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Frank must marry money: men, women, and property in Trollope's novels.

Abstract: There is a continuing debate about the extent to which women in the 19th century were involved in economic life. The paper uses a reading of a number of novels by the English author Anthony Trollope to explore the impact of primogeniture, entail, and the marriage settlement on the relationship between men and women and the extent to which women were involved in the ownership, transmission, and management of property in England in the mid-19th century.


A recent Accounting Historians Journal article by Kirkham and Loft [2001 ] highlighted the relevance for accounting history of Amanda Vickery's study "The Gentleman's Daughter." Vickery [1993, pp. 84-85] challenged the idea that women had moved in the 18th century into a separate sphere, divorcing them from political and economic activity. She points to the evidence contained in the libraries and private papers of "genteel" women that they engaged closely in managing the money of their households--servants' wages, bills, taxes, as well as revenue from home produce. Kirkham and Loft identify the absence from accounting history, including new accounting history "from below," of the private and of the home. Research has been concentrated on the role of accounting in public, in the enterprise, and in production. Yet, women engaged in accounting and management within the domestic sphere, in relation to their own work and also in monitoring the consumption of their households. Vickery's study [1992, pp. 86-88] makes visible their role in the "domestic oeconomy" which was the subject of housekeeping manuals as well as personal records. This is a form of accounting that is "enabling" for women because it allows them to enjoy the "right of directing domestic affairs" as it was described by an 18th century commentator.

In calling for recognition that accounting took place in the domestic sphere as well as in the enterprise, Kirkham and Loft [2001, p. 71] attack the prevalence in accounting history of "gendered dichotomies," such as those "between public and private and work and home." Their commentary on Vickery draws attention to the need for a better understanding of the ways in which women engaged in accounting and to the possible multiplicity of ways of apprehending accounting history, through diaries, letters, and private papers, as well as in accounting and management manuals.

The objective of the present paper is to consider women's involvement in this kind of domestic accounting and financial management through the works of Anthony Trollope, one of the most prominent and most widely read Victorian novelists. The sources on which we draw are a number of Trollope's novels, together with critical writing about him, and commentary by his contemporaries and later historians on the relationship between men, women, and property in the mid-19th century. We argue that more attention needs to be given to the importance in his novels of key features of the transfer of wealth within families, particularly through primogeniture, entail, and the marriage settlement, as well as to the critical awareness that Trollope showed in his treatment of them. The ownership and transfer of property are, for Trollope, key aspects of courtship and marriage. His treatment of their impact on men's as well as women's power and status deserves further exploration for the light it sheds on the position of women in the mid-19th century. Women's management skills are shown as extending beyond the economy of the household to the finance of the family from one generation to another. We consider the contribution of this novelistic portrayal to the "history from below" of women's involvement in accounting.


Trollope's first novel, The Kellys and the O'Kellys, was published in 1847; he died in 1882. His career therefore spanned a period in which there was substantial change in the economic rights of women as a result of the Married Women's Property Acts of 1870 and 1882. It was also a time in which traditional legal influences on wealth transmission, the system of primogeniture and entail, were attracting criticism and creating difficulties for the landed classes. Trollope was a prolific writer, publishing more than 40 novels in his lifetime. His best known works fall into three groups. The Barchester series, published between 1855 and 1867, dealt with the mythical rural English county of Barsetshire, centering on the relationships between a number of clerical families, their friends, and neighbors. The Palliser novels, 1865-1876, had a strong political content; their major characters included an aristocrat who became prime minister in the final volume. There are also the "singleton" novels belonging to neither series, of which the best known is perhaps The Way We Live Now [Trollope, 1875], presenting the rise and downfall of a fraudulent London promoter.

In the 1850s and 1860s, Trollope was an enormously popular as well as a productive writer. His work was widely distributed via the new medium of monthly magazines such as the Cornhill, and through Mudie's and other circulating libraries. Frarnley Parsonage appeared in "the place of honour" in the first installment of the Cornhill Magazine which sold 120,000 copies [Glendinning, 1992, p. 259]. A reviewer in The Leader in 1859 wrote of his enormous popularity, "among the extremely select few who shine out like a constellation among the unnumbered lesser luminaries of the 'circulating' firmament" [Glendinning, 1992, p. 241].

Trollope is of interest to our study because he was active in a period of social and economic change, because of the recurrence in his novels of issues concerned with wealth and marriage, and because his popularity suggests that he was able to address certain Victorian concerns very effectively.

Our paper does not attempt the massive task of providing a comprehensive study of Trollope's work. It considers a number of his novels taken from different points in his career, including the Barchester and Palliser novels, and also a number of the "singletons," some of them less well known today, such as The Belton Estate and Ralph the Heir. The novels we discuss deal with different social stations--the aristocracy, the country gentry, the clergy, the professions, businessmen and tradesmen, the wealthy, the comfortable, and the poor. Our intention is to give an overview of the ways in which Trollope shows similar issues confronting a varied population and of the themes which emerge from his treatment of them.


Hewitt [1963, pp. 229, 239] regards Trollope as "a reliable source for historically minded sociologists." What she sees in Trollope's novels about the middle and upper classes is a divided world in which marriage is seen as the only desirable future for women. "Trollope's novels all fall into two parts ... The men hunt foxes: the women husbands." On one side of the binary divide, men have not only fox hunting as an occupation, but also an interest in land, politics, the parish, or a career; women have only matchmaking, falling in love, and the concerns of marriage and family life. Trollope is not, according to Hewitt, critical of the status quo, although she argues that what the modern reader derives from his novels is a picture of the world of frustration and limitation inhabited by Victorian women.

Later critical writing about Trollope has concluded that he was "conservative in general but liberal in particular" [Nardin, 1989, p. 18] in his view of the problems faced by Victorian women; in other words, that he sympathized deeply with individual women's problems but did not want to see them solved by changes in society. For Barickman et al. [1982, p. 196], he "clearly was not interested in the specific forms the debate about women assumed in the 19th century"; they claim that issues such as the problem of redundant women or women's economic independence are "almost invariably" ridiculed in the novels. We argue in this paper that Trollope's novels did, on the contrary, address women's financial problems, using the stories of successful and unsuccessful courtships and marriages to address Victorian concerns about the distribution of wealth within and between families. This concern was present throughout his career.


Hewitt's verdict on Trollope's novels, on Trollope's point of view, and on the world he inhabited, is informed by the doctrine of separate spheres which has until recently predominated among both historians and literary critics writing about the Victorian era. This belief in exclusion has for some time characterized historical writing about the position of Victorian women, with the view that middle-class and aristocratic women could not and did not operate outside the household and the family. Such separation applied to women's careers, participation in politics, and economic independence, summed up by Davidoff and Hall [1987, pp. 15, 275-276]: "Absence of property as capital has been seen as the most powerful element in 'social closure,' that is exclusion from control over one's own life chances." Although Davidoff and Hall admit that some women owned property, they claim that they were "on the margins of ownership"; in particular, marriage "virtually turned legal control of a woman's property permanently over to her husband." Vickery [1993, pp. 389, 401], who describes "separate spheres" as the "breathless inadequacy model of Victorian feminism," calls for it to be "discussed and debated" because of its failure to "capture the texture of female subordination and the complex interplay of emotion and power in family life." Part of this "interplay" is dependent on women's economic position.

The importance of the separate spheres model in history has supported, and been supported by, literary criticism which has implicated the 19th century novel in the creation of a segregated, domestic realm to be inhabited by women. Armstrong [1987, pp. 17, 253-254], in an influential study, identifies a transformation in the 18th century from the novel as a disreputable form of entertainment to the novel as "part of a specifically female curriculum." According to Armstrong, the 19th century novel created "a language of increasing psychological complexity for understanding individual behaviour." Indications of wealth and status "were buried." Ermarth [1997, pp. 192, 200] endorses Armstrong in her discussion of Trollope's gift for the "subtleties of gender segregation" and asserts that mid-Victorian novels did not show women as having an "economic function." Part of the reason why the Victorian novel segregates women from economic activity, it is suggested, is because of the Victorian anxiety about the instability of the new financial system. For instance, Nunokawa, [1994, p. 124] suggests that: "The angel of the house is the still point in an age of capital whose perpetual crises show no sign of waning." According to this view, the novel rejects money-minded women because society desperately needs the home and family, under the care of "the angel of the house," to represent a refuge.


A study that invokes literature as a means of understanding history raises the question of the relationship between the two. Literature has been recently used as a source for accounting history [e.g., Buckmaster and Buckmaster, 1999; Parker 1999; West, 2001], but it may be overlooked, as by Fleischman et al. [2003], whose methods for "doing accounting history" include the use of "ancient materials" [Vollmers, 2003, p. 60], archives, oral history, biography, and autobiography, but do not include the possible contribution of literature. (1) At the other extreme is Hewitt's claim, quoted above, that Trollope is a "reliable source" for sociological study, which seems to ignore the distinction between the novelist's creation and a world outside it. The new historicist school would challenge Hewitt's claim on the basis that there is no meaningful distinction to be made between history and literature. Its insistence on "the historicity of texts and the textuality of history" [Brannigan, 1998, p. 84] is based on a perception of history as a web of literary and non-literary texts. There is scope for tracing the intricate connections between the two kinds of text (e.g., between the treatment of women's property rights in literature, in legislation, and in parliamentary debates), but ultimately the new historicism denies primacy to one set of texts. Thus, Trollope is not to be treated as a "source" for factual knowledge; he offers one sort of text to be read alongside others, "literary and non-literary texts circulate inseparably" [Veeser, 1989, p. 115].

The opposite view, that there is a distinction to be made between literature and historical facts, between text and context, is made by Fox-Genovese [1989, pp. 216, 221]. She acknowledges that literary texts "derive from political relations from which they cannot entirely be abstracted"; that is, texts are to be understood within their context but must be distinguished from it. She points to the "varieties of evidence" used by historians and insists that the new historicism "flattens historically and theoretically significant distinctions" by its treatment of "price series or coin deposits or hog weights or railroad lines as text." Literary texts must be distinguished from factual data because they are not "factual reports" [Tosh, 2002, p. 64]. Although novels may offer "insights into the social and intellectual milieu" of a particular historical period, they operate in a different realm.

Newton [1989, pp. 154, 165-166] offers a middle way between these opposites when she describes a number of recent works of feminist history as a "cross-cultural montage" of the 19th century in which "women's letters and diaries, women's manuals, women's novels juxtaposed with more traditional and public texts, Parliamentary debates, sociological writing, medical literature, news reports and medical journals." This approach involves "taking the 'material' seriously," but recognizing that it is "always apprehended within representation," i.e., that culture is a key means of accessing the material world, its social, political, and economic parameters. In writing history so as to take account of both the cultural and the material, "women's ... power as mothers, household managers and silent participants in enterprise ... [can be] actively explored."

The objective of the present paper is to explore further Trollope's treatment of the relationship between men, women, and money, taking as a point of departure the growing challenge to separate spheres. If the "interplay" between emotion and power which Vickery perceives is more complicated than the simple exclusion of women from access to and control over property, this is relevant to Trollope's treatment of courtship, marriage, and women's lives after marriage. Trollope was not a champion of women's rights, a point that has been made by Nardin among others. We argue, however, that his treatment of love and marriage points out contradictions between the Victorian model of women as "angels" and their involvement in the distribution and management of wealth. We do not claim that Trollope's novels are an exact replication of Victorian social mores, but we do suggest that they can contribute to an understanding of the changing relationship between women and wealth. Their popularity with Trollope's contemporaries suggests that they struck a chord with his readers and, in what follows, we explore some of the social, legal, and economic structures to which his novels referred.


Inheritance forms a key element in most of Trollope's novels, with primogeniture "an almost holy feature of Trollope's male-dominated world" [McMaster, 1986, p. 15]. This was a particularly English fascination as "primogeniture was applied more harshly in England" than elsewhere in Europe [Erickson, 1993, p. 71]. According to Blackstone, an 18th century codifier and classifier much cited by 19th century lawyers, marriage was an arrangement of property for the propertied and for their children, who were conduits for family wealth [Basch, 1979, p. 350]. The objective was to keep estates intact from generation to generation. Primogeniture, which means that "the male issue shall be admitted before the female, and that, when there are two or more males in equal degree, the eldest only shall inherit, but the females all together," was viewed as the best means for achieving this [Brodrick, 1872, p. 58]. Primogeniture was a means for the maintenance of a landed estate; thus, it was commonly used by the aristocracy and the squirearchy and, as is discussed below, less so by the middle classes whose wealth was likely to include financial assets. The way in which primogeniture was ensured was typically by means of entail, a legal arrangement under which the father had only a life interest in the property, which was then entailed on the eldest son, and, possibly, on his eldest son thereafter. The sale of entailed property was forbidden from 1285. Entails were generally created through the use of strict settlements. (2)

A survey of English estates carried out in 1875 revealed that one quarter of all land was held by 710 individuals [Laurence, 1878], suggesting that primogeniture and entail had indeed succeeded in preventing the break-up of large, aristocratic estates. This is the conclusion reached by Stone and Stone [1984, p. 422], when they suggest that the "landed elite" is the sector of English society most aptly categorized as having "histoire immobile" --financial resources, background, and position that had changed very little between the 17th and 19th centuries. Advocates of primogeniture, such as Cecil [1895], contrasted English concentration of land ownership with the excessive "morcellement" which had happened in France, with the sale of small parcels of land after the post-Revolution break-up of the aristocrats' estates. But primogeniture also had undesirable effects, identified by reformers such as Adam Smith (3) and featured prominently in Trollope's novels.

The perceived benefits and evils of primogeniture were much debated throughout the 19th century, and elements of Trollope's plots reflect the issues that were discussed by contemporaries such as Brodrick and Laurence. Primogeniture was defended as crucial to political stability [see, for instance, Morris, 2004, p. 133]. In the novels, the arguments for primogeniture are put forward by such characters as Archdeacon Grantly, in favor of conservation of land and the "position and influence and political power, to say nothing about the game" which went with it [Trollope, 1867, p. 612]. Women are often portrayed as advocates of primogeniture. For example, Mrs. Morton, in The American Senator [Trollope, 1876a, pp. 400, 539-540], tells the Squire of Bragton: "A property like this should never be lessened. It is in that way that the country is given over to shopkeepers and speculators, and is made to be like France or Italy." In contrast, foreign characters are used as critics of primogeniture. For instance Mr Gotobed, the American senator, delivers a critical lecture during a visit to England in which he describes primogeniture as, "the custom which is damnable and cruel [...] backed by law which is equally so."

One of the two main criticisms of primogeniture at the time Trollope was writing concerned the possible conflict of interest between father and eldest son. Under entail, fathers had only a life interest in the estate and could not sell land to pay off debts. Father and son could, however, agree to break the settlement, using the release to allow them to sell off some property to raise money to pay debts or provide younger sons and daughters with portions. A new settlement then could be made of the remaining assets. Laurence [1878, p. 1153, however, argued that this put the father in a false position with respect to his eldest son. Adolphus Longestaffe, in The Way We Live Now [Trollope, 1875, part II, p. 115], is strapped for cash. He is unable to sell property, as he tells the financier, Melmotte, since he has "only a life interest. That is customary with family estates in this country." When Melmotte suggests that he would be able to sell if his son joined him in the transaction, Longestaffe replies: "I have not directly asked him; but he never does do anything that I wish."

In contrast to the father's position, Brodrick [1872, p. 98] pointed out that eldest sons whose fathers were alive had both an allowance from the estate on which to live and the ability to anticipate their future inheritance. Entail meant that eldest sons could not be disinherited. Francis Bacon commented that the effect of this entail was that heirs became "disobedient, negligent, and wasteful" [Ross, 1997, pp. 219-220]. In Trollope's novels, they lead a life of pleasure and idleness, with nothing to do in anticipation of inheriting the family estate. They often run up debts which fathers, unable to disinherit profligate heirs, were more or less forced to pay. Very rich families might have sufficient non-entailed property to pay off the debts. However, less fortunate families were obliged to borrow money secured by the property (e.g., Lords Cashel and Ballandine in The Kellys and the O'Kellys) or plunder daughters' dowries. Both Lady Laura Standish in Phineas Finn and Lady Mabel Grex in The Duke's Children are unable to marry the men they love since they have lost their inheritance to pay family debts.

Brodrick argued that reform would strengthen parental authority, allowing fathers to disinherit unworthy sons if they so desired. He compared the primogeniture system with that prevailing in America where parents could leave their assets to whomsoever they chose. Children, in consequence, were dependent on the caprices of their parents [de Tocqueville, cited in Brodrick, 1872, p. 118]. In Trollope's novels, men such as Adolphus Longestaffe in The Way We Live Now [Trollope, 1875, part II, p. 59] are examples of weakened fathers, with only life interests in landed estates and anxieties as to mortgages created by the primogeniture system. Heiresses, as wives for elder sons, provide a solution for families which have squandered their wealth, such as the Cashels and the Ballandines in The Kellys and the O'Kellys, the Carburys in The Way We Live Now, or the Greshams in Doctor Thorne. The narrator in The Way We Live Now admits as much: "it is generally understood that matters will be put right by an heiress. It has become an institution, like primogeniture, and is almost as serviceable for maintaining the proper order of things."

The second criticism of primogeniture, particularly from the 18th century, was that it penalized younger sons. (4) A writer in The Eclectic Review in 1852 complained that it consisted of "building up one member of the family, by doing injustice to all the other members in each successive generation" [quoted in Morris, 2004, p. 111]. Stone and Stone [1984, pp. 5-6] claim that "generation after generation, younger sons were left to trickle downwards through the social system." The disparity of wealth between the eldest son and his siblings was "prodigious" [Brodrick, 1872, p. 70]. Failing a fortuitous inheritance from another relative, the alternatives for younger sons under primogeniture were limited. In order to maintain their status as gentlemen, they were restricted to employment in respectable professions such as the civil service, the law, the Church, and the armed forces. (5) Brodrick [1872, pp. 99-100], a reformer, argued that this solution to the younger son problem, or "shameful jobbery" of the church, army, and civil service, which had been "refuges for the privileged destitute," was no longer available by the 1870s. Open competition made it harder for younger sons to find satisfactory situations in life. (6)

Without gentlemanly employment, some younger sons saw marriage as a way of rescuing their position. Supporters of primogeniture had no difficulty with this solution: "He [the younger son] has special opportunities of adding to his fortune by a judicious marriage with a member of some wealthy family, willing by such an alliance to unite recently acquired riches with ancestral rank" [Laurence, 1878, p. 120]. The advantage of this solution was that the line was not sullied by such intermarriages; children of younger sons stood little chance of inheriting the family estate. Yet, younger sons do seem to have been freer to marry out of their class than the eldest son. Thomas' study [1972, p. 605] of aristocratic marriages shows that in the cohort of sons born between 1840 and 1859, only 17.3% of younger sons married within the peerage, compared with 36.1% of heirs. Trollope's novels have numerous younger sons on the lookout for a steady income through marriage, such as Jeffrey Palliser in Can You Forgive Her? and Lord George Germain in Is He Popenjoy? The problem was that younger sons were hardly eligible. The chasm between eldest and younger sons was wide. As the fortune huntress, Arabella Trefoil in The American Senator [Trollope, 1876a, p. 171] remarks of Lord Rufford: "He's all very well, but what would anybody think of him if he were a younger brother with 300 [pounds sterling] a year?"

Alternatively, no real need existed for younger sons to get married in order to ensure the family line. That was the responsibility of the eldest son. If no woman with a suitable income was forthcoming, comfortable bachelorhood offered a pleasant alternative. As Lord Aylmer in The Belton Estate [Trollope, 1866, pp. 224, 353] tells his favorite second son:
   But why on earth you should go and marry, seeing that
   you're not the eldest son, and that you've got everything
   on earth that you want as a bachelor, I can't understand
   ... An eldest son ought to marry, so that the property
   may have an heir. And poor men should marry, I suppose,
   as they want wives to do for them. And sometimes,
   no doubt, a man must marry--when he has got
   to be very fond of a girl, and has compromised himself
   and all that kind of thing ... But none of these cases are
   yours, Fred ... And in the way of comfort, you can be a
   great deal more comfortable without a wife than you
   can with one. What do you want a wife for?

Brodrick [1872, p. 100] was more forthright. He ascribed to primogeniture, "the self-imposed celibacy too prevalent among the younger sons of good family in the metropolis ... inevitably prejudicial not to morality only, but to steadiness and earnestness in practical work." This fashion for "celibacy" is confirmed by Thomas' [1972, p. 101] findings. Of the male aristocrats born between 1840 and 1859, 86% of the heirs eventually married, but only 68% of the younger sons did so.

Another reason not to marry was cost. As Banks [1954, p. 126] points out, marriage in Victorian times was an enterprise that could be costed, balancing extra income from the spouse against additional expenses. Wedlock meant a large number of children and, to avoid the wife turning into a drudge, a large number of servants, nurses, and attendants to alleviate the burden. It also meant a house in a less fashionable part of town than a single gentleman could afford. Adolphus Crosbie, regretting his proposal of marriage to Lily Dale in The Small House at Allington [Trollope, 1864, pp. 73, 246], gloomily anticipates "a plain, humdrum domestic life, with eight hundred a year, and a small house, full of babies" instead of clubs and fashionable society. He breaks his engagement to Lily, preferring Lady Alexandrina who, he believes, will help him to "struggle on in his upward path." Gerard Maule, in order to marry Adelaide Palliser in Phineas Redux, would have to give up hunting and farm his family estate. Frank Greystock, in The Eustace Diamonds, shrinks from marrying Lucy, as this will require him to live in suburban St. John's Wood.

For English gentlemen, unless a promotion, for those who worked, or inheritance, for those who did not, increased their income, marriage meant a substantial drop in quality of life. Trollope was well aware of this, providing graphic descriptions of the likely outcome. In The Kellys and the O'Kellys [Trollope, 1848, p. 325], Mrs. Armstrong had brought "a few hundred pounds" to the marriage, but "weak health, nine children, an improvident husband, and an income so lamentably ill-suited to her wants, had however been too much for her, and she had degenerated into a slatternly, idle scold." The Crawleys in Framley Parsonage [Trollope, 1861, pp. 189-190] lived on 70 [pounds sterling] a year with three children. Marriage on too low an income had made the "softly nurtured" Mrs. Crawley skeletally thin, with hair "untidy and unclean," and left Mr. Crawley bitter and resentful.


The desire to pass on estates from generation to generation through the eldest son had implications for daughters as well as younger sons. Primogeniture meant that a relatively small amount was available for division after the elder son had taken his share and, particularly if the family were large, sisters of rank were liable to end up with portions too small either to attract fortune hunters or to allow them to live independently in the manner to which they had become accustomed. Brodrick [1872, p. 107] hoped that reform would lead to it being thought "a disgraceful thing for a nobleman with 50,000 [pounds sterling] a year to cut off his daughters, either married or single, with portions of 5,000 [pounds sterling] or 10,000 [pounds sterling]." If daughters could not provide adequate marriage portions, they were not likely to be attractive as brides. Stone [1977, p. 380] notes that the proportion of spinsters increased from less than 5% of all upper-class girls in the 17th century to 20-25% in the 18th century, suggesting that the size of portions may have had an effect on this change.

There are numerous examples of redundant, upper-class women in Trollope: Frederic Aylmer's elder sister in The Belton Estate, Hugh Stanbury's two sisters in He Knew He Was Right, the four De Courcy sisters in Doctor Thorne and The Small House at Allington, Lord Fawn's seven unmarried sisters in The Eustace Diamonds, and Sir Marmaduke Rowley's eight daughters in He Knew He Was Right. Without a suitable fortune, women such as Lord George Germain's four unmarried sisters in Is He Popenjoy? were forced to live in genteel poverty. Even though they had portions of 4,000 [pounds sterling] capital apiece, this was far too small in income terms to attract appropriate suitors. Aristocratic ladies without money, destined to take on the social status of their husbands, found a powerful taboo against marrying beneath them for money. In Doctor Thorne [Trollope, 1858a, p. 446], Augusta de Courcy's cousin Amelia dissuades her from marrying the attorney Gazebe, because he is "a man earning his bread." But such is the scarcity of men that Amelia herself stoops to marry him soon afterwards. Georgiana Longestaffe, in The Way We Live Now, appalls her family by threatening to marry a Jewish stockbroker. When that engagement breaks down, she finds herself reduced to a humiliating marriage to a much younger curate.

As well as a long list of poor, unmarriageable, upper-class women, it is noteworthy that many of Trollope's numerous heiresses and wealthy widows are from the middle rather than the upper classes. (7) As Thompson [1994a, pp. 146, 150] has pointed out, unlike the landed gentry, wealthy businessmen might avoid primogeniture and take the option of splitting their estates more evenly, often between both male and female beneficiaries. This could have the result of dividing a fortune into small fractions, as in the case of Edward Langworthy, who shared his fortune among 16 relatives, but it could also benefit daughters, such as Polly Neefit in Ralph the Heir. Brodrick [1872, p. 71] points out that daughters of mercantile families might well have larger portions than those of aristocratic families with the same wealth. Thus, property arrangements of primogeniture threatened aristocratic women with spinsterhood; they also encouraged impoverished young men such as Ralph Newton (Ralph the Heir) to marry beneath them. Trollope [1858, p. 91] writes in Doctor Thorne: "A man raises a woman to his own standard, but a woman must take that of the man she marries" [Trollope, 1858a, p. 91].


The strict settlement, as outlined above, was a "powerful bulwark" of primogeniture because it created the entail, thus ensuring that the heir would obtain the estate intact. However, it needs to be distinguished from the second type of settlement on marriage, the trust for separate estate. The detail of this was variable, but it was likely to include provision for a trust which preserved some or all of the wife's property as "sole and separate estate" [Erickson, 1990, p. 21], distinct from the amount which she brought into the marriage which was available for the husband's use--her "portion." The trust was administered by male relatives, friends, and professional advisers. The settlement was most often made by the father for his daughter, but a single woman, particularly a widow, might make her own settlement. Separate estate was thus potentially crucial to the economic position of married women until the Married Women's Property Acts (MWPA) of 1870 and 1882 made it possible for them to own property under common law. The marriage settlement plays a significant role in Trollope's novels, and its implications for both the wife and the husband deserve to be explored.

Prior to the MWPA of 1870, the assets a woman brought into a marriage were entirely at the husband's disposal, if not segregated within a trust [Moller Okin, 1983-1984, p. 129]. The marriage settlement, by giving the wife separate property in equity, was therefore important in a number of ways. It provided the wife with capital and income. The terms of the trust determined how much control she had of her wealth during her lifetime, (8) as well as whether she would be able to dispose of it freely in her will or be obliged to pass it on only to her husband or children [Holcombe, 1983, pp. 41-43].

In addition to the wife's property held in trust, marriage settlements would make a disposition of the husband's property. (9) The husband commonly provided the wife with an amount of income ("pin money"), which she could spend during her marriage, and a jointure, property or income which would be available for her use on his death [Holcombe, 1983, p. 39]. In Ralph the Heir [Trollope, 1871, p. 423], for instance, Gus Eardham's father is obliged to be "a little hard" in demanding for his portionless daughter a jointure of 4,000 [pounds sterling] a year, with a house to be found either in town or country, as the widow might desire. Lord Fawn, considering a proposal to Lizzie Eustace, a wealthy widow, in The Eustace Diamonds [Trollope, 1873, pp. 114-115], was not sure whether Lizzie's 4,000 [pounds sterling] a year was "for life or for ever," but was aware that her income and her youth saved him from having to provide for her himself. "But at any rate, she is much younger than I am, and there need be no settlement out of my property. That is the great thing."

Widows were also major users of settlements, to protect from their second husbands the assets they had acquired from their first marriage [Erickson, 1993, p. 234; Morris, 2004, pp. 100-109]. Widow Greenow in Can You Forgive Her? [Trollope, 1864-1865, p. 2601 with 40,000 [pounds sterling] of her own, marries the penniless Captain Bellfield, but keeps the financial purse-strings "altogether in her own hands." Mrs. Golightly, the widow of a stockbroker with a thousand a year in The Three Clerks [Trollope, 1858b, Vol. 1, p. 181], marries Valentine Scott and "kept her income very much in her own hands."

Thus, the settlement was a point at which the financial terms of the relationship between husband and wife could be determined. A bride from a wealthy family might arrive with a large fortune, but a settlement might put a substantial amount of this wealth beyond the husband's reach. As well as securing a wealthy spouse, a man or woman who intended to marry for money needed to be sure that the settlement terms would make this fortune available. Arabella Trefoil in The American Senator [Trollope, 1876a, p. 465] uses the complications of settlements to delay her marriage to John Morton in the hope of snaring the more eligible Lord Rufford. She is well aware that the settlement is part of the negotiating process between the two interested parties and tells Lord Rufford that his sister would not have taken a kiss from a man as she has done from him: "Her cautious nature would have trusted no man as I trusted you. Her lips, doubtless, were never unfrozen till the settlements had been signed."

Some commentators have suggested that the separate estate had very little impact on wives' economic position. Moller Okin [1983-1984, p. 185] concludes that it did little to reduce the economic dependence of wives in the 18th century because of the common practice of making the husband a trustee and because the majority of the wife's property was not usually assigned to the separate estate. Even in the 1860s, she claims: "Trollope paints a picture of women and financial matters as mutually incompatible." Davidoff and Hall [1987, p. 209] take a similar view and claim that wives' separate estates were arranged so as to give "male trustees access to the women's capital ... in the pursuit of their own economic interests." "Many a trustee was in fact the husband." They conclude that the separate estate worked along with other Victorian institutions to make the wife what Vickery [1993, p. 384] calls "a hostage in the home." Davidoff and Hall [1987, p. 451] observed:
   It was never the laws of property alone which prevented
   the myriad middle class women who owned
   capital from using it actively. Rather, it was the ways
   in which the laws of inheritance and the forms of economic
   organization (the trust, the partnership, the family
   enterprise) intersected with definitions of femininity.
   The active generation of lasting wealth was virtually
   impossible for women.

Other commentators assert that separate estate was important in giving wives financial independence. Erickson [1990, pp. 26, 37] concludes that "the principal purpose of a marriage settlement was the protection of a wife's property." Settlements could take a wide variety of forms, as evidenced by the various arrangements she quotes from a legal guide of 1732, The Lady's Law. These include a settlement of the wife's estate "entirely at her Disposition after Marriage; except a Part for the Husband," and a settlement "with a Covenant from the Husband, to permit her to make a will thereof." This view is supported by an anonymous contemporary contributor to the Cornhill Magazine [1863, p. 673], who described the settlement as "a means whereby to get the husband to give up for the sake of his intended wife some of the odious powers the law confers on him." The Cornhill writer argued that the settlement, though it might protect an unhappy wife from losing her money, was a nuisance in a happy marriage since the terms of the trust might prevent the wife from helping her husband out financially. In practice, the husband gave up his powers to third parties, to trustees who could control the direction of investments.

The point was reiterated by-the Economist [1870, p. 788]: "The whole theory of equitable settlements has been invented to restrict and almost destroy ... absolute power of the husband over the common property of the family." Jalland [1986, pp. 58, 60-61] quotes the 1893 Etiquette of Good Society which stipulated that it was the "father's duty ... to weigh the purse, to speak of deeds--not 'doughty deeds,' but parchment ones--and settlements, and dower" in protection of his daughter. He also cites the example of Lady Selborne who was worried, in 1906, that her future son-in-law was improvident and decided that: "The only thing to do is to tie up all the money we can as tightly as the law will allow us, so he won't be able to completely ruin himself." These comments are a challenge to the claim of Moller Okin and Davidoff and Hall that the husband was effectively empowered to use the wife's money; the settlement appears to have been designed to separate the wife's assets from the husband's for her protection.

One of the few critics to comment on the importance of the settlement in Trollope is McMaster [1986, p. 25] who claims that "only wealthy women could afford the protection of equity." This view is endorsed by Davidoff and Hall [1987, p. 209] who describe trusts as "a rough indicator of high income and status." But there is historical evidence that the use of the trust was not confined to the wealthy. (10) The Cornhill contributor [1863, p. 668] described marriage settlements as "common, indeed ... nearly universal among the comfortable and moderately wealthy classes." Stebbings [2002, p. 6] finds in a study of the Victorian trustee that: "All sections of the middle classes, and some of the skilled working classes employed the trust. Gentlemen, clerks in holy orders, butchers, printers, merchants and yeomen were typical of middle class settlers." Morris [2004, p. 262] finds the use of trusts in 77% of male wills, in a sample of middle-class wills in Leeds from 1830 to 1834, to transmit wealth to widows, daughters, sisters, and nieces. Trollope's novels provide support for the widespread use of the settlement. Its creation is important for heiresses such as Glencora (Can You Forgive Her?) and Miss Dunstable and Mary Thorne (Doctor Thorne), but it is also crucial for the widows Mrs. Prime [Trollope, 1863, p. 7] and Mrs. Smiley [Trollope, 1862, part II, p. 20], both possessed of two hundred pounds a year.


Collins [1982, p. 315] describes Trollope's novels as "chockablock with adventurers ... and adventuresses." But little critical attention has been given to the number of men in Trollope who are attempting to marry for money, or to the extent that marriage is viewed in his novels as a transaction that men undertake in order to raise money. The effects of primogeniture, outlined above, determine the participants in the transaction. The majority of women pursued are the daughters of the middle classes, and the pursuers are often members of the aristocracy or the squirearchy, frequently but by no means always, younger sons attempting to alleviate their own or their family's indebtedness. (11) The search also characterizes the middle classes. (12) Some, such as Phineas Finn, are looking for support in their careers; others see marriage as a way of avoiding a career. Bertie Stanhope, for instance, sees marriage as "a profession indeed requiring but little labour, and one in which an income was insured to him" [Trollope, 1857, p. 399].

In Trollope, these "adventurers" are treated not as wicked men, rather as operating in an environment where it is taken for granted that marriage is an exchange of property [see, for instance, Psomiades, 1999, p. 96]. Trollope constantly identifies marriage as a market in which wares are displayed and people bought and sold. Gerard Maule's father in Phineas Redux (Trollope, 1874, part I, p. 185] holds the view that: "There are women always in the market ready to buy for themselves the right to hang on the arm of a real gentleman." Undecimus Scott, the eleventh child of Lord Gaberlunzie in The Three Clerks [Trollope, 1858b, Vol. I, p. 152] had been told by his father that, with his noble origins, he was worth at least 10,000 [pounds sterling] in the marriage market. More specifically, marriage is construed as a livestock market--Violet Effingham [Trollope, 1874, p. 94] reflects that "a husband is very much like a house or a horse." In Framley Parsonage [Trollope, 1861, p. 2611 the narrator comments: "A lady who can sell herself ... treats herself as a farmer treats his sheep and oxen."

Trollope, as is noted by Psomiades [1999, p. 98], also compares marriage to a stock market in which women do not merely own financial assets, they are assimilated to them. Lord Nidderdale, in The Way We Live Now [Trollope, 1875, part II, pp. 333-334], has been an ineffectual member of Melmotte's board of directors, but he has at least begun to use the language of the City. He decides that wives, like shares, should be advertised in a prospectus: "It is a pity there shouldn't be a regular statement published with the amount of money, and what is expected in return. It would save a lot of trouble." Investment decisions require the buyer to make a detailed appraisal. Guss Mildmay "had no money to speak of, but she had beauty enough to win either a working barrister or a rich old sinner" [Trollope, 1878, part I, p. 114]. Money adds "an efficient value ... in the eyes of most prudent would-be Benedicts" [Trollope, 1861, p. 137]; it is good in itself, and it offsets the drawbacks of age, ugliness, and low social status. The heiress Miss Dunstable, rather plain with frizzy curls, is aware that these need not be handicaps: "They'll always pass muster ... when they are done up with bank-notes" [Trollope, 1858a, p. 186].

There are metaphors in Trollope which reduce wealthy women not merely to shares whose value can at least react to circumstances but to baser inanimate objects. Marie Melmotte is literally a trophy: "It had indeed been suggested to him [Paul Montague] by Mr Fisker that he also ought to enter himself for the great Marie Melmotte Plate. Lord Nidderdale had again declared his intention of running" [Trollope, 1875, 76]. Moses Scott's wife is "a bundle of shagreen spectacle cases in the guise of a widow with an exceedingly doubtful jointure" [Trollope, 1858b, Vol. I, p. 153].

A tension exists between these views of women as property and the ability of Trollope's wealthy women to exert power through money, before or after marriage. Few hand their wealth over on marriage with no strings attached. The wish to maintain power may even preclude the marriage. When Mr. Prong has proposed to Mrs. Prime, assuring her that his motives "are pure and disinterested" [Trollope, 1863, pp. 118-119, 123, 149] and she goes thoughtfully home, she very soon passes from the idea of being married "in the spirit" to reflections on "the rights of a married woman with regard to money--and also on the wrongs." Some time later, she is still preoccupied:
   She knew enough of the laws of her country to enable
   her to be sure that, though she might accept the offer,
   her own money could be so tied up on her behalf
   that her husband could not touch the principal of her
   wealth; but she did not know whether things could be
   so settled that she might have in her own hands the
   spending of her income.

Mrs. Prime enjoys being "mistress of her money"; Mr. Prong, despite his assurances, wants her estate. The novel was written in 1862 before the first Married Women's Property Act, and Mrs. Prime realizes that only a settlement will save her capital. The courtship drags on. By the end of the novel, he is still calling occasionally on her, but with no compromise in sight. The settlement would either require her to lose control or him to give up thoughts of her money. Neither of them can bear to give way.

At the other end of the social spectrum, Lady Glencora Palliser does not explicitly discuss the existence of her separate estate: "As regarded money, no woman could have behaved with greater reticence, or a purer delicacy" [Trollope, 1864-1865, pp. 33-34], but she reminds Mrs. Markham that the carriage horses she uses are her own, not her husband's. This enables her to take them out at night ("it is what they are for") despite the chaperone's disapproval. When Plantagenet Palliser becomes prime minister, Glencora distresses him by spending lavishly on entertaining. She spends because she can: "After some fashion, of which she was profoundly ignorant, her own property was separated from his and reserved to herself and her children" [Trollope, 1876b, p. 61]. Glencora has reticence, delicacy, and ignorance of the law as a veil between her and the crude reality of her money, while Mrs. Prime is "delighted in the sight of the bit of paper which conveyed to her the possession of her periodical wealth" [Trollope, 1863, p. 119]. But for both of them, the separate estate represents "uncontrolled possession."

There is a crucial difference between women such as Mrs. Prime and Lady Glencora, with separate estates, and those who enter marriage with merely a portion. For instance, in The Small House at Allington [Trollope, 1864, p. 174], the Hon. George has "lately performed a manifest duty, in having married a young woman with money" who can pay his debts. She is a coal merchant's daughter, and after providing the money, she is treated with total contempt by the De Courcys. She is merely "a figure of a woman, a large well-dressed resemblance of a being, whom it was necessary for certain purposes that the De Courcys should carry in their train." The money has passed from her to George, and she has reverted to the rank of a nobody. By contrast, the separate estate may represent a threat to the husband's superior role. Lord George Germain in Is He Popenjoy? feels resentful of his wife's wealth. She is a tallow chandler's heiress, but the marriage settlement ensures that the money remains hers, and George is "only his wife's husband, the Dean's son-in-law, living on their money and compelled by force of circumstance to adapt himself to them" [Trollope, 1878, p. 129, emphasis added]. The settlement reinforces George De Courcy's superiority to his wife; it threatens Germain's.

The settlement or lack of it does not merely destabilize the balance of power; it can also be a disastrous failure for the husband. Nardin [1989] claims that Adolphus Crosbie in The Small House at Allington [Trollope, 1864, pp. 112, 338, 447, 452, 528] chooses Lady Alexandrina De Courcy because "she offers an escape from Lily," who is unattractively clinging, but she omits the importance of money to Crosbie. Lily cannot offer a portion; Alexandrina is not wealthy but she is an earl's daughter, and Crosbie thinks she represents, the means to promotion. As soon as their engagement is announced, however, she has "bound him up hand and foot" in a marriage settlement. The core of the settlement is the purchase of insurance policies, paid for out of his savings and her portion: "If he would only die the day after his marriage, there would really be a very nice sum of money for Alexandrina, almost worthy of the acceptance of an earl's daughter." The marriage breaks down within weeks; Alexandrina goes back to her mother, and Crosbie finds himself paying maintenance as well insurance premiums. He began the novel on a salary of 700 [pounds sterling] a year; by the end, despite promotion, he is on 500 [pounds sterling]. The consequences of the marriage settlement had absorbed the remainder. Crosbie survives his wife, but in a sinister counterpart to the widow's jointure, the dead woman continues to take his money. In addition to his and her debts, there are the macabre costs of her death in Baden-Baden; e.g., "the embalming of her dear remains" and the bringing home of the body, "that horrid, ghastly funeral." One of his creditors, the solicitor who drew up the settlement, now has the insurance policy on his life. The only asset that he salvages is "a mourning ring with his wife's hair." The settlement has gradually turned into a lifelong punishment for Crosbie.

As Crosbie's experience suggests, the settlement persists after one of the marriage partners has died. Here Trollope recognizes a tension between the demands of the present and those of the future. The jointure, intended to support not only the widow but also minor children, is seen as an encroachment on the husband's estate. In The Small House at Allington, Earl de Courcy calls the Countess "names that would frighten a coal-heaver"; life with him is a misery because of his ill-nature and his drinking. Their son-in-law, the solicitor Gazebee, calmly notes that this will be revenged: "He'll die soon, and then she'll be comfortable. She has three thousand a year jointure." The Countess looks forward to her widowhood; her son-in-law Crosbie is ruined by his. In both cases, the settlement is an inescapable element of the marriage.


When Dr. Crofts proposes to Bell Dale and warns her that they will not be rich, she refuses to discuss money: "I don't think it quite manly even to think about it: and I'm sure it isn't womanly" [Trollope, 1864, p. 550]. Many other women characters in Trollope's novels have nothing to say about money unless they are prompted to do so. Emily Lopez has no idea what her husband does in the City; she has to ask him during their honeymoon [Trollope, 1876b, pp. 236, 258]. The model of separate spheres suggests that Trollope should unambiguously treat this detachment from money as desirable. Certainly, some Trollope women who are very deeply conscious of money are profoundly unattractive, such as Mrs. Van Sievert, the partner in a city loan company and a "a ghastly old woman to the sight." Mrs. Mason in Orley Farm [Trollope, 1862, part I, pp. 64-65] is depicted as a miser, "going as far as she dared towards starving even her husband ... Such a woman one can thoroughly despise and even hate." The conclusion that could be drawn is that Trollope condemns women who engage with money.

But, between these two extremes, there are many women who are conscious of money and make more or less successful attempts to manage it. Copeland [1979, pp. 162, 167] quotes Jane West's advice in 1806: "Every girl ... should understand the value of commodities, be able to Calculate expenses, and ... tell what a specific income should afford." He points out that it was normal for both Jane Austen's heroines and her readers to "know their pounds, shillings and pence." This is also the case for many of Trollope's women. In The Eustace Diamonds [Trollope, 1873, part I, p. 323, part II, p. 141], Lizzie Eustace can convert a diamond necklace to income in a moment. Trying the necklace on her companion, she remarks: "How do you feel, Julia with an estate upon your neck? Five hundred acres at twenty pounds an acre. Let us call it 500 [pounds sterling] a year." Lopez, the London speculator, makes advances to Lizzie and tries to get her to invest in speculative shares and then to go to South America with him. "But Lizzie had 4000 [pounds sterling] a year and a balance at her banker's. 'Mr Lopez, I think you must be a fool'."

Several Trollope critics have noted the important role played by women in match making and the associated financial arrangements. Some, such as Markwick [1997], refer to mothers or mother figures as playing a major role in "husband-hunting" strategies. Others, such as Koets [1932, pp. 59, 68], see their role in a more favorable light. Most mothers try to persuade their children into marriage which will help the family estate, enhance social status through a title, or provide their children with financial security when they have no fortune of their own. Mrs. Greystock attempts to prevent her son's marriage to the penniless Lucy Morris. She believes that "if only Frank would marry money, there was nothing he might not achieve." Lady Aylmer tries to dissuade her son from marrying Clara Belton: "She will never have one shilling I suppose ... You will be a poor man instead of a rich man, but you will have enough to live upon,--that is, if she doesn't have a large family; which, of course, she will" [Trollope, 1866, p. 217]. In Doctor Thorne [Trollope, 1858a, p. 342], Lady Arabella Gresham tells her son Frank repeatedly that he must marry money. (13) In the most intense of these scenes, Lady Arabella tells him: "'You MUST marry money'. And then Lady Arabella stood up before her son as Lady Macbeth might have stood, had Lady Macbeth lived to have a son of Frank's years."

Trollope was accused by contemporaries of over-idealizing marriage without money as, for example, in the review of Doctor Thorne in the Saturday Review [1858, p. 77] which was critical of Trollope's atmosphere, "not incapable of being condensed into the moral that people ought to marry for love and not for money, and that wealth and station are in themselves somewhat contemptible." From this point of view, Lady Arabella's hectoring of Frank might be seen as a depiction of neurotic anxiety. However, the novels also flag up the real hardship of those who marry without money, the squalor of poverty-stricken clergy like the Crawleys and the Armstrongs. The inheritance customs of the aristocracy and the squirearchy, as well as the cult of the gentleman, produced large numbers of men unable to fend for themselves without the help of their mothers or their sisters. Hence, Charlotte Stanhope and Mrs. Harold Smith both try to arrange marriages for their brothers, purely and explicitly as exercises in financial planning. Marriage is the only way of saving the men.

A constant theme in Trollope's novels is the dependence of men on women for money; male characters not only need rich wives, but also mothers and sisters to organize their lives for them. Women's management of money is a necessity because of the inversion of the desirable relationship between the sexes. Men need money for a variety of reasons; they have been extravagant, they are younger sons, their families are poor, and/or their careers are likely to be expensive. Sometimes needy men get male support, as when Lord de Guest settles money on Johnnie Eames in The Small House at Allington, but Trollope does not provide many examples of a supportive male network. Squire Gresham in Doctor Thorne is a muted, apologetic figure because he knows that he has thrown away his son Frank's inheritance. The novels are full of stories of women bearing the consequences of men's inability to deal with money. Far from being cloistered from the economic world, women have its realities forced upon them.


Jalland [1986, p. 58] comments that there is "little information in marriage manuals or elsewhere about marriage settlements and the precise financial requirements of a suitable marriage." Trollope's novels contribute to an understanding of the way in which Victorian marriages were organized around the transmission of property. In particular, he casts light on the continuing debate about the role of the marriage settlement. Historians argue about the extent to which it served to protect property for women. Erickson [2005, p. 2] comments that in the early modern period, "the marriage contract was the most basic and most significant legal and economic contract that most people, men or women, ever made." Trollope's novels are founded on recognition of this significance. Trollope's treatment of the settlement reflects the Victorian view that it was intended to protect assets for the wife rather than for the wife's family. As noted above, Glencora and Mrs. Prime enjoy wealth in their own right.

The marriage settlement, primogeniture, and entail play a crucial role in Trollope's plots, in the creation and transmission of family wealth. Although Trollope's treatment of them is ambivalent, they have negative as well as positive consequences. The portion and the settlement appear as indispensable elements of marriage, but with the potential to undermine the relationship. The novels include wives who are treated as objects once they have handed over their portions and husbands who lose their authority because of their financial dependence on wealthy wives with settlements. In his treatment of primogeniture and entail, Trollope engages with his contemporaries' criticisms of their effects on the family--the impoverishment of younger siblings and the weakening of parental authority, both of which were noted by Brodrick and which appear repeatedly as characteristics of aristocratic families in the novels.

Hewitt [1963], quoted at the beginning of this paper, views Trollope as the uncritical recorder of a world in which men and women pursue completely distinct careers, with the women's limited to marriage and home. Yet, although ingenue heroines like Lily Dale recur in the novels, women play a crucial role in the transmission of wealth, not only as brides but as marriage advisers and promoters. They are not simple matchmakers, rather they are financial managers, reminding younger men and women of the imperative need for money in marriage.

A number of recent historical studies have resulted in challenges to the notion that women were totally excluded from control over their lives by lack of property or by the inability to make decisions about its disposition. (14) There are also signs that this historical challenge to the notion of the primacy of separate spheres is beginning to be noted by Trollope's critics. Some now recognize that the women in Trollope's novels are not distant from or victims of financial activity, rather that they are actively involved in financial transactions, in particular those linked to marriage. Franklin [2003, p. 509], for instance, protests against commentators' "strict discursive separation of the public and private spheres ... Marriage, the epitome of the domestic, is as much a publicly observed transaction as stock investment, and both female and male partners take part in speculations of both kinds." Michie [2001, p. 78], finding in the Victorian novel a reaction to "dramatic changes in economic practice and theory," concedes a place to women as well as to men in confronting that change. Women, she finds, are more "pragmatic" in dealing with economic problems. She quotes Mrs. Oliphant's 1867 praise of Trollope as "the only writer we know who realizes the position of a sensible and right-minded woman among the ordinary affairs of the world."

As Michie [2001] recognizes, Trollope is reacting to the financial and moral upheaval represented by an economy based on stock market investment. However, he is also taking account of other problems in the economic organization of the family. The classes whose wealth was based on land, the aristocracy and the gentry, owned an inalienable asset that could not readily be divided among members of the family. The combination of this with the restrictions of primogeniture and entail put members of the landed classes at a disadvantage compared with the affluent middle classes whose wealth came from divisible financial assets.

Trollope's novels deal with the difficulties of inheritance, "how to provide fairly and reasonably for the children of a marriage while not damaging and fragmenting the core of capital assets" [Thompson, 1994b, p. 17], which produced a large caste of moneyless and unmarriageable daughters and younger sons. He recognizes the crises connected with the transmission of wealth between generations because of the problems associated with land as the main family asset and between families as a result of the conflicts arising through marriage settlements. We argue that women were closely involved in these crises because they had the power to influence the allocation of money both before and during marriage. The betrothal was not just "the one free decision allowed a feminine woman" as Nardin [1989, p. 88] suggests. The marriage settlement could segregate female from male wealth throughout the marriage and afterwards, for the surviving spouse and for the next generation.

The problems that appear in the novels are not accompanied by proposals for solutions, as Barickman et al. [1982, pp. 195-196] point out. Trollope was "not interested in the specific forms [of] ... the debate about women" that suggested institutional change. A recurrent, and pessimistic, feature of his novels is the flight abroad as a means of escaping from insoluble problems at home. In Orley Farm [Trollope, 1862, p. 415], Lady Mason and her son, both shamed by her forgery, leave the country. He goes to Australia, for "success in a thriving colony"; she is exiled to Germany. In The Way We Live Now [Trollope, 1875, p. 454], Felix Carbury, having totally failed to marry for money, is banished to a kind of limbo in Prussia. Marie Melmotte, after being pursued by Felix and others for her money in London, is persuaded by Fisker to marry him in California where "the laws regulating woman's property ... are just the reverse of those which the greediness of man has established here. The wife there can claim her share of her husband's property, but hers is exclusively her own. America is certainly the country for women,--and especially California." The only way that Marie can escape from fortune hunters is via a different legal regime. Trollope identifies the conflicts that might underlie Victorian marriage, but offers no solutions.

The intention of the present paper has been to identify and discuss the contribution made by a reading of some of Trollope's novels to our understanding of one facet of accounting history--"history from below." Kirkham and Loft, as discussed earlier, have made the case that accounting was practiced by women in domestic settings, and that it can be traced in a variety of texts intended for or prepared by women, such as manuals, letters, and diaries. We add to these sources Trollope's novels. His depiction of women as managers of family and household money, and as marriage brokers, in an era when marriage was a crucial point in the distribution of wealth within and between families, is arguably a challenge to the notion of strict partition between male and female economic roles. Trollope's women are in touch with a discourse that enables them to exercise a particular kind of economic influence.

Unlike Hewitt (quoted above), we do not suggest that Trollope's novels are a "reliable source" of information about his readers' economic world. But the novels put us in touch with some of the concerns that were present to readers, perhaps more effectively because they do not proffer institutional solutions to the difficulties that beset men and women as heirs and heiresses, property owners, and marriage partners. The picture they present is of a complicated world in which, although they lacked political rights and were excluded from the world of work, women played a significant role in the transmission of wealth and had a shrewd understanding of the economic significance of marriage. Trollope wrote about women's situation in a way that revealed the contradictions and crises thrown up by their exclusion from economic life and the strategies they adopted to assert some control over their own and their families' lives. We conclude with the suggestion that the history of accounting from below will repay further investigation and that previously neglected texts, identified here and by historians of women and the household, have much to contribute to that history.


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Janette Rutterford



Josephine Maltby


(1) Similarly, Napier [2006] identifies textbooks, professional journals, newspapers, and magazines as important sources of historical evidence but does not refer to the possible contribution of literature.

(2) See Stone and Stone [1984, pp. 72-82] for an outline of the relationship between primogeniture and entail.

(3) See, for example, Smith, in The Wealth of Nations, who commented that the "great proprietor" of land is seldom a "great improver," cited in Morris [2004, p. 115].

(4) Spring [1993. p. 102] suggests that younger sons did relatively well in medieval times because they did not have the career opportunities in the professions and civil service which became available to them from the 18th century onwards. The availability of such options made it more acceptable for them to be "cut off with less."

(5) See, for example, The Three Clerks for the civil service, Phineas Finn for the law, Gregory Newton in Ralph the Heir for the Church, and Jack de Baron in Is He Popenjoy? for the armed forces.

(6) It is worth noting that contemporary critics did not mention the City as a possible source of employment and Trollope concurred with this view. Working in London was not a gentlemanly profession. Only in desperation did Georgiana Longestaffe in The Way We Live Now [Trollope, 1867, Vol. I, p. 59] threaten to marry "some horrid creature from the Stock Exchange." This is in step with the finding by Stone and Stone [1984, p. 281] that only a small minority of younger sons went into the City.

(7) These include Mrs. Golightly (The Three Clerks), Mary Thorne (Doctor Thorne), Miss Dunstable (Doctor Thorne, Framley Parsonage, The Small House at Allington), Miss Mackenzie (Miss Mackenzie), Alice Vavasor and Mrs. Greenow (Can You Forgive Her?), Miss Stanbury (He Knew He was Right), Polly Neefit (Ralph the Heir), Marie Melmotte (The Way We Live Now), and Miss Tallowax (Is He Popenjoy?).

(8) For example, it might well be specified that the income from the trust was for her "sole and separate use." Morris [2004, p. 101] finds numerous examples of this in trusts set up for daughters in middle-class wills.

(9) See, for instance, Jalland [1986, pp. 58-59].

(10) See, for instance, Morris [1998, p. 121], Gordon and Nair [2000, pp. 801-803], and Hunt [1996, pp. 157-162] on their importance to the middle classes.

(11) A list, by no means comprehensive, would include Lord Ballandine (The Kellys and the O'Kellys), Frank Gresham (Doctor Thorne), George de Courcy (Doctor Thorne and The Small House at Allington), Sowerby in Framley Parsonage, Lord Fawn (the Palliser novels), Lord Chiltern (Phineas Finn), Felix Carbury and Lord Nidderdale (The Way We Live Now), Lord Giblet (Is He Popenjoy?), and Lord Silverbridge (The Duke's Children).

(12) Examples include Moses and Valentine Scott (The Three Clerks), Slope and Bertie Stanhope (Barchester Towers), Mr. Moffatt (Doctor Thorne), Mr. Prong (Rachel Ray), Bernard Dale and Adolphus Crosbie (Small House at Allington), Miss Mackenzie's three suitors, Captain Bellfield, and George Vavasor in Can You Forgive Her?, Mr. Emilius in The Eustace Diamonds, and Mr. Lopez in The Prime Minister.

(13) The statement that "Frank must marry money" or a variant thereof is used 18 times in Doctor Thorne; eight times by his mother, six by his aunt, twice by his sister, and twice by his father.

(14) These include Moller Okin [1983-1984], Erickson [1990, 1993], Berg [1993], Wiskin [2000], Hudson [2001], and Laurence [2003] on women's ownership of property in the 18th century; Morris [1978, 2004], Hudson [1986], and Green and Owens [2003] on the early 19th century; and Morris [1994, 2004], Gordon and Nair [2000, 2003], Combs [2004], and Rutterford and Maltby [2006] on investment behavior in the later 19th century.
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Title Annotation:Anthony Trollope
Author:Rutterford, Janette; Maltby, Josephine
Publication:Accounting Historians Journal
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 1, 2006
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