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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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Civil Office

Civil Office

(p.164) Chapter Eight Civil Office
Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune

Rory Muir

Yale University Press

This chapter explores careers in government service. Such a career had many advantages for a younger son, especially if he could find an office as well suited to his tastes and habits. But procuring such an office was not easy and almost invariably depended on a close connection to someone who was either the dominant local magnate or influential on the national stage. Most gentlemen had some connection — either by family or friendship — with a Member of Parliament or a peer, but this was not enough to give them a realistic chance of securing anything more than a clerk's position in a government office, if indeed it stretched that far. Some politicians were more adept and successful at playing the patronage game than others — but even so they faced far more claims than they could hope to satisfy, and had to make hard choices, disappointing more clients than they pleased.

Keywords:   civil office careers, government office, government service, politics, politicians, patronage

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