John Cooke’s diary 1775-1776

Memorandum in 1775

Jan.y 2nd – Sent Mr Grevile a hare by Caerleon boat.

Jan.y 4th – Bought a hogshead of Gin of Mr Powell of New Forge cost £1 13s 0d.

Jan.y 5th – Bought a pig of my Tenant Hen: Morgan which cost £2 8s 0d weigh.d a score the two flitch’s weigh.d 121 lbs the cheeks weigh.d 6lbs.

Jan.y 7th – Bought a pair of half patterned ashes cost 2d.

Jan.y 9th – My son Thomas began to learn to write of Mr Summers.



10th – This is my birth day and my wedding day. I am 42 years old being born on Saturday Decem.r 30th 1732 and was married to my pres.t wife

 16th – Went to Lanwern.

 17th – Rec.d my rents at Magor for last year.

18th – Returned to P’pool that night.

19th – Came home to dinner from P’pool found a messenger from Leicester to request me to go to vote for Mr Hungerford Mr Pochin and to oblige Mr Croxall of Thurstock. I sett out directly the messenger ab.t 2 in the afternoon in a chaise, got to Ross that night.

20th – Went from Ross in a chaise without Mr Cox as supervisor who was also a Freeholder of Leicestershire to Birmingham that night.

21st  – Went from Birm.m at 3 o’clock in the morning got to Leicester 138 miles from Abergavenny by two o’clock at noon. Got polled directly for Mr Hungerford, afterwards dined with him. Lay that night at Leicester. Mr Hungerford carried the election by a majority of 120 votes.

22nd – Sett out from Leicester was allowed 3 Guineas and a half for my expenses home, got that night to Mr Croxall at Thurstock.

23rd – Went from Thurstock to Birm.m dined and supped with Mr Carless, drank tea with Mrs Ireland.

 Do 23rd – Bought my son John a Gold shirt Buckle and my son Thomas a pair of Plated Buckles and myself an oil case wood.

24th – Sett out at 5 o’clock in the morning in the Stage Coach from Birm.m for Worc.r called at Bromsgroveon Mrs Bennet got to the Hop Pole at Worc.r by one o’clock at noon, dined, drank tea and supper with Sir Nigel Gresley at his house there.

25th – Settled all account finally with my old tenant Thos Cross of Broomhall near Kempsey to midsummer 1774, at which time the Estate being a leasehold of £18 a year. Requested to the Bishop of Worcs.r who refused to renew it all the lives being dead, but the Bishop dyed without enjoying it by a fall from his horse at Bath. Johnson was his name. He long wishes a poor man to get possession of this little Farm which he lived to do but come to his continuously and in a very few months after tho’ a batchelor and very rich he was exceedingly avaricious and penurious and his death like his life was a miserable one.

25th – Sett out from Worc.r in a chaise to Ledbury and got from hence on Post horses to Ross that evening where I stayed with my friend Mr Meredith till Saturday the 28th instant when I left Ross and got safe home to Aberg.y that evening.

27th – Mrs Hanbury of P’pool was delivered of a son early in the morning.

31st – Bought a pig of Jno Watkin of Tre Binking for the Rev.d Mr Morgan of Chelmsford at 3d ¾ a pound, weighed a score for which I paid him £2 3 9.

31st –  Paid Phil Williams 12 guineas for a years rent for my house in Aberg.y due the 1st of this instant.



2nd – Sent the rent of the field to Mr Rainsey.

8th – Paid Mr John Parry £5 for a year’s rent of the sd fields. A remedy for rot in sheep. Give each sheep a spoonful of dry salt once a week when rotting season is expected. When they have been a little used to it they will lick it up of themselves if laid upon flat stones in the pasture.

My wife Rec.d in my absence from David Williams of Penloyne £17 0 0d.

The Aurora Bonalis is continually succeeded by hand southerly or south west wind, attended by hazy weather and small rain, it may be observed in general that sufficient indications of impending impetus precede them a considerable time, did we but carefully note them.

In the former part of the reign of Henry 8th there did not grow in England either cabbage, carrot, turnip or other edible root ab.t the same time the artichoke, the apricot, the damask rose made their first appearance in England. Turkeys carps and hops first known, there in the year of 1524 the currant shrub brought from the island of Zant 1553.

In the year 1540 cherry trees from Flanders were first planted in England.

Ab.t the year 1580 peaches were first introduced.

14th – Went to Chepstow and dined at the Three Cranes with Mr Van and Mr Lewis St. Pier and the bridge committee of which I am one.

When we agreed with one Brown and Mason of Abbey Tintern to build three new stone pieces to Chepstow Bridge the foundation of the pieces to be repaired and made good by day work and the pieces to be done by the greed of nine shillings and six pence a ton.

Twenty square feet to be allowed a ton of work.

16th – Returned from St Pier thro’ Caerleon with Mr Thos Lewis, dined with Harry Morgan and came to P’pool that night. Settled my business finally with the heirs at law of Mrs Jones Salisberg. I got a discharge from Mr Henry Davies late of Chepstow.

17th – Came home from |P.pool

18th – Rd.d a letter from Mr Thicknose to instruct me that on Wednesday the 16th inst his appeal was held before the Lords and the Chancellors devise him was then fully confirmed.

Lord Chamberlain spoke an hour and a quarter for reversing the devise in his favour but there being but a few Lords, chiefly Scotch the motion was speedily determined him without a division.

This affair gives me more concern than any other mans disappoint it minded or care.

His great knowledge of the world of mankind his uncommon talents and abilities rest and elegance of manners made his company exceedingly pleasing and discernible. He lived in a cottage near P’pool (Zuortea) a little slypinn of his own farming but quitting this county was a loss to me that can never be repaired.

20th – Went with my son John to Mr Hanbury’s to P’pool and returned Sat.y the 25th



4th – John went with Mr W Davies and Mr Jno Morgan to Oxford in a chaise.

7th – Tommy was 9 years old.

15th – Sett a fir tree between each of the horse chestnut trees and walnut trees round the little field adjoining to the hedge and road to the house in Goytre and on the same day planted the fir trees in the little orchard beyond the kitchen garden there.

17th – James Meredith the young.r grafted several American New Town Pippins and three Kipston Pippins and two large Yorkshire Pippins which were given me by Mr Meredith and several other trees at Goytre.

20th – Went to Kevenhila to the premises of my cousin Edw.d Griffiths marriage and at the request of Miss Cox to give her away to him which I did at Llanbaddock Church.

Miss Molly Griffiths the clerk and Mr Griffith’s bailiff were all that were present.

Immediately after the ceremony they set out for London in a chaise and four and I returned to dine with Mrs Griffiths their mother at Kevanhila.

If future happiness may be presaged from fair prospects and amiable qualifications, this young couple seem entitled to much mutual felicity.

The same day I brought from Kevanhila two young pyramidical Flemish Poplar trees of one years growth and planted them in remembrance of the day in the orchard at Goytre, below the garden wall and adjoining the high road.

24th – Planted three quarters in the garden at Aberg.y with potatoes.

25th – Sowed colleyflowers, savoys, brocoli and brocoli seed in do.

27th – Sowed carrots and onions in Goytre and pruned the wall trees.

31st – Went to Monmouth assizes. William Nicholls Esq., was High Sheriff. George Rigg and Thomas Hurlance condem.d for robbing Mr Rowlins of Monmouth. Thomas Hurlance was reprieved.



5th – Planted at Goytre a cherry tree which Will.m Andrew gave me which was budded on a laurel stock.


10th – Sett four potatoes at Aberg.y which Mrs Mathews gave me under the further wall near ye mulberry tree.

Charles of the Scots

The Scots are contemptible peasants, cunning, disparaging egcophant Jacobites in soul and sentiment but devout worshippers of Dagon.

They are everymans slave to gain a purpose and the tyrant of everyman, when the purpose is gained they splurge on the credibility and can of the Guelph’s but are the unutterable followers of Charles Stuart and to erase these principals is almost as difficult as to make them generous ignoramus clearly.

14th – Sett six rows of potatoes from Chepstow behind the hot bed in Abergavenny.

16th – Sett some of the Chepstow potatoes at Goytre in the old cabbage ground and before the halibut trees. Same day sett a double row of Mr Mathew’s potatoes between the upper rows of raspberries.

24th – Made rosein wine tim.d it May 17th.Sett three rows of Hotspur peas and three rows of white blopam beans at Goytre.

25th – My son Thomas began to learn to dance with Mr Morsey at Aberg.y



6th – My daughter Mary is one year old this day.

10th – Acc.t in the Gazette of a skirmish near Boston on the 19th April last between the Kings’s Troopers and the American in which the former were worsted. This is the first blood that has been shed on the melancholy disputes betwixt us and them.



2nd – John came from Oxford

4th – Removed from Aberg.y to Goytre for the summer

5th – Mrs Graham came to my house at Aberg.y which she has taken for two months at one guinea a week

17th Monday – Attended a charity school meeting at Caerleon

18th – Tommy went to board at Mr Morgans


Inscription on a Garden Seat

Altered from Thurstone by a Lady


O ye who bother in costly bliss

Or toil in fortunes giddy sphere

Do not rashly judge amiss

Of one who lives contented here


Nor get disdain the narrow bounds

That skirt this gardens simple pride

Not get, deride the scanty mounds

That fence your waters peaceful tide


The tenant of the shade forgive

For wounding at the close of day

With joy to see the flow’rots live

And hear the linnets temperate lay


And or remember that from strife

From fraud full hate and pantick glee

From every fault of polished life

There rustic scenes are happily free


The Hermits Law

“Let thought and deed from reason glow

Conscience calm is heaven below

Prunce wary wants the heath most true

Is when we make a little do

Call temperance and in full toil

Then soft content will spread its smile

Conduct of youth thro’ happy age

And fit you for the hermitage”


24th  – Attended the first charity meeting for the benefit of clergymen’s widows and children held at the Kings Head in Newport for which I am at the Bishops particular request appointed, together with Mr Addam Williams, Mr Lucas and Mr Cecil a trustee.

31st – My son John is 19 years old this day. This day came ann.t of an action on the 19th June last betwixt the Kings troopers and provincials in north America in which the former had the advantage. Charlestown was burnt down by the Kings forces



23rd – Mr Hanbury’s birth day. My son John and I dined at P.pool only the Coldbrook family there.

24th – Mr Mathews family from Lanfoist dined at Goytre

25th – Sowed some early York and sugar loaf cabbage and some Lapland cabbage seeds and a few of the stone turnip seeds at Abergavenny

31st – Let my farm at Goytre to Henry Howell for a year, reserving some part for myself

10th –( on the blotting page)Lenter.d my chair for a year ending this day next year 1776



21st – Began to farm the green before the parlour windows into a garden again and planted the slopes with strawberry plants the 23rd instant. This ground was laid down with grass for 5 years.

28th – Mr & Mrs Griffiths and Charles dined at Goytre.

30th – We went to P’pool to see Mrs Davies and staid all night.



3rd – We went to P’pool to visit Mrs Hanbury and staid all night.

11th – My wife left Goytre and went to Abergavenny. Martha came this day. Got in the nursery and other apples.

21st – Began to plow the lower Cae Coed for wheat.

26th – Finished sowing wheat in the above field 5 covers. Sowed 6 bushels and half a peck at 7s. Mr Blash.f .

28th – Paid my ten.t H Morgan 10s for plowing and 3/4d for harrowing it. Henry Rinalt 6d and Mr Price three days labour same time. Paid John Morgan four pounds for ten dozen of lime on the same field. Sett a bed of Mazagam Beans. Returned from Goytre to Abergavenny for the winter.

31st – My son John and Mr Thos Williams sett out for Oxford.



2nd – Planted 2 plumb, 2 apple and 3 pear espaliers and from P’pool in the garden at Goytre. Disp.d asparagus beds for the winter.

8th – Made the garden wall at Goytre next to the road 2 feet higher than it was before.

9th – Planted a pomegranate and passion tree the end of the house near the garden.

16th – My wife was safely delivered of a daughter a quarter before six in the morning.

17th – Cow took bull.

23rd – Planted the first quarter of the garden at Goytre with gooseberry and currant trees and espaliers cherry trees.

29th – Began to clear the ruff ground by the hedge in both Cae Coed.

30th – Began to feed my pigs with peas.



1st – Dined with Mr Car for the first time at his new house.

2nd – Planted 3 standard cherry trees and 2 do plumb trees on espalier New Town Pippin and sev’ll other espaliers apples and in the garden at Goytre.

4th – Made my Cyder at Mr Morgan’s 120 gallons.

Mem.d that Nov.r 30th being Jno Andrews day in Cardiff fair and the next market day after at Aberg.y and P’pool is the best day to buy beef for hanging.

Mr Morgan Griffith turnpike work 5 0

Thomas Moses 3 0

7th – Sett 2 rows of a few more Mazagam Beans under the wall at Abergavenny, full.

22nd – Molly Robins came to us and next day Sally Lewis of Usk went home from nursing my wife, for wich I paid her £1 8s 6d.

22nd – My son John returned from Oxford. I had expected him long before and my disappointment was owing to his having taken a journey to London with an Oxford acquaintance without my leave or knowledge, this impudence of his grieved my heart extremely and obligence to leave this remark of it behind me hope that whenever he meets with it, it will renew the idea of his father’s fondness for him, who instantly forgave the disobedience and never mentioned it again to him.

Paid Morgan Griffith 6s

Paid Thomas Evans 6s

William Price 6s

H Renalt 11s

29th – 2 bushell more of pears.

25th – First wore my suit of forrestt cloth.

28th – Rec.d a bill from Mr Croxall for £13 7 0 for half a years rent from Mr Suffolk, due Lady Day 1775.

28th – This ab.t 8 o’clock in the morning died at the Priory in Abergavenny Charles Millborne Esq. as much and as deservedly lamented as any man with my remembrances.

31st  – This night died the Rev.d Mr Evan Eustance above fifty years vicar of Abergavenny where he was greatly respected.

Turnpike Work

December halled

106 loads of stone at 6d 2 13 0

Paid Morgan Griffith

23 days work at 1s 1 3 0

Paid Harry Rinall

18 days work at 1s 18 0

Paid for 2 baskets 1 0

Paid Harry Rinall

For 6 days work 6 0

Paid Jack in all

Different times 1 10 6

Dec 1st paid him more 1 0

Dec paid for shoes 5 0

Mary Plower cam Jan.y 24th 1775

Feb.y 16th paid her 2 2 0

March paid her 5 0

March paid her 2 0

March paid her 2 6

May 10th paid her 1 1 0


Lord Abergavenny’s yearly chief rents

For Skibor Wen in Mamhilad 6 0

Goytre Lease 2 0

Do freehold chief rents 2 2


Jan.y 10th 1775

Paid William Morgan the above in full for 1774


Acc.t of nanny’s wages

Nov.r 7th 1774 paid her all this morning wages due to her the 1st instant being half a year


Jan.y 5th 1775 paid her 5 0

Jan.y 28th paid her 12 6

May 2nd paid her in full

Of all wages ten months

Due to the first May

1775 1 8 0



Mary Watkins came May 6th 1775.

15lbs or more of clover

6 trefoil

4 white clover

11/2 doz ray grass

1776 – January

2nd – Dined at Mr Jordan’s

3rd – Dined at Miss Merediths, Xmas dinner

5th – This day my little girl was privately baptised at Abergavenny by the Rev.d Mr Williams the curate there, by the name of Elizabeth, after my own sisters name

6th Saturday – This evening Mr Millborne was buried in the chancel at Aberg.y Lord Oxford, Mr Thomas Harley, Mr John Harley, Mr Philip Jones of Llanarth, Mr Harcourt and Capt Chamber were bearers.


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