Charles and Priscilla Townsend Family Papers
Scope and Contents
Members of the Charles and Priscilla Townsend family were active in the Society of Friends in Philadelphia and in Quaker concerns, especially penal reform, abolition, and the natural sciences. The collection includes journals, correspondence, and writings in addition to transcripts and reference material on family members.
- Majority of material found within 1811 - 1858
- Townsend family (Family)
Limitations on Accessing the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Copyright and Rights Information
Some of the items in this collection may be protected by copyright. The user is solely responsible for making a final determination of copyright status. If copyright protection applies, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns to reuse, publish, or reproduce relevant items beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to the law. See http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/UND/1.0/.
Biographical / Historical
Charles Townsend (1777–1859), a Philadelphia watch and clockmaker, and Priscilla Kirk (1785–1862) of York County, Pennsylvania, were married at Darby Meeting House in 1803. Charles was the son of John Townsend and Hannah Cox Townsend, and Priscilla was the daughter of Elisha Kirk and Ruth Miller Kirk. Priscilla gave birth to twelve children, only seven of whom lived to adulthood. These were Elisha (1804-1858), Edward (1806-1896), Charles (1807-1866), John Kirk (1809-1851), Hannah (1812-1851), Mary (1814-1851), and Elizabeth (1824-1869). Priscilla and Charles Townsend were prominent members of Green Street Monthly Meeting and in 1833 were among the founding members of Spruce Street Monthly Meeting. Priscilla was a recorded minister in the Society of Friends.
The children of Charles and Priscilla Townsend continued their parents' legacy of accomplishment and social concern. The eldest, Elisha Townsend (1804-1858) married Elizabeth Haydock in 1826 and was a prominent dentist. Edward Townsend (1806-1896) married Ann Albertson Townsend in 1833. He was a dentist but best known for his work in penal reform. His wife was an acknowledged Quaker minister, and they had five children. Charles Townsend (1807-1866), also a dentist, married Elizabeth Fawcett, and they had five children. The youngest son, John Kirk Townsend (1809-1851) was a prominent naturalist and ornithologist. He married Charlotte Holmes. Neither daughter Hannah (1812-1851) or Mary (1814-1851) married, and both dealt with fragile health. The sisters were writers and active in the abolitionist movement. The youngest daughter, Elizabeth "Lizzie" (1834-1869), married Mahlon Kirk in 1854, and they had three children.
1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)
Members of the Charles and Priscilla Townsend family were active in the Society of Friends in Philadelphia and in Quaker concerns, especially penal reform, abolition, and the natural sciences. The collection includes journals, correspondence, and writings in addition to transcripts and reference material on family members. Much of the material is available in published form.
Series 1: Family papers.
Series 2: Reference and copies
The letters and writings were preserved by the descendants of Edward Townsend and Elizabeth Townsend Kirk.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Dana Dunbar King, FHL 2023.018
Existence and Location of Copies
Much of the material has been edited and published. See book catalog for copies.
Mary Townsend's Life in the Insect World : or, Conversations Upon Insects Between an Aunt and Her Nieces (Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakiston, 1844); 2 copies of Hannah Townsend's History of England in Verse (Philadelphia: Lindsay & Blakiston, 1852) one signed by Mahlon Kirk, 1882 and one signed by Priscilla Townsend 1832 and Mary T. Kirk; Poems of the late Elizabeth Fawcett Townsend (Philadelphia: C. Sherman & Son, 1862); John K. Townsend's Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River (Philadelphia: Henry Perkins, 1839)
Sorted into two series, manuscripts and reference.
- Charles and Priscilla Townsend Family Papers
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
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 or requesting reproductions from Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library
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Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA