Saturday, March 25, 2006

WorkChoices in Warwickshire, 1685

About the beginning of the year 1685 the justices of Warwickshire, in the exercise of a power entrusted to them by an Act of Elizabeth, fixed, at their quarter sessions, a scale of wages for the county, and notified that every employer who gave more than the authorised sum, and every working man who received more, would be liable to punishment. The wages of the common agricultural labourer, from March to September, were fixed at ... fourshillings a week without food. From September to March the wages were to be only three and sixpence a week.

(MacAulay, again)


russ said...

This is interesting. The late 17th century was a period of stable and falling prices, and more importantly for the aristocracy, falling rents. Whereas the Elizabethan age was one of rapidly increasing prices.

They are using a law designed to slow down inflation in general, to stop wage inflation in a workers' market. I don't suppose MacAuley said whether it worked? (or whether the workers just up and left)

Gummo Trotsky said...


No, there's nothing about what the workers did, or what inspired the measure. It's cited as evidence that the wage for an agricultural labourer was four shillings. MacAulay doesn't really consider the economic issues - market price vs legislated price - which are obvious to us.

Anonymous said...

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Lucy Tartan said...

You sold your zip, anon? What's holding up your pants then?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't want to sell what is revealed by a zip.

Not even for four shillings.

Interesting the law made no distinction about adult v child, or man v woman.

- barista

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