The Journals of Priscilla Wakefield: 1798-1799

Following are 460 entries from the journal or diary of Priscilla Wakefield (1751-1832) for the years 1798 to 1799. For information about the source refer to the About area of this blog.

At the time Priscilla began these entries she was 47 years old and living in Tottenham with her husband Edward. Her three children Isabella (known as Bell), Edward and Dan were adults. Both Bell and Edward were married and with growing families of their own. Tottenham was Priscilla’s childhood home and she grew up in a Quaker family. She and Edward returned there after a number of years in London where their financial situation deteriorated and Priscilla had begun to write children’s books to make ends meet.

Priscilla’s journal entries tell us much about her life and her as a person. The first impression is that she was very busy. She notes attending regular church meetings, constantly visiting or receiving visits from friends and relations, she organised and promoted philanthropic initiatives and was very active in the community. The welfare and well-being of her immediate and extended family are a major focus of her life. She was always giving assistance whether at the birth of a child or caring for grandchildren. Her journals reflect her constant concerns at this time for the decisions her sons Dan and Edward were making in their lives. Along with her activity in the community and family was her strong desire, along with the economic necessity, to write children’s books. The tension between these two demands on her time is a battle that she constantly grapples with. A major theme of these two years is the financial difficulties of Priscilla and her husband Edward. The financial schemes of 1798 fade into obscurity in 1799 as their situation worsens. In the journals the persona of Priscilla’s husband is virtually absent an omission that in itself speaks volumes.

Of the woman herself the journals reveal an intelligent and learned person. She was full of ideas and possessed the energy to carry them through even when faced with opposition. She had high moral standards and a sometimes unrealistic expectation that others shared her views. Priscilla was a contradiction, strong and visionary in her thinking but privately full of self doubt as many of the journal entries reveal. Priscilla’s world was very different from our own but her words reveal there are also many similarities as she faced the challenges and competing demands in her life.

Advertisements
Published in: on December 31, 2011 at 11:48 am  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 31

Called on E Tylor – spent a pleasant day at my fathers.

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 4:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 30

Bell & I enjoyed each ōrs (others) company at home with but little interruption

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 4:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 28

Morning meeting – Spurrel dined with us – nothing pafsed (passed) very interesting

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 26

Mrs Head spent the day with us – supped at my brothers with Jonathan & Maria

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 4:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 25

Went with Joshua & Bell to London Brother & Sister Bell dined with us

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 4:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 24

Dan down worked on the notes of my book – Bell & Joshua dined with me at my fathers

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 4:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 23

Read the Review – concluded my Travellers

Note: ‘Travellers’ probably refers to Priscilla’s book  The Juvenile Travellers

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 21

Morning meeting spent the day at my brothers

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 19

Met Committee of Ladies relative to the spinning. Made some practical advances – Kitty came down & accompanied me to a cheerful dance at my brothers chiefly composed of children . Mirth & [space] combined always affords me pleasure

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 4:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 18.

They are gone – my dear Kitty has been with me a month – poor thing – I regret she cannot be educated under my eyes with tenderness & regularity – but mighty obstacles intervene [went] round lo. farm to collect [specimens] – sat at home with my brother – my spirits deprefsed (depressed) all day

Note: the Lady Chapman transcript as the following alternate sentence ‘went round W Green? to collect spinners’  

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 4:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 17

Distributed prizes at the School – Edwd (Edward) came down tout ά travers on both sides – went to bed low on their accts (accounts) & on poor Dans’ whom I supposes to be worse than he acknowledges

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 16

Slipped down as far as Gotts found 5 [Specimens] in my [b]ay – the day at home – without much pleasure from an awkward circumstance relative to Susan’s journey

Note: the Lady Chapman transcript has the word above specimens as spinners and reads ‘Slipped down as far as Grotts found 5 spinners in my way’. 

Gotts probably refers to the firm Benjamin Gott and Sons that was involved in the wool industry. See: http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Benjamin_Gott

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 14

Meeting Edwd (Edward) & Susan met a party to dinner at my brothers I joined them in the evening – Susan left in uncomfortable uncertainty how she is to get to Burnham

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 3:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 13

Walked to the Hill to see Jonathan who has had a bad fall from his horse – waited [hours] for Jason’s arrival Edwd (Edward), Susan & Dan afsembled (assembled) by evening comfortably.

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 12

. The cloud relative to Burnham entirely dispersed

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 3:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 11.

Walked with my Kitty & E—– Bell saw my brother am tolerably satisfied with respect to Edwd. (Edward) – but sorely [regret] that we shd (should) be obliged to receive an annuity from him – A [limited] independence how preferable

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 3:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 10

Met several neighbours about the spinning manufactory dinner alone Kitty being abroad wrote a good deal tho my mind was uneasy with respect to Edward

 

Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 9:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 9

After teaching the children I cut out some linen for the Lying in Charity walked to Stamford Hill & dined C Hanbury

Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 9:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 7

morning meeting – my mind is too much filled with promoting public schemes of charity & also opprefsed (oppressed) with apprehensions for the —-ls of this week – My brother the only efficient friend to whom I can apply [obscured word] will be my Counsellor when he is gone?

Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 8:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 4

William Forster called on charitable schemes – made further application for the spinning dined with my brother who returned this day from Ireland – a visit : David De-t & Isaac lor— both very friendly

Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 8:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 December 2

Finished the Club books – walked to the child to the Hill called on Mrs Hobson & Mrs Cooper & succeeded in my application for the spinning played with Kitty till night wrote the rest of the eavng (evening)

Published in: on December 28, 2011 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 November 30

Meeting Edward & Dan dined with us – What a satisfaction to meet in harmony – It will shorten the way to Burnham – tho to me it is a painful distance – Playing with Kate filled up most of the afternoon – Finished reading the Instructive Rambles of Mrs Helm, pretty but not faultlefs (faultless).

Note: This is probably Instructive Rambles in London and the Ancient Villages by Elizabeth Helme published in 1798. 

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 November 29

met on the spinning businefs (business) only three attended. The poor willing if the rich will be liberal the work will go forward – may their hearts be open to encourage such institutions

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 9:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 November 27

Went with Kitty to the school & round the knoll to know who were willing to spin – found many ready & only in want of Employment – How often are the poor ignorantly tr—-ed

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 9:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 November 24.

Accounts Kitty’s lessons. an unexpected  dinner visit from Mrs E Hankin? Walked with Mrs Minnett had some interesting conversation with Mrs Watkins on education

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 9:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 November 23’

morning meeting – Dan down – dined & drank tea with him at Hanbury’s. The day too irregularly spent for that composure of mind desirable for profit

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 November 20

Meeting called on Alice Chorley relative to establishing a manufactory of spinning – went to Kallanbooks (or Kallenbecks) dined at Mrs Dickensons found her very poorly & met several old friends Mr Dockcoray Ann Dickenson & Jane Edwards.

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 November 19.

After arranging the family went again to London & had the satisfaction of finding Susan safely in bed with a boy – returned to dinner heard that E Tylor was so ill. I thought it necefsary (necessary) to spend the afternoon with her read one chapter in Williams – Alas! For the Travellers

Note: the baby was Arthur Wakefield (1799-1843)  and ‘the Travellers’ refers to a book published in 1801 ‘The Juvenile Travellers; Containing the Remarks of a Family using a Tour through the Principle States and Kingdoms of Europe with an Account of the Inhabitants, Natural Productions and Curiosities’.  

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 9:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

1799 November 18

After reading & writing I set off to London & found Susan ill. Staid till eavng (evening) brought Kitty down with me

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment