Regency England was highly structured and intensely class-conscious. During the period, the social ladder was an extremely fixed and rigid hierarchy within the nobility and the rest of the population. Those of the higher class, often referred to as the ton, lived extremely privileged and indulgent lifestyles, while the middle class where more interested in morality than manners.
A person’s social status was affected by several factors, each contributing to where a person would eventually stand on the social ladder. Differences in birth, title, wealth, property and occupation primarily defined a person’s social standing. Ancestry and title was extremely important as a person with relatives extremely high on the social ladder will find themselves elevated as well – for instance, royalty was immediately on top of the social ladder. Those of inferior birth would be low on the social ladder, and would rarely come across opportunities to elevate their social standing as they could never associate with members of nobility or ruling class. Marriage was another factor that affected a person’s social status. Marriage will occur between members of similar social standing, and could often be used to elevate one’s own social status. However, a scion of the noble house may be cut from inheritance if they chose to pursue a marriage with someone from a much lower class. Wealth and materialistic possessions such as property were another factor that determined a person’s social status. Whilst the need to actually earn money often separated the upper middle class from the upper class, the ownership of property distinguished the lower middle class from the better-off lower class population. Another factor that affected social hierarchy was occupation. For instance, wealthy doctors, lawyers, engineers, higher clergy and farmers were joined by merchants and industrialists to comprise the upper ranks of the middle class. A good occupation allowed for a better social standing as...
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