Prices and Wages in Stafford 1780-1850: An Investigation of Local Sources.

Kirby, David Geoffrey (1984). Prices and Wages in Stafford 1780-1850: An Investigation of Local Sources. BPhil thesis The Open University.



The thesis maintains that local research has a vital part to play in the debate about living standards. Local experience differed from that indicated in national aggregated statistics, and local records will permit a greater insight into the experiences of individuals. At the moment the amount of local information which has been researched is too limited to influence the overall direction of the debate.

The thesis is an investigation of sources which might add to local knowledge of prices and earnings.

Chapters 1 and 2 review the context of the research. Chapter 1 summarises the state of the debate, drawing particular attention to T. S. Ashton's requirement of a variety of indexes to measure local and temporary changes in prices and earnings. Chapter 2 explains the status of Stafford itself.

The Stafford Record Office has a variety of sources which enable Ashton's requirements to be met. Local newspapers, hospital and workhouse records have daily and weekly reference to a wide range of foods and other domestic commodities. Chapters 3, 4, 3, 6 and 7 demonstrate the possibility of creating prices indexes for comparison with other data.

Local estate records reveal detailed information of the work and earnings of individual farm workers. Chapters 8, 9, 10 and 11 analyse the work as well as the wage rates and the earnings of individual men and women. It seems that farm workers near Stafford might have suffered frequent, rapid and unpredictable changes in their standard of living; that fluctuations in income might well have been weekly; and that women's earnings were an essential element in the family income.

From the sources in the Stafford Record Office it will be possible to make a valuable contribution to the standard of living debate.

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