Few people who haven’t studied the Regency era or British history understand that religion and political power were united most of the time. When a titled nobleman had a Parrish in his area of influence, then it became his right to bestow or “gift” that position or “living” to whomever he chose. Most often he did require the person to have had Holy Orders ordained.
The cost of education that had to take place before ordination came with a good sized price tag. If a poor young man had a devotion to God and wanted to follow the church for the right reasons, he must find a patron willing to pay for his education. http://www.jasnachicago.org/jane-austen/online-exhibits/96-jane-austen/online-exhibits/115-the-clergy-in-jane-austens-time
However, a third son of a wealthy family had no worries. He got the education required and then went to a bishop for questioning and ordination. His father or uncles or other relatives might have a living in their gift, but perhaps it was not open at the moment. There could be an elderly parson already there, or an ambitious young man waiting to be promoted. In that case, the candidate would serve as rector, or assistant, to the incumbent, or return to school if that area of interest suited him. http://main.thebeaumonde.com/god-in-regency-england-by-regan-walker/
Society thought it best if he did not marry at this time. Only once he had secured his living should he find a bride, and as soon as possible. His wife would be the focus of many eyes in the Parrish, as she had to perform visitations in the village and cottages, tend to the sick and the poor, help in the village school if they had one, and still keep her own house and children in excellent condition. http://randombitsoffascination.com/2012/01/18/rectors-and-vicars-and-curatesoh-my/
Yes, the Church of England, the Anglican Church, was liberal in the sense that the “priests” were allowed to marry. This was one aspect that made a career in the church such a good call for younger sons. The church lay in a cloud of public scorn in many ways, for the idleness of the majority of ordained men. Part of this might have been due to the collecting of tithes from parishioners. Otherwise the vicar would not have enough resources to live and to keep his church in good repair.
Another source of income for the clergy came from weddings, baptisms, funerals, and from tutoring the young sons of the wealthier families. This source was not always steady, but one did what one could.
John Bird Sumner
Much of this reminds me of the story of Thomas a Becket, who took the position of Archbishop of Canterbury to serve his good friend Henry II. What neither of them foresaw was the developing passion for truth and righteousness the new Archbishop acquired. It did not end well. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Becket
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.