Page 5. " About thirty years ago, Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon "
17th century map of Huntingdonshire by Pieter van der Keere
Public Domain17th century map of Huntingdonshire by Pieter van der Keere - Credit: Seriykotik

Jane Austen worked on Mansfield Park during 1813, ahead of its publication in 1814. This dates Sir Thomas Bertram's courtship to approximately 1783, six years before the French Revolution.

Huntingdon is a small English market town, formerly the county town of Huntingdonshire, one of the historic English counties. Following changes in local government administration, Huntingdonshire lost its county status in 1965, and the town of Huntingdon is now part of Cambridgeshire.

Click here to see a map of all the historic counties of Great Britain.

Page 5. " Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton "

Northampton is the archaic name for Northamptonshire, an English county in the East Midlands whose county town is Northampton. Prior to the local government reorganisation of 1965, it shared part of its eastern border with Huntingdonshire.


Google Map
Page 5. " and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet's lady "
Sir Thomas Gascoigne 8th Bart, in 1779
Public DomainSir Thomas Gascoigne 8th Bart, in 1779 - Credit: Pompeo Batoni

 Baronet is a hereditary title passed down through the male line. Like knights, baronets are addressed as 'Sir', the difference being that knight is a non-hereditary title. Having said that, a baronetcy is sometimes described as a hereditary knighthood.

Unlike the other main British hereditary titles (in descending order of precedence: Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, Baron), baronets are not members of The Peerage or of the nobility but are classed as commoners.

Baronets have fallen traditionally into the category known as the landed gentry, well-off but non-titled landowners.

Previously, the abbreviated suffix Bart was used after a baronet's name. Nowadays, this is further abbreviated to Bt.

Page 5. " by fixing on a Lieutenant of Marines, without education, fortune, or connections "

Royal Marine c.1815
Public DomainRoyal Marine c.1815
The Royal Marines are the branch of the British Naval Services (which also include the Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary) whose members may be viewed as both sailors and soldiers. They have sometimes, therefore, been referred to as 'sea-going soldiers' or as 'amphibious infantry'.

The English Naval Infantry, which may be viewed as the forerunner of the Royal Marines, was founded in 1664. The Marines were founded in 1755.

In the Royal Navy of Jane Austen's period, the rank of Lieutenant would have been a fairly senior one. Lieutenants usually began their shipboard careers as young boys known as Midshipmen. They often came from wealthy families, and had to pass examinations in order to be promoted. However, a 'Lieutenant of Marines' may have followed a different career path.

Page 7. " Was there any chance of his being hereafter useful to Sir Thomas in the concerns of his West Indian Property? "

 The West Indies refers to the Caribbean Sea, its islands and the surrounding coastlines. Many of the islands were colonised by the British and became that part of the British Empire known as the British West Indies. From the mid 17th century onwards, sugar plantations were developed on these islands, their main source of labour being African slaves. As we learn later in the novel, Sir Thomas Bertram has business interests in a plantation in Antigua.


Map of the West Indies (1736)
Public DomainMap of the West Indies (1736) - Credit: Herman Moll
Page 7. " or what did Sir Thomas think of Woolwich? "
'Woolwich Dockyard' (1790)
Public Domain'Woolwich Dockyard' (1790) - Credit: Nicholas Pocock

 Woolwich is a district of south London situated in the London Borough of Greenwich. Until the late 19th century it was part of Kent. In the time of Mansfield Park, it was the home of the Woolwich Dockyard, the Royal Arsenal, the Royal Military Academy and the Royal Horse Artillery. Lady Bertram's sister may have had some, or all, of these institutions in mind when speculating on possible openings for her son.

Page 7. " or how could a boy be sent out to the East? "
Coat of arms of the East India Company c.1700's
GNU Free Documentation LicenseCoat of arms of the East India Company c.1700's - Credit: TRAJAN 117

 The term the East has traditionally been used to refer collectively to a large number of non-European countries, including those of the Indian subcontinent.  Some people would distinguish between the Near East (often used interchangeably with the Middle East), India, and the Far East

The Near/Middle East has generally referred to the countries of Western Asia and North Africa, while the term Far East has covered a range of East Asian countries including China, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea. The term the Orient has also been used interchangeably with the East, particularly the Far East.

It is now recognised that these terms are heavily loaded ones, redolent of colonization, imperialism and Eurocentric thinking. In particular, the Palestinian-American scholar Edward Wadie Saïd has drawn attention to how Orientalism (the study of various Asian cultures by Europeans) has yielded a prejudiced, and often pejorative, view of numerous non-European cultures.

Readers of Jane Austen's period would probably have associated the East with the activities of the British East India Company which, from the early 17th century onwards, traded with the East Indies and China. Amongst the goods traded by the company were cotton, silk, tea, opium, indigo and saltpetre.

Page 13. " Fanny Price was at this time just ten years old "

 Jane Austen may have taken the name Fanny Price from George Crabbe's poem The Parish Register, published in 1807. Crabbe is said to have been Jane Austen's favourite poet.




Page 17. " and sent him half a guinea under the seal "
George lll Half Guinea, dated 1786
GNU Free Documentation LicenseGeorge lll Half Guinea, dated 1786 - Credit: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.

 The guinea was a gold coin minted in Britain between 1663 and 1813. During its period of usage, its value fluctuated between 20 shillings (one pound) and thirty shillings. Following the Great Recoinage of 1816, the guinea was replaced by the sovereign. However, the term guinea was used right up until the decimalisation of the British currency in 1971 to indicate a value of 21 shillings. Typically, it was used to suggest that something was cheaper than it was, as eight guineas (for example) sounded less expensive than eight pounds and eight shillings.

The half guinea gold coin was introduced in 1669 and was also discontinued in the Great Recoinage of 1816.

Page 18. " she never heard of Asia Minor "

Asia Minor is an old name for that part of Turkey known as Anatolia. The area is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Armenian Highland and Iran to the East, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Aegean Sea to the west.


Map of Asia Minor (1812)
Public DomainMap of Asia Minor (1812) - Credit: Samuel Lewis/Aaron Arrowsmith
Page 19. " She thinks of nothing but the Isle of Wight, and she calls it the Island "

St. Catherine's Point, Isle of Wight
Creative Commons AttributionSt. Catherine's Point, Isle of Wight - Credit: Danny Chapman
The Isle of Wight is an island off the coast of Hampshire in southern England. It is separated from the mainland by a stretch of sea known as the Solent. Today, it is accessible by ferry from Portsmouth, Southampton and Lymington. The distance between Portsmouth (Fanny Price's home town in Mansfield Park) and the town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight is 5 miles.


Google Map
Page 19. " and of the Roman emperors as low as Severus "
Bust of Septimius Severus (after 204AD)
GNU Free Documentation LicenseBust of Septimius Severus (after 204AD) - Credit: Roby

 The Roman Empire existed between 44BC and 1453AD. What is now known as the Ancient Roman Empire came to an end in 476, while the Eastern Roman Empire (or Byzantine Empire) lasted until 1453.

The first Roman emperor was Augustus, who ruled from 27BC to 14AD. Septimius Severus (often known simply as Severus), the first emperor of the Severan dynasty, ruled from 193 to 211.