Master Ives worked all his life on the same farm, from 1848 onwards. Recalling those times in 1924, he 'spoke feelingly of what were
known as the "good old days"-he emphatically declared that he would not
like to live through those times again'.
In harvest time, in the 'good old days', the work was physically hard, as a passage from Richard Jefferies may remind us:
'Next day the village sent forth its army with their crooked weapons to cut and slay…More men and more men were put on day by day…and women to bind their sheaves…as the wheat fell, the shocks rose behind them, low tents of corn. Your skin or mine could not have stood the scratching of the straw, which is stiff and sharp and the burning of the sun, which blisters like red hot iron. No one could stand the harvest-field as a reaper except he had been born to it…Their necks grew black….Their open chests were always bare, and flat, and stark…The breast bone was burned black, and their arms, tough as ash, seemed cased in leather. They grew visibly thinner in the harvest field, and shrunk together-all flesh disappearing, and nothing but sinew and muscle remaining. Never was such work…So they worked and slaved, and tore at the wheat…the heat, the aches, the illness, the sunstroke, always impending in the air-the stomach hungry again before the meal was over… No song, no laugh, no stay-on from morn till night.'
Foxearth & District Local History Society
The Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury
ESSEX OCTEGENARIAN'S FINE RECORD
If the country were searched it is doubtful whether another record could be found like that of Mr Henry Ives, who, for no fewer than 76 years, has been in the service of one family.
Master Ives, as he is known, is 83 years old, and when but a boy of seven years, he began to work for Mr Brand, the grandfather of the present tenants of Brook Hall, Foxearth, Mr Thomas Brand and his sister.
(Should be John Purkis Brand)(G.H.)
Brook Hall is a holding situated in a little valley between the villages of Foxearth and Borley, and quite near the borders of South Suffolk and North Essex;and this wonderful old man still does a day's work with the rest of the employees on the farm.
"I like to get seven hours a day in, I dont begin until after breakfast", he told a representative of the "Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury." "I cant do like I used to, but I cant fare to do nothing".
Miss Brand told the interviewer that Master Ives does quite a lot of work, hedging and ditching, churning, wood chopping and doing odd jobs. "And", she added."you should just taste the hams he cures".
Mr Ives, 76 years ago, began life as a bird scarer on the farm, and received wages of one shilling a week, and went through various stages which in those days agricultural workers had to go through. As a married man he received ten shillings a week and spoke feelingly of what were known as the "good old days"-he emphatically declared that he would not like to live through those times again. "It is said" he observed."that man cannot live by bread alone, but in those days you could get very little else, it was hard work to get sufficient bread to keep your children from starving. Bread was 1s a loaf, but the workers did not get the wages they do now", he spoke of the time of the Crimean War, and said those were hard times, harder than these; black sugar was 4s a pound and tea 4d an ounce.
Mr Ives brought up a family of three sons and three daughters. All the former are now in America, and one is the owner of his own farm. Throughout his life Mr Ives has been blessed with good health, though one of his knees worries him now and again with twinges. When he was leaving, the interviewer asked him where he was going, "oh" he replied "I going to finish the day up muck spreadin", and he walked up the field like a man half his age, and was soon busily engaged with his mates spreading manure over the stubble. Longevity of service in the Brand family is not confined to the octegenarian, for Miss Brand informed our representative that the shepherd had over 35 years service to his credit, and two of the stewards had been over 25 and 20 years with the family. It is pleasing to hear that in these days of industrial strife and unrest, such cases as these.