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John Martin’s Work

Martin’s professional life was rich and varied and I have broken the subject down into the main areas with which he was involved.

Follow the links to the main text.

The Scope of his work

In the first section ‘the scope of his work’ I give an outline of the main activities he was involved in over the years. It also serves to mention all that work which does not fall into any of the other categories.


In this section, I give a brief outline of the manorial system and it’s origins before considering the history of the manor of Rampisham in the 19th century and in particular Martin’s role in running it. The final section looks at the court rolls for Rampisham between 1815 and 1852 and shows how the manor changed after it’s inclosure in 1815. In these years Martin was the Steward of the Manor.


Inclosure looks at one of the most important social change of the 18th and 19th centuries. I give a brief outline as to what the common or open fields were like and the reasons given to justify inclosure. A list of all Dorset inclosures conducted under parliamentary act is then given before moving on to discuss the main ‘players’ involved in inclosure. One aspect of inclosure that is rarely covered is how it was actually done and this is covered in ‘Inclosure the theory’ followed by a detailed look at John Martin’s work in three Dorset parishes; Rampisham, Chilfrome and Child Okeford. Finally in this section I go through each of Martin’s inclosures parish by parish in general detail.


Today virtually nobody has heard of the tithe, yet for over a thousand years tithes it affected the lives of virtually everyone in the country. As a divine law, the church demanded a tenth of all agricultural output. There was for most of those thousand years a simple rule. If you wanted to eat you had to grow it yourself. From wheat, lambs, milk, eggs, apples, firewood and even the vegetables in your garden you would have been expected to give a tenth to the rector of your parish. By the nineteenth century the system was coming under pressure and a thousand years of history was to be ended ; the tithe was not abolished, it was simply replaced. The method of abolition was an act of parliament – The Tithe Commutation Act.

In a relatively short space of time a vast amount of work was done and in Dorset John Martin conducted more than any other man. A brief history of the tithe is given followed by a look at his tithe work before commutation. The commutation process itself is then explained in relation to one particular parish – Child Okeford. After a look at tithe maps in general I consder Martin’s work in the remaining Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire parishes he was involved with. Because most of the images of tithe maps are copyrighted I regret that almost all of this will be done without reference to the maps themselves. I simply could not afford to licence all of them !

Road and Rail

Martin had a longstanding interest in the turnpikes and worked for them intermittently as a surveyor and Trustee. These were well established in his day but just as the inclosure and commutation work began to die away the West [country] was opening up to a revolutionary form of transport- the Railways. Guess who was involved with them ?


The bottom line ? If you didn’t own land you could not begin to be  considered a gentleman and if you did own land it had to be worked. John Martin was a farmer and I look at the various activities he was involved with in this field.