Thursday, January 30, 2014

Maria Grace: Vicars and Curates and Livings...oh my! C.C.and King GIVEAWAY!

What a fabulous week this has been, featuring:

We have been spoiled with brilliant Guestposts that I'm sure have tantalized you even more in wanting to read this book.  
Today, to end the event, we have another excellent article by Author Maria Grace!
 p.s. You gotta read her bio (at the end of article)- this lady is incredible!!

'I am probably the odd one out. I actually love the research process. It is probably one of my favorite things about writing historical fiction.  As a kid, I loved to read reproductions of old cookbooks and collections of letters from historical eras—honestly I still do.  I love those glimpses of life in those periods; I feel a little transported to that era myself.
That is the crux of world-building, a skill every writer must have whether they are creating their own fantasy world, or recreating an historical one. I frequently find myself researching out little details that I could otherwise gloss over, since, really, they aren’t THAT important to the story. Things like specific items served at meals or teas, what did they taste and smell like. Were they just place on the table, or was there some particular way they were presented? Were there special serving vessels used or just everyday dishes and did those dishes communicate anything about the host or hostess.  These are little things which don’t necessarily carry the plot, but they can transport the reader into the story world and that is important to me.
 Sometimes you can more or less fudge your way through details, though readers often notice and object anyway, but in my recently completed series, Given Good Principles, one set I could not gloss over were the details about the lives of clergy in the Regency era.  Through the four books, I had three significant characters who were vicars and curates and I had to get those details right.
Once I sorted all those details out, I had the privilege of writing a piece for the Castles Customs and Kings anthology explaining what I’d learned. I would love to share that here with you as well.

Vicars and curates and livings…oh my!

In the 1800’s the English laws of primogenitor, intended to preserve the integrity of large landed estates, made it a challenge for younger sons of the landed gentry to establish themselves in life. If their family did not possess an additional estate for them to inherit or they lacked some other relative to provide an inheritance, younger sons had little choice but to make their own way in the world. The question was how.

Traditional ‘learned’ professions: the church, the law and medicine had a respectable character as ‘liberal professions’ befitting gentlemen. So these, together with the armed forces formed the primary options for gentlemen’s younger sons.  The church was a particularly attractive option if a family had a living they could bestow as they chose. A living meant a guaranteed income and home for the lifetime of the clergyman lucky enough to be appointed to one.


To qualify for a living, a man had to be ordained. The process started with a standard honors degree from Cambridge or Oxford since o specific degrees in theology were offered. Afterwards, the candidate needed a testimonial from his college vouching for his fitness for ordination. He then presented the testimonial to a bishop and made arrangements for an examination to prove his competency in Latin, knowledge of the Scripture, and familiarity with the liturgy and church doctrine. 

After passing his examiniation, a man was Japanned (slang for ordination referring to putting on black cloth, from the color of black japanware)  and considered qualified to administer the sacraments of the Church. His career would begin at age 23, as a deacon, assisting an ordained priest. At 24 he could be fully ordained and eligible to be in charge of a parish and obtain a living of his own.

Obtaining a Living

For all but the luckiest young men, the real challenge began at this point.The surest way of procuring a benefice was to be related to the patron. A well-placed relative might allow him to walk into a living immediately after ordination. Less well-connected individuals could wait ten or twenty years for the opportunity.

Approximately 11,500 benefices or livings existed in England and Wales at the end of the 18th century. This sounds like a sufficient number; however, over half the ordained clergy never received a living. 

Oxford and Cambridge colleges controlled nearly 5% of benefices, presenting them as gifts to fellows and masters who wished to marry and leave academic pursuits. Another 10% or so belonged to the Crown,to be presented to government supporters. Bishops and cathedral chapters possessed about 20%. The gentry and aristocracy held the largest share, on the order of 60%. Most great families had at least one or two livings at their disposal. 

The value of a living

Having a living, did not guarantee the holder a life of wealth and ease. An 1802 figure suggests a third of the benefices brought in less than £150 a year and some 1,000 of those less than £100. (£50 a year was more or less equivalent to our minimum wage.)  A clergyman needed an income £300-400 per annum to be on the level with the lesser gentry. 

Incomes might be increased by serving more than one parish, but this seldom resulted in real wealth.Additional income might also be found through teaching or cultivating gardens and the glebe (acreage provided by the parish.)

Enter the curate

In the Regency period, once installed in a living, a man was there for life. No one less than the bishop could remove him for cause. A vicar could resign his duties to a curate once he obtained the permission of his bishop. Many hired a curatefrom the beginning of their incumbency. Others only did so when they had to retire.

A curate was usually a young man just recently ordained, who assisted or sometimes performed the duties of a clergyman. A curate’s wages would be paid from the vicar’s own pocket and typically were very low, as little as £50 per year. Moreover, a vicar did not have to give up the parsonage house to the curate. He might continue to live in it himself and leave the curate to find his own living quarters somewhere within an easy distance of the church.

Even at trifling wages, a curacy was not easy to obtain. In the early 1800’s curates made up close to half of the clergymen. Even with a position, their future was not secure. The death of the incumbent did not imply the curate would ascend to the living. Moreover, there was no guarantee that the successor would even continue to employ the curate.

As members of the clergy, curates were regarded as gentlemen. Even so, the subservient nature of their position and their paltry incomes caused some of the gentry and peers to hold them in disregard.

Parish duties

The clergyman’s duties in the church included holding service on Sundays and hold Holy Communion at least three times a year. Midweek duties included baptisms, marriages and funerals and visiting the sick.

Outside of the church, the clergyman officiated at parish meetingsto discuss local affairs including charity, parish employment, care of the poor, repair and maintenance of the church and election of the churchwardens. The parish was responsible for the administration of the poor laws and elected Supervisors of the Poor who collected the Poor Rate taxes from the wealthier parishioners. The parish also appointed two Surveyors of Highways to supervise the maintenance and repair of the roads. Thus, whether vicar or lowly curate, the clergyman played a major role in the life of his parish community.

Author Bio:

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six cats, seven Regency-era fiction projects and notes for eight more writing projects in progress. To round out the list, she cooks for nine in order to accommodate the growing boys and usually makes ten meals at a time so she only cooks twice a month.

She can be contacted at:
You can find her profile on Facebook:
or visit her website at
Find her books at:

Please leave your comment and email to enter.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Maggi Andersen Here Today at C.C. and K Event!!! GIVEAWAY CONTINUES!!

What a fabulous week we are having here with our EVENT:
 Join us today with Author Maggi Andersen, with a post that follows her piece from Castles, Customs, and Kings:


Charles Stuart, Lord Stuart de Rothesay, diplomat and part spy, and the Affair of Queen Caroline.
By Maggi Andersen
Charles Stuart, Lord Stuart de Rothesay, (1779-1845) was a nineteenth century diplomat and spy, and has been a source of research for my Mayfair Spy Series, as he was involved in the political machinations surrounding key events in Europe during the 19th Century.
Charles Stuart’s paternal grandfather, John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, was one of the Secretaries of State in the days when those great functionaries controlled the country’s Secret Service, chiefly through the agency of the Post Office. As Prime Minister, Lord Bute is reputed to have brought the Seven Years’ War to an end by bribing Members of Parliament from secret funds.
Charles father, General Sir Charles Stuart, was a distinguished solider. He could not rely on official sources of for intelligence; the Army had no intelligence service, as such, until 1803, when the Depot of Military Knowledge was up; and he learned to provide for himself.  
Charles was at Eton in 1795 and went up to Christ Church, Oxford in 1797. Later, at Glasgow University, he met the future Lord Chancellor, Henry Brougham, and they travelled together to the Western Isles and Iceland.
Charles’s father, General Stuart, died in 1801. Charles considered law and politics before Lord Hobart found him a place in the Diplomatic service. It was not until 1820, that his diplomatic skills were called into play in dealing with Queen Caroline.
Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (Caroline Amelia Elizabeth); was born in May 1768. Her father was the ruler of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in modern-day Germany, and her mother, Princess Augusta, was the sister of George III. Caroline and George, Prince of Wales were married on 8 April 1795 at the Chapel Royal, St. James's Palace, in London.
It was not a marriage made in heaven. Shortly after the birth of their daughter, Charlotte, the couple separated. In 1806, Caroline was accused of having affairs and had her access to her daughter restricted. She subsequently left England to live abroad.
In 1818, when she was living at Pesaro, Italy, Prinny sent a team of lawyers to Milan, where they interviewed potential witnesses who were subsequently brought to London for the trial.
In 1819, angry and humiliated, Caroline planned to return to England to challenge the Prince. When Henry Brougham, her chief legal adviser, counseled caution, she arranged to meet him at Lyons.
Charles was well aware that Caroline’s appearance in England would be most unwelcome to the Prince and his ministers. The Foreign Minister, Lord Castlereagh was instructed that she was not to be given any special attention as Princess of Wales when she travelled through France.
When Caroline arrived at Lyon for the rendezvous with Brougham, she found he had not come. She turned back. In January 1820 in Leghorn (Livorno), she learned that King George III had died, and she was Queen.
Castlereagh suggested to Charles that he should find some way of preventing Caroline from crossing the Channel, perhaps with the help of the French police. But no record remains of it.  
Brougham, who was playing a double game, now urged Caroline to return to England at once. He met her at St Omer, and she crossed the Channel on 5 June 1820. Caroline was cheered by crowds everywhere. Aware of the King’s unpopularity, she made a bold bid for popular support. She was determined that she should be recognized as Queen, but the King was equally determined that she should not. No compromise was possible.
The Landing of Queen Caroline at Dover to claim her rights.

King George IV stated that Caroline was to enjoy no queenly rights and privileges. He had begun collecting various damaging documents that would show his minsters the kind of woman she was, which he placed in a notorious green bag, intent on using it against her in divorce proceedings. Her relationship with Bartolemeo Pergami, an Italian engaged initially as a courier would come under scrutiny. Caroline had bought him an estate in Sicily, which held the title Baron and appointed him her chamberlain. There was a strong rumor that they were lovers.
 George was determined to bar her from his coronation. He wished to get rid of her, but his ministers were anxious to avoid a divorce. They were afraid that in the process, as much mud would stick to him as to her, and the monarchy itself might suffer.
The Pergami factor had been long under scrutiny when Charles became involved. Lord Clanwilliam, acting Under-Secretary at the foreign Office, wrote to him in June:

“You will probably, among the rumours of the day, have heard that Pergami accompanied the Queen to Calais: and it is also stated that he thence returned to Paris. Should this latter report prove correct it is wished that he should be a little looked after, and that it should be known what he is about.”

Charles arranged to have Pergami watched by the police until he left Paris in July, and evidently heard nothing about him that he thought worthy of being passed on.
When the question of Pergami’s virility came into question, Clanwilliam wrote to Charles again on 12 September:

“I …call Your Excellency’s attention to this report, and [to] request you to use your endeavours for discovering whether, during Pergami’s stay in Paris he did not keep a certain Mlle Legros, and some other woman: I short whether his sojourn there cannot produce evidence of his virility.”

They were difficult instructions to follow, but Charles obtained information within the week. Kepel Craven, one of Caroline’s vice-chamberlains had heard it said that Pergami had been castrated. When Charles questioned Pergami on the subject, the Italian readily agreed. He had suffered frostbite on the retreat from Russia.
Charles could find no proof to satisfy the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool. His last letter dated 3 October stated that he had several agents working on the case, and there was no doubt that Pergami had lived with a Mme Ebênes in Paris with the consent of her husband. But beyond board and lodging, no proof of adultery could be proven. And Pergami’s daughter, Vittorine was conceived before the retreat from Moscow.
Lord Liverpool groped into the deepest recesses of the law, and the government resorted to an old parliamentary maneuver, a Bill of Pains and Penalties, the second reading of which would be tantamount to a trial; and, if passed by both Houses of Parliament, this would deprive Caroline of her status as Queen and end her marriage to the King.
At the trial, Caroline’s lawyers’ claim that Pergami was rendered impotent from frostbite did not impress expert medical witnesses as proof or evidence of impotence. It was generally agreed that Caroline had committed adultery with him and others; but it was also generally agreed that the King and his ministers were equally reprehensible in their dealings with her. The bill was given embarrassingly weak support, and it was withdrawn.
The Queen returning from the House of Lords, 1821.

Queen Caroline was never given the recognition that she craved and died less than a year later.
Maggi Andersen is a historical romance author. Her Spies of Mayfair Series is available on Amazon and her Website.
Source: PRIVATE & SECRET The Clandestine Activities of a Nineteenth Century Diplomat. Robert Franklin. 

Please leave your comment and email to enter.