36 free quilt blocks, one a week with a guide to Jane Austen's England and posts about the people in her life.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Block 3: Cross Within Cross for the Reverend George Austen

Block 3: Cross Within Cross for the Reverend George Austen
by Bettina Havig

George Austen 1731-1805

Jane Austen’s father might have been the model for Pride and Prejudice’s Mr. Bennet. The Rev. Austen was a pleasant, educated man of good family without promising prospects. He loved his children and his library. 

Lizzie Bennet and her father
from Pride and Prejudice,
illustration by C.E. Brock, about 1900

Jane’s exaggerated Bennet family is very funny but her father is not the bumbling Mr. Bennet and he was not so beleaguered by the women in his life.

George Austen was born into good family but as the son of a younger son he faced the challenge dictated by English laws of inheritance, directing wealth from one generation to another in a bundle that passed down to eldest sons. George’s father was a surgeon who died young, as did his mother, leaving him and two sisters in the care of various relatives. 

Cross Within Cross 
by Becky Brown

George was gentry without land or hopes of inheritance. In Jane Austen’s England he had few gentrified options. Gentlemen did not labor or engage in trade. He might join the bar as a barrister, the armed forces as an officer, or the state Church of England. 

The first step in his career was a degree in divinity from Oxford University financed by a patron, Uncle Francis Austen.

George Austen from a silhouette commissioned 
by distant cousin and benefactor Thomas Knight II

Another relative, second cousin Jane Monk’s husband, was patron for the next necessary step. Jane's husband Thomas Knight awarded George a parish, what was known as “a living.” As landowner, Knight owned rights to the churches on his estates.

The door at St. Nicholas by Ellen G. Hill, about 1900.

George was given the right to preside as a rector at the Anglican church of St. Nicholas in the small village of Steventon in Hampshire. The living entitled the rector to a home---the rectory--- and at St. Nicholas £100 annually (equal to about £6,400 or a little over $10,000 in our times).

Jane Austen's baptismal record from St. Nicholas’s archives.
George was in his early forties when Jane, his seventh child, was born.

 Deane is north of Steventon

A few years later Uncle Francis bought George the living of the adjacent parish in Deane, which doubled his annual income in 1772---not quite enough to raise a family of six boys and two girls without running a small boarding school and a farm too.

St. Nicholas Church, Steventon, Hampshire
Rev. Austen was Curate here from 1764 to 1800.

Cross Within Cross 
by Dustin Cecil

 BlockBase #2495

Cross Within Cross was given the name by the Ladies Art Company in the early 20th century. The block can represent George Austen’s career as “a pluralist,” a minister who tended two parishes.

Cutting a 12" Finished Block

A - Cut 4 squares 3-1/2" x 3-1/2".  

B - Cut 4 squares 3-7/8"x 3-7/8".
Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles.  You need 8 triangles.

 C - Cut 2 squares 4-7/8"x 4-7/8".

Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 4 of the larger triangles.

D - Cut 4 rectangles 5-5/8 x 2-1/2". You'll trim these to points after you've made the center square.
E - Cut 1 square 2-1/2" x 2-1/2".


Cross Within Cross 
by Becky Brown

When reading Jane Austen's novels where incomes are so important to the plot, it helps to have a converter so you can see how much George Austen's £100 or Mr. Darcy's £10,000 a year is worth in our terms.

Here's one:


  1. Merci pour ce 3ème bloc !
    Joyeuses Pâques à vous.
    Thank you for this block.
    Happy Easter

  2. Thank you so much for the explanation of who Jane's father was and his station in life -- I could never get it straight for myself. I take it that when he died, fortunes for the unmarried sisters would take a turn for the worse. . . . Can't wait for the next installments.

  3. On my long drive home yesterday I couldn't wait for this morning when I wouldn't be exhausted and could make my next three blocks! Yay!