Squire Haggard’s Journal was conceived when I was a young reporter on the Northampton Chronicle and Echo in 1943. Our weekly companion paper The Northampton Mercury and Herald boasted the oldest complete files in Europe, going back to 1720, and once a week it was my job to descend into the basement where they were kept, and make an extract for the feature 700 Years Ago’. The old files were fascinating and frequently the chief reporter would have to send someone down to dig me out and return me to work. The thing that struck me was how dismal the old news was. It consisted largely of lists of deaths from such outlandish diseases as ‘griping of the guts’, news of disasters at home and abroad, executions and outbreaks of Plague. But then, in 1743 news was brought regularly from London to Northampton by a man on horseback with a couple of pistols stuffed in his boots as a protection against highwaymen. Michael Green
Haggard at Home. Sept. l6, 1777: Rain. Amos Bindweed d. from Putrefaction of the Tripes. Jas. Soaper hanged for stealg. a nail. Reevd. from Thos. Gadgrind the sum of £0. 1. 4d., the farthg. being bad. Shot unusually large poacher in a.m. ln p.m. recvd. a bill for £3. 5s. 6d. in respect of some pigs bt. off Jeremiah Rhubarb, which all had the swine fever, so I did not pay him.
Because of the wet weather my Rheumaticks are so bad I was unable to have my usual whore yesterday. As she insists on payment in advance my servant Grunge had her instead, rather than waste threepenee. This distressed me not a little as it was my favourite. Perverted Polly of Lower Sodmire.
For dinner ate a rook pie and some pigs’ cheek, together with a pease puddg. My portion of the puddg. appeared to be bad so I gave what remained to my wife Tib and was forced to expunge the taste with a quan of claret, item: To purgatives, £0.0.2d _
Sept. 17: Hail. Thos. Hogwash garrotted by footpads. Jas. Soaper found to be innocent. My wife Tib tumed green in the night and was confined to bed in a.m. Grunge apologised for the pease puddg. He says it should not have been served as it was some they kept for cleang. the silver.
Perevg a low fellow skulking near the Hall in a.m. I demanded his business and he replied, ‘Affairs of the Law’ and handed me some writs for debt, among which was one from my Physickan, Dr. Bone, claimg. half a guinea for attendg. the birth of my son Roderick., now twenty-one. I kicked the miserable creature into the lake…