William Gravell diary, 1863-1867.

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  • UPenn Ms. Coll. 723
  • This leather-bound, ruled diary was kept from 14 July 1863 to 31 August 1867 by William Gravell during his four-year stay in London, England to escape the draft of the Civil War. Gravell traveled from Upper Darby Township, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to New York where after being swindled; he eventually boarded a cargo ship named Plymouth Rock bound for London. Gravell writes daily about his life on board the ship, including his sea sickness, storms, other passengers, amusements, rations, and his acquaintance with a sailor from Philadelphia. Shortly after celebrating his twenty-third birthday on 13 August, William arrives in London, England. He meets his Uncle Thomas, a gilder and framer, and then meets his Uncle William, a watchmaker. Uncle William provides William with "the document which made me a soldier in the U.S. service for the space of three years." William lives with his cousin Thomas, acquires a job at Causton & Sons Printers in a warehouse where he works from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. William's entries in the diary appear weekly, recording events, excursions, holidays, and family gatherings. William describes the yearly tours of the Crystal Palace at Easter time, Guy Fawkes's Day, Christmas, and Boxing Day. He records the passing of his birthdays. William describes going to lectures, museums, plays, pantomimes, recording the titles and theatres. William writes about attending service on Sundays at St. Paul's Cathedral, dinners with his extended family, and games they play, such as Whist. He writes of the walks he takes with his cousin Thomas or Mr. Jewell to Black Heath, Greenwich, and London Bridge Park. At times William becomes depressed and writes of his dislike of London weather and his search for friends. In the summer of 1866, after the death of his Uncle William, Elizabeth, William's sister arrives unexpectedly. William and his sister spend much time together during the year she is there. In May of 1867 William's parents send tickets for his and Elizabeth's passage from Liverpool to Philadelphia. The pair leave in July, arriving in Philadelphia on 31 August 1867, the last entry in the diary. There are two inscriptions on the first leaf: "Minnie presented Aug. 22nd 1878" and "Watch Jacque Roulet Locle No. 28483." Some lines regarding William's departure for London to avoid the draft have been crossed out in pencil. After the last entry the rest of the diary is blank.

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    Minnie presented Aug 22nd 1878. Watch Jaques Roulet Lode No 28 4 8 3 _ [single line]

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