Friday, December 9, 2022

The Pricey Christmas Turkey in 16C-18C Mother England

About the Christmas turkey in England. In the 1570s, the price of a large turkey was 3s 4d & average weekly wage of a laborer was 2s 9d.  A Christmas turkey cost over 1 week’s wages for the working poor. But Tomas Tusser had reported in 1557 that, “Beef, mutton, and pork, and good pies of the best, Pig, veal, goose, and capon, and turkey well drest,” was the dinner of choice for the British gentry.  

By the early 1600s, when the British were beginning to establish colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America, turkey in London had begun to replace the tougher meats of peacock & swan at major Tudor banquets held by the rich & powerful. 

In the 1740s before the American Revolution, a large turkey in England was 6s 3d & average weekly wage of a laborer was 8s 2d.  The celebrated Christmas turkey had dropped to just under a week’s wages for poorer British subjects.