county the deductions could range from 10% to 25% for houses and shops (PP 1899 XXXV Royal Commission on Local Taxation, C.9141). In Yorkshire the scale of deductions was established for the majority of Poor Law Unions in 1862 and was still in force in 1874: it was:

  • Land only 2.5%
  • Farm houses and land 7.5%
  • Houses (other than farm houses) with land attached 10%
  • Houses and buildings only 15%
  • Cottages under £6 a year 20%
  • Mills 25%.

Source: East Riding of Yorkshire County Record Office, PUP 15/1, PUS 2/1.

17 Bateman 1883: XXV.

18 Bateman seems to have used various editions of Burke’s Peerage and Landed Gentry, and possibly his Commoners of Great Britain·, Walford’s County Families (various editions) and Shirley 1859.

19 Brynmor Jones Library, Hull University, DDSY 101/77. Sykes never replied, but filed the note, apparently hand-written by Bateman. I have been unable to trace the existence of any of john Bateman’s own archives. John Bateman lived at Great Bromley Lodge and then at Brightlingsea Hall in Essex, where he died aged 71 in October 1910, leaving one daughter, he was succeeded by his nephew. As David Spring observed in his introduction to the 4th edition of Great Landowners (Spring 1971), The Times obituary made no mention of Bateman’s written work (The Times, 13 October 1910).

20 A similar but not identical selection was carried out by Dr Clemenson and she also arrived at the number of 1,363 (Clemenson 1982).

21 The criteria means the inclusion of landowners who might more properly be called Scottish, Irish or Welsh among the “English.” That problem county, Monmouth, is included in England, as it was deemed to be in England at the time of the Return and Bateman’s volume. Monmouth only sustained three great landowners and its inclusion or otherwise does not materially alter the statistics. For the present paper, categories of information, and information in the categories, have been entered as a data set into the University of Hull’s computer, and processed by some of the programs included in the SPSS system. There are two analyses of the Welsh data of the Return by james (1966) and Howell (1977); and a study of Lancashire (Knapp 1970). James used the Return only; Howell the Return and Bateman (1883), which he calls “figures corrected to 1877”; Knapp the Return and Bateman (1879).

22 In addition twelve of them gave no address at all.

23 There is however anecdotal evidence that landowners in Wales and Scotland considered themselves, and were considered Welsh or Scottish; and that Englishmen with Scottish titles (for instance the Duke of Sutherland) were not regarded as Scottish and perhaps not as British-rather as English landowners with additional lands elsewhere.

24 Thompson’s tables are based on a qualifier of 10,000 acres, not, as in this paper, 3,000 acres.

25 See above.

26 These tables, which were based on information corrected up to Christmas 1877, were also printed in Bateman (1883).

27 It is difficult to identify “Lady Bracknell” as the wife of viscount, baron, baronet or knight. The form “Lady Elizabeth Bracknell” is, however, only used of the daughter of a marquis, duke or earl. 28. Arithmetical mean.

28 Arithmetical mean.

29 Although there were archbishops, bishops and at various times either two or four law lords.

30 Arithmetical mean.

31 All the ages in the next section called “average” are arithmetical means. The ages were calculated from the year of birth, but as the month of birth is not given, the ages are accurate to within 11 months only; this also applies to succession and marriage ages.

32 Arithmetical mean. Calculated from their year of succession and year of birth.

33 That Bateman included “succession” in every entry suggests that he believed landownership to be a hereditary state; in the late twentieth century succession would only be used of succession to a title, in the cases of the royal family and the peerage.

34 Many of the 20% unmarried in Bateman’s set were still of age to marry, so the comparisons are not straightforward. In the population at large, Wrigley and Schofield calculated the proportion of males who were still single aged 4.5.54, and who may therefore regarded as never marrying, as declining from 11.36 in 1851 to 9..52 in 1881. No earlier figures are available.

35 In a study of the education of British peers (as opposed to English landowners) based on Bateman, Rubinstein recorded very similar figures 67.7% went to Eton and 16,6% to Harrow (Rubinstein 1987: 181).

36 Rubinstein (1993) held that throughout the nineteenth century the largest group were the sons of professionals. He defined “professionals” as clergymen, lawyers, army officers, colonial administrators and civil servants (Rubinstein 1993: 107). But, confusingly, Bamford’s earlier study (Bamford 1901) held that in every decade of the early nineteenth century (from 1801-1850) the gentry and the titled at Eton outnumbered the professionals by around 5 to 1 in each decade. The difference in the results of the studies may lie in the large number of the “unclassified,” whose parents’ status is not known.

37 As the army and central government offices seem to have rather higher proportions of the landed classes within their ranks than the figures here would suggest, it seems possible that their numbers were made up disproportionately from Welsh, Irish and Scottish landowners, as well as from younger sons from each country. A list of governor generals of India during the nineteenth century includes the names of eleven men from Scotland and Ireland (Wellesley, Minto, Hastings, Dalhousie, Canning, two Eights, Lawrence, Mayo, Dufferin and Lansdowne), as well as eight Englishmen. Razell (1963) found a disproportionate number of officers in both the Indian and (he home army came from the Border countries; for the eighteenth century, Cannadine (1994: 22) found that almost all the Glamorgan gentry families could claim a general or an admiral in their families. On the social composition of the army, see also Spiers 1992.

38 In 1883 there were 38 Scottish peers and 97 Irish peers without United Kingdom titles (Thompson 1963:.50).

39 The number of Z74 is calculated from Burke and Cokayne. See also Thompson (1963: 50), Heywood (1951). The remaining 175 or so members of the House of Lords included the archbishops and bishops, two or four law lords, the elected Irish and Scottish peers and some other men without sufficient English acres to be included in the present set.

40 Calculated from Bateman (1878); this information is not included in the 1883 edition. Comparable figures published by Rubinstein (1993: 148, derived from Thomas 1939 and Guttsman 1963) are: 394 MPs from the landed interest in 1865, 194 in 1885; or by a different calculation, 31% of the House of Commons in 1865 consisted of peers and baronets, with a further 45% of landed gentry.

41 Baronets and knights and some peers may of course have received their titles because of their link with government through the House of Commons.

42 The great officers of state and their holders are listed by Cokayne (1910-1959: vol. 2 appendix D).

43 The latter part of this sentence is derived from Thompson (1903: 30, 32, tables I, II).

44 In descending order of landed wealth they were the Duke of Buccleuch, Sir John Ramsden Bt, the Duke of Devonshire, the Duke of Northumberland, the Earl of Derby, the Duke of Bedford, the Duke of Sutherland, Earl Fitzwilliam, the Earl of Dudley and Lord Calthorpe. Ramsden’s income was probably inflated by urban rents in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Bateman’s editions did not usually include urban rents among incomes, for instance the rents of the Duke of Westminster are omitted, and had these been included, the rank order would have been different.

Table des illustrations

Titre TABLE 6: GREAT ENGLISH LANDOWNERS OF 1883 RANK AND LANDED INCOME
Légende Source: Bateman 1883.Note: The landed income includes that from land in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, provided that the owners had at least 3,000 English acres worth £3,000 a year. Three joint holders are not included, making a total of 1,300 landowners. Not all peers were great landowners, and Bateman provided a list of sixty-six peers, peeresses or dormant peerages with less than £3,000 a year
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University of Hull

© Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme, 2007

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