We will return to the topic of the eviction of the people in a moment, but first I will say more about what is known of the way of life of the residents of Milton. Most of this information comes from an article published in 1904 by the vicar of Milton Abbas, Rev Herbert Pentin.
H Pentin, The Old Town of Milton Abbey, Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, XXV, 1-7. The Dorset Museum will supply a copy of this article. According to Pentin some of the occupants of Milton, including the shopkeepers, would have been quite well off. Tradesmen such as the draper, grocer, or mercer used to issue tokens to be used in place of money. On the other hand, there was a great deal of poverty among people described by Pentin as belonging to the "working classes". Pentin expresses particular sympathy for the apprentices, and quotes extensively from one of their contracts. The quoted section ends: "Taverns, inns or alehouses he shall not haunt. At cards, dice, tables, or any other unlawful game he shall not play. Fornication he shall not commit. Matrimony he shall not contract, nor from the service of his master day nor night absent himself. But in all things as an honest and faithful apprentice shall and will demean and behave himself towards his master and all his during the said term."
In passing we may note that this contract conveys a view of the relationship between tradesman and apprentice that implies complete subordination of the person in the junior position. If such a view of social relations applied throughout the town then it is evident that Joseph Damer, perceived as the most powerful individual in the community, could expect to receive relatively little opposition to his plans to move everyone away.
There was a weekly market in Milton, and an annual fair, originally granted by Athelstan, was held on Saint Sampson's Eve and Day, 27 and 28 July. The churchyard formed the venue for several activities. Public floggings were administered there, and badger baiting took place under the cedar trees. Other sports, including cock squailing, cock fighting, and fives, were played outside the west end of the church.
Cock squailing comprised the hurling of missiles at a tethered cock until it died. In his article Herbert Pentin described the practice of shroving as it was conducted at Milton on Shrove Tuesday. Children wielding sticks would go round the town, knocking on doors and uttering the following piece of verse:
Please I've come a-shroving For a piece of pancake Or a little ruckle cheese Of your own making. If you don't give me some, If you don't give me none, I'll knock down your door With a great marrow bone And away I'll run.
Appropriate donations would then be given to the children. The custom was transferred to the new village of Milton Abbas and survived into the twentieth century. Pentin himself had a habit of responding to the verse by throwing out very hot halfpennies for the children to collect.