Florence Nightingale

Her Allowance

The British pound sterling was set at $4.85 US to the pound for most of the 1800s. In the 1860s , ten years after her father started giving her 500 pounds a year, FN wrote to friends that she would gladly pay 500 pounds a year for a medical secretary. So it was not that much money really. At that time in London a street peddler might make 2 pounds a week or 104 pounds a year. It is easy to see that 500 pounds is not much money.

Her father inherited an English "manor" which included four villages, one of which he sold. There were hundreds of poor people who worked the land and in factories on their land, or worked in the family lead smelter. These people worked 12-16 hours a day, six days a week.

The Nightingales and their relatives and friends lived in mansions and castles and had millions of dollars and were all powerful people in the government and business community. In her life time FN she never kept within her budget and probably her father and others helped pay for her very expensive projects and good works. She also always had personal servants to help with all domestic chores and lived in the finest parts of London and England. But compared to her friends and relatives she lived a simple life almost totally filled with "work" for which she never got paid a cent. Most of them never did any work of any kind except to manage their social life and do their hobbies. It was against the law for women to vote, own property, hold public office, divorce their husbands, curse their husbands, have custody of their children, or join the military.

The average working class poor person in Florence Nightingale's lifetime might live to be 20 years old while in the upper class Nightingale family they lived into their 70s, 80s, and in FN's case to be 90 years old. In those days the wealthy had a nurse and doctor come to the home to take care of the sick. The poor had no access to health care as we know it today and died at home or in the streets or in what was called the "poor house" or "work house" where there was no professional health care provided.

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