Daily Life of Soldiers and Officers



From 1660 to 1783 an enlisted man's pay was eight pence per day, for an annual amount in British funds of 12 pounds, three shillings and four pence. But after deductions for food, clothing and a host of small expenses he would have only two pounds and eight shillings left at the end of the year, the equivalent of a few pennies a day. The pay was raised to one shilling and one pence per day at the end of the eighteenth century, which meant a yearly total of 18 pounds and five shillings. From 1797 to 1867 it remained the same, one shilling per day, and was increased by two pence in 1867 - prior to deductions, of course - so that soldiers were no richer than they had been a century earlier. The pay for cavalry troopers, artillerymen, veterans, corporals and others was slightly higher. But all in all the income was laughable, and if the soldier had a family to feed it meant abject poverty - for example, a pound of butter at the Laprairie barracks in 1838 cost 10 pence!