Ali (xicarus_complex) wrote in little_details,

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Rank, Family, and Sex(uality) in Victorian England

Search Terms: I’ve read through the memories and found some pretty useful information, but not enough of what I need and my search terms (“homosexuality in Victorian England”, “homosexuality among the upper class in Victorian England”, “Younger Sons of the Victorian Upper Class”, “Marriage for Younger Sons in the Victorian Upper Class”, and “Victorian England: Upper Class Estates”) haven’t yielded the results I’d hoped for.  I know I’m doing something wrong, but I can’t make it to a library and my aging computer makes it difficult to access certain resources.


Setting: Victorian England, probably in the latter half of the era, but that could easily change.


Context: After one too many fights, Damien is sent to work for an upper-middle or upper class family. Based on what I’ve learned, the scenario is probably best-served if they were similar in origin, wealth, and status to the Rothschilds, but I’m not sure and, of course, welcome any and all suggestions =).  In order for the plot to work, Damien must spend a considerable amount of time with his employer’s son, Sebastien, and, ideally, for them to be able to spend time alone.  Sebastien is the youngest son and second of three children, all of whom are petty brats, but none hides it as well as he does; however, his father sees through his façade and is so disgusted that he takes action to change Bastien.  I imagine he might send Sebastien from their home in London to their country estate (to remove him from bad influences), set him to work in a managerial position in the family business or, ideally, in the family home (to teach him discipline, responsibility, etc.), but are any of those options likely?  If so, what might Sebastien actually do and how position might Damien have that would allow them to interact on a regular basis?


Birthright: First and Second Sons. I know the eldest son usually didn’t have to work, as he could depend on an inheritance, and that the younger one usually prepared for a career, but if the family was enough, might they divide the inheritance in two and allow both their sons to enjoy a life of luxury? In the same vein, would it be plausible for the eldest son to enter the military (as an officer, of course)?  If it helps, Bastien has ambitions of going into politics and more talent for and interest in it than does his older brother, so he wouldn’t simply be sitting down at home, though I realize it would be a very unusual reversal of roles in a society with a rather rigid social structure. As a last resort, I could write them as twins, in which case I’d like to know if their parents would divide the estate exactly in half or if the firstborn would receive the greater share, as usual?


Homosexuality. Sebastien's homosexual, but very discreet about it: he only has sex with prostitutes and members of the working class, as they’re much easier to silence and/or discredit than the parents of noblemen, though, of course, he’d rather avoid any hint of scandal.  How might he approach a servant if he wanted to have sex with him?  According to one source I found, servants actually reported employers for attempted sodomy, indecent assault, etc., so is that likely to have made noblemen more cautious? Or would they have been straightforward, knowing the servant would probably keep his mouth shut and that even if he didn’t, they’d be safe from prosecution?  Would a servant have been likely to react with surprise or would rumours about their employer’s sexual proclivities have spread to his employees?  What were the probable consequences if a servant said no?  What were the probable consequences if he said yes? Would the other servants know what was going on?  Would they treat him differently if they knew or suspected he was having sex with their employer?


Marriage.  Lastly, would a younger son have had to marry? I figure the burden of producing an heir would fall predominantly on the shoulders of his brother and if neither money nor interest compelled him, could he have remained a bachelor or would the social ramifications have been too great?


*Just a note, I don’t have much wiggle room with Damien’s situation, but Bastien’s is more flexible.


I know I’ve asked a lot of questions (and my Google-fu’s evidently very rusty), so I really appreciate your time and any and all help! Thank you so much and have a fantabulous day~.

Tags: 1800s (no decades given), uk: history: victorian era, ~homosexuality: history, ~inheritance, ~marriage, ~victorian era

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