So to give you just a little bit of context to latter day monetary values etc

All the money quoted on this site is old pre-decimal currency (for the UK of course), so an old penny was worth about 40% of a new penny and wages were paid for work done and then only at the discretion of the landowner or boss, if they thought you hadn't worked hard enough to earn your two pence, then you didn't get it, as simple as that.

I suppose it goes without saying that there was very little you could do if your boss didn't want to pay you back then, as there were no unions or workers rights and seasonal jobs such as farm labouring and stone wall building, where winters could be hard, meant that people who hadn't stocked up enough food or earned enough money to buy food or pay for a roof over their heads, simply starved or froze to death.

  • In the 13th Century a male labourers wage was on average 2d a day (that's 2 old pence)
  • A woman labourers wage on the other hand was only 1d per day
  • A child labourer was paid a half penny a day - and they had to work just as hard for it
  • Land ploughing was paid at 2d per acre and crop reaping by hand at 5d per acre
  • A loaf of bread cost a farthing (that's a quarter of 1d)
  • 1 Dozen eggs cost a halfpenny and 4d per hundred (at least they would be free range)
  • Ale and cider could be bought at a halfpenny per gallon (now that doesn't sound too bad)
  • And a whole sheep would cost you around 12d or 1 shilling

labourers and workers in general could not afford a horse (the only transport of the day) so had to walk everywhere, which meant that people rarely traveled further than about five mile from where they were born. There were no doctors available to the common people, so the smallest accident or infection could kill you and as many as half the women as well as their children died in childbirth.

Which are sobering thoughts against the ills of today don't you think?

Copyright © 2000 All Rights Reserved.