BoAr: Doc: Dyke          Latest edit  28 Jun 2008.   

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The Bourne Archive

 Summary of a Bourne legal document: Lease of a cottage on the Green, Dyke and a turf park: 1730.

Names mentioned:

People                                                                      Places

Tho[mas] Broom                                                      Bourne

Ja[me]s Digby                                                           Dyke

Henry Hunt                                                               The Green

Anne Smith (wife of John)                                      Thurlby

Samuel Smith

John Topper

Thomas Topper

8 March 1730

1st part: John Topper of Dyke, weaver.  Son and heir of Thomas Topper of Dyke, labourer.

2nd part: Henry Hunt of Bourne, blacksmith. (Name, place and trade written on an erasure)

For 5/-. Topper let for 1 year, the cottage in Dyke abutting on the Green south, late in the tenure of John Topper. Common pasture rights in the fen and field are mentioned, but in the standard list of appurtenances.  The “turffe parke belonging” is specified separately from the standard list.

Signed John Topper

Witnesses of Hunt’s payment to Topper: Jas Digby. Tho Brown. Sam Smith


This is an ordinary little deal but it appears to illustrate the use of peat as a fuel in the C18. 

Hunt was a blacksmith.  The connection between his trade and a turf pit is not entirely obvious.  Turf is a name for peat (OED Turf, n.1 3.). A park was an enclosure and this one will have been on the peat land which shows in this satellite photograph as brown soil. The zone of peat soil lay inland of the coastal silt but became narrower as it extended northwards along the fen edge in south Kesteven. In Dyke, it is broadly speaking, represented by the Meadows, Wath Field and Dyke Haws and the western end of Dyke Fen. This satellite photograph shows the dark peat soil in Dyke as being at its darkest, that is to say, its most rich in humus, the residual peat, at the north end of Meadow Drove, adjacent to Dyke Haws.

The estate maps (BAEM and EEB) show small enclosures in Wath Field TF107223 and in Dyke Haws at TF107218. The former was readily accessible from the road. In this satellite photograph, it just shows in the soil marks of the brownish field, along its northern edge, to the east of the road. However, the adjoining ground shows arable strips from the medieval management system. They are in the mineral soil, so there will not have been much peat left in the enclosed plot by 1730, especially since digging peat is an extractive process and a small enclosure would soon be worked out.

At the other site the satellite photograph shows the crop covering any trace of the tiny enclosure (straddling the roughly north-south ditch) but the field adjoining to the west, betrays no arable ridges. This may have been the turf pit but the relevance of that product in 1730 is doubtful. The name may have been an old one.

The small enclosure in this satellite photograph does not appear in the estate maps but the soil marks to its north may have resulted from turf digging in Wath Field. It is all very uncertain.

The Green will have been at TF106225. Satellite photograph.

It looks as though John Topper had taken a step away from his father’s farm labouring by taking up weaving. Various yarns such as flax, hemp and wool were woven in the county, by which value was added to a locally-produced product. As early in the century as this, raw wool would otherwise be sold into East Anglia and towards the century’s end, predominantly into Yorkshire (Wright pp. 70-4). Later in the century, the large mills of Yorkshire made wool weaving on a smaller scale uneconomic. Attempts to foster the trade were made in eastern Lindsey (Wright pp. 73-4) but eighteenth century wool weaving, never really vigorous in Lincolnshire, faded away.

The humus-rich soil of parts of Dyke, the legacy of the peat, was well suited to the growth of flax. Before 1780, cotton was not a serious rival. So it is more likely that John’s trade was primarily as a flax weaver. However hemp cloth for sacking was also produced and the humic soil would have suited the hemp as well as the flax. The two could be combined in coarse canvas.

 [A2.1 Dyke.]

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