Richard Locke acquired his education at home and gained an engineer’s diploma, allowing him to become an efficient land surveyor, capable progressive farmer and agriculturist.
His work as a land surveyor began in 1755 when “I first began to measure and value land”. One of the first parishes surveyed by him was Godney where he valued it at 20/- per acre. He surveyed land for nearly 50 years and there are still extant some examples of his work. These are to be found at the end of a MSS containing materials for a “History of Berrow”.
The Lord of the Manor of Berrow had announced his intention of selling his land and had divided it into 28 lots “but so insidiously arranged that if some surveyor had been employed to inspire the proprietor, he could not have more efficiently done it”. Freeholds and leaseholds were blended and some lots consisted of small detached parcels. Locke began to make a plan of each lot, showing how lands could be exchanged in order to make compact farms within the circumference of ring fences.
His interest in agriculture began even earlier than his land surveying. On the death of his grandfather John DOD in 1748, Richard became the owner of 10 acres of land [John DOD’s Will] known as Guildfords [Burnham Rate Book 1692-1789] and rated at 32 pa. As he was not of age, his father and his uncle John Dod were appointed trustees. Under the same will, his mother Hannah, inherited 4 acres of land called Poundhays , which was to come to her son Richard on her decease.
From an entry in the Burnham Rates Book, it seems that Richard inherited these 4 acres straight away for they are rated to him in 1750 at 15/- pa. Gradually he began to add to his possessions and by 1760 had purchased 81 more acres of land in Burnham. The first purchase was made in 1757 when he bought a farm of 20 acres, advertised for many years by its owner March DICKINSON Esq. then Lord Mayor of London. The second was made in 1759 when he purchased 61 acres for the sum of £200.
From 1754 he took an active part in parish life by becoming one of the four Overseers of the Poor, and 4 years later he became Chief Constable of the Court Leet of Bempstone Hundred, which court was held at Highbridge Inn and had been held there from time immemorial. [Gentleman’s Magazine Vol 64, p.978 Locke added here “this court hath been long since disused and the peace officers are appointed at the County Sessions”]