Author: yappingpuppy PM
Captain Wentworth told Anne he had considered contacting her after two years, after he had acquired wealth and success in the Navy. What if events conspired to reunite them after just two years?Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 14 - Words: 30,483 - Reviews: 49 - Favs: 30 - Follows: 86 - Updated: 10-18-12 - Published: 05-29-12 - id: 8164514
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~ INTERESTING NOTES ~
UPDATE: I just found the feature that will let me move chapters around without deleting them first! Now I can move this chapter to the end of the story, as a sort of Appendix and not interrupt the story's flow. I also deleted a chapter to which a review had been made, and the review did not disappear. So, two discoveries in the same evening have proven that I will be able to keep the comments you make and which I treasure.
Thank you all for your extremely positive reception of this chapter of Interesting Notes about Captain Wentworth's wealth. It has provided me with great insight into the financial aspects of this and other Jane Austen stories. I am beyond delighted that so many of you find it useful as well!
In Persuasion, Captain Wentworth is said to have earned £25,000 during his time in the Navy (Charles Musgrove states that it is £20,000 in the 1995 movie). I got to wondering just how much that is, and how, exactly, did he go about earning it?
This chapter shall serve as my appendix, if such a thing is permitted for a work of fiction. It will always appear after the last chapter I have written, but, for now, it is not the final chapter. I found the research rather fascinating, and thought it might be of interest to others beyond myself, so I have decided to share this with you. I found that it helped give a greater understanding to some of the events in Jane Austen's stories, and I hope that it does the same for you.
ROYAL NAVY PRIZE MONEY
Essentially, when an enemy ship was captured, the Crown "bought" the ship and its cargo at a fair market price determined by the Admiralty Prize Court, and the proceeds were divided among the members of the crew. The prize money each crew member received could amount to a full years' pay or more, so even when cannons were developed that could sink a ship from a safe distance, many crews still preferred boarding a ship for hand-to-hand combat to keep the enemy ship from sinking so that they might win the prize money.
WHO GETS HOW MUCH?
There was a strict formula for the distribution of the prize money:
Two-Eighths: this went to the Captain of the capturing ship, divided equally among all Captains involved. All ships in sight of the capture shared the prize as it was thought that the presence of the additional ships encouraged the enemy to surrender before the ship sank.
One-Eighth: went to the Admiral or Commander-in-Chief who signed the ship's written orders. If the orders came directly from the Admiralty in London, this portion went to the Captain(s).
One-Eighth: Lieutenants, Sailing Mates, Captain of the Marines
One-Eighth: Wardroom Warrant Officers (surgeon, purser, chaplain), Standing Warrant Officers (carpenter, boatswain, gunner), Lieutenant of the Marines, Master's Mates
One-Eighth: Junior Warrant Officers and Petty Officers and their mates, Sergeants of the Marines, Captain's Clerk, Surgeon's Mates, Midshipmen
Two-Eighths: Divided among the rest of the crew, with able and specialist seamen receiving larger shares than landsmen and boys
HOW MUCH IS AN ENEMY SHIP WORTH?
The article I read provided numbers for a few captured ships. The examples were for ships captured from the late 1700's through the early 1800's, but I have used the numbers as if the ships had been captured in 1814, the year that Anne and Frederick meet again.
I first converted the original prize amount, given in British Pounds, from 1814 British Pounds to 2011 British Pounds (the latest data available in the converter program I used), then used that number to convert to U.S. Dollars.
Total Prize: £260,000
£ 2011: £16,416,148
$ 2011: $25,233,900
2 Captains Each Received: £65,000
£ 2011: £4,104,037
$ 2011: $6,308,480
Each Seaman Received: £484
£ 2011: £30,559
$ 2011: $46,973
Total Prize: £208,000
£ 2011: £13,132,918
$ 2011: $20,187,100
Captain Received: £52,000
£ 2011: £3,283,229
$ 2011: $5,046,780
Thetis & Santa Brigada
Total Prize: £652,000
£ 2011: £41,166,648
$ 2011: $63,278,900
4 Captains Each Received: £40,730
£ 2011: £2,571,652
$ 2011: $3,952,990
Each Seaman Received: £182 (10 years' pay)
£ 2011: £11,491
$ 2011: $17,663
Captain Wentworth's fortune:
£ 2011: £1,262,780
$ 2011: $1,948,746
£ 2011: £1,397,520
$ 2011: $2,170,740
I found all of this quite interesting because I had no idea exactly what £20,000 pounds was worth in today's money, much less that of 1814, especially since I use U.S. dollars. (It also helps me understand exactly how wealthy Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley are in Pride & Prejudice.) So I'm guessing that Captain Wentworth was party to several multiple-ship captures of lower-valued ships, but a million+ pounds or dollars (in modern money), is still quite a bit, and pennies went a lot further then than they do now, so considering Cost of Living Adjustments, he was probably a little richer than the numbers imply.
"Royal Navy Prize Money": Wikipedia, subject: Prize_money
What's The Cost: .com; used to convert 1814 British Pounds to 2011 British Pounds
Oanda: .com/currency/converter/; used to convert 2011 British Pounds to U.S. Dollars