A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode

James Eley’s Journal 1808

Journal of a Tour From Thornbury, Gloucestershire to Leominster, Herefordshire, in July 1808 by James Eley


This Journal was written at the particular desire of my daughter Martha – it is no more than the recital of dry facts – consequently cannot be interesting to those who have no knowledge of the persons mentioned in it – and who are unacquainted with the loqual (sic) situation of the country – to her therefore I present it with all the affection of a Father. J. E.

Tuesday 12 July 1808 After taking leave of my wife and family I set out from Thornbury at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, in Barnett’s Caravan, in company with Messrs Jn Pearce and Thomas Hendy, two brother overseers, who were going to the Quarter Sessions at Gloucester, to Indite four persons, for a contempt, in not obeying four orders of Bastardy. This was done in consequence of an order of Vestry – called at Mr. Shepherd’s at Morton where we drank a cup of ale, the weather was uncommonly hot – we then proceeded to Stone, and Mr Hendy having some business to transact with Mr. Long we called there, and after drinking another cup of ale we went forward to Newport, where we arrived a quarter before four and were so fortunate as to meet with a return Chase (sic) from Gloucester which we engaged for half a guinea. The driver fed his horses and rested them two hours, and in the meantime we regaled ourselves with a comfortable dish of tea – Set off from Newport about six and put in again at Cambridge, where we found a motley set of Bachanalians seated round a table at the door, drinking, smoking, singing and roaring, in the exquisite notes of a braying Jackass – to this inimitable Choir we sat listening – while we each drank a glass of cold brandy and water, remarking how tremendously grand they performed, the chorous (sic) at the end of each verse, it even passed the power of description – at the conclusion of two songs these sons of melody broke out into a most terrible discord contending who amongst them was the best singer – the sublimity of the music being thus interrupted we thought it high time to prosecute our journey – and on coming out of the house, one of the company stared us in the face and said “that’s a good looking man, and that’s a good looking man, the one’s a lawyer and the other is something else” and the Mr. Pearce he said “Farmer what are you grumbling about” – no doubt thinking me (having on a black coat) a limb of the law, Mr Pearce my client whom I was taking to the Sessions to fleece, and Mr. Hendy a witness – leaving these rum blades to enjoy themselves their own way, we pursued our journey to Gloucester, where we arrived between 9 and 10 almost melted with the heat of the weather – Put up at the Booth Hall Inn – had cold beef and a currant and raspberry pie for supper – drank a glass of brandy and water and retired to rest, in a three bedded room, a little before twelve, but did not sleep well on account of the excessive heat.

Wednesday 13 July Rose at half past five, washed and trimmed, took a walk to Wilton’s, who is clerk of the indictments, the office was not open – Strolled round the suburbs of the city for a little fresh air – returned to the Inn, had a breakfast of coffee – went again about 9 to the office and told our business – was desired to come again at twelve. We then went to the hall, and heard a boy tried for stealing a lead weight, he was found guilty and sentenced to one month’s imprisonment and to be privately whipped – he was only fourteen years old, an artful rogue and a sad picture of human depravity. I hope this will prove a warning to him, and prevent him coming to the Gallows. At twelve obtained our indictments and took them into Court – Mr.Pearce and Mr Hendy were sworn by the crier – went each before the grand jury, who found a true bill against all the delinquents. We then had our dinner composed of bacon and beans and a currant and raspberry pie – after dinner we drank a bottle of wine and I then attended my companions to the Coach, who left me behind to finish the business – I returned to Court again and heard a woman tried for shoplifting, she was acquitted in the face of what I thought to be the clearest evidence, but the woman in her defence happily possessed the gift of the gab – After this a man was brought to the bar to find securities for his keeping the peace towards his wife – she appeared against him and related a most dismal tale of savage treatment, which she had at different times received from him. He set up a whining snivelling defence, talked forsooth of his kind behaviour towards her, squeezed his crocodile tears, begged the court to let him go home that night and he would bring securities in the morning. The chairman replied, the woman has brought witnesses to corroborate the truth of her statement, that she must and should be protected, and if securities were not forthcoming he must go to prison, and there the poor fellow went – O! thinks I, this is a fine specimen of Matrimony, and hugged myself to think that the pear I had chosen was not of that pot – On the court breaking up I went to Mr. Bloxham’s office, who is clerk of the peace, and procured four warrants, which after tea I sealed up and put them in the office for Thornbury, read the London papers, supped in company of one of the grand jury, a very civil man – chatted over a glass of brandy and water and went to bed about 11.

Thursday 14 July Had a very restless night owing to the excessive heat, which was beyond everything apprehensive, no sleep after three o’clock about which time I was awoke by the sound of a trumpet and the trampling of horses, I jumped out of bed and saw a considerable body of Cavalry march off at this early hour to avoid the heat of the day – returned to bed again, lay about half an hour, folding my arms to sleep, but it flew away from my embrace, not satisfied with this uncivil treatment I rose again, and performed the operation of shaving, which with the assistance of the celebrated packwood, precluded the necessity of my visiting Wittick, who I perceive is returned from Bibury, the season being over, as fat and plump as ever; had breakfast about 9 which was no sooner over but the coach from London to Hereford arrived – When the passengers had refreshed themselves I made one of their company and set off from Gloucester about 10. Miscellaneous conversation on the road which went through Huntley – The country was very picturesque and full of fine scenery – A little before we reached Ryefore where William of Ross used to preach a lady describing the place where she would be put down was interrupted by Master Coachie crying out “Yes, I know, it’s the place where they wash the young women’s sins away” – Thus are the commands and example of the Saviour burlesqued by the ignorant and the rude – past 1 arrived at Ross and while we exchanged horses has a biscuit and some cider – but the cider was not good – set off again, the weather still uncommonly hot – We took up a young woman on the road who appeared to be an acquaintance of the Coachman’s for they engrossed almost the whole of the conservation, she had been at Ross market and we put her down again at Harewood’s and – called at the public house on the road and had another glass of cider which was no better than the other. At Hartlebury Hill we had a beautiful prospect of the country embracing eleven counties, and the cornfields and orchards on the road were in most places truly luxuriant – affording the eye of the traveller a most delicious feast – Thus was the way beguiled. When we reached Hereford about 4 I immediately went to the principal inns of the City seeking a return chaise, but in this my fortune failed me – went back to the Greyhound and had tea which greatly refreshed me – after tea went out to view the Minster – it is a fine handsome structure, especially the part which a few years ago was rebuilt. From thence I visited the castle green which is the most delightful spot siuated on the banks of the Wye, in which river I saw a considerable number of boys swimming and diving like ducks. I joined myself to a venerable looking old man who had seated himself on one of the benches, on an eminent part of the green and which was placed beneath a fine row of elms growing by the side of the moat, defended from the scorching sun by the foliage of the trees, he was here enjoying the cool refreshing shade. With this old gentleman I had half an hour’s agreeable conversation, which for the most part respected Herefordshire and the prospect to be seen from the green, which he said extended to seven counties. I the centre of the green stands an unfinished monument designed to perpetuate the memory of the Gallant Nelson – paying beforehand is the worse pay of all, and here the proverb was literally fulfilled – the Contractor had been paid all his money a little too soon – lurched his employers and consequently defrauded the worthy admiral of the designed honour to his departed name. On my return called at the hotel, a very large inn built by the present Duke of Norfolk, and was booked for Leominster.

The next morning at the Greyhound Inn I met with a Mr. Symmons of Kingswood, near Wotton-under-Edge, he is a clothier and I believe a member of Mr. Lewis’s meeting – had some pleasant chit-chat conversation while he packed up a trunk of cloth – He had made an excursion into Oxfordshire and Worcestershire and having a brother-in-law in Hereford and he told me he had picked up 9 new customers, one of these customers came to the window, I think he was a Taylor – Mr Symms asked him into the house to take a glass, he replied “I conna hear, I am so dunny”. “Well,” said I, “that’s true genuine Herefordshire, I am now almost at home to a certainty.” – the Taylor however refused the glass, Mr. Symms went and supped with his brother-in-law while I sat and read the paper, after which took a short walk, returned and had for supper Pickled salmon, all this was a very high treat – my companion returned about half past 10 and at eleven we retired to bed. But as it was in the beginning so it is now and I had little sound sleep owing to the continuance of the oppressive heat, and was forced to throw everything off me but the sheet – the lodgings were very good.

Friday 15 July Rose at 4 or a few minutes before, excessively thirsty, shaved and put on a clean shirt, and this refreshed me exceedingly, came downstairs a little before 5, eat several slices of bread and butter and drank a pint and a half of water with a piece of toasted bread in it – At 6 went to the Hotel where we found two coaches one by the side of the other with the heads of the horses in opposite directions when at the same instant of time we set off, he for Gloucester and I for Leominster. The coach had no sooner left Hereford than one of the passengers opened – he was one of the loquacious consequential fellows I have met with for this long time, if all he said between Hereford and Leominster, a distance of 13 miles, had been written down and sent to the press I really believe it would have made a five shilling volume, and the book, I mean as far as it respects the bulk, would have been sold at a moderate price too. Among the ladies we had two or three agreeable companions, and I almost wished that prating Jackdaw on the top of the Leominster tower, where he may have cut a figure in the midst of his own species and not have wearied the company. Called at Wellington where I drank a glass of rum and milk for which I paid 6d, but it did me 6/- worth of good. We now soon arrived at Dinmore Hill, where humanity to the poor horses compelled us to leave the coach, but the exertion of walking up so long and steep a hill put us into a violent perspiration. At the top of the hill we lost one of our females, some friends having met her there to conduct her to her house. Descending the other side of the hill I felt some very peculiar sensations, in viewing the country from which I had been absent for about eighteen years, and which perhaps I was now visiting for the last time. At hope church we parted with another of our female companions, who was going near Hampton Court, the seat of Lord Malden, the Earl of Essex, not more than half a mile distant from us. We then turned the corner and bore away full swing for Leominster – several local circumstances now presented themselves to my mind – at Wharton I said to myself “there is the Lugg, the banks of which I have so often trodden in my juvenile days, when following the amusement of Angling – and that’s the house to which my dear parents, now no more, once sent me, to bring home a basket of apples,” thus were my thoughts occupied as in a pleasing dream when the coach stopped and I was set down at the door of the Red Lion, Broad Street, exactly opposite the house of my former residence – on turning my eye I saw my old master looking through the shop window – I immediately crossed and went in, thus accosting the old gentleman “how do you do, sir?” Mr Sayer, with great civility, returned the compliment – on this I said “You do not know me”. He replied, “No Sir I do not”, expressing my astonishment and he still remaining insensible, I told him my name. Mrs. Sayers, who was in the next room, hearing the name of Eley, like an arrow shot from a bow, ran out and seizing me by the hand both welcomed me most cordially and kindly – had breakfast and after an hour’s chat took a stroll to see if anyone would know me – called first on Mrs. Higgins, with whom the family used to be very intimate. She took me for a traveller, and thought I had called on her for an order. When I undeceived her she appeared surprised, and with a great deal of friendship in her manner, invited me to tea – from thence went up the High Street and at the Iron cross asked a lad where Abraham Roe (who was a fellow apprentice) lived. At this instant Lawyer Nicholls, who very politely said “Walk with me Sir and I will show you.” “your name is Nicholls I presume, Sir.” “Yes, but I have no knowledge of you.” I told him I was a son of Mr. Eley’s – he then remembered me very well – went into Abraham Roe’s who was immedeatly (sic) called, he came but did not know me, notwithstanding we had lived almost seven years together. On telling him my name, he shook hands and insisted I should spend one whole day at his house. I then called on Mr. Davis (Mrs. Sayer’s brother) and here I was as little known as before. Well, thinks I, I might have settled at Leominster, and my old acquaintances would have been all curiosity to have known from when the stranger came – but when I told them who I was most of these sagacious persons were wise enough to see that I was astonishingly like my mother – from thence passing through Corn Street, I went down to the bottom of School Lane to take a peep at Etnam Street – On my way back I met John Bedford, the butcher’s wife who used to serve us with meat – “how do you do, Mrs . Bedford?” “Dear me, Mr. Eley, how do you do?” – here I was first known and a little thousand questions followed, one on the heels of another, leaving Mrs. Bedford I passed through the Corn market where they have built a new market house in the centre of the square – went down Draper’s Lane, and at the top of Broad Street called to see the great Columbus, alias Jack Foreman (names by which he was generally known when apprenticed at the same house as myself, but whose real name is John Jones) and here I was in the old predicament, and had the misfortune of being unknown – Jack staring at me with both his eyes at one time, I told him who I was, he immediately seized me and full of good nature said “To come in and have some cider, I am much obliged to you for calling to see such a fellow as I.” Parting with him I went back to Mr. Sayer’s to dinner, and about 4 in the afternoon took a walk with Saul Gwilliam (Mrs. Sayer’s nephew) through the Ambrose Close across the Priory green – by the Poplands, over Riddemore Bridge and beyond the three Tuns, a considerable way up the canal. On our return went through the churchyard and along the Duke’s walk to see Mr. Kilpin – he eyed me through the parlour window, came to the door and said “Brother Eley, come in, come in.” Both he and Mrs. Kiplin treated me with great kindness, and invited me to dine with them on the morrow, which invitation I accepted – from thence went up Etnam Street and called on Mr. Abraham Wyke who had heard of my being in town. I met with the same kind of reception there and engaged to dine with them on the Sunday – Returned about eight through School Lane and down Broad Street to Mr. Sayer’s. Supper ended and having worshipped round the family altar, retired to bed about eleven in the midst of the most tremendous storm of thunder, lightning and rain, which lasted from ten at night to three in the morning, but having little rest the three preceding nights, and the weather becoming a little cooler, I comfortably went to sleep and forgot it all.

Saturday 16 July Rose at 7.30 having made but one nap, and after breakfast took a walk over Pinsley Bridge down the marsh and over Lug Bridge. Saw Thomas Smith, son of Alderman Smith, spoke to him but was again under the troublesome necessity of making myself known. He very politely paid me this compliment, “Your Father was as honest a man as ever carried a guage stick” – These and many such like observations were very grateful to my feelings for I found my father among his old friends was universally remembered with respect. As I returned I went into Vickery Street where I saw poor old Thomas Nicholas to whom I had spoken the day before – remembering I suppose some of his former dry sayings he stopped me to enquire if I had married the young woman concerning whom (as he daily passed through Tomkin’s yard to the Priory mill) he used to ask me if I had brought her to toll, “For.” Added her, “when we bring them to toll we think ourselves sure of them” – Finding him to be the same queer fellow passing his jokes without meaning, I left him and went back to Mr. Sayer’s where I shaved, etc, and at one o’clock agreeably to my promise I went to Mr. Kiplin’s to Dinner, which was made up of veal, ham and tarts. After dinner came Mr. Prosser, a merry hearted blade, and smoked his pipe with us, with which we drank some very excellent bottled Perry, made of the Longlon pear, growing on Dilwyn estate (Dilwyn estate belongs to the meeting). We talked over old times, and made ourselves very cheerful and happy – Saml Gwilliam came to tea – left Mr. Kiplin’s about eight and took a walk to the bottom of Etnam Street, and down the midsummer meadows where once grew a very long row of the largest Poplars I ever saw, by the side of the pleasantly gliding Pinsley. These alas! Are all cut down, and I said with Cowper “The Poplars are felled and adieu to the shade.” Saw a new bridge thrown over the Lug as you are going into the midsummer meadows, similar to the one at the Priory – went through the Castle field and had a sight of the old House, where we once lived, The Garden, Poplar tree and bower, where I have spent many a playful hour, free from all anxiety and care – leaving this once favourite spot, which was not even without its charms, I went by the Quaker’s meeting along Turnbole Street, up Beast Street, and so home – supped – committed ourselves to the protection of the Divine Being and retired to bed about eleven.

Sunday 17 July Slept well and rose at 7.30. Breakfasted and prepared for meeting, which began at half past ten. I sat in Mr. Sayer’s pew, and on looking round the meeting, a degree of melancholy came across my mind, and these words instantly occurred – “Your Fathers, where are they, and the Prophets – do they live for ever?” the venerable Thomas gone whose instructive voice has so often charmed my ears and warmed my heart – most of the families with whom I used to worship are now no more, and scarcely a pew with its old inhabitants – I could not exclude these impressions from my mind, even during the more solemn season of prayer, which being ended and the hymn sung, Mr. Kilpin read his text, Psalm 45.7; “Instead of the fathers shall be thy children” from which words he made, to me at least, a very sensible and affectionate discourse – after meeting went to Mr. Wyke to dinner and by the whole family was treated with the greatest respect at half past two went to meeting again, which was carried on by reading, singing and prayer, Mr. Kilpin having been unwell he thought himself incapable of preaching three times a day – after meeting went into Mr. Kilpin’s house, conversed with him about half an hour and then went to Mr. Wyke’s, where I drank tea in company with Mrs. Sayer, Mrs. Higgins and her daughter – at six returned to meeting again, and passing through Mr. Wykes’ garden to go down the Castle fields I met good old Mrs. Jones the moravean (who is the mother of the late Mrs. Tripp in Bristol). She and her husband are become very infirm but she still retains her mind and friendly disposition, and she told me she was very glad to see any of the family – This evening Mr. Kiplin preached from two texts, 1 Peter 4 and 7; “The end of all things are at hand” – Jeremiah 5.31 “What will ye do in the end thereof?” He again made a very good sermon.

Gwilliam went with me after and we smoked a pipe together while we conversed on various subjects, and then parted, Mr. And Mrs. Wykes pressed me very much to spend another day with them. When we reached home we concluded the sabbath by offering up our united supplications to the throne of Grace, and retired to bed about the usual time.

Monday 18th July Rose at 5.30 and brought up my Journal – then took my linen, before the family came downstairs, to Mrs. Cox, a daughter of the late Herring at the Priory, to be washed – she being out I left the bundle, went over Canwater, crossed the Mill Meadow, went up Mill Street and turned down the lower marsh till I came to the turnpike – called on Mrs. Cox on my way back – she was come home when I gave the necessary orders. Leaving her and crossing the Ambrose Close I met with Mrs. Sayer’s boy who was looking after me to come to breakfast. In this morning’s walk I saw but one person I had the least recollection of, and I could not call her by name, for which reason I did not speak to her, but I understood afterwards it was a daughter of Mr. Turner the baker – After breakfast took a walk with Mr. Sayer to see his hopyard and orchard – these are situated a little way from Disly – the course we took was up New Street, which is newly pitched, along Rainbow Lane by the Golden Cross, along Disley Street, by the Brickyard and thro the Disley turnpike – the hopyards are in general in a flourishing state – so is the corn of every description – being almost scorched with the sun – we went into a small cot which Mr. Sayer had erected for his convenience, we seated ourselves down in this cool retreat, and very much enjoyed the refreshing shade – the Honey Suckles growing through the thatch and the luxuriance of the Hop bines in front served greatly to beautify the scene thus excluded from eyes and ears. We gave vent to the feelings of our heart and we freely conversed on subjects both new and old. On our return went into the gatehouse field to see the prospect, and by the time we reached home was so very tired that I sat down and rested till dinner, which was made up of a loin of veal and a gooseberry pie – Went out no more till 5 o’clock and then Mrs. Sayer went with me to Mrs. Higgins to tea – From thence at 7 went up Church Street thro the Church Yard and along the Dukes walk, to prayer meeting – on our way was overtaken by Mrs. Frank Knill, who was also going to meeting, she enquired particularly concerning my sisters, desired to be remembered to them all – and invited me to her house – after meeting returned the same way back to Mr. Sayer’s. Mr. Kilpin soon followed us to smoke his pipe, and on his leaving we had supper, after which with much mirth and glee we talked over old affairs till past 11, then with prayer intermixed with thanksgiving and praise we committed ourselves to him who is the father of our mercies, and retired to rest.

Tuesday 19 July Had a good night’s rest and rose at half past 6 – went into the bakehouse and had some cheerful conversation with Sam Gwilliam laughing pretty freely over a few old incidents which were newly revived in our minds – left the bakehouse and went into the parlour to Journalise, and peeping thro the window saw a fellow with a sheep pluck in his hand leading a horse down the street in a water carriage. This circumstance brought to my recollection poor old Pudding Jones, and the wicked tricks of the boys, who, for their diversion, used to pull the bung out of his barrel and let the water about the street, thus working the poor old fellow up into the highest pitch of rage. O the rascals! The rascals! – Breakfast being ended I went to church to see a funeral, the service was begun – However, I seated myself in a pew, and heard the minister read the latter part of what is called the burial chapter – this being ended, Old Sternhold in the monotonous tone of the parish clerk, began the ancient diddy of Lord hear my suit and give good heed, reading the first line and then singing it over by himself, and so on the way thro to the end of the piece. This is the only place I know where the church people sing at funerals, on our coming out to go to the graves a man made up to me and said “sir, I thought you had been a friend of the deceased and was come too late for the funeral.” Here again, my black coat led the people into an error – and on another occasion I was taken for a parson, and the people were all expecting to hear me on Sunday, but we must not take every man by his look. Waving this digression, the ceremony at the grave being ended, the Clerk who turned out to be Ned Hare came and said to me “Binna you a Lemster Man?” “I believe so” replied I, and told him I was a son of Mr. Eley’s – “Ay, Ay, I knew him, your Father and Mother”, said he, “were as quiet good sort of people as ever lived in Lemster. I hear they are both dead, for I have often enquired about them.” I then returned to the church and took a survey of the back aisle, where I saw a neat monument erected to the memory of old Mr. Davis – the Collector – in this part of the church some of the wags of the town have amused themselves by scribbling verses on the wall which are too indelicate to transcribe – take the following for a specimen –

When Vicar Coleman preaches here

I would not give a T…..d to hear.

The only verse of a religious nature began thus:

To day man’s drest in gold and silver bright

Wrapped in a shroud before tomorrow’s night

And under this verse, which I thought a little out of place is the following:

Why should fools their nonsense write

In this most sacred place

It proves their minds are not aright

To show their great disgrace.

And I wrote the following clumsey rough hewed lines beneath:

Query. Why did this fool follow the example?

Ans. To make his folly appear more ample.

From thence I went into the body of the church, walked round the aisles, and saw a table of benefactions two or three bequests of the late Mrs. Marlow, one of which is thirteen shillings and tenpence yearly to the poor of the Baptist meeting of this town – I then went into the churchyard and surveyed the tombs, and here I learned the departure of many an old friend and acquaintance, some of which told me a very mournful tale, and others of them were altogether as jocose. From many very curious epitaphs I copied the following – “Eliz th Scandrett, wife of Taylor Scandrett of Islington” addressed me thus:

Fortyone years a maid I lived

Forty one years a wife

Then God thought fit my soul to call

And end this mortal life.

Poor lady thought I, how often hast thou fancied thyself forgotten, and lamented over thy hard fate till the joyful day of matrimony arrived to wipe thy sorrows dry – and yet how kind was heaven to lengthen out thy happiness to so late a period – go on and repeat thy simple effusion of gratitude to every stranger passing by. The following literal copy of the verse engraved on the stone of John Jones (son of the late Jones the waterman) who was killed at an electioneering rout:

By the wadding of a cannon

In bloom of youth I was

Brought here to lie by a vile

Stroke it was my lot to die

Upon short notice he from

This vain world did part

Here dies the darling of

A mother’s broken heart.

In this pursuit I was interrupted by the coming of my old friend Abraham Roe who holds the office of Church warden, his business was to give some directions about repairing the church – I instantly put up my pencil and attended my friend who took me into the church again. Here he gave me a long history of their singing, which he himself had led for 18 years; the alterations lately made in the organ; the various music meetings that had been held in the church for years past – together with the experimental doctrines and fine sentiments delivered from the pulpit by their (I am sorry to hear afterwards, drunken, fornicating) Curate, that I was nearly sick and could have almost have fancied that I had a church in my belly, but on our mounting the roof of the church the free circulation of the air and the fine prospect around us acted very much as a restorative, and I turned to Mr. Sayer’s where to my great comfort I found a very good appetite to my dinner. Dinner ended Saml Gwilliam and myself by previous agreement mounted our nags and rode off for Pembridge, a distance of 7 miles, nothing material happened on the way, but the recollection of places and old scenes furnished us with topics of conversation – we passed by the field where Molly Parry was murdered – arriving at Pembridge we rode up to Mr. Wildings, who is removed from Clearbrook, having sold that estate for two thousand pounds more than he gave for it – he is fitting up the house where he now lives in a very comfortable style – Isaac Collier who is at work there told him we were coming to see him but when we arrived he was not in the house – we walked back along the street to find him – we met opposite the house called the Broad Stone. A little girl was standing at the door – This, says I, is the house where I was born, I must go in and see it – without any ceremony we passed the girl and entered the house, and on seeing the parlour door open, I ran in exclaiming, this is the very spot of my nativity, they all followed and having minutely surveyed the room, we left the house and the girl too, wondering I suppose what sort of fellows we were – this was a little indecorous but I was formerly acquainted with the man that lives at the house – tho’ he was not at home – Mr. Wilding then took us to the churchyard to see his wife’s tomb – he said “if Dolly had been alive she would have been in extasies at seeing me, though she used to say I was the most cross child she ever nursed in her life – she had been dead about two years – he showed us the church and also the steeple – this is a building detached from the church and has been so, Mr. Wilding said, ever since the days of Oliver Cromwell. I replied “the steeple has been a firm dissenter ever since” at which they all laughed heartily. In going back we saw a woman running furiously after a girl with a long white thorn in her hand, vociferating “What, will you eat the apples before they are well blest” – however the girl was so blest as to make her escape. O blind superstition, thought I, when will the perfect day chase thy sable form from the earth. On reaching Mr. Wilding’s house we were entertained with a profusion of everything that is good, and all placed before us with a most hearty welcome. Our table was covered with various sorts of wines and spirits and while smoking our pipes our host entertained us with the most humorous stories which I cannot here relate. He enquired for my brothers and sisters by name, asked about Mr. Scarlett, and strictly charged me to tell them all that Old Mercury was still alive – he likewise made me give him the direction to Brown’s Lane, for being in London last summer he very much regretted the lack of it, he would most certainly give them a call as he was intending to go up again in a few weeks. Wilding is in the house I think the most open and generous man I ever met with, and if we had hearkened to him (if I may be allowed to make use of an old proverb) we should have left Pembridge as drunk as David’s sow. However, we had more prudence and I hope more Grace, and we rode home soberly thro a small sprinkling of rain – reached the Bargates turnpike about 10 – when we got home found supper on the table, which when when ended and having spent a little time in prayer, we went to bed.

Wednesday 20 July Lat till half past 7 and after breakfast wrote the greatest part of my Journal for yesterday, at 1 0’clock went to Abraham Roe’s to dinner and that I may see as much of Leominster as possible took the Zig Zag route of the lanes till they brought me to Corn Street – dined off a leg of lamb, peas and a custard pie. After dinner smoked and chatted till tea came in, but Abraham’s excessive fondness for his good old Mother led him to give me the history of about twenty successive parsons who had supplied Leominster church since I had left the place – after tea went to Mr. Kilpin’s in conseqence of an invitation I had received in the day – Saml Gwilliam called for me, and we went up the Beast Street, along Disley Street, down little brom yard – across South Street, down the castle fields and thro the burying yard where I saw once more the graves of some dear departed friends, such as Mr. And Mrs. Thomas, Mrs. Nicholls their daughter – Mr. And Mrs. Adams, Hester and poor old Mary, who had been dead about 10 weeks, and Michael Dukes, all of whom in their day were valuable members of the church, but these with many others I trust are now entered into the rest which is prepared for the people of God – all is right – on Michael’s stone is the following inscription –

To the memory of Michael Dukes who died Oct 17 1807, aged 74 years.

This faithful Christian as a servant lived

Full forty years respected and approved

With Mr. Thomas Nill of Bradfield Court

And by his walk did sacred truth support

He loved to sit beneath his saviour’s smiles

To hear his word walked 40 thousand miles

But now his toil is o’er is called away,

And Reigns with Jesus in eternal day.

From this depository of the dead we went into Mr. Kilpin’s house where we had an early supper of boiled eggs, etc – Mr. Kilpin and myself made a hearty meal but the delicate and squeamish appetite of Master Samuel appeared to fail him after the 7th egg. After supper we smoked a pipe and enjoyed ourselves very much during the whole evening – about 11 returned hom (sic) and bowing ourselves once more around the family altar we betook ourselves to rest.

Thursday 21 July Rose at half past 7, the former part of the night restless owing to the barking of a large dog, after breakfast shaved, put on clean linen, etc, and packed up for my journey, this brought on 12 o’clock – went round a few friends to take leave, which notwithstanding my Great desire of returning home is the most unpleasant thing I have met with since I have been out, Returned to Mr. Sayer’s and dined off a leg of lamb and a pudding, after dinner smoked a pipe and drank a glass of rum and water, all this time I sat in the parlour waiting the arrival of the Shrewsbury coach which came a little before three. While the coachman was resting, and feeding his horses (there being none to exchange them on account of Ludlow races) I had a dish of tea – Mr. And Mrs. Sayers gave me an invitation to pay them a future visit, begged I would write to them and desired their love to my wife and family – Brothers – sisters – Mr. Scarlett – Mrs. Shepherd and family, etc, etc. The horses now making their appearance I took leave of them both in tears – on this I hastened out of the house and took my seat on the coach by the side of a Methodist preacher who came out of the north and was going down to their conference at Bristol – and we set off about 5 – At Wharton I looked back on Leominster tower till it gradually reced from my sight. “Farewell”, I said faintly, “perhaps I shall never behold thee more”, walked over Dinmore Hill which is more than a mile from one end to the other – saw the corn in many places flat with the ground, the effects of the late storm, weather cloudy but no rain – had but little conversation on the road, and we reached Hereford a little after 7, unwilling to shut myself up in the house I took a walk along some of the principal streets of the City and returning to the Inn applied myself to my Journal, after which supped, smoked a Brosley with which I drank a glass of Brandy and water and being in a room alone I retired before 10.

Friday 22 July Rose at 5 having slept pretty well, took an Inside place for Gloucester, with a Quarter masters lady belonging to a regiment of Irish cavalry she had appointed to meet her husband this evening in Bristol, in addition to her we had her daughter – her sister and a young woman which we left at Ross – there were 6 or 7 outsideres out of whom two young womenn and two young men were going to London, the methodist preacher of whom I saw nothing of after he left the coach last evening, till we started this morning, took another route to Chepstow, and over the old passage – we had not preceded a mile before it began to rain, and it rained incessantly all the way to Gloucester – I began now to think myself a favourite of Providence in that I was not exposed to it, for the poor creatures on top of the coach were as wet as drowned rats, at intervals we had a little conversation about nothing, and arrived at Ross at half past 8. Here we exchanged horses and had a very comfortable breakfast. At Ross we took up a Miss Green and a little girl who was going to Cheltenham. Miss Green proved to be a very pleasant companion, and her conversation very much enlivened the way. She told me she had seen a man who coming from Monmouth to Ross on Friday night the 15th was exposed to a dreadful storm – the Hail had cut through his top and under coats and very much bruised him indeed. He was on horseback escorting some ladies in a Chaise and whom he did not like to leave – reached Gloucester about 12 and went to see the Pinnacle of the Colledge (sic) that had been struck by lightning, it stood on one corner of the church and not on the tower as I supposed. Went to the inn and had a mutton chop, and at 2 I went to the Bell to meet the coach that was going from Birmingham to Bristol, it soon came Well frighted with Westlean parsons, who were going to the Bristol conference, and to my great mortification they told me I could not go. O how happy I should have felt if these Reverend Gentlemen had addressed me in Gospel language and said “Yet there is room.” But though I was very urgent for a place among them these universal philanthropists tottilly (sic) excluded me, not quite intimidated with these severe repulse I made another effort, went on to the Turnpike and spoke to the coachman as they passed but here I received a final denial and was left behind. The officer’s lady was in the same predicament and the we had flattered ourselves with a joyful meeting this evening of our dearest friends she was disappointed as well as myself. The only chance now left us was a return chaise but in this again we were disappointed and I went back in a very pensive mood to the booth hall inn, and booked myself for Thornbury the next morning. At 5 had a dish of tea sweetened with patience. This a little revived my spirits and I sat down and read the London paper. The Spanish patriots yet successful, when will the great disposer send peace on all the earth. Lord hasten it in thy time. This evening sat in company with a Gentleman who had come by the London coach in the morning – they had nothing in town of the late storm, he said the roads from London were excessively dusty till he came to Northleach, and there he first met with the rain. This gentleman wore a black coat and being outside he was in a sweet pickle, and what from dust and rain he cut a ludicrous figure. We supped together and after taking a glass of Brandy and water I retired to bed in a comfortable room before ten.

Saturday 23 July Slept well till past 2 when I was awoken by a dreadful noise at the street door, which continued I suppose for a full hour, and I thought the door would have been broken down, this was a set of Irish soldiers in the street, but whether they wanted to come in or were calling up their comrades for the march I don’t know, but this I do know I had no good sleep afterwards, their language was the essence of violence, I never heard such wicked fellows in my life, so much for Irishmen – Rose a little before six and saw upwards of seventy horsemen come together – after going thro a part of the exercise they marched out of the city – Breakfasted at 8 and left Gloucester at 9. We had not gone far when we met a genteel young woman, a farmer’s daughter, I suppose, taking goods to Gloucester market, it rained and her horse had taken fright by reason of her raising an umbrella to keep her from the rain – just as she came up to the coach she fell over the horse’s head, and the horse in his turn fell over her, we were very much frightened and expected she would have been killed on the spot, the outside Passengers immediately jumped down to her assistance., and we were very glad to see her rise again – she appeared in much pain from the fall and complained exceedingly of her arm, which if not broken was very much bruised. By this time some persons coming up led her forward to Gloucester for medical advice. Here I could not help being thankful to that kind providence which had guided me in the way protected thus far on my journey, and preserved me from every accident. The coach now proceeded to Newport where we exchanged horses, and in the afternoon about two o’clock I was set down at the end of Buckover Lane, where another road leads off for Bristol. I pushed forward anticipating the pleasure of once more meeting my dear family. Called at Mrs. Shepherd’s in my way, and eat heartily of beans and bacon. I then hastened to Thornbury where I had the happiness to find my wife and family all well – they gave me a cordial welcome and were much rejoiced at my safe arrival.’

Notes and Conclusions by Walter Eley written in November 1907:


‘From the facts mentioned in the above account of a tour by my grandfather James Eley of Thornbury, Gloucestershire, the following incidents are gathered. My grandfather died 6 December 1831, aged 69. This date and age is from his gravestone in Thornbury Baptist Chapel burial yard. Deduct 69 from 1831 brings it to 1762. This is the year my grandfather was born at Broadstone House, Pembridge, a village 7 miles from Leominster, Herefordshire, and at an early age his parents must have removed to Leominster as reference is made to the River Lugg where he used to fish in his juvenile days, and to a house where his parents sent him for a basket of apples, the house being on the Leominster and Hereford Coach Road, and the house where they lived could be seen from the Castle Fields.

He had one brother, Thomas Eley. He named one of his sons Thomas and my father James. He had several sisters. One of them, Aunt Sarah, Coombe House, Wootton under Edge (sic), was unmarried. My father had some first cousins named Shepherd, Bruton, Foxwell, Cossham, etc. The inference is that these were children of my grandfather’s sisters.

His father we can infer was a Revenue Official (Exciseman) for reference is made by an old acquaintance he met to his being as honest a man as ever carried a gauging stick, a stick used by Excisemen to gauge liquor of all kinds. My grandfather was apprenticed to a Mr. Sawyer (sic), a Stay Maker whose shop was situated opposite the Red Lion, Broad Street, Leominster. I have papers showing these articles were made by him for customers. He was 28 years of age when he left Leominster in 1790. I am unable to find the reason for his settling at Thornbury, it may have been Mr. Scarlett who was our family solicitor. Grandfather became Clerk to the Thornbury Magistrates (as I have always understood) and lived at the Corner House, the Plain, Thornbury, and died there in 1831. None of my father’s sisters married. Uncle Thomas lived at Morton all his life, father settled at Berkeley, Gloucester. They all lie in the Baptist Chapel graveyard. There is no record of where my great grandfather and mother died. It may be assumed at Leominster.’

Notes by K.G. Marling, Malvern written in August 1968:


‘The foreword to the Journal is apparently in the handwriting of James Eley, but the remainder seems to have been copied out in various hands. It was apparently given by him to his daughter, Martha, of Thornbury, who does not seem to have married, and came into my possession from my father’s sister, Alice, who died a spinster, aged 94, in 1966. I have many letters, certificates, photographs and other documents relating to different branches of the family over the past 150 years, which I hope to collate and to circulate details later on.’


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