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The Best Farmer in the County

In September 2023, our first talk of the 2023-24 season, was by Michael Freeman, back by popular demand. Michael is the former Curator of Ceredigion Museums and Honorary Research Fellow at the National Museum of Wales.

Always informative and entertaining, his topic this time was ‘Anne Evans, Highmead, the best farmer in the County.’

Here is a summary from Michael about her:

Anne Evans (1738-1807) kept very detailed records of the produce of the Highmead estate farms (near Llanwenog) from 1778 until her death. After her husband died in 1787, leaving her with seven young children, she ran the farm and estate. She was obsessed with weighing and measuring the farm produce and kept some very detailed descriptions of the work of the maidservants' work in the dairy and brewer

Anne recorded some of the costs of building their new house and provided us with an almost unique breakdown of the cost of building cottages for the workers; for repairing and improving mills and the cost and nature of her footman's livery. She kept many records of the volume of the corn sent for grinding and the weight of different grades of flour returned; the quantity of butter and cheese made and its current value and the weight of all the products of the animals that were slaughtered on the farm including the number of candles made from the tallow rendered from those beasts.

Her notes provide us with a fascinating and very detailed insight into work at a Cardiganshire estate farm around 1800.

Michael Freeman

Nov 2023


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