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The Laws of Settlement

“When the parish became a prison it was the poor-law settlement system which made it so; when the parish became a vast almshouse it was an ill-advised relaxation of the poor-law principles which pauperised the labourer and bankrupted the small farmer.”[1] Contents In the 1640’s John Lilburne , a member […]


Smallpox -it sounds innocuous enough, particularly when the great pox was syphilis, but historically, depending upon which population it affected it killed between a third and a quarter of its victims. Today we know it to be an infection but in the 17th century even this simple fact was not […]

The Tithe Commission

The process of implementing the Tithe Commutation Act was vested in three Tithe Commissioners based in London. The Chairman was William Blamire, whose simple description was ‘Cumberland farmer’. Born in 1790 he was educated at Westminster School, Christchurch Oxford and was friends with the Vicar of Dalston – William Paley, […]


Hares were widespread in Dorset, surprisingly so when you consider what they had to suffer. Living and breeding on the surface and, being particularly swift when running, they were an obvious animal for hunting. There are broadly three ways they can be hunted. The first method mentioned in the diaries […]

Fast Day -at Home

That the 21st March 1832 was a Wednesday is easy to determine and might lead you to suppose it was Ash Wednesday – but it wasn’t. Behind these four words is a fascinating story which writing today in 2020 has a particular resonance. The story begins not in Dorset but […]


The subject of bastardy may seem an odd one to include in a site about the work of a land surveyor but it was a matter of huge importance throughout John Martin’s time and he became directly involved with the subject in his roles as churchwarden, overseer of the poor […]