Never on Sunday

This old rhyme, resurrected in 1965, warns about cuttings one’s nails on a Sunday.   All the other days, bar Friday, seem preferable!

“Country customs have changed, and go on changing, but many of the ‘old wives’ ‘ tales still linger.  One I heard the other day refers to nail cutting, and goes like this:

‘Cut ’em on Monday, you cut ’em for health;

Cut ’em on Tuesday, you cut ’em for wealth;

Cut ’em on Wednesday, you cut ’em for news;

Cut ’em on Thursday, a new pair of shoes;

Cut ’em on Friday, you cut ’em for sorrow;

Cut ’em on Saturday, you’ll see true love tomorrow;

Cut ’em on Sunday, and you’ll have the devil with you all week.'”

Stamford Mercury, 29th October, 1965.

The Burghley Elephant

Traction engines were a fairly new innovation in the 1860s and the Marquis of Exeter was keen to keep up to date by having his own built, nicknamed the Burghley Elephant, but with unfortunate results.

“The ponderous traction engine, built by Messrs. Ashby and Jeffery, of Stamford, for the Marquis of Exeter, for the purpose of drawing heavy loads, and facetiously called the ‘Burghley Elephant’, has not behaved in a very tractable manner on its first appearance in public.  On Tuesday it was used for the first time for fetching coal from the Midland station-yard, and its first freak on entering the yard was partly to displace a large stack of coal.  With a great amount of management or mismanagement, backing &c., however, it steamed out of the yard with a little over four tons of coal behind it, in something between a railway truck and a stone waggon, without further mischief.  It proceeded all right then until it got near Miss Roberton’s, coach builder, where it again became unmanageable, and ran over a man and a vehicle standing in front of Miss Robertson’s shop : the latter was completely smashed, and the man, we are informed, received considerable injury.  It had a pilot in advance.”

Stamford Mercury, 20th September, 1867.

Not yet in harness

Was harness maker Fred Gardner out on his stag night or purloining poultry?

“A Wedding Postponed. – Fred. Gardner, harness -maker, is in custody at Stamford on a charge of stealing five fowls, the property of Mr T. Croshaw, of the Bull and Swan inn, St. Martin’s.  The alleged robbery took place on Wednesday night last, and the accused was to have been married next morning.”

Stamford Mercury,  20th September, 1867.

Fecundity in Dublin

A sad little story at first glance, but one that goes on to reveal the incredible family of Thomas Bentley, living near Dublin.

“BIRTH.]  Lately, at Drumcondra, near Dublin, the wife of Thomas Bentley, of a son, who died the next day.  This man is now in the 103rd year of his age, and attends the Dublin markets weekly with vegetables from his garden; his eldest son is 76 years of age, and his youngest in its fourth year.”

Stamford Mercury 16th October, 1807.


George Inn, Stamford

The George was known as an ‘Inn’ in 1815, despite being used by the first families of Great Britain.  It contained many rooms, extensive stables and a large farm.  Mr Adams is sure to ask that any applications by letter be postage-paid!

“THE Public are respectfully informed, that the Business and Posting of this Inn continue to be carried on as usual.   Stamford, 17th May, 1815.

To be LET, and entered upon immediately,

All the above well-known, long-established, and excellent INN, called the GEORGE, in St. MARTIN’S, STAMFORD BARON, in the county of Northampton, late in the occupation of Mr. Fawcit; comprising 10 sitting-rooms, 38 bed-rooms, spacious kitchen, bar, laundry, larder, and most extensive Out-houses of every description, Stabling for 86 horses, and large Garden.

These premises have two entrances, are  most conveniently and agreeably situated near the Bridge in Stamford, upon the Great North Road from London, and possess all the advantages that can possibly belong to a large inn, which has for a great number of years been resorted to by the first families in the kingdom.

Seventeen pair of horses in capital condition are daily employed in the above concern.

Also a most desirable Farm, containing 267 Acres of valuable Land, in the highest state of cultivation, of which 17 Acres are pasture, immediately adjoining the house, and the reminder is about a mile distant, with Farm-house, Barn, Stabling, Hovels, and every convenience for occupation.

The incoming tenant will also have the advantage of taking the Stock in Trade and Effects at a fair valuation, if he thinks proper.

An opportunity equal to the above seldom occurs, as this is without question one of the first situations of the kind in Great Britain. – The Great North Road branches from Stamford to Oakham, Melton, Uppingham, Leicester, Deeping, Boston, Bourn, Lincoln, Peterboro’, Kettering, and Oundle.

Apply to Mr. Adams, Burghley House, near Stamford; and if by letter, pay the postage.”

Stamford Mercury, 14th July, 1815.

The Schoolmaster’s Companion

This article is the teachers’ and students guide to arithmetic, providing help for professions such as carpenters, brick layers and thatchers.

“This Day is published, price 2s, neatly bound,











Containing the first Principles of ARITHMETIC, with plain and concise Directions to work the Rules of Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Reduction, The Rule of Three, Practice, Interest, Rebate or Discount, Fellowship or Partnership, Allightion, Progression, Vulgar and Decimal Fractions, Extraction and Use of the Square and Cube Roots.


PRACTICAL QUESTIONS, to exercise the Scholar in all the foregoing Rules, each Question having the Answer inserted, in order to save the Master or Tutor a great Deal of Time and Labour, and help the Scholar forward in his Progress in the practical Part of ARITHMETIC.

Also RULES for performing CROSS MULTIPLICATION, with the Application to actual Practice in measuring CARPENTERS, JOINERS, PAVIERS, THATCHERS, and BRICKLAYERS Work, and the Manner or gauging Coolers, Cisterns, and Catksin Wine Gallons, Ale Gallons, and Malt Bushels, both by the Pen and Sliding Rule.

Part II

Comprehending a short and simple SKETCH of BOOK-Keeping, by way of COMMON DASTOR and CREDitor, by which ACCOMPTS may be kept with great Ease and Exactness. The Whole digested in such a Manner as to render it not only useful in almost every Branch of Life and Business, but very entertaining.




Corrected, improved, and greatly enlarged, by H. MARSHALL, Writing Master and Accomptant Recommended by several of the most eminent Schoolmasters and expert Arithmeticians in the Kingdom.

London: Printed for S. CROWDER, in Pater-norther-Row is And fold by R. Newcomb, Stamford; W. Brooke, John Drury, and Joshua Drewry, Lincoln; Preston, Boston; Allen, Grantham; Albin, and Jennings,Spalding; Marsh, and Sheardown, Lonth; Ellis, Horncastle; Taylor, Retford; Horden, and Jacob, Peterbough; Booth, Caistor; Allin and Ridger, and Tomlinson, Newalk; Marshall, Lynn; Brown, Hull; brown, Alford; Plummer, and Sanderson, Doncaster; Scott, Brigg; Harrod, Harborough; Jenkinson, Huntingdon; and by all Bookfellers in Town and Country, with good Allowances to Schools.

To the PUBLIC.

This Companion having received the Approbation of many of the most eminent Teachers in the Kingdom, through Three very large Impressions, the proprietors presume to hope, that this, the Fourth Edition of it, will be found still more deserving their Encouragement than any of the preceding Ones, and consequently that it will be preferred to every Work of the Kind by all Masters of Academics and Schools, and likewise by private Students. The utmost Care has been taken in the Correction of every Part of it; and with regard to Typographical Execution, it is pronounced, by good judges, to be inferior to no modern School-Book, and indeed to be superior to most.”

Stamford Mercury, 2nd May 1788.

Naked, but not ashamed

This disturbing warning was picked up by the Mercury from another publication.  Whether the sinister gentleman campaigning about naked ladies actually existed, of course, is a another matter .  .  .

“The following curious communication from a correspondent under the signature “OBSERVATOR,” appears in the Courier of Wednesday:

An Important Caution. – Ladies who are accustomed to wear their dresses extremely low in the back and bosom, or off the shoulders, are particularly requested to beware a person, who has for some time frequented all places of public amusement, and many private parties.  He is an elderly gentleman, of venerable appearance, and correct manners; his constant practice when he observes a lady dressed in the manner above described is, with an almost imperceptible, and apparently accidental pressure of a little instrument which he carries in his hand, to imprint the following words upon her back or shoulders, ‘Naked, but not ashamed.’

The stain is like that produced by lunar caustic*; washing will not remove it, and it becomes more visible by exposure to the air, so that nothing but a covering can conceal it.  It is said that several ladies were marked last summer at various places of fashionable resort; and that they cannot, even now, strip for company, without displaying this indelible stamp of reproof.'”

Stamford Mercury 12th July, 1816.

*Lunar caustic is silver nitrate, which was used as a cauterizing agent.  It stains skin jet black on exposure to light.

Longevity in Lincolnshire

Apart from their wonderfully evocative names, this piece celebrates the incredible longevity of the monks of Croyland abbey.

“When the famous Turkerul, who had been Chancellor of England, and one of the greatest warriors and statesmen of the time, retired from the world and became abbot of Croyland, he found five very aged monks in the monastery, to whom he paid particular attention.  Father Clarenbald, the oldest of these monks, died A.D. 973, after he had completed the 168th year of his age.  The second who was named Swarling, died the same year, at the age of 142.  The third, who was called Father Turgar, died the year after, in the 115th year of his age.  The two other monks, Brnne and Ajo, died about the same time, whose ages are not exactly known. though they must have been very old, as they both remembered the old abbey of Croyland, which had been destroyed by the Danes in the year 870.  These facts are related with much confidence by Ingulphus, who was abbot of Croyland, and wrote from the historical register of the abbey.  When we recollect also the very recent instance of longevity in Elizabeth Shaw’s case, who died at Keal Cotes, aged 117, the Lincolnshire fens are not to be considered so unhealthy as they have been generally reputed.”

Stamford Mercury 30th June, 1809.

Swans Work for Lord Burghley

Lord Burghley had replaced three men, who had been paid to clean his water from weeds, with four swans who work free of charge.

“One of the communications of the Marquis of Exeter to the editor of a periodical publication, which we lately noticed, is a discovery that swans will keep water perfectly free from weeds. At his Lordship’s seat at Burghley, a piece of water, which used to employ three men for six months in a year to keep it tolerably clean, is now kept completely so by two pair of swans.”

Stamford Mercury, 11th November 1803.

Recipe for a Fortune

A fortune could be made in a Lottery which was due to be drawn on St. Valentine’s Day, 1810.  A ‘Sixteenth’ was the smallest stake available and cost £1-13-0 (equal to £1.65 today).

“Recipe to make a Fortune.-Take a Sixteenth and buy it;-when it produces (and why should it not?) a Share of a Capital Prize, lay the amount out in Whole Tickets.  Having succeeded to your wish, in the event of these being fortunate, you have only to purchase a neat house in town for winter, and a snug summer retreat in the country; let these be embellished by the girl of your heart; let family be added, quantum suff* and if you do not think the Lottery has done you justice, try again.”

* as much as suffices.

Stamford Mercury, 26th January, 1810.