Tuesday 24 April 2007

Agricultural v Town Labourer 1872

A report from the Buckinghamshire Advertiser for 18th April 1872 taken from the Medical Times & Gazette

This newspaper gave extensive coverage to the growth of the National Agricultural Labourers Union


The English agricultural labourer is entirely a different man in habits and mode of life from the English town labourer. Whether a mechanic or manufacturing hand.

He (the agricultural labourer) is taller, bigger and stronger, but not so acute and restless, slower and less energetic.

He does not consume one tenth of the animal food that a town operative devours, but he does not drink one twelfth of the quantity of alcohol his food chiefly bread, potatoes, suet dumplings and vegetables with a little pork or cheese, but very rarely fresh butchers meat.

When over fifty suffers rheumatism consigning him to the care of the Parish

But if the greater amount of money current among the rural population and shorter hours of work convert the village alehouse into a gin palace and bring into the country the vices of the town, it will only necessitate an increase of cottage hospitals and county infirmaries

Medical Times & Gazette April 1872

other reports in the same paper state

Labourers Wages and Food

England Wages: 1s 6d to 2s 9d a day Food:white bread, bacon,potatoes, veg tables, cheese, tea, coffee, beer, cider, milk butter

Scotland Wages: 12s to 15s a week Food: Oatmeal, porridge, bread, potatoes, milk, butter,tea coffee, little bacon

Ireland Wages: 1s to 1s 8d Food: Bread, potatoes, oatmeal, milk, whisky, bacon


Shepherd was working from 6am to 6pm with half an hour break, and one hour for lunch. Earning 19s a week, £1 extra at lambing time, £3 during harvest time. 2s a day sheep shearing