Taken on its face value, this is excellent proof of social class rigidity. A theory about the purity of the blood streams and the fine inherited qualities of the upper classes must remain only a theory, because, as Thorndike has shown, the upper classes have no monopoly on intellectual superiority; and, as the sports records show, they do not monopolize physical prowess and health. Galton's study, then, proved merely that privilege and prestige is generally monopolized by the upper classes. Galton himself states: 25

These facts . . . lead to certain important conclusions. They show, for example, that a considerable proportion of the noteworthy members spring from comparatively few families.

If Galton had stopped there, his data and his conclusions would have enjoyed more consistency than was the case after much verbiage about "thoroughbred stock" had been added.

The social class aspect of Galton's research is shown in this conclusion: "A considerably larger proportion would be noteworthy in the higher classes of society, but a far smaller one in the lower . . . . " 26

Any one of Galton's case histories reads like a social pedigree. For instance, there is the case of J. S. Haldane, university lecturer and medical researcher for the government: 27

His paternal grandfather was in the East India naval service and later a preacher. The latter's brother "sold his estate" to give his fortune to missionary work. He also wrote several theological treatises. The paternal uncle of J. S. Haldane was "Bart., M.D. F.R.S., etc." The brother of J. S. Haldane was P. C., M.P. LL.D., "a distinguished politician," and author. Their sister was a reformer, educator, and translator of note. Their first cousin was the Bishop of Argyll. Another first cousin was a Lieutenant Colonel, D.S.O., and author. The great-great uncle of J. S. Haldane was the Earl of Eldon, famous Lord Chancellor of England. The latter's brother was the Baron Howell and the Judge of the High Court of Admiralty. Another great uncle was the Viscount Duncan; whereas another great-great uncle was Sir Ralph Abercomby, a General, and the latter's brother was likewise a General and Governor of Bombay.

J. S. Haldane, his brother, and his sister are to be accounted for in terms of the rigidity of the social classes. As children, they had every reason to hope to become persons of some importance. Their family history reads much like that of the Gordons of Virginia.

The same is true of the case of Sir Francis L. McClintock, whose ancestors had for centuries been the monopolizers of high posts in Ireland, and of the Stracheys, whose seat of prestige and power was customarily in India. In reading these and other cases one has the feeling that most persons concerned were not outstanding in talent. They were judges, business men, lesser noblemen. The McClintocks had many sinecures in Ireland, the Stracheys in India. (As Cicero once said: "The nobles have honors thrust on them even in their sleep.") One is dealing here not with genius in the "Napoleonic" sense, but with privileged classes who, in England, usually write something and are mentioned in the dispatches.

Galton and Schuster find that "21 of 38 sons have followed the same pursuits as their parents . . . . " 28 Like father, like son, even to the very occupations themselves.

In his famous work, Hereditary Genius, Galton explains the means whereby the relatively few prominent barristers of lower class homes were able to rise. Those "of humble parentage . . . attracted notice as boys . . . and were thereafter sent to a good school." 29 This is an environmentalist explanation of the success of certain men, not the biological.

To see the extent to which the upper class families of England intermarried, one needs only look at the genealogical charts of the Montagu and North families 30 and at the case history of the Hydes. 31 These contain over three score names, each a dignitary or married to one. A perusal of these family charts gives one the impression that the inner circle for generations could command the higher offices and honors.

Galton lists the Prime Ministers since the accession of George III, not a single one of whom was not related to some other honorable person, and all were of good family, influential and socially prominent.

Next Page


25. Francis Galton and Edgar Schuster, Noteworthy Families (London, 1906) p. 1x.
26. Ibid., p. xii.
27. Adapted from Ibid., pp. 28 - 30.
28. Ibid., p. 85.
29. Francis Galton, Hereditary Genius (New York, 1870) p. 56.
30. Ibid., p. 97.
31. Ibid., p. 94.