The issue of slave trading was of great contemporary significance during the period in which Mansfield Park is set. However, while it is acknowledged that the main events of the novel take place at some point between 1803 and 1813, there is no consensus as to the exact period. It is not entirely clear, therefore, whether Fanny is asking this question before or after the passing of the Slave Trade Act of 1807, which abolished the slave trade (although not slavery itself*) throughout the British Empire. We are also left uncertain as to the stance of the different characters on this particular issue.
* The Slavery Abolition Act, which abolished slavery within the British Empire, was not passed until 1833.
Royal Tunbridge Wells is an English town in west Kent. It developed as a fashionable spa town during the mid-16th century, and reached the peak of its popularity during the first half of the 18th century.
Cheltenham is also an English spa town, situated in the county of Gloucestershire. It developed as a spa from the early 18th century onwards, and enjoyed a boost to its popularity following a royal visit by George III and his family in 1788.
Brighton (now part of the city of Brighton and Hove) is situated on England's south coast, in the county of East Sussex. From the mid-18th century onwards, it became an important and fashionable venue for sea-bathing. It was also a popular destination for the Prince Regent (later George IV) who commissioned the elaborate and ornate residence known as the Royal Pavilion. Work on the Pavilion was carried out in three stages between 1787 and 1822.
The 'famous Doge' is referred to in Voltaire's Le siècle de Louis XIV ('The Age of Louis XIV), published in 1752. When asked what he found most remarkable (singulier) about Versailles, he replied, 'C'est de m'y voir' ('It's seeing myself there'). (Ch. 13, page 249 in e-book below).
St. Edmund the Martyr (died 869 or 870) was a king of East Anglia whose reign is said to have begun in 855.
Edmund I (921-946) was King of England between 939 and 946.
Edmund II (c. 988/993-1016), also known as Edmund Ironside, was King of England for a brief period during 1016.
Sir Edmund Sutton (1425-c.1485) was a knight of Dudley Castle and Gatescombe.
In the Church of England, deanery is the name given to a group of parishes which form a district within an archdeaconry (the area which is in the care of an archdeacon), Such a group is put under the care of a dean. The term deanery is also used to refer to the residence of the dean or to the post of dean. In the example given, it is used in the latter sense.
The post of dean of Westminster Abbey in central London, however, is somewhat unusual as the Abbey is a Royal Peculiar, a place of worship that is under the direct control of the British monarch rather than a bishop.
The post of dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, on Ludgate Hill in the City of London, is also a distinctive one, as the cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of London and the principal church of the Diocese of London.
The 'deanery of Westminster or St. Paul's' is, therefore, a reference to two very high profile roles in the Church of England.