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Journal of a voyage to investigate manufacturing in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland

Identifier: MSS 0097-Item 0157

Scope and Contents

This journal was kept by an unknown American travelling in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland in 1811-1812. The author provided detailed accounts of British and Irish infrastructure and manufacturing efforts, as well descriptions of local landmarks, scenery, and customs.

While keeping this journal, the writer traveled extensively around Great Britain and Ireland. He embarked aboard the American ship Susquehanna from New Castle, Delaware in late June and arrived in Liverpool on July 19, 1811. After a brief trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, and a stay in Liverpool, the writer arrived in London on August 9. Following a break in his journal, he traveled North in early September, visiting the coal pits of Newcastle before arriving in Scotland. With Jonah Thompson, the author made a trip throughout the Scottish Highlands that lasted until mid-October. Heading south again, the author and his traveling companion visited the manufactories of Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, and Birmingham, before returning to London on November 29, 1811.

The author resumed his journal in Volume 2 on November 30, describing his time in London and a trip to Bath. A gap between December 26, 1811, and April 20, 1812, follows. The author then met with his friend E. Thomas in Birmingham before setting out on a tour of Wales and Ireland in April and May of 1812. Following another gap in the journal, the author traveled for Plymouth in late June. In his final entry on July 8, 1812, he began his journey to Penzance.

Although the author observed that this was his first trip abroad, he carried letters of introduction to merchants and manufacturers in several large cities, including Liverpool, London, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, and Birmingham, England; Edinburgh, Scotland; and Dublin, Ireland. He took particular interest in visiting manufactories, aqueducts, docks, and other sites of British industry and innovation. While in Newcastle, he and Thompson descended into the coal pits “equipped in the habiliments of the Colliers.” The writer described extensively processes of cloth dyeing, roller printing, minting, and silver plating, occasionally adding small sketches to his descriptions. While visiting a pin manufactory in Birmingham, the author observed that “excepting in pointing [the pins] the whole manufactory may be carried on by children even of the Smallest Size.”

In addition to manufacture and infrastructure, the writer provided detailed descriptions of the castles, cathedrals, and public buildings he visited as well as landscapes he found particularly romantic or picturesque. On his journeys, he visited Warwick Castle and Blenheim Palace, climbed Ben Nevis, and even took a sailing boat on the River Shannon. He occasionally commented on the habits and appearance of local people. He noted that the Scottish Highlanders ate poorly and lived in dirty sod-roofed houses, “yet even in all this filth and wretchedness you find they have good educations.” While in Wales, he “made several attempts to converse with the Peasantry but could not succeed with an interpreter as not one in a thousand understand a word of English.” He was particularly horrified by the beggars of County Kildare, Ireland, whose “frequent appeals to the Deity” shocked him and almost induced him “to stop up my Ears for they accompany every demand and declaration.”

Both volumes are bound in light-colored vellum with laid paper pastedowns. They contain faintly-lined, laid paper leaves with handwritten text in black ink. Volume 1 contains 140 leaves of paper, of which 12 are blank. Volume 2 contains 141 leaves of which 126 are blank. The leaves of Volume 1 bear the watermarks “J. JELLYMAN” and “1810.” The leaves of Volume 2 bear a watermark of Britannia, depicted as a woman sitting in a cartouche with a spear and shield.


  • Creation: 1811-1812

Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical and Historical Note

While the creator of this journal is unknown, he travelled to England with several well-known residents of Pennsylvania and Delaware. The writer noted that Joshua Gilpin, co-founder of Delaware’s first paper mill, and Phineas Bond, former British Consul General for the Middle and Southern States, traveled with him aboard the ship Susquehanna to Liverpool in June 1811. The writer was accompanied for much of his journey by Jonah Thompson, a Philadelphia merchant and later the proprietor of the Phoenix Nail Works in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. In 1829, Thompson patented a process to make casks using steam power. Thompson accompanied the journal writer to various manufactories, mills, and even a coal mine in Newcastle, England. The writer’s interest in technology and industry may indicate that he was also involved in American manufacturing.

The writer occasionally recorded information relating to the ongoing Napoleonic Wars between Great Britain and France, primarily in the description of depots housing large numbers of French prisoners. Despite increased hostilities between the United States and Great Britain, the writer described good trade relations between the manufacturing centers he visited and his native country. He ended his journal on July 8, 1812, several weeks after the United States had declared war on Great Britain, but before the news had reached London.

Thompson family papers, 1607-1936, Finding Aid, Historical Society of Pennsylvania (accessed November 21, 2016) A Digest of Patents Issued by the United States from 1790 to January 1, 1839. Washington, DC: Peter Force, 1840. “Obituary for Sir Edward Thomason,” The Gentleman’s Magazine, Vol. 186, October 1849.“British Consul.” American Watchman and Delaware Republican, June 22, 1811.“J. Jellyman” Watermark in J.M.W. Turner Sketchbook, Tate Institute (accessed November 21, 2016) Watermark ArchiveInformation derived from the collection.


2 volume : Volume 1: 140 leaves; Volume 2: 141 leaves ; Volume 1: 20 cm; Volume 2: 20 cm


This journal was kept by an unknown American travelling in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland in 1811-1812. The author provided detailed accounts of British and Irish infrastructure and manufacturing efforts, as well as descriptions of local landmarks, scenery, and customs.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, April 2004

Related Materials

This item forms part of MSS 0097 Diaries, Journals, and Ships' Logs collection.

Shelving Summary

Item 0157: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0097

Processing Information

Processed and encoded by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, January 2017.

Finding aid for Journal of a voyage to investigate manufacturing in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2017 January 9
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

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