Monday, 16 February 2015

Social structure and occupations: 1608 and 1688



Many within the various groups who do ECW re-enactment use Gregory King’s 1688 estimate of the population and wealth of England and Wales to provide a plan of the social structure of society in the mid 17th century. I have recently been working on a 1608 census type document, a muster roll for the County of Gloucestershire, for a talk on Gloucestershire occupations that I am going to give later in the spring. I thought it would be interesting to try to see how the two compare, one forty years before 1648 and one forty years after. So what are these two data sets?

Gregory King's estimate of population and wealth, England and Wales, 1688
Gregory King (1648-1712) is often regarded as the first great English statistician, a subject known at the time as “political arithmetic”. He was Lancaster Herald and heavily involved in the tax system, his major work  ‘Natural and political observations upon the state and condition of England, 1696’ attempted to estimate a range of information including population size, household size, age distribution, tax revenues, and wealth. It has been commented that it “betrays a number of common assumptions of the propertied”, in particular in having only five categories for the poorer half of society. (Hoppit, 2011) For a further discussion of the accuracy of King’s work have a look at G. S. Holmes. (1977)

Gloucestershire 1608
For 1608 all able-bodied men “fit for his Majestie’s service in the warrs”, and between the ages of 20 and 60 “within the City of Gloucester and the Inshire of the same” were listed. Bristol was not included as it was a county in its own right. The list contains the names of 19,402 men, and 135 women who although they could not serve themselves could provide arms. Of these men 109 were unable in body, and 17,046 gave an occupation or status. There are defects to the listing, as mentioned above over 2000 don’t give an occupation, and as John Smyth, steward to Lord Berkeley for whom the list was compiled, remarked of one place “many made default in this hundred and appeareth not”. The under reporting does not appear to be large. The listing, with over 150 occupations, is far, far more detailed than King’s breakdown which only has 26 divisions, of which only five deal with the bottom half the population. It is often difficult to try and fit some of the occupations into King’s subdivisions. (Tawney, 1934)

King’s top five subdivisions
Number of families
Ranks, Degrees,
Titles, and Qualifications
Heads
per family
Number of
persons
Yearly income
per family
160
Temporal Lords
40
6,400
2,800
26
Spiritual Lords
20
520
1,300
800
Baronets
16
12,800
880
600
Knights
13
7,800
650
3,000
Esquires
10
30,000
450
12,000
Gentlemen
8
96,000
280

The 1608 census doesn’t list anyone that fits the first three categories. Henry, Lord Berkeley, died in 1613 and since he inherited the title in 1553 was probably over the age limit. Henry Parry the Bishop of Gloucester probably didn’t actually reside in the county as he was only bishop from 1607-10. The 1608 list has 430 men (presumed heads of households), who are gentlemen, esquires or knights, and a further 27 men declare themselves to be sons or brother of the same.  

King’s “educated” classes
King has six groupings which I have somewhat unceremoniously lumped together as below.
Number of families
Ranks, Degrees,
Titles, and Qualifications
Heads
per family
Number of
persons
Yearly income
per family
5,000
Persons in Offices
8
40,000
240
5,000
Persons in Offices
6
30,000
120
10,000
Persons in the Law
7
70,000
140
2,000
Clergymen
6
12,000
60
8,000
Clergymen
5
40,000
45
16,000
Persons in Sciences and Liberal Arts
5
80,000
60

In the 1608 list there are only 62 people who fit these groupings. Among them are surgeons, schoolmasters, barristers, scriveners, musicians, mayors, chamberlains, constables, and clergymen.

King has these 12 top ranks of society as forming 4.5% of the population, while in the 1608 list they are only 3%, this is because of...

The problem of indoor servants
There is a problem with indoor servants because King includes them with their employer. So for example a gentleman, esquire or knight has a household of between 8 and 13 people according to King. Based on the 1608 list nearly two thirds of these people are going to be servants. In the 1608 list 1196 men declare themselves to be servants to these groups, including 122 who describe themselves as servants to women, presumably of some status, and possibly part of the households already mentioned. There is a different servant problem in that only three clergymen are listed, however we have servants to fourteen different clergymen. The indoor servants from these top social groups are just over 7% of the 1608 list. 

King’s Merchants, Shopkeepers and Tradesmen
Number of families
Ranks, Degrees,
Titles, and Qualifications
Heads
per family
Number of
persons
Yearly income
per family
2,000
Merchants and Traders by Sea
8
16,000
400
8,000
Merchants and Traders by Land
6
48,000
200
40,000
Shopkeepers and Tradesmen
180,000
45

This is obviously a very disparate group. Only one man in the 1608 listing declares himself to be a merchant. The largest group in 1608 are the butchers of whom there are 252 in the county, they are followed by 119 innkeepers, vintners and victuallers, and 109 bakers. Others relating to food sales include fishmongers, a cheesemonger, a grocer and a pearmonger. On the textile side there are 112 mercers, 30 drapers 12 haberdashers and 40 badgers, chapmen and pedlars.  Beyond these we have chandlers, barbers, apothecaries, stationers, and an ironmonger. People who are making rather than selling have been included with the artisans and handicrafts rather than this group. This group forms just under 5% of the population in 1608 and just under 3.7% in King.

King’s Artisans and craftsmen
Number of families
Ranks, Degrees,
Titles, and Qualifications
Heads
per family
Number of
persons
Yearly income
per family
60,000
Artisans and Handicrafts
4
240,000
40

This is where King and the 1608 listing depart from each other. It depends on your definition of artisan or craftsman, but for King these formed just over 4.4% of the population, whereas for 1608 it is over 34%.

Textile workers
Textile workers are the largest group forming over 15% of the 1608 list, the question is whether King would have considered them craftsmen, or placed them in his cottagers and paupers grouping. The largest number over 1,800 are weavers of one sort or another, but there are also fullers, dyers, shearmen, etc. There are also over 300 clothiers, these are men that actually sell the cloth so should perhaps be in the tradesmen section. In addition we have one knitter, one bone (bobbin) lace maker and one embroiderer, remember these are men, considerably more women would have followed these occupations. 

Leather workers
Again are these men King would have considered artisans or craftsmen. They are a small group 201 all told that include tanners, saddlers, collarmakers, curriers and a furrier.
Clothing makers
Most of these may well have been considered craftsmen by King, they form 7.5% of the 1608 list and include the obvious tailors, shoemakers and glovers, but also hatters, cobblers, hosiers, point-and garter-makers.

Craftsmen in wood
These form just under 4% of the 1608 list and two thirds of them are described as carpenters or joiners. As Gloucestershire includes the River Severn there is a small group of shipwrights and ship’s carpenters. Others in this grouping include coopers, wheelwrights, wheelers, turners, hoopers, bowyers, fletchers, shovel makers, basket makers, trencher makers, hive makers, and more.

The building trades
Again difficult to decide how many of these King would have included as artisans, but here forming around 2% of the list we have masons and freemasons, by far the largest group, slatters, tilers, thatchers, glaziers, stonelayers, plasterers, pargeters, painters, limeburners and paviors. 

Metal workers
A group forming 3.3% of the 1608 list of whom three quarters are smiths. The other occupations which can be included in this grouping are nailers, cutlers and pewterers. Six men are ironfounders and one is a bell founder. There are 8 wiredrawers and 5 pinmakers, plus tinkers, braziers, plumbers and two goldsmiths. 

Makers of food and drink
These form 1.5% of the list and comprise millers, the largest group, maltsers and brewers.

Miscellaneous
Finally for this section a group of occupations that can be considered artisanal or crafts, but otherwise don’t fit. Here we have paper, parchment, card and cardboard makers, also potters, bottle makers, a starch maker, and a saltpetreman. 

King’s farmers
Number of families
Ranks, Degrees,
Titles, and Qualifications
Heads
per family
Number of
persons
Yearly income
per family
40,000
Freeholders
7
280,000
84
140,000
Freeholders
5
700,000
50
150,000
Farmers
5
750,000
44

King does not list either yeomen or husbandmen, the two largest agricultural groups in the 1608 list. Generally speaking yeomen are freeholders and husbandmen are not, so perhaps the husbandmen equate to the 150,000 farmers King lists. These three groups above form 24% of households according to King but 30.5% of the 1608 list.

King’s labourers and out servants
Number of families
Ranks, Degrees,
Titles, and Qualifications
Heads
per family
Number of
persons
Yearly income
per family
364,000
Labouring People and Out Servants
1,275,000
15

For King these form 27% of the population, however even by taking all those who list themselves as labourers, all servants to yeomen and husbandmen plus those in towns who list themselves as labourers, all other agricultural workers (shepherds, warreners, etc.) and all servants to artisans and craftsmen,  I can only get this up to 19.3%. So I am adding in the 172 people in the mining and quarrying industries which takes it to 20.5%

King’s soldiers and sailors
Number of families
Ranks, Degrees,
Titles, and Qualifications
Heads
per family
Number of
persons
Yearly income
per family
5,000
Naval Officers
4
20,000
80
4,000
Military Officers
4
16,000
60
50,000
Common Seamen
3
150,000
20
35,000
Common Soldiers
2
70,000
14

Gloucestershire has no officers, nor does it have any soldiers, however it does have seamen. There are 18 fishermen, 194 sailors, 22 boatmen, watermen and trowmen. To these I am going to add the 62 other men who are related to transport; carriers, carmen and loaders. For King these formed nearly 7% of households, but for Gloucestershire it is just over 1.5%

The “missing” 30 percent
Number of families
Ranks, Degrees,
Titles, and Qualifications
Heads
per family
Number of
persons
Yearly income
per family
400,000
Cottagers and Paupers
1,300,000
6.5

King has almost 30% of the population as cottagers and paupers, and late Stuart poverty has been discussed by Arkell (1987) among others. Unsurprisingly no one in the 1608 list describes themselves as either a cottager or a pauper.  Undoubtedly some of the artisans and some of the agricultural workers were very poor, but it is difficult with the Gloucestershire list to separate them out from those that weren’t. Below is a table of the comparisons, figures do not add to 100% because of rounding.


1608
1688
King’s top five subdivisions &“educated” classes
3
4.5
Indoor servants
7
0
King’s Merchants, Shopkeepers and Tradesmen
4
3.7
King’s Artisans and craftsmen
34
4.4
King’s farmers
30.4
24
King’s labourers and out servants
20.3
27
Soldiers and sailors
1.6
6.9
Cottagers and paupers
0
29.4

100.3
99.9

Arkell, T., 1987. The incidence of poverty in the later seventeenth century. Social history, 12(1), pp. 23-47.
Holmes, G. S., 1977. Gregory King and the Social Structure of Pre-Industrial England. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Volume 27, pp. 41-68.
Hoppit, J., 2011. Gregory King (1648–1712)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2011. [Online] Available at: http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/15563 [Accessed 16 Feb 2015].
Tawney, R. H., 1934. An occupational census of the seventeenth century. Economic History Review, 5(1), pp. 25-64.

3 comments:

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  2. Dear Pat Poppy, I stumbled across your excellent and fascinating blog by accident! I am a mature part-time student and currently writing about the costume on an Early Modern portrait. Would it be possible to contact you directly with specific questions (I am interested that the portrait I am looking at might be hinting that the woman is pregnant). Of course, I understand that you may not wish to enter into direct communication with anyone and I quite understand that. In which case, thank you for this wonderful blog! :-)

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    1. Hi. I know the portrait you are referring to, which is very unusual because she is seen getting dressed. On the pregnancy side if you haven't see it try to get hold of a copy of Karen Hearn's article A fatal fertility? Elizabethan and Jacobean Pregnancy Portraits, Costume , 2000, Vol. 34, p39-43.

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