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William Dillwyn diary

Identifier: HC.MC-975-01-017

Scope and Content note

This collection is composed of the single volume, handwritten diary of William Dillwyn, as well as a photo copy and typed transcript. Entries describe Dillwyn's travels from his home in Burlington, N.J. to Charleston, South Carolina, including lists of things to pack, the voyage, and the weather. Later entries describe Dillwyn's time in South Carolina; visits with Friends, business, and Quaker meetings.

The collection also includes a copy of a New York Sun newspaper article, dated July 8, 1933, describing the diary and how it was found by book sellers.


  • 1772-1773


Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Law Applies (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical note

William Dillwyn (1743-1824) was a Quaker born in Philadelphia in 1743 to John and Susanna Painter Dillwyn. On May 19 1768 at Burlington, N.J. Dillwyn married Sarah Logan Smith, daughter of John Smith of Burlington. Sarah Dillwyn died after giving birth to the couple’s only child, Susanna, in 1769. Susanna (1769-1819) would go on to marry Samuel Emlen (1766-1783).

Dillwyn was educated at the Public School; Philadelphia (later the William Penn Charter School) by Anthony Benezet, a Quaker abolitionist. In 1772, Dillwyn traveled, with letters of recommendation from Benezet, to Carolina to study slavery. In 1773, Dillwyn, Richard Smith, and Daniel Wells wrote Brief considerations on slavery, and the expediency of its abolition: with some hints on the means whereby it may be gradually effected.

Dillwyn moved to England in 1774, and he married Sarah Weston in 1777. The couple had eight children:

Lewis Weston, 21 August 1778 John Crook, 18 July 1780 Judith Nichols, 26 August 1781 Ann, 11 September 1783 Lydia, 11 April 1785 George, 1 February 1787 Sarah Musgrave 14 March 1790 Gulielma 16 August 1792

In England, Dillwyn remained involved in the anti-slave trade and anti-slavery movement. Dillwyn was a member of the Meeting for Sufferings Committee on the Slave Trade, and was one of the original members of the London Abolition Committee in 1787.

William Dillwyn died on 28 September, 1824, and was buried at Tottenham, Middlesex.


0.04 Linear Feet (1 volume)





Related Materials

  • MC 950.061 Henry Drinker papers
  • MC 955 Edward Wanton Smith papers
  • MC 975.11.010 Dillwyn & Hill family wills
  • MC 975.08.007 George Dillwyn financial records
  • MC 852 Anthony Benezet papers
  • MC 1000 Gulielma M. Howland papers
  • MC 1100 Scattergood family papers
  • MC 1184 Families of Philadelphia collection

Processing Information

Processed by Kara Flynn; completed July 2015.
William Dillwyn diary, 1772-1773
Kara Flynn
July 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections Library

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Haverford PA 19041 USA US