In chapter 7 of volume I of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Mr Drawlight is trying to encourage Mr Norrell to perform magic for Sir Walter Pole, and suggests that

[Magicians] will be quite as much respected as admirals, a great deal more than generals, and probably as much as archbishops and lord chancellors! I should not be at all surprized if His Majesty did not immediately set up a convenient arrangement of degrees with magicians-in-ordinary and magicians-canonical, non-stipendiary magicians and all that sort of thing. [Emphasis mine]

Are these 'degrees' of magician, which I've emphasised, alluding to something from our own world?

1 Answer 1


As per this English SE question, "in ordinary" can mean that it is someone who works regularly for the monarchy. To use their Wikipedia quote:

In relation particularly to the staff of the British Royal Household, and more generally to those employed by the Crown, ["in ordinary"] is used as a suffix showing that the appointment is to the regular staff, for example a priest or chaplain-in-ordinary, or a physician-in-ordinary, being a cleric or doctor in regular attendance.

I'll admit that I'm really not certain on the "magicians-canonical", especially if used in contrast to "magicians-in-ordinary". However, "canonical" is sometimes used to distinguish religious jobs versus secular ones ones as per the term canon to refer to a priest living in a religious order.

This might be supported that "Non-stipendiary" is itself often a religious term (although not always, non-stipend positions also being present in areas such as universities and theatre), referring to priests and ministers who are self-supporting in the Church of England. As they do not receive a stipend for their services, they are supported by either donations or another job.

All in all, with all three items combined, I suspect that Ms. Clarke is making an allusion to the Church of England and how it's organized, with Mr. Dawson suggestion that magicians would likely be separated into those who serve the Crown, those who work for an organization, and those who operate independently.

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    Thanks for this answer. It'd be made even better if you could refer to the other parts I've emphasised (and since specified in my question).
    – RichardJ
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 9:47
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    Non-stipendiary isn't only a religious term. For example, some universities offer non-stipendiary research fellowship positions.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 14:22
  • @Randal'Thor: Good point. As someone who has worked as a stipended and non-stipended actor, I ought to have recognized the non-religious versions as well.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 15:20

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