Seasonal Patterns of Agricultural Day-Labour at Eight English Farms, 1835–1844

  • Joyce BurnetteEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Economic History book series (PEHS)


Burnette examines the seasonality of employment and wages for day-labourers at eight farms throughout England in the period 1835–1844. She measures the number of days worked by men, boys and female workers each week of the year. Most employment peaks occurred either at the hay-harvest or at the corn harvest, and peak employment was anywhere from 40 to 190 per cent more than average employment. Some farms used migrant labour for harvest, some used the labour of women and children and some relied on local men. Male wages were highly seasonal in Norfolk, rising 83 per cent during harvest, but were less seasonal elsewhere. At some farms, wages changed little during harvest. Changes in wages were not strongly correlated with changes in employment.


  1. Allen, R. 2009. The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Armstrong, A. 1988. Farmworkers in England and Wales: A Social and Economic History, 1770–1980. Ames: Iowa State University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Blaug, M. 1963. The Myth of the Old Poor Law and the Making of the New. Journal of Economic History 23: 151–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boyer, G. 1990. Economic History of the English Poor Law, 1750–1850. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Burnette, J. 1999. Labourers at the Oakes: Changes in the Demand for Female Day-Labourers at a Farm Near Sheffield During the Agricultural Revolution. Journal of Economic History 59: 41–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. ———. 2013. The Seasonality of English Agricultural Employment: Evidence from Farm Accounts, 1740–1850. In The Farmer in England, ed. R. Hoyle, 1650–1980. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 2015. The Paradox of Progress: The Emergence of Wage Discrimination in US Manufacturing. European Review of Economic History 19: 128–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Collins, E.J.T. 1976. Migrant Labour in British Agriculture in the Nineteenth Century. Economic History Review 29: 38–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Feinstein, C. 1998. Pessimism Perpetuated: Real Wages and the Standard of Living in Britain During and After the Industrial Revolution. Journal of Economic History 58: 625–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gielgud, J. 1992. Nineteenth-Century Farm Women in Northumberland and Cumbria: The Neglected Workforce. University of Sussex, PhD Thesis.Google Scholar
  11. Goose, N. 2006. Farm Service, Seasonal Unemployment and Casual Labour in Mid-nineteenth Century England. Agricultural History Review 54: 74–303.Google Scholar
  12. Humphries, J., and J. Weisdorf. 2017. Unreal Wages? Real Income and Economic Growth in England, 1260–1850. CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11999.Google Scholar
  13. Kussmaul, A. 1981. Servants in Husbandry in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Snell, K.D.M. 1985. Annals of the Labouring Poor: Social Change and Agrarian England, 1660–1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Sokoloff, K. 1986. Productivity Growth in Manufacturing during Early Industrialization: Evidence from the American Northeast, 1820–1860. In Long-Term Factors in American Economic Growth, ed. S. Engerman and R. Gallman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  16. Sokoloff, K., and D. Dollar. 1997. Agricultural Seasonality and the Organization of Manufacturing in Early Industrial Economies: The Contrast Between England and the United States. Journal of Economic History 57: 288–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Timmer, C.P. 1969. The Turnip, the New Husbandry, and the English Agricultural Revolution. Quarterly Journal of Economics 83: 75–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Verdon, N. 2002. Rural Women Workers in Nineteenth-Century England: Gender, Work and Wages. Woodbridge: Boydell.Google Scholar
  19. Wrigley, E.A. 2011. The Early English Censuses. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wabash CollegeCrawfordsvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations