The regency period was witnessed by United Kingdom and was the period between 1811 and 1820. The era started in 1811, when King George III became unfit to rule the kingdom and his son, the Prince of Wales started ruling as Prince Regent. The era ended in 1820, when the Prince of Wales became George IV after the death of his father, King George III.
The Regency era encompassed a change in the political, social and economical conditions. many social and historic happenings took place in this era which made this era a significant and notable change agent. The period is famous for the Napoleonic wars and the various achievements in the field of fine arts and architecture. Let’s now discuss about the Regency period social hierarchy in details.
The whole society was divided into various classes. The individuals of the different classes were associated with different types of professions and they got different ranges of salaries.
Upper class/ The aristrocacy: The upper class was composed of the members of the royal family, the spiritual lords, high profile officers of the state and all members above the degree of a baronet.
Second class: The members of the second class included baronets, country gentlemen, knights and others with high incomes.
Third class: The third class consisted of doctors, bankers, clergyman and various large scale manufacturers and merchants.
Fourth class: This class included merchants and manufacturers of second class, lawyers, teachers, ship owners, artists, builders and shopkeepers.
Fifth class: The fifth class included shopkeepers, innkeepers, publicans and persons of miscellaneous occupations.
Sixth class: This class included craftsmen, working mechanics and the agricultural laborers.
Seventh class: The seventh class included paupers, vagrants and gypsies.
Army and Navy:
This class of the Regency period social hierarchy consisted of commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers, soldiers, seamen, marines and pensioners.
Despite the warfare in the Regency period, this was also a period of great cultural achievement. One of the great personalities associated with the arts and architecture was Prince Regent himself. He possessed great interest in architecture and the result of same can be seen as the great monuments and architectural wonders that he built in the kingdom.
In addition to the above social structure, a definite social custom was also prevalent in the Regency period. Calling was a popular principle in the Regency society. People used to call upon families of the same social class as guests. The calling was done by making use of the calling cards.
Debuting was also an interesting custom during the Regency era. In this custom, a young woman used to make a formal debut in the society, announcing her eligibility for marriage. Women belonging to the upper social classes used to debut at the formal social gatherings. Generally, mothers were given the task of introducing their young daughters in the social circle. At that time, there existed certain strict etiquettes too. The young unmarried women were not allowed to appear in public without a chaperon.