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The Farming Diaries of Thomas Pinniger 1813-1847


Volume 74, The Farming Diaries of Thomas Pinniger 1813-1847, edited by Alan Wadsworth, is now available.

From 1813 until his death in 1847, Thomas Pinniger kept a detailed daily account of the sheep and corn husbandry he practised first at Little Bedwyn Farm to 1825, and then as the owner of Beckhampton Farm in Avebury parish from 1829. These periods were separated by a stay on Sambourne Farm in Chippenham, when he was more an observer than an active farmer. These ‘Farming Memorandums’, as Pinniger described them, provide a fascinating and detailed record of the challenges that he faced throughout his long career. Farming practices and developments, prices of corn and livestock, and the weather were all recorded in detail. It is clear that they were not just kept for the sake of posterity, but as a body of knowledge and experience on which he could draw. His relations with his labourers and neighbours, not always cordial, add to the wealth of the content of the diaries.

Having moved to Beckhampton, Pinniger bought the eponymously-named established coaching inn in the village. Stables were constructed for both the farm and the inn, with the latter specifically for race horses. The fortunes of the inn faltered with the coming of the railway in the early 1840s.

As well as the obvious subject matter, Pinniger also noted the births, marriages and deaths of relatives, friends and acquaintances, revealing the social milieu in which he lived. Dates of funerals and of funeral services were also often provided, the latter rarely recorded in this period. He also provided a first-hand account of the unrest of the Swing Riots of 1830, which he viewed as a serious threat.

The years 1823 to 1838 have been transcribed, but the whole span is covered in the introduction.  In keeping such meticulous daily records over so long a period, Thomas Pinniger stands as the principal representative of the class of yeoman farmers, from early to mid-19th century Wiltshire.

Copies can be ordered from Helen Taylor, Secretary, Wiltshire Record Society, by email at secretary@wiltshirerecordsociety.org.uk or by post c/o Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Cocklebury Road, Chippenham. SN15 3QN.

WRS members will receive their volumes shortly.

For non-members, the cost of one volume is £20.00 plus £3.20 for post and packing. Payment can be made online (details will be provided by email) or by cheque made payable to ‘Wiltshire Record Society’.

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