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Gentlemen of Uncertain FortuneHow Younger Sons Made Their Way in Jane Austen's England$
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Rory Muir

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780300244311

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300244311.001.0001

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Younger Sons and Their Families

Younger Sons and Their Families

(p.1) Chapter One Younger Sons and Their Families
Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune

Rory Muir

Yale University Press

This chapter explores the complicated relations between siblings during the Regency era, given the privileged position of the eldest son in the family. It shows that not all gentlemen were rich; indeed, many had little money of their own and had to pursue a career. The eldest son would normally inherit the family estate, while the daughters and younger sons would receive no more than a start in life. Inequality of various kinds was universal and taken for granted, challenged only by the most radical and impractical of political philosophers and French republicans in the most extreme phase of their disastrous revolution. Younger sons of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries usually accepted their inferior position and meagre inheritance without complaint.

Keywords:   younger sons, family estate, inheritance, inequality, sibling relations

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