George Austen (clergyman)

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George Austen (1731–1805) was a clergyman in the Church of England and the father of Jane Austen. He was the rector of Deane and Steventon in Hampshire.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

He and his sister, Philadelphia,[2] were orphaned, George being nine years old, and he was thus taken under the wing of his wealthy uncle Francis Austen.[3] He attended Tonbridge School and St. John's College, Oxford.

Career[edit]

Steventon Rectory

In 1764, the living at Deane was purchased for him by his aforementioned uncle Francis.[3] The living at Steventon was "given to him by his cousin Mr. Knight."[3]

Marriage and family[edit]

The Rev. George Austen presenting his son Edward to their relatives Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Knight, who adopted Edward

Austen met Cassandra Leigh while he was a student at Oxford.[4] They married in 1764. First, they lived in the rectory at Deane, but in 1771 they moved to Steventon Parsonage, which is the birthplace of their most famous child. They had eight children:

  1. James Austen
  2. George Austen
  3. Edward Austen Knight
  4. Henry Thomas Austen
  5. Cassandra Austen
  6. Sir Francis Austen
  7. Jane Austen
  8. Charles Austen

Their second child, George Austen, suffered from severe epilepsy, and did not grow up in the family home.[4]

His wife Cassandra came from a clerical family, with strong ties to Oxford University.[4] She was descended from one of the founders of St. John's College, and this entitled their sons to attend the college, tuition free. James and Henry both attended St. John's College.

Later life and death[edit]

Toward the end of 1800, Austen retired and handed over the care of the Steventon living to his son James. He retired with his wife and daughters Cassandra and Jane to Bath, Somerset. It was there that Austen died on 21 January 1805.[5]

Quotes[edit]

His granddaughter Anna Lefroy: "I have always understood that he was considered extremely handsome, and it was a beauty which stood by him all his life. At the time when I have the most perfect recollection of him he must have been hard upon seventy, but his hair in its milk-whiteness might have belonged to a much older man. It was very beautiful, with short curls about the ears. His eyes were not large, but of a peculiar and bright hazel. My aunt Jane’s were something like them, but none of the children had precisely the same excepting my uncle Henry."[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Feldman, Paula R. (2001). British Women Poets of the Romantic Era: An Anthology. Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 9780801866401. Archived from the original on 20 June 2021. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  2. ^ Amy, Helen (2013). Jane Austen. Amberley. ISBN 9781445615738. Archived from the original on 20 June 2021. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Austen-Leigh, James Edward (1871). Memoir of Jane Austen (Second ed.). London: Richard Bentley and Son. Archived from the original on 19 December 2019. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Marilyn Butler (2010-01-07). "Austen, Jane: (1775–1817)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/904. Archived from the original on 2020-11-12. Retrieved 2021-02-20. The boys qualified, on Cassandra's side, as ‘founder's kin’ at St John's College, which entitled them against competition to free tuition.
  5. ^ a b Hill, Constance (1904). Jane Austen: Her Homes and Her Friends. England: John Lane. Archived from the original on 20 June 2021. Retrieved 22 December 2019.