Main content

J.C. Welsh journal


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library 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

J.C. Welsh, presumably of Boston, Massachusetts, traveled from that city in 1817 with his father to Demerara, in British Guiana, to settle legal affairs.

British Guiana is now known as Guyana. The area was originally settled by the Dutch as the colonies of Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo; it was captured by the British in 1796 and consolidated into a single colony in 1831. It became independent May 26, 1966.

Information derived from the collection and from the Library of Congress Authority files.

J. C. Welsh’s manuscript journal comprises 120 pages, written in ink, on four sewn but unbound signatures. His journal reports on the physical and cultural challenges of traveling from Boston, Massachusetts, to British Guyana and living there while pursuing legal business in 1817 through 1819.

J. C. Welsh's journal bears witness to the hardships of travel and the difficulties of being away from home. He and his father's departure from Boston in February 1817 on board the brig Halifax was delayed by ice. They were violently ill throughout their sea voyage to Demerara, British Guyana, where they were destined to settle legal business. When there they consumed strong coffee, no easier on their bowels, and were constantly sick with headaches and other ailments. But their greatest trial in Demerara was the anxiety of “obstacles, disappointments, and delays” as they sought to settle the Lincoln estate in the Orphans Chamber. Welsh agonized over the “mud of the law,” and as their legal entanglements dragged into a second year, prayed to God for grace to endure, but truly longed for nothing more than to “get away from this terrible place.”

Demerara proved a cultural challenge as well. The Welshes boarded with missionaries, but found neither Mr. nor Mrs. Elliot took their sermons to heart. Welsh desired not to drink as much as his hosts, and pitied the “vassals of Satan” who partook of the races and balls which were common social events in Demerara. He was ashamed of Mrs. Elliot’s treatment of her eight-year-old servant, horrified at the whipping of a runaway slave, remarked on the sale of a family with nine children for $15,000, and was particularly disturbed when he, as a white man, was the cause of a Creole’s eviction from a church pew. Welsh arrived home in Boston on April 20, 1819, grateful to his Lord for his Yankee privileges.

University of Delaware. Library.

Self works : diaries, scrapbooks, and other autobiographical efforts : catalog of an exhibition, August 19, 1997-December 18, 1997 : guide to selected sources. Newark, Del. : Special Collections, Hugh M. Morris Library, University of Delaware Library, 1997.

  1. Item 0083: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0097


Processed by Lynda Gillow, June 2007. Updated by E. Evan Echols, July 2015.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2007 June 27
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

J.C. Welsh journal, 1817 February 13-1819 May 5. 1 volume.
Item 0083
Physical Description

1 volume

Print, Suggest