11.7. Jonas Hanway (1767) and Arthur Young (1771)

We have two persons who give us some data about incomes and expenses around the year 1770: Jonas Hanway and Arthur Young. Hanway was a philanthropist, founder of the Marine Society, which looked after very poor boys and found them employment in ships of the Royal Navy, and governor of the Foundling Hospital. As he was involved in the care of poor persons, he was well informed about their financial conditions.

“Let us see how a poor man can live, and whether at the present prices of provisions he has or has not cause to complain.

Bread, 1 ½ lb. at 1 d. per lb. is per ann.          2    5    7

Cheese, 3 oz. at 4 d. per lb. is per ann.            1    2  10

Meat, 4 oz. for 6 days in the week (or roots,

    Vegetables, &c. at 3 lb. per lb. is per ann.  0  19   6

Clothing per ann.                                               1    4   0

Soap, candles, cottage, and other articles        1  00   7

                                                                        6 12   6

Here is nothing for beer, which is an essential article to his health, as well as the joy of his heart; he will drop his bread and die, rather than his beer. If he pays 1 ¼ per lb. for bread, as at this time, then his life will cost him more, 1 l. 2 s. 9 d. or in all 7 15 3                       

Some do not eat ¾ lb. of bread, nor expend above 15 s. in clothing. If a man is in health and strength for laborious work, instead of the computation of                                          

6  12   6

he will earn 1 s. 6 d. a day, for 6 days in a week, which amounts to                                

23    9   6

consequently there remains                            16  17   0

which he has to lay out in beer and meat, or clothes, or whatever may be most agreeable to him. But being in this situation, we are to suppose if the wife and their children add 9 ½ d. a day, it makes both equal to 13 ¼ d., the computation I make of the value of labour, and both comes out per ann. to

35 l. 17 s. 3 d.

If they have 3 children to support, it comes out each person at 7 l.  3 s. 5 d., and if they have none, it must be supposed that they work for at least two others besides themselves; or that two others do not earn half so much for themselves or for the persons who employ them.”

(Hanway, 1767, Letters on the Importance of the Rising Generation…. , Vol. II, pp. 100-101)

We see that the families consume bread, cheese, meat, and beer, and still have a surplus from their income. However, it is not clear in the presentation, what are the food costs for the wife and children.

He also mentions that a large amount of meat is consumed in the country, although it may be that the main part is in London and the towns, and the poor eat a small amount which is arithmetically a surplus.

“The vast consumption of Meat, independent of Seasons or War, one great Cause of the Dearness of it.”

(Ibidem, Vol. II, heading to Letter XXXII, p. 191)

“Some of our domestics eat meat thrice in a day; no wonder if some of the poor cannot get at 3 or 4 ounces in 24 hours.”

(Ibidem, Vol. II, p. 191)

We have from Arthur Young, an estimate of the income and costs in 1771, for an average agricultural family, which he takes as 5 persons: man, wife, child of 15, child of 10, infant. 

            The menu with costs, for the man, he calculates as follows:

            “Seven-days Messes for a stout Man

                                                             s.  d.

First. Bread, 2 lb.                                          0    2

N. B. Wheaten-bread, 1 ½ d. and 2 d. per lb. ryed 1 d. and potatoe-bread, excellent good, ¾. The potatoes at 2 s. a bushel. A mixture of these three, in equal parts, I call 1 d. per lb. No bread exceeds it.

            Cheese, 2 oz. at 4 d. per lb.            0   0 ½

            Beer, two quarts [home brewed]   0   1

Second. Three messes of soup [incl. 3 oz. lean beef]                         

 0   2

Third. Rice-pudding,

            Half a lb. of rice, 1 d., two quarts of flet [skimmed] milk, 1 d. Sugar, ½ d.                                         

0   2 ½

Fourth. Quarter of a lb. of fat meat, and 1 ¾ of potatoes baked together, 1 ¾ d.

            Beer, 1 d.                                           0   2 ¾

Fifth. Rice-milk.                                             0  2 

Sixth. Bread, cheese, and beer as the first,                                             

0   3 ½

Seventh. Potatoes and fat meat, 2 ½ lb, 2 oz. of cheese and Beer,                                                   

0  4

Call the average 3 d. a day,                           1  8 ¼”

(Young, The Farmer’s Letters to the People of England…, pp. 196-197)

            He calculates the food costs for each member of the family proportionately:

“                                                                     s. d.

The man’s food,                                          1  8 ¼

His wife’s,                                                     1  1 ½

Child of 15 years old,      1   3 ½

Ditto, of 10,                                                   0 10 ½

Infant,                                                            1   0

                                                                        5 11″

(Ibidem, p. 198)

The yearly amount of expenses is:

“                                                                      l.   s.   d.

Six shillings a week amounts in the year to,  

15 12   0

To this sum we must add others, which cannot be divided into weekly or daily parts.

House-rent,                                                       1 10   0

Cloaths,                                                             2 10   0 

Soap and candles,                                           1   5   0

Loss of time and physick during illness          1   0   0

                                                                        21 17   0″

(Ibidem, pp. 198-199)

The yearly income is as follows:

“Labourers and manufacturers, earn upon a medium, about 1 s. 3 d. a day, which is per ann.                             

19 10 0                   

The wife earns, on a medium, better, I believe, than a fourth of the husbandsman’s pay: I shall call it a fourth,                             

        4 17  6

The medium of boys and girls, of 15 years old, earn the half of their fathers, which is 9 l. 15 s., but I shall say only,

                                                               9   0  0 

Ditto of 10 years old, a fourth,                         4   7  6

                                                                        37 15  0

(Ibidem, p. 199)

Which then gives a balance of:

“                                                                        l.   s.  d.

Year’s earnings                                                37 15  0

Ditto expenses                                                 21 17  0

Receipt exceeds the expence by                      15 18  0

(Ibidem, pp. 199-200)

Young says that this yearly amount, even if decreased somewhat by unnecessary purchases, is enough to give the man enough to accumulate savings for his old age.

As a basis for evaluating the exactness of this calculation, Young found four agricultural workers, with the same family structure as above, and asked them for their real outgoings. The average expenses were as follows: 

“                                                                      l.   s.    d.

Bread per day, 6 lb. 9 oz. at 1 ½ d. per lb. is 9 ¼ d.       

                               0   5   8 ¼

Cheese, 13 oz. [per day] at 4 d.                      0   1   9

                                                                         0   7   5 ¼

Call this 7s. 6d. it is per ann.                          19 10  0

Beer, 1 s. 6 d. per week,                                   3 18  0

Soap and candles,                                             1   5  0

Rent,                                                                 1 10  0

Cloaths,                                                             2 10  0

Fuel,                                                                  2   0  0

Illness, &c.                                                        1   0  0

Infant,                                                               2 12  0

                                                                        34  5 0”

(Ibidem, p. 202)

The difference against the income given above, gives a surplus of 3 l. 10 s. 

In Young’s opinion, the consumption of bread is given too high, because it implies that the man proportionately would be eating 2 lb. 4 oz. of bread per day, plus cheese, which is difficult to imagine. In any case the family would have a monetary surplus. 


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