Farmer Cuffs Diary 




Daily entries for the year 1858 by John Symes Cuff. 

Somerset Archives and Local Studies during 2020, displayed the contents of this diary, day by day, on their Facebook site. The format showed photographic images of each entry, together with a typed transcript of each handwritten entry.  This document is a transcript of those photographic day by day entries, as it was written. ‘As Is’ -  Allowing for punctuation and a few words illegible. 

[The original document is at their archive centre in Taunton. Catalogue no A/AGB/1. 

Entry reads: [Wilsons] diary, possibly belonging to a farm in Chard/Ilminster area 1858.]






Places & People of Interest





Monday - Snowy 

William Speke and J Norton called and agreed about his putting a new stall in back barns and Barton. We went down in Barton Close and Kitchells. On the edge marked two Large  Elms for it.





Tuesday -Fine

Had Morris Lake and Phillip Macy to cut down an elm tree in Barns Close and make up the wood. Josiah Cossins called and dined. Wm Ben Speke called and dined with us after dinner I paid the latter 30s charity coal

Phillip Macy

Morris Lake

Joshia Cossins

Ben Speke



Wednesday -Fine by day, snowy at night

Horse driven threshing machine

Had the Horses put in the machine and finished threshing out the reminder of the oats. Busy draining in Kitchells Lane and Macy finished making up the wood.




Thursday - Fine

Mix of soot and ashes plus privy contents for manure

Busy preparing the ashes and soot down in Kitchells stall by mix it together in order to have the cottage privy contents mixed with it for manure. Phillip Macy opened the place for Morris and ‘Bailey to do it

Morris Lake

 ? Bailey

Phillip Macy



Friday - Fine

Had the oats winnowed up, cleaned 20 bs of them for seed and rest for feed, Sent word by Joseph Mead to his master Mr Robt Webb to know if he intends to have fathers greyhound if so to let me know.

Joseph Mead

Robert Webb



Saturday -Snowy

Red water disease? Bled her

Both ploughs went to work today in 7 acres to prepare the turnip ground for wheat. Had an ewe with red water had her home and bled her she died under it. I think by taking off too much blood.




Monday -  Fine then snow afternoon

Speke the landlord 

Oak to cut down for stall

Norton the Bailiff

Finished drilling in all the wheat ground that was left after turnips in seven acres except the higher headland. Mr Speke and Norton came here and fixed on some Oak trees to cut down for new stall. Went down to Kitchells and saw the draining done.





Tuesday – Snowy at times

Winnowed up beans

Had the horses in the machine to thrash out some beans for sowing tomorrow. Had them winnowed up all except back heaving them.  Poor old Phill Macey is taken ill and cannot work,  an attack of inflammation. Susan and the servant maid both are ill unable to do much.

Phill  Macy



Wednesday - Fine

Beans drilled

Had 4 sacks of Beans measured up and drilled in, 14 acres of them in yonder side of six acres, they went in well. We put them in two thick rows, having smaller wheel, we used the 22 cog wheel with four coulters. I think if we used the 25 cog wheel it would be about 4  …? Per acre or thereabouts. 




Thursday - Fine 

SA a score - 20 lbs in weight!

Dennington Butchers

Began with both ploughs to cross Lower Wherods from spring oats. John Norton junior sent old Richard Manth of Dennington butchers to kill our fat pig ,it died well and plenty fat enough we call here-about 1 score and I think it is somewhere about her weight.

John Norton jrn




Friday  - Fine

White Pitts = lime  to dress dairy ground

Pig cut up

Busy crossing the oat ground in Lower Wherods. Sent Harry Perry up to ‘White Pitts to see if we could have any lime tomorrow as I want it to put in some Banks of earth to dress over the Dairy ground.  Cannot have it until Tuesday. Norton and Marsh Came here and cut up the fat Pig





Saturday - Snowing

Began to stock the turnips  out in White Ash with the coupled yesterday, but obliged to have them away again today as it is so very  wet and dirty. Had a young ewe broke her fore leg yesterday by some unaccountable means or other. Reset the leg again by splinting. Finished threshing out the last of the beans.




Monday – Gloomy about the middle of the day


Could not see the annual Eclipse of the sun which took place about 1 o’clock.  … just at the time it was a total eclipse that grew dark for nearly …. There was a ?

Henry White



Tuesday - Fine


Earth bank in Hulls

I sent my two waggons up to White Pitts after four loads of lime to mix with earth in a bank in Hulls. Henry White agreed to cover the five loads going there and turn it when it comes for 5s. 

Henry White



Wednesday - Fine

Mangelwurzel-root veg for fodder

Could not have any lime today sent all the horses hauling dung from the dairy Barton down in Lower Woods for Mangols. Began draining the Dairy Plot for the Dairyman.




Thursday - Fine

Sent both ploughs to White Pitts again after 4 more loads of lime to mix with earth in roadside layby ,by Lower Wherods. Settle cover and turn to Henry White for 7s and 1 and a half gallon cider.

Henry White



Friday -Fine

Cow Stall ideas

The ploughs hauled 4 more loads of lime today. Susan and self, rode down to Donyatt to see the Helliers last night. I went with William to see Mr & Mrs Bakers new cow stall and his draining


Mr Baker




Saturday - Fine


 Lawrence of Merriott called and bought all the potatoes I have for sale. Good and bad all together last evening at 5/6 per Bag/Bushel? To fetch them before Monday fortnight he gave 10s in ernes?t  to have them.





Monday Fine and spring like

Lawrence came down from Merriott  and had  away all the potatoes he brought 33 and a ¼ bags at 5/6 a bag, he paid. I gave him the odd 4 and halfpence for luck. Sent Bishop with 3 horses and waggon up to Merriott with them he brought back from Michells for me 3 bags of White Clumpers? 




Tuesday – Fine and very hot at times

Garden twines

I put Thomas Holbrook putting up the Twines? behind gate posts yesterday down in Newlands. He is here again today about it. Put 3…? In garden twining? up. Charles Perry came also today gardening he said he would not come again after today because he could not have his dinner here. Therefore, I discharged him for good. I owe him 2 days in garden 3s pd.

Thomas Hobrook

Charles Perry



Wednesday - Fine

Both ploughs went after lime again today. Sam Perry, once, and Bishop twice,  one of the loads was for the dairy man to put in his plot for his potatoes and the rest for my potatoes in Nine Acres.

Sam Perry 




Thursday - Fine

Choosing Churchwarden

Parish Meeting

Attended the Parish meeting at Dowlish yesterday and produced my account which they were all satisfied with.  Attended the first Vestry meeting held at Cricket.  A stormy discussion with old Coleman. He would not consent to  appointing two churchwardens. But after a great deal of parley, we got him to consent to Rectors churchwarden and leave the parish rights aside.

Old Coleman






Friday - Fine

Heifer culled

Made three ploughs today and finished ploughing at Woods, except the headlands , in order to have the yonder side drained. John Norton came yesterday and had away the fat heifer he brought of me, he killed her today.

John Norton



Saturday - Changeable

We have a little rain very mild. Henry White went into the Ilminster Market. The weight of the fat heifer only 2 score 4 lb, Not so heavy ,as we called her by nearly a score.

Henry White

Ilminster Market



Monday – Changeable but fine

Cow stuck in ditch upside down

Finished threshing barley with my horse machine. Busy draining the remainder of Lower Woods that was left the first year I came here. I was likely to have lost a dairy cow from being in ditch on her back.




Tuesday - Turning

Had the Heifers in calf and a cow in calf put in the barton at West Dowlish again. And hauled down a load of straw to bed up the barton well. Had the Rams put in the little barton to keep them from breaking about.




Wednesday - Rainy

New Court house in Ilminster – Magistrates meeting 

Police Station / overseer / constable

Rode into Ilminster and attended the first Magistrates Meeting held at the New Court house. Fitted up also as the Police Station, was appointed overseer and constable for the Parish of West Dowlish. I put in Wm or Arthur Hull junr with me as overseer.

Arthur Hull