I'm trying to work out how much the 32 barrels of gunpowder placed under the Houses of Parliament by the gunpowder plot conspirators cost at the time, then want to come up with an equivalent cost in modern money.

  • A later (~1862) figure can be found here
    – justCal
    Apr 1, 2020 at 15:22
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    – MCW
    Apr 1, 2020 at 15:23
  • @justCal: In real terms at least, one can expect that gunpowder cost much more in pre-Industrial Revolution 1605 than it did in mid-Second Industrial Revolution 1860's London. Apr 1, 2020 at 15:34
  • This source on pages 20-21 lists early 1500's prices for gunpowder in the Netherlands. The short distance to London, plus arbitrage, would ensure that prices were comparable in the two locations i expect. One could expect prices in 1605 to be intermediate to the prices in the early 1500's and the 1860's. Apr 1, 2020 at 15:40

1 Answer 1


In "A History of Agriculture and Prices in England: 1583-1702" by james Edwin Thorold Rogers, pp738, one finds various references to gunpowder prices recorded by Samuel Pepys as:

  • 1589: 8d. / pound
  • 1642: 2s. / pound
  • average of 15 entries over the period:
    • 14s. 3½d. / dozen pounds
    • £6 5s. / cwt

Specific prices for purchase by the barrel, for naval stores, are also given:

  • 1653: 79s. 6d. / barrel

  • 1654:

    • 79s. 6d. / barrel
    • 75s. / barrel
    • 72s. 6d. / barrel

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