Online revelation for Victorian diary entries

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

Nathaniel Bryceson's diary of 1846 gives an insight into Victorian London, describing public hangings, his love life and the weather.

The 19-year-old, who lived in Soho, also followed the news of the day, including the First Anglo-Sikh War in India and the wedding anniversary of Queen Victoria.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

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

Now, its 260 entries have been transcribed and sections will be published online – at

One early copperplate entries, on January 5, 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.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"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."

Mr Bryceson, who was born in St Marylebone on June 5 1826, died in 1891, aged 85, in Mile End, east London. His father Nathaniel White spent time as a pauper in the St Marylebone Workhouse.

In 1846, Mr Bryceson 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.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ed Argar, Westminster's library chief, 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."

Related topics: