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Eliza Webster manuscript grammar and exercise book


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. 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

Elizabeth Webster was born around 1764, the daughter of William and Mary Burdon Webster. She appears to have grown up in Stockton-on-Tees, in County Durham, England. Her education, like many fairly affluent young women of the time, appears to have been Christian in focus, designed to enable her to "provide spiritual support and moral guidance to the household," (Ryan, p. 137). Many young women of the time were taught at home and they learned to read and write; but there was also a focus on needlework and running a household. Elizabeth seems to have had lessons through her church or through the association of a cleric. In addition to learning grammar, she responds to a variety of assignments, signing each one, "I am Revd Sir your obedt. Pupil Eliza Webster."

In 1875, at the age of 21, Eliza married Thomas Davison (1764-1833), a reverend working in Hartburn, England. They were the parents of seven children, almost all of whom died young, and often tragically. Their daughter, Catherine Mary Davison (1790-1876) married Joseph Hindhaugh (born 1782) and they had a son, William Henry Hindhaugh (1830-1892) who wrote on page ii, "Grammar and exercise book of my mother's mother, Eliza Webster, when a young girl" (dated January 8, 1890).

Eliza's death date is uncertain, but she probably died between 1807 and 1811.

Works consulted:

Halsey, Katie. "The home education of girls in the eighteenth century novel: 'the pernicious effects of an improper education.'" Oxford Review of Education, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 430-446.

Ryan, Linda. "Wesleyan Perspectives on the Education of Girls in Eighteenth–Century England," Wesley and Methodist Studies, Vol. 8, No. 2 (20a6), pp. 1350154.

This volume contains two distinct segments of educational exercises. The first (p. 1-79) is "Grammatical observations and extracts," with segments titled, "Of Words;" "Of the articles a, an, the;" "Of pronouns;" "Of verbs;" "Irregular verbs;" "Adverbs;" "Prepositions;" "Of prepositions in, from, &c.;" "Of conjunctions;" and "General observations." Much of the text providing examples of grammatical practice is religious in nature, frequently quoting Bible passages. Following "Irregular verbs," are nine pages containing "a catalogue of verbs irregular by form'd," with three columns of tense: present, past, and participle.

The second segment (p. 81-93) contains responses to questions in epistolary form. Each one is addressed to "Rev'd Sir," and signed "I am Rev'd Sir your obedt. Pupil E [or Eliza] Webster." Questions answered include: "What is the subject & style of pastoral poetry?" What is an Epic Poem?" "What is the subject and style of elegy?" "What is the nature of dramatic poetry?" "What do you mean by the Epistolary Style?"

This volume is bound in gilt tooled full calf, with marbled endpapers, and with the inner and outer margins formed by folding. There are pressed leaves laid in between pages 16 and 17 and between pages 82 and 83; and an insect wing laid in between pages 80 and 81. In some cases, penciled guide lines are visible. Pages are blank between pages 77 and 80 and from 94 to 115.

There is a bookplate belonging to Arnold Osterman Dyer; but the connection between him and the family of Eliza Webster is unknown.

Sold by Dean Cooke Rare Books, 2021.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Holly Mengel
Finding Aid Date
2023 January 20
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This volume is open for research use.

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Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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