Old John Osborne
George Osborne's father is a tyrant who rules his household with terror, but he does not intimidate George, nor in turn little Georgy. Mr. Osborne's idea of a hint that he doesn't want a footman around any more is to kick the fellow downstairs.
Old Osborne belongs in Vanity Fair. When John Sedley fails in business, Osborne, whom Sedley has helped, is the first to turn against Sedley. Osborne forbids George to marry Amelia unless she has ten thousand pounds. A name-dropper, Osborne wants his son to associate with nobility, but he objects to gambling. He commands his son to marry the wealthy mulatto heiress, Miss Swarts, but George marries Amelia and his father disowns him. Only long after George's death, and by the offices of William Dobbin, does old Osborne mellow and begin to redress his wrongs to his son's wife.
In his old age he becomes very fond of his grandson, although he fears him, and determines to make him a scholar. Dimly, he realizes some of the mistakes he made with the first George; he worries about the likeness of the second to the first George.
Maria Osborne, engaged to marry Frederick Bullock, hopes to get more money because of George's defection. When she marries Frederick, she feels obligated to scorn her own family, ruining her chances of getting more money out of them. When Amelia is restored to family favor, Maria patronizes her, and plans that one of her daughters should marry Georgy to get back the family money. Maria would have married anybody for money and position.
Frederick Bullock delays marrying Maria Osborne in hopes of getting more money from her father. Delighted over George's disinheritance, Frederick hopes his Maria will be worth more now.
She once had a budding romance with an artist, but her father smashed that, ending Jane's only chance for life, although she hopes Dobbin may be getting romantic when he tries to tell her of George's marriage. Old Osborne makes her a slave, but through her, Georgy comes to live in Russell Square. Georgy makes her old age happy. Neither of the Osborne sisters has ever thought Amelia worthy of their brother George.
Father of Joseph and Amelia, John Sedley is a British merchant who loves practical jokes. He gets Rebecca to eat curry, and while her mouth is afire, Joseph offers her a chili, which she thinks must be cold, but, of course, isn't. Sedley teases her about liking things from India, referring to her play for Joseph. He prefers Becky as a daughter-in-law to some native girl Jos might bring home.
John Sedley has little patience with Joseph's airs, but in his old age, he wants Joseph near. After his financial ruin, Mr. Sedley imposes on Amelia. Joseph, too indifferent for imposition, furnishes money but won't involve himself in his father's dubious wine venture.
The one argument that makes Sedley consent to Amelia's marriage is that old Osborne will be furious. Before his death, he apologizes to Amelia for his and his wife's unfairness to her. Old Sedley dies in poverty.
Mrs. John Sedley
At first a kind, good-natured woman eager to keep her place in Vanity Fair, she loses her good temperament with the onset of poverty. Critical of Amelia's love for Georgy, she quarrels with her daughter. However, in her final illness she enjoys Amelia's constant devotion and care.
Son of George Osborne and Amelia Sedley Osborne, little Georgy is orphaned before he is born. Brought up to believe he is the most important creature on earth, he gravitates to the values of Vanity Fair. But for William Dobbin, he might have remained entirely selfish. Popular, intelligent, lovable, Georgy inherits half the Osborne fortune and, at the end of the book, appears to be a better man than either his father or grandfather.
Son of Rawdon Crawley and Rebecca Sharp Crawley, little Rawdy is his father's treasure, the bane of his mother, who hates him. He goes away to school as the protégé of his mother's "protector," Lord Steyne. After the separation of his parents, he spends his leisure time with his aunt, Lady Jane. After the death of his cousin and his uncle, he inherits Queen's Crawley. Although he does not see his mother, he provides for her. The reader believes that Rawdon, like George, is a better man than his father or grandfather.
Two characters have this name. One is the Sedley's housekeeper and confidante of Amelia. Having lived so long with the Sedleys, she stays with them in their poverty, tends them, and grumbles about them.
The other Mrs. Blenkinsop is a banker's wife who cuts Rebecca.
Mr. Clapp has been Sedley's clerk for years. He takes the Sedleys into his home after their financial failure.
Mrs. Clapp (of Vanity Fair) gives Amelia a hard time over rents; but after Amelia has money, Mrs. Clapp fawns on her.
Sometimes called Polly, Miss Clapp loves Amelia and "Major Sugar-plums," as she calls Dobbin.
John is the Sedleys' groom, who is rude to Becky when he drives her to Sir Pitt's house. Amelia has given Becky some clothes John has wanted for his girl friend.
Mr. Sambo is the good-natured, bandy-legged servant of the Sedleys, who doubles as coachman, butler, or waiter.
Sir Pitt Crawley
Son of Walpole Crawley, first baronet, of the Tape and Sealing Wax office, Sir Pitt has a celebrated genealogy. His first wife, sixth daughter of Lord Binkie, gave birth to two sons, Pitt and Rawdon. His second wife, Rose, daughter of an ironmonger, has two daughters. The reader first meets him when he carries in Rebecca's trunks and does not offer her any food. Becky characterizes him as ". . . old, stumpy, short, vulgar, and very dirty man, in old clothes and shabby old gaiters, who smokes a horrid pipe, cooks his own horrid supper in a saucepan. He speaks with a country accent, and swore a great deal . . ." He talks of himself all the time, sometimes in coarse and vulgar accents, sometimes affecting the tone of a man of the world. He has been on parliamentary lists for years.
Stingy, dirty, disreputable, and vulgar, "whatever Sir Pitt Crawley's qualities might be, good or bad, he did not make the least disguise of them." His affinity for Vanity Fair is evidenced by the fact that though he eats boiled mutton, he has three footmen to serve it.
Sir Pitt becomes very fond of Becky and after Rose dies, he comes to Miss Crawley's, where Rebecca is taking care of her, and asks Becky to marry him. In this humorous scene Rebecca has to refuse. Sir Pitt, in a fury, goes home and tears up Rebecca's belongings. After Becky is lost to him, he takes up with Miss Horrocks, the butler's daughter, and horrifies all his relatives by taking her about the country and drinking with her. He might have married her, but his illness and death prevent marriage.
Tipsy, but still stingy, he is such a sharp landlord that he can't find good tenants; so close, he grudges seed for planting. He dies unmourned.
Pitt, the older son of Sir Pitt, pompous and pious as an undertaker, is always reading sermons and saying prayers. He insists on manners. His father doesn't swear at Lady Crawley when his son is in the room. At Eton he has been called "Miss Crawley":
[then] At college his career was of course highly creditable. [he] never advanced any sentiment or opinion which was not perfectly trite and stale, and supported by a Latin quotation; yet he failed somehow, in spite of a mediocrity which ought to have insured any man a success . . .
Pitt marries Lady Jane Sheepshanks, Lord Southdown's third daughter, and because of Rawdon's unfortunate marriage and Mrs. Bute's domineering, Pitt inherits from Miss Matilda Crawley. At his father's death, he inherits a seat in Parliament and Queen's Crawley. He grows up to his position, although too stingy to give away any money. He is kind to Rawdon and Rebecca. When they part, he takes over little Rawdon. Even though he is a stingy hypocrite, Pitt has some admirable traits.
Rector of Crawley-cum-Snailby, brother to the baronet, Sir Pitt Crawley, Bute likes all sports, drinking, eating, and gambling. In debt, he hopes to inherit from Aunt Matilda. He has one son, James, and four ugly daughters.
Mrs. Bute Crawley
Sometimes Barbara, sometimes Martha, Mrs. Bute won't call on Sir Pitt's second wife because she is the daughter of an ironmonger. Mrs. Bute manages her husband and the rectory, and lets Bute dine out to save money. She spies on the relatives, hopes to undermine Becky.
When she nurses Aunt Matilda, she instills all possible prejudice against Rawdon and Becky. But she domineers and bores Aunt Matilda almost to death. The doctors have to intervene and get Aunt Matilda out of the house. Then Bute breaks his collar-bone and Mrs. Bute has to go home, and never gets another chance at the fortune.
She moves in on Sir Pitt as soon as he is unconscious, routs the hopeful Miss Horrocks. After the new Sir Pitt takes over, the Bute Crawleys come to Queen's Crawley for festivities.
Son of the Bute Crawleys, he gets thrown out of Aunt Matilda's through Pitt's duplicity, but later Pitt encourages him to pay court to one of Pitt's half sisters, and arranges for him to be rector following Bute.
Miss Matilda Crawley
Sir Pitt's unmarried half sister has inherited her mother's large fortune. She sends Rawdon, her favorite, to Cambridge, buys him a commission, and plans to make him her heir. She dislikes Pitt, the milksop pious brother. An old reprobate, Aunt Matilda eats and drinks too much. Her wealth and her health are of great importance to her eager relatives, who act loving to her and to each other when she visits. Thackeray describes her, "no lady of fashion in London who would desert her friends more complacently as soon as she was tired of their society, and though few tired of them sooner, yet as long as her engouement lasted her attachment was prodigious . . . "
Rawdon spoils his chances of inheriting by marrying Rebecca. Mrs. Bute domineers and bores the old lady. Eventually, through the sweetness of Lady Jane, Pitt's intended, and the diplomacy of Pitt himself, he inherits the bulk of Miss Crawley's wealth.
Miss Rosalind and Miss Violet Crawley
Half sisters to Pitt and Rawdon, these girls like Rebecca as governess, tolerate her as sister-in-law.
Firkin and Briggs
Two of Miss Crawley's maids, Firkin never likes Rebecca, but Briggs is taken in, loans Becky her money, is finally provided for by Lord Steyne. Briggs is one of the few admirable persons in the book.
The Countess Matilda Southdown
This "tall and awful missionary of the truth," is mother to Lady Jane Sheepshanks, who marries Pitt, and to Lady Emily Homblower, author of the Washerwoman of Finchley Common, a tract the countess forces on everyone.
Butler for Miss Crawley, he owes his start in life to the Crawleys. Rawdon and Rebecca cheat and ruin him, and he ends in debtors' prison.
Lord of Steyne
Lord Steyne, ugly and depraved, has won his wife at a gaming table. He takes Rebecca as protégé until Rawdon catches them. Through him she is presented at Court. He gives her money, position. Ordinarily his greatest fun is to torture his wife and family, but he appreciates his wife's defense of Rebecca.
One of his sons is insane; the other has no children. The threat of madness hanging over the house may account for Steyne's excesses. Never forgiving an insult, he will not be reconciled to Becky. Of Vanity Fair, he represents the landed aristocracy of his time.
The Marchioness of Steyne
Wife of Lord Steyne, of excellent family, she becomes silent, superstitious, religious. She shows her innate kindness to Rebecca.
Young Lord Gaunt
Son of Lord Steyne, he marries Lady Blanche Thistlewood of the House of Bareacres. They have no children.
He marries the Honorable Joan of John Johnes, first Baron of Helvellyn. They have children, but George is insane, gets the order of the "Strait Waistcoat!"
Wenham is Lord Steyne's man who prevents a duel with Rawdon and ruins Becky's reputation with Sir Pitt.
Colonel Michael O'Dowd
This valiant soldier receives the rank of major-general after Tiptoff's death. He has served in all parts of the world and is Dobbin's commanding officer. He obeys his wife.
Wife of Colonel Michael O'Dowd, "she was the best of comforters, in good fortune the most troublesome of friends; having a perfectly good opinion of herself always, and an indomitable resolution to have her own way." Peggy who loves everything Irish, is determined to marry off her sister, Glorvina.
Horrocks is Sir Pitt's butler and drinking partner. His daughter, Miss Horrocks or "Ribbons," hopes to be the third Lady Crawley.
Miss Barbara Pinkerton
Manager and owner of the academy on Chiswick Mall, she and her sister, Miss Jemima, educate young ladies. Miss Pinkerton hates Rebecca, always talks of her idol, Dr. Johnson.
Space does not permit mention of all the minor characters. Some of the more amusing names will be found under The Use of Names.