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William Dillwyn diary


Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

William Dillwyn (1743-1824) was a Quaker born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1743, to John and Susanna Painter Dillwyn. On May 19, 1768, in Burlington, New Jersey, 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 married Sarah Weston in 1777. The couple had eight children: Lewis Weston (August 21, 1778), John Crook (July 18, 1780), Judith Nichols (August 26, 1781), Ann (September 11, 1783), Lydia (April 11, 1785), George (February 1, 1787), Sarah Musgrave (March 14, 1790), and Gulielma (August 16, 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 September 28, 1824, and was buried at Tottenham, Middlesex.

This collection is comprised 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, New Jersey, 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.


Processed by Kara Flynn; completed July, 2015.

Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Kara Flynn
Finding Aid Date
July, 2015
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Collection Inventory

Original, 1772-1773.
Volume 1
Box 3
Box 3

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