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|
|Cotton, calico, manufacture, printing, dyeing||501,000|
|Boot and shoe maker||274,000|
|Army and navy||178,000|
|Woollen cloth manufacture||137,000|
|Linen, flax manufacture||98,000|
|Seaman (merchant service)||89,000|
|Iron manufacture, moulder, founder||80,000|
|Butcher, meat salesman||67,000|
|Hose (stocking) manufacturer||65,000|
|Total of these 30 occupations||6,221,000|
(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.
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