wheat in England seems not to have been estimated 
lower than four ounces of silver
Tower weight, equal to about twenty shillings 
of our present money. From this price it 
seems to have fallen gradually to two ounces 
of silver, equal to about ten shillings of our 
present money, the price at which we find it 
estimated in the beginning of the sixteenth 
century, and at which it seems to have continued 
to be estimated till about 1570. 
In 1350, being the 25th of Edward III
was enacted what is called the Statute of Labourers
In the preamble, it complains much 
of the insolence of servants, who endeavoured 
to raise their wages upon their masters. It 
therefore ordains, that all servants and labourers 
should, for the future, be contented with 
the same wages and liveries (liveries in those 
times signified not only clothes, but provisions
which they had been accustomed to receive in 
the 20th year of the king, and the four preceding 
years; that, upon this account, their 
livery-wheat should nowhere be estimated 
higher than tenpence a-bushel, and that it 
should always be in the option of the master 
to deliver them either the wheat or the money
Tenpence a-bushel, therefore, had, in the 25th 
of Edward III. been reckoned a very moderate 
price of wheat, since it required a particular 
statute to oblige servants to accept of it 
in exchange for their usual livery of provisions
and it had been reckoned a reasonable price 
ten years before that, or in the 16th year of 
the king, the term to which the statute refers
But in the 16th year of Edward III. tenpence 
contained about half an ounce of silver, Tower 
weight, and was nearly equal to half-a-crown 
of our present money. Four ounces of silver
Tower weight, therefore, equal to six shillings 
and eightpence of the money of those times
and to near twenty shillings of that of the 
present, must have been reckoned a moderate 
price for the quarter of eight bushels
This statute is surely a better evidence of 
what was reckoned, in those times, a moderate 
price of grain, than the prices of some particular 
years, which have generally been recorded 
by historians and other writers, on account 
of their extraordinary dearness or cheapness
and from which, therefore, it is difficult 
to form any judgment concerning what may 
have been the ordinary price. There are, besides, 
other reasons for believing that, in the 
beginning of the fourteenth century, and for 
some time before, the common price of wheat 
was not less than four ounces of silver the 
quarter, and that of other grain in proportion
In 1309, Ralph de Born, prior of St. Augustine's, 
Canterbury, gave a feast upon his 
installation-day, of which William Thorn has 
preserved, not only the bill of fare, but the 
prices of many particulars. In that feast were 
consumed, 1st, fifty-three quarters of wheat
which cost nineteen pounds, or seven shillings 
and twopence a-quarter, equal to about one-and-twenty 
shillings and sixpence of our present 
money; 2dly, fifty-eight quarters of malt, 
which cost seventeen pounds ten shillings, or 
six shillings a-quarter, equal to about eighteen 
shillings of our present money; 3dly
twenty quarters of oats, which cost four pounds
or four shillings a-quarter, equal to about 
twelve shillings of our present money. The 
prices of malt and oats seem here to be higher 
than their ordinary proportion to the price of 
These prices are not recorded, on account 
of their extraordinary dearness or cheapness
but are mentioned accidentally, as the prices 
actually paid for large quantities of grain consumed 
at a feast, which was famous for its 
In 1262, being the 51st of Henry III. was 
revived an ancient statute, called the assize of 
bread and ale, which, the king says in the 
preamble, had been made in the times of his 
progenitors, some time kings of England. It 
is probably, therefore, as old at least as the 
time of his grandfather, Henry II. and may 
have been as old as the Conquest. It regulates 
the price of bread according as the prices 
of wheat may happen to be, from one shilling 
to twenty shillings the quarter of the money 
of those times. But statutes of this kind are 
generally presumed to provide with equal care 
for all deviations from the middle price, for 
those below it, as well as for those above it. 
Ten shillings, therefore, containing six ounces 
of silver, Tower weight, and equal to about 
thirty shillings of our present money, must, 
upon this supposition, have been reckoned the 
middle price of the quarter of wheat when 
this statute was first enacted, and must have 
continued to be so in the 51st of Henry III
We cannot, therefore, be very wrong in supposing 
that the middle price was not less than 
one-third of the highest price at which this 
statute regulates the price of bread, or than 
six shillings and eightpence of the money of 
those times, containing four ounces of silver
Tower weight
From these different facts, therefore, we 
seem to have some reason to conclude that, 
about the middle of the fourteenth century
and for a considerable time before, the average 
or ordinary price of the quarter of wheat 
was not supposed to be less than four ounces 
of silver, Tower weight
From about the middle of the fourteenth 
to the beginning of the sixteenth century
what was reckoned the reasonable and moderate
that is, the ordinary or average price of 
wheat, seems to have sunk gradually to about 
one half of this price; so as at last to have 
fallen to about two ounces of silver, Tower 
weight, equal to about ten shillings of our 
present money. It continued to be estimated 
at this price till about 1570. 
In the household book of Henry, the fifth