Hmm, no, not quite:
A conversion chart, supposedly showing the modern-day worth of Jane Austen characters’ fortunes, has surfaced on Twitter. At first glance, it seems to show that Mr Darcy’s supposedly vast 1803 fortune in Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, worth $331,000 per year in modern US dollars, might not in fact stretch to quite the luxury of his 19th-century lifestyle if Darcy was alive today.
They’ve tried comparing it upgraded for standard inflation, and also as a percentage of GDP. That second is better, as it does give an idea of the percentage of society’s wealth that could be comannded with that income.
However, as Piketty points out himself, one of the great changes in the past couple of hundred years is the collapse in the value of land. Darcy’s income was £10k a year: that’s roughly (it’s more like £1.2 or £1.3 per acre in rent in 1820 money but still….and 1820 is a reasonable enough year as the Corn Laws were holding up those values after the Napoleonic Wars) the rent from 10,000 acres. A decent enough estate of course. Wouldn’t mind having that myself these days.
But enough to run a stately home the size of Chatsworth? Not a chance these days.
Current ag land rents appear to be around £100 an acre (this is screwed up by single farm payment which is about that again (roughly) but that goes to the farmer, not the landlord). So 10,000 acr5es brings in £1 million a year: before tax. Call it £600,000 then.
About what a top end City solicitor or accountant earns (pre-tax but still a lot less than a premiership footballer).
A very nice income but no, not drop dead I can buy anything and everything in the country.
And you’d not get more than a dozen servants for that these days either. Hardly enough to run a proper coach and four let alone a household full of them.