1. A working family

William Hardy junior aged 56

Mary Hardy’s surviving son William (1770-1842). With minimal formal schooling he was hugely talented: artistic, creative, and with good business acumen

Volume 1  will appeal to everyone interested in the home lives of the farming and manufacturing class.

Mary Hardy was shaped by her village upbringing and by her shopkeeping background. She did not marry until she was 32, which was not unusual in her circle, and was an active participant with her husband in many aspects of the family enterprise.

Female independence

This part of the story portrays the independence of women, even after marriage (as touched on under Public archives), and the care with which children were raised and trained by their parents for adult life. Schooling was not treated as a serious business, unlike the world of work.

An independent spirit was very marked in the two maidservants hired for the year. Women as young as 15 or 16 negotiated on their own behalf with their future employers, and usually chose to move on at the end of their year.

The picture is generally one of harmony, with Mary Hardy and her daughter working alongside the maids in the kitchen or doing the ironing. There are few traces of an ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ gulf.

The three eldest Cozens grandchildren

A portrait by Mary Hardy’s son c.1837 of three of his sister’s Cozens grandchildren Laura, Caroline and Clement (with the hoop). The Hardy and Cozens families devoted much time to child-rearing

The 10 chapters

Prologue – The diaries

Book I.  Family bonds

  • The setting
  • The diarists
  • The shaping time
  • Marriage ventures
  • Nurturing children
  • Pupils

Book II.  At home

  • The comfortable house
  • Maidservant turnover
  • The garden
  • Pleasure grounds

There are also appendices on Norfolk speech, cookery recipes, the 90 maidservants, and a chronology of the Hardys’ personal and working lives.

Hannah left the backhouse door unbarred for the chimney-sweeper and then was saucy

Mary Hardy, 1797