14.1. Most Important Occupations

If we want to have a correct “picture” of the development of wages in the working class during the first stage of the Industrial Revolution, we have to inspect the most important branches of employment, collect the figures, and see in which cases the wage level was fixed by factors apart from the general economic situation, i.e. it was influenced by the Revolution.            

Following, we have a list of the most common occupations in Great Britain, according to the Census of 1851 (the first one to collect these data in detail).

Agricultural labourer (males, outdoor)1,006,000
Domestic servant1,038,000
Cotton, calico, manufacture, printing, dyeing501,000
Boot and shoe maker274,000
Milliner, dressmaker267,000
Coal miner219,000
Carpenter, joiner182,000
Army and navy178,000
Woollen cloth manufacture137,000
Silk manufacture114,000
Worsted manufacture104,000
Mason, paver101,000
Linen, flax manufacture98,000
Seaman (merchant service)89,000
Iron manufacture, moulder, founder80,000
Seamstress, shirtmaker73,000
Butcher, meat salesman67,000
Hose (stocking) manufacturer65,000
Lace manufacture63,000
Total of these 30 occupations6,221,000

(Registrar-General of Great Britain, 1854, Census of Great Britain 1851, Occupations of the People, pp. 72-73)

Note: the investigations of Feinstein and of Allen do not include any data as to the numbers supposed to be employed in each occupation (Feinstein’s working papers appear to be lost).

Of these occupations, it is not useful or possible to present data about wages or movements of the same: domestic servant, farmer, army and navy, washerwomen, blacksmith, messenger, seaman (merchant service), grocer, gardener, innkeeper, butcher, schoolmaster/mistress. It is probable that their incomes moved in step with the costs of food. In some of these cases, food and lodgings were provided by the employer, additional to a small cash payment weekly.  

The following occupations have been commented in detail in earlier chapters: agricultural labourer, cotton manufacture, woollen cloth manufacture, worsted manufacture, iron manufacture.  

Monetary system
Pounds (L.), shillings (s.), pennies or pence (d.)
1 Pound = 20 shillings, 1 shilling = 12 pence 

Wage of farm labourer = 9 to 12 shillings per week
Wage of male worker in textile factory = 20 to 30 shillings per week 
Dry weight measures
1 bushel wheat = 60 lb., 1 quarter = 480 lb. 

Price of 4 pound loaf of wheaten bread = 6 to 8 pence
Energy supplied by 4 pound loaf = 4,500 calories 
Price of butcher’s meat = 4 to 6 pence per pound

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