How Affluent was Capt. Jack Aubrey?

I am hooked on the Aubrey-Maturin novels (by O’Brian). I’m presently reading “THE YELLOW ADMIRAL”, and I’ve learned that Jack inherited a country estate from his father-but he’s up to his neck in debt. So much so that he’s sweating his promotion (to rear admiral). He really needs the salary increase; and the bad news is: as the War with France dies down, the Royal Navy is decommisioning ships and retiring officers-bad news for a career naval officer. Jack has no influential friends in the Admiralty-would someone of his class qualify for a title?
Also, dowrys: Jack’s wife owns her own estate-but he cannot force her to sell it-why not? Seems like a married man ought to have some power over his wife. So: what would a captain like Jack Aubrey do, if not promoted? Could he serve as a merchant ship captain? Or was that below his class?

This is really hard to respond to since most of your questions are answered in the novels.

To answer your first question. It is not necessarily what class you are, but whose wife you had the good sense not to become intimate with. Regarding your second question about forcing ones wife to sell property. At the time, yes, husbands could do just that. Regarding what Aubrey could do if not promoted…all I can say is keep reading and if anyone comes in with spoiler boxes, don’t look.

Titles are inherited or granted by the crown, its unlikely that a guy being passed over for an Admiralty would get a title from the crown. Its a novel, it could happen - in reality his chances of getting a title from the King (Prince Regent at this time?) would be very slim. (He could be made a knight, those were made (and are still made) all the time, but that would make more problems for him financially, not free him from problems).

Marriages for a certain class have contracts associated with them - in many cases the wife’s property is contractually tied to her for the benefit of her after his death and any children from the marriage. It isn’t unusual for him to be able to use the income from her property, but not be entitled to touch the principal. (Estate law is not set up to protect HER per se, but to protect the property of her family - no one wants to lose the family estate because their daughter married a gambler and can pass nothing onto their grandson).

Jack Aubrey is a consistently rotten money manager - it’s a recurrent theme in the books. He can go from rags to riches and back again faster than any contemporary character I can think of.

As Dangerosa suggests, his wife’s estate is probably entailed - hedged around with legal precautions which prevent him from wasting it. Which is probably a good idea …

Jack Aubrey is such a frustrating character at times. You end up shrieking “NO! Don’t do that!” at least once or twice in every book!

Suffice it to say, Jack’s fortunes (personal, professional and financial) wax and wane several times, as do the fortunes of his father, which affect him greatly even after the old man’s death.

Enjoy the series. It is one of my favorites.

Indeed. I am reading The Fortune of War for the gazillionth time. In addition to wombats:
‘Now, sir,’ cried the Captain, striding into the great cabin, a tall, imposing figure. ‘Now, sir,’ - addressing the wombat, one of the numerous body of marsupials brought into the ship by her surgeon, a natural philosopher - ‘give it up directly, d’ye hear me, there?’
The wombat stared him straight in the eye, drew a length of gold lace from its mouth, and then deliberately sucked it in again.
‘Pass the word for Dr Maturin,’ said the Captain, looking angrily at the wombat: and a moment later, ‘Come now, Stephen, this is coming it pretty high: your brute is eating my hat.’
‘So he is, too,’ said Dr Maturin. 'But do not be so perturbed, Jack; it will do him no harm, at all. His digestive processes -,
It contains my favorite scene from the series,

The escape from Boston.

Yeah, how affluent he is depends on at which moment you are looking at him. Captain Aubrey is brilliant at sea, but a total idiot on land, especially about money matters.

I guess that means that he is solidly grounded at sea but he is at sea when on land.
Oh, and carnivorousplant, I like the escape using the bear suit, as odd as it is, better.

It’s exactly because of situations like Aubrey’s that legal protections were put in place around women’s dowried property. Aubrey, though smart in many ways, is an absolute idiot about money. Ensuring that Aubrey can’t sell Sophie’s land ensures that she and her children will have a little bit to live on, no matter how many debts her husband racks up or what harebrained financial scheme he gets into.

It seems like I remember that during one of his wealthy periods Jack put a large chunk of money aside for his daughters’ “portions”. (I think that’s the right word - their dowries.) That money seems to have been unavailable to him later, although I don’t remember if it was legally untouchable or if Jack was just determined to leave it intact.

Sophie’s inheritance was legally protected in order look after Sophie and her daughters in case of Jack’s premature demise. If you remember, Mrs. Williams was very careful about money and, IIRC, Jack was so overjoyed at being allowed to marry Sophie, that he accepted whatever Mrs. Williams offered.

Later, when Jack gets bogged down with the mining shyster, he mentions to Stephen that the daughters’ future dowries are safe from Jack’s money troubles.

I love the series and just started reading them in order (currently on Treason’s Harbour). It wasn’t until I got to the third book in the series that I thought of starting a SDMB Reading Club similar to the Discworld club. Considering all of the responses in this thread, I guess I should have.

So many great characters; when I grow up, I want to be like Bonden.

What I find fascinating is how Patrick O’Brian captured the realities of the age that Aubrey lived in. As I say, he is a very good naval officer-but probably, his chances for propmotion are severely limited-because he doesn’t have a title-or influential friends (in the Admiralty) to pull strings for him. And, the Royal Navy was pretty harsh on officers who didn’t win promoion-witness those 40-year old midhsipmen! Must have been pretty humiliating to be outranked by a boy of 19!