The Hardy family

William Hardy in 1798

Mary Hardy’s husband William aged 66, by Immanuel

The Hardy and Raven families were all working people. Not one engaged in a life of leisure, and some were straitened financially in the harsh trading conditions of the time. Debt and bankruptcy proved a constant threat, and very many in Mary Hardy’s circle succumbed.

William Hardy was born near Knaresborough in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Like his wife he was one of five children. His brother Joseph, 20 years his junior, followed him into the Excise and had postings in Wigan and Hull.

The younger generation

The great sorrow of the Hardys’ lives was the lingering, painful illness of their son Raven. They had encouraged their studious son in all he undertook. He fell ill in 1786 while training for the Law at North Walsham, and came home to die aged 19.

William Hardy retired in 1797 and handed over to his only surviving son William, then aged 27. He loyally supported William, taking over again on his son’s absences on business; the September visit to the City of London to order the new season’s Kentish hops was an annual event.

A new Hardy and Raven family tree

Hardy and Raven: the diarists’ family tree. William Hardy was from Yorkshire

In his retirement he also took on a new role as income tax commissioner when the tax was introduced to help pay for the French wars.

William Hardy junior had trained for farming, malting and brewing from early childhood. The Raven family from which Mary Hardy sprang practised not primogeniture but a mixture of male ultimogeniture (inheritance of the family business by the youngest son) and partible inheritance (where brothers and sisters get equal shares of the family wealth).

A mercurial, independent child, William became an exceptionally talented, prudent manufacturer and estate manager whose vision and creativity shaped the look of his home parish as we see it today.

There is more about the Hardy family on the commentary website Mary Hardy and her World.