Eversholt man second in ploughing match


The Derby Mercury for 22 October 1801 carried a report of the first meeting of the Bedfordshire Agricultural Society, which included a ploughing match. The second prize, of six guineas, went to Mr Potts of Eversholt. However, he wasn’t the ploughman. Mr Potts was the farmer who produced the ploughing team – the landowner. The man actually guiding the plough got a prize of one guinea – wages for about two weeks – and the reporter didn’t think it relevant to mention his name!


On Friday the Bedfordshire Agricultural Society held their first annual meeting at the Swan Inn, Bedford, which was attended by the Duke of Bedford, Sir George Osborne, Mr. Whitbread, Mr. Higgins, and all the principal agriculturists of the county, and numbers from various parts of the country. The Society adjourned to a field belonging to Mr. Sharp, within about a mile of the town, for the purpose of being present at the ploughing of the different candidates, for which the Society had offered the following premiums:—
Ten guineas to the Bedfordshire farmer who shall produce a plough and team which shall plough half an acre of land in the best and cheapest manner (not less than five inches deep) within the space of 3 hours and an half.
To the second best six guineas.
To the third four guineas.
To the fourth two guineas.
To the ploughman who holds the first winning plough, a premium of two guineas.
To the second one guinea.
To the third and fourth half-a-guinea each.
The Committee appointed for determining on their different merits were: —-Higgins, Esq. of Turvey;   Mr. Platt Of Lidlington; and Mr. Inskip of Warden.   In the course of the day various experiments were tried for the improvemerit of agriculture. The Society, amounting to about one hundred, afterwards dined at the Swan Inn, the Duke of Bedford in the chair, and after a number of toasts suitable to the occasion, his Grace addressed the meeting in a very neat speech, on the subjects the Society had in view; after which he read the Report of the Committee, who had allotted the premium of ten guineas to Mr. Foster of Bedford.— Of six guineas to Mr. Potts of Eversholt.— Of four guineas to Mr. Sharp of Bedford, and of two guineas to Mr. Negus.
His Grace then read over the next list of premiums which the Society had offered: namely,
To the labourer in husbandry in Bedfordshire, who shall have brought up the greatest number of children upon the earnings by labour of himself and family only, without parochial relief, a premium of five guineas.
And the Committee, after examining the different certificates, allotted the premium of five guineas to a man who had brought up eight  children without receiving parochial relief, and at proper ages had put them out to different trades; one of the candidates had brought up sixteen children, but unfortunately had on one occasion received twenty shillings from the parish.
The next premiums offered by the Society were,
Four guineas to the Bedfordshire labourer in husbandry, who has worked the longest time in the same place without interruption.
To the second two guineas.
To the third one guinea.
A premium of four guineas to the Bedfordshire male servant who has continued for the greatest length of time in farming service, on the same farm; or with one master of mistress.
To the second two guineas. 
To the third one guinea.
The first premium of four guineas was adjudged by the Committee to a man who had lived forty-nine years. The second of two guineas to a man who had lived forty-two years.  The third of one guinea to a man who had lived thirty-six years in one place.
The last premiums offered were :—
Three guineas to the Bedfordshire female servant who has continued for the greatest length of time on the same  farm, or with one master or mistress. 
To the second two guineas.
To the third one guinea.
The committee, to their great astonishment, after examining the different certificates, discovered a woman to have lived fifty years on one farm!
His Grace’s health was drank with enthusiastic applause, and this truly laudable Society adjourned. 

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