Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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280               Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
and Timothy Burrell, Esq., as documents throwing light on the wages of domestic servants in Sussex in past days. The social position of the Hickstead Stapleys was something between that of squire and yeoman. They farmed their own land and did a good deal in what may be called the retail business of farming, such as selling of wood and of meat as well as of stock. The first of the diarists, however, Anthony Stapley, was, like Timothy Burrell, a councillor or barrister-at-law, and he was also a Justice of the Peace.
The Hickstead Stapleys (they were settled in other parts of Sussex) kept a good establishment, and their house or kitchen staff consisted of three maid-servants and three men-servants. Let us see how they paid them. "The wages of domestic servants," Mr. Turner remarks, a propos of the Hickstead establishment, " both male and female, were then marvellously low;" and the figures that he proceeds to quote from Anthony Stapley's account-book leave no doubt upon this point. The earliest of these entries refer to a period anterior to the Rev. Giles Moore's—that is, to the earlier part of the reign of Charles the First, before the troubles of the Civil War. Thus, in 1636, "To William Dennett, for half-year's wages, £1. 10s. To my own man, Robert, for one year, £ $. 10s. To William Matthew, for ditto, £5. 2s. 6d. To Elizabeth, for half-year's wages, £1. To Rachel, for ditto, £1. To Mary, for ditto, 8s. To the Nurse, for a quarter's wages, £ 1."
These entries, it is clear, embrace all classes of in-door servants; and they are all equally low. £ 1 a-year for men-servants, £2 a-year to women, and 16s. a-year to girls—these were the wages of domestic servants in a country gentleman's house in the time of Charles the First. It was a prosperous time for the country, though, politically, a very troublous one, as the Stapleys, who took sides both with King and Parlia­ment, well knew. Food was abundant and, of course, cheap. Wheat (in 1662), £7. 10s. a load; cows and steers, £1 to £4 each; oxen,/£ 5 or£6 each; 30 ewes selling iox £20. os. 6d.;
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