Monday, August 18, 2008

Regency Money ~ How Rich is that?

Apparently Mr. Darcy had ten thousand pounds a year. And that was very rich indeed to afford to run a pad like the one pictured above.

It is always hard to do exact money conversions, because the importance of things changed. But Mr. Darcy's income was fabulous when one considers that a gentleman with a family of five could live reasonably well and keep a maid on Two Hundred and Fifty pounds a year. But part of that was because labor was a relatively cheap commodity.

A maid at £16 would be considerably cheaper than keeping a pair of horses costing £65-17s. The maid would be considered a necessity.

An income of a thousand pounds would allow for five servants, a cook, a housemaid, a nursery-maid, a coachman and a footman, whose combined wages are £87 a year.

So an income of the size of Mr. Darcy's is huge. But so is that pile he has to maintain.

An artisan would expect an income of about one hundred pounds a year, no servants, rented property and a reasonable standard of clothing and food.

In normal times a loaf of bread could be purchased for a penny, while one and a half pence could buy you a meal at an Irish ordinary. If you wanted something rather more filling you could try a three penny ordinary, where a meal of meat and broth and beer was available for the advertised price. A quart of beer could be purchased for a penny, and a cup of coffee for the same price. Gin ordered by the quarter and half pint, would set you back a penny and two pence respectively.

A surgeon might expect to make two hundred and seventeen pounds a year, a barrister or solicitor doubled that and a teacher a quarter of that amount.

We know that the Prince Regent paid 900 guineas for Mrs. Robinson's carriage. Enough money for a family of five to live on in very good style for a year.

The Regency was also a time of rising prices for the poor and the start of the industrial revolution that for a time would leave the poor even worse off than before.

That is it for me today. This merely skims the surface of what is a fascinating topic. Until next time Happy Rambles.