Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Well Paid Foster Moms - 1665

"...for 35 guilders a month..."- 1665

Women were often paid pretty well for their services. The two women below were paid 35 guilders a month - each - to wet nurse one of a pair of twin babies for one year.

1665 October 27th - "'Lenne' Roebers will, for one year, wet-nurse Kaste NOORMAN ’s child for 35 guilders a month; if the child dies, she will still be paid for the month in which it dies…Fiete Jansz will take care of the other child on the same condition"... and for the same pay as above is explained.

Another  example was of Geurt Kendrick's wife who received f.32 per month.  One more child was fostered for f.30 a month. 'Marytie' 'Claesen' receive f.25 (guilders) per month for keeping a school aged child, plus a one time payment of  f.4.14 in wages for sewing for the child, with the fabric being paid for by the church. These were not the only types of jobs open to women but it is a great example of how women who did not run taverns, shops or own ships were making money.

'Roebers" and 'Jansz'  earned in one year 420 guilders each, Kendrick earned 384 guilders, another earned 360 guilders and Claesen earned 300 guilders. Once the babies were weened the wage paid dropped little by little according to the work load associated with a more capable child.

The child kept by Marytie Claesen was attending school, with the school master being paid 17.8 guilders, but for an unknown duration. There are a number of payments going out to people we can use for comparisons. Mister Cornelis van 'Dijck' received 200 guilders a year from the church for heeling the sick. But this also assumes he took on personal clients.  Jan Peitersen was paid 5 guilders for 1 4/5 day's worth of mowing (grains). A Native American earned 10 guilders for diving into the water and finding a lost yawl from a ship, A man named Tobias was paid 2.10 guilders for a deer. 'Dirck' the mason for 10 days work at a chimney 10 guilders.

For Jan Peitersen, if he was earning roughly 1 guilder per day, that is about 20-24 guilders a month during harvesting. Harvesting occurs regularly due to rotating crops. 'Dirck' the Mason was earning about the same 10 guilders for 10 days work, which I assume was discounted for the church. In essence, women fostering children until they were about 14 years old which is when they were apprenticed in New Netherland and New York, means the ladies were earning a fair sum of cash in 1665 and 1666. However, the year is a problem... it was the first and second year that the English had gained control and pricing was probably not reflective of better times. But it gives us a good idea of what people were paid even under duress and limited economics.

Master Reyn received 18 guilders for repairing a ship's yawl and 15 guilders for building a (small) boat. Abraham Page the Englishmen received 12 guilders for 8 days of haying, and another 6 guilders for 4 more days of haying. A more consistent income to compare the fostering moms to is Ariaen the Servant who received "5 months wages at fl. 150 a year" 62 guilders. Except servants also had their room and board covered. Nevertheless even if we doubled the servants income to 300, it is at the low end of what a foster mom makes.

'Hubert' Jansen earned  8 guilders a year per person for doing their laundry. He would have to do a ton of laundry to make what a foster mom makes. However, he received a new contract which was 31 guilders a month to care for an old captain including board and laundry, or 372 a year. Another good example of ordinary people's income is a shoemaker's assistant which would be a contract for 2-3 years. In one instance an adult assistant in Albany was under contract for 10 shoes per day in summer.. possibly less in winter with shorter day time light ... received 120 guilders per year. Again, room, board, and laundry were included, but that is less than a servant and much less than a foster mom.

120 Shoemakers Assistant
150 Servant
200 Part time Doctoring for the church
300 Fostering school age child
372 Elder Care
384 Non-Nursing child under about 7
420 Wet nursing

So what did 300 to 420 guilders buy a person in the mid-1600s?

From the same 1665/1666 accounting book we can see the following recorded in guilders.

1 schepel of grain cost 7.10 [45 pound of wheat]
1 schepel of corn cost  6.0 [42 pounds of corn]
? "pumpkins" cost 6.0
2 schepels of rye cost 5.0
2 pounds of butter cost 3.0 [32 ounces]
2 pounds of fresh meat 1.8 [32 ounces] 
 1678 Albany (Supplemental data)
6 schepels of peas equals 1 beaver [= 8 guilders/6 schepels or 27 'stuivers'/schepel/45 pounds ] 

Note that: 1 schepel = 3/4 bushel. One bushel = 60 lbs. of wheat, 56 lbs. of shelf corn, 60 lbs dried peas. And a modern person eats between three to five pounds of food per day.

Let's say we bought 1 schepel of wheat, 1 of corn, 1 of peas, 2 lbs butter, and 2 pounds of fresh meat or 136 pounds of food. That would be 4 pounds of food per day for 31 days and it would cost about 21 guilders and 45 'stivers' or 23 guilders 5 'stivers'. With keeping in mind that carrots, lettuce, parsley, sage, turnips, apples, pears and cherries were items commonly grown in the yard. If roughly 2 pounds of food per person per day was coming from the yard, then the additional 4 pounds of food we purchased could bring a family of four to three pounds of food per person per day. It is on the low end, but hunting was common and meat was rather cheap at 2.10 guilders per deer. Especially considering the hide - even undressed - could be sold to offset the cost. Plus there were fishing poles and clam rakes. 

2 pounds of soap cost 2.10
1 pound of candles cost 2.5
a broom 0.12
Laundry Service for a year 8.0

Assuming we need soap and candles each moth and to budget for the mending or braking of household items we can add another 4 guilders 27 'stuivers', for 27 guilders and 32 'stivers' or  28 guilders 12 'stuivers'. Interestedly, regular laundry for one year cost 8 guilders, or 160 'stuivers' per year or 13 'stuivers' per month. Laundry services were common so let's add that in... 28 guilders 25  'stuivers' or 29 guilders 5 'stuivers'. 

Could you live on Foster Care Income? 

Foster care provided a considerable addition to the household income. Especially since the church would cover all clothing and education costs for the child. For the shoemaker's assistant, their room, board and laundry was included in their contracts with the 150 guilders a year being for clothing, tavern, savings and fun. Foster care could care for one person well enough assuming they rented a room for 8 guilders a year, or significantly raise the standard of living for a family of four, if there was another adult income. For a laborer who mowed wheat or the mason who was doing a lot of discounted work for churches, his wife's income could make a world of a difference. Assuming there was a typical Low Countries style garden, her income could keep the family fed and with candle light allowing his income to cover rent, clothing, and other goods or tools. A foster mom is essentially covering all the day to day cost of the family with room for some extras such as 2 pairs of shoes at 10 guilders, two new copper kettles at 16.16 plus a few extra left over.  Alternatively, she could order two new full sets of clothes (jacket, long sleeved under shirt, fabric breeches, leather breeches, shirt, drawers) for her own children at 36 guilders. 

Food, soap & candles = 29 guilders 5 'stivers'/month (348 guilders 60 'stivers' / year). 

300 Fostering school age child
372 Elder Care
384 Non-Nursing child under 7
420 Wet nursing

With this in mind, reenactors looking to portray "ordinary" people may take into consideration duel income families and other "hidden" cash flows not always obvious in history records like the selling of venison on the side. This would greatly affect the goods they could afford. For ordinary people of the Province, how to spend the extra cash would vary. One may choose to sleep on coarse linen but buy a Holland linen shirt, while they may have iron pans, they may pick up a few copper kettles or have serge suits as their best suit but always new shoes.

* If you see a mistake in my calculations let me know. I used a 20 'struiver' per guilder conversion rate. 

Below are some additional prices:

Other Goods: Note that "f." = guilder

In 1658 Jan Justen paid for 20 ells “coarse” linen f. 20, 4 pairs of shoes f.20, 5 pairs of stockings f.15, 20 ells of duffel f.80, 2 blankets f.32, 4 ells of cloth f.36, 2-1/2 ells of duffel f.20, “N.N.” 2 kettles 7 lbs f.16:16 
In 1661 sent to NewAmstel:
Nelis” “Laersen” 1 pair of stockings [guilders] 3.0 & 2 pairs of shoes [guilders] 10.0
Thomas “Hoppens” 1/2 alm anise (anis) [guilders] 140.0 & 3 ells red duffel [guilders] 3.0; “Baes” “Joosten” 1 large earthen jar f. 4 
Sold at Auction at Fort Orange 1666
a leather and a cloth breeches [guilders] 36.10.00
2 pr woolen stockings [guilders] 14.15.00

Cost of clothing children:

2 pairs of shoes for children 9.0
1/2 ell serge for [1] child's [2] caps 2.0
7 ells of linen for [1] child's shirts 15.0
3 ells of red baize 24.0
2 pairs of stockings 14.0
2 3/4 ell of blue linen for diapers 13.15

For a full set of clothing we have the following quote:

Frans Coninck’s children 2 packages of underclothes on which was used 5 ells of white baize…Frans 2 packages of leather clothes, on which were used 7 deer skins, 2 ells of Osnabruck, Frans a ape rock and a borstrock on which was used 3 ells of kersey at 12 guilders the ell…f.36.

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