Class DividesEdit

This is very much an average, and details may differ elsewhere - but this is a rought attempt at some sort of definitive guide to the classes. Obviously a source of disagreement amongst sociologists, historians and economists

As long as we both know what we mean by each class it will certainly remove the chance of confusion - so much of my comments to you (not the below) are based around my class divide structure (which isn't that unique, but just used to keep things consistent and clear). For that reason there are about 10 divides (or rather sub-divides) - the 10th is the one between and also consisting of upper-working and lower-middle class, which is perhaps the most problematic divide of all - certainly to explain. Upper middle to lower upper is easy - you need to be wealthy to be in either, but if you made the money yourself you're not really going beyond upper middle unless you marry into it. That's a very simplistic description, and there will be exceptions, but it's a start.

My definition of whom I include in the lower-middle classes where others may put them in upper working class is based on perceived leisure time for forming and discussing ideology and other activities, and levels of education, assuming a decent level of literacy – all contributing factors to the forming or adherence to ideology and the ability to act on them.

The concept of social mobility, particularly amongst the middle classes is quite important, many want to be part of the upper class - as I believe you cover in your story ( admittedly, I must re-read it - I haven't read it since last year :/ )

In my system, which is not just my system, there is a very blurred line between upper-working (skilled labourers/craftsmen) and lower-middle - a traditonal, 1850 definition of middle class would only consider the upper middle class as middle class (but not ours, which is arguably closer to 1880s/1890s). This is a subject with a lot of contention so I'm not going to get into it all here.

You could almost ignore the details below and apply this formula, middle class = some degree of non-charitable education / competent (fluent) level of literacy / self-employed / skilled / some degree of economic comfort and therefore leisure time.

Of course remember someone may not start in the middle class but may gain these and become middle class.

These details are based upon Victorian London, and taken from various sources.

Working Class

Victorians always use the plural 'working classes' when they talk about labouring folk. The social reformer Charles Booth (1840-1916) – who devotes 18 years to the preparation of his great survey The Life and Labour of the People in London, which is eventually published in 1903 – finds six categories of workers:

• high-paid labour

• regular standard earners

• small regular earners

• intermittent earners

• casual earners

• 'the lowest class' (see The poor below).

According to John Burnett's The Annals of Labour, before the Industrial Revolution workers divided into two basic categories, skilled craftsmen, "who had learnt a specialized craft or 'mystery' by apprenticeship," and unskilled laborers, "who had only muscular strength to sell," but the arrival of the "factory system"

vastly complicated this traditional distinction by virtually creating a new category of manual worker — the machine-minder, or factory operative who, though intimately familiar with the particular, sub-divided operation of his machine, was able to exercise only limited judgement or discretion over its performance. For him — or for her, since a high proportion of such workers, especially in the textile factories, were female — a short period of training rather than a long apprenticeship was generally all that was necessary.

By the early Victorian years, manual workers — people who worked with their hands — "were generally divided into three groups: skilled, semi-skilled (often described as 'less skilled') and unskilled (usually known as 'labourers')," but since "each group shaded off into the next," . . . no sharp lines can be drawn between them." The skilled, or the craftsman, however, stood out from those below him in the hierarchy of labor.

References: John Burnett. The Annals of Labour: Autobiographies of British Working Class People, 1820-1920. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1974.

See Occupations below

The Poor (Lowest Working Class)

While life is getting better for the solid working classes, who are popularly known as the 'deserving poor' and get charity when they fall on hard times, the poor are as desperate – and numerous – as ever. The 'lowest class' comprises about a quarter of urban populations. In York in 1901, for example, 27% of the people are in deep poverty and living in squalid, even deadly slum conditions, according to an investigation by Quaker philanthropist and chocolate manufacturer Seebohm Rowntree (1871-1954), published as Poverty: A study of town life.

Some of these people are unemployed, some are criminals, all live a precarious existence. Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor (1851-62) is crammed with examples of poor people begging, hawking all manner of goods or even collecting and selling dog droppings. In his novel Bleak House (1853), Charles Dickens portrays Jo the ragged crossing-sweeper, a familiar figure in Victorian cities. Many have no pleasures except for drink. By 1889, Charles Booth is arguing that the poor are a menace: 'Their life is the life of savages.' Many end up in the workhouse.

Rural poverty is even worse. Poor crofters in the Scottish Highlands try to survive on as little as £8 a year. On the great farms of southern England, most workers have to join a gang, led by a task-master. Child labour and poverty are common. Women are forced to give their children opium so they won't make any noise while their mothers labour in the fields. When times are bad and work runs out – as it does when the importing of cheap wheat (following the repeal of the Corn Laws) and of cheap wool destroys traditional agriculture in the 1880s – these people have no choice. They must leave the land and migrate to the booming cities or starve. By 1901, the number of men working on farms has dropped by a third.

The Middle Class

Victorians worship success and money. The dream of businessmen is to join the aristocracy, but first they aspire to send their children to public schools, to acquire country houses and to marry into the landed gentry.

In 1850, the middle class is a fairly small group of professionals, factory owners, businessmen, merchants and bankers. There is a deep gulf between this group and the working classes. As Mrs Isabella Beeton's 1861 Book of Household Management shows, you need lots of servants to prepare lavish meals, clean houses heated by filthy coal and generally work with few labour-saving devices.

Over the next 50 years, the middle class not only expands very rapidly, it also splits into two different layers.

Lower - Mid Notably shopkeepers (for Adena, including people like printers and bookbinders, or even some posher funeral parlours, where there is a shop front), after the 1850s, the bosses of industry are less likely to be self-made men who pass on the business to their families, and more likely to be part of the new class of professional managers. As government passes more laws, civil servants – working in both central and local government – multiply. The growth of shopping offers women more chances of employment.

In London, especially, there comes into being a whole army of city clerks, who are trained at the new polytechnics, read the Daily Mail, founded in 1896 by the Harmsworth brothers, and commute to work by train and the newer tube, which links central London to the even newer suburbs where the clerks live in neat terraced houses.

Mid - Upper The professionals – doctors, lawyers, professors, clergy and top civil servants – are educated at public school and university. They tend to live in suburban villas where in urban centres.

By contrast, the industrialists usually send their children to be 'educated' in the family firm, or train them to become engineers, although some now prefer public schools. A few end up working in banking rather than running factories. Others go abroad and run the empire. Some old aristocrats fear the 'monarchy of the middle classes', but in practice, they tame 'trade' by marrying into it.

The Upper Classes

Of all the classes, the aristocracy changes the least. One of the most astonishing facts about 19th-century Britain is how, in an age of democracy, the aristocracy retains power. Several politicians come from noble families, such as the Cecils (Lord Salisbury) and Ashley-Coopers (Lord Shaftesbury), which have ruled Britain for centuries. When Sir Randolph Churchill and his son Winston enter politics, they carry on a family tradition. As late as 1880, of 652 elected MPs, more than half – 394 – are nobles, baronets and landed gentry. The unelected House of Lords is, by definition, full of aristocrats.

Perhaps surprisingly, the aristocracy is a friend of commerce: most banks and insurance companies have lords on their boards to add a touch of class. The strength of the aristocracy is its flexibility and its ability to absorb new blood – and new money – into its ranks. Between 1886 and 1914, some 200 new peerages are created. Bankers such as the Rothschilds and the Barings become peers, as do industrialists such as Guinness (beer), Armstrong (engineering) and Hardy (iron). W H Smith makes a fortune from selling newspapers at railway stations and becomes a lord. Aristocrats also make astute marriages: in 1895, the 9th duke of Marlborough marries American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt (her father gives the duke $2.5 million).

The aristocrats also head Britain's social life. On their country estates, they go hunting, shooting and fishing. Their grand London homes, open during the 'season', are mind-bogglingly palatial. Often inspired by Italian Renaissance architecture, they boast huge columns and grand staircases, decorated with masses of gold, marble and crystal. Dazzling lights illuminate this wonderland; tables groan with mountains of flowers and sweetmeats. The ostentatious houses of the rich are temples that flaunt wealth. Showy display is everything. To protect all this, Robert Peel's police force make sure that poor people are not allowed into Piccadilly or Pall Mall.

Lower (roughly Gentry)

Baronets, knights, country gentlemen, and others with large incomes.

Mid (roughly Aristocracy)

Lords spiritual (Archbishops) and Lords, great officers of state, and those above the degree of baronet.

Upper (roughly Royalty)

The sovereign and their immediate family (some cross-over with the upper echelons of aristocracy)


Very important, perhaps my most important factor for discerning class

For a great overview, check this link.

Population SizesEdit

I have a feeling that it may be important to highlight this to save confusion later. There is no reason to stick to the real world, but I think population sizes provide a good indicatior - causal links also almost-dictatae that as many other parallels have been drwan with the real world, if a significant factor like population size (and rates of growth and decline and their causal factors) are removed, it may make things seem fudged up. Only in my head of course.

So as an example, I just wanted to provide a brief outline of the population of London over a couple of centuries - and of course by the time we're writing it is the largest city in the world.

To quote my source - "the pattern of growth was not steady, nor was it entirely down to any single factor. But between them a gradual and punctuated decline in child mortality, in combination with in-migration, from the British Isles, Europe and the rest of the world, were decisive. The city that was created in the process was marked by its youth and its high proportion of women, drawn to the capital by domestic service."

1674 - 500,000

1688 - 527,000

1715 - 630,000

1760 - 740,000

1801 - 1,096,784 (from census)

1815 - 1,400,000 (In 1815 London was already the largest city in the world)

1860 - 3,188,485 (In 1851, over 38 per cent of Londoners were born somewhere else.)

1913 - 7,000,000


Social Customs, Events and ConventionsEdit


In the Victorian era, there is more leisure time than ever before. By the 1840s, professionals tend to work only half a day on Saturday, with Sunday off because it is the Lord's day, a Christian time of church-going and rest. A decade later, Wordsells, the Birmingham engineering works, gives its workers Saturday afternoon off – and soon this practice spreads throughout the industrial north.

In 1841, Thomas Cook, founder of the huge travel agency, shows his mettle by arguing that 'We must have railways for the millions.' Three years later, the first day-excursion train runs from London to Brighton.

In 1871, the Bank Holiday Act creates official holidays. By the 1880s, these new holidays are occasions to visit the growing seaside resorts of Blackpool, Morecambe and Southend. But while the working classes modestly paddle in bathing huts, the liberal middle classes in the 1890s take to energetic rambling and healthy cycling – on the new contraptions designed by Edward Butler – around the countryside.

Shopping While people work less, they shop more. In 1851, William Whiteley, a Wakefield draper's assistant, comes to London to see the Great Exhibition, itself one of the wonders of the Victorian world. He stays in the capital, selling everything from silks to cottons, costume jewellery to artificial flowers. By the 1870s, he has built an enormous emporium in Queensway.

In the London suburbs, these new department stores – often modelled on Paris prototypes – cater for the new middle classes. One example is Barker's in Kensington. In the centre of town, huge flagships such as Harrods change the shopping habits of millions. Others pioneer chains of stores. By 1900, Jesse Boot, the Nottingham purveyor of medicaments, owns 181 local shops, and J Sainsbury has 47 provision stores.


To fill leisure time, sports develop into professional events. In the 1850s, 62 new horse-racing meetings are added to the calendar. William Powell Frith's painting Derby Day (1858) shows a typical one. Fred Archer is everyone's champion jockey. Newspapers encourage betting, and the pools industry springs up to deal with football (soccer).

In 1859, the football's rules are formalised, and the Football Association is set up in 1863. Some football teams have religious origins – for instance, Aston Villa Wesleyan Chapel. By the late 1870s, a ground such as Bramhall Lane in Sheffield draws crowds of 10,000. Yet football remains a sport played by men and watched by men.

More idiosyncratically English is cricket, organised into a county championship from 1873. Its superhero is W G Grace, an autocratic Gloucester doctor who sets batting and bowling records. Grace's beard causes him to be confused with the prime minister Lord Salisbury – to the latter's advantage.

This is also the era of middle-class sports. The rules of lawn tennis are formalised in 1874, and golfing clubs are set up in the latter part of the century.

===Christmas (the Winter Feast)=== Christmas as we know it is a Victorian invention. In the 1830s, the celebration is in decline. Factory work allows workers little time for feasting. Then Prince Albert imports the German custom of decorating the Christmas tree. The singing of Christmas carols revives and the first Christmas card appears in the 1840s.

But it is the Christmas stories of Charles Dickens, particularly A Christmas Carol (1843), that rekindle the joy of the season. He becomes a major populariser of the modern idea of the holiday as a season of good cheer, charity and present-giving. Dickens's name becomes so synonymous with Christmas that when a London costermonger's girl hears of his death in 1870, she asks, 'Mr Dickens dead? Then will Father Christmas die too?'


One of the results of the Crimean War is the spread of smoking. While in Russia, Scotsman Robert Peacock Gloag sees locals smoking cigarettes and imports the idea to Britain. The first cigarettes are cylinders of straw-coloured paper with a cane tip and strong Latakia tobacco.

In 1861, John Theodoridi, a Greek captain, opens a cigarette shop in London's Leicester Square, and by 1865, four others follow suit. By 1883, the Bristol firm of W D & H O Wills put production on an industrial footing. Their machine, imported from the United States, makes about 200 cigarettes a minute. In the 1880s, a price war leads to the first penny cigarettes, with Wild Woodbine leading the field. Between 1860 and 1900, Britain's tobacco consumption rises by about 5% each year.

The dangers of tobacco are soon recognised: surgeon Arthur E J Longhurst even attributes the decline of the Ottoman empire to the habit. Others note that smoking damages teeth, lungs and stomach – and morals. Women are not allowed to smoke. In respectable households, men at first have to smoke outdoors, but by the 1880s, smoking rooms are created in large houses and in London clubs. Smoking compartments appear on trains.


Death is ever-present in Victorian times: three out of every 20 babies die before their first birthday, and life expectancy is about 40 years. This is the golden age of the funeral, which can be lavish in the extreme. Coffins are intricately carved and decorated with gilding. Hearses and their horses are adorned with black ostrich plumes. Professional mourners (called 'mutes') walk in the funeral procession, looking melancholy. Lavish refreshments are served after interment. Funerals for children feature white gloves on the mourners, white ostrich plumes on the horses and white coffins.

Mourning has two stages: deep, or full, mourning and half-mourning. Each stage has its own rules and customs. When someone dies, all members of the household, including servants, adopt deep mourning. Curtains are drawn and clocks stopped. Mirrors are covered and the body is watched over until burial. Indeed, the prevalence of grave robbers prompts many to hire guards to watch the graves of their loved ones.

Certain images symbolise death: draped urns, broken columns, weeping willows appear on tombstones, portraits and embroidered samplers. As the example of Queen Victoria shows, bereavement touches virtually every aspect of Victorian life, lending a sombre hue to the brightest day.

But funerals are also being reformed. As well as the new public cemeteries at Kensal Green (1831), Norwood (1837) and Highgate (1839), the idea of cremation is pioneered by Sir Henry Thompson (1820-1904) in the face of stiff opposition from the religious establishment, which argues that burning bodies prevents their resurrection. A surgeon at University College Hospital, Thompson is a rationalist, but his campaign takes 11 years to succeed. The first cremation is carried out by the Cremation Society at Woking in 1885.

Noble TitlesEdit

Classes of French nobility (as an example)Edit

French nobility is generally divided into the following classes:

  • Noblesse d'épée (nobility of the sword) or noblesse de race or noblesse ancienne: the traditional or old nobility.
  • Noblesse de chancellerie (nobility of the chancery): person made noble by holding certain high offices for the king.
  • Noblesse de lettres: person made noble by letters patent.
  • Noblesse de robe (nobility of the gown): person or family made noble by holding certain official charges, like masters of requests, treasurers, or Presidents of Parlement courts.
  • Noblesse de cloche (nobility of the "bell") or Noblesse échevinale/Noblesse scabinale: person or family made noble by being a mayor or alderman (échevin) or dean of guilds (municipal leader) in certain towns (such as Abbeville and Angers, Angoulême, Bourges, Lyon, Toulouse, Paris, Perpignan, and Poitiers).
  • Noblesse militaire (military nobility): person or family made noble by holding military offices, generally after two or three generations.

Nobles sometimes made the following distinctions based on the age of their status:

  • Noblesse chevaleresque (knightly nobility): nobility from before the year 1400.
  • Noblesse d'extraction: nobility for at least four generations.

Commoners were referred to as roturier. Magistrates and men of law are sometimes called robins.

The acquisition of titles of nobility could be done in one generation or gradually over several generations:

  • Noblesse au premier degré (nobility in the first generation): nobility awarded in the first generation, generally after 20 years of service or by death in one's post.
  • Noblesse graduelle: nobility awarded in the second generation, generally after 20 years of service by both father and son.

The noblesse de lettres became, starting in the reign of Francis I, a handy method for the court to raise revenues; non-nobles possessing noble fiefs would pay a year's worth of revenues from their fiefs to gain nobility. In 1598, Henry IV undid a number of these anoblissments, but eventually saw the necessity of the practice.

The noblesse de cloche dates from 1372 (for the city of Poitiers) and was found only in certain cities with legal and judicial freedoms; by the Revolution these cities were only a handful.

The noblesse de chancellerie first appeared during the reign of Charles VIII at the end of the 15th century. As being a royal chancellor demanded (with few exceptions) royal status, non-nobles holding the position were conferred nobility, generally after 20 years of service. Non-nobles paid enormous sums to hold these positions, but this form of nobility was often criticized as being savonnette à villain (soap for serfs).

The noblesse de robe was a longstanding tradition. In 1600 it gained legal status. High positions in regional parlements, tax boards (chambres des comptes), and other important financial and official state offices (usually bought at great price) conferred nobility, generally in two generations, although the Parlements of Paris, Dauphiné, Besançon and Flanders and the tax boards of Paris, Dole and Grenoble conferred nobility in one generation.

These state offices could be lost by a family at the unexpected death of the office holder. In an attempt to gain more tax revenues, the king's financial advisor Paulet instituted the Paulette in 1604, a yearly tax of 1/60th of the price of the office that insured hereditary transmission. This annual tax solidified the hereditary acquisition of offices in France, and by the middle of the 17th century the majority of office holders were already noble from long possession of these offices.

Henry IV began to crack down on the usurpation of titles of nobility, and in 1666-1674 Louis XIV mandated a massive program of verification of titles of nobility. Oral testimony that maintained that parents and grandparents had always been nobles and lived nobly were no longer accepted. Nobles needed written proofs (marriage contracts, land documents) that they had been noble since 1560. Many families were put back on the lists of the taille and or forced to pay fines for usurping noble titles.

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