Graphical version

London Metropolitan Archives

BURGESS, William Hugh (fl 1788-1791)


Reference code(s): GB 0074 F/WHB

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives

Title: BURGESS, William Hugh (fl 1788-1791)

Date(s): 1788-1791

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 0.15 linear metres (3 documents).

Name of creator(s): Burgess | William Hugh | fl 1788-1791 | diarist


Administrative/Biographical history:

The writer of these diaries was a boy living with his parents and brothers in St Marylebone c 1790. Their address is never stated but that it was in St Marylebone is shown by internal evidence-local walks, the christening of Mrs Combes's child, (checked in the baptism register of St Marylebone), the Combes family being close friends of the Burgesses, and Dr Combes frequently preaching at the church. From the boy's father dining at the Foundling Hospital on 11 May 1791, it has been possible to check that he was Hugh Burgess, elected a Governor in 1787. In Holden's Directory of 1799, Hugh Burgess, Esq., was living at 9 Salisbury Place, St Marylebone; his name does not appear in the Court Guide 1792 though a-Burges, Esq., was at 4 Weymouth Street.

Among the writer's brothers was 'Bry', who may perhaps be the Rev. Bryant Burgess, curate at St Marylebone c 1810, who married there on 26 January 1810. 'Ned' may be Edward Burgess, married there by the Rev. Bryant, 10 February 1810: the brides of both men had the surname Rutton and were from Selling, Kent. The Writer's father seems to have been 'in the City', and a patron of philanthropic institutions such as the Foundling, Middlesex and Small Pox Hospitals. The brothers were normally at school, but not the writer: in the later period he appears to have started a job in the City, and so does his brother Jack. At home the boys kept pets, including a dog, a robin and a squirrel, and spent their free time going for walks, visiting friends or the theatre, or reading to a neighbour, and playing card games for small stakes. Their holidays were spent in the country, near Watford in Hertfordshire.


Scope and content/abstract:

The collection comprises diaries of William Hugh Burgess, a fifteen-year old boy from a family of Huguenot descent, who lived in Marylebone in the late eighteenth-century. They are rare examples of historical diaries written by a child.

In what became part of his daily routine from January 1788 until October 1790, William wrote about himself and his everyday life, simply recording what he did and what he saw.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

3 volumes in chronological order.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the City of London.

Physical characteristics:


Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Purchased by the Archive in 1974.


Publication note:

William Burgess and his diary are subjects of an article by Dianne Payne, 'An Eighteenth-Century Gap Year', published in The Historian, no. 107 (autumn 2010). Using William's diary in conjunction with parish records, eighteenth-century newspaper reports and a range of contemporary sources, the author 'expands on his entries and reconstructs the two years in which he left boyhood behind and entered the adult world'.


Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Records prepared May to September 2011.

Diaries | Nonfiction | Prose | Literary forms and genres | Literature
Domestic life | Life styles | Cultural life | Cultural conditions
Personal archives | Archives
Personal papers | Primary documents | Documents | Information sources
Youth | Adolescence | Age groups | Age distribution
Adolescents x Youth

Personal names
Burgess | William Hugh | fl 1788-1791 | diarist

Corporate names

Marylebone | City of Westminster | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe