Ballard: England in 1815

In 2011, the blog Austenonly ran an article on the actress Miss O’Neill, and, in commenting on her, introduced me to the journal of Joseph Ballard. Ballard says more about Miss O’Neill than my diarist, Emma Smith (after marriage, Emma Austen). The post induced me to look up Ballard’s journal for myself.

joseph ballard

Its full title goes a long way to explaining the delights to be found inside: England in 1815 as seen by a Young Boston Merchant, being the Reflections and Comments of Joseph Ballard on a Trip through Great Britain in the year of Waterloo. Published in 1913, its frontispiece was a watercolor portrait of the young merchant in 1813 (detail above). Ballard was 26 years-old during his trip abroad. The journal covers March to November 1815.

The voyage to England, of course, opens the narrative. With nations at war and sea travel parlous when the weather whipped up storms, Ballard’s journey could not have an easy one. He touched on English soil at Liverpool.

To read Ballard’s journal is to discover:

  • “Manchester is quite a smokey place.”
  • “Leeds is a town of considerable consquence.”
  • “On visiting the Bank of England I was astonished at its magnitude…”
  • “The Tower of London is a large pile of buildings surrounded by a deep moat.”
  • “… went to Astley’s Amphitheatre near Westminster Bridge.”
  • “… curiosity led me in …”

ballard journal

FIND Ballard @ or



Diary of a Cotswold Parson

Publisher / date: Amberley Publishing, 2009
pages: 704
genre: diary

Amberley Publishing has to be my top favorite publisher, and this book – first in the series of The Complete Diary of a Cotswold Parson, shows the press at its best. This is a huge book! The introduction itself runs a couple hundred pages.

Francis Witts is the parson in question. I wait with great impatience for the “complete” diaries of his mother, Agnes Witts (you’ll see that book on this site soon!), and will slowly build my Witts library. It is a big undertaking: Francis’ diaries is up to Volume 8 and is still incomplete.

Volume 1, subtitled The Nomad, covers the period from 1795-1805. The “extensive introduction” should have been a book all its own. Highly recommended. And who are the Austins met late in the diaries??? More on that later!

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Cotswold Life published an informative write-up on the Diaries of Agnes Witts. And I just found their entry about her son, Rev. Francis Witts.