What was the Cost of Living During the 1700s in England ?
We hear much about the cost of living nowadays but how does that compare with ‘The Olden Days’ was everything cheaper a few hundred years ago?
Well, try this, it’s really interesting, the household accounts from a gentleman living in Lincoln during the 1700s
Don’t miss this one ‘non-history fans’ . . .
I think this is fascinating, as regulars will know - I’m a fan of everyday history, the sort of thing that gets forgotten and this falls beautifully into that.
These figures are taken from the household accounts of a gentleman resident in Lincoln and are dated 1762, figures stated are per annum unless otherwise noted.
What I like is that is gives us comparative examples, here’s one that really struck me
Man Servant 8 pound Wages, Livery 4 pounds
So that’s £12 a year to have a servant / butler / valet, now . . .
Horse . . . 20
£20 a year for his horse, a huge sum back then and surely more than running an average car today but more interesting is the fact that his car is costing him nearly twice as much as a servant!
What about staying warm - we all know what’s happened to gas bills of late . . .
five Chaldron of Coals for the year £3 15s
Once again, doesn’t sound like much but put it in context, a quarter of the annual salary of a servant on coal, once again pro rata much more expensive than today.
Now, what about a nice cup of tea - you can’t beat it - not for peasants though, looks like a luxury
Three Guineas a Year for Tea
That’s £3 3s for tea! almost as much as all the coal he needed for a year.
I’d be prepared to bet that nobody living in Grimsby has 3 servants yet once upon a time many houses here did employ ’staff’ and those houses are still here - unstaffed!
They say we’re all getting richer so why haven’t we got servants?
Here’s what a maid cost . . .
Maid Servant 4 p/d Wages . . . £4
Your own maid for fourpence a day or £4 per year!
Now, compare that to this chaps wine bill, interestingly this chap can’t have been that much different to me, bachelor living on his own with a taste for wine.
I no longer drink wine as I once did but I certainly used to drink more than he did
A pint of Wine a day . . . £15
You could employ 3 maids for the annual wine bill and that’s not even a bottle a day!
I think, personally speaking, I’d be quite happy with a couple of handpicked maids and a pint of wine a day but man cannot live on wine and maids alone
What about grub ?
What would people have eaten over 200 years ago and what would it have cost?
Here’s a week’s menu and the cost of food shopping:
Sunday Roast beef piece of . . . 1s 8d
Monday Mutton Stakes and a pudding . . . 8d
Tuesday roast Leg of mutton . . . o Is 8d
Wednesday fowl & hash’d Mutton . . . 8d
Thursday boyl’d beef piece of the Brisket . . . 1s 8d
Friday Mutton pie, Tart and Cold beef . . . 1s 6d
Saturday Neck of roast Mutton fowl & bacon . . . 2s
Interesting to note the menu and the differing costs, the cheaper cuts of meat taking dinner to less than a shilling.
I think this is an absolutely fascinating snapshot into a time gone by and I think it puts a lot of things into perspective, times certainly have changed, I’d say it’s much cheaper to live now then it was then.
Few of us can afford servants but anybody can have a cup of tea . . . thank goodness as I’m having one as I type.
As always, opinions and comment, perhaps other examples of what things cost in the 1700s, are more than welcomed.
Hope you found this as interesting as I did, finding it certainly made my trip to Lincoln yesterday worthwhile.
Must dash, I’ve got to . . . Scold the Maid