Running my eye accidentally through the household book of Sir Roger Twysden, from 1659 to 1670, it occurred to me to make a comparison between the relative prices of meat and wages, as there given, in order to ascertain the position of our peasantry in these parts, at the close of the 17th century. I send you a few extracts, by which it will be seen that, in Kent, at least, our agricultural labourers appear to have been in far better condition than those of the rest of England, who, in Mr. Macaulay’s brilliant work, are represented as living “almost entirely on rye, barley, and oats,” owing to the exorbitantly high price of meat, as compared with the ordinary scale of wages.
As to meat, I find the following entries:—
“1659. Beef 2s. and 1s. 8d. per stone. a loin of mutton 1s. 6d. 1662. Beef 2s. per stone. a shin of beef 1s. 10d. a loin of veal 3s. 4d. a calve’s head 1s. 2d. a quarter of mutton 4s. 4d. and 5s. a side of mutton 9s. 1664. 8 quarters of mutton 32s. 1 quarter of do. 4s. 6 stone of beef 10s. 4d. 1666. 6 stone of beef 10s. 4d. a fat weather 12s. 8d. 32 fat weathers 19l. 1667. 10 stone of beef and 2 lb. of suet 18s. 22 stone of beef 2l. 23 stone of beef 2l. 3s. a chine and a quarter of veal 8s. 1670. A chine and a quarter of mutton 5s. a quarter of lamb 2s. 6d.”
Through this period we have:—
“Cheese per load, i.e.
56 lb., at 14s., 11s., 10s., 4d.,
The wages of labourers through the same period are entered:—
2s. 6d. per hundred.
a farm carpenter 1s. 6d. per day.
or, ‘I finding him,’ 1s. per day.
common labourers, generally 1s. per \
day; sometimes, but less frequently, > in 1849, 2s.
9d. per day /
threshing wheat, 16d. per quarter in 1849, 3s.
mowing, from 1s. to 1s. 8d. per acre in 1849, 3s. 6d.
mowing oats, 1s. 3d. per acre in 1849, 2s. 6d.
mowing clover, 1s. 6d. per acre in 1849, 2s. 6d.
hayers, 2s. and 2s. 6d. per week in 1849, 6s.
reaping, 2s. per acre in 1849, 10s. to 14s.
sheep shearing, 1s. per score in 1849, 2s. 6d.
hedging 2-1/2d. per rod in 1849, 4d.
hoeing, 6d. per acre in 1849, 4s.
women 8d. per day in 1849, 1s., and 1s. 4d.
boys, 4d. per day in 1849, 6d. and 3d.
making faggots, 18d. and 20d. per hundred; in 1849, 3s.”