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When John Martin died his estate was valued at ‘under £12,000’[1] [i.e. £11,999] which today would be worth about £700,000. Where did his wealth come from? Of inherited wealth there is no evidence, I have not been able to find a will for either of his parents but there is a note from 1832,

22nd June 1832

Paid Mr J Jennings for Letters of Administration to my Mothers Effects but it should have been to my Fathers Effects it was done wrong and I am this money out of my own pocket £10 10s

His father had died in 1820 and his mum in 1831 and the entry hints at some form of inheritance although perhaps they both died intestate. In the long term he was to become a substantial landowner. The first reference to his possessing land comes in 1821,

5th- 6thJanuary 1821

£3 10s Reced one Yrs Rent of my Land on Frome Hill due Michas last

There are numerous conveyances of property in the Martin family archive but it has not been considered fruitful to examine these in great detail. His land holdings are further detailed in the section of farming and it is worth remembering that the possession of land had a value, in terms of social status, well beyond it’s pure monetary value.

As to money itself the irregular number of the diaries makes it is difficult to get a clear idea of his annual income through the whole period of his life. Between 1821 and 1838 he kept a running total in the journals of his income and expenses which is perhaps a more meaningful measure of his annual wealth and this shows considerable variation. There is no indication as to why he stopped recording the running balance after this time but I have calculated his income for the remaining diaries. There are so many expenses that it was not felt worthwhile to calculate each one- perhaps the same reason that he gave up recording them. One should not feel to sorry for him in 1821 for although his net worth increased according to the diaries by only £55 this figure belies the fact that he bought £150 worth of government stock for £165.


January b/f

Income during year.

Expenses during year

December c/f


Not recorded

£60 10s

Not calculated

Not calculated.


£7 7s

£651 14s 0d

£603 10s 3d

£55 11s 7d


£20 1s

£536 2s 1d

£313 15 11d

£129 1s 4d


£301 3s 9d

£1662 4s 5d

£1154 6s 0d

£809 0s 2d


£400 s 5d

£796 19s 0d

£1141 1s 7 ½d

£55 17s 10d


Not recorded

£1767 19s 4d

Not calculated

Not recorded


Not recorded

£532 1s 5d

Not calculated

Not recorded


Not recorded

£792 6s

Not calculated

Not recorded


Not recorded

£1053 17s 2d

Not calculated

Not recorded

The pattern of income varies through the diaries. In 1810 his apparent income is small and confined to three payments two of which were paid ‘on account’ by William Jennings Jnr. as almost certainly was the third. He was working with Jennings who was inclosure commissioner at Bishopstone and presumably these were paid in connection with Martin’s role as inclosure surveyor to those inclosures.

From 1821 onwards he was in receipt of two sets of regular payments which he refers to as ‘salaries’. The first came from the Rampisham estate and for eleven years he was paid twenty guineas [£20 20s] each year and in then in December 1832 he noted,

December 1832

£10 10s Reced ½ Yrs salary from Ransom due Michas 1832 when I retired from the concern

Having had a row with the owner the Revd. Arthur Johnson the owner of Rampisham his role was greatly diminished. In fact the records of the Manorial court indicate that Martin was to continue holding the Court at Rampisham at least until 18522 but it is certainly strange that there are no records of any payment to him in 1845 and only a minor payment in 1838.

3rd December 1838

Receiving Rents at Ransom

Received of Mr Johnson up to this time £4 4s 0d

In 1852 the Rampisham manor was put up for sale, eventually to be bought by the Bishop of Sodor and Man [as well as Bath and Wells] Robert Eden, 3rd Baron Aukland. Martins now took a bigger part in the running of the manor his new salary no doubt reflecting the rate of inflation,

26th June 1854

Receiving Rents at Rampisham

£50 Received a Yrs Salary from Rampisham

His second salary was received of William Jennings Jnr. This first appears in 1821 and is clearly separate to other payments made by Jennings to him,

20th -21st March 1821

£50 Reced of Mr William Jennings a Years Salary due Michaelmas 1820

He continued to receive this salary annually until 1838 although the amount was reduced to £47 10s in 1827. In the diaries there are no more payments of this nature and it is not clear what the payment relates to. The ‘original’ tithe maps of Evershot, Melbury Bubb, Sampford and Osmond are signed by Jennings, “William Jennings by the Earl of Ilchester duly authorised” and in the censuses of 1841 and 1851 he describes himself as ‘land agent’. I have not been able to find any firm evidence that Jennings one of the Earl’s stewards but he clearly had some role in the Earls affairs. In 1827 there are a series of entries beginning on the 10th,

10th September 1827

Begun Lord Ilchesters accounts

Begun is the correct word for he was to work for a total of fifteen days over the next three months on the accounts the last entries being in December 1827 when he was still “Working upon Lord Ilchesters Accts”. There is no evidence that Martin was working directly for the Earl at this time and it is possible that the payments from Jennings were for Martin to do this work for him.

His income up to the mid-1830’s derives mainly from his inclosure and estate work but it is hardly surprisingly, given the pattern of his tithe commutation work, that the 1845 diary shows a very healthy income. He was beginning to be paid by the landowners for his work in previous years and it was supplemented by another useful source of revenue during this year – the railways. After this time his professional income gradually slowed down and by 1861 apart from his work at the Manor of Rampisham, has ceased. It is now replaced by the profits from his various farms, pieces of land and investments. It was still a healthy income however representing the equivalent of the annual wages of thirty five agricultural workers.

Money, according to William Cobbett “is the representative, or the token of property, or things of value”. These tokens could not of course be common, leaves, for example, would be useless in this role The token had therefore to be scarce and for Cobbett, as for much of mankind throughout the centuries, it was gold and silver that counted. Cobbett and the rest of mankind were of course wrong. The very scarcity of these metals and their consequent strict control by the rulers limited their use and in any case – you couldn’t eat gold or silver. Food was and is the only thing of value and for countless centuries, down to the current day in some areas, it served as it’s own token. Even in John Martin’s day food remained a form of currency. The numerous monastic tithe barns testify to the fact that generation after generation submitted their rents and tithes ‘in kind’ which is to say as real agricultural produce. Even into the mid 19th century many ‘copyhold’ tenancies were renewed when a tenant died by what was known as a ‘heriot’ – sometimes this was a money payment, but more usually the incoming tenants best beast [cow].

Gradually of course the concept of money took over and on two occasions Martin recorded his gross worth,

31st January 1832


owe me

Ransom Plantg £4 11s 10d

Churchwarden £4 9 2d

Mullens ?? 18 7d

Potatoe Rent £1 0 10d

cf 11 0 5d

Gold £ 16 10s

Silver 2s 6

Bills £ 65 0 0

In Bank £ 283 6 6

grand total £ 375 10 5d


22nd February 1838

In Wilts & Dorset 330. 5. 10

Williams’s 39. 5. 4

Notes 19. 1. 0

Gold 8. 3. 0

Silver 1.4.0

Yeomanry Book 3.9.4


right 401.8.6

If you were short of money in the 18th and 19th century who could you turn to, to get more? There was a limited range of choices. There were of course money lenders, but there were a number of risks associated with them, interest rates were high and it was often necessary for an external guarantor to sign his name to the loan. The disadvantage of this to the guarantor is obvious for, if the borrower defaulted, the guarantor had to pay up; a plot line that readers of Anthony Trollope will be familiar with. Despite this and in the absence of any other form of finance, loans between trusted individuals must have been quite common.

The earliest example of Martin loaning money comes in December 1827 when he “Lent John Beater” a farmer in Rampisham £6. There is no record of this being paid back but in the next diary Martin himself paid substantial sums to Beater for coal so we may assume that Beater was able to pay him back. Sadly Beater died in 1835 and his wife had to assume the mantle of the messuage [house with land attached] which she she held freehold. At some time before 1838 he makes a substantial loan to her, possibly to allow her to buy her land [3] and she made regular payments to him over the years. She subsequently remarried and after 1845 was known as Maria Ellis. Apart from a diminution in the loan of £5 4s 1 ½ d between 1845 and 1854 there is no evidence of the loan ever being paid off.

25th September 1838

Received a Yrs interest of Maria Beater due 23rd of this Month £75 4s 1 ½ d } £3 10s

23rd September 1845

Reced of Maria Beater a Yrs interest of £75 4s 1 ½ d due 23rd instant £3 10s 0d

Pd her for Eggs 5s 6d

2nd October 1854

Reced of Maria Ellis a yrs int on £70 due 23rd Sept last £3 10s

24th September 1861

Reced a Yrs int of £70 of Mrs Ellis due 23rd Sept instant £3 10s

This seems to be what we would today call a personal loan and later in his life he appeared to make larger and more substantial loans of this type.

16th June 1861

£20 pd into W&Dorset Dorchester Reced of Mr Bridle ½ Yrs int of £800 due Ly Dy last

24th September 1861

Reced of Mr Lovibond on Acct of ½ yrs int due Lady Day last 1861 £20

17th November 1861

Reced of T Rawley Ward Esq a yrs int on £641 11s 6d

Less income Tax 2yrs 10d Do 9d £32 1 7 1 5 4

£30 16s 3d sent to Yeovil due 29th Sept last

23rd December 1861

£20 Paid to W&Dorset Dorchester Reced of Mr Bridle ½ yrs int on £800 due Mic 1861

If these were personal loans they would have been inherently risky for Martin and it was far more common for people to arrange personal loans as mortgages. A typical arrangement was one found [behind a map] in the Saxon Inn Child Okeford. It detailed the conveyance of a house and two acres of land in 1817. The land originally belonged to William Kerley and was conveyed to Samuel Vaisey in exchange for £200. The agreement was open ended the only stipulation being that an interest rate of 5% [simple interest] was charged and when in 1820 the loan was paid back a reconveyance was arranged at which for a further 5 shillings the land reverted to Kerley.

In the 19th century lawyers were often paid for by the line of writing. In exchange for a loan of £200 William Kerley conveyed a parcel of land to Samuel Vaisey via “This Indenture”. When the loan was repaid a similar document restored the land to Kerley. The Agreement was written out twice on one large piece of parchment which was then cut into two leaving a wavy line. This was said to represent a line of teeth – hence the term indenture and served as a device against forgery and fraud since only the two genuine halves would match.

Martin was not averse to lending money on these terms and he seems to have acquired a number of mortgages particularly at Bishopstone,

29th October 1821

Reced of Messrs Ward and Merriman Cheque on Child and Co London for 1 years Interest from Bishopstone due 29th Sept last £39 18s 6d

29th October 1827

Reced 1yrs Ints on Bishopstone due 29th Sept last £39 18s 6d

21st December 1832

Reced 1 yrs interest on Bishopstone due 29th September last £35 18s 8d

Purchased £500 in 3 per cent Consols July 31st last £419 7s 4d

28th October 1845

Reced of Merriman & Co a years interest from Wilsons Estate at Bishopstone due 29th September last } £34 17s 8d

6th December 1852

Received of Messrs Merriman of Marlbro on yrs interest due from Wilsons Estate at Bishopstone due 29th September last £708 11s 6d at 4 ½ per cent £30 19s Pd into W& Dorset by Messrs Merriman

The Prebendal Yardland Mr Webb has – mortgage for £90 Total of Mortgages £798 11s 6d

3rd December 1854


} received of Messrs Merriman a ½ yrs interest on £708.11s 6d due 29th Sept 54 £15 9s 6d

} Do of J R Ward ½ Yrs interest on £641 11s 6d due Do} £13 11s 10d

£67}½ yrs int due from Mr Hubbard and to Mic 1854 £1 13s 6d

18th November 1861

Reced of John Paull Esq 3 Lister Place Clifton int on £67 Mortgage on Butlers Yard Land Bishopstone due 29th Sept last £3 4s 6d

Compared to William Jennings, Martin was a mere dabbler in financial matters. There is a fascinating notebook at Dorset History Centre which amounts to a list of all Jennings’s financial dealings. In this we find Jennings providing a mortgage to the Earl of Ilchester on lands at Halstock for £12,000 and another one to Lord Holland for £5000 for land in Kensington. These were substantial loans worthy of any building society or bank today – worth about £700,000 in 2019.

Mortgage by the Earl of Ilchester to W Jennings of two Farms in Halstock (purchsd of Mr Dizney/ and made to Mr Petty of Forston and my Brother in trust to pay £240 to him to Susan (as per Marriage Settlement in Mr Pettys possession) £12000.

The loan was taken out in 1819 and interest was paid regularly until 1853 when two payments of £6000 redeemed the capital.

whilst at the other end of the scale he lent £160 to John Chubb on the security of his Coopers shop and grounds. Jennings had fingers in many pies, he had rent from land all over London as well as shares in various turnpikes, banks ‘Colombia bonds’ and the Furness Railway. In 1838 he even lent the Dowager Countess of Ilchester £500 on her ‘note of hand’.

27th March 1838 Advanced the Countess Dowager of Ilchester on her Note of Hand at 4% £500. Across this has been added “Pd off 27th March 1843 and satisfied with interest.”

This diversity of investments certainly paid off, when he died William’s estate was worth £100,000 or nearly £8m in today’s money.

The ‘notes of hand’ were known as promissory notes as the person taking out the loan had to write out a note promising to pay back the money, with interest by a particular time. This formed a legal contract and perhaps the most famous of all promissory notes is the endorsement found on UK bank notes “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of…” These caused William Cobbett considerable concern. Initially Bank of England notes were promised to named individuals but with time the promise had been extended not to an individual but any bearer of the note. Furthermore originally the promise was to pay the bearer the value of the note in gold or silver but as Cobbett observed there was now more money in circulation as bank notes than there was gold or silver in the country.

The rot, according to Cobbett started with William 111 who in 1694 wanted to fight a war with the French. He needed to raise £1.5m and in order to do so he asked for voluntary contributions from the public. These contributions would be held by a newly invented corporation known as the Bank of England and interest would be paid to the contributors. Taxes would be imposed on beer and spirits to pay the interest and gradually redeem the loans.

When the idea was mooted you can imagine the cogs beginning to whirr in the public consciousness. Their line of thinking went something like this: “As I am going to be taxed anyway, I might as well lend the King the money, at least I’ll get something back in the way of interest which will reduce the effect of the tax rise.”

Sounds reasonable but it was of course a big trick. The public parted with their money, in the form of gold and silver, their names were entered in a register, the money invested was called a fund and the lenders became Fund or stock holders. The reality of course was that the gold and silver had been spent on the war and the ‘fund’ was little more than a collection of names in the ledger. That did not stop the public thinking their money was still in the vaults of course and although in theory the bank promised to pay the capital back ‘on demand’ had all the public ever wanted their money back at the same time, there was simply not enough gold or silver in the country to do so.

Thus was born the National Debt and fortunately for the government the public never did demand all their money back at once. In 1751 these ‘funds’ were brought together in what were known as consolidated annuities or ‘consols’. So successful was this approach that by 1810 there was over £764,688,065 in stock of various types, including Navy, South Seas Company, India and Bank stock. They all paid a range of what today seem very generous interest rates the total interest payable on them being £26,532,201 5s and 5 ½ d.

Martin had considerable investment in the Funds as the following entries record, there are two points of interest. First is the reference to ‘Navy 5 per Cents’.

23rd July 1821

£12 10s Reced this day Interest on £250 on Navy 5 per Cents from Mr Pattisons Bank who has power to receive the same due 5th July instantly

30th November 1821

Purchased £150 in the 5 per cents per Mr Pattisons Bank £167

7th September 1827

Reced ½ yrs interest in 4% Cents 600£} £12 8s

31st December 1827

Reced ½ yrs dividend on £600 in 4 p cents £12 8s

3rd January 1832

Reced ½ yrs dividend on 700£ due 5th January last £12 12 0d

Certificates were issued to individuals detailing their holdings and it became possible to buy and sell stock holdings but then as now the price fluctuated which explains the different values he paid for £100 of stock.

13th June 1832

Purchased £100 in 3 ½ per cents £93 7s 6d

28th July 1832

Received ½ yrs dividend on £810 due July 5th £14 7s

Dec 1832

Reced ½ yrs dividend on £1300 in the Funds due Janry 1833 £17

The December 1832 entry is the last to mention the funds and he received no more income from them [at least not in the diaries]. It is possible that by then he had other interests in which to invest.

The second reference is to Mr Pattison’s Bank. Prior to 1825, apart from the Bank of England, all banks were private businesses, with a maximum of six partners. They broadly separated into two types – London Banks and Country Banks. With such a limited number of partners liable for the banks debts, and about 8 in 10 banks had only one partner, there was clearly a considerable financial risk involved. It is not known which member of the Pattison was involved in this bank but probably James Pattison who was born into a mercantile family and who became Governor of the Bank of England between 1834 -1837. His was a London bank and one may presume that it was not open to just anyone, almost certainly Martin would have needed a recommendation from someone like William Jennings. Country banks were just that. They were based in the country and often had one branch [again to minimise the risk of lending]; these banks needed a London agent to handle their clients affairs in the city.

The Napoleonic wars saw an almost doubling in the number of banks and the bankers prospered greatly; overconfidence and speculative investment [even to the extent of investing in a non existent country] led to a banking crisis in 1825 in which ninety three banks [out of a total of six hundred or so] failed. In 1826 a new banking act allowed for private ‘joint stock banks’ to be established. These had a much larger funding base and in 1835 the Wilts & Dorset Bank was founded at Salisbury [4] with an initial capital of £150k which rapidly increased to £300k being funded by shares priced at £15 each. From William Jennings’s account book he notes that John Martin held shares from the outset, some of them being held in trust for Jennings himself.

The page in Wm Jennings accounts book in which he records his sister Ann Jesty and John Martin as holding shares in the Wilts & Dorset bank in trust for him.

Over the years his investment was to prove a nice little earner although only a year after the bank was launched it had to lower it’s interest rate. The arrangement with Jennings meant that Martin did not get to retain all of the interest however, having to pass some of it to Jennings; periodically Martin purchased more shares.

14th February 1838

Received ½ yrs interest on £375 Wilts& Dorset Bank due Xmas 1837

£9 7s 6d

9th July 1838

Reced Interest Wilts & Dorset Bank current account £3 3s 1d

Received ½ yrs interest on £375 due Midsummer 1838 £9 7s 6d

December 1838

Reced interest Wilts & Dorset Bank Current a/ £2 15s 8d

Reced ½ yrs interest on375£ Wilts & Dorset due Xmas 1838 £9 7s 6d

Paid Mr Wm Jennings 2/5 of the above £3 15s

10th July 1845

£1012.10s 0d Pd up

Reced ½ Yrs dividend Wilts and Dorset due mid 1845 £30 7s 6d

Pd Mr Wm Jennings for his 35 shares £7 17s 6d

December 1845

Reced ½ Yrs dividend Wilts & Dorset Bank due Xmas 1845 £30 7s 6d

Pd Mr Wm Jennings for his 35 shares £7 17s 6d

Reced ½ yrs int c/a Wilts and Dorset £5 0 6d

13th July 1852

£87 10s Reced of Do for £2 10s per share further call on his 35 shares in the Wilts & Dorset Bank

16th January 1852

Reced ½ yrs int Wilts & Dorset due Christmas last £1012 10s 0d paid up £30 7s 0d sent Warrant to W&D this day

Pd Mr Wm Jennings for his 35 shares mine is 100 shares £7 17s 6d

14th July 1852

Paid to Saul Provis Esq Salisbury further call £2 10s per share on my Hundred Shares in Wilts&Dorset £250 and Mr Wm Jennings’s 35 shares as above together £337 10s 0d

In 1854 William Jennings died and left a legacy to John of £1000. He decided to purchase the remaining shares from Susannah Jennings, Williams wife.

17th January 1854

Reced ½ Yrs dividend Wilts & Dorset Bank due Xmas last £1480 pd up 6 per cent £44 8s

Pd Mr Wm Jennings for his 48 Shares £480 at 6% ½ yr £14s 8d

19th July 1854

Reced ½ yrs dividend Wilts & Dorset Bank due Midsummer 1854 £44 8s

Pd Mr Baskett Mr Wm Jennings 48 shares £14 8s

From Midsummer the whole interest on the 148 shares will be wholly mine as I have taken up the 48 shares in part of legacy £528

21st July 1854

Received of the Executors of my dear Friend the late Mr William Jennings legacy left me by him }£1000

Paid the Executors for 48 Shares which I held of Mr Wm Jennings in the Wilts& Dorset Bank now £11 a share

become my own property } £528

1000 Legacy

528 deduct shares


28th {Pd this into W&D – Yeovil by check from Mrs Wm Jennings

7th January 1861

Received ½ yrs dividend Wilts & Dorset Bank due Xmas 1860 £177 12s 0d

8 per cent on £2220 pd up 4 per cent Bonus making for the year 12 percent

14th July 1861

Reced ½ yrs dividend Wilts and Dorset due Midsummer 1861 9 per cent on £2220 paid up } £99 18s

The Wilts & Dorset was not the only bank that he subscribed to, Williams and Co was another one as was Stuckey’s at Yeovil. Meanwhile although he was investing in the turnpikes he never invested in Railway stock, perhaps wisely given the collapse of the railway mania that took place in the late 1840’s.

24th May 1832

Reced 1 years interest £127 Cerne Turnpike due Lady Day 1832 £5 2s 0d

28th June 1832

Reced a Yrs interest on Beaminster Turnpike £200 up to 6th May last £10

6th June 1838

Received of Mr Frampton Five Years interest on the Cerne Turnpike at £5 2s 0d per cent per Annum due Ly Dy 1838 £25 10s

December 1838

Williams Bank due July 1838 £40 12s 0d

Do Do due 5th Jan 1839 £40 12s 0d

19th March 1845

Reced of Mr Frampton a Yrs interest on Cerne Turnpike due 6th April 1844 £5 2s 0d

7th April 1845

Reced ½ yrs dividend Williams Bank due Jan 15th April 5th 1845 £37 6s 8d

8th October 1845

Reced ½ Yrs dividend Williams Bank due July 5th & 10th Oct 1845 £37 6s 8d

14th January 1852

Reced a Yrs int Beaminster Turnpike due 1st instant £10s 3s 0d sent Chk to W&Dorset

10th January 1854

Received a Yrs int of £300 on Beaminster Turnpike due 1st Janry 1854 £11 13s } sent to W&Dorset Dorchester

14th January 1861

Reced int on £300 Beaminster Turnpike due 1st January instant £15.0.0

24th January 1861

Reced 4 per cent Cerne T pike due Mic 1859 £10

In old age Martin had lost his wife, three of his four children, his cousin, his whole extended family and so it comes as no surprise that in his will he left all but £100 to his son Arthur.

“This is the last will and testament of me John Martin of Evershot in the County of Dorset Gentleman I give unto my granddaughter Augusta Mary Martin the sum of one hundred pounds to be paid on the attaining of the age of 21 years or day of marriage which shall first happen or to be applied by my executor hereinafter after named at his discretion for her use and benefit during her minority if in his discretion there shall be occasion ##### for own aspiration and I give the said sum of one hundred pounds as a mark of affection for my granddaughter and not as a provision for her she being amply provided for under the will of the late William Jennings All the rest residue and remainder of my real and personal estate of what nature or things and wheresoever situated I give unto my son Arthur Martin for his own absolute use and benefit AND I HEREBY NOMINATE AND APPOINT the said Arthur Martin Executor of this my will IN WITNESS wherof I the said John Martin the testator have hereunto set my hand this twenty ninth+ day of September One thousand eight hundred and fifty five John Martin Signed by the said John Martin the testator in the presence of ### at his request in his presence and in the presence of ### other present at the same time ### hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses  Walter P Belchen William Kellaway [Evershot Dorset]”

Belchen has not been identified but William Kellaway was a 42 year old Yeoman who was married but with no children. He was married to Elizabeth 41 who was a school mistress. In the 1851 census she is teaching two children Prudence and Kezia King aged 11 & 9 pupils.

The probate [below] is attached to the bottom of the will.


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1 In the probate records the value of the estate was never formally given. Instead they were always expressed as “Effects under £####” pounds.

2 The only surviving Court book ends in 1852.

3 The tithe apportionment shows she owned about 4 acres in Rampisham.

4 Sited in the market square the building may still be seen. It is now Lloyds Bank and has one of the original metal plaques of the Wilts & Dorset Bank at the entrance.