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At Home

With one or two exceptions the entry for Sunday’s is always the same. At Home. The fact that he was churchwarden and would have attended church at least twice on Sunday’s is never mentioned. He was always ‘At Home’. Perhaps he felt spiritually that church was where home was.

Martin’s generation was probably the last that, in the countryside at least, lived a life that could be considered ‘self sufficient’. In most villages the needs of the villagers could be dealt with by skilled workers within the village or at least close by. Pigot’s directory for 1842 lists the following trades in Evershot.[1] In addition they might have mentioned a tanner to provide the leather. It is interesting to note that the only saddler in the village was a woman. With the exception of John Shittler and Thomas Frampton all of them have diary entries associated with them, mostly of him paying their bills, although on one occasion in December 1838 he lent Thomas Cox £2.

John & William Cave, maltsters, [Melbury Osmond]

James Chubb, cooper & beer retailer

John Chubb, cooper and shopkeeper

Henry Conway, carpenter

James Cox, Thomas Cox, William Cox, tailor

John Drake, carpenter

John Edwards, boot & shoe maker

Thomas Frampton, wood turner

James Knell, boot and shoe maker

Edwin Penny, grocer and draper

Joanna Pouncey, saddler

Robert Pullman, blacksmith.

Henry Rendall, plumber and glazier

James Roberts, blacksmith

John Shittler, tailor

Mary Short, shopkeeper

William Trenchard, butcher

Alex Wellman, boot and shoe maker [and postmaster]

Mary Wellman, druggist.

If you were to ask a group of people today what ‘thing’ in their lives they could least afford to give up you would probably get a range of answers, mostly centred around mobile phones, cars, houses and the like. The problem is that we are so used to having food available to us that most of us would probably forget to put it on the list. And yet of course it is the most basic need of all and maintenance of the food supply the most important thing of all.[2]

Rural communities were somewhat better placed to maintain their food supplies in bad times but conditions in the late 18th and early 19th centuries were such that until the last two decades of Martin’s life scarcity of food was to be a problem even in rural communities. The problem was simply that of poverty, the poor simply did not earn enough to compete with the purchasing power of the rich and crucially they had often lost their ancient rights over the common land. In Dorset at least some attempts were made to mitigate the effects of poverty but even so the diet of the agricultural labourer was bland and monotonous. In 1793 Claridge, in a Board of Agriculture report on the county, noted that labourers earned 6s [30p] a week but that the farmers also had to provide “a sufficient quantity of wheat for the support of their families” at a fixed price of 5s a bushel [8 gallons / 35 litres]. Of course this only applied if the labourer was in employment and to some extent the area of the county.

A similar picture was found elsewhere; in 1796 Richard Walker a Northamptonshire man, “ farm labourer, bell ringer, grave digger and barber, spent half the family’s annual income of £26 8s on bread. The bread was sometimes supplemented by a little bacon, the occasional potatoe, a small amount of cheese, and washed down with beer, sugared tea and tiny quantities of milk. In the eighteenth century three quarters of all European foods were derived from plants.[3]

Not much had changed, at least in Dorset some sixteen years later when William Stevenson, in his Board of Agriculture report, recorded that “The food of the poor is wheaten bread, skim-milk, cheese, puddings, potatoes and other vegetables, with a small quantity of pickled pork and bacon.” In the Vale of Blackmoor, in the north of the county however, “the peasantry eat very little besides bread and skim-milk cheese”. By this time however the practice of providing wheat at a fixed price had become confined to the chalky or upland districts. Possibly because these were the areas most suited to arable production.

Efforts to be self sufficient extended to renting allotments to the poor and many had gardens attached to their houses in which they grew vegetables. As we will see many also had specific ‘potatoe’ lands devoted to growing that vegetable to supplement their diet.

Martin was of course not poor and his diet was a little more varied, but not by much. Throughout the diaries there are numerous accounts entries about him buying various foods but even so the range is quite limited; bread, non specific ‘meat’ and cheese being the most popular purchases.

27th February 1821

Pd for Veal 3s

Pd for Bullock Heart 1s

25th May 1821

Paid for Fish 1s

December 1827

Paid Mr Trenchard Bill for Meat £20 15 0

Paid for Cheese at Ransom 18s

December 1832

Paid Mr Swaffields Bill for Flour &c £21 14s

3rd October 1854

Pd Miller Williams Mullens Bread Bill 18s 6 ¾ d

The Bullock heart is possibly of some interest. Udal in his Dorsetshire Folklore note that in the parish of Hawkworth the new tenant of a house discovered his chimney was blocked. Inspection showed it to be due to “bullock’s heart, into which was stuck a quantity of the prickles of the white thorn, some nails, pins and other things.” He had the privilege of examining it in 1889 by which time it had become mummified. The general consensus was that it was a charm of some sort to ward off evil spirits…

“for a bullocks heart so placed was always considered by superstitious Dorset folk to be the most effective way of keeping witches and fairies out of a house ,as it was always by the chimney they were generally supposed to effect an entrance.”

The charm was not only handy against witches -it worked if there was an influx of fairies as well. Whether it was used for this purpose can only be surmised it certainly never appears in the diaries again –but then neither does the fish to which no such story can be attached.

All his food was provided by people within his immediate community [except the fish]. Food miles were virtually zero and, on occasions, when for example he slaughtered a pig in his sty, they were literally zero. As we have seen in a previous section he also know how to preserve a whole pig. Occasionally there was something more exotic on the menu, although it was sufficiently rare, at least for him, to make a note about it,

7th August 1845

Answering Various letters and looking into the Cheselbourne Com Rate respg the Rectors Rate. Mr Wm Jennings, Mrs B Jesty & Misses M dined with me on Venison.

Cheese seems to have been a particular favourite of his, in May 1827 he paid £2 5s 0d to a James Ellis for cheese and in 1832 he bought two cheeses the first is recorded simply as “Pd for a cheese -15s” but the second is more enigmatic “Pd uncle Thomas for a cheese 12s”. Cheese was on the menu again in 1854 when he “Pd John Peach for cheese 7s 6d”. Rather strange when he had sufficient land and cattle to produce his own milk. In his garden he grew peas and lettuce but mentions no other vegetables unless of course he ate the turnips and mangolds that were destined for his livestock.

Life in the country was hard for most people in the 19th century but although Martin led a busy professional life he was at least able to grab a little time for recreation. A lot of this involved food and drink. On the 17th August 1832 he spend the morning doing various jobs,

17th August 1832

and went to Girt [4] in the afternoon to a Pick-nick

Martin’s spelling and grammar is not always what we would expect today. Tea, or at least its purchase, seemed to be a matter of great interest to him and he took great care to account for how much he ordered, how long it lasted and when it was drunk.

21st June 1832

Making Valuation of Maiden Newton Down and casting the same and preparing Rough Scheme ½ day & went to Ransom drank Tea at Mrs Willmotts

14th August 1832

Went to Maiden Newton and let Dally the Haulage of the New Gravel

went to Oileywell for Tea

20th January 1845

Working on Net Mead went to Tea at Mr Wm Jennings Arthur and self

11th February 1845

Went out with the Beagles Mr Melmoth and Mr James with self – Arthur & self went to Mr C Jennings to Tea

18th February 1845

At Home on Various Matters Geo Bucknell dined at my House with Edwin

[Had tea party]

17th March 1845

Paid for New Tea Pot 13s

8th April 1845

Went out with Beagles & went to Tea at Mr Charles Jesty’s

21st August 1845

Examined Warmwell Engrossments

Writing Various letters & sent Checks to W & D Bank – Had Tea Party

5th December 1845

Went out with Beagles and Drank Tea at Moor Fields

24th December 1845

Went to Tea at Mrs Jestys

My Brother Geo[rge] here

24th November 1854

At Home all the day unwell Drank Tea at Mr Basketts C Jesty W Henning

6th May 1861

[The Girl White came]

Tea to wit

At Home on Various matters

8th November 1861

Tea At Home on Various matters

Buying tea was documented in some detail. The first entry comes from 1852,

10th February 1845

Pd Mansell & Co for Tea chk £2 8s 0d

1st January 1852

Pd for Ten Pounds of Tea Mansell & Co £2 Chk W&Dorset

2nd June 1852

Mansell & Co for Tea £2

3rd November 1852

Pd Mansell Horne and Co for ten pounds of tea – £2

In 1854 he recorded four purchases and by now was recording how long each batch lasted;

23rd January 1854

Pd Horne Robins & Co Tea £2 chk W&D Dorchester

9th May 1854

Pd Horne Robines and Co 2 Bucklersbury for 15 [lb] of tea of which 5 lb Mr Jestys 18/4 £2 – 15 -0d

16th October 1854

Attending at Westwoods Men repairing the Barn & went to Ransom [The last Tea lasted 22 weeks] 10 Pounds

Sent Robines/Horne and Co for two pounds worth of tea £2 Chk W & D Dorchester

“Horne, Robins and Co, late Mansell, Horne and Co 2 Bucklersbury, Cheapside”, were tea merchants and their adverts make fascinating reading. The first states that “the patronage of the public has elevated it [them] into one of the LARGEST IN THE TRADE.” They were able to supply the public on trade terms and “the facilities afforded by railway communication has enabled us to do this to consumers in all parts of the Kingdom Free of carriage”. Tea had first been taxed in 1773 and some form of tax on tea persisted until 1964. [5] In the 1850’s “The recent alteration in the Tea Duties enables us to make a general Reduction of Fourpence per pound”. It may have been this that stimulated Martins spending on tea. He does not specify which tea he bought but there were many he could have, including Gunpowder tea [a pelleted form of tea named for its resemblance to gunpowder] and their famous, “Uncoloured Tea”. This was a “ its natural state of perfection. As it is entirely free from any colouring matter it is strongly recommended to the public as a great luxury. Sold in Lead packets from 1oz to 1 lb.” I wonder what the lead did for the flavour?

After tea comes dinner and judging by the numerous diary entries it was an important part of his social life. Some dinners were purely professional or a chance to meet up with old colleagues such as John Baverstock Knight,

24th February 1827

Dined at Dorchester with Commnr and returned Home

14th April 1832

Went to Dorchester with Mr Knight Dined at Mr Ingrams with him and returned Home

1st December 1832

Went to Dorchester respecting Hanging Langford inclosure dined at the Antelope with Mr Knight at his Tithe audit slept at Burton

21st May 1852

Do Dined at J J Farquharson Esq with 13 more of the Regiment there was Seven of our Troop

Sometimes they were with clients,

9th March 1827

Went to Yeovil respg Thorn Plants &c dined at Mr Thompkins’s

31st August 1827

At Ninehead and Dined with Mr Bindon at Gunden Farm

21st October 1861

At Home Dined with Mr Elwes’s Chalmington

or with colleagues in the Yeomanry,

21st May 1852

Dined at J J Farquharson Esq with 13 more of the Regiment there was Seven of our Troop

or at official dinners,

26th March 1821

Dined at the Turnpike Meeting Acorn

23rd April 1821

Rent Day at Ransom & dined at Association dinner

2nd January 1832

Went to Charmouth when the Tunnel was opened for Public Travelling – dined at the Coach and Horses

Paid Expenses at Charmouth & Bridport £1 1 0

29th June 1832

Went to Beaminster to the opening of the Horn Hill Tunnel

Expenses at Tunnel dinner 13s 6d

13th January 1845

Dined at the Acorn Lord Ilchesters Rent Day

23rd April 1861

At Home – Dined at the Acorn Western Association

Pd a Yrs Subscription to Western Association 10s 6d

Many dinners were with friends,

28th August 1821

Making Fair Scheme dined at Mr J J[ennings]

29th August 1821

Do Misses [Mrs] Wards dined at my House

15th February 1827

Went to Ransom with Mr Jesty and dined at Mr Willm Jennings

20th May 1827

At Home Mr Jesty & Brown dined with us

2nd September 1827

At Home dined with Mr Thos Jesty at Oiley Well

27th February 1832

Hauling Dung to Ransom Land and Dined at Mr John Jennings’s with Messrs Jesty &c

12th August 1832

At Home Mrs Jesty & Mrs Carter dined &c at my House

Of prime importance was his relationship to William Jennings and after his death, his wife.

28th December 1832

Making out Hand Bill of the above & casting the Exchange between Bishop & Brown at Maiden Newton dined at Mr Wm Jennings

1st February 1838

Stratton Commutation

Working on Rough Maps exmng properties &c and dined at Mr J Jennings ½ pst 3 o/k ½ day

27th December 1838

Pasting Paper and Dined at Mr William Jennings

25th July 1861

[Wet Day] At Home – Dined at Mrs William Jennings with Mr Baskett

22nd October 1861

At Home -Dined with Mrs Wm Jennings with Mr Jennings

Also figuring highly in the dining list was Joseph Crew Jennings, and this once again emphasises the extreme shock that Martin must have experienced when the truth about him came out. The earliest diary entry refers to Mr Crew at Abbotsbury, presumably it was his daughter that married John Jennings, Joseph’s father,

26th February 1810

At Abbotsbury dined at Mr Crews

21st June 1838

Miss Eliz Jennings Married to Mr Wm Holgate

Dined at Mr Crew Jennings

16th November 1838

Attending the Chelborough Tithe Meeting when I was appointed the apportioner and dined at Mr Crew Jennings

10th February 1845

Writing various Letters and Dined at Mr Crew Jennings with M Melmoth Mr James & others

31st December 1845

Made the Ditcheat inclosure Rate and Dined at Mr C Jennings with my Brother Geo & others

Whilst Edwin was living at home there is no mention of him dining with John and once Edwin had started work for the Earl of Ilchester there was probably little chance for him to do. This may explain why there is only one entry about him dining with his father.

18th February 1845

At Home on Various Matters Geo Bucknell dined at my House with Edwin

[Had a Tea party]

Arthur on the other hand stayed close to home and in his later years, once he had established his own home, they dined frequently together,

31st March 1854

At Home on Various matters – Dined at Arthurs with Fitz

[Fitz went to Torquay with Arthur]

5th September 1854

Went to Holywell respg Mr Jestys Railroad Land Dined at Arthurs with Mr Ingram

7th September 1854

Toller Down Fair Board Day

Went to Toller Down Fair but did not sell my Sheep – Dined at Arthurs with Mr James

25th December 1854

At Home Dined at Arthurs

1st January 1861

Frost to Night [sic]

At Home on Various matters [Dined at Arthurs]

There are only two entries about birthdays, both of which involved dining of some sort,

8th January 1861

[Arthurs Birth Day]

At Home Dined at Arthurs

15th October 1861

[An extraordinary hot day]

At Home dined at Arthurs Ellas Seven Years Birthday

Another of Arthur’s children was christened in November 1861,

17th November 1861

At Home

The Baby was Christened Florence May Captain Henry Woolcott Mrs Woolcott and Mrs Cozens – Sponsors I dined at Arthurs with a large party

Some times the dinners were all male affairs,

28th October 1861

At Home & went to Ransom

Dined at Arthur with Mr E Pope Mr Rendell Mr Henning Mr Wm Pope Mr Jones

25th August 1854

Attendg at Holywell with Mr Bratton respg Mr Jesty’s Claim for Land & dined H Well with Messrs Hills Richardson & Co

Sometimes they were mixed. Mr Baskett was the local solicitor but the Gurneys and Popes appear to be new friends,

22nd November 1861

At Home – Dined at Mr Basketts with Mr & Mrs Gurney Arthur & Miss Pope

25th December 1861

At Home – Dined at Arthurs [a Very Fine Day & Frosty]

26th December 1861

At Home Dined at Arthurs with Mr Edward Pope & Miss Pope & Mr Wm Pope Gurney&C

31st December 1861

At Home Do Dined at Mr Hennings Arthur Mr Gurney & Mr Baskett

Most of these dinners provided basic fayre at least as evidenced by the accounts section of his diaries, he appears to have paid most of his bills but once a year!


The second necessity of life is of course water and Evershot lies on a spring line. The 6” OS map [1888-1913] shows only two wells in the village together with two pumps, this is something of a surprise as in many villages at this time almost every house had it’s own well. Unusually the same map shows a reservoir on the hill to the south of the village so it is possible that many of the village wells simply fell into disuse.

Martin was not a teetotaller. Indeed it was impossible for most country folk to be so safely. Plain water was always a potential health hazard and the only safe drink was beer, or in the West Country, cider. The heat from fermentation in the brewing process effectively killed off any bugs, but this small beer as it was known was generally low in alcohol, rarely more than 3%, although as this was often drunk by children it might have been stronger than advisable. Most of this was brewed in the village of course. Many tithe maps show orchards lining the roads in and through the village and most households had their own apple presses and if they didn’t there were itinerant ‘pressers’ who could do it for you. There are various entries about cider and beer. A Hogshead being 66 gallons or 300 litres this was a heck of a lock of cider and beer.

22nd November 1827

Do for Carriage of Cider £1 5s

20th December 1832

Paid Farmer Dodge for a Hogshead of Cider £2 10s 0d

3rd October 1832

Pd Mr Templeman for Cider £3 5s 0d

14th August 1838

Pd Carriage of a Hogshead of Beer 4s

1st November 1838

Paid Mr Gaulton for a Hogshead of Beer check on William’s £4 1s 0d

One entry is of interest although as luck would have it there is nothing in the newspapers about the fire at Mr Warden’s,

23rd August 1845

Pd John Chubb for Beer when Mr Wardens Chimney was on Fire 3s 4d

Later he was repaid by Joseph Crew Jennings.

Reced of Mr Crew Jennings for Beer pd for my me when Mr Wardens Chimney was on Fire 11s 4d

As well as consuming beer and cider in May 1821 we see evidence of his own home brewing activities, although it appears he got someone else to make the beer,

5th May 1821

Pd Mr J Jesty’s Malt Bill £11 6s 3d

7th May 1821

Pd for Hops 3s

23rd October 1821

Pd J Thompkins Brewing 1s 6d

7th November 1821

Paid Mr Wm Jennings for 7 Pound Hops 7s

It has to be said however this is the only year in which he made beer, perhaps he just preferred buying it in later on. Martin was not only a consumer of alcohol but a producer as well on 13th March 1854, he was “At Home Had M…d my Cider Back from Summer Lodge – [a Sheep died]”. Summer Lodge, now a Hotel was part of the Ilchester estate and later, in 1871, was occupied by Arthur. Brewing was so common an activity that it was more likely that he forgot to mention it rather than he stopped doing it.

According to Hardy in the Mayor of Casterbridge, in polite masculine society “Three drinks seemed to be sacred to the company -port, sherry and rum.” Only rum is mentioned specifically in the diaries although he mentions non specific ‘spirits’. These of course could not be made at home and it is clear from his accounts that he drank a fair bit. Even had he been alive at the time he would probably not have joined the Evershot Temperance society when it was formed in 1869. The first evidence that we have of him drinking spirits comes from 1821,

3rdApril 1821

Pd Mr Yeatmans wine and Spirit Bill £6 4s 0d

In the early diaries Gin appears to be one of his favourite drinks, it first appears in August 1821 when he paid £2 10s 0d for an unknown quantity. In March 1827 he paid Mr Cave £1 5s for gin and he repeated this in November. At the same time in November 1827 he “Pd Mr Yeatman for two gallons of gin £1 6s 0d. The Cave brothers are listed in Kelly’s directory as Linen manufacturers and Maltster’s which seems an unusual combination of occupations. He paid the Cave brothers a further £1 8s in 1832 and in May 1845 Mr Russell, the landlord at the Acorn let him have a Gallon for 12s.

There are no further entries for Gin after this time most references being to spirits. Nationally the Gin Craze, which had started in the 18th century, was passing, was he ashamed of mentioning what he was drinking or had he moved on to other spirits instead? A selection of bills for alcohol are shown below. We can assume that all of his spirits were duty paid and not smuggled.

August 1821

Pd for Brandy £2 12s 0d

April 1838

Pd Mr Pope for spirits £3 5s 9d

Dec 1838

Pd Mr Trenchards bill including two hogsheads of cider £44 5s 0d, [ about about 490 litres.]

April 1845

Pd Mr Balster for wine etc £27 16s 0d

May 1852

Pd Wm Cave for Malt £5 14s 0d [Arthur paid the 14/-]

March 1854

Pd Calder and sons spirits £5 6s 0d

May 1854

Pd Mr Hine for Rum £1 15s 9d

Pd Mr Bollen for Spirits £1 2s 0d

Aug 1854

Pd Mr Caves Malt bill £8 13s 0d

Finally an entry in the same year 1854 “Pd Gamis for cigars – 16s” indicates that he enjoyed a good smoke as well.

Following his marriage in April 1816 it comes as no surprise that by 1821 domestic matters start to appear in Martin’s diary. The entries regarding his wife are sadly disappointing in their lack of detail and most are identical to this one from January 1821,

15th January 1821

Pd Mrs Martin to pay bills -£10

In the year he gave her £52 ‘on account’ but also paid another £58 16s 9d on other household bills, meat, bread and so on as well as a bill of £11 6s 6d on wine, brandy and gin. As there are no entries of a domestic nature in the 1810 diary the suggestion is that he was lodging in a household where others assumed responsibility for these expenses. As there is no record of him paying rent for a dwelling house he may have been lodging with the Jennings family.

There are hints in the 1821 diary that he has recently moved into a new house but it is only with the tithe apportionment in 1838 that we can confidently locate him within the village. In January 1821 we see the start of several entries of a domestic nature;

January 1821

Pd Ways Bill for Lead for Gutter &c £1 6s 7d

Pd for Picture Frame £2 8s 6d

March 1821

Pd Wm Jennings Five Years insurance of my house up to Xmas 1821

9th April 1821

Pd for 9 Oak Slabs £3

2nd May 1821

Pd for a doz small Knives and Forks 14s

August 1821

Pd Edward Chubb for a rope to tie the Cow 3s

9th August 1821

Pd Chest of Drawers £1 10s

15th October 1821

Pd Mr Jesty for Table Mats 13s

Like all home owners decoration was sometimes necessary and in June he “Pd Mrs Meech for a slab of paint 4s”[6] together “Pd for white lead 12s 4d”. It wasn’t until August 20th though that he got round to using it for “Colouring Passage up Stairs &c”. As this was a diary entry it appears that he did it himself whereas in December he “Paid colouring room 3s”. In August he had also “Pd Rose Pink &c 2/6d”. This might have been used to paint the house or mixed with other colours to colour his maps.

Entries such as these become rarer over the succeeding years but one of the last, from December is of some interest,

10th December 1821

Pd for Roasting Jack and Wine £1 2s 6d

Mrs Beeton’s Roasting Jack – Wikipedia

This would seem to indicate that the family were still cooking over an open hearth a view reinforced by an entry from February 1827,

14th February 1827

Pd Thomas How in full for Carriage of Hay & Dutch oven Paint &c from Yeovil 6s

An American Dutch Oven – Wikipedia

Thomas How appears irregularly in the diaries and also in the Poor law records. He is listed in Pigots as a ‘carrier’ together with John Cox. For some reason Cox went to Sherborne every day and he and How went to Yeovil every Friday. For some reason there are no carriers who went to Dorchester although the Post was collected and delivered each day.

We can only assume then that when he began to order coal in February 1821 they were delivered by the coal merchants themselves. There are no entries about coal in the 1810 diary but eleven years later he was expending a considerable amount on it:

February 1821

Pd for Coals £1 14s

May 1821

Pd Mr Swaine for Coals £7 7s 11d

June 1821

Pd for 36cwt of Coals £3

November 1821

Pd Js Frampton for 20 Hundred of Coals £1 13s 4d

December 1821

Pd Mr Day for 35 of Coals £2 18s 4d

Pd Isaac Frampton for 20 Hund Coals £1 13s 4d

It’s often forgotten that coal only began to be mined seriously in the 19th century, its use in a domestic setting had to wait on two things. The first was the development of effective ways of burning the stuff. It was not until the late 1790’s that Count Rumford developed a new fireplace that would make efficient use of an open grate for heating. Stoves for cooking were developed at the same time, the first ones were wood burning and it was not until the early 1800’s that coal [anthracite] burning ones became widely available. It is doubtful though whether coal would have taken off as a domestic fuel whilst the bulk of the population lived in the countryside. If we take John Martins coal consumption as typical then we can see he spent £18 6s 11d on it, at a time when the agricultural labourers wage was 10s a week, or about £26 per year. Before the coming of the railways mass transportation was virtually unknown, the only realistic option being to deliver it by sea and use a horse and cart to carry it inland.

It is not clear where he got his coal from. There were no coal merchants in Yeovil in 1822 [according to Pigot’s directory] but there were two at Dorchester in 1830. Unfortunately neither of them share the names above. Despite Evershot’s somewhat distant proximity to the Somerset coal fields the resulting expense was probably to much for most people to bear; in any case, until inclosure put paid to their access to the common, most fuel was wood or furze or turf was garnered from the waste.

As industrialisation proceeded, and particularly with the advance of the railways, coal became cheaper so that it soon became economical to adapt fireplaces to Rumfords pattern and new coal burning grates and stoves became available. Whereas in earlier centuries the local blacksmith could have provided a pair of fire dogs to burn logs the new technology required specialist manufacturers.

December 1832

Paid Mr Waygoods of Beaminster Ironmonger £1 4s 8d

19th April 1838

Paid Waygood & Co for Office grate and Fender etc £2 2s 0d

This was Richard Waygood “Founder and Engineer, Contractor for Public Works, Manufacturer of Gas Apparatus, Steam boilers…..” based in Weymouth. By August 1861 Martin seems to have transferred his custom for ironware to ‘Dunham’s of Bridport’. John Dunham was a ‘plumber, brazier, tinplate worker, furnishing & general ironmonger of East street in Bridport.’

5th July 1854

Old Midsummer Day

Pd Mr John Dunham of Bridport for a Turnip cutter £5 10s Chk W&D Dorchester

28th August 1861

Pd Mrs Arthur for Grate of Dunham Bridport and Lamp &c &c of her £5 15s 0d

Turnip Cutter, Isle of Man museum. Later models were bigger and had a hopper and produced a mashed turnip ready to feed to cattle.

I assume that the lamp was an oil lamp but given the importance of having a good source of lighting for his work it is odd that the only mention of it comes in June 1861 when he “Pd 1 years lighting £1 1s 0d”.

There appears to be something of an explosion [if that is the right word] in the building of Gas works in the early 1830’s. Gas works were built at both Dorchester and Yeovil in 1833 and in both towns gas was being used to light the towns by 1834. Uptake appears to have been fairly slow in the domestic market and it was not until 1848 that gas lighting took off in Dorchester aided by the simple but expensive expedient of the gas company paying for the installation of the fixtures in the houses. There was also a gas works at Beaminster in 1839, but all these towns were too far distant from Evershot to have had the gas piped there and so far as is known gas lighting never came to Evershot. What it does seem to indicate is that the large scale transportation of coal had begun long before the advent of the railways.

There was also a degree of recycling in his life,

8th October 1821

Pd Mrs Seymour for chest of drawers £1 10s 0d

whilst in 1827 he bought a carpet even though the sale itself is not mentioned ,

9th October 1827

Paid for Carpet Purchased at Mrs Coopers Sale £2 12s 6d

Where he put the carpet is not known but he bought more in 1838;

4th April 1838

Paid Mr Edwards of Yeovil for carpeting £1 14s 0d

These were probably purchased second hand. There are no records for example of carpet suppliers or manufactures listed in Pigot’s Directory from 1842 the nearest one being at Wilton. Wherever the carpet was put the whole house cannot have been carpeted for in April 1845 in an entry that could have come from the medieval period he

20th April 1845

Pd Mr Paul for a load of reeds for litter £2 -12s -6d

Reed and rushes had been used for centuries as a floor covering and was sometimes used under carpet’s. It is said they provided a degree of warmth and cushioning but it strange to think they were still in use in the 1840’s. Not all reed was for litter, and they appear at irregular intervals in the diaries,

25th January 1852

Pd Jas Groves for Reed &c Thatching House &c £15 11s 1d

28th July 1845

Paid Butcher Miller for Reeds 3s

6th February 1854

Mr A Young Mr Coker for Lime & Reed £3 1s 8d chk Yeovil

22nd July 1861

Pd Mr Symes for Reed £1 7s 6d

Some of the reed appears to have been home produced,

30th September 1861

At Home & went to Rampisham

[Began reed drawing]

House hold expenses are occasionally mentioned although it took quite a while to get the new front door painted, and the only ‘Mr Way’ in the village was a butcher !

3rd May 1827

Paid Mr Richards for New Door in Front New Lock &c £2 16s 5d

Pd Mr Ways Bill for mending windows 2s

25th December 1827

Pd Stevens of Bridport Painting Front Doors 10s

The windows seem to have been fragile for there are recurring expenses about glazing both at home and in the church [recorded in the churchwarden accounts],

December 1832

Paid Rendall Glazier £1 2s 2d

December 1838

Paid Rendall £1 6 11d

19th March 1838

Paid Rendalls Bill Glazier £7 13s 6d

20th September 1838

Pd Rendall mending Parlour Glass Door &c 6s 6d

In August 1854 he appears to have decided a makeover was due;

13th August 1854

Pd for Shammys & Sponge 2s 6d

18th August 1854

Went to Yeovil & ordered Paper for House & a Carpet for the Great Parlour &c

Keeping a tidy house was clearly of some importance in 1854 as in May he “Pd Cleaning table cover 2s”. Purely domestic matters then go quiet until In December 1861 he decided to refresh things paying “Mr Geake papering and small side board £12 – 15.” There are several other entries about the house, thus we find him buying, besoms [brooms], flower glasses [sic], “articles” and carpentry.


Another area where self sufficiency was the order of the day was clothes. As the young surveyor about town it was important for him to be dressed well, thus in 1810 he “Pd Taylor for new waistcoat – 18s” whilst in October he “paid for a pair of gaiters – 7s”; but these were not items that could have been afforded by the poor who, all to often, had to have their clothes paid for by the parish as these entries from the Overseers records at Evershot in 1821 show.

Edward Miller/Betty Tomkins 5 yards calico for 2 shirts

Widow White a pair of shoes for her son Samuel

Joseph Jessop a pair of shoes Edw Miller Jn Swattridge at Alfred Barrett

Alfred Barret his brother family ### to this day to buy him 2 shirts

Mrs Gilbert a shirt for Jos Hobby Retained from his wages in part

Mrs Gilbert 3 yds duck & thread for a shirt for Miles Swattridge

Also 5 yards sheeting N Burbridge

3s 9d


17s 6d


5s 2d

4s 2d

4s 2d

Martin’s clothes were, quite literally a cut above these, but even then it was common to buy the cloth and have them made up,

4th May 1821

Paid Mr Shepherd of Bridport for Black cloth for a coat and w. coat – £3-11s-0d

and a few days later he bought a coat and in October a pair of trousers to go with it,

7th May 1821

Pd Daniell & Beachem Bill for Grt Coat £3 16s 9d

10th October 1821

Pd Matt Knight for a Pair of Trousers £1 11s 6d

Where he bought them from is another matter for not tailors of thee names are to be found at Dorchester, Yeovil, Bridport or Beaminster.

In September 1821 he bought what must have been an absolute necessity for a surveyor, as well as being at the height of fashion, a pair of boots. Sometime around 1815 the Arthur Wellesley asked his shoemaker to modify a pair of boots; the new boot rapidly caught on and Martin clearly found them irresistible as he,

3rd September 1821

Pd Sydenham of Yeovil for a pair of Wellington Boots £1-8s-0d”. In December he “Paid Knells bill for shoes &c – £1-17s-4d”[7].

This was Nathan Sydenham of Middle Street Yeovil and they must have lasted well as he never bought another pair of boots and only had them cleaned once!

26th November 1838

Paid for cleaning Boots 3s 7d

On the other hand he did pay 19s 6d for two pairs of shoes whilst working at Beaminster in December 1827. He was fond of handkerchiefs, spending 5s 6d on a silk one in June 1827 and another 5s on them for Edwin 1832. The most enigmatic entry is from September 1827

10th September 1827

Paid for Silk Handkerchief and Rhubarb 6s

Hats were another common purchase but the most poignant was in 1838 when Martin “Paid for a hat for Arthur 18s 0d”. His mother had just died and Arthur probably needed it in order to look respectable when he attended his mothers funeral. Thereafter the number of entries about clothing diminishes although there are several entries such as “Pd Mr Tilly Tailor £4 12s 6d” throughout the diaries. In 1854 he “Pd for a pair of spurs 10s 6d” and there appears to have been some kind of thrift club for the Poor to which he contributed,

1st December 1845

Pd Mr Collins 2 yrs Evershot Poor Clothing Money £1

Do Do Coal Club £1

12th November 1852

Paid Mr Collins a yr’s Coal & Clothing Club due Xmas 1851 £1

Reced of Mr Collins for Lime 10s

5th June

Pd Mr Collins Coal and Clothing Club £1

This appears to have been a common practice. As with some of the Friendly Societies  richer sponsors paid into the club with no expectation of drawing on it’s services. The practice of distributing coal to the poor was common even into the early 20th century [at Child Okeford at least] the responsibility now falling to the newly created parish councils.

Finally in January 1861 he “Pd Mrs Conway for shirting 3s”.


After the death of his wife in 1838 Martin clearly had need of someone to help run his household. A servant girl, Susan, was employed and the first payment to her was in May after which further payments were made;

24th May 1838

Paid Susan on a/ at Hoyle 10s

11th June 1838

Let Susan have for House 10s

13th August 1838

Paid Susan for Balance of Wages up to May } 16s 9d

Do ¼ wages to 1st August £2 12 6d

Pd her for money out of Pocket 5s

Pd her on acct to pay for trifling things in House 10s

10th December 1838

Paid Susan what she paid for me 4s 10d

Pd her on a/ of House 10s

31st December 1838

Pd Susan what she paid for me 5s 2d

Pd her on acct of House 10s

Pd Susan ½ Yrs Wages £5 5s

This was Susan Frampton who is mentioned in the 1841 census when she was 20 years old [according to the census]. Her salary of £10 10s would probably have been supplemented by her accommodation and food but its a useful benchmark when we consider other expenses. For example in October 1838 he “Paid for a watch for Edwin £12” in other words a watch cost more than a servants annual wage. Even a watch chain which he bought in 1852 was just under a half years wages at £2 6s 0d. In today’s world if something breaks we tend to throw it away and buy another but not so in 1852: “Pd mending watch key 9d”.

Susan seems to have gone only to come back again,

17th June 1845

Susan the servant girl came”.

It is difficult to know whether he was a good person to work for, but by the 1851 census Susan had left and Isabella Fountain aged 27 was employed hopefully ably assisted by Prudence Miller aged 15. On 14th Feb 1854 he notes “Elizabeth Dunford came as Servant Girl” and it is not clear why Isabella Fountain left him but it may have been to get married as on 6th May 1854 “Mrs Fountain came as Servant”. How long she stayed for is not clear but in April 1861 he had two servants living with him one of whom might have been Ann Sartain but the writing is not clear and in any case on 7th November “new servant girl came £4 a year”. This does not seem to be large wage even by the standards of the time.


Illness and sudden death were common in Martin’s time. His own family’s story is not untypical, John lost two children, Carolyn and Eleanor in childhood and his son, Edwin died aged when he was 35 yr’s. His wife Mary died at a relatively young age within a few weeks of taking ill ; Edwin lost his wife and daughter in childbirth and his oldest daughter, Augusta Mary, died aged 13 after he himself had died. Arthurs wife had a still born child and their oldest son was to die from epilepsy in adult life.

Life was precarious and this is not an unusual pattern. If Martin seems at time preoccupied with health it can hardly be wondered at. The first mention of illness came in October 1810. It is of some interest to note that whereas many diseases have changed their names, and most were poorly diagnosed, a cold has apparently always been a cold, and always worthy of note.

27thOctober 1810

Began Measuring fine weather Thomas Parsons & a Boy for the Chain

28th October 1810

At Farley Bad Cold never worked

29th October 1810

Out all day Measuring T Parsons and Levi Parsons as before – cold still very Bad

30th October 1810

Out all day Levi Parsons and his Cousin for Chain cold no better

31stOctober 1810

Out all day T Parsons & Levi again cold no better

He had another cold in October 1821,

12th October 1821

Working a little upon Broad Main Map unwell with a Cold

A more worrying problem occurred in December. It cannot have been a pleasant experience when the only toilet available was a ‘privy’ at the bottom of the garden and there was no toilet roll. In any case one could never be sure that it was a harmless condition.

18th December 1821

Ruling Ld Hollands Accounts and unwell

19th December 1821

Very unwell in [sic] Bowel complaint

Martin himself had a rather longer period of illness in 1832 although from what is not clear; the first entry might suggest an episode of migraine.

11th January 1832

Head ach [sic] and done but little – gave away the Second Poor money in the afternoon

For reasons discussed  In Dept’ Fast Day -at Home, 1832 was a traumatic year for health nationally and he may well have worried about other diseases.[8]

In March 1832 he,

10th March 1832 Went to Dorchester to get off from serving on the Jury on Acct of Deafness

and was successful in this,

12th March 1832 Went to the Assizes and was discharged from serving on the Jury

There is no other mention of deafness in the diaries but the next week he took ill again and it is possible that this had been preceded by temporary deafness.

19th March 1832


24th March 1832

Went Fox Hunting and caught a Violent cold

26th March 1832

Very unwell

27th – 29th March 1832


30th March 1832

Rather Better – made part of Mr Goodenough Map of West Leaze Farm

Sometimes the impression is that being unwell is a consequence of over indulgence;

29th June 1832

Went to Beaminster to the opening of the Horn Hill Tunnel

30th June 1832

Rather unwell today done but little divided the Purchase money of Upwey for Mr Manfield

Expenses at Tunnel dinner 13s 6d

Generally he seems to have recovered from his illnesses and resumed his activities quite quickly;

2nd February 1838

Stratton Commutation”

rather unwell – working on Maps writing Names in Lands &c [a whole day]

18th June 1845

Took Medicine

11th March 1845

Unwell at Home Mr Baldwin Dined at my House

24th November 1854

At Home all the day unwell Drank Tea at Mr Basketts C Jesty W Henning

1854 started badly for him when in January, between the 1st & 7th he did not venture out at all and along the edge of the page of the diary he wrote “Laid up in a Bad Cold & Cough”.

An outbreak of cholera at Dorchester probably put him off travelling but in any case in November he was troubled with what is colloquially known as rheumatism. Again along the edges of the pages for the whole month he noted that he was “Troubled in the Rheumatiks” although he does not mention his problems on any particular day. Things did not improve in December and this time for nearly twelve days he was;

4th – 16th December 1854

At Home in Rheumatik [sic]

Some forms of rheumatism are self limiting and in 1861 there is no mentions of it, the last entry for any illness comes in February 1861.

27th February 1861

At Home rather Unwell

John Martin died on 14th April 1863 and was buried at Evershot a couple of days later. There was no great announcement of his death, the most informative account being,

“Martin, – April 14 at Evershot, of disease of the heart John Martin Esq., aged 84[9]

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1 Names of shopkeepers from other villages were listed under Evershot in the directory but they have been omitted here. The Caves brothers are included as Martin had business with them.

2 Of course we also need water and air but in the 19th century and before these were at least free and available if not of the highest quality.

3 Collingham Lizzie The Taste of War 2013

4 Girt Farm Evershot

6 It wasn’t until the 1860’s that ready to use paint became available. Until then the pigment slab had to be ground up and added to linseed oil or hide glue and water.

7 One of two shoe makers in the village.

8 See under 21st March 1832 ‘Fast Day – at Home’.

9 He was actually 83 but in his 84th year. His christening was in 1780 but he could have been born in 1789.