The Attorney-General had a salary of £7,000, plus fees that had amounted to £8,183 in the previous year. Judges had a salary of £5,000 a year, equal to the Prime Minister, the four Lords of Appeal had £6,000. More surprisingly bishops were very handsomely paid and archbishops were getting the equivalent of City bonuses. The Most Rev Frederick Temple, as Archbishop of Canterbury, received £15,000, though York was only paid £10,000. Even humble Bristol, which had recently been reconstituted, was paid £3,000.
Of course, these sums have to be brought up to date in terms of retail prices. I have used the retail prices index that was constructed in the recent reissue of Roy Jastram’s The Golden Constant, which included valuable updated material by Jill Leyland.
That gives a factor of 90 to adjust 1900 salaries to contemporary figures. This puts the Prime Minister of 1900, together with other senior ministers, on a salary of £450,000.
Err, no. When trying to compare wages across time you should not upgrade (or deflate) by retial prices. You should rather use average earnings. We are, after all, trying to compare earnings, are we not, instead of the price of a loaf of bread?
That would make the PM\’s salary then equal to something over £2 million a year now.