Mary Hardy, the writer of the Diary was the youngest daughter of Robert Raven and Mary (nee. Fox) of Whissonsett, near Fakenham. The Ravens had been living in this village and the adjoining Horningtoft for several generations and further back they seem to have a common ancestor with the Ravens of Harpley. In 1765 Mary became engaged to and married in Whissonsett a young farmer named William Hardy, then living in East Dereham. He had come from south from Scotton, near Knaresborough in Yorkshire. William Hardy seems always to have been on the lookout to better himself and the chance came when a dwellinghouse, brewery, and 50 acres of land at Letheringsett near Hold came up for sale in 1781.
The journal (diary) covers 35 years from 1773 to 1809.