12.3. Wheat Prices

The corn prices in this period were practically the same in all parts of England, so that for a comparison of wages per county in terms of weight of corn, we can use just one figure for each date given.

(prices in shillings per bushel of grain)

182418321833183718501850186018601860
Average6.27.56.76.85.05.06.86.86.8

The following table gives the weekly winter wages in terms of 4 pound units of wheat grain which could be purchased per week:

Abstr
Wages 
Poor LawSelect
Comiss
PurdyAgric
Gazette
CairdPurdyAgric
Gazette
Board
Trade
182418321833183718501850186018601860
Bedford21.518.9 21.024.027.022.1 23.2
Berkshire 19.3  21.622.5 19.926.5
Buckingham 19.6  25.525.5 24.3 
Cambridge20.820.0  27.0  22.122.1
Cheshire24.717.821.328.724.0 25.424.325.4
Cornwall16.720.1 27.0  24.324.3
Cumberland28.218.524.626.531.539.033.133.129.8
Derby 21.626.926.530.0 26.524.326.5
Devon16.9 17.633.0 19.925.422.1
Dorset17.516.0 16.521.022.521.017.621.0
Durham26.822.0 26.5 33.030.928.730.9
Essex23.320.320.123.230.024.024.322.124.3
Gloucester21.217.6 19.925.521.021.022.121.0
Hampshire21.320.222.421.024.027.026.522.128.7
Hereford16.420.117.624.0 19.922.121.0
Hertford 21.8 21.027.027.022.122.122.1
Huntingdon 24.1  24.025.5  24.3
Kent26.324.731.326.528.5 26.525.426.5
Lancaster28.221.430.2 40.540.5 33.130.9
Leicester 19.822.4 27.0  25.428.7
Lincoln25.523.9 26.527.030.028.726.529.8
Middlesex26.024.1       
Monmouth23.120.0 23.227.0 25.426.526.5
Norfolk22.519.424.623.224.025.523.219.923.2
Northampton 19.417.919.925.527.024.326.525.4
Northumberld57.020.7 26.536.033.030.933.130.9
Nottingham 22.929.126.530.030.027.624.327.6
Oxford 18.4  22.527.0 24.3 
Rutland 21.6  27.0  24.325.4
Shropshire17.3 19.927.0 22.122.122.1
Somerset15.719.018.821.0 22.122.122.1
Stafford 25.022.426.5 28.527.622.127.6
Suffolk20.518.5 23.222.525.523.219.925.4
Surrey 23.222.423.236.028.528.7 28.7
Sussex25.922.721.323.227.031.525.425.425.4
Warwick20.7 22.124.025.523.224.323.2
Westmoreld20.5 26.533.0 30.9 30.9
Wiltshire 17.517.917.619.521.021.018.821.0
Worcester 18.920.121.024.0 22.122.122.1
York E Rid27.024.828.026.530.036.029.830.9 
York N Rid21.919.4 26.530.033.029.830.929.8
York W Rid26.621.226.926.530.042.029.830.933.1
 
 
Average23.120.223.322.427.328.825.424.725.7

We note that with 15 units of 4 pounds (one bushel) of wheat grain a week, a family has enough to eat each week; with the additional earnings from harvest month, task-work, and work by the wife and children over 10, they can pay for cottage rent, clothing, and fuel. 

From the following comparison per year of weekly winter wages and wheat prices per bushel, we can see that in practically all the years from 1815 to 1860 (with the exception of 1816-1818), the wages on average in England were above this limit.    

The movements in this comparison are practically all due to the changes in the price of wheat:

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