!8th century expenses

NewkidGenealogy web sites can be great sources of historical data. I came across The Account Book of Thomas Morgan of Carmarthen from the 18th century. This is an article on the book, and I wish the book itself were available on line as it would be a wonderful resource for daily cost of living. But there is quite a bit there for the curious, and here are some tid-bits.

Thomas Morgan seems to have a large Welsh parish, though there's no indication of his annual stipend. Over time, he becomes short of money and has to economise and then move. At times he tries to farm. So the following expenditures may be extravagance.

(I've added a bit about currency at the end.)
In 1755, he pays for his servant James Howell to have:
To trimming his coat 1s.6d
To pay for waistcoat 3s.0d
For velvet 3s.0d
For linnen 6s.0d
 For shoes 1s.6d

It's a bit surprising his manservant needs velvet, isn't it? Perhaps he wanted a fully turned-out footman. Evidence of aspiring beyond his means?

In 1761 he paid his maidservant Susan Hanmer £1.15s.0d per annum, had her shoes mended for a shilling and bought her a silk hat for 4s.4d. Other purchases included a cotton gown, handkerchiefs, whale bone and even a pair of garters. So the wage was truly on top of all expenses, but was Susan getting special perks? That silk hat is suspect. 
Georgianlovers2

There are some clear lists, such as this.
Seven cane chairs £0.17s.6d
One Brass Pan £1.6s.7d
Five Pewter Dishes £0.8s.4d
Twelve Pewter Plates £0.11s.0d
Two brass candlesticks £0.3s.9d
Two Iron Pots £0.6s.0d
Two small casks £0.2s.0d

I wonder why a brass pan was so much more expensive that seven chairs. Any ideas? Weighing and balancing costs in the past is both fascinating and puzzling.

In 1750 he bought the following articles and paid eight shillings to have them transported to his home. That was, note, around a quarter of the annual wages for his maid. Again, chairs seem cheap. Why is a baking stone so expensive in comparison?
One Bedstead and Curtains £1.15s.0d.
Six leather bottom Chairs £0.9s.0d
One Press and one elbow Chair £0.18s.0d
 Fire shovel, tongs and grate £0.5s.0d
Baking Stone 2s.6d.
Saucepan 6d. £0.3s.0d
Bedcord 1s.4d.
flower box 4d.  (Flour, I assume.)
pepper box 2d.
One Decanter 18d.
Waterglas 3d.  
One bottle of mustard 7d. and Pot 3d.
Three Single Deal boards £0.6s.6d

Someone said I should have explained the currency so here's a stab at it. These days, of course, Britain has a metric currency, still with pounds, but with 100 pennies in a pound.

Before the 1970s it had pounds, shillings, and pence. (And shillings go back pre-Conquest.) There were 20 shillings in a pound, and 12 pennies in a shilling. The pennies have a "d" because that comes from the Roman denarius! Pennies were very large coins, sometimes called "cartwheels" so a pocket of them would be heavy. As a penny was still worth something, there were halfpennies, called "haypennies" and quarter pennies, which were farthings.

So the chairs at 17s 6d, were 17 shillings and 6 pence, a bit over 3/4 of a pound. That expensive brass bowl was nearly a pound and a half.

There was also the golden coin, the guinea, which varied in value but can be considered 21 shillings. Why such a confusing amount, I don't know. In 1817, the gold sovereign came into use, valued at 20s, or a pound.

Because the Napoleonic Wars led to a shortage of gold and silver, during that conflict coins were struck of base metal, and paper money began to be used, as on this website. (Leading to the slang term "a roll of flimsies" for a lot of money.)

I hope that helps. Sedinsilksm

A glimpse into an 18th century life. Do you have any observations on the relative costs, or comparisons to various costs today? I'm working in the Regency world now, but this was all right in the time for Seduction in Silk.

Cheers,

Jo

75 thoughts on “!8th century expenses”

  1. Know nothing about comparative costs but it does sound as if the gentleman was gussying up the house for someone, doesn’t it? I’m more curious about the motivation behind the expenditures!

    Reply
  2. Know nothing about comparative costs but it does sound as if the gentleman was gussying up the house for someone, doesn’t it? I’m more curious about the motivation behind the expenditures!

    Reply
  3. Know nothing about comparative costs but it does sound as if the gentleman was gussying up the house for someone, doesn’t it? I’m more curious about the motivation behind the expenditures!

    Reply
  4. Know nothing about comparative costs but it does sound as if the gentleman was gussying up the house for someone, doesn’t it? I’m more curious about the motivation behind the expenditures!

    Reply
  5. Know nothing about comparative costs but it does sound as if the gentleman was gussying up the house for someone, doesn’t it? I’m more curious about the motivation behind the expenditures!

    Reply
  6. Some of it does seem to sync with his marriages, Pat, but as I said the notes from the book don’t give all the details.
    In our books we perhaps don’t pay enough attention to the nest-feathering that usually goes on around a wedding.
    Jo

    Reply
  7. Some of it does seem to sync with his marriages, Pat, but as I said the notes from the book don’t give all the details.
    In our books we perhaps don’t pay enough attention to the nest-feathering that usually goes on around a wedding.
    Jo

    Reply
  8. Some of it does seem to sync with his marriages, Pat, but as I said the notes from the book don’t give all the details.
    In our books we perhaps don’t pay enough attention to the nest-feathering that usually goes on around a wedding.
    Jo

    Reply
  9. Some of it does seem to sync with his marriages, Pat, but as I said the notes from the book don’t give all the details.
    In our books we perhaps don’t pay enough attention to the nest-feathering that usually goes on around a wedding.
    Jo

    Reply
  10. Some of it does seem to sync with his marriages, Pat, but as I said the notes from the book don’t give all the details.
    In our books we perhaps don’t pay enough attention to the nest-feathering that usually goes on around a wedding.
    Jo

    Reply
  11. The thing I always point out when giving workshops is that the true expense for clothing was the material, not the labor. Today, the opposite tends to be true if you’re having custom clothing made. This is one of the reasons that remaking/altering clothing was so common. Today, unless it’s something sentimental like a wedding gown, the expense doesn’t seem worth it.
    Also, BOOKS were extremely expensive. in 1809, The Mysteries of Udolpho (in 4 vols) was £1.4s. The Poems of Wordsworth (in 2 vols) was £1. A treatise on managing country homes (2 vol in boards) was £3.3s!

    Reply
  12. The thing I always point out when giving workshops is that the true expense for clothing was the material, not the labor. Today, the opposite tends to be true if you’re having custom clothing made. This is one of the reasons that remaking/altering clothing was so common. Today, unless it’s something sentimental like a wedding gown, the expense doesn’t seem worth it.
    Also, BOOKS were extremely expensive. in 1809, The Mysteries of Udolpho (in 4 vols) was £1.4s. The Poems of Wordsworth (in 2 vols) was £1. A treatise on managing country homes (2 vol in boards) was £3.3s!

    Reply
  13. The thing I always point out when giving workshops is that the true expense for clothing was the material, not the labor. Today, the opposite tends to be true if you’re having custom clothing made. This is one of the reasons that remaking/altering clothing was so common. Today, unless it’s something sentimental like a wedding gown, the expense doesn’t seem worth it.
    Also, BOOKS were extremely expensive. in 1809, The Mysteries of Udolpho (in 4 vols) was £1.4s. The Poems of Wordsworth (in 2 vols) was £1. A treatise on managing country homes (2 vol in boards) was £3.3s!

    Reply
  14. The thing I always point out when giving workshops is that the true expense for clothing was the material, not the labor. Today, the opposite tends to be true if you’re having custom clothing made. This is one of the reasons that remaking/altering clothing was so common. Today, unless it’s something sentimental like a wedding gown, the expense doesn’t seem worth it.
    Also, BOOKS were extremely expensive. in 1809, The Mysteries of Udolpho (in 4 vols) was £1.4s. The Poems of Wordsworth (in 2 vols) was £1. A treatise on managing country homes (2 vol in boards) was £3.3s!

    Reply
  15. The thing I always point out when giving workshops is that the true expense for clothing was the material, not the labor. Today, the opposite tends to be true if you’re having custom clothing made. This is one of the reasons that remaking/altering clothing was so common. Today, unless it’s something sentimental like a wedding gown, the expense doesn’t seem worth it.
    Also, BOOKS were extremely expensive. in 1809, The Mysteries of Udolpho (in 4 vols) was £1.4s. The Poems of Wordsworth (in 2 vols) was £1. A treatise on managing country homes (2 vol in boards) was £3.3s!

    Reply
  16. Maybe “pan” is misleading, if in size it was more like a vat – for their beer. Or a copper, for boiling clothes (would that have done at this time?). Fascinating stuff!

    Reply
  17. Maybe “pan” is misleading, if in size it was more like a vat – for their beer. Or a copper, for boiling clothes (would that have done at this time?). Fascinating stuff!

    Reply
  18. Maybe “pan” is misleading, if in size it was more like a vat – for their beer. Or a copper, for boiling clothes (would that have done at this time?). Fascinating stuff!

    Reply
  19. Maybe “pan” is misleading, if in size it was more like a vat – for their beer. Or a copper, for boiling clothes (would that have done at this time?). Fascinating stuff!

    Reply
  20. Maybe “pan” is misleading, if in size it was more like a vat – for their beer. Or a copper, for boiling clothes (would that have done at this time?). Fascinating stuff!

    Reply
  21. I would love to find a site that explains money in the regency period. I’m not English, so pound, sterling, farthing, etc kind of confuses me. :/
    Thank you for sharing this. I find all of these tidbits interesting!

    Reply
  22. I would love to find a site that explains money in the regency period. I’m not English, so pound, sterling, farthing, etc kind of confuses me. :/
    Thank you for sharing this. I find all of these tidbits interesting!

    Reply
  23. I would love to find a site that explains money in the regency period. I’m not English, so pound, sterling, farthing, etc kind of confuses me. :/
    Thank you for sharing this. I find all of these tidbits interesting!

    Reply
  24. I would love to find a site that explains money in the regency period. I’m not English, so pound, sterling, farthing, etc kind of confuses me. :/
    Thank you for sharing this. I find all of these tidbits interesting!

    Reply
  25. I would love to find a site that explains money in the regency period. I’m not English, so pound, sterling, farthing, etc kind of confuses me. :/
    Thank you for sharing this. I find all of these tidbits interesting!

    Reply
  26. Absolutely fascinating. I wish the book were available online as well. The silk hat is definitely suspect. Obviously payment for some sort of service above and beyond. 🙂 The price of the chairs is amazing. Would that I could purchase that number of leather-bottomed chairs for that price today!

    Reply
  27. Absolutely fascinating. I wish the book were available online as well. The silk hat is definitely suspect. Obviously payment for some sort of service above and beyond. 🙂 The price of the chairs is amazing. Would that I could purchase that number of leather-bottomed chairs for that price today!

    Reply
  28. Absolutely fascinating. I wish the book were available online as well. The silk hat is definitely suspect. Obviously payment for some sort of service above and beyond. 🙂 The price of the chairs is amazing. Would that I could purchase that number of leather-bottomed chairs for that price today!

    Reply
  29. Absolutely fascinating. I wish the book were available online as well. The silk hat is definitely suspect. Obviously payment for some sort of service above and beyond. 🙂 The price of the chairs is amazing. Would that I could purchase that number of leather-bottomed chairs for that price today!

    Reply
  30. Absolutely fascinating. I wish the book were available online as well. The silk hat is definitely suspect. Obviously payment for some sort of service above and beyond. 🙂 The price of the chairs is amazing. Would that I could purchase that number of leather-bottomed chairs for that price today!

    Reply
  31. I love reading the prices of things from different periods. Looking at the prices listed, they seem to be associated with the workmanship. That is a mixture of timber (plain carpentry) and timber joinery work, glass work (blown glass), metal work (wrought iron and plain iron and possibly pewter) and fabric (lightly woven material and heavy fabric). I remember seeing a chair for sale once in Melbourne. It was supposed to be a Sheraton wing back chair, but all the fabric was removed, and as far as I could see it was just a timber frame. I have always been a bit sus whether it was genuine, but the price was certainly genuine. I didn’t buy it!

    Reply
  32. I love reading the prices of things from different periods. Looking at the prices listed, they seem to be associated with the workmanship. That is a mixture of timber (plain carpentry) and timber joinery work, glass work (blown glass), metal work (wrought iron and plain iron and possibly pewter) and fabric (lightly woven material and heavy fabric). I remember seeing a chair for sale once in Melbourne. It was supposed to be a Sheraton wing back chair, but all the fabric was removed, and as far as I could see it was just a timber frame. I have always been a bit sus whether it was genuine, but the price was certainly genuine. I didn’t buy it!

    Reply
  33. I love reading the prices of things from different periods. Looking at the prices listed, they seem to be associated with the workmanship. That is a mixture of timber (plain carpentry) and timber joinery work, glass work (blown glass), metal work (wrought iron and plain iron and possibly pewter) and fabric (lightly woven material and heavy fabric). I remember seeing a chair for sale once in Melbourne. It was supposed to be a Sheraton wing back chair, but all the fabric was removed, and as far as I could see it was just a timber frame. I have always been a bit sus whether it was genuine, but the price was certainly genuine. I didn’t buy it!

    Reply
  34. I love reading the prices of things from different periods. Looking at the prices listed, they seem to be associated with the workmanship. That is a mixture of timber (plain carpentry) and timber joinery work, glass work (blown glass), metal work (wrought iron and plain iron and possibly pewter) and fabric (lightly woven material and heavy fabric). I remember seeing a chair for sale once in Melbourne. It was supposed to be a Sheraton wing back chair, but all the fabric was removed, and as far as I could see it was just a timber frame. I have always been a bit sus whether it was genuine, but the price was certainly genuine. I didn’t buy it!

    Reply
  35. I love reading the prices of things from different periods. Looking at the prices listed, they seem to be associated with the workmanship. That is a mixture of timber (plain carpentry) and timber joinery work, glass work (blown glass), metal work (wrought iron and plain iron and possibly pewter) and fabric (lightly woven material and heavy fabric). I remember seeing a chair for sale once in Melbourne. It was supposed to be a Sheraton wing back chair, but all the fabric was removed, and as far as I could see it was just a timber frame. I have always been a bit sus whether it was genuine, but the price was certainly genuine. I didn’t buy it!

    Reply
  36. I love the odd bits of information about the ordinary stuff of life. It’s easy to find information about the negotiations at the Congress of Vienna, but where do you find out how Mom went about outfitting the kids for school in 1800?

    Reply
  37. I love the odd bits of information about the ordinary stuff of life. It’s easy to find information about the negotiations at the Congress of Vienna, but where do you find out how Mom went about outfitting the kids for school in 1800?

    Reply
  38. I love the odd bits of information about the ordinary stuff of life. It’s easy to find information about the negotiations at the Congress of Vienna, but where do you find out how Mom went about outfitting the kids for school in 1800?

    Reply
  39. I love the odd bits of information about the ordinary stuff of life. It’s easy to find information about the negotiations at the Congress of Vienna, but where do you find out how Mom went about outfitting the kids for school in 1800?

    Reply
  40. I love the odd bits of information about the ordinary stuff of life. It’s easy to find information about the negotiations at the Congress of Vienna, but where do you find out how Mom went about outfitting the kids for school in 1800?

    Reply
  41. Jo here. Jane, I suspect that’s it — that the brass pan was huge.
    Karen,I’ve added a brief explanation of the money to the post.
    Lil, me, too, which is why these little account books and such are so fabulous.
    Cheers,
    Jo

    Reply
  42. Jo here. Jane, I suspect that’s it — that the brass pan was huge.
    Karen,I’ve added a brief explanation of the money to the post.
    Lil, me, too, which is why these little account books and such are so fabulous.
    Cheers,
    Jo

    Reply
  43. Jo here. Jane, I suspect that’s it — that the brass pan was huge.
    Karen,I’ve added a brief explanation of the money to the post.
    Lil, me, too, which is why these little account books and such are so fabulous.
    Cheers,
    Jo

    Reply
  44. Jo here. Jane, I suspect that’s it — that the brass pan was huge.
    Karen,I’ve added a brief explanation of the money to the post.
    Lil, me, too, which is why these little account books and such are so fabulous.
    Cheers,
    Jo

    Reply
  45. Jo here. Jane, I suspect that’s it — that the brass pan was huge.
    Karen,I’ve added a brief explanation of the money to the post.
    Lil, me, too, which is why these little account books and such are so fabulous.
    Cheers,
    Jo

    Reply
  46. For my job, I have sat in on discussions with economists about how we should measure the per captia gross domestic product of some of the poorest countries in the world. The basic argument is that exchange rate conversion does not accurately reflect purchasing power, therefore, the measure should be be based on (yes, you guessed it) parity purchasing power. When these experts present the numbers, there is a huge difference between the two, like $300 vs $900, which when you figure it is the difference between living on just under a dollar a day or three dollars a day. One of the main reasons for PPP GDP is that food costs vary greatly from one country to another; in some roughly 25% of income goes to buying food. Fuel also can be incredibly expensive.
    What made me curious was the baking stone. I am familiar with it being used to make flat bread and pizza, but what else was it used for?

    Reply
  47. For my job, I have sat in on discussions with economists about how we should measure the per captia gross domestic product of some of the poorest countries in the world. The basic argument is that exchange rate conversion does not accurately reflect purchasing power, therefore, the measure should be be based on (yes, you guessed it) parity purchasing power. When these experts present the numbers, there is a huge difference between the two, like $300 vs $900, which when you figure it is the difference between living on just under a dollar a day or three dollars a day. One of the main reasons for PPP GDP is that food costs vary greatly from one country to another; in some roughly 25% of income goes to buying food. Fuel also can be incredibly expensive.
    What made me curious was the baking stone. I am familiar with it being used to make flat bread and pizza, but what else was it used for?

    Reply
  48. For my job, I have sat in on discussions with economists about how we should measure the per captia gross domestic product of some of the poorest countries in the world. The basic argument is that exchange rate conversion does not accurately reflect purchasing power, therefore, the measure should be be based on (yes, you guessed it) parity purchasing power. When these experts present the numbers, there is a huge difference between the two, like $300 vs $900, which when you figure it is the difference between living on just under a dollar a day or three dollars a day. One of the main reasons for PPP GDP is that food costs vary greatly from one country to another; in some roughly 25% of income goes to buying food. Fuel also can be incredibly expensive.
    What made me curious was the baking stone. I am familiar with it being used to make flat bread and pizza, but what else was it used for?

    Reply
  49. For my job, I have sat in on discussions with economists about how we should measure the per captia gross domestic product of some of the poorest countries in the world. The basic argument is that exchange rate conversion does not accurately reflect purchasing power, therefore, the measure should be be based on (yes, you guessed it) parity purchasing power. When these experts present the numbers, there is a huge difference between the two, like $300 vs $900, which when you figure it is the difference between living on just under a dollar a day or three dollars a day. One of the main reasons for PPP GDP is that food costs vary greatly from one country to another; in some roughly 25% of income goes to buying food. Fuel also can be incredibly expensive.
    What made me curious was the baking stone. I am familiar with it being used to make flat bread and pizza, but what else was it used for?

    Reply
  50. For my job, I have sat in on discussions with economists about how we should measure the per captia gross domestic product of some of the poorest countries in the world. The basic argument is that exchange rate conversion does not accurately reflect purchasing power, therefore, the measure should be be based on (yes, you guessed it) parity purchasing power. When these experts present the numbers, there is a huge difference between the two, like $300 vs $900, which when you figure it is the difference between living on just under a dollar a day or three dollars a day. One of the main reasons for PPP GDP is that food costs vary greatly from one country to another; in some roughly 25% of income goes to buying food. Fuel also can be incredibly expensive.
    What made me curious was the baking stone. I am familiar with it being used to make flat bread and pizza, but what else was it used for?

    Reply
  51. Jo here.
    Shannon, I assume a baking stone would be used to make drop pancakes and scones.
    Interesting about the different values. There is something called the Big Mac index which says that the price of a Big Mac around the world indicates the relative cost of living, if I understand it. Of course, a lot of places don’t have McD, but I suspect a great many do.

    Reply
  52. Jo here.
    Shannon, I assume a baking stone would be used to make drop pancakes and scones.
    Interesting about the different values. There is something called the Big Mac index which says that the price of a Big Mac around the world indicates the relative cost of living, if I understand it. Of course, a lot of places don’t have McD, but I suspect a great many do.

    Reply
  53. Jo here.
    Shannon, I assume a baking stone would be used to make drop pancakes and scones.
    Interesting about the different values. There is something called the Big Mac index which says that the price of a Big Mac around the world indicates the relative cost of living, if I understand it. Of course, a lot of places don’t have McD, but I suspect a great many do.

    Reply
  54. Jo here.
    Shannon, I assume a baking stone would be used to make drop pancakes and scones.
    Interesting about the different values. There is something called the Big Mac index which says that the price of a Big Mac around the world indicates the relative cost of living, if I understand it. Of course, a lot of places don’t have McD, but I suspect a great many do.

    Reply
  55. Jo here.
    Shannon, I assume a baking stone would be used to make drop pancakes and scones.
    Interesting about the different values. There is something called the Big Mac index which says that the price of a Big Mac around the world indicates the relative cost of living, if I understand it. Of course, a lot of places don’t have McD, but I suspect a great many do.

    Reply

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