Diary and commonplace book

manuscript notebook

The diary seemingly kept by a senior servant, one entry referring to a return to London ‘on account my master’s illness’ in which he records his journey and stops along the route to London. He provides a detailed account of the Gordon Riots with almost daily entries from June 2 to June 10th. Several entries 1783 reference severe storms and the appearance of the 1783 Great Meteor on August 18: “A ball of fire was seen passing along the air about 1/2 past nine in the evening. It was seen about the same time at Ostend.” Two entries in August and December report the executions of criminals at Newgate Prison including that of the engraver William Wynne Ryland. On October 6th, the author notes that “peace was proclaimed at the usual places in the city, and at Westminster, with the usual solemnity.” On 7 March 1783 he notes that “Sukey & Fanny Green inoculated for the Small Pox.” The bulk of the later entries in the diary, except for the occasional mention of social events, trips, and the occasional extreme weather, focus on the births, baptisms, deaths, and marriages of his social circle and concludes with a series of poems on death, marriage, and conduct of life.

  • Title: Diary and commonplace book : manuscript.
  • Production: England, 1779 June 15-1816 April 2.

Catalog Record

LWL Mss Vol. 283

Acquired April 2023

Journal of a young lady, together with a commonplace book of poems


manuscript notebook

A volume with a bound-in journal with original marbled wrappers intact, with additional signatures on which have been mounted prints, newspaper clippings, and transcriptions of poems, compiled by a young woman. The journal records the details of her trip with a friend Miss Kendall, starting from Norwich and traveling to and around Yorkshire in 1794.

  • Title: Journal of a young lady, together with a commonplace book of poems : manuscript and printed text.
  • Production: England, circa 1794.

Catalog Record

LWL MSS Vol. 284

Acquired August 2022

Emily Griffin commonplace book

drawing of a group of 4 men sitting on a couch

Manuscript commonplace book and album of Emily Griffin, perhaps a gift to be filled in by her friends before she left for India and kept for new friends when she arrived there. Included are a number of poems from well wishers before her voyage out to India in 1826, together with quotes and extracts from Byron, Cowper, H.H. White and other contemporary poets. Also before she left, Mary Ann Bloxam (1807-1880), an accomplished porcelain painter, contributed two pages to the album with fine watercolors of flowers and a poem. Among the material collected when in India are the contributions by the orientalist and antiquary James Prinsep (1799-1840), including watercolors and sketches.

  • Author: Griffin, Emily, 1803-1884.
  • Title: Emily Griffin commonplace book : manuscript.
  • ProductionLondon and India, 1827-1835

Catalog Record

LWL Mss Vol. 281

Acquired February 2023

Thomas Sutton commonplace book

manuscript notebook

A commonplace book kept by Thomas Sutton starting on 5 November 1819 in which he records anecdotes, quotations, epigrams, drinking toasts, many directly related to his home Nottingham and indicate the pride he feels in its history and people. He begins with a passage from John Blackner’s “The history of Nottingham” (1815) extolling the virtue of Nottingham men with a passage recounting an episode during the Glorious Revolution of 1688, followed by several passages from a range of sources in praise of Nottingham and its men, prominent political figures — Lord Grafton, Lord Dundas, Thomas Paine — and stories of local personalities. Nottingham ale warrants several pages of discourse. He provides a lengthy account of a canal boat accident, which is illustrated with a line-drawn plan followed by an extract from Christian Ignatiyus Latrobe’s Journal of a visit to South Africa in 1815 and 1816 about the destruction done by wolves at Groenekloof and the attempt of the missionaries and the native people to hunt them down and a confrontation with a tiger. Also included are copies of four letters sent by his uncle Charles Peck relating to his volunteering for an expedition to the Congo with Major Peddie, his trip along the River Gambia to Senegal, and a letter from Sierra Leone announcing his uncle’s death with a discussion of the money due him from the expedition. The remaining bulk of the volume contains excerpts from The Nottingham Review, toasts, poems by Pope, Thomas Paine, Robert Burns, Thomas Moore; comical stories as well as political events including the death of King George III. He provides a detailed, alphabetic list of the towns, boroughs, and remarkable villages in England and Wales. He relates a story about a wager laid by Colly Cibber and Pope; a woman named Jenny Hickling of Nottingham, bedridden for 61 years and other stories that piqued his attention. His interest in Africa continues in 1823 when he copies several pages from Campbell’s Travels in Africa.

  • Author: Sutton, Thomas, author.
  • Title: Thomas Sutton commonplace book : manuscript.
  • Production: Nottingham, England, 1819-1826.

Catalog Record

LWL Mss vol. 266

Acquired July 2021

Chrisr. Finn’s book, written Decemr. [the] 20th, 1797

description below

A commonplace book containing lists of toasts, dances, songs and quotations assembled by Christopher Finn. A section entitled “Elegant extracts” appears to be an extract from “The unfashionable wife. A novel” (published in London, 1772), perhaps to be used for recitation. The section “Matter for letters” contains suggests for well-turned phrases for the beginning, middle, and ‘subscription’. The last page contains instructions to the person who might find this volume, promising a reward; he provides not only his own address but those of two friends, one in Birmingham and one London and a note to his friends assuring them than he will re-imburse them the price of postage and the reward to the finder, clear evidence of how important this volume was to the author.

  • Author: Finn, Christopher.
  • Title: Chrisr. Finn’s book, written Decemr. [the] 20th, 1797 : manuscript.
  • Production: Dublin, circa 1797

Catalog Record

LWL Mss Vol. 261

Acquired May 2020

Edward Burton journal and commonplace book of agricultural notes

manuscript notebookA journal kept by the farmer Edward Burton in which he records business matters along with accounts of local events around the Leicestershire villages of Hemington and Castle Donington. He records crops sold, laborers’ expenses paid, and the days on which neighbors began their respective harvests. Burton also used the volume as a commonplace book, including notes on remedies, proverbs from printed sources, and lists of authors and scientists, much of the information derived from almanacs of the day.
Laid in the front pocket of the binding were, eight receipts for purchases, all dated 187-, 1871 or 1872, made out to later members of the Burton family, Thomas and Arthur Burton and Burton Creswell. Now housed separately with the volume.


  • Author: Burton, Edward.
  • Title: Edward Burton journal and commonplace book of agricultural notes : manuscript.
  • Production: Leicestershire, England, circa 1771-1798.

Catalog Record

LWL Mss Vol. 259

Acquired November 2020

Thomas Virgo notebook on gardening, cookery, remedies…

manuscript notes in notebook

A notebook kept by Thomas Virgo, a gardener, in which he records a wide range of observations on the best care for specific plants he uses but also advice on thatching, the making of ice and ponds, catching wasps, building fires and other areas that hint at how he earned a living. He records many recipes for a wide range of aliments — several remedies for gout, rheumatism, and hoarseness and at least one for coughs, piles, pleurisy, and dropsy. Also included are notes on topics as varied as the Anabaptists, the age of the moon, virginity, supplies for drawing, an occasional verse, and some brief Biblical glosses. He occasionally records purchases that he has made and advice on re-using old clothes (getting gloves from old britches). Additional, unrelated, entries were made by a later owner in the early- to mid-19th century, on pages left blank by Virgo. These later entries include mentions of the death dates of several people including Lady Heathcote; Arthur Thistlewood and his companions sentencing to the Tower or a house of correction; details of weather on specific days.


  • Author: Virgo, Thomas.
  • Title: Thomas Virgo notebook on gardening, cookery, remedies, and miscellaneous memoranda : manuscript.
  • Production: Twickenham, circa 1750-1758.

Catalog Record

LWL Mss Vol. 260

Acquired November 2020

Common place book 1811 : manuscript

description below

A commonplace book that collects a number of unusual entries on subjects as diverse as an example of a contradictory letter or letter of hatred; a description of an advertisement for a “Fantocini” puppet-show in Lewisham in 1812; the spread of venereal disease; paper money at the cape of good hope; guilt and shame; rapes of the Romans; divorce, etc. The book is indexed and many entries are identified with author, text and page number and it is reasonable to suppose that this a record of his use of books and readership. Following the commonplace section is a 10,000 word lecture of free-masonry and a section on the analysis of soil, stone and urine.


  • Author: Lance, E. J. (Edward Jarman)
  • Title: Common place book 1811 : manuscript / E.J. Lance.
  • Production: England, 1811-1856

Catalog Record

LWL Mss Vol. 255

Acquired June 2020

Tooke family album of unpublished correspondence

description below

Quarto album, with 29 autograph letters (three being fragments), c. 100 pages in total (some laid in loose); two commonplace manuscripts c. 35 and c. 62 pages; a large fragment of a play c. 90 pages (on rectos only), comprising most of(?) Act II, all of Acts III and IV and most of(?) Act V; and an unrecorded printed folio broadside advertising the sale by auction on 1 November 1820 of an ‘Estate in the Vale of Clwyd, Denbighshire’ (Elizabeth Tooke’s family property). The 29 letters are to and from various members of the family, with 14 being from the period the family spent in Russia.


  • Author: Tooke, William, 1744-1820.
  • Title: Tooke family album of unpublished correspondence and commonplace manuscripts : manuscript.
  • Production: St. Petersburg and London, bulk 1773-1811

Catalog Record

LWL Mss Vol. 254

Acquired March 2020

A collection of Georgian poetry and prose, ca. 1790


Sixty-five manuscript notecard or notecard fascicles (each consisting of a varying number of loosely stitched to head with variously coloured threads), composed in a neat and small hand, mostly to both sides of each card. In at least two hands, several variously initialled at end ‘S.W.’, ‘R.W.’ and ‘M.W.’ Some cards are dated to the 1790s, and very occasionally a location, such as ‘Whitby’, is added. Apparently used as a form of Georgian commonplace, this collection consists of manuscript transcriptions of poems, prose and notable correspondence. Selected poetry includes pieces by Mrs Chapone, Sheridan, Cowper, Della Crusca (‘The Slave. An Elegy’), Charlotte Smith, MacKenzie and Ireland (Hogarth illustrated). Prose includes ‘An Original letter from Sir Robt. Walpole’, ‘Pieces of conjugal happiness address’d to a Lady on her Marriage by Dr. Langhorne’, ‘Virtue & Good Order. To Mrs Hume’ and four lengthy pieces entitled ‘The married man & Batchelor contrasted’, with arguments in favour and against marriage from the single and married perspective. Several of the pieces appeared in various literary magazines and such publication series as Charles Dilly’s Elegant Extracts (London, 1780s-90s), and it is likely that these extracts were copied from such compilations of short works.

TitleA collection of Georgian poetry and prose, ca. 1790.

Catalog Record

LWL Mss Vol. 223

Acquired September 2016