The Diaries of John Carrington, 1798 - 1810
The Diary of John Carrington is one of the most important items in the Hertfordshire Collection of Archives.John was a farmer at Bramfield, a village in Hertfordshire U.K. Hertford (at SG13) was the local market town. He was an energetic, sociable and successful man. He kept a regular diary for the years 1798-1810. Like many other men of his standing he worked in various official capacities both for his parish and for the surrounding area. One of his official positions was as a tax collector. During much of the time that is recorded in the diary, Britain was at war with France. What follows are readings from the Diary for the year 1805.
A transcript of the Diary is available at county Hall Hertford in the Reading Room of Hertford Archives and Local Studies. The Hertfordshire Record Society plan to publish a complete edition of the Diary in the next year or so.
There are frequent references to money in Carrington's diary entries: the money used was the pre- decimal coinage of Britain.12 pennies (12d) were 1 shilling, 20 shillings (20s) were 1 pound, 1 pound (£1.00).
At one point Carrington mentions that he has £101 to hand over to Mr Byde, the receiver general for the taxes collected in and around Hertford. This was a huge sum. It should be noted that the average wage for a farm labourer at this time was 10s a week.There are also references to amounts of corn sold by the quarter at Hertford Market. The grain was sold by capacity: one quarter was usually 8 bushels. There were, however, regional differences and in Hertfordshire 1 quarter was 5 bushels. A bushel measure was a standard container of capacity.
These extracts from the Carrington Dairy for the year 1805 were edited by Gill Cordingley. A characteristic feature of the Diary is the number of entries which are about food and drink and pubs. Carrington always mentions the names of the landlords and land ladies of the pubs. I have put these names in bold type. Names of fields have been underlined. The text has been edited in the following ways: I have used modern place names and spellings: on the whole, I have used modern punctuation. Omissions from the text are indicated thus..... Additional words needed for intelligibility have been indicated by round brackets. My commentaries are in italics within square brackets.