…In the afternoon down at Mr Porter’s a-copying out an agreement which he had drawn up between himself and Mr Joseph Burgess, wherein Mr Burgess has sold to Mr Porter all his freehold land and a copyhold messuage and some land late Durrant’s [all in all about 60 acres] for £900, the conveyance to be signed and the money to be paid at New Michaelmas day next. Mr Burgess is to clear the said premises of all quit-rents, taxes, annuities etc. to the said time and he is not to cut any timber, trees, tillows, shaws, hedges or under-woods, and is to be allowed 10.10.0 for all the dung, muck, compost, mold etc. which is now made or that he shall hereafter make on the said premises, and all expenses attending the same are to be paid between them, and, as there is an annuity of £12 per annum payable yearly out of the freehold to Sarah the wife of Joseph Burgess deceased, Mr Porter agrees to pay that upon Mr Burgess’s leaving £50 with him, which he thereby engages to do, and if ever Mr Burgess offers his other copyhold to sale (late Jenner’s) Mr Porter is to have the refusal of it at £200 (though Mr Porter declared several times afterwards in mine and Joseph Fuller’s presence that whenever Mr Burgess should pay off the mortgage which he is to have upon it, Mr Burgess should be at liberty to sell it to anyone he thought proper), and if any one of the parties does not comply with every of the aforesaid articles he is bound to pay the other the sum of hundred pounds forfeit. After both parties had signed it, Joseph Fuller and myself, who were both in presence all the time, set our names as witnesses to the same.
We stayed at Mr Porter’s till about 9:50. I am sincerely sorry I was so unfortunate as to be thought a proper person to be a witness to their agreement, for in my opinion Mr Burgess is not equally qualified with Mr Porter to make a bargain and I think the truth is verified in this present bargain and if I were present and witness to a thing my conscience told ne was not right (as mine undoubtedly did) then undoubtedly I am culpable and to blame in acting contrary to my own conscience and of consequence to the Christian religion, of which I am an unworthy member. Whoever may happen to see this when I am no more I beg he would not think I mention this to show myself more righteous or honest than the rest of mankind. No! I have no such thoughts, but am truly sensible I am a poor wicked and polluted creature, and perhaps my best actions may be just matter for repentance. Neither do I mention it to condemn Mr Porter is an overreaching and unjust person. No, I mention it purely to show how frail, how weak our nature is, that when self-interest is the concern we are always as it were partial in our own favor, even so fond are we of our dear selves as to do things which we would blush at and even condemn as blameworthy in another, and yet so blind are we like holy David as not to know we are the very persons we pass sentence on. Therefore how constant and earnest should we be in our prayers to Almighty God, that he would try us and search out the ground of our hearts and direct our ways, for who of us knows how oft he offends?
Rec’d of Mr Laurence Thornton in cash £8 in full for land tax assessed on his salary for the year 1760… My wife, poor creature, most extremely ill. A dull heavy time for trade; never did I know it so dull before. I am quite as it were overwhelmed with trouble.