John Buckland to
West Harptry 20th January 1677
I recd yr lettr and wee are very glad to heare of the wellfare of yrself and my cosen, and that you beare up soe well in this severe season, wch makes us old folkes to fly to corners. Should I give you an accompt of the greate and manifold distresses it putts multitudes to, both in citty and country in these parts, it would fill a volume soe many artificers and tradesmen sett still, being lockt up by the frost, that it occasions pittifull complaints espshally in townes, where their livelyhood depends upon manufacture. And in ye country, there is little employment for ye day labourer but only in ye barnes, all kept holliday soe long before Christmas, that now they are forced to keep fasting days for it. Our loudest outcry was for bread agst Xmas, our water mills being generally broken by ye ice, or frozen up by ye cold could not perform their office, leaving only a few short mills, wch went day and night otherwise some of our wealthyist householders must have had noe bread to theyr meate. The wind mills stood still for want of wind, and many sent corn 5 or 6 miles and ye millars that could grind had 100 bushells upon their handes at a time in their mills. But ye frost being mittigated, ye defect is now pretty well supplyed again, only I beleive there is much adoe for water now, as there was for bread, our common wells in many parishes that never fayled in the memory of man, being quite dryed up, and the private wells, yielding water but slowly, soe as we are forced to have recourse to ye rivers, for brewing and washinge, and it is a difficult matter to be supplyed with pott water wch takes up most of the housewifes tyme; and for ye husbandman it is his whole employment to drive his cattle to water, wch yet he cannot with safety performe, ye wayes being soe slippery and glassy, that neither man nor beast can well stand without falling.