16, 17, 18, 19 July 1661

These four days we spent in putting things in order, letting of the crop upon the ground, agreeing with Stankes to have a care of our business in our absence, and we think ourselves in nothing happy but in lighting upon him to be our bayly; in riding to Offord and Sturtlow, and up and down all our lands, and in the evening walking, my father and I about the fields talking, and had advice from Mr. Moore from London, by my desire, that the three witnesses of the will being all legatees, will not do the will any wrong. To-night Serjeant Bernard, I hear, is come home into the country. To supper and to bed. My aunt continuing in her base, hypocritical tricks, which both Jane Perkin (of whom we make great use), and the maid do tell us every day of.

32 Annotations

First Reading

dirk  •  Link

"My aunt continuing in her base, hypocritical tricks"

Obviously there are things here we haven't been told about. Sam writes mainly for himself, so he can be excused for not going into detail, but it's a pity for us! What would be going on? Can L&M shed some light on this?

A. De Araujo  •  Link

"letting of the crop upon the ground" are they planting or harvesting? seems to me to be off season: too late to plant, too early to harvest.

Pedro.  •  Link

"letting of the crop upon the ground"

Could this be... "Letting the crop dry to recommended moisture before harvest is better than immediately harvesting the crop to try to avoid another frost."


dirk  •  Link

"letting of the crop upon the ground"

I know too little about 17th c farming practices and techniques. Maybe one of the annotators can help us out here.

Could it be that a (first?) crop of something or other was about to be harvested shortly (even as early as July)? Or are we misinterpreting the word "of" - spelling was variable in the 17th c, so maybe we should read "off" here - and what would this sentence mean then?

Pedro.  •  Link

Port Holme fields were hay meadows.

In Yalding, like other villages in England, the hay is cut in June and July. It is very important to cut hay when it is hot and dry. If the hay becomes wet, the people have to spend valuable time turning it until it is dry.
The crops are usually harvested in July and August


Alan Bedford  •  Link

"...letting of the crop upon the ground..."

While it's true that hay is cut in midsummer (also here in the States), it would seem that Sam, et al., may be offering the crops that are now growing for lease to locals, to harvest when the time comes, presumably for a share of the sales money.

Glynn  •  Link

Letting the Crop upun the ground:
This might be selling the crop to another farmer whilst it is still in the ground thereby removing the responsibility for harvesting it.

dirk  •  Link

"letting of the crop upon the ground"

Glynn, considering Sam's special circumstances, I'm inclined to go along with your interpretation.

vicente  •  Link

There are other crops that come in besides Cereals and Hay. Hay can have many cuttings. There are peases for pease soups, then the Root groups.
But I doth think it doth mean that he has made business arrangements for taking care all the Farm problems till he can find suitable bailiff to round up the Mowers and other labor requirements.

vicente  •  Link

"...and we think ourselves in nothing happy but in lighting upon him to be our bayly.." Bayly= Bailif. Good solid Yeoman, who knows his syckle from his bi cycle?. Our Sam does seem to enjoy being the Squire, of all he doth survey.

Xjy  •  Link

"by my desire"
It strikes me that this passage could well be where Sam takes over as head of the family in his own mind, too. He walks the fields with his father, and everything is "we", but his is now the opinion that matters.
From youth to manhood in a week. Amazing what a catalyst death and property can be.

chriss  •  Link

the reference to the witnesses to the will is interesting. it used to be( and may still be in england) that if a legatee witnessed a will, the witness lost the benfifit, although the will was still valid. not sure what the state of the law was back in the 1600's. three witnesses also compared to the two required normally in common law countries... can anyone throw any light on this?

Gus  •  Link

“letting of the crop upon the ground”

In Northern Virginia, it is not uncommon for "custom farmers" to rent the fields of landowners who have no interest in actually doing the farming.

The payment is either "in kind" (x per centum of the harvest), or fee.

Did records of the will and its execution survive? That might shed light on the hypocritical aunt and the disappointments Sam expressed last week.

Glyn  •  Link

I agree with Glynn. In this case, "letting" would be used in its financial sense, i.e. to let a house.

Mary  •  Link

Execution of the will.

Records evidently did survive, and the L&M Companion has a whole, complicated page devoted to the lengthy process that ensued. SPOILER! The estate was finally settled (as to what was due to the heir-at-law and what was due to the named legatees) in an out of court agreement in 1663, though as late as 1676 Pepys still feared litigation from the son of Thomas Pepys, the heir-at-law.

As regards the widow, watch this space for the next 3-4 months.

Pedro.  •  Link

"letting of the crop upon the ground"

After swinging one way I am back to the moisture content, see 1911 Encyclopedia.

Grass or other forage, when growing, contains a large proportion of water, and after cutting must be left to dry in the sun and wind, a process which may at times be assisted by turning over or shaking up. In fine weather in the south of England grass is sufficiently dried in from two to four days to be stacked straight away.


vicente  •  Link

Hay and grains must be stacked 1000% dry other wise, from days to weeks the stack will burst into flame, usually at 4 am in the morning, from heat generated . It used to be stooked before being stacked, then a waterproof covering known as a Tar Paulin[e] [palling,pauling fr. pall, may be from the latin-palla robe, palliolum hood]covered until the thatcher did come and put his straw? thatch covering to replace the Tar paulin , [as it is known, Jack tars are Tarpaulins because they did waterproof their cloth so that they did not expire from wet woolies].

Pedro.  •  Link


Form Pauline's(L&M) Bacground about Uncle Robert's will it says that the Brampton property was the biggest, 74 acres let in 14 parcels.
Let out by Robert, or let to him?


vicente  •  Link

Just a thought, it may just take three x's to validate the final line. Although for a long time I was under the understanding that the witness to a Legal document had to be a Man of good references like a JP or esquire or a member of good standing like the local Curate or Bishop.[ none of the lesser than betters could apply their John Hancock]

Mary  •  Link

Let in 14 parcels.

Presumably let by Uncle Robert to small farmers. These are small parcels of land (possibly as small as 5 acres each) which might have their origins in the historical grants of Copyhold by the manorial court, being just about large enough to support a family with a mixture of crops and livestock.

dirk  •  Link

land enough to support a family

Since early medieval times the land sufficient to provide fully for one family was known as the "hiwisc" (hence the old area measure "hide") or in Latin the "terra unius familiae" (we find it described in these terms by the Venerable Bede). There is some discussion as to the actual size of a "hiwisc", but a figure of 120 arable acres has been suggested (some 30 hectares). However, these 120 acres would have consisted of several tracts of land, that may or may not have bordered on each other, and that would over time tend to come into different hands. So probably an individual tract of land would some centuries later on have been more typically around approx 40 acres.

See for an in depth discussion i.a.:
"Domesday Book and Beyond", by Frederic W. Maitland (out of print as far as I know, but can still be consulted in university libraries).

vicente  •  Link

Back in 1930. 120 acres, arable was a nice spread for a sucessful guy. A mere 30 acres put to raising chickens would also give a very good living. Remember one good Belgian [horse that is] is good for plowing an acre a day. The Fen country acreage was divided up by the soil conditions. The House of Lords was at this time giving Bills out to drain the lands and create tillable soils. Looking at the maps of the area one can see land was sliced up by nature herself into various odd lots[ a modern farmers nightmare, he be needing large slices for his monster expensive equipment].

dirk  •  Link

Evelyn's diary:

17. I went to Lond. at our Assembly: we put a Viper & slow-worme Aspic to bite a Mouse, but could not irritate them to fasten at all: Mr. Boyle brought 2 polishd Marbles 3 inch diameter: which first well rubb'd, then with a drop of oyle olive, which was afterwards cleane wiped off, the stones claped together stuck close, even so close, that the nether stone having a hook insertd, & the uppe a ring, tooke up 42 pound weight, by the power of contiguity, before they separated: The oyle was added to fill up any possible porositie in the polishd Marbles:

19. We tried our Diving bell, or Engine in the Water Dock at Deptford, in which our Curator contind halfe an houre under water: It was made of Cast lead: let downe with a strong Cable:

Pedro  •  Link

19th July 1661.

Allin near Barcelona spies a small hull driving in the stream…

“We took in corn, so much of it as was good, and the rest heaved overboard, took out her mast and towed her at our stern. We conceive that she had been taken with the Turks, having no living creature in her visible, nor sails, nor ropes, her yard cut in pieces and broke upon her larboard quarter, where we conceive she was boarded.”

Second Reading

Terry Foreman  •  Link

17th July -- House of Commons Journal

Militia. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/…

A temporary Bill for settling the Militia, being ingrossed, was this Day read the Third time....
Resolved, upon the Question, That the Title of the said Bill shall be, An Act declaring the sole Right of the Militia to be in the King; and for the present Ordering and Disposing the same.

The King's Sole Right over the Militia Act 1661

Terry Foreman  •  Link

Evelyn's diary:

19. We tried our Diving bell, or Engine in the Water Dock at Deptford, in which our Curator contind halfe an houre under water: It was made of Cast lead: let downe with a strong Cable:

The Wikipedia article on the Diving bell has an image of a Swedish cast lead bell at top right

Andrew Marvell's "The Second Advice to a Painter for Drawing the History of Our Navall Business" (ll. 75-86) satirizes:

Now Painter, spare thy weaker Art; forbear
To draw her parting Passions and each Tear:
For Love, alas! hath but a short delight;
The winds, the Dutch, the King, ail called to fight.
She therefore the Duke's Person recommends
To Brouncker, Penn and Coventry, as Friends:
To Penn much, more Brouncker more, most to Coventry;
For they, she knew were all more 'fraid than she.
Of flying Fishes one had sav'd the Fin,
And hop'd by this he through the Air might spin;
The other thought he might avoid the Knell,
By the Invention of the Diving Bell;
The third had try'd it, and affirm'd a Cable,
Coil'd round about men, was impenetrable.

but Lord George de Forest notes "The diving bell was introduced into England from Sweden in 1661. See Evelyn, 19 July 1661...." *Poems on Affairs of State: Augustan Satirical Verse, 1660-1714*, Volume 1 (Yale, 1975), p. 40.

Terry Foreman  •  Link

"the three witnesses of the will being all legatees" - L&M say the witnesses to the will were John Holcroft, Thomas Holcroft, and John Pepys, but that the second of these does not appear to have been a legatee.

john  •  Link

Ah, vincente, your comments on haying reminds of the days of my youth, standing on a stooking sled pulled behind a baler, hoisting bales to make 6-bale pyramids, which were released by press of a pedal. (Eventually, the farmer could afford to put a motorized conveyer on the baler.) I also recall many a farmer taking chances putting steaming-hot bales in the loft.

Renting out land also allows the landowner to pay agricultural tax rates.

Chris Squire UK  •  Link

I read this as meaning the crops of wheat and barley ripening in the fields to be harvested in August.

The key point is they have found Will Stankes to be their bailiff:

‘bailiff Middle English baillif , < Old French baillif,
. . 3. . . the steward of a landholder, who manages his estate; one who superintends the husbandry of a farm for its owner or tenant.
. . 1617 Janua Linguarum 526 The baliffe gathereth-in harvest into the barne.
1678 R. L'Estrange tr. Epistles ix. 75 in Seneca's Morals Abstracted (1679) , My Bayliff told me, 'Twas none of his Fault . . '

I too have heaved hay bales and stood on the platform of a combine harvester handling sacks of grain [in the days before they had storage tanks]. Before that, a binder and sheaves of corn arranged into stooks pointing at the parish church to catch the prevailing wind.

‘Ou sont les moissons d’antan’?

Gerald Berg  •  Link

I have trouble seeing anyone signifying hay solely by the word 'crop'. Rather 'hay' or 'hay crop'. Too early to be harvesting much else. However, there could be grain stored in silo. Hence "upon the ground" (to me) would be the present ripening field crop being let out. If one doesn't wish to spend the remaining growing season tending to the crop, letting out would be optimal.

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