Advertisement

What Is a Money Wage? Measuring the Earnings of Agricultural Labourers in Early Modern England

  • Craig MuldrewEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Economic History book series (PEHS)

Abstract

This chapter investigates the form of the wage for agricultural labour in early modern England and throws much new light on labourers’ earnings. It fatally undermines the accepted practice that treats the remuneration of casual farm labourers as sums paid promptly in cash, and their real wage as calculable by reference to the cost of a universal fixed basket of food and other consumables which can be precisely presented as an index in long-run series. The reality was that a series of factors including the acute shortage of small-denomination coins and the availability on farms of food and drink and other facilities valuable for labourers, such as grazing, gleaning and firewood, rendered the stated money wage as the basis for more negotiable means of payment. Also notable is the concession of meals and cheap food by farmers to their labourers during periods of high prices.

Bibliography

  1. Allen, R.C. 1992. Enclosure and the Yeoman: The Agricultural Development of the South Midlands 1450–1850. Oxford: Clarendon Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. ———. 2003. Progress and Poverty in Early Modern Europe. Economic History Review 56: 403–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Batchelor, T. 1808. General View of the Agriculture of the County of Bedford. London.Google Scholar
  4. Broadberry, S., and B. Gupta. 2006. The Early Modern Great Divergence: Wages, Prices and Economic Development in Europe and Asia, 1500–1800. Economic History Review 59: 2–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cholmeley, R. 1988. Memorandum Book of Richard Cholmeley of Brandsby, 1602–1623. Vol. 44. Northallerton: North Yorkshire County Record Office Publications.Google Scholar
  6. Clark, G. 2001. Farm Wages and Living Standards in the Industrial Revolution: England, 1670–1869. Economic History Review 54: 477–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. ———. 2004. The Price History of English Agriculture, 1209–1914. Research in Economic History 22: 41–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. ———. 2007. The Long March of History: Farm Wages, Population, and Economic Growth, England 1209–1869. Economic History Review 60: 97–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clay, C. 1984. Economic Expansion and Social Change: England 1500–1700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Cunningham, W. 1929. The Growth of English Industry and Commerce in Modern Times, pt. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Daunton, M. 1995. Progress and Poverty: An Economic and Social History of Britain 1700–1850. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Eden, Sir F.M. 1797. The State of the Poor, or a History of the Labouring Classes in England. Vols. I–III. London.Google Scholar
  13. Fussell, G.E. 1936. Robert Loder’s Farm Accounts, 1610–20, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 3rd ser. 53.Google Scholar
  14. Gibson, A.J.S., and T.C. Smout. 1995. Prices, Food and Wages in Scotland 1550–1780. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Gilboy, E.W. 1929–30. Wages in Eighteenth-Century England. Journal of Economic and Business History 2: 603–629.Google Scholar
  16. Hassell Smith, A. 1989. Labourers in Late Sixteenth-Century England: A Case Study from North Norfolk. Continuity and Change 4: 11–52, 367–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Historical Manuscript Commission Reports. 1901. Report on Manuscripts in Various Collections, I, no. 15, 160–175. London.Google Scholar
  18. Horrell, S. 1996. Home Demand and British Industrialization. The Journal of Economic History 56: 565–571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Humphries, J. 1990. Enclosures, Common Rights, and Women: The Proletarianisation of Families in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries. The Journal of Economic History 50: 95–126.Google Scholar
  20. Keynes, J.M. 1930. A Treatise on Money. London: Macmillan. Repr. in The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, 30 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press for the Royal Economic Society, 1971–89, v, 3–5.Google Scholar
  21. Kussmaul, A. 1981. Servants in Husbandry in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lodge, E.C., ed. 1927. The Account Book of a Kentish Estate 1616–1704. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Lucassen, J., ed. 2007. Wages and Currency; Global Comparisons from Antiquity to the Twentieth Century. Bern: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  24. ———. 2014. Deep Monetization: The Case of the Netherlands 1200–1940. Tijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis [Special] 11: 73–121.Google Scholar
  25. Maegraith, J., and C. Muldrew. 2015. Consumption and Material Life. In Oxford Handbook of Early Modern European History, ed. H. Scott, 369–397. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Martins, S., and T. Williamson, eds. 1995. The Farming Journal of Randall Burroughes (1794–1799). Vol. LVIII. Norwich: Norfolk Record Society.Google Scholar
  27. McLeay, M., A. Radia, and T. Ryland. 2014. Money Creation in the Modern Economy. Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin Q1: 1–14.Google Scholar
  28. Muldrew, C. 1998. The Economy of Obligation: The Culture of Credit and Social Relations in Early Modern England. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. ———. 2001. ‘Hard Food for Midas’, Cash and Its Social Value in Early Modern England. Past and Present 170: 78–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. ———. 2011. Food, Energy and the Creation of Industriousness: Work and Material Culture in Agrarian England, 1550–1780. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Overton, M., J. Whittle, D. Dean, and A. Hann. 2004. Production and Consumption in English Households, 1600–1750. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Özmucur, S., and S. Pamuk. 2002. Real Wages and Standards of Living in the Ottoman Empire, 1498–1914. Journal of Economic History 62: 293–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Paul, A.A., and D.T.A. Southgate. 1978. McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods. 4th ed. London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office.Google Scholar
  34. Phelps Brown, H., and S.V. Hopkins. 1981. A Perspective of Wages and Prices. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Pomeranz, K. 2001. The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Putnam, B.H. 1927–8. Northamptonshire Wage Assessments of 1560 and 1667. Economic History Review 1: 124–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Roe, M., H. Pinchen, S. Church, and R. Finglas. 2014. McCance and Widdowson’s the Composition of Foods. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry.Google Scholar
  38. Sargent, T.J., and F.R. Velde. 2002. The Big Problem of Small Change. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Scholliers, P., and L. Schwarz, eds. 2003. Experiencing Wages: Social and Cultural Aspects of Wage Forms in Europe Since 1500. New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  40. Schumpeter, J.A. 1982. A History of Economic Analysis. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Shammas, C. 1983. Food Expenditure and Economic Well Being in Early Modern England. Journal of Economic History 43: 89–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Shaw-Taylor, L. 2001. Labourers, Cows, Common Rights and Parliamentary Enclosure: The Evidence of Contemporary Comment c. 1760–1810. Past and Present 171: 95–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shaw-Taylor, L., and E.A. Wrigley. 2004. Occupational Structure and Population Change. In The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain: Volume I, 1700–1870, ed. R. Floud, J. Humphries, and P. Johnson, 4th ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Smith, Adam. 1976. The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Sokoll, T. 1991. Household and Family Among the Poor; The Case of Two Essex Communities in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries. Bochum: Brockmeyer.Google Scholar
  46. Sonenscher, M. 1984. Work and Wages in Paris in the Eighteenth Century. In Manufacture in Town and Country Before the Industrial Revolution, ed. M. Berg, P. Hudson, and M. Sonenscher. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Speechley, H. 1999. Female and Child Agricultural Day Labourers in Somerset, c. 1685–1870. PhD Thesis, University of Exeter.Google Scholar
  48. Thorold Rogers, J. (1886–1902). A History of Agriculture and Prices in England from 1259–1793. Vols. I–VIII. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  49. Tingey, J.C. 1898. An Assessment of Wages for the Country of Norfolk in 1610. English Historical Review 13: 522–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Turner, M.E., J.V. Beckett, and B. Afton. 2001. Farm Production in England 1700–1914. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Waterman, E. 1928. Some New Evidence on Wage Assessments in the Eighteenth Century. English Historical Review 43: 398–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Willan, T.S. 1943. A Bedfordshire Wage Assessment of 1684. Bedfordshire Historical Record Society 25: 129–137.Google Scholar
  53. Woodward, D., ed. 1984. The Farming and Account Books of Henry Best of Elmswell, 1642. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  54. ———. 1994. The Means of Payment and Hours of Work in Early Modern England. In Hours of Work and Means of Payment: The Evolution of Conventions in Pre-Industrial Europe, Proceedings of the Eleventh International Economic History Congress, ed. C.S. Leonard and B.N. Mironov. Milan.Google Scholar
  55. ———. 1995. Men at Work: Labourers and Building Craftsmen in the Towns of Northern England, 1450–1750. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wrightson, K. 2000. Earthly Necessities: Economic Lives in Early Modern Britain. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Young, Arthur. 1771a. A Six Month Tour Through the North of England. Vol. I. London.Google Scholar
  58. ———. 1771b. The Farmer’s Tour Through the East of England. Vol. IV. London.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CambridgeCambridgeUK

Personalised recommendations