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The Scope of his Work

The Upper Common at Child Okeford, inclosed by John Martin in 1845. Since then many of the closes created by inclosure have been ‘uninclosed’

The Lower Common Road at Child Okeford. Ordered by John Martin to be built in 1845.

John Martin’s career is remarkable for its scope. Using evidence from the diaries and numerous other sources, principally the newspapers, we know that he completed twenty three parish inclosures, fifty seven tithe commutations, and numerous other commissions that took him to over one hundred and twenty six parishes in Dorset and surrounding counties. If the average number of parishes worked in each year was eleven, multiplying it by the number of missing diaries would result in a massive number which would almost certainly be inaccurate and meaningless. All we can really say is that over a career spanning sixty years it was a lot of parishes.

The full extent of his work is unknowable but its range may be more precisely defined. At the beginning of the 19th century the land surveyor might have been able to predict with some accuracy what he [they were always he in those days] might be called upon to do in the course of his career.

He would certainly expect to be involved in land inclosures. Indeed many men became land surveyors precisely because inclosure was proceeding at a fast pace. Inclosures were highly lucrative, a guinea 1 per day for a surveyor, with the prospect of several years work ahead. Although inclosures had proceeded irregularly for centuries, the inclosure movement gained momentum during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Almost all land surveyors, at least in those areas where the open fields were to be found, would surely have expected to undertake a few of these during their careers.

He would also have expected to be involved in valuing the tithe for the rectors, in at least some of the counties’ parishes. It is doubtful though that any of them had foreseen that they would eventually be called upon to map almost the whole of England and Wales, and yet this was to be the effect of the Tithe Commutation Act in 1836. Similarly many would have attended parishes from time to time to value them under the old Poor Law. This work would have been more variable as, under the old Poor Law, there were no standard procedures laid down and such assessments took place sporadically 2. They might not have expected any immediate change in this work for the Poor Law Amendment Act assumed such valuations would continue much as they had before. It soon became apparent that this was unsatisfactory and so in 1837 another tranche of work landed on the surveyors desk as the rapidly passed Parochial Assessment Act standardised the way the Poor’s rate 3 was set.

The surveyor might also hope to work for the local turnpike trusts that developed in the mid to late 18th century but few if any could have anticipated the invention and development of the railways. If he was lucky and had good connections with the local landowners he might have hoped to have undertaken work for the various manorial estates in the area. If he was very lucky he might be appointed as the Steward of a parish.

The stories of his work in these areas will be found in other sections, here they are mentioned only briefly, whilst I concentrate on the other work that he was involved with. This work is less well documented and ranges from valuing a small pond, to help preparing the sale of the largest estates. The pond may seem to be a minor commission, but it is probable that Martin had worked for it’s owner Mr Stein before.

22nd September 1832

Measuring Pond at Chalmington for Mr Stein Charge

24th December 1832

Reced from Mr Stein for measuring his pond Mud [sic] £1

It is unlikely that he would have undertaken such a small project for just anyone, but Mr Stein was a man of influence, a wealthy farmer with fifty seven men working for him, and Martin would not have wanted to disoblige him. It could and did lead to later commissions. At the other end of the scale we find him involved in the sale of Rampisham manor in 1819, an estate of over thirteen hundred acres in total with which he was intimately connected for many years; he was after all its Steward.

It is not only the breadth of his work that impresses, but it’s depth and duration. By the time he left a parish he probably knew more about it than the people who lived there. When the diaries open in January 1810 he is in Bishopstone in Wiltshire 4 working on it’s inclosure. How long he had been there we do not know but the act for inclosure only cleared the House of Commons in June 1809 and the parish would not finally be inclosed and the award enrolled in the quarter sessions until 1814. During the year covered by the diary we know Martin spent some ninety four days working on the inclosure. Of these, twenty six were spent outside working in the lands of the parish, walking the boundaries, tracing the water courses, surveying the land, measuring fields, walking the lines of new roads and then staking them out. He may not have examined every blade of grass in the parish but he certainly measured and evaluated each field or close in the parish.

On the remaining sixty eight days he was meeting the landowners, examining their claims to land, determining their tenures, hearing their objections to the claims of others and to the new roads he was proposing. He made maps and copies of maps, books of particulars and set about calculating the award. All of this took time. The distance from Bishopstone to Evershot today by the A303 and A345 is some 86 miles and takes nearly two hours on a good day. In fact we know Martin took a slightly longer route, on at least one occasion, spending the night at Devizes. The journey for him, undertaken on horseback, took not two hours but two days and during the year he made the return trip six times.

Big or small, in every commission he undertook the story would have been more or less the same. Recurrent journeys to the parish, hour after hour in the saddle, days, some times weeks of surveying, in all kinds of weather and then hours plotting the results on a map. This of course had to be done by natural light or the thin light of a candle. Oil lamps were crude things until the 1780’s and even then were not widely used as they depended on the ready availability of whale or vegetable oil. Most people had to make do with candles. In 1850 a paraffin burning lamp was invented and it is interesting that the only reference to a lamp in the diaries is after this time,

24th June 1861

Pd a Yrs Lighting £1 1s 0d

28th August 1861

Paid Mrs Arthur for Grate of Dunham of Bridport and Lamp &c £5 15s

If the depth of his knowledge was considerable then the length of his career was remarkable. As he got older the amount of his professional work work declined- but not until he was in his 70’s. In part this is understandable ; there were fewer parishes to inclose, the commutation work had ceased and with age there must have been a reluctance to spend too much time in damp cold fields. Moreover the 1854 diary has a number of pages on which, down the edge of the page he records that he was “Troubled with the Rheumatick”. The worst spell came at the end of the year when from the 27th November to the 13th December he was suffering particularly badly and the entries read the same.

At Home -Bad in Rheumatick

Apart from the occasional visit to Ransom he did not step outside the house. Fortunately by 1861 the Rheumatick had seemingly disappeared as there is no record of them and he was apparently back to normal. He was then 81 and still involved in a valuation of the manor at Rampisham. By this stage in his life farming took up most of his time, he was to die two years later but I like to think he was active until the end.

Acquiring Work.

Inclosures were conducted under the authority of private acts of parliament 5. Whilst the act always named those who were to act as Inclosure Commissioners, parliament did not generally decide who they were to be, this being determined by the principle landowners of the parish. The surveyor to the inclosure was occasionally named in the act but their appointment was down to the commissioners. In all of these appointments we may assume that word of mouth, family connections and the old boy’s network played an important part. In the early part of his career there is clear evidence of this; of his first ten inclosures, undertaken between 1810 and 1827, the inclosure commissioner was William Jennings Jnr. The advantages of keeping the work in the family are obvious but after 1827 Jennings appears to have given up such active work. Of the next ten inclosures all but one was undertaken with John Baverstock Knight emphasising the importance not just of family connections but personal ones too.

At some point the Martin family became involved with Henry Stephen Fox-Strangways the 3rd Earl of Ilchester. This relationship with the Earl of Ilchester was most important in acquiring work. Not only did he have land in many of the inclosed parishes but a third of the tithe commutations Martin performed had direct links with the Earl 6. Conversely I havebeen able to find only one manor or parish [Stinsford] in Dorset where the Earl had an interest and where Martin was not the valuer and in this case it was surveyed by Martin’s old friend John Baverstock Knight.

Other avenues of influence may have played a role. His yeomanry work for example brought him into contact with many of the leading families in Dorset whose society, in any case, was quite small. Nothing can be proved but the evidence is suggestive. Take the case of Child Okeford for example. This was one of the more distant parishes in which he worked and without some connection to the village it’s difficult to explain why he should take on the tithe commutation there. The Fox -Strangways, were related distantly to the Trenchards and were frequently at Wolveton House, one of the seats of the Trenchards who also owned one of the two manors in Child Okeford. Did he obtain this work because of the links between the Strangways and Trenchards or through John Baverstock Knight who went to school in Child Okeford and was perhaps to busy to take on the work himself? Or was it because William Jennings Jnr. appears to have made a map there in 1834 or because Mr Edward Watts, a land surveyor from Yeovil who had worked with Martin before was working there at the same time as Martin but ina neighbouring parish? The possibilities are endless and of course we will never know.

When it came to the process of tithe commutation the process was much more obviously in the public rather than the private domain. Even so there are surprisingly few newspaper adverts seeking tenders from surveyors for tithe commutation work and I have found none for any of the parishes in which Martin was involved. Notices of the appointments of surveyors to commutations are equally rare but here at least we have one notice relating to him. The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette of 11th March 1837 reported that at “A Meeting of the landowners or their agents was held last week at Silverton, in this county for the purpose of appointing persons as valuers and apportioners of the tithes of that parish under the new Commutation act,- when Mr John Drew, of St Thomas, and Mr Martin, of Evershot, Dorset were elected,-In addition to the duties already stated they will have to measure and map the parish.” In the event Martin did not undertake the survey as the records show that whilst the apportioner was John Drew the map states the surveyor was one John Grant. That Martin had some connection with Silverton is shown by a series of entries in 1821 where he was making sketch maps of the town for William Jennings Jnr.

There is one reference to him tendering for work;

19th April 1838 : Went to Beaminster to see Mr Russell respg the partition Deed between Mr Cowdry and Mr Petty But he as from home – Saw Mr P Cox and informed him of the Meeting at M Newton to hear objections to Rent charges -Delivered tender for Corscombe at 1/- acre and to be found a man

He did not get the job. If he had it would have been lucrative for the parish was over 5000 acres and at a shilling an acre it would have netted him £250 or thereabouts; £15k in today’s money.

Adverts by land surveyors looking for work are equally as rare. The only one that advertised regularly was Mr Poole of Sherborne 7. Indeed he was remarkably enterprising for a year after the passing of the Tithe Commutation Act he was advertising that he already had “CORRECT ORIGINAL MAPS, TERRIERS and VALUATIONS” for a range of parishes all of which “Maps are on the EXACT SCALE which will be required by the Tithe Commissioners, as communicated by them to Mr Poole.” This approach seemed to have worked as of the fourteen parishes he had maps for, only two failed to employ him. One of the maps submitted to the Commission was for the parish of Netherbury and is dated 1835 a year before the act was passed. One wonders why the parish was surveyed in the first place.

Martin himself never advertised and there is only one instance in the diaries where he records being awarded the contract.

16th November 1838 : Attending the Chelborough Tithe meeting when I was appointed the apportioner and dined at Mr Crew Jennings’s


His Work Year by Year.

The wide spacing of the diaries is frustrating so inevitably our knowledge of the intervening years is patchy. Fortunately there are other sources of information such as the newspapers and what follows is partly compiled from them.

1810 – 1815

There are no records that I have been able to find indicating what he was doing or where he was working before 1810 although as the diary opens at Bishopstone we can assume he had been working there in 1809. His work, as recorded in the diaries reflect, to some extent the state of the country at large. 1810 was a time of optimism amongst the monied classes in the country. It is true that the war with France continued but this had a positive effect on the economy. The manufacturing and agricultural sectors of the economy seemed to be booming. After 1750 [approx] England had to start importing food to supply its population and in order to reduced dependence on these imports much new land was brought into production by inclosing parishes. The effects of war did not cause this process to slacken and when the diaries open Martin was working on five inclosures three of which were in Wiltshire. Gambier 8 estimated that he spent nearly three hundred days working on these in that year. Since only one of the inclosures [Plush] was close to home a lot of the remaining days were spent travelling and as a consequence he had little time for other work. It is no surprise then that most of the non inclosure work he was involved with, was local. Thus we find him selling timber from the Ilchester estate in February.

6th February 1810

At Home Auction at the Acorn selling Timber for Mr Strangways

In June he held a sale of the property of William Patten, surgeon and apothecary, resident at Benville, a hamlet just outside of Evershot, who had recently died.

5thJune 1810

Sale at Benville did not sell the house it was bought in at 115£ [sic]

6th June 1810

Taking Inventory & valuing goods at Mr Pattens charge £1 1s 0d

21st June 1810

Dr Pattens Sale

and in December he sold a malthouse in the village.

31st December 1810

Sale at Evershot House Malthouse and premises belonging to J Chubb

The good times were short lived an 1813 was to be a traumatic year for the nation, or at least the farmers. The reason rather surprisingly was a good harvest, the abundance of wheat leading to a dramatic fall in price. “The suddenness of the decline is illustrated from the contracts made on behalf of the Royal Navy. At Portsmouth in January, 1813, the price paid for wheat was 123s. 10d., in November, 67s. 10d. In February, 1813, at Deptford, flour was contracted for at 100s. 3d. per sack, in November, at 65s.”9 Over the previous twenty years the average price of wheat had been 84s a quarter 10 and it might be wondered why the farmers had not kept a reserve to tide them over any period of depression?

When times were good – they had been very good, a lot of people had become very rich during the war. These were often men unconnected to the land, the “loan-jobbers, directors, brokers” and “contractors”, who the radical and farmer,William Cobbett, railed against. They began to buy up land and estates, forcing prices up all around. Money was still to be made in farming during these years and many farmers used the money in what they thought were wise ways. They invested in more land [at high prices] they built, or rebuilt their farm houses, they invested in machinery and equipment, they inclosed their parishes. They did all the things that nascent capitalists should do but in so doing they accrued debts which could only be paid off from the income generated by a war time economy.

The good times were illusory and Ernle tells the story; whilst the figures have doubtless been revised by modern historians, the essence of the story remains the same. In the twenty three years between 1792 and 1815 the population had increased from 8 m[illion] to 10m. In the same time the national debt which financed the war had shot up from “£261,735,059 to £885,186,323, and the annual expenditure, including interest on the public debt, from under 20 millions to £106,832,260.” Whilst the wages of the agricultural labourers had doubled, the cost of living had trebled and the amount spent on poor relief had gone up from £1,912,241 in 1783 to £7,870,801, in 1818. All this had to be paid for and “A very large proportion of this public burden was borne by agriculturists. Upon the landed interests fell more than half the new property tax, the greater part of the county-, poor-, and highway-rates, the war duties on hops and malting barley, the tax on agricultural horses, and an exceptional share of the tax on leather, which swelled the cost of every kind of harness gear. Thus the rise of the price of agricultural produce was to a great extent discounted by the growth of taxation”, 11

For John Martin these years were taken up with finishing off the various inclosures that he was still working on. Most of them were to go on for another few years, Bishopstone for example was not finally inclosed until 1813 and we can assume that he was still fully occupied .


Whilst the war continued and war prices were maintained the problem was not seen but once the price of wheat fell a period of agricultural depression ensued. When the war ended in 1815 the whole edifice collapsed and a wider economic depression followed. One of the effects was that numerous landed estates came up for sale and according to Ernle “some of the best estates of the kingdom are selling at a depreciation of £50 per cent”. By the mid 1830’s the crisis was over and although hardly scientific the pattern of Martin’s work reflects the prevailing conditions. Kain’s list of enclosures 12 shows that in the eleven years between 1810 an 1821 Martin was involved in only one new inclosure, that at Rampisham in 1815.

Perhaps the most important new job for him though was that he became the new Steward of the manor of Rampisham in 1818.

1819 -1821

The introduction of the first Corn Law in 1815 did little immediately to ease the difficult economic conditions. We cannot be certain of the reasons but during this period two estates came up for sale. In 1819 of the Manor at Rampisham was put up for sale and Martin was not only by this time the Steward but also the surveyor to the sale. In the event the manor did not sell.

The second sale, of “The Manor and Lordship of Laverstock and Ford with the Courts Baron, Rights, Royalties, Chief Rents and immunities thereof” comprised some 1500 acres of land just outside of Salisbury in Wiltshire. The parish had been inclosed the year before with William Jennings as one of the three inclosure commissioners . The surveyor to the inclosure was John Tubb. The Manorial sale took place on 12th June 1821 and William Jennings Jnr. was one of the agents involved in the sale. Given the dates of the entries below, it is probable Martin began work for Henry Richard Vassall-Fox, 3rd Baron Holland of Holland, and 3rd Baron Holland of Foxley in 1820. The following year he was involved in the sale.

19th February 1821

Made Plan of Laverstock for Lord Holland

2nd March 1821

Finishing Laverstock Returned &c

22nd May 1821

Making three Sketches of Laverstock and Ford for Lord Hollands Sale


Henry Richard Vassal Fox, 3rd Baron Holland. Photograph of Portrait in National Gallery, London.

In December he made up the final set of accounts for him even working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to complete the job.

18th December 1821

Ruling Ld Hollands Accounts and unwell

24th -29th December 1821

Writing in Ld Hollands Accounts

1821 also saw Martin involved in the sale of the Down Hall Estate near Bridport. His part in this was probably small for it was a complex sale. The sale was to be “Peremptorily SOLD pursuant to a Decree of the High Court of Chancery”. The result of a legal dispute between Nathaniel Down [and others]and Joseph Gundry [and others] who were the defendants.

29th May 1821

Went to Toller Down Fair from thence to Bridport Measuring Down Hall Estate

Although the acreage is not given it was an extensive survey involving ‘Downe House’ and several other houses in Bradpole and Allington, farms and closes of land, dwelling houses in the City of London and intriguingly “two paving Bonds secured on the Rates of the Parish of Christchurch, Middlesex.” There is no evidence Martin went to London though and it must have taken some time to complete the survey for the sale did not take place until July 1823.

1821 saw a slight increase in the number of inclosures that he was working on three in total; Arnewood in Hampshire and Chilfrome and Loders in Dorset. The entries related to inclosure show that he worked much less on them than in 1810, spending about 115 days on the work.13 Most of this [104 days] was spent on Chilfrome and yet it was to be another two years before the award was finally made and enrolled. Perhaps because of this he was able to work on a number of other projects. Estate sales have been mentioned but for every sale, if the price is right, there is a buyer and one of the most important of these was Lord Eldon.

John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon. Licenced by National Portrait Gallery. Studio of Sir Thomas Lawrence oil on canvas, circa 1828, based on a work of 1826 NPG 464 © National Portrait Gallery, London


Starting life as John Scott, grandson of a clerk to a Newcastle coal fitter 14. His father, William, had been an apprentice to a fitter and in due course joined the Guild of Hostmen of Newcastle. These men controlled the export of coal from Newcastle upon Tyne acting as middlemen between the colliery owners and the shippers. Without their say so coal could not be moved through the port. In this role he accumulated a modest fortune and sent his youngest son John to Eton. He eventually went to Oxford where he was studying for the church but in the mean time fell in love with a girl Bessie Surtees who he eloped with and married. Both families eventually came to accept the union and instead of becoming a clergyman he went into the law and eventually politics. The details do not concern us but eventually he served two terms as Lord High Chancellor of England. In 1801 he was created Baron Eldon and in 1821 Viscount Encombe and Earl of Eldon.

Encombe House. The estate of Lord Eldon surveyed by John Martin in 1821. From Hutchins History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset 3rd ed.

Today Encombe remains a private house and estate near the village of Kingston on the Isle of Purbeck and Martin must have started work sometime in 1820 as the first entry appears to indicate the survey was done and just needed plotting,

23rdJanuary 1821

Preparing Vellum for Ld Eldons Plans

numerous other entries appear most of which are of the form,

27thJanuary 1821

Making Ld Eldons Fair Maps

In total he worked 11 days in 1821 for Lord Eldon,

27th March 1821

Cleaning off and packing up Lord Eldons Maps

9th October 1821

Measured Wetley at Melbury

Packing Boxes for Lord Eldons Plans charged yes



This is the Encombe Estate. 2000 acres of landscape beauty with more to see on the otherside of Swyre Head [far right]. On a clear day you have an almost 360′ vista encompassing The Needles on the Isle of Wight, St Aldhelms Head, Swyre Head, The Isle of Portland and Poole Harbour.

Nestling in the valley Encombe House and the servants quarters can just be made out.

Wetley was a field at Melbury Sampford [on the tithe map it is called Wheatly] undertaken for the Earl of Ilchester. In the year he was to be employed by him valuing a coppice at Melbury and measuring a road at Winterbourne Stapleton [Steepleton].

11th October 1821

Went to Stapleton to Measure Road for Ld Ilchester

There were a large number of other commissions during the year, at Stoke Abbott he had to measure the parish for the Poor’s Rate, at Broadmaine 15 he made a map, whilst at Hardington Mandeville there is an enigmatic reference,

22nd February 1821

Went to Hardington respg Fence Farm Common &c

He had numerous clients during the year; he was asked to sketch land at Penselwood by Sir R[odney] Hoare, by the Quakers, their lands at Long Sutton and by William Jennings his land at Silverton. He had to measure Mr Bangers fields at Odcombe whilst Mr Henning required a book of particulars to be made of his land at Portland. Glebe land had to be valued at Wraxall and Little Maine farm valued and sold at West Knighton.

On top of all of this was his own farming work as well as that of Steward of the Manor of Rampisham. Here he was involved in selling timber, hay, valuation of Rampisham farm, measuring trenching at Ransom and on behalf of his employer,

8th September 1821

Went to Yeovil Valuing Lands for Misses [Mrs] Daniell about to be sold


Finally 1821 was the year he served as Overseer of the Poor. Another section is devoted to this work but one of his jobs was to return the census data for that year.

The 1821 census was taken on 28th May 1821. A number of details were included such as the number of inhabited houses and how many families were in them as well as the uninhabited houses. Data was collected at a household level as to how many were chiefly employed in agriculture and trade or manufacturing. Population data was collected but not the names of individuals. It would take another twenty years before names and ages were recorded.


1823 – 1826

In 1823 he finished the Down Hall estate sale and the Chilfrome inclosure. In 1825 he appeared before the directors of the Weymouth, Melcombe Regis and Dorchester turnpike to discuss a possible new route for their road to Sherborne and in the same year he let an 800 acre farm at Bincombe. The landowner is not known but the whole parish was owned by the Master and Fellows of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge so it was likely leased by them. It is probable that he also started work on the inclosure at Bincombe sometime during this period. In the same year he sold a freehold farm of 24 acres at West Chelborough and in 1826 he was involved [again] in the sale of the manor of Rampisham. 16 Again it did not sell.


The 1827 diary opens with the Bincombe Inclosure seemingly in full swing – not a surprise since on the 17th May 1825 the roads had already been laid out and a meeting held to discuss their acceptance.

Jan 1st 1827: Working upon the Bincombe Awd Maps.

There were only three inclosures mentioned in the diary for the year, Bincombe took up 32 day of his time, Sturminster 27 and Tarrant Hinton 23 days- 82 days in total. One feature of all the diaries is the very sporadic nature of the work. At Bincombe for example most of the work was done in January and February with the odd day in April and May then nothing until September when he spent one day on it and one day each in October and November and two days in December.

Most of the first two months were taken up by the inclosures with odd days being given over to farming or Ransom work. In March he got a commission at Symondsbury from the incumbent the Revd. Gregory Raymond,

12th March 1827

Went to Symondsbury and reced orders from the Revd. Mr Raymond to Measure and Map his Estate at Symondsbury

Nothing immediate was done about this, but on the 20th he notes,

20th March 1827

Mr Watts came to Evershot this morning respg Symondsbury & working upon Tarrant Hinton award Maps

so it would appear that he was hanging fire until he had some additional help in the office, in the event he went to Symondsbury the next day, presumably to show Mr Watt’s the parish and the next we hear of it was in June when he spent 11 days working on the map. Nothing more is mentioned in the diaries until October when he spent another 8 days on it before receiving his just rewards,

24th October 1827

Received of the Revd. Mr Raymond for Symondsbury Map £80

Symondsbury was very profitable for Martin for as well as the £80 Mr Raymond paid him he also made a map for John Pitfield one of the large farmers in the area,

18th July 1827

Went to Symondsbury with Mr Pitfields Map

Received of Mr Pitfield for Map £42

In April he went to West Coker to value land but the bulk of his work in April was related to a tithe valuation of Allington for the Revd. Fox. The first entry is,

14th April 1827

Doing a Little to Allington Map

which is in keeping with the sporadic nature of his work suggests that the survey had been done the year before. After another ten days the work was finished and he was collecting the tithes for the Revd. Fox.

7th June 1827

Reced of the Revd. Mr Fox for Valuing and making Map of Allington Tithes £33 10s 0d

Much of May and June was taken up by work at Ransom and on farming matters, he valued a farm at Winterbourne Stapleton on the 27th June and a month later he was at Cerne Abbas on turnpike work. In late July and early August he negotiated the letting of Wraxall farm to a member of the Jesty family, the deal being completed in September,

1st September 1827

Mr Jesty took Wraxall Farm this Morning for Term of 12 Yrs from next Mic at £840 the Tenant paying the Land Tax &c

September and October were spent mostly on work at Ransom and on the Earl of Ilchesters accounts but in late October he earned £3 for valuing at Chalmington. November was also a quiet time being taken up with farming and work at Ransom before beginning the last important work of the year at Beaminster. This is dealt with in the section on his turnpike and railway work; suffice it to say that he spent some 28 days on it.

13th November 1827

Went to Beaminster respg Turnpike and Viewing intended alteration with {? Esq} Cox

At the end of the year he went to Frampton to see one of the Justices of the Peace, Mr Browne who wanted him to value his house at Forston [see section on Poor Law].


Nothing more is known of is activity between 1827 and 1831. In that year he was surveyor in the sale of the Newton Estate at Swanage. This was another large sale with a number of interesting features and it illustrates the breadth of knowledge that he needed. There was of course the usual farm of 168 acres but in addition there were “several good Quarries of Purbeck Stone now in full work” which had to be valued. There was the main residence of the estate a “newly built neat MANSION suited for a Genteel Family” the owner of which was entitled to “PEW no 5, and a SEAT no 43” in Swanage Church. There were several other cottages for sale, one of which was worth 2 shillings annual rent but which had the right to cut 15,000 turves from Currington Heath.

The advert for the sale states “Particulars and Map of the above estate may be had of Mr Willis, Nordern [near Corfe Castle], Mr Dugdale Solicitor at Wareham, Mr Martin, land surveyor, Evershot and the auctioneer [unnamed] at Swanage”. One wonders how many books of particulars and maps Martin actually prepared.


By 1832 the economy was on the mend and confidence was returning and this appears to be reflected in the number of inclosures mentioned in the diary for this year – five in total at Piddlehinton, Charminster, Maiden Newton, Ower Moigne and Hanging Langford in Wiltshire. In January he was called in as an umpire at Fryer Maine to settle a dispute,

13th January 1832

Mr Cockeram

Journey to Fryer Maine to settle disputes between him and Mr Billett slept at Mr Sherries

14th January 1832

Done a Job for Mr Cockeram on Warmwell Down between him and Mr Billett charge for the whole 3 guineas.

At the end of the month he was heavily involved in a sale of timber at Bubbdown [Melbury Bubb] although Mr Champion is mentioned he does not appear in any of the sale documents,

24th January 1832

Making out advertisement of Mr Champions Timber Sale and went to Bubbdown

The advertisement appeared in the Dorset County Chronicle on February 2nd and reads [in part],

“Capital 17 OAK, ASH and ELM TIMBER for SALE



At the Farm-house, at BUBBDOWN, on MONDAY the 6th February next, at three o’clock in the afternoon,

150 CAPITAL OAK, ASH and ELM TREES now standing on Bubbdown Farm and numbered with black paint…”.

Further diary entries follow until the sale day,

31st January 1832

Valuing Bubbdown Timber

1st February 1832

Casting Bubdown Timber and Went to Ransom

4th February 1832

Preparing conditions &c for Bubdown Sale and went to Cattistock had my mare shod

6th February 1832

Bubbdown Sale of Timber making conditions &c in the Morning

14th February 1832

Reced Valuing Mr Champions Timber £5 7s


Timber Cart, Thomas Rowlandson. Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York.

For the next three months he was tied up with his inclosure work although he took a day out in June to go to Allington on tithe work,

6th June 1832

Went to Allington to settle Tithes between Mr Hodder and Mr Fox

Reced of Mr Fox for Journey to Allington £1 1s 0d

He also got paid for some work at Upwey not mentioned in this diary,

27th June 1832

35.0.0 Reced of Mr Manfield for Measuring the late Mrs Lisles Property at Upwey

Most of July was taken up with farming work, and some turnpike work at Horn Hill, near Beaminster but he found time to go to Chetnole for Mr Bridges subsequently reducing the size of the sketch.

21st July 1832

Went to Chetnole and making Sketch of Mr Bridges Estate there did not finish

23rd July 1832

Went to Chetnole and made Sketch complete of Mr Bridges property reduced the same charge 3 guineas

24th July 1832

Making reduced Sketch for Mr Bridge and went to Maiden Newton in the afternoon respecting Road

Although he did not attend it, the work at Chetnole was for another estate sale, this time a small farm of 120 acres, the solicitor for the sale being Mr Bridges. The sale was due to take place on the 27th August but he was other wise busy; the entry serves as a reminder that even on horseback the roads could be reduced rapidly to a quagmire,

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

After his business at Chetnole it was back to his inclosure and Rampisham work, which took him to the end of the year with only the odd day free for other work, a pond at Chalmington which [if it is the one seen on Google Earth] must have been one of the smallest commissions he undertook, and what, given the modest charge he made, must have been a rather small estate at Mangerton.

22nd September 1832

Measuring Pond at Chalmington for Mr Stein Charge

27th September 1832

Valuing an Estate at Mangerton belong to Lord Barnard and others £2 2s 0d

In October there are a couple of references to work not measured elsewhere,

22nd October 1832

Reced of the Revd. Mr Lane for measuring £4 9s

Received of Capt Scott for valuing at Buckland £2 2s 0d

In November he was back at Chetnole for the Poor’s rate,

8th November 1832

Valuing Chetnole for the Overseer 5 5 0

and at Thornford, although what the latter was for is not known,

19th November 1832

Valuing Thornford or rather revising Valuation made in 1819

Pd James Moore Thornford 4s

20th November 1832

Working upon Thornford Valuation

21st November 1832

Do and completed the same three hard days work £10 10s 0d

At the beginning of December is the only reference in the diary to the Hanging Langford inclosure.

1st December 1832

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

Following the Great Reform Act of 1832 he almost certainly found himself eligible to vote for the first time at Ilchester; both the men he voted for were elected.

20th December 1832

Went to Ilchester to Vote for Sanford and Tynte

Paid Expenses at Ilchester 4s 6d

On the same day he placed an advertisement in the County Chronicle, for the sale of “92 MAIDEN OAK 18, 68 MAIDEN ASH and 10 MAIDEN ELM TIMBER TREES with their Lops, Tops and Bark” at Bubbdown again. This time each tree was numbered with white paint and was considered “of large dimensions and excellent quality and well adapted for naval purposes” a reminder that the navy was still composed of ‘wooden walls’ and would be in need of timber for another thirty years or so.

Finally some 5 years after valuing Forston he was back to see Mr F J Browne the Justice of the Peace.

31st December 1832

Waited on F J Browne Esq respg Staking [sic]Plan of Water Meadows at Frampton


Frampton House. Home of Francis John Browne MP for Dorset 1784-1806. It is not clear what impact he made on the country in this time. He was however a generous benefactor in Dorset giving one of his properties at Forston to the county, gratis, for use as a Mental Asylum.

In the accounts section of the diaries there is an entry for 5 guineas being received for a trip to Stourton. Just another one of the extensive trips that Martin made.


There is no diary for 1833 but he was involved in the sale of an estate that had belonged to John Herbert Browne and it is tempting to believe he was related to the Francis John Browne of Frampton and Forston. The estate was in three parts, one at Radipole, another at Wyke Regis and the third part at Bradpole. At Radipole the sale included the usual farm [350 acres], a Corn Mill returning a rent of £100 p.a, a Blacksmith’s shop which had previously been the ‘Honest Man Inn’, a garden and nursery and two closes of land with the rather scary name “Great Snake Down” 19 At Bradpole there were a further two farms to be sold and separately some eleven closes of land. All in all a very substantial estate.


1834 saw the sale of another large estate in the Isle of Purbeck. This was another extensive estate comprising 6 lots and known as the Knitson and Currenden estate. It was another big estate and is of interest if for no other reason than the description of the latest in domestic ‘mod cons’. The “substantial and comfortable DWELLING-HOUSE situate in the West-street of the town of Wareham” was especially well fitted out. It had a “butler’s pantry and china closet; underground brew and wine cellars,” two kitchens, drawing room and parlour, “brew or wash house, four bedrooms; also four very good attics; two pumps of soft and spring water, a good copper furnace and many other useful fixtures.” The lease on the property had another 900 years to run!

The remaining 5 lots varied from a farm with usual appurtenances of 80 acres at Langton Matravers, a small garden of one acre at Corfe Castle, the main estate comprising another farm in Swanage complete with china clay pits, permission to keep two horses on Wareham common, a house that was a part of the Red Lion inn. Perhaps strangest of all was were two stables 16’ long . These tiny buildings were divided into three parts of which two were held on a 500 year lease and the other freehold. Once again each part had a book of particulars made as well as maps available at Norden, Wareham and Evershot.


I can find no records of his work during 1835 and 1836 but in 1837 he was at work on the Briants Piddle inclosure. The year before had seen the tithe commutation act passed into law and a number of those parishes which Martin was to work on reached their agreements in 1837 . It would not be unreasonable to suppose that he was working on these during the year.


1838 was an odd year for Martin, not the least because he was to lose his wife in May. The year started, if not quietly at least orderly. He was still working on inclosures at Godmanstone and Upwey, both of which he worked on in association with John Baverstock Knight, but he must have been anxious that these did not take him away from the lucrative tithe commutations. By now Edwin could help him in his work and it is also the first year that he took on what must be assumed to be a full time assistant – John Pyne.

January saw him working on the Ransom and Broad Maine Poor’s rate, the latter taking him away from home for four days. Immediately after his return home he was next off to Wincanton to attend the Commissioner of Sewers.

6th January 1838

Mr Doddington

Journey to Wincanton when the question regarding the water was heard before the Commnr of Sewers -slept at Shepton Montague

Sewers in this sense does not mean quite what we mean today, in its original sense it means a watercourse or channel for fresh water. Commissioners were responsible for maintaining sea defences and river banks of areas liable to flood. I can find no reference to the work that he was doing in this regard but it almost certainly refers to some work that he was undertaking for the Earl of Ilchester who had land in the Somerset levels.

On the 10th of January there is the first reference to his work under the Tithe Commutation Act.

10th January 1838

Taking Off the Stratton Map Half Size with Pantograph

The rest of January and February was spent pretty much full time on the inclosures and the Stratton Commutation with three days at the end of February being spent on the Poor’s law at Maiden Newton. March was spent almost exclusively on the Poor’s rate at Corfe Castle although he took a day out to go with Mr Edward’s to Batcombe on the Commutation there. April was spent farming and on the Corfe Rate and at the end of the month he went to Allington with Mr Pyne, another of his assistants. At the beginning of May, just at the time his wife fell ill, he returned to the Stratton Commutation which he worked on until the 27th. His wife had died on the 11th.

If the year until June had been orderly, the year from then on was frenetic. He returned home from ‘permanent duty’ on the 2nd June and spent a day valuing at North Poorton on the 4th before moving on to Batcombe. Thereafter the rest of the month, indeed the year, was spent travelling all over the county. In June it was Corfe one day, Allington another, Sherborne another and so on. On the 14th he attended a meeting at Sherborne over the Poor’s Rate.

14th June 1838

Sherborne Rate

Attending Special Sessions till 8 o/k in the Evening and returned Home

18th June 1838

Sherborne Rate

Attending Appeal at Sherborne when the appeal was dismissed

It is not known why Martin attended the meeting as he does not appear to have been involved in the work behind this appeal which is dealt with in the section on his Poor Law work.

The 23rd saw him working on Tithes at Tintinhull. He was not commuting the tithes there and it is not known what connection he had with the parish. Unusually the Earl of Ilchester had no land in the parish. Tintinhull is mentioned again in 1845 and he sold land there in 1858.

23rd June 1838

Reading over Papers relating to Tithes of Tintinhull and working on Batcombe and Frome Vauchurch

30th June 1838

Walford and Son’s

Went to Tintinhull respg Tithe matters

13th July 1838

Messrs Walford & Sons

{Mr Benj Jesty died aged 66}

Attending on Mr Clarke of Tintinhull at Evershot Examining Parish Books &c respecting Rates £1 1s 0d

July was a little more ordered, the bulk of his work being at Allington, North Poorton and Godmanstone. He took time out from his regular work to travel to Glanvilles Wootton to act as a referee between two other surveyors.

25th July 1838

Glanvilles Wootton

Journey there and Valued Newland Manor as Umpire between Mr Percy & Mr Raymond

August was another month of travel, destinations included Bere Regis to value tithes [ but not as a part of the commutation process], Sherborne to give his evidence on the Glanvilles Wootton case, Allington,Wytherstone, Hillfield, Frome Vauchurch and Charminster on tithe commutation work.

He also attended Corfe about the Poor Law and again the details are in the section on his Poor Law work.

10th August 1838

Corfe Castle Rate

Journey to Wareham to consult with Parishioners respg appeal

11th August 1838

Corfe Rate charge 4 Guineas

Appeared before the Magistrates at Wareham when the Magistrates gave orders for a Revision of the Rate [Returned Home]

September was little better with trips to Hillfield, Cheddington, Batcombe [on the Poor’s rate], North Poorton, Mosterton, Frome Vauchurch, Chalmington and Loders. Despite all his own work he even managed to do some work for a fellow surveyor, Mr Easton, at Cattistock. Fortunately most of these were within striking distance of Evershot and he did have a day at the races with Edwin, combining business with pleasure.

13th September 1838

Went to Dorchester Races with Edwin in the Carriage Dined at Mr Caines and paid him for 30 sheep

October saw him at Frome St Quintin, Maiden Newton, Cattistock, Corfe, Loder’s and Bradpole. A quieter month perhaps but the difficulties of travel should not be underestimated. Today the road journey [using his route] would take about an hour to complete but in 1838 it took him almost a day in each direction. For a fifty eight year old man to undertake this kind of journey on horseback for a vestry meeting which probably only lasted an hour or so was quite an undertaking.

November was an easier month for travelling . He was working on the Melbury Sampford and Melbury Osmond commutations but had to do little more than cross the road to the Acorn for these. He had several trips to Dorchester on various matters including the Upwey and Godmanstone Inclosures, and then once more to Bridport in order to swear an affidavit. Something that today could be done at any solicitors office. He topped the month off with a trip to Beaminster to settle an exchange of lands in his next door parish Frome St Quintin.

December was again busy almost exclusively with commutation work at Stratton, Bridport, Loders, Batcombe, Ilminster [to collect Arthur] Charminster, Winterbourne Monkton, Batcombe again and Frome Vauchurch.

1839– 1844

Once again it must be lamented that the diaries of this most interesting period in his career are missing. We can only surmise that most of the period was filled with commutation work. The peak year for his tithe activity was in 1839 when some twenty were confirmed by the tithe commission. Some of these had been mentioned in the 1838 diary [Allington, Batcombe and Winterbourne Monkton] but, Cheselbourne, East Chelborough, Child Okeford, Chiselborough, Compton Vallence, Hooke, Manston, Rampisham, Stockwood, Sydling St Nicholas, Symondsbury, West Chinnock, Middle Chinnock, Winterbourne Monkton, Winterbourne Steepleton, Wraxall, Pitton and Farley, Melbury Bubb appear to have been completed within 1839.

There was a dramatic decline in the number completed in 1840: Belchalwell, Witherstone, Woodsford, Dorchester Holy Trinity. There was a slight resurgence in 1841 when nine were undertaken [Abbotsbury, Burton Bradstock, Fordington, Hardington Mandeville, Mappowder, Somerton, Toller Fratrum, Warmwell, Compton Dundon] and there after there was a gradual diminution and ultimate stop in the number of commutations.

It is not clear how he filled up his time in the middle of the period. It was certainly not with estate sales. By the 1830’s economic conditions were beginning to improve and whether or not this was the cause it is odd that between 1832 and 1852 I can find no record of any estate sales attributable to him. This may of course have been a matter of personal choice. Nor was he undertaking many inclosures. In 1842 the inclosure commissioner for the Ditcheat Inclosure [Somerset] died. His name? John Martin of Shepton Montague. For reasons explained in a previous section they were probably related and in consequence of his death a meeting was held at the Bell Inn Ditcheat to appoint a successor. The man they appointed was John Martin of Evershot. How far his predecessor had got is not known but probably quite a way for our John Martin held a meeting at the Bell Inn on the 1st August 1844 at which he presented his award. The other inclosure took place at Child Okeford and is mentioned in the 1845 diary. Towards the end of this period a new area of work was to open up for him – the railways.


Martin was now 65 yr’s and compared with previous years, very little of it was spent in the parishes. Two entries from August sum up the year,

5th August 1845

Writing many Letters on Commtn Rates

7th August 1845

Answering Various letters

In other words a year of letters and office based administration although there were two forays into the parishes of Child Okeford, to inclose it and Warmwell to commute the tithe.

The year opened with work that could never have been envisaged at the beginning of the century – the railroads. The first ten days of the year was spent working for the Duke of Cleveland and Mr Stein the owner of the fish pond he measured in 1832. Note though that he was not doing doing any active surveying, but copying the work of others.

6th January 1845

Mr Stein Went to Cattistock and Copied Railroad Plan and Reference Book

7th January 1845

Working on the Poorstock and Cattistock Railroads for Duke of Cleveland and Mr Stein

On the 17th and 18th January there is reference to two pieces of work which must have begun the year before.

17th January 1845

Went to Chalmington with Mr Steins Plans and working on Child Okeford Net Mead

18th January 1845

Working on Mr Hennings Grove Buildings Particulars

The Child Okeford inclosure was obviously proceeding as the reference is to a particular field in the parish. In 1841 a new bridge was constructed over the river Frome to take the new extension to the Maiden Newton turnpike. Hitherto it had passed through Charminster but this extension [the base of the current B3147] was effectively a by-pass for the village. Whether this was the spur to house building along the road leading down to the bridge is not known but in the early 1840’s about thirty eight houses were built along the road on its west side. These were the Grove Buildings and are shown on the tithe map for Fordington. George Henning owned seven of the houses here and was an extensive land owner in the as yet uninclosed fields that enveloped the town of Dorchester.

The end of January and throughout February was a relatively quiet time, occupied by farming works with a little poor rate work in Chilthorne Domer and Chilfrome as well as advising William White on some farming work at Tintinhull,

6th February 1845

Mr White of Tintinhull here respecting Ploughing up some Pasture Land He Dined here

and further work on the meadow land at Child Okeford. March saw him working on the Dewlish and Abbotsbury Commutations and the odd isolated piece of work such as this,

10th March 1845

Altering the Penzelwood Rate of Expenses and sent the same to Mr Messiter

Mr Baldwin slept at my House

April began with a commission from the Earl of Ilchester,

1st April 1845

Went to Lower Melbury taking levels of an alteration in the Road for Lord Ilchester But obliged to leave off the Screws of the level now out of order

2nd April 1845

At Lower Melbury taking Levels

3rd April 1845

Making a Section &c of the above

He attended a meeting at Toller Porcorum to receive the expenses of the landowners in connection with the commutation and on the 8th went out with the beagles afterwards having tea with his friend Charles Jesty who some ten days later he visited again, the latter having had a fall from his horse. He was also involved in valuing land at Beaminster, for Tucker’s Charity.

10th April 1845

Valuing an Estate at Marsh belonging to Beaminster Charity

14th April 1845

Making Valuation of Tuckers Charity Beaminster and sent same to Mr P Cox Filling up Muster Roll for Mr Frith

Boswell notes that “FRANCES TUCKER, spinster by will dated 8 Dec 1682 gave that part of her farm called North Mapperton Farm in Mapperton and Beaminster for ever, as follows, viz.- for the maintenance of a schoolmaster successively to be chosen by her executors or the major part of them,£20 annum for ever; which schoolmaster was to have twenty of the poorest boys of Beaminster committed to his charge:- Also £30 a year for ever to be employed for the binding out poor apprentices to some honest calling, three or four of the said boys yearly as far as the money would reach, one whereof at least if not two to be sent to sea…”20

Frances Tucker died in January 1684 and it says much for the stability of the notion of ‘right order’ that she could envisage a world that, ‘for ever’, would never change. It was taken for granted that there would always be twenty poor boys to be educated, and that those poor apprentices would be be sent to sea, presumably whether they wanted to or not.

The rest of the month was spent visiting Child Okeford to stake out Net Mead and “looking to farming works.” May started with him tidying up some of the Child Okeford work and then from the 5th to the 10th he was measuring Warmwell for the tithe commutation. From the 14th to the 17th he was working on the Warmwell Map with a day off for the Yeomanry meeting and then after valuing wood at Hillfield he spent a week at Dorchester on ‘permanent duty’ with the yeomanry.

At the very end of May he was working on a private land sale at Allington,

31st May 1845

Making up Accounts &c Looking into Valuation of Col Michels Lands at Allington and working on Warmwell 1st Class Map.

2nd June 1845

Went to Bridport – Col Michels Sale of Lands at Allington

A large part of June was spent on the Warmwell commutation, a further ten days or so, but the overall impression is of bittiness, nothing substantive, a day spent on one commutation here or there intermingled with gardening and farming.

July was taken up with various commutations and the Poor rates; his weeks were still busy and there is a sense of frustration in the following entry,

4th July 1845

Went to Fordington by desire of the Overseers & attended a Vestry Meeting But all there was done at this meeting was the appointment of a committee to examine the Rate – Therefore I shall charge 2.2.0 and expenses

He set off on a longer journey in the middle of July when he went into Somerset in connection at the Earl of Ilchesters request respecting land at Penselwood. By this time Edwin was acting as the Earl’s steward in this area.

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

On his return he recommenced work on the Child Okeford award and finished the Dewlish apportionment. The latter is a surprise as there are no other entries about it between April and July.

17th April 1845

Working on the Hon Mr Ashleys Valuation of Fordington Estates and sent the Dewlish apportionment a second time.

21st July 1845

Arthur deposited the Dewlish Appt & Map Making Dft of Child Okeford Award Journey to Dewlish 1 day ½ £3 3s 0d

It cannot be said that Martin was ever short of ‘important’ clients. The Mr Ashley referred to was Anthony Henry Ashley-Cooper who was one of two MP’s for Dorchester holding the seat from 1831 -1837. His father was the 6th Earl of Shaftesbury.

It is possible that Arthur was working on this for him and completed the bulk of the work. On the 24th he had a more successful meeting with the Guardians at Fordington and the remaining seven days of the month were spent completing the poor rate and the Child Okeford inclosure.

24th July 1845

Attending the Committee at Fordington on the Poor Rate

August was taken up writing many letters and through the middle part of the month, with the exception of a meeting to hear objections to the Dewlish apportionment he appears to be making a concerted effort to finish the Child Okeford award. It was still not completed however by the 22nd when he started practising with his new theodolite.

22nd August 1845

Making my self acquainted with my new Theodolite but could not make it out to my satisfaction.

With the inclosure and commutation work drying up it’s seems that he had bought this in anticipation of a new project,

28th August 1845

Doing Various Jobs in the Office & wrote to Mr Whitaker respg taking part of the Survey of the Exeter Yeovil & Dorchester Railway

In September he finally finished the Child Okeford inclosure maps and then doubtless with great relief went to Weymouth for some rest and recreation.

3rd September 1845

Finished the Okeford Award Maps

4th September 1845

Went to Weymouth Races

5th September 1845

At Weymouth Races

After a couple of days finishing of work on the Dewlish and Warmwell apportionments he set off on his new venture.

10th September 1845

Sent off the Dewlish and Warmwell Engrossments and Maps to London and Preparing for Railroad works

11th September 1845

Went to Misterton on Railway work slept at Crewkerne Arthur with me

He returned home on the 17th and then it was back to farming, a little work on the Ditcheat inclosure and more tithe work.

October was spent working on a plan of Abbotsbury for the Earl of Ilchester although he seems to have working from an old map, he did not visit the village itself until after the plan had been drawn,

4th October 1845

Working on Abbotsbury Enlarged Plan of the Town for Lord Ilchester

7th October 1845

Went to Abbotsbury correcting the Village and finding out Owners and Occupiers

He took a little time out to do some practical measuring at Lewell farm, West Knighton,

9th October 1845

Measured 18 a[cres] of Land at Leawell [Lewell]

Do and returned Home

and then preparing for railway work although his duty to the Earl of Ilchester came first,

13th October 1845

Preparing Various things to go Measuring on Railroad works on the line from Beaminster towards Milton

14th October 1845

Enlarging the Village of Abbotsbury for Lord Ilchester

15th October 1845

Exeter Yeovil and Dorchester Railway

Went to Beaminster on Railroad works slept at Do Viewing the Lines all day

With a couple of days out for a Yeomanry meeting at Stratton the rest of the month was spent on railway work. The first three weeks of November were spent on railway work before returning to his work at Abbotsbury which work continued into the middle of December. He did a couple of days on the Hillfield commutation and the Leigh Inclosure Award before setting off on the 16th for Ditcheat to work on the inclosure there. He returned home on the 19th and did a few days work on the Halstock commutation and Abbotsbury. Halstock was one of the few commutations that Martin did not do where the Earl of Ilchester owned land but he did render assistance to William Pickering the apportioner.

Bridport Attending at Bridport met Mr Pickering on the Halstock T. Commutation Bills

On Christmas Eve he began work on a valuation at Bishopstone.

24th December 1845

Finding out Valuation of Bishopstone Prebendal land for Mr Webb

In the Abstracts of Wiltshire Inclosure Awards 21 the parish is described thus; “The Lord of Manor bishop [sic] of Salisbury; lessee Henry Vassall, Lord Holland. Prebendary and Lord of Manor of Prebend, Edward Rogers; lessee executors of William Church.”

Church income is a complex business but the main source of income for the church then was through the tithe. These tithes were ‘appropriated’ to the Rector of the parish who might be the incumbent of the parish, the bishop of a collegiate church [cathedral] or most commonly before the dissolution of the monasteries, a monastic institution. After the dissolution, and contrary to popular opinion, most of the income came to the bishops instead. Collegiate churches that are administered by a ‘chapter of canons’ [such as cathedrals] had to have a mechanism of providing some of those canons with an income so a portion of the cathedral’s income was given over to a number of offices known as prebends. The occupants of these offices were known as prebendary’s and since the source of all income was the land they were often supported by estates of land as well as the tithes in the parish in which they were prebendary. As can be seen however both the Bishop and the prebends were as like as not to lease the land to others.

25th December 1845

Christmas Day – at Home

26th December 1845

Working on the Bishopstone prebendal Valuations &c

27th December 1845

Do Do

28th December 1845

At Home

29th December 1845

Making out Bishopstone Prebendal Valuation and Examining the Abbotsbury Town Reference with Mr Wm Jennings

It’s interesting to note that although he was very devote he did occasionally work [1821 & 1827] on Christmas Day but other religious festivals are rarely mentioned and there is only one reference to Good Friday. It is doubtful that he ever worked at Easter.

13th April 1838

Good Friday – done a little to the Corfe Rate



There are no records of any sort for the years between 1845 and 1852. It seems unlikely that he did not undertake some work in these years but if he did none of it was sufficiently important for it to warrant an advert in the newspapers. At the age of 72 active surveying work had almost been given up. He was to perform no more inclosures and the commutation work locally and nationally had been completed. From now on there would be numerous entries like this,

1st January 1852

At Home on Various matters

Indeed it is not until the middle of February that he undertook any surveying work,

16th February 1852

Went to Halstock and Valued Land Rental by Christopher Guppy of Lord Ilchester £2 2s

Halstock was one of the few commutations where the Earl of Ilchester owned land and Martin did not do the commutation. The time in between was filled with his farming activities.

30th March 1852


Went to North Poorton & Valued Lands to be Exchanged between the Rector and Mr Jenkins £1 1s 0d

April was a little more productive although of small commissions only in parishes that he had surveyed before,

5th April 1852

At Home on Various matters- went on Ransom Hill to take situation of New House for Mr John Batten & made Sketch 10/6d

12th April 1852

Went to Hillfield Valuing Timber for Chas Cozens Esq £2 5s 0d

13th April 1852

At Home on Various matters working out Particulars of Hillfield Timber

19th April 1852

Went to Plush to Value Estates of Michael Miller Esq [where I slept]

20th April 1852

Returned Home made out Valuation of Plush

21st April 1852

IN PENCIL Tithe Paying Evershot

At Home made out Valuation of Plush for Mr Coombs – [Little Man very Ill]

May saw him working with Mr Pine, who he had at one time employed as an assistant and who was steward to Sir Josiah Guest who had bought Canford Manor near Poole in 1846 and appeared to require his help as an umpire; I have not been able to find any details of the case.

1st May 1852

At Home on Various matters Mr Pine came respg Arbitration – [Hamworthy]

3rd May 1852

At House on Various matters with Mr Pine looking into the Arbitration papers

7th May 1852

Went to Pool on the Hamworthy Reference

8th May 1852

To be at Pool 11 o’k – London Tavern Hotel

At Pool on the arbitration

29th May 1852

[Ham] Reference

attending Messrs Pearce & Pyne at the Antelope Dorchester

Note the rather erratic spelling of Pool[e] and Pyne. The work was finally completed in June

19th June 1852

Ham Renewal Dorchester 2 o/k

Went to Dorchester & executed my Award Mr Welch Solicitor of Poole attended

Also in May he completed a little more on the North Poorton exchange,

4th – 5th May 1852

Went to North Poorton resp Exchange

Between the 18th and 25th May he was completing his ‘Permanent duty’ with the Yeomanry. This comes as a surprise for by now he was 72 years old. The regiment arrived on the Wednesday 19th May, meeting on the Milldown before entering the town under the command of the Earl of Ilchester. Today the Milldown is a nature reserve but it does not require much imagination to envisage the mass of men and horses mustering and an impressive sight they must have been although the dark blue tunic introduced in 1850 was not as bright as the red coat with blue facings of earlier years.

19th May 1852

Permanent duty at Blandford

Regiment entered the Town about ½ past 5


The Milldown, Blandford looking toward Bryanston School.

In early June he went to Child Okeford to work on the Poor’s rate and stayed there for five days,

3rd June 1852

Went to Child Okeford on the Poor Rate

Apart from his outing to Dorchester on the 19th between the 3rd and 21st it was farming that occupied most of his time before beginning work again on the Child Okeford Poor’s rate on the 21st,

21st June 1852

At Home on Various matters writing Okeford Numerical Book

He was to spend another eleven days working on the rate and although he never actually records completing it he took the opportunity for a little work on the side whilst he was there.

1st July 1852

Do Do [Working on Okeford &c]

Made Sketch & Particulars of Sir Edward Bakers Land at Child Okeford £1 1s 0d

July was given over almost entirely to farming work and the Child Okeford rate but he also took time out to visit Yeovil Marsh regarding an extension to the turnpike but it is not clear as to whose land would be affected by this.

7th July 1852

Went to Yeovil Marsh with Mr Matthews and viewed Land over which a New Road is about to be made [Went to Chilthorne]

From then to the middle of August aside from a little work at Ransom which was up for sale, he was almost totally preoccupied with farming work, although a little yeomanry work was also done,

16th August 1852

Entering Yeomanry Pay List in orderly Book and looking over Bills &c [A Bad Wet day for the Harvest]

after which it was back to farming until early September when he went to Yeovil about the turnpike at Yeovil Marsh.

9th September 1852

Went to Yeovil respg Mr Matthews Turnpike Work And had a good deal of conversation with Mr John Batten on the Ransom sale – charge ½ & ½ .

The rest of the month was taken up with the Ransom sale apart from the last day when he went to Wareham to value Knoll Park Farm,

30th September 1852

Went to to Value Knoll Park Farm

1st October 1852

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

4th October 1852

Casting Knoll Park Farm &c

The rest of October was taken up with the Ransom sale although he killed two birds with one stone when he went to Yeovil,

23rd October 1852

Went to Yeovil carried Particulars of Ransom to Mr Batten & had conversation with him respg Yeovil Marsh Road

The end of October and the beginning of November saw him valuing a large number of farms, indeed nowhere else in the diaries is there such a concentration of such valuations and it is not clear why. Nothing especial happened in parliament to precipitate such a burst of activity. Some of these were for the Earl of Ilchester but probably not all.

26th October 1852

At Home a Very Wet Day

Valuing Jonathon Wilton Land at Buckshead Rented of Lord Ilchester

27th October 1852

Valuing Jonathon Wilton Land at Buckshead & making out Valuation £2 2s 0d

29th October 1852

Went to Burl to Value that Farm but the Rain came on & could not proceed

30th October 1852

Went to Burl again today and Finished Viewing the farm

8th November 1852

Valuing Cowcroft and Heaving bear [sic] Farms and Went to Coker afterwards to see my sheep &c

10th November 1852

Valuing Farmer Strongs Farm &c

Bob Sartain & Family went to the Union

11th November 1852

Making out Valuation of Heaving bear & Cowcroft Farms

12th November 1852

Making out Valuation of Farmer Strongs Farm

15th November 1852

Went to Chelborough & Valued Mr C Jennings Farm Rented by Mr Wm Paul

22nd November 1852

Went to Woodsford to Value the Farm slept at the Antelope Dorchester

23rd November 1852

Valuing Woodsford Farm and slept again at the Antelope

Burl and Girt farms are easy to locate as they are in Evershot but Buckshead is more difficult to find. Paterson 22 however locates it somewhere between Beaminster and Yeovil. Cowcroft is in North Perrott but Heaving Bear has not been identified.

In December he was off to Somerton for the Earl of Ilchester,

7th December 1852

Went to Somerton to Value some Estates of Lord Ilchester

Pd Expenses at Somerton for Self and Mr Snook Servants &c £3 5s 0d

8th December 1852

Valuing Farmer Waltons Farm at Somerton

9th December 1852

Valuing Farmer Bartlett Farmer Tucker & Farmer Whites Farms at Compton Dundon

10th December 1852

Valuing Farmer Edwards & Farmer Sams’s Farms at Somerton Knoll

11th December 1852

Returned Home about ½ past 4

Evidently this took it out of him, he rested at home for a few days before working again on the 15th after which he had a long break of inactivity until the 20th. There was then a complete break of all activity as he celebrated Christmas with friends before returning to work again on the 31st.

15th December 1852

At Home on Various matters -Casting some of the Somerton

Valuations &c

20th December 1852

At Home on Various matters doing something to the Somerton Valuations in the Evening

31st December 1852

At Home on Various matters

Making out Somerton Valuations in the Evening



The year did not get off to a good start. The first two weeks were spent at home and a lot of it was probably spent in bed. The first week he states he was at home but “laid up in a bad cold and cough”

Laid up in a Bad Cold & Cough

The next week was slightly better recording [for the seven days] “bad cold” and he did manage to get out to send an affidavit to London and perhaps more importantly to order more coal.

12th January 1854

IN PENCIL Sent for 25 cwt Coals Yeovil

Do Went to Yeovil & made affidavit for Valuation of Longbredy and sent same to London

On the 14th he was paid for his trouble,

14th January 1854

Reced of Mr Alger further Bill making Affidavit &c }£4 4s

At 74 his powers of recuperation were perhaps not as good as they had been but work began mid month, not even stopping for the death of his cousin and friend William Jennings.

19th January 1854

Went to Charmouth to Value Great Coombes Estate in the Parish of Whitechurch Canonicorum

20th January 1854

Mr Wm Jennings died this morning ¼ to one o/k

At Whitechurch Valuing

23rd January 1854

Making out Valuations of Great Coombes Estate & sent same to Mr Alger

[Red Cow Calved]

After this though there was only farming work until he had the sad duty of valuing William’s land.

17th February 1854

At Home made out Valuation of the late Mr Wm Jennings Land at Evershot to let [Lord Ilchester £1 1s0d]

On the 23rd he was off to Penselwood to value lands for the Earl and then to Milton Clevedon in Somerset where the Earl had over a thousand acres of land and which had been apportioned by John Martin’s namesake John Martin of Shepton Montague in 1842.

23rd February 1854

Went to Pen & Valued Mogers & Clothiers Land – Waited on Lord Ilchester at Redlynch


24th February 1854

Went to Milton by desire of Lord Ilchester respg a New Farm House for Phippen

Apart from these two days in March the rest of the month was spent at home or on farming works.

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

In April he spent a few days advising the Earl of Ilchester and Arthur on estate matters. By this time Edwin had been steward at Redlynch for nearly ten years and it may be that Arthur who was now 27 had started to take on this roll at Melbury Sampford.

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 Purchased Manure of John Christopher £3

The Earl of Ilchester was not the only Peer that he attended in April,

18th April 1854

Attending Lord Auckland at Rampisham all the day

19th April 1854

Attendg Lord Auckland at Melbury & went to Coker in the Afternoon to see the Thrashing of my Wheat [slept at Broadstow] {unknown}

Lord Auckland ,the erstwhile bishop of Sodor and Man, had bought the Manor of Rampisham in 1854 and presumably was just moving in, staying with the Earl of Ilchester whilst he was doing so.

May was spent on farming activity. He did not attend the Yeomanry meeting, and although it is tempting to put this down to age he could at least plead a special occasion in the opening of Shepton Montague church, an event strangely not recorded in the newspapers.

19th May 1854

The Yeomanry went on Permanent Duty Sherbornes

[Fetched Hay from Ransom] Bought of Farmer Dunford

At Home on Various matters Attendg in Nine Acres with People Couching &c

22nd May 1854

Went down to Edwins at the Opening of Shepton Church

23rd May 1854

At Shepton when the Newly repaired Church was opened [our Singers attended]

June was again taken up with farming work and an appearance at Dorchester appealing [as he did for Sherborne in 1838] against the county rate.

12th June 1854

Rain Came

Working on the County Rate business Evershot being over Charged

16th June 1854

Went to Dorchester respecting County Rate Evershot Parish being increased in New Rate £535 – The Committee struck it off

The rate for the year was £535 and Evershot’s proportion was a mere £1 16s 6d. This was a hopelessly low amount even in those days as Yeatman pointed out in 1828 the county was regularly spending a third more than it was raising in income.

July was spent entirely on farming works and it was not until early August that he did some real surveying work when he valued land taken for the Great Western Railway at Holywell. Over the course of the month and into early September he would spend about a fortnight on this work which is dealt with in another section. Otherwise the days passed on his farming activities.

October started with him colouring Lord Auckland’s map of Ransom and on the 10th Auckland came to Rampisham, and we must assume settled in. Martin was there to welcome him,

10th October 1854

Attending at Ransom with Lord Auckland all the day [Edwin came & Wm Pattern]

It must have been with some trepidation that he prepared for his next commission, as the page beginning the 22nd has “Rheumatick” down the side and on the 29th he wrote “Troubled with the Rheumatick”. There are two Allington’s in Wiltshire but the Earl had land in only one. The parish of Allcannings in Wiltshire was huge, over four thousand acres and contained two townships and a tithing – Allington. 23 As a tithing it paid its tithe separately. He did some preparatory work first,

23rd October 1854

Making Tracing of Allington Wilts for Valuation

25th October 1854

At Home Wet day Preparing Allington Sketch &c

and then on the 30th set off on his travels,

30th October 1854

Went to Allington to Value Lord Ilchesters Property Slept at Devizes

31st October 1854

Arrived at Allington and Proceeded in the Valuation

1st November 1854

At Allington Valuing

2nd November 1854

Do -and making out Particulars

3rd November 1854

Returned Home

Five Days £10 10s 0d

Expenses £3 17 0d

14. 7 .0

The journey must have taken it out of him for the rest of the month was spent on farming works and he was still suffering,

27th November 1854

At Home Bad in Rheumatick

He recorded another eight days of ‘At Home Bad in Rheumatick’ in December and did not do other work except for his Ransom work for the rest of the month.


Martin had a long term interest in Tintinhull the nature of which is not known but in February 1858 he sold a farm there. The advert for the sale notes that the lease had originally been for twenty one years of which four remained. This would have meant that the lease was issued in 1841 and we know that in 1845 Mr White came to see him about ploughing up some meadowland. He would have been the tenant in 1854 and sadly for him he had gone into bankruptcy.


81 years young and seemingly still going strong. The older persons preoccupation with health has gone and his ‘Rheumatick’s’ are not mentioned, instead he focuses on the other preoccupation of the elderly – the weather. It was a cold wet January in 1861 and it was not until the end of the month that he recorded a fine day. Not surprisingly he was not involved in any serious surveying work.

1st January 1861

Frost to Night [sic]

At Home on Various matters [Dined at Arthurs]

27th January 1861

At Home [Fine Day]

It was not until March that there is any hint of surveying work,

12th March 1861

At Home about Ransom new Particulars of the Manor

although he was still paying income tax on his ‘professional’ earnings,

1st February 1861

¼ income Tax Profession due 20th Dec £1 0s 10d

Most of the time was spent on farming and being ‘At Home on various matters’. In June he sold some of the Rampisham estate for Lord Aukland,

21st June 1861

At Home wrote to Ld Aukland informing him of the Purchase of Mr Williams land at Rampisham for £700

It was not until September that he did any more ‘real’ work and then it was for himself,

9th September 1861

To Chilthorne to get a Sketch of my land from Tithe Map

October was spent on farming, and then back to the weather,

10th November 1861

At Home a very hard rain this morning

December was more of the same and the diaries end thus,

30th December 1861

At Home- carting manure Barrow

31st December 1861

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

He lived for two more years but there are no more records of his activities and this for all intents is the end of his long and productive career.

Next        The Manor

Previous Five Acts of the 19th Century

1 £1 1s 0d [21 shillings] or in modern money £1.05p a day. An agricultural labourer earned 8 ½ shillings a week.

2 They frequently referred to it as the Poor’s rate ie the rate belonging to the poor.

3 Note that it was usually referred to not as the Poor rate but as the possessive Poor’s rate ie the rate belonging to the Poor.

4 There are two Bishopstones in Wiltshire, this one is near Swindon.

5 There was for a short while after 1836 an exception to this as we shall see.

6 All details taken from Hutchins History of County of Dorset

7 I have not been able to track him on any of the genealogy sites except via the newspaper advertisments.

8 Gambier J Tithes, Tithe Commutation and Agricultural Improvement A Case Study of Dorset circa 1700-1850 Doctoral thesis for University of Exeter held at the Dorset History Centre.

9 Prothero R E [First Baron Ernle] English Farming Past and Present 1912

10 A quarter of wheat = 8 bushels of wheat each bushel comprising 8 gallons.

11 Prothero ibid

12 Kain, Chapman & Oliver The Enclosure Maps of England and Wales 1595-1918 A Cartographic analysis

13 Gambier gives it at 274 days but I calculate it considerably less.

14 A colliery agent or broker who sells coal to shippers.

15 His spelling not mine.

16 It is not clear it was ever actually sold, see section on Rampisham.

17 I cannot find the meaning of the term Capital in connection with the timber but compared with ‘maiden’ [see below] probably means pollarded trees.

18 Maiden Trees are ‘natural’ that is to say they were not pollarded – as many trees were.

19 Also included was the little snake down.

20 Boswell E, The Civil Division of the County of Dorset 2nd ed 1833

21 Sandell R E Abstracts of Wiltshire Inclosure Awards and Agreements 1971 Wiltshire Records Society

22 Paterson D A new and accurate description of all the direct and principal cross roads in Great Britain ed W Mogg 1822

23 The organisation of the country in the past was complicated. In this case Allcannings was the parish but within it were a number separate settlements which had held or continued to hold a market or fairs. These were known as townships. In addition there were areas in some parishes known as tithings. These areas originally contained sufficient land to support ten households and the [male] heads of these households were known as tithing men who guaranteed law and order in the tithing. They were de facto small administrative areas within the main parish and survived into the 19th century. Tithings were responsible for their own portion of the parochial rates. Dorset had over four hundred tithing and one appears in the diaries. The parish of West Knighton paid £95 16s 5d in land tax and contained four tithings, Littlemayne, Friarmayne, East Stafford and Lewell which contributed £59 8s 7d to the tax.