Cost of Living in Victorian England

In England during the Victorian times, work was led great stress upon. If you visited England at this time, you would probably think that the scenario was pretty much similar to New York 100 years down. Both men and women worked and so did young and old. There were instances of child labor too. It was only during 1874 that children who were not nine years of age were prevented from working.

Chimney sweeper cleaning up afterwards
Chimney sweeper cleaning up afterwards

Lots of women came out to work. Life was pretty unstable and people had this perpetual fear that they were going to their jobs. People applying for jobs were much more in number than the positions that were available. Jobs were so scarce that people with clerical knowledge would often clean up the office.

Laborers had severe concern for their reputation. If they got caught even for once in any trouble, that created a bad name for them. Once their name got spoilt, chances of them securing jobs went down. They were considered to be blacklisted. In that case, they had to go to a different district and find jobs.


This situation was true for a skilled laborer. But the skilled laborers were better off. It was difficult to find a substitute for skilled laborers. Education was expensive. Mainly boys were sent to schools. Girls were married off. It was highly unfortunate if a skilled laborer died. It could destroy his whole family and bring them on the streets.

As docks were established on the eastern part of London, working class people settled down there. This population devised their own forms of entertainment and formed their social groups.

It is tough to claim something definite about the cost of living in the Victorian age. During the last half of the age, the economy of England was subject to a very long period of growth. This growth was soon followed by a stagnation period during the beginning of the C19th.

On average workers received these salaries

1. Common laborers 3s. 9d.

2. Excavators 4s. 6d.

3. Bricklayers, carpenters, masons, smiths 6s. 6d.

4. engineers 7/6 (= 110 pounds/year)

The incomes earned by other professionals

1. Mail Coach Guard … 10/0 + tips

2. Female telegraph clerk … 8/0

3. London artisans … 36/0

4. London laborers … 20/0

5. Farm hands … 14/0

6. Sailors … 15/0

7. Seaman on steamers … 16/4

People who were well paid were

1. Army Cornet … 200/0/0

2. Indian Civil Service officer … 300/0/0


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