Monday, December 05, 2011

Household Economy of a Banneret and a Squire

The Black Book of Edward IV describing the domestic houshold economy of the squire who can spend fifty pounds a year, may be compared with Hugh Latimer's often-quoted account of his father's yeoman household. Of his £50 the squire spends in victuals £24 6s; on repairs and furniture £5; on horses, hay and carriages £4; on clothes, alms and oblations £4 more. He has a clerk or chaplain, two valletti or yeomen, two grooms, 'garciones,' and two boys, whether pages or mere servants; and the wages of these amount to £9; he gives livery of dress to the amount of £2 10s., and the small remainder is spent on hounds and the charges of hay-time and harvest.*

The annual wages amount to £2 a year each for the cleric and two yeomen, £1 each for the two grooms, and 10s each for the two boys.

The notional budget for a banneret in the Black Book is:

Victuals, including the stable: £121 13s 4d
Renewing the wardrobe, alms and oblations: £25
Necessary repairs of the house and expenses while away from it: £16
Gifts, rewards (regardis) and horseflesh (escambia equorum): £10
Wages of the household £12
Liveries: £6 6s 8d

The banneret's servants annual wages are:

Seneschal: £2 13s 4d
Pro iiii mulieribus per vadiis, per annum: 6s 8d: The value is so low I suspect scribal or typographic error, especially since the women are listed before the cleric.
Cleric: £2
Yeomen: Duorum valletorum, two of the vallets for £4, or £2 each.
et unius valleti: and one vallet at £1 6s 8d:
Grooms: 6 at £1 2s 6d each.

Squires are not listed on the banneret's payroll, but in the Black Book a count hires them for 60% more than yeomen.

Note that these budgets cover only ordinary annual consumption. They assume estates unencumbered by debt payments, and they make no allowance for saving to provide for extraordinary expenses, such as weddings, dowries, funerals or major building projects.

*Stubbs, William. 1874. The constitutional history of England, in its origin and development. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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