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Hall and Hallam family papers


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

The Hall and Hallam families lived in and around Leicester in England during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The families appear to have farmed, but they also appear to have been extremely religious, serving as lay preachers and religious leaders for the surrounding communities.

John Hall (1733-1813) and Hephzibah Hallam (1740-1820) married on February 12, 1765. John Hall served as leader of a Methodist society, and "being committed and filled with evangelistic zeal and fervor, [he] saw it as his mission to spread the gospel to neighboring villages and before long societies were established in the … villages of Breedon, Worthington, and Diseworth where for several years he was also class leader at them," (Calderwood). It appears that two of his brothers-in-law, Mr. Skirmer and John Hallam, "described as being 'of highly eccentric habits,'" (Calderwood)(presumably the brother of Hephzibah), were also deeply involved in the religious community. A John Hallam served as General Book Steward for the Primitive Methodist Magazine from around 1840 until at least 1843.

The children of these families seem to have been raised into the religious communities. John and Hephzibah Hall were the parents of Mary (1766-1835) who married William Joyce; Elizabeth (1770-1852) who married Thomas Bosworth in 1797; and Hephzibah (1775-1849) who married John Shakspear. In 1787, Elizabeth created a commonplace book in which she recorded religious passages, largely from the Bible.

There is an unnamed author of a short diary, filled with entries on the family's activities. The author may be the niece of John and Hephzibah Hall, although that cannot be confirmed. In the volume, dated 1818, the author refers to Aunt Hephzibah and visits from Sarah, Mary, and Hephzibah Bosworth (children of Elizabeth Hall Bosworth) and visits from Mr. Joyce and Mr. Shakspear (the husbands or future husbands of Elizabeth's sisters (Mary and Hephzibah, respectively). Diary entries regularly refer to the author's father's schedule of preaching in the neighboring villages. There is also mention of farming activities, both livestock and crops. There is mention that the author has "been to school," resulting in the assumption that the author is under the age of 20. While her father is referenced on nearly every page, there are very few references to her mother (p. 69).

Exact relationships between the Hall and Hallam families are unclear. Records show a fair number of John Hallams who were Methodist preachers over the course of the 1800s, and even into the 1900s. There were at least three generations of Hephzibahs in the family and as a result, it is difficult to be certain of the relationship between the diarist and the aunt Hephzibah mentioned in the volume.

Works consulted:

Calderwood, Ian. "John Hall," My Wesleyan Methodists, (accessed 2024 March 20).

Emory, John. The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, A.M., Volume VII, New York: B. Waugh and T. Mason, 1835.

Woolley, Timothy R. A New Appearance on the Face of Things: Retelling the Primitive Narrative Creation Narrative, University of Manchester dissertation, 2013.

This collection consists of material relating to the Hall and Hallam families in the Leicester area of England, dating from 1785 to 1818. While several items are specifically tied to these two families, the other material is assumed to be connected to family members. There is only superficial documentation of any member of the family, but collectively, there is a sense of religious faith crossing generations.

An unknown author created a recipe book containing recipes possibly used in the printing industry. The volume contains numerous recipes for black, red, green, and yellow ink; for India ink, and for "sympathetic ink," also known as invisible or security ink. Sources of these recipes include Dr. Lewis, Macquare's Dictionary, Handmaid to the Arts, Mr. Hatton, Dr. [Shertcliff], and Thomas Johnson. There are also recipes for sealing wax of various colors, scenting sealing wax, and for gilding ribbons in common letter press. There is one recipe for paregoric elixir. At the front (or back) of the volume there is a record of an unnamed recipe being made in Liverpool with double distilled vinegar, common vinegar, water, or "command." It is possible that these were variations used in the making of ink.

Elizabeth Hall's commonplace book appears to have been begun in 1787. Her name is written on the inside front cover and on the first page, also with the date of 1787. The bulk of the entries are religious in nature and while only a few indicate their origins, they are largely from the Bible. There are a few writings memorializing the dead, including "On the death of" Rev. Chars Wesly and Lady Littleton. Titled writings include "A Word for a traveller or a friend to his Neighbour," "O' Saviour from Sin," "The Orphan Girl," and "Invitation to a Robin." At the end of the volume is a list of days of the week and locations, including Darby, Stanly, Duffield, Harkinson, Daleabby, Crick, Warksworth, Ashborn, Griffedam, Ashby, Barton, Breedon, Tong, and Worthington. Illegible place names are not included in this list and spellings in this list are taken directly from the volume. Throughout the volume, there are pen and ink and pencil sketches, largely decorations, but also flora, trees, birds, and a dwelling/castle.

There is a survey map of Alton Grange Farm, dating from 1812. It is unclear the connection to this property to the Hall and Hallam families, although it does seem that families may have farmed. Alton Grange Farm was in the neighborhoods the families lived and preached.

A diary, dating from June 20 to November 28, 1818, documents the family activities of the unknown author. The author appears to be a young school-aged woman whose father preached in the vicinity of Leicester, England. She refers to members of the Hall and Hallam families: including Aunt Hephzibah [probably either Hephzibah Hallam Hall (1740-1820) or Hephzibah Hall (1775-1849)]; Elizabeth Hall Bosworth (1770-1852), [daughter of Hephzibah (1740-1820) and sister of Hephzibah (1775-1849)], and Sarah (1798-1868), Mary (1801-1880), and Hephzibah (1802-1865) Bosworth [daughters of Elizabeth Hall Bosworth]. Also mentioned are Mr. Joyce who married Mary Hall (1766-1835) and Mr. Shakspear who married Hephzibah Hall (1775-1849). The diary documents the author's unnamed father's activities as a preacher and reports on visitors to the author's home (often her aunt and the Bosworths), health, farm work, and babies born to the community. The diary ends abruptly, possibly mid-sentence.

The final item in the collection is a document containing religious text written by John Hallam. The passages appear to be largely taken from the book of Isaiah in the Bible; but there are also passages from Psalms. This may have been a sermon or notes for a sermon, which appears to have been directed to his parents. The text is closely written with the exception of the quote, "And now O my dear Parents arise and wash away your sins calling on the Name of the Lord &c. May I be dutiful and more and more distrest, laborious for your Endless Bliss." The Wesleyan Methodists (a reform movement within the Church of England) and Primitive Methodists (name first used in 1812) were non-conformists and it is possible that there may have been resistance from Hallam's parents to his own religious beliefs.

Researchers interested in the Methodist religion and in families and communities in central England may find this collection to be of value. Material references traveling preachers, circuits, and the beliefs held by these families.

Sold by Dean Cooke Rare Books, Ltd., 2022.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Holly Mengel
Finding Aid Date
2024 March 20
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Recipe book for inks, wax, etc., Liverpool, England, circa 1785-1786.
Box 1 Folder 1
Elizabeth Hall, commonplace book, 1787.
Box 1 Folder 2
Alton Grange Farm, survey map, 1812.
Box 1 Folder 3
Diary entries, 1818 June 20-November 28.
Box 1 Folder 4
John Hallam, religious text, possibly addressed to his parents, undated.
Drawer OS FF 2 Folder 1

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