In the Victorian era, wages could vary dramatically from employer to employer in the same industry, according to Atack and Bateman’s 2000 report. On the low end of the spectrum, manufacturing workers earned just $8 a month, compared to the more than $166 workers at the top-paying firms would make during the same period in 1880.
The authors attribute rising wage disparity in the 19th century, in part, to the growing numbers of workers who were finding employment in very large establishments, which generally paid far less than their smaller counterparts.
Salary in Victorian era
Milk-woman’s wage – 9s a week
Dentist’s charge for 2 fillings – 10s 6d
Top wage of a woman operating a sewing machine – 16s
Average coffee-stall keeper, general labourer or female copy clerk in the City salary was – £1 per week
Min. cost of a funeral – £4
Live-in maid’s earnings were £6 a year. General servant – £16 annually.
A full set of false teeth cost £21
A butler – £42 per annum while Post Office clerk – £90 a year.
Anglican parson – £140 a year The Governor of the Bank of England – £400 p.a.
1. According to Porter Porter, Dale H. The Thames Embankment: Environment, Technology, and Society in Victorian London, in the mid-1860s workers in London received below wages for a 10-hour day and six-day week:
- common laborers 3s. 9d.
- excavators wearing their own “long water boots” 4s. 6d.
- bricklayers, carpenters, masons, smiths 6s. 6d.
- engineers 7/6 (= £110 pounds/year)
2. These wages reflect weekly pay in the mid- to late ’60s (various sources listed below)
- Mail Coach Guard … 10/0 + tips
- Female telegraph clerk … 8/0
- London artisans … 36/0
- London laborers … 20/0
- Farm hands … 14/0
- Sailors … 15/0
- Seaman on steamers … 16/4
3. In better earning professions, salaries were mentioned in annual amounts.
- Army Cornet … £200/0/0
- Indian Civil Service officer … £300/0/0
A box in The Royal Opera House – £8,000 Lord Derby’s income was £150,000. Duke of Westminster’s annual income topped them all at a cool £250,000.
There is more information available here: Victorian Black People Jobs. For Salary info, refer Bowley, A. L., Wages in the United Kingdom in the 19th Century. Cambridge: University Press, 1900. Burnett, John, A History of the Cost of Living. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969. Hayward, Arthur, The Days of Dickens. New York: E. P. Dutton & Company, 1926.