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Woodforde, James

Woodforde, James (1740–1803). Woodforde was a country parson whose diary from 1758 to 1802 has survived. His life was uneventful. He was born in Somerset, son of a cleric, and educated at New College, Oxford. After ten years as a Somerset curate, he returned briefly to college before becoming rector of Weston Longueville, a college living near Norwich, where he spent the rest of his life. He had a lively interest in food, in his servants, and he played whist and went fishing. Great events largely passed him by and he devoted one hundred times the space to the king and queen's visit to Sherborne in 1789 than he did to the French Revolution. The diary is full of little vignettes—‘poor Thomas Barnes, who had been a long time killing himself by liquor’; old Mr Reeve who broke Woodforde's gum—‘he is too old, I think, to draw teeth, can't see very well’; Andrews the smuggler, who ‘frightened us a little by whistling under the parlour window just as we were going to bed’; ‘Mr Townshend's gamekeeper who goes by the name of Black Jack’ and shot Woodforde's dog, Pompey.

J. A. Cannon

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