pear tree log: I started this blog to keep my younger son, Jonny, in touch with life in Lincolnshire, while he spent a year working in China. That year turned into five! Now he is home and training to become a physics teacher. This is simply a patchwork quilt of some of the things I enjoy - life in rural Lincolnshire, our animals, friends, architecture, books, the gardens, and things of passing interest.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Handwritten Treasure from my Bookcase - A Commonplace Book, 1820

I thought you may like to have a peep inside this lovely old book, which I was lucky enough to buy a few years ago.  It is volume three (I don't know whether vols 1 & 2 exist any longer) and was started in 1820 by Robert Best.   He dedicated it to his wife, Mary Best.   

Unfortunately Robert died before he could complete it (I think he may have died around 1842).  His son Abraham starting adding to it in 1879 and re-dedicated to his daughter. 

It is easy enough to spot the change in handwriting, although I confess that at first glance I assumed that the change was due to illness and age!
I found an entry for our small local market town of Alford and got carried away at the idea of taking the book back to a place where it had been used almost 200 years ago.

Regrettably, the churchyard has been cleansed and sanitised and very few gravestones remain.  The dozen or so which do, are so worn as to be unreadable!  Oh well, I tried.

Along with the handwritten entries there are leaflets, engravings, sketches, letters, etc.

lots of epitaphs, poems, puzzles, mirror writing..

it is a little gem.

Several of the entries relate to murders.  One of these was of a young man, young woman and a three month old baby, another was of a man murdered by a Domestic Servant.

Other entries are much more light-hearted and probably meant to be educational:

Let a pair
Pare a pear
For a peer
At the pier

There is a page of musical notes for a song entitled:  The Wig, The Hat and The Cane
it goes something like this:

'By the side of a murmuring stream, 
An elderly gentleman sat, 
On the top of his head was his wig
And on top of his wig was his hat
The wind it blew high and it blew strong
As the elderly gentleman sat...etc, etc,


I know nothing of the life of Robert Best - other than that he had very fine handwriting, travelled widely throughout the country, he had a wife whom he loved (if this lovely book is anything to go by) and at least one son.  He had a love of poetry and a fine sense of humour.

Abraham seems to have been in his later years, when he began writing in the book in the 1870's.  His handwriting is large, not nearly as beautifully formed, and shaky.  I hope he enjoyed compiling his pages - and I hope that his daughter treasured the work of both her Grandfather and Father.

Sad that such amazing treasures get separated, for whatever reason, from the descendants of the author.  Can't blame it all on Flog It!



Still waiting for those photos!

Little Harry has just been in with his mum - they are heading off to visit Tim and Isis this weekend, apparently Tim is going to take Harry to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs while the others go shopping.  Good luck Tim!!

Lots of love,


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