Three shillings, five farthings


Paying the rent, obverse.

Here is an article that tells something very specific about one of Andrew’s Kindred:  precisely where he lived, and how much rent he paid.  Reverse sides below.



TO be SOLD by AUCTION, by Mr. HENRY FARRINGTON, at the NEW INN, PARK STREET, WALSALL, on Tuesday, the 19th. day of May, 1857, at six o’clock in the evening, subject to conditions; all those ten HOUSES, commonly called “Webb’s Row,” with the ten Brewhouses and other Outbuildings, and Gardens thereunto belonging, situate at Brownhills, in the parish of Hammerwich, near to the Anglesey Arms, and now occupied by Mssrs. Hill, Halford, Luke, Dennis, Hopery, Robinson, Orgill, Bellamore, Wright and Day.
      The property contains, with the site of the buildings, nearly 5,000 square yards, is in the neighbourhood of Brownhills and Cannock Chase Collieries, where houses are in great demand, and affords room for the erection of twenty additional houses without overcrowding.
      There is a large soft water cistern, and a well of good water, for the joint use of the tenants.
      The Houses are new and substantially built, and produce low rentals £80 12s. per annum.
      The tenants pay all rates, which are, however, very low.
      For further particulars, apply to the AUCTIONEER, or to Mr. WILKINSON, Solicitor, Walsall.

The occupier Mr Dennis was my second great grandfather’s older brother, William (1805-1877).

Webb’s Row, stood on what is now Castle Street, sometme past The Fault.

Webb’s Row, Hammerwich, Staffordshire. Ordnance Survey 1882-83 survey. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

The land edged blue was subject of the auction.  The three ringed features are Webb’s Row, the well, and the Anglesey Arms Inn.  The P.H. on the corner was the Queen’s Head.  The additional twenty houses had not been built some 24 years on.  Webb’s Row was demolished in about 1967.

From the 1861 census, nearest to the Queen’s Head was not Day, but Dye, so it appears William Dennis lived in the seventh house going north.  William was still there in 1858, but by 1861 had moved round the corner to Watling Street.

The rent was £80 12s. per year for the ten houses, that is £8 1s. 2½d. each, at 3s. 1¼d. per week (three shillings, five farthings).

Three shillings, five farthings. Made up of a half crown (1882), threepenny pieces (1896 & 1864), farthing (1950) and one penny (1862).


Although these are not contemporary, four are Victorian and the older ones might possibly have found their way into William’s pocket at some time or another.

Finding out how much a coal miner like William was paid is difficult.  This is partly because the rate of pay varied with age, time, company and colliery.  A study of the living standards of Tyneside coal miners, 1836-1862 (1) demonstrates this.

Solomon found that, although there were fluctuations over time, the wages for hewers in 1836 and 1862 were broadly the same, averaging 351 and 346 pence per fortnight (about 8s. 9d. per week).  However, there was a range from about 200 – 500 pence (Graph 2, p50).

Another finding was that wages varied in inverse proportion to the number of hewers available in the workforce (Graph 5, p53).  This is a matter of simple economics, but at least someone has taken the time to crunch the numbers.

Graph 10 (p65) plots the national average wage for hewers and this gives a figure of about 530 pence per fortnight, about 22s. per week.  If William earned at this level, the rent would be about 14% of his weekly pay.  However, other family members were bringing in some money:  daughter Mary (27) was a dressmaker and son John (13) was a coal miner.  There were three younger children.

As it turned out the rent could not have been too great a burden as, when he died, William owned two cottages on Watling Street – see Auction and Transition.

(1)  Solomon, Samuel Guy, 2014, The living standards of Tyneside coal miners, 1836-1862, University of York (MSc dissertation).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s