Life in 18th Century England

In the late 18th century life during the industrial revolution began to transform life in Britain. Until then most people lived in the countryside and made their living from farming. By the mid 19th century most people in Britain lived in towns and made their living from mining or manufacturing industries.

At the end of the 17th century it was estimated the population of England and
Wales was about 5 1/2 million. The population of Scotland was about 1 million.
The population of London was about 600,000. In the mid 18th century the
population of Britain was about 6 1/2 million. In the late 18th century it grew
rapidly and by 1801 it was over 9 million. The population of London was almost 1

Despite the improvements in farming food for ordinary people remained plain and monotonous. For them meat was a luxury. In England a poor person’s food was mainly bread and potatoes. In
the 18th century drinking tea became common even among ordinary people.

Craftsmen and laborers lived in 2 or 3 rooms. The poorest people lived in just
one room. Their furniture was very simple and plain.

In the 18th century men wore knee-length trouser like garments called breeches and stockings. They also wore waistcoats and frock coats. They wore linen shirts. Both men and women wore wigs and for men three-cornered hats were popular. Men wore buckled shoes.

Women wore stays (a bodice with strips of whalebone) and hooped petticoats under their dresses. Women in the 18th century did not wear knickers. Fashionable women carried folding fans. Fashion was very important for the rich in the 18th century but poor people’s clothes hardly changed at all.

In the late 18th century everyday life in Britain was transformed by the industrial revolution. Towns, industry and trade had been growing for centuries but about 1780 economic growth took off.