Thursday, 27 December 2018

What did your Ag Lab ancestor earn?

Gregory Clark, Professor of Economics at UC Davis has compiled data on the history of the English economy, 1150 - 1914 from which I extracted this data on Ag Lab wages.
The jump at the time of the black death in the late 1340s, climb to a peak during the Napoleonic War and subsequent collapse which prompted emigration, are evident.
There's much more at his website like prices of 22 domestic farm products, 1500-1914 wheat, barley, oats, rye, peas, beans, potatoes, hops, straw, hay, beef, mutton, pork, bacon, tallow, milk, cheese, butter, wool, eggs, faggots (firewood), timber; 
"The Price History of English Agriculture, 1500-1914"; farmland rents 1208-1914; and estimated wheat yields and wheat prices, annually, 1208-1452. It's worth checking out when looking to put your ancestors in context.


Toni said...

I wish I could understand those spread sheets. My ancestors emigrated around 1822. I can see that in that row the numbers were less than the numbers in the row above. I thought I might be able to discern a reason for them leaving Yorkshire. I was also curious about the price of things but struck out on that completely. Have NO idea how to read that spread sheet.

Unknown said...

Looks like the first columns are ratios compared to the 1860s being equal to 100. The other columns are prices in shillings per bushel, hundredweight or whatever, for some commodities; pence per pound for others.

Malcolm said...

Toni, Checkout the import format filter you are using to get the table into your spread sheet App. Make sure you have "Fist row is Column headings, or equ.) set and you will see that the rows are years (first column) the other columns are the numeric data as identified. The 2nd column appears to be an overall FARM index (e.g., %) while the next three seem to be the seasonal components of this Farm Index but because the formulas have been removed it is not clear what weighting factors have been used. (It is NOT a simple Average or an RSS.) I haven't read all the text so the explanation may be there.)
The remaining columns are (averaged?) commodity farm gate selling prices, as Unknown says.
It is difficult to see all the data in spread sheets such as this - unless you are gifted - which is why it is usually displayed in charts using the horizontal axis for the timeline and vertical as the "amplitudes" of each column in turn. That way sudden AND gradual changes stand out.