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April 1st 1784

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Perthshire servant wages

Between 1770 and 1790 the price of food rose sharply, appreciably more than the cost of farm servant’s wages, but this did not prevent the Minister of Kilspindie, in the Carse of Gowrie from commenting sourly, “Servants wages in this country have risen to a most alarming height. The men servants, with their enormous fees, are disobliging, perverse and obstinate, refusing to work more than six hours in the forenoon and four in the afternoon. They have no idea of submitting to any little economical employment at a winter fireside.” 

The reality of the ‘enormous fees’ are shown in the income and expenditure of a day labourer with a wife and family of seven children living near Auchterarder. In addition to his rented house he was also able to rent an acre of ground on which he kept a cow and grew potatoes, barley and oats.

Mother with help of eldest child by spinning3180
Eldest boy by tending cattle0180
From the land
Total Income2423

Rent of house and land300
Expenses of feed and management150
Molasses, groats and barley for making ale0116
Butcher meat0180
Whisky, small beer and wheaten bread at the New Year034
Grass consumed by cow in summer and straw in winter0160
Four pecks salt040
Lamp oil036
The Father's Clothes
Two shirts 7s, Two pairs shoes 10s, Two pairs stockings 4s 6d, Wear of bonnet and handkerchief 1s, Wear of clothes10s1126
The Mothers's Clothes
One shift 2s 6d. Two aprons 2s 3d, Wear of clothes 4s, Wear of shoes and stockings 4s, Handkerchiefs, caps etc. 3s0159
One pair shoes for each of 7 children0142
Clothes for three youngest children090
Clothes for four eldest children0180
Shirts for children0710
8lbs soap048
Expenses for lying in, sickness etc.0150
Needles, pins, thread0010
Total Expense2402

The milk, butter and cheese produced by the cow was used by the family but in addition a 28lb cheese was bought in as itemised in the expenses account.

At least there was some two shillings left over for the New Year.

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