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The move to Dorset.

Three Dumb Maidens. Thought to be neolithic standing stones Udal in his book ‘Dorsetshire Folk Lore’ of 1922 states they were found in a field called Dumb Maid’s plot. This is indeed marked on the 6″ OS map [1888 -1911] and corresponds to plot 254 or 255 on the Tithe Map. Neither plot was known by this name in 1838. 254 is simply ‘plantation’ and 255 as Stutcombe. At some time the stones were moved and converted into a bench.

 

At some time John Martin moved to Dorset. My supposition is that it was earlier rather than later. Land surveying tended to be a dynastic occupation and John had to learn his trade somewhere. There is of course no shred of proof for this supposition but where better than to learn than in Dorset, in the household of his uncle, William Jennings, an established land surveyor and inclosure commissioner.

Born around 1744 William Jennings, who we must at this time designate William Jennings Senior, first appears in the records when he was the surveyor to the Evershot inclosure in 1786. At the time he was living in Piddletown [Puddletown]although he does not appear to have been born or married there. By 1791 he was living in Evershot but his next major commission was to return to Puddletown in 1793 as one of the inclosure commissioners there; subsequently he was to undertake two inclosures in Wiltshire in Ogbourne St George in 1796 and Knook in 1797. His last commission was to inclose the parish of Wyke Regis in Dorset in 1798.

Typically a young man would start his career as a land surveyor around the age of fifteen, in which case John would have moved to Dorset in about 1795. John sent his daughter Eleanor to boarding school in Yeovil at the age of nine and the Board of Ordnance in London started training boys in mathematics at the age of twelve so it is possible that John was sent to be educated at Evershot at an earlier time.

The Jennings family. People in red are mentioned in the diaries.

As John’s mother, Elizabeth, was William Snr.’s sister, we can imagine that his parents would have been comfortable dispatching him to Evershot to be trained by William. If John had been sent to Evershot whilst young he would have found himself in good company. Jennings Snr. had several children, the oldest being a boy also called John.

John Jennings was 6 years older than John Martin but as can be seen all of William Snr.’s children were of a similar age to Martin. John Jennings chose a different path in life.Born in 1774 he was sent off into the world, [Devizes] at the age of 17, to serve William Salmon as “Clerk in the Profession and Practice of an Attorney and Solicitor of His Majesty’s Court of Kings Bench”. He was a Captain in the Yeomanry and was to be heavily involved as clerk to a number of turnpikes and as agent to the Earl of Ilchester. He married into the Crew family of Abbotsbury and had several children only one of whom will appear prominently in our story – Joseph Crew Jennings.

William’s second son, also named William was born in 1775 and hereafter will be called William Jennings Junior. Although he was slightly older than John Martin, the difference of five years was not too great and they were to be life long friends. William Jnr. was to train as a land surveyor although his subsequent career was more varied than that of John. In 1798 he appears in the Dorset Militia list, where he is shown as a land surveyor, but subsequently moved on to become an inclosure commissioner. In a Jury list of 1825 he describes himself as a Gentleman, and in the censuses of 1841 and 1851 as a land agent. He had fingers in many pies. The first work that can be definitely attributed to him was at Wyke Regis in 1798 where he was appointed surveyor by his father, one of the commissioners.

Nearer John Martin’s own age were two daughters of Wm Jennings Snr. Ann, who was the same age as Martin and Mary who was four years younger than him. Mary was to become his wife.

It is likely then that Martin learnt his trade at Evershot, but it must be admitted that this is conjecture. The earliest we can reliably place him in Dorset is not until 1807 when he was appointed as Ensign in the Dorsetshire Yeomanry. There is a short note to this effect on Ancestry but Gambier8 quotes the following rather longer commission:

I the said George, Earl of Dorchester do in his majesty’s name by these presents, constitute, appoint and commission you the said John Martin to be Ensign in the First Battalion of Volunteers commanded by Colonel the Earl of Digby in the Room of James Eaton promoted… to take rank in the Army, except during the Time of the said corps being called out into actual Service, you are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the Duty of an Ensign by exercising and well disciplining both the inferior Officers and Soldiers of that Battalion who are fiercely commanded in his Majesty’s name to obey you as their Ensign and you are to observe and follow such Orders and Directions from time to time as you shall receive from his Majesty or any other superior officer according to the Rules and Discipline of War, in Pursuance of the trust hereby reposed in you.”

We have no record of any work undertaken by him until the very first diary entry, January 1st 1810,which simply states “Surveying at Bishopstone.  By this time then John Martin was establishing himself as a surveyor and there is no hint of any emotional attachments. Indeed this entry from February 1810 suggests a young man enjoying a bachelor life. It is not known why it is dated 27th November 1809.

27th Nov 1809 Bishopstone Inclosures9Mr Anger bets with Mr Kent that the Bishopstone Comon is 340 acres Mr Kent bets it is not Mr Anger bets with Mr Kent that its 7 Furlong from one Comon Gate to the other Mr Kent bets it is not Mr Crowdy bets with Mr Kent that Bishopstone Comon is 340 Acres Mr Kent bets it is not J Martin bets with Mr Anger that it is not more than 4 ½ around Bishopstone Comon Mr Anger bets its more”

Whether due to proximity alone or for other reasons, it is clear from the diaries that he was closer to the Jenning’s side of his family than the Martin. The first of this extended family to marry was John Jennings, who married Ann Crew of Abbotsbury in 1806. There was then a hiatus of several years before the other members of the family began to have similar thoughts and it was not until he was 36 yr’s old that John Martin thought it time to settle down. Living in close proximity to the Jennings family it was perhaps inevitable that he should marry his cousin Mary Jennings. On the 22nd April 1816, unusually to us, a Monday, they were married at St Osmund’s, Evershot. One of the witnesses being the brides brother, John Jennings. Mary was 32 yr’s old and something must have been in the spring air of 1816 as precisely a week later her other brother, William Jnr., was married to Susanna Petty also at St Osmund’s.

The last member of the Jennings family, Ann was to marry in 1819 aged 39 to another family with numerous mentions in the diaries – the Jesty family. In this case Benjamin. In 1818 the first children were born to these various marriages .But this is the 19th century where, in the absence of any alternative, everything had to be done naturally and where, unhindered by any effective medical care, nature exacted a horrendous toll. There is no particularly happy story in anything that now follows.

The first to produce children were John and Ann Jennings who in 1808 had a son Joseph Crew Jennings. He was later to become a solicitor and enter his fathers practice. Further children followed but they do not enter our story.

Next, and almost a decade later a son, William Henry, was born to William and Susanna Jennings. He was baptised on 3rd April 1818, followed, the next day, by John and Mary Martin’s first child, Eleanor. On the 14th April William Henry was buried.

A month later on 13th May 1818 a son, Thomas Robert Jennings was born to John and Ann Jennings. The effect on these families, all living in close proximity to one another can only be imagined. The effect on William and Susanna, surrounded by the other families and their newborns can only be imagined .They were to have no more children.

John Martin’s children. Arthur’s wife does appear in the diaries but not under her own name. She is always referred to as Mrs Arthur. Then again he always referred to his own wife as Mrs Martin. It’s just what they did !

Eleanor’s birth occurred in a non-diary year as did the birth of his next child, Edwin Jennings Martin who was born in 1820. The following year was a diary year and on 26th October 1821 at ten minutes past eight in the evening another daughter, Caroline, was born and baptised on 1st November.

26th October 1821 Writing in my Lords Accounts Caroline Born 10 mins past 8 in the Evening Sent acct of Courtland by a Son of Coles of Hook

In October 1823 Caroline died at the age of two. Bad enough for Caroline but how do you explain to a 3 & 5 year old they have lost their sister ?

The next diary is 1827 and in January another son, the last of John and Mary’s children was born who they named Arthur.

8th January 1827 : Went to Wraxall with my Cows Mrs Martin put to Bed of a Son ¼ past 8 O’Clock in the Evening named Arthur

 

Fortunate indeed that Wraxall was not far from Evershot. Curiously there was a long delay until Arthur was baptised, not until the 16th October of that year, and if Eleanor was delighted at having a little baby brother she would have little time to enjoy the novelty as, at the age of 9, she was to be sent to school. Martin went to Yeovil in July, presumably to inspect the school, and then rather touchingly, as this was a boarding school, to buy a ‘dessent’ set of cutlery.

7th July 1827 .Pd for dessent  Spoon Knife & Fork &c for Eleanor to take to School 15s

 

In August she was sent off to Mrs Fry’s school at Kingston in Yeovil and he even hired a carriage to get her there. Did her parents accompany her though?

6th August 1827 Eleanor went to Yeovil School Mrs Frys Paid Eleanor’s Coach Hire to Yeovil 7s
10th September 1827 Paid for Eleanor 4s
31st December 1827 Pd Eleanor’s School Bills £17 15s

Mrs Fry’s was probably what was known as a ‘Dame’ school, literally a school housed in the home of a married woman. It must be remembered that it would be another forty three years before there would be national universal education. E P Thompson was scathing about education in this time particularly the Sunday schools “In the counter-revolutionary years, this was poisoned by the dominant attitude of the Evangelicals, that the function of education began and ended with the ‘moral rescue’ of the children of the poor. Not only was the teaching of writing discouraged but very many Sunday School scholars left the schools unable to read and in view of the parts of the Old Testament thought most edifying this at least was a blessing…..A little girl told one of the Commissioners on Child Labour in the Mines: If I died a good girl I should go to heaven – if I were bad I should have to be burned in brimstone and fire: they told me that at school yesterday I did not know it before.”

We must hope that Mrs Fry’s was better than this! I cannot believe Martin would not have undertaken his research and he certainly paid enough- £17 15s, enough to keep three domestic servants a year; when Edwin went to school it cost him only slightly more, at £20 per annum. Eleanor did not live long enough to enjoy her education. She died in 1830 aged 12 yr’s, it was not an easy passing as recorded in a newspaper notice; “Nov.24, after a lingering and painful illness, borne with unexampled patience, Eleanor, the justly beloved daughter of John Martin Esq., of Evershot.”

The children are not mentioned frequently in the diaries but Edwin’s first appearance was in January 1821,

15th16th January 1821 Pd 2 weeks keep for Edwin 12s

Edwin does not appear in the 1827 diary and the next we hear of him is in 1832. By now he was 12 yr’s old and Arthur 5. Edwin may have been entering puberty which accounts for the new clothes and I wonder what books the boys were reading.

9th April 1832 Went to Charminster respecting the Gascoigne Road and went to Dorchester and had Edwin measured for his new clothes Bought Books for Edwin and Arthur 7s

If we take 9 yr’s as being the usual starting date for school then he would have been been at school in 1832 which probably explains the following entry,

23rd April 1832 Pd Frampton going after Edwin and returning 12s

There were inevitable little costs to be borne,

24th May 1832 Paid Handkerchiefs for Edwin 5s

In July Martin went back to school with Edwin, clearly the school terms were much different to today’s, but the weather has not changed much,

27th July 1832 Went to Dorchester with Edwin to School
27th August 1832 Went to Ransom in the Morning and saw Mr Johnson intended to have went to Dorchester to see Edwin on my way to P Hinton but the Rain prevented me

In September he brought him home for a few days,

21st September 1832 Met Mr Lever of Wimborne with Pony Chaise and returned by way of Dorchester and bought Edwin Home for Two or three days.

There is no record of Edwin going back to Dorchester after this visit but he came home again for Christmas, and at the end of the year paid his school fees,

15th December 1832 Went to Dorchester on my own Business to the bank and had home Edwin
December Accounts Paid Edwins Schooling £20 13s

Apart from the reference to book buying, Arthur does not appear in this diary although there is some evidence he was already receiving a basic education as an accounts entry at the end of December 1832 also records “Paid Arthurs Schooling £1” although it is possible that this refers to Sunday School rather than ‘proper’ school.

The next diary is not until 1838 but in the mean time there were further losses within the extended family, in 1835 “Sept.2 of a rapid decline, in the 13th year of her age, Mary Ann, youngest child of John Jennings Esq., of Evershot, Dorset. Her life was worthy one [sic] of riper years; her death a grief to all who knew her.” In the same year a brother, William John Jennings was born but he was never to know his father as in the following year, 1836, John Jennings died.

In 1838, Edwin, now aged 18, had finished his schooling and probably his professional training. This was almost certainly completed under the auspices of his father and he now became useful to John, in joining the family business.

31st January 1838 Godmanstone Edwin made Sketch of Village for Exchange between Revd Goodenough and Bridge 10s
5th February 1838 Went to Stratton with Edwin making Lines on Langford Farm Slept at Stratton Paid for Edwin at Stratton Bull Inn £1 2s 6d
23rd March 1838 Pd Edwins Bill at Stratton £2 9s 1d

Arthur at 11 yr’s old had been sent furthest afield to go to school, attending the grammar school at Cross House in Ilminster. It is not clear why this school was chosen as his brother went to Dorchester.

3rd February 1838 Went to Ilminster with Arthur to School

In April Mary Martin fell ill and the doctor was sent for. Robert Graves MD was born in 1768 he is met first in the records in 1794 when he was appointed as visiting medical assessor at at the “Mad House”, their words not mine, at Halstock. At the time he appears to be resident in Dorchester but later we find him living on the coast at Charmouth where he held extensive lands. His name appears in two appeals against his Poor Rate [won one, lost one]. In the 1841 census he is living at Bradpole near Charmouth and is described as a “physican” sic. It would have been a long trip out to Evershot for him but it’s is worth remembering that his fee was over half the annual salary of one Martin’s servants.

April 26th & 27th : Godmanstone Inclosure Journey to Godmanstone respg Exchange between Mr Goodenought & Mr Bridge Mrs Martin taken very ill.

 

Mary Martin is mentioned only rarely in the diaries, she is a bit of a mystery woman. The usual entries are concerned with giving her amounts of money to pay the bills, such as these from 1821,

15th16th January 1821 Pd Mr Martin to pay Bills £10 0s 0d Pd Mrs Martin to pay Bills £3

Aside from these entries, which are numerous, there are just a handful of entries about her which relate to her visits to Woodstreet farm near Wool. This was owned by one of the Jesty family and she may have been going to see her sister there, who had married into the Jesty family.

16th June 1821 Went to Woodstreet Mrs Martin there
17th June 1821 At Woodstreet
18th June 1821 Returned Home from Woodstreet Pd Mrs Martin on a/c £3
21st August 1827 Mrs Martin went to Woodstreet
25th August 1827 Returning home slept at Woodstreet
26th August 1827 At Woodstreet and slept at Mr Robt Jesty’s at Fordington

It would be interesting to know how she got there. There were really only three options. For the poor there was little choice but to walk. The rich got to use a carriage and the middle classes a horse. Woodstreet was to far to walk, there is no mention of a carriage until 1832 when he used a pony chaise, so we can only assume that she rode. John Martin never refers to her by a familiar name or even as ‘Mary’; until the entry for 1st May she is always referred to as “Mrs Martin”. After falling ill on the 26th Mary Martin failed to improve,

30th April 1838 Corfe castle rate Rating the Sundries and doing something to Stratton Tithe works Mrs Martin Still Very Ill

 

  On the 1st May things were nearing a crisis and he decided to send Edwin to fetch Arthur back from Ilminster to be near his mother,

1st May : Stratton Commutation -numbering Rough Map Edwin went to Ilminster after Arthur His Dear Mother very ill Gave Edwin 5s 2nd May : Doing Various Jobs and Pasting paper (Mrs Martin is worse today)

 

Things were not improving and he must have asked Dr Graves to call again as he paid him another three guineas.

2nd May 1838 Doing Various Jobs and Pasting paper [Mrs Martin is worse today] Pd Dr Graves £3 3s 0d

Throughout this period he was continuing to work and must have been under considerable strain, no doubt tired too with visits to quite distant parishes and returning home each day. The Stratton commutation was also not the easiest he undertook as we will see. She succumbed on the 11th of May some sixteen days after first falling ill, the next day he was back at work.

9th May 1838 Mrs Martin much worse and sinking fast Stratton Commutation Working on the Particulars – Fair map &c & Rent Charges
10th May 1838 Stratton Commutation Working on the Fair Map and &c Rent Charge
11th May 1838 My Dear Wife expired 10 minutes before 3 this morning -leaving us in the greatest distress Aged 54 years.
12th May 1838 Altering the Corfe Rate ½ day – ½ day about Stratton Maps &c

He continued to week throughout the next week until she was buried on the 17th May,

17th May 1838:  My Dear Wife Buried Paid Bearers £1 10s [not shown]

 

  Later in the month comes another entry,

Pd Charlotte Pullman in full of all demand } £1 10s Paid for Gown making 7s 3d

 

Once again Charlotte Pullman had rendered her service. There is no mention of what happened to the boys during this period but on the 21st he sent Arthur back to school with Edwin, whilst he continued with work.

21st May 1838 Stratton Commutation Journey to Stratton and Wrackleford to see Mr Pattison respg Tithes and at Stratton respg moduses Edwin went to School with Arthur Gave Edwin 5s

John’s tribute to her in the Dorset County Chronicle reflects this; “May 10, at Evershot, after a brief illness of only a fortnight, Mary, the beloved wife of John Martin, Esq. An humble christian, a sincere friend, pious without ostentation, charitable, without display, “a doer of the word, and not a hearer only” her loss will be deeply felt, and the remembrance of her unceasingly cherished in the hearts of all who had the happiness of her acquaintance.”

To modern eyes this all seems matter of fact and unemotional, but it is very easy to forget how tenuous life was when people lived in a state of nature. This was a period when diagnosis was at best vague and virtually nothing was known about illness or it’s causes. Of course it would not have helped even if they had known more, for there were, as yet, no effective cures for anything. Many things were tried but none succeeded and death was ever present in peoples lives, as the story of our two families shows and perhaps they were better at coming to terms with it. In July 1838, Benjamin Jesty, the husband of Mary Martin’s sister Ann died. Today people are helped by counselling or support groups but then there were wider kinship networks and there was always the consolation of religion.

The death of Mary and the increasing pace of his Tithe Commutation work meant that the rest of the year was highly pressured. Even before her death he had advertised for an assistant in June 1837 and failing to appoint one re-advertised for one in February 1838. In response to this Mr Pine of Gittisham came to see him, and was eventually appointed, later in the year he hired another man, Mr Edwards to help him and of course he called upon his son Edwin.

16th February 1838 Working ½ day on Stratton Particulars the other ½ Writing Letters &c Mr Pine of Gittisham was at my House.

Edwin was set to a range of work, sometimes a fairly minor duty but he appears to have done his own survey at Toller Fratrum.

6th June 1838 Edwin affixed second Notice of Tithe meeting to the Maiden Newton Church Door
27thAugust 1838 Valuing Hillfield Farm £1 1s 0d Evershot and Frome Commutation Edwin attending at the Acorn with Maps for adoption
1st November 1838 Upwey inclosure Attending at Dorchester reading Draft Award Edwin was with me
24th November 1838 Godmanstone inclosure Journey to Dorchester respg Exchange between Mr Goodenough & Mr Bridges. Edwin went with me and remained at Charminster

Arthur meanwhile was back to and fro from Ilminster usually being escorted by John himself, even though they appear to be one way trips.

19th June 1838 Went to Ilminster after Arthur Paid Expenses at Ilminster and Turnpikes 9s 6d
6th August 1838 Went to Ilminster with Arthur And returned by way of Allington resp rate slept at Bridport Paid Arthurs ½ Yrs Schooling £25 13s 10d Paid Expenses at Ilminster and Bridport £1 5s Paid servants 2s
1st October 1838 Went to Ilminster with Arthur and called at Mr Guys on my way back Purchased things at Ilminster & expenses 15s

The 1841 census notes that Edwin was still at home in Evershot, now recorded as a fully fledged land surveyor. Arthur meanwhile was living at Cross House, the Grammar school in Ilminster. It was quite a large enterprise run by John Allen 41 yr’s and his wife Rosa and eight children. It was home to sixty boys aged 8 – 18 yr’s and is still extant, being a grade II listed building.

There are no references elsewhere to either of the boys until the next diary in 1845. As we have seen the year opened with the death of his older sister Mary,

4th January 1845 My Sister Mrs Perratt died
12th January 1845 Attending the Funeral of my Sister Mrs Perratt Paid Mrs Jesty what she paid for Coffin for Mrs Perratt £3 11s 5d Gave Charlotte Pullman 7s

Then Edwin left home,

10th January 1845 Edwin went to Redlynch to Live

This must have come as a surprise. Until December 1844 Edwin had been a humble land surveyor and assistant to his father, in January he was to be made Steward to the Earl of Ilchester at Redlynch. The short notice was occasioned by the sudden death of the previous Steward, Frederic Martin, the son of John Martin of Shepton Montague. As mentioned before there was probably a link between the families and from other sources we know Edwin was to live at Wellham, part of  Shepton Montague and it is not inconceivable that he lived in the same house as his namesake.

Arthur meanwhile, at 18 yr’s, was living at home and taking part in the social life of Evershot which seems principally to involve taking tea; Edwin returned home on one occasion and Arthur went to see him on another.

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 a Tea party]
20th March 1845 Attending to Farming works &c Arthur went to Redlynch

It is not clear how far Arthur had been down the road of becoming a surveyor. There are occasional mentions of him helping John with work, first on the Somerton tithe commutation and then on the Toller Fratrum/Porcorum [we cannot be sure which] Poor rate.

14th June 1845 Examining the Somerton Map with Arthur Respg Woods and Orchards
2nd July 1845 Haymaking and altering the Toller Poor Rate as tested by the Tithe Commnrs Arthur Assisted principally
3rd July 1845 Gardening &c and altering the Toller Rate Book

Later in the month John went to see Edwin on the Earl of Ilchester’s business, Pen[selwood] and Redlynch are close to each other and the Earl had land in Penselwood.

11th July 1845 Went to Redlynch in the Afternoon
12th July 1845 Went to Penselwood with Edwin and Thos Gregory to see Mrs Bigins’s Coppice
13th July 1845 At Redlynch- went to the Chapel
14th July 1845 Met Mr Davis at Wincanton and went on to Pen to Value Lands to be paid for by Lord Ilchester and returned Home charge £4 4s 0d & Expenses £1 2s 0d

At the end of the month he had to collect a horse that Edwin had bought, parents it seems never cease running around after their children.

31st July 1845 Went to Chinnock Arthur with me after a Horse Edwin Bought of Wm Templeman

The year continues in this way, with Arthur helping him on various pieces of work at Dewlish on the tithe commutation, and venturing into Somerset on railway work, but there was also time for a bit of father/son bonding.

2nd September 1845 Went out with Arthur Shooting

Edwin returned from time to time although John was not always good at recording both events, in this example he left for Redlynch but we never hear of him arriving ;

18th November 1845 Looking to Farming Works &c Edwin went to Redlynch sent my Bill to Thos Whitaker Exq Exeter for Railway wks

At the end of 1845 John’s brother George came for Christmas and they had a Goose. Turkeys had been introduced in the 16th century and indeed John reports paying for a turkey in January 1845. Goose on the other hand was still the most popular Christmas dinner; perhaps he alternated them. Although he was a churchwarden and no doubt deeply religious the major religious festivals are rarely mentioned; Good Friday is mentioned once, Easter day never remarked upon and Christmas was celebrated variably. It was not the long and protracted period that it has become today. Typical is the 1845 entry which records him working on Christmas Eve and Boxing day, something he did in each of the diary years,

24th December 1845 Finding out Valuation of Bishopstone Prebendal land for Mr Webb – Went to Tea at Mrs Jestys My Brother Geo[rge] here
25th December 1845 Christmas Day – at Home Paid for a Goose 3s 6d
26th December 1845 Working on the Bishopstone prebendal Valuations &c

There is now another long gap before the next diary but in 1847 Edwin, now aged 27 yr’s decided to marry. His wife was Frances Dibble of Michelmarsh in Hampshire and they married on the 25th August. She was 24 yr’s old and there is no indication as to how they met. Both her parents were born in villages close to Evershot. Her father George was born in Chiselbourne and her mother at Melbury Bubb, John Martin was also friendly with another member of the Dibble clan, Arthur, a farmer at Woolcombe House so it is likely that the families were on close terms prior to the marriage.

Arthur married young on 10th April 1849 at Melbury Osmond. His wife was Martha Matthews who appears to have been born in London but her Uncle, John Matthews, was Rector at Melbury and it was he who married them. William Jennings, John Martin and Joseph Crew Jennings signed as witnesses; Arthur was 22 yr’s old and she 26 yr’s. It is not clear how Arthur was supporting himself at this time and in fact the couple were still to be found living with him at the time of the census in 1851.

Six weeks after the marriage Edwin became a father when his wife gave birth to a daughter at Shepton Montague. She was baptised on 23rd May 1849 at Shepton Montague. Her name was Augusta Mary Martin. It was another two years before Arthur became a father too, this time a boy who was baptised Arthur John Martin on 20th September 1851.

In 1852 John Martin was now 72 yr’s and the year began with his oldest friend falling ill and a visit from Edwin,

3rd January 1852 Edwin Came Mr Wm Jennings Ill
4th January 1852 At Home
5th January 1852 At Home -dined with Mr Wm Hennings Arthur C Jesty & Mr Frampton of Cerne [Edwin left]

Arthur and his wife were still living with him when they went for a trip to Southampton; the purpose is not known.

9th January 1852 Arthur and Wife went to Southampton to see S N Phil
10th January 1852 Attended Westwoods walking [sic] Sheep &c Arthur and Wife returned

At the end of the month Edwin came with Frances and the three year old Augusta Mary. Frances was now in her second pregnancy,

29th January 1852 At Home on Various matters Edwin & Wife & Child came

By now the pace of work for John was slowing and intermittent and for the next two weeks he was mostly at home with the family and they only left on St Valentines day,

14th February 1852 At Home on Various Matters Edwin Went Home

They were not the only visitors, Martha’s father paid them a visit.

15th April 1852 Mr P Woolcott Left

A week later Arthur John, who was by now about 7 months old, fell ill. John Martin refers to him as “little man”,

21st April 1852 At Home made out Valuation of Plush for Mr Coombs – [Little Man very Ill]
We cannot be sure what the illness refers to it could be anything but Arthur John was to suffer from epilepsy throughout his life; he was to remain ill for another week,
22nd April 1852 At Home on Various [Child still very ill] Pd for Medicine &c 5s
28th April 1852 Went to Coker and Paid for Ploughing &c [Little Man better]

In May Edwin and his uncle, George paid a visit and then left,

10th May 1852 At Home on Various matters Edwin & his Uncle Geo came
15th May 1852 Do Edwin & his Uncle of Oxford left

So far all pretty mundane and then in June out of the blue comes this,

28th June 1852 [Edwins Wife Died] Working on Okeford Rate &c Wet Weather Courtlands was finished Mowing

 

Frances was 26 yr’s old and appears to have died in child birth. On July 17th another Frances Martin was baptised at Shepton Montague, her baby had survived and rather touchingly the entry notes that her parents are recorded as Edwin AND Frances Martin. Unusually, for the fathers occupation was not normally recorded, Edwin is noted to be ‘Steward to the Earl of Ilchester’. After this Edwin must have come to Evershot leaving again in August 1852, it is not clear whether the child was Frances or Augusta Mary,

14th August 1852 Edwin & Child left Gave Edwin by Check £20

It is possible that this was Frances Jnr. and that Edwin brought her to be seen by her grandfather. In the absence of a wet nurse or today’s much reviled ‘formula’ milk the prospect for a young baby was not good and so it turned out for Frances Jnr. She died aged four months and was buried at Shepton Montague.

In early October some of Frances’ extended family decided to emigrate although they have not been traced,

1st October 1852 Valuing the Farm – Edwin was gon [sic] to see the Dibbles depart for Australia

Edwin like his father seems to have adopted the stiff upper lip approach to bereavement,

15th October 1852 [Edwin came]
16th October 1852 Edwin & Arthur went to Bridport abt Railway work

The next diary is only two years after the first and nothing has been found affecting the family in the intervening year. 1854 got off to a bad start however with the death of William Jennings Jnr. aged 79. Martin was clearly impressed with the fact that the Earl of Ilchester attended the funeral as in the original the entry is bounded by a box.

20th January 1854 Mr Wm Jennings died this morning ¼ to one o/k At Whitechurch Valuing
26th January 1854 Mr Wm Jennings was buried – Lord Ilchester attended the Funeral

Martins family were to benefit greatly from his demise for William and Susannah’s only son William Henry had died shortly after birth in 1818. William’s estate was valued at a whopping £100,000, about £8m today. On his death he made bequests to four nephews and two nieces who included “My nephew Edwin Jennings Martin” and “My nephew Arthur Martin”. The interest in the estate passed to his wife Susannah and then, following her demise, the estate was to be divided equally between the same four nephews and nieces. This was to be the source of a legal action in the future. At some time he added a codicil to his will where he left: “To my cousin John Martin of Evershot aforesaid Gentleman the sum of one thousand pounds” and “To my cousin George Martin of St Johns Street Oxford the sum of one hundred pounds…”.

Edwin and Arthur appear at the beginning of the year for purposes unknown, whilst John was engaged in winding up some of Wm Jennings’s affairs,

28th January 1854 Went to Yeovil with Edwin
6th February 1854 [Arthur went into Devonshire]
13th February 1854 At Home Mr Wm Jennings Sale of Stock &c Pd For things purchased at Mr Wm Jennings Sale £55 9s 6d Chk Dorchester Reced of Arthur part of the above £14 Chk Yeovil sent to W&D Yeovil
17th February 1854 At Home made out Valuation of the late Mr Wm Jennings Land at Evershot to let [Lord Ilchester £1 1s 0d]
9th March 1854 Went to Yetminster & Valued Mrs Wm Jennings Estate there
10th March 1854 Making out Valuation of the above & made Sketch of same £4 4 0d

He must have got a message from Edwin who was unwell; both Penselwood and Milton Clevedon were near to Redlynch and Shepton Montague and the sense is that John was filling in for Edwin during his illness,

21st February 1854 Went down to Edwins
22nd February 1854 At Edwins – Edwin was Ill
23rd February 1854 Went to Pen & Valued Mogers & Clothiers Land – Waited on Lord Ilchester at Redlynch 3.3.0
24th February 1854 Went to Milton [Clevedon] by desire of Lord Ilchester respg a New Farm House for Phippen
25th February 1854 Returned Home

By March, it appears that Edwin had recovered and his friend and colleague James Fitzgerald came to visit John. Fitzgerald was was John Martin’s apprentice in 1841. Martha’s visit to Torquay may just have been a holiday as there is no evidence that there were any relatives in that area. Arthur by this time was moving up in the world and moved out of his father’s house just down Fore street albeit on the other side of the road,

11th March 1854 Mrs Arthur & Little Man went to Torquay [Edwin & Fitzgerald came]
14th March 1854 Elizabeth Dunford came as Servant Girl At Home on Various matters [Edwin and Fitz left]
16th March 1854 Arthur went down to Summer Lodge

On the 23rd March his world was shaken to the core, once again:

At Home – Poor Mr Crew Jennings Shot himself with a Pistol in the Shrubbery

 Joseph Crew Jennings was the eldest son of John Jennings; he had taken over his father’s business as a solicitor, was on the boards of a number of turnpike trusts, was a churchwarden and had rebuilt St Osmund’s church. John Martin knew him intimately, dined with him frequently and would have called him his friend, but Martin’s initial shock and sympathy rapidly turned to indignation, for across the page is another part to the entry, 15 [£] The Rascal Cheated me out of it.

The problem appears to have stemmed from the fact that John Martin had paid Crew Jennings £16 17s 6d a couple of weeks earlier to pay various insurances that were due and that these had not been credited to his account. Crew Jennings was buried the next week and it is not clear if John attended or not or whether the killing of a pig was planned or a celebration,

28th March 1854 At Home – Mr Crew Jennings was Buried at Evershot -Killed a Pig

On the 7th April Martin was repaid the £15. The story of Joseph Crew Jennings does not end here; if his death sounds like something out of ‘Cluedo’, what emerged next was something from a Victorian melodrama. It is dealt with in the ‘In Depth’ section of the site.

Meanwhile at the end of March 1854 Arthur and Fitz went to Torquay to meet up with Mrs Arthur, whilst Edwin went home.

31st March 1854 At Home on Various matters – Dined at Arthurs with Fitz [Fitz went to Torquay with Arthur]

In April we begin to get intimations of things to come as Crew Jennings’ death had left a vacancy as Steward to the Earl of Ilchester,

8th April 1854 At Melbury all the morng with Arthur and Lord Ilchester looking over Office papers looking to work people in afternoon
11th April 1854 Do Do at Melbury with Arthur examining Papers with Lord Ilchester

On 21st July John received his bequest under the will of William Jennings. He did not receive the full amount. As a member of the Wilts and Dorset Bank both men had the right to buy shares. At some time John Martin had been offered shares an option he declined to take up. Instead William bought his option [in his name] and after his death John exercised his right to buy back the shares.

1000-0-0 528-0-0 472-0-0 Pd this into W&D -Yeovil by check from Mrs Wm Jennings. Received of the Executors of my dear Friend the late Mr William Jennings legacy left me by him Paid the s; [same]Executors for 48 Shares which I held of Mr Wm Jennings in the Wilts and Dorset Bank now £11 a share become my own property } £528

Edwin and George continued to be intermittent visitors,

29th July 1854 At Home & attending to Mangling &c Edwin & Geo Martin & Wife came
31st July 1854 At Home on Various matters rain came Edwin & Geo Martin Left

In August another of John Jennings’ children died; this was William John Jennings who was just 19 yr’s old. A more happy event occurred in October,

15th October 1854 At Home Mrs Arthur confined with a Daughter

This daughter was not baptised until the end of January 1855 and in a tribute to her mother and to her dead aunt she was named Martha Eleanor Martin. In November another happy event occurred when Arthur took up post as the Earl of Ilchester’s Steward at Melbury Park.

The annual Court Baron of the Right Hon. Earl of Ilchester was held at the Acorn Hotel, Evershot on Tuesday last, under the presidency for the first time of Arthur Martin Esq., steward successor of the late lamented Joseph Crew Jennings Esq., deceased. A goodly company assembled and partook of an excellent dinner, provided by host Dunford. The health of Charles Henry Haskett Esq., the newly appointed law steward was very warmly received. Several glees were performed in good style during the evening.”

I doubt Mr Baskett, who was the law steward appointed, was very pleased about the misspelling of his name. Christmas and New Year 1854 were spent at Arthur’s.

1855 was not a diary year so we have no idea of John or Arthur’s reactions when on August 29th 1855 Edwin died whilst staying at Weymouth. Apart from the almost obligatory newspaper notice to the effect that he had died there are no other reports of his demise; we have no reason to suppose that it was anything but natural and he had of course been ill the year before. His body was brought back to Shepton Montague and he was buried on 3rd September. His daughter Augusta Mary, was just 6 years old and now without either parent her Uncle Arthur took her in to his household.

Edwin was a wealthy man not short of worldly goods. On the 20th October 1855 Sidney M Cornelius had the honour to sell by Auction,

“The whole of the HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE and Effects, the property of the late Edwin Jennings Martin Esq of Shepton Montague. Comprising an elegant assortment of drawing-room, dining-room, office, and bedroom furniture, very handsome dinner service, choice collections of oil paintings, wines, books, fine toned harmonium, [by Alexandre], kitchen and dairy utensils, phaeton, dog-cart, and two Whitchapels, [by Hill],single and double harness, horse clothing complete, mare and foal, entire pony, Alderney cow, large marquee suitable for club and other meetings, and other effects, full particulars of which will appear in future advertisements and catalogues. The above furniture, carriages etc are of most modern description and nearly all new and will be sold without reserve.”

The size of his estate may surprise us as he was only 35 when he died but his employment, as “Chief Steward to the Earl of Ilchester” was no doubt a lucrative job. In addition under the will of William Jennings, who had died in 1854, he had been left £2000 with the promise of more to come once Susannah Jennings, William’s wife had died. In the event he predeceased her.

His death caused some legal complications. In March 1858 the Sherborne Mercury reported a case, “Martin vs The West of England, Fire and Life Insurance Company”, brought before the Vice Chancellors court at Shepton Montague. In May 1855 Edwin had borrowed £2500 from the insurance company guaranteeing the loan with an insurance policy of £5000 on his own life and a mortgage of his share in the estate of Mr William Jennings. Jennings had left the life interest in his estate to his wife Susannah Jennings. It was a reasonable expectation, given that she was over 80 years old, that she would die first at which time Edwin would inherit his share of the estate and that this would act as security against the loan. In July 1855 he requested a further loan of £1500 and this was agreed to so long as he took out another policy on his own life, this being arranged on this occasion by the United Kent Life Assurance company. The first premium was paid and the West of England company retained the policy but on the 27th August Edwin died suddenly. The Martin estate paid off the loan of £2500 and then claimed the monies due under both policies but found that the £1500 which should have been paid to Edwin before he died had been paid instead to the West of England insurance company which had not then paid the estate. The Martin estate sued in court to reclaim this money and won.

It is probably no coincidence that in November 1855 John made a new will in which he gave most of his estate to Arthur together with a bequest of £100 to his granddaughter Augusta Mary. He notes that this was a mark of his affection only as under the will of William Jennings she was amply provided for [he had left her £2000]. Even this however was to become complicated as we shall see.

One further death during this period should be noted. On the evening of Monday 28th December 1857 the Earl of Ilchester was taken seriously ill, and on Wednesday 30th the express train from Dorchester was “specially stopped at Evershot in order to enable Dr. Cowdell of Dorchester and a London medical gentleman, by whom he was accompanied to get out for the purpose of attending on his lordship. The professional gentleman found his lordship, we believe, still in rather a precarious state, but on the whole somewhat better.” He wasn’t.

John and Arthur were both officials, as churchwardens, in attendance at his funeral. So ended an association that had lasted over fifty years. The Dorset County Chronicle, a staunchly Tory paper, had this to say of the Earl, a staunchly Whig politician, “Unwonted gloom has been shed over the district of western Dorset and in some measure over the entire county by the demise of the Right Hon Henry Stephen Fox Strangways, third Earl of Ilchester whom his farmers lament and with good reason, as one of the best and most indulgent landlords that ever lived..there is nothing but good to say of Lord Ilchester…in his party attachments he was our avowed but generous opponent…we..sincerely deplore the loss of such a nobleman to the county in which he lived, was known and almost venerated.” John Martin’s role in his burial is discussed in the section on his work as churchwarden.

There are no other records in the newspapers about John Martin between 1854 and 1861 apart from his attendance at a ‘vocal concert ….given by the church choir’ in September 1856 and an advert for a farm sale at Tintinhull in 1858 where the tenant was bankrupt.

Arthur meanwhile was very active as he had become Steward to the new Earl of Ilchester at Evershot. He was the 4th Earl of Ilchester, the old Earl’s half brother, William Thomas Horner Strangways.14 In April 1856 we find Arthur evicting a tenant from a cottage in Evershot, in 1858 he held the Court Leet at Evershot at which his friend James Fitzgerald attended and in 1859 he held the Court Leet at Symondsbury again acting on behalf of the Earl of Ilchester.

In February 1860 he held the Rent Audit day at Evershot and like most of these meetings they were accompanied by excellent dinners and on this occasion “A Martin Esq,. Occupied the chair, and a very pleasant evening was spent.” In October he arranged the sale of the Red Lion Hotel in Somerton, continuing a long lived association of the family with that parish. Once again it was almost certainly on behalf of the Earl. Finally in December 1860 “On New Year’s Eve the poor of this parish were, through the kindness of A. Martin, Esq., of Summer Lodge, supplied with mutton and other necessaries with an unsparing hand.”

The 1861 diary starts with John receiving a visit from his sister Elizabeth’s son Frederick Earl. He was not perhaps overly generous [Martin gave him a pound and some of Edwin’s clothes] and we do not know the purpose the visit which was in any case short. He was gone the next day. Martin noted when his children were born but until this diary there are no records of him celebrating any birthday,

8th January 1861 [Arthurs Birth Day] At Home Dined at Arthurs

At 81 yr’s he was still very active, perhaps a little too active for his age,

11th February 1861 Frost At Home went Coursing [Nil] [Dined] at Arthurs
16th February 1861 Do went coursing with Arthur [Nil]
26th February 1861 [Had a Fall from the Horse] Went Coursing at Chantmarle with Arthur & Mr Wm Pope Dined at Arthurs
5th March 1861 At Home my Dogs went to Hardington I did not go [three Hares caught]
15th March 1861 Went to Yeovil My Dogs went to Sydling Mr Wm Pope & others caught 3 Hares

Most of the year was taken up with farming activities and entertaining, by now Little Man was sufficiently grown up to attend,

13th May 1861 Old May Day At Home Evershot Fair Mr Beavis Mr Henry Dunning Mr D Rawlins Mr Dunning [of] P Trenthide Mr Pope Kingcombe Mr A Dibble Mr F Gould Arthur & Wife and Son -Dined

It will be noted that the diary tells us that the 13th is “Old May Day”. In 1752 Britain swapped from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian. Over the centuries the Julian calendar had drifted away from the solar calendar so that some correction was needed to bring the two in line. Three things were needed to do this. Firstly a decision was made to start the year on the 1st January instead of 25th March, which had been new year in the Julian calendar. As a result 1751 began on 25th March but ended after 282 days on 1st January. Secondly, the year was divided up into 365 days and ever fourth year an extra day was inserted. This ensured that the calendar was always in line with the sun. The difficult part was the one off correction needed to bring the old Julian calendar in line with the new solar calendar. This required the ‘deletion’ of eleven days in September 1752, Wednesday 2nd September was followed by Thursday 14th..

The 1854 and 1861 diaries note this change by inserting ‘Old May Day’ under the date. May Day was always celebrated on a Monday so the date is not exactly eleven days after the first, but the date of the first Monday after the eleven days have been taken into account. The 1854 diary also notes one other change that the new calendar created. The 6th January is noted to be ‘Twelfth -day, Old Christmas- day’

The early diaries do not note the old calendar and there is no explanation as to why interest in the old calendar was renewed. In May came the death of the wife of the late John Martin of Shepton Montague,

24th May 1861 Mrs Martin died at Weymouth aged 86 At Home Marked my Sheep [Wellham Cottage now my own]

and in June Arthur went to Weymouth, possibly in connection with some property that Ann Martin had owned there or possibly just for a holiday,

6th June 1861 Do Arthur & Family went to Weymouth

A little over two weeks later and his twin sister died,

10th June 1861 [My Sister Martha Perry died] at Yarlington

He appears not to have attended either funeral but instead headed of to Weymouth [almost certainly by train] where he celebrated Arthur John [Little Man’s] birthday,

17th June 1861 Went to Weymouth – Arthur and Family there- Little Mans Birthday [Ten years old]
18th June 1861 At Weymouth
20th June 1861 Do and returned Home with Arthur and Family

In September Mrs Arthur had another child [to be named Florence], and a month later they celebrated Martha Eleanor’s [Ellas] birthday.

11th September 1861 Mrs Arthur confined with a Daughter At Home & went to Ransom
15th October 1861 [An extraordinary hot day] At Home dined at Arthurs Ellas Seven Years Birthday

More Hare coursing with Arthur followed and so did the arrival of the Gurney’s. Who they were is not known but they stayed a long time,

1st November 1861 At Home 7 went coursing with Arthur caught three Hares
11th November 1861 At Home & went to Rampisham & Hook Mr & Mrs Gurney came on a visit to Arthurs
15th November 1861 At Home went coursing with Arthur and Mr Gurney [caught 2 hares]

Finally the new baby was Christened, and after one last dinner the party broke up,

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
22nd November 1861 At Home – Dined at Mr Basketts with Mr & Mrs Gurney Arthur & Miss Pope
23rd November 1861 At Home – on Various matters Mr & Mrs Gurney left Arthurs

Only to return for Christmas,

20th December 1861 Went coursing with Arthur Chantmarle caught one Hare
23rd December 1861 At Home and went to Ransom Captain Gurney & Family came to Arthurs
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

And the final entry for the year and the last in all the diaries,

30th December 1861: At Home -carting manure B### 31st December 1961: At Home – Do- Dined at Mr Hennings Arthur, Mr Gurney & Mr Baskett

  On the 14th of April 1863 the Sherborne Mercury noted merely “at Evershot of disease of the Heart, John Martin Esq aged 84.” This would tend to indicate that although he was baptised in 1780 his birth had been the year before.

Post Scriptum

I had intended to confine myself to the lives of people who were mentioned in the diaries but inevitably there came a desire to tidy up loose ends.

It will be recalled that at the time of Edwin’s death he had a daughter, Augusta Mary who was 6 yr’s old; she went to live with Arthur his wife and family at Summer lodge. On December 31st 1863, fortunately after John’s death, she died aged 14 yr’s after what was described as a sudden illness. Nobody from Edwin’s family had survived. She died rich – for all the good it did her- her will was proved and the estate valued at some £2,000. The record of the letters of administration read “Letters of Administration of the Personal estate and effects of Augusta Mary Martin late of Evershot in the County of Dorset Spinster deceased…”

When I first came across this it shocked me. It is difficult today to imagine any woman, let a lone a child, being called a spinster today, but at the age of 1415, she was labelled exactly this. It was entirely accurate too, for a spinster was an unmarried woman of marriageable age and for a girl in 1863 this was 12 yr’s old [14 for boys]. It was not until 1929 that the age of marriage was raised to 16 yr’s for both genders.

After her death there was rather a messy legal case involving Arthur and two daughters of John Jennings. Arthur argued that Edwin’s share of the estate of William Jennings Jnr., and which was left by Edwin’s will to Augusta should come to him, as beneficiary of her will. Since Edwin had died before Susanna Jennings, the wife of William Jnr. Edwin could not have been said to inherit his share. It seemed a rather dubious claim and the lawyers agreed that it was but not before the case had been heard in the House of Lords.

That Arthur was very fond of Auguasta Mary is indicated by the fact that he dedicated a window in St Osmund’s church Evershot to her and details of this can be found in the section on John Martin as Churchwarden.

In 1864 Mrs Arthur gave birth to another daughter Louisa Alice and in 1865 she had another son who was stillborn. Tragedy was never far away in this family and it was not over yet. In 1870 Arthur John [Little Man] entered Oxford as an undergraduate and then returned to live at home eventually becoming a farmer and Justice of the Peace like his father. In 1871 Arthur bought the Manor of Rampisham, where his father had for so many years been Steward. In 1882 the last granddaughter that John Martin knew, Florence May died at the age of 21.

By 1891 Arthur John [Little man] was living in Seaton on the Devon coast, at the age of 39 yr’s he was still subject to epileptic fits and by this time was married. On Wednesday July 15th 1891 he had a seizure and died. His body was brought by train [Seaton at that time possessing a branch line] to Yeovil Junction and thence by road to Rampisham.

At the top of Rampisham Hill it was met by the tenants on the estate of the deceased’s father and they preceded the hearse to the Manor house where the coffin was transferred to a hand bier decorated with beautiful flowers and conveyed to the church….there were signs of the very great esteem in which he was held, blinds being drawn at almost every house in the village.”

In 1899 Arthur and Martha celebrated their Golden Wedding an event in which seemingly the whole village celebrated, and not just his tenants. The happy couple were presented with a “handsome silver bowl with a suitable inscription.” Two years later the census of 1901 records that they were living with their two surviving daughters, Martha Eleanor and Louisa Alice but in December of that year Arthur died aged 74 yr’s. Martha, his wife, was to follow him in 1905 which left the two ‘girls’. Neither woman married. Martha Eleanor was to survive until 1942 and Louisa Alice until 1947. After her death the Manor house at Rampisham appears to have become a school.

The following obituary was published about Arthur but I like to think it would have applied to his father as well,

Mr Arthur Martin was born in 1827, and was the second son of the late Mr J Martin of Evershot. He was a typical country gentleman, fond of rural life, a lover of horse and hound, a frequent figure by the covert side in his youth and prime. By nature as frank, amiable and genial as he was upright and noticeable for a fine old world courtesy of bearing, he was a favourite with all who knew him, gentle and simple alike.”