Internet Shakespeare Editions



Reproduced in Social England, ed. H.D.Traill. University of Victoria Library.

In the city, most labour was done by apprentices and journeymen, but there were also men and women who hired themselves out for their specific trades, often looking for employment at country fairs or city markets.

When Perdita "lays it on" as mistress of the feast, the Clown in The Winter's Tale has to buy festive food for twenty-four shearers who would not have been permanent employees of even a large farm (see 4.2.41).

Other labouring occupations included threshers, thatchers, reapers, ploughmen, dairymaids, servants, hedgers, ditchers--and gravediggers like those in Hamlet. Most were paid by the day, some by the year. Click for more on labourers' wages.