By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:47 AM on 4th April 2011
Surnames which indicated nobility and wealth in medieval times are still richer even today, research has suggested.
‘Moneyed’ surnames, such as Darcy, Percy, Baskerville and Mandeville continue to have more cash than those with ‘poor’ names, such as Smith, Mason and Cooper.
The research, which uses university admissions, probate records and official information going as far back as the Domesday Book, tracked what happened to those whose surnames suggest their forebears were either aristocratic or ‘artisans’ from the working class.
I know my place: This medieval woodcut shows serfs working the fields while their king looks on
Researcher Gregory Clark, a professor of economics at the University of California, Davis, found that in the group with rare names he studied from the 1850s until 2011, the gap between rich and poor narrowed.
However, those with ‘rich’ surnames left estates worth at least 10 per cent above the national average, and also lived three years longer than the average, according to The Observer.
Such names indicated a descent from Anglo-Saxon nobility, who came to England after the Norman Conquest and are found in the Domesday book of 1086.
They drew their name from the surrounding Normandy towns and villages, the Observer says, whereas other ‘poor ‘ surnames - such as Carpenter, Shepherd or Baker – indicated an occupation.
In his paper – which is due to be presented at the Economic History Society‘s annual conference – Prof Clark says: ‘Despite the social and political changes in England since the Industrial Revolution and the extension of the political franchise, if anything the rate of social mobility is slower now than in medieval England.
‘The huge social resources spent on publicly provided education and health have seemingly created no gains in the rate of social mobility.
‘The modern meritocracy is no better at achieving social mobility than the medieval oligarchy.’
And while rich and poor in general may eventually become ‘average’, with ‘no permanent social classes’, those from the 1850s may take another ‘two to four’ generations to get there, he finds.
Prof Clark added a warning for the current poor in Britain: it may be many generations ‘perhaps centuries’ before they achieve equality.
What’s in a name: Certain surnames evolved from trades such as Shepherd, Carpenter, Baker, Cooper and Smith
‘The children of groups of recent immigrants to the UK – specifically those from Bangladesh and Pakistan – have levels of wealth, income, and education that are substantially below those of the general population,’ his paper says.
‘If the same rate of social mobility observed for the indigenous population applies to these groups then it will be many generations – perhaps centuries – before they achieve status equality with the rest of UK society.’
Michael Sherraden, a leading expert on the U.S. welfare system, says societies are split into three classes, each with different abilities and attitudes when it comes to wealth creation and management.
Sherraden writes: ‘The Upper class values include higher education, the accumulation and maintenance of wealth, the maintenance of social networks and the power that accompanies such networks. Children of the upper class are typically schooled on how to manage this power and channel this privilege in different forms. It is in large part by accessing various edifices of information, associates, procedures and auspices that the upper class are able to maintain their wealth and pass it to future generations.
‘The middle class places a greater emphasis on income. The middle class views wealth as something for emergencies and it is seen as more of a cushion. This class comprises people that were raised with families that typically owned their own home, planned ahead and stressed the importance of education and achievement. They earn a significant amount of income and also have significant amounts of consumption. However there is very limited savings (deferred consumption) or investments, besides retirement pensions and homeownership. They have been socialised to accumulate wealth through structured, institutionalised arrangements. Without this set structure, asset accumulation would likely not occur.
‘Those with the least amount of wealth are the welfare poor. Wealth accumulation for this class is to some extent prohibited. People that receive AFDC transfers cannot own more than a trivial amount of assets, in order to be eligible and remain qualified for income transfers. Most of the institutions that the welfare poor encounter discourage any accumulation of assets.’
- The World’s Wealth Gap is Shrinking (creditloan.com)