John Martin of Dorset, diaries

I first came across the diaries of John Martin of Evershot through this 44-page PDF.  Recently expanded into a website all its own, John Martin of Evershot: The Life and Times of a 19th Century Land Surveyor will well-occupy visitors interested in history, in land survey, and in Dorset (especially) and England.

Nine diaries – the first kept in 1810 and the last in 1861 – are remarkable signposts to a man’s lifetime and the times through which he lived.

“Martin’s career may be roughly divided into three unequal sections. Until 1837 it was dominated by inclosure work. Then for a brief spell, less than a decade, he was concerned with the commutation of tithes in the parishes. Finally from 1845 onwards he found himself engaged in a new area of work – the railways, which altered the country more fundamentally than either inclosure or tithe reform could ever do. “

Image from Dorset History Centre’s 2018 “tweet” about the Martin diaries.

Diaries, in themselves, may be deemed “unpromising if not boring”. It takes a careful (and caring) editor to bring the the words and situations to life. “But history is a strange subject, for the present, the here and now, is not yet history whilst it is being lived.

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