Earl Soham is a traditional village lying in the heart of the Suffolk countryside on the Roman road that leads from the Suffolk coast to Stowmarket and as usual whilst stumbling around searching for something completely different we came across the Earl Soham village website and within it was a link to a collection of diary entries written by the Georgian surgeon, William Goodwin.
They have been carefully transcribed for the period 1785 – 1810 and make fascinating reading so we couldn’t resist adding the link to our blog so that you could peruse them at your leisure (References to the French Revolution can be found at the Suffolk Archives).
Apart from treating his patients, which entailed travelling long distances virtually every day Goodwin managed to find the time to keep a diary of daily life, national and international events:-
March 28th 1785 Wind W. very Cold; Frost sharp within doors, Therm’tr in Parlour 3 deg. Below Freesing –
The ground cover’d with Snow
For the Rheumatism Take a Teaspoonfull of Aether in a glass of water 3 or 4 times a Day – sometimes add a few Drops of Laudanum – The above is thought infallible
May 1785 On an Average the Amount of our Taxes is 30-000£s a Day… (1/2 page)
86-000£ was produc’d by the Duty on Muslins in the last quarter, wh. was equal to a whole year’s income on that Article previous to Mr. Pitts Smugling Bill –
There were 240£ in Drury Lane at Mrs Siddon’s benefit and twice that amount eager for admission and could not get in – ?What a Symptom of our Poverty!
A recipe for yeast, we have absolutely no idea whether it works or not!
Take a teacupful of split peas, boiling water one pint, infuse them all night, in a warm place, or in winter longer; the froth that arises will answer as Yeast
Also amongst his entries were records of all the carts passing through the village and recorded any possible contraband for example in 1785 he recorded that
‘2500 Gallons of Smugled Spirits were carried thro’ this village in 20 carts within the last six Days
16th Five Smugling Carts past through this Village at 8 this Morning loaded with 150 Tubs of Spirits containing 600 Gallons’
There are some mildly amusing entries and for a ‘Top Tip’ if you’re bitten by a mad dog you should:-
‘Wash the part immediately with warm water – continuing the operation for an hour at least, by which. the poison will be prevented entering the Circulation’
Another extract from his diary, that we would recommend that those with a sensitive constitution avoid was regarding the death of his mother Sarah; presumably, William would have assumed that his diary was private and that no-one would ever read his scribblings:-
‘Friday ye 20th of Sept’r 1793 Died Mrs Sarah Goodwin, my dear mother, aged 81 years and 9 months – She vomited many gallons of bile in the Course of the 8 days she laid ill – suffer’d little or no pain, and went off without a groan’
The Oxford Journal of 18th March 1815 confirms the demise of William, described as ‘an eminent and skillful physician‘. William was buried on the 3rd March at St Mary’s, Earl Soham aged 69.
The diaries transcribed by Joanna Rothery, can be read online here.