Page last updated at 08:24 GMT, Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Victorian man's London diary put online

Nathaniel Bryceson's private diary
All 260 diary entries have been transcribed

The private diary of a Victorian clerk is to be serialised online more than 160 years after it was written.

The 19-year-old Londoner Nathaniel Bryceson's diary from 1846 described public hangings and his love life.

The diary was bought by Westminster council for £115 in 1974 but had only been available in manuscript at the council's archive.

Now its 260 entries have been transcribed and sections will be published online throughout the year.

Mr Bryceson, who lived in Richmond Buildings, Soho, also followed the news headlines of the day, including the wedding anniversary of Queen Victoria.

'Captivating window'

One of the earliest copperplate entries, on 5 January, describes a public hanging of a young woman.

"Martha Browning expiated her crime on the scaffold in the Old Bailey, for the murder of Elizabeth Mundell on the 1st of December last," Mr Bryceson wrote.

"The culprit showed great presence of mind on the occasion and ascended the gallows with a firm and steady step, and without any assistance. The body was cut down at 9 o'clock," he added.

Mr Bryceson, who was born in St Marylebone in 1826, worked as a clerk at Lea's coal wharf in Pimlico, earning 20 shillings a week.

He eventually became a successful accountant, married and had a daughter and three sons, and died in 1891, aged 85, in Mile End, east London.

Councillor Ed Argar, who is in charge of Westminster's libraries, said: "Nathaniel Bryceson's diary provides a captivating window into Victorian society and the trials and tribulations of a young man as he makes way through life.

"What comes across is that despite more than 150 years of history, human nature remains pretty much a constant."

Print Sponsor

Victorian power station bar saved
20 Aug 09 |  London
Gruel served up to hungry public
13 Jan 09 |  London
For the love of bricks
26 Feb 08 |  Magazine
What were real Victorian values?
13 Dec 06 |  Magazine

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific