Upper ten thousand
The phrase first appeared in British fiction in The Adventures of Philip by William Thackeray, whose eponymous hero contributed weekly to a fashionable New York journal entitled “The Gazette of the Upper Ten Thousand”. In 1875, both Adam Bissett Thom and Kelly's Directory published books entitled The Upper Ten Thousand, which listed members of the aristocracy, the gentry, officers in the British Army and Navy, members of Parliament, Colonial administrators, and members of the Church of England. The usage of this term was a response to the broadening of the British ruling class which had been caused by the Industrial Revolution.
Most of the people listed in the Handbook were among the 30,000 descendants of Edward III, King of England, tabulated in the Marquis of Ruvigny and Raineval's Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal. Most also appeared in Walford's County Families and Burke's Landed Gentry.
Edward Abbott's 1864 cookery book, The English and Australian Cookery Book: Cookery for the Many as Well as the 'Upper Ten Thousand', suggests that the concept of an "upper ten thousand" pre-dates the official publication of Kelly's directory.
- Bartlett, John Russell (1859), Dictionary of Americanisms, 2nd ed. enlarged, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, p. 494
- Tillotson, Geoffrey (1995), William Thackeray: The Critical Heritage, New York: Routledge, p. 72
- London: T. C. & E. C. Jack, 1903