Elizabethan era coins
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Elizabethan Cost of Living, Salary, Costs

In practice, people seldom spoke of ordinary amounts of money in terms of pounds, unless it was in thousands, like the annual value of an estate, or a special “voluntary” tax.

  • Ordinary, daily expenses were a few shillings and pence.
  • A pair of gloves would cost around 7 shillings.
  • For smaller items, like food and drink, a few pennies would suffice. A pot of ale would cost about a penny or two.
  • A household servant’s salary was about £2-5 per year.

Below is courtesy: http://walternelson.com/dr/node/892

Elizabethan Cost of Living

Typical Elizabethan Prices of Clothing and Fabrics


  • Canvas for Livery: 4d per yard
  • Clothing for the Earl of Leicester: £563 for 7 doublets & 2 cloaks
  • Broadcloth: £6 for 24 feet
  • Good Shirt: £1
  • Pair of knitted stockings: 15s
  • Courtier’s breeches: £7
  • A good pair of boots: £4 – £·10 a pair
  • Shoes for a child: 7d a pair

Major Outlays

  • Annual household expenses for the Earl of Derby: £3,000
  • Cost of rebuilding Kenilworth: £60,000

Food and Drink Costs

  • A loaf of bread: 2d
  • A quail: 1/2d
  • Oysters: 4d per bushel
  • 200 herrings: 3s
  • A chicken: 1d
  • Raisins: 3d per pound
  • A goose: 4d
  • Best beef: 3d per pound
Elizabethan theatre
The Elizabethan theatre had seats according to prices

Elizabethan Era Wages and Salaries

Elizabethan jobs and wages varied according to rank. The Royalties and the nobility would earn large sums of money:

  • The Queen – 60,000 pound per annum
  • Nobility – 15,000 – 25,000 pound per annum
  • Country Gentleman – 50 – 150 pound per annum

The middle class that lived in the town earned slightly less:

  • Merchants – 100 – 25,ooo pound per annum
  • Skilled labourers – 8d – 12d per day
  • Unskilled labourers – 3d – 4d per day
  • Carpenters – 5s per week

Servants had a more or less steady income:

  • Maid – 5s – 10s per day
  • Manservant – 1 Mark per quarter
  • Stable boy – 10s per quarter

People in rural areas earned even less:

  • Country parson – 20s per annum
  • Ploughman – 1s per week
  • Fieldworker – 2d – 3d per week
  • Shepherd – 6d per week
Elizabethan era coins
Gold and silver coins in the Elizabethan era

Servant’s Fines

  • Missing prayer: 2d
  • Cursing: 1d per oath
  • Not making one’s bed: 1d
  • Cook finishing dinner late: 6d
  • Missing a button on the Livery: 1d per button


  • Lodging in an Inn: 2d per week (with Laundry)
  • A modest farm with an ancient lease: £4 – £5 per year
  • A modest farm with a new lease: £50 – £100 per year
Elizabethan market
Elizabethan market

Odds and Ends

  • Tobacco: 12s 64s per pound
  • A small, undecorated book: 8d
  • A large, ornamented book: 10s or more
  • A doctor’s visit: 1 Mark
  • post horse from Dover to London: 3s

Elizabethan era money seldom had paper notes. Most of the transactions were made in coins. Coins were minted in gold and silver during the Renaissance.

240 pennies was equal to a pound or 20 shillings was equal to a pound. The penny was the basic unit of money.

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