Elizabethan Incomes

The following are some examples, which may be considered fairly typical, of what different sorts of people earned for their labors (or for the labors of others, in the case of the Gentry). These are not set in stone. Like today, two people doing the same job could have considerably different incomes, but these should prove illustrative of possible income levels for various sorts of Elizabethans around 1580.

The Nobility and the Gentry

  • The Queen: £60,000 per annum
  • A Nobleman: £15,000 - £25,000 per annum
  • Lord Burghly: £4,000 per annum
  • Country Gentleman: £50 - £150 per annum
  • The Archbishop of Canterbury: £30,000 per annum

Town Dwellers

  • Successful Merchant: £100 - £25,000 per annum
  • Skilled Laborer: 8d - 12d per day
  • Carpenter: 5s per week
  • Unskilled Laborer: 3d - 4d per day
  • Coney Catcher (Con-Man): 14s in a very good day

Servants

Note: Servants incomes as they are listed here do not include tips, which could bring in more than regular wages.

  • Manservant: 1 Mark per quarter (£2, 12s, 4d per annum)
  • Groom: 2 or less per annum
  • Maid: 5s - 10s per quarter
  • Stable Boy: 10s per quarter

Country Folk

  • Country Parson: 20s per annum
  • Field Worker: 2d - 3d per day
  • Ploughman: 1s per week with board
  • Shepherd: 6d per week with board
  • Thatcher: 2s for 5 days work

Note: A peasant's income is very difficult to estimate. Some poor cottars who paid their rents in kind might have an income around zero, while others might make as much as £20 or more per annum. Out of this, however would come rents, which might be anywhere from almost non-existent to almost the entirety of a peasant's cash income. Since he grew most of his own food however, he would seldom starve, even if he had almost no money.

Soldiers

  • Captain: 6s per day
  • Lieutenant: 3s per day
  • Ensign/Ancient: 1s6d per day
  • Sergeant: 1s6d per day
  • Drummer: 1s6d per day
  • Common Soldier: 8d per day