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This is a letter from Nathaniel Cook of Craze Lowman (Nr Tiverton) to Ralph Barnes of Exeter who I know to have been a solicitor. The letter is rejecting, on his sons behalf, the offer to take up the estate known as Pileywell. A glance at a modern map (see this link map) shows that Craze Lowman is about 1km across the valley from Pileywell Farm.
The 1861 census shows there are two Nathaniel Cooks living in the Tiverton area. A 77 year old pauper living with his wife in Greenways almshouses in Gold Street, Tiverton and a 17 year old working on his father's farm at Chevithorne just up the road from Phileywell and Craze Lowman.
An interesting mention of the arable land needing to be turniped the first year.
This scan shows all the post marks on the letter.
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The spelling is as per the letter. Note the arcane use of the f style s where there is a double ss as in grass. I cannot replicate this on the computer.
The letter is addressed to Ralph Barnes, Exeter
Craze Lowman 21th Oct 1846
In reply to your kind letter of the 17th Inst and for which I fell most
extremely obliged, I beg to say after looking over Pileywell, although a very
nice Estate, it is in a most wretched condition. in the first place, the
Buildings have been much neglected and no doubt on the part of the Tenants, and
are all but tumbling down, the Dairy House is observed to be propped up with
from 10 to 15 Posts. The farm House and buildings are not much better and
which must lead to considerable expence to both Landlord and tenant to make it
replete for a respectable man to be able to to make the best of the
Estate. in the next place from the manner in which it has been farmed the
incoming Tenants must be truly to a great disadvantage in entering upon it in as
much as there were no Grafs seeds sown last spring, and the principal hack of
the arable land must be turniped the first year.
Under these circumstances my son who is too young to enter upon an estate to much out of condition begs to decline thoughts of taking it. anything in my power I can do as to recommending your estate and you as a kind Landlord to persons who have looked over the estate, I have done it with pleasure and I know I am justified in doing so ---- believe me
To remain your very
The following information was kindly supplied by David Thomas:- "The Nathaniel who wrote the letter was alive in 1851, when he was a 73 year old farmer of 450 acres, employing 15 labourers at Craze Lowman Farm. He was a widower, and lived with his unmarried 34 year old son William (who may have been the subject of the letter), a 15 year old grand-daughter, 1 house servant, and 5 young farm servants. About a mile away, Robert Cook, aged 42 (and who may or may not have been another son) was a farmer of 550 acres employing 20 labourers and 6 boys, at Chevithorne Barton. Robert's 8 year old son Nathaniel lived with him. He is the one referred to in your page who was 17 in 1861." I am much obliged for David's information.