(Taken from the letters of Hester Probert, wife of Sir Henry Probert, the M. P. for Monmouth)
Feb. 22, 1719
I find as ye daies grow longer business increases; now gardening time is come I shall have severall att work besides others yt are at bed and bord yt ya make a shift to eat a chees of 20 lb in 5 daies time besides meat yt is ordered every day; I hope it wont be so always… (Mr Probert) had not time to doe all my marketings having but one whole day (at Bristol); ye 30 of Jan shops shut up and he was at home again on Monday; he bought half a barrel of picklet herrings but ya are not come yet; and since he bought ya are risen 7 s., a barrel; ye week before last Mr. Probert and Bros. Chas. whent to Newport and from thence to Tredegar to see Coz. Morgan who has bin very ill seemed dead in his bed ye report here was yt he was dead but a Dr. was fetched from Bath wch has recovered him for a while but tis thought he cant hold it long. He was cupped and blistered.
… Sure there must be harness to the chariot and good strong ones to and for ye coat of arms leave it to those yt know best ye painted makes ye greatest show but I was so wise I did know ye reason of ye difference before and I think a step will doe very well to get up into it for I remember it was troublesom for my short leggs at Tredegar ya have one to hang on of either side as it is wanted I believe I must make my bargain yt no hoops must ride with me. Sister Lockey and I did well enough together but Sister Hill was very troublesom to ride with wch with duty love and service to all as due concludes me.
This was designed to a gone last post but was hindered; Mr. Probert and I laughed heartily at reading part of yours and he chid me on Satterday because I had not writt; and put me in mind often to do it to-day; tho he had ye pen and ink from me to write 2 warrants; besides being often called away for one thing or another yt I have writ sadly he is so pestered with people about justice business yt he has little rest for ym ya come a great many miles to him; I’m sure one day here was at least 3 score in severall companies; and this morning has bin a great many yt ya make such a charme I hardly know wt I write; I know no reason but yt he makes ym agree and don’t bind ym over as other justices do except there be a necessity for it.
I lost my little mouse she ate her way out of her box one night but have other nurseries sometimes young lambs yt are almost dead with cold and ye dams no milk for ym and wn we make ym strong put ym out again; and I have a hen and chickens brought from Pant Glas; my goose is laying in order to bring a brood. On Friday we killed a very pretty heifer about 3 score and 13 pd. A quarter and tomorrow shall kill a mutton. I see you want a formal invitation wch I cant pretend to such a great stranger as yu will be all in disorder; but Mr. Probert saies yu shall have yr crib full of wt ye country affords wt good ale and cyder now and yn a glass of wine or a dram of cold tea for he brought me good French brandy. We have had sad work with a fox yt got away all ye poultry in ye neighbourhood and began at mine for I lost four ducks out of 6 and 2 hens: Ya was after him 3 daies last week with a great many dogs but he to cunning for ym all till Satterday night ya brought him home as dead as a herring a huge great thing so he’l do no more mischief; I have at least a dozen hens yt lay but coud hv no eggs at all ye last week but my own little one yt comes up every day of herself into my chamber to lay I’ve 6 eggs to show yt she layed since this day 7 nights; I would not take one of King George’s crowns for her a piece of money I never see yet; and am glad ye fox mist of her; such there is no end of Mr. Watson’s turkeys.
I’m called to order dinner for 7 or 8 people yt are at work I intend a good piece of beef; yesterday I had a rump boyled with a Sunday’s pudding a spare rib and fowl roasted but little sign of it now – those petators I sent was but 2 or 3 wch we had in ye house because I know Nabby loved ym; if she comes here she shall have her belly full but tis more yn yd are worth to send up ya being very small this year; we boyle ym every day and all eat for everybody are lovers of ym but myself ya tell me ya eat like chestnuts but I don’t think it; my pen and ink is calld for again to write another warrant so I must bid adieu for this time and leave ye rest alone till another opportunity about a month hence; we have but one utensil at present belonging to ye house but hope to have more before yt time comes; I shant forget ye 26 of ye month tho yr memory is so shallow I seldom lett any of those daies pass without a thought of it; tis a charming day but last week so blustering wch so discomposed my head I coud not tell how to sett about writing. Mr. Probert gives his duty and service as due.
Your affectionate friend
Penalt, August 17th, 1720
To Sir Roger Hill
In time only to write to lett yu know I’m alive and well and not forgetful of my friend: for did you but see the continuall hurry I’m in all along I’m sure wd excuse my silence; everybody in all ya wants calls upon me upon all occations and wn night comes I’m tired enough but I hope it will have an end in time; we had had a sad time for our hay harvest continuall wett all along except part of one week wch made it very tedious and chargeable: ye sizes week so wett and had no company till Satterday evening yn my house was fuller yn it could hold. Mr. Probert brought home with him seven Gentlemen and more servants: 2 Morgans, Major Hanbury, Coz. Van etc. We lay out of our own bed and our servants and some of theirs lay ruff on Tuesday ya all went off; and since yt have bin pestered with workmen again so yet one trouble comes on yet back of another and now if it ples God to send good weather our corn is ready to reap wch will be another trouble ya talk of beginning tomorrow if it hold dry… I can say no more now because Mr. Probert is in haste for his brakfast, and the messenger staies for my letter so adieu. Aunt Basset has been much out of order. Mr. Probert lay one night at her house at the Assizes; next week is the fair. I don’t know if I can have time to goe because it will be in the midst of our harvest; I’ve had such a company to provide for yt we have eat ye bread hot out of ye oven and drank ye drink before it is tunned.
A man recevd sentence of death and is to be hanged next Satterday it was for murther at Newport; and 2 women are to be transported; to be sure it is bad to be confined but I think he has no cause to complain because it is more yn he could expect or deserved.
Your affectionate friend
The man was to be hanged on Satterday night but somebody had cut down the gallows so he lived till Monday; his name was Bowyer; ya say he died very penitent and blamed his parents, as the occations of bringing him to ya untimely end and yt it was no wilfull murther; but other things were proved against him.
August 29th, 1720
On Satterday we made an end of reaping it being such catching weather the neighbours came and did it for us. It was all down by 2 o’clock and yn I had above 30 came in to dinner; a mutton we killed on purpose wt good powdered beef pudding … (Mr. Probert) is gone a hunting this morning; there is an ugly fox about yt makes sad destruction in ye neighbourhood with ye poultry; we are busie now cutting pease oats and barley. I hope ye weather is settled in for fair but we have a very sorry crop of those; thanks be to God ye wheat proved good; we are still in ye dirty harvest time; no workmen to be had to finish wt yn began; this with duty love and service as due concludes me in haste…
[from: Penallt – A Village Miscellany]