Colenda Digital Repository

William Gravell diary, 1863-1867.

Gravell, William, 1840-1929
William Gravell was born in Indiana on 13 August 1840 to John (1804-1876) and Sarah Gravell (1807-1889). William had a twin sister Elizabeth and a brother Thomas (b. 1848). Between 1850 and 1860 the Gravell family moved to Upper Darby Township, Pennsylvania. After the enactment of the Conscription Act prior to the first draft in July 1863, William Gravell left the United States and sailed to London, England where he lived for four years. In England he met his paternal uncles and aunts: Thomas Gravell (b. 1798), a gilder and framer; William Gravell (1796-1866), a watchmaker; and his two unmarried aunts, Mary and Sarah Gravell. During William Gravell's four- year stay he lived with his cousin Thomas Gravell (son of Uncle Thomas Gravell), cousin Thomas's wife Betsy, and their son Walter in New Cross, London, England. William acquired a job at Causton & Sons, Printers in the warehouse. In the summer of 1866 William's sister, Elizabeth Gravell, arrived in London and lived there for a year. William and Elizabeth Gravell returned to the United States in August 1867. Shortly after the death of his father in 1876, William married Adelaide Vogel. The couple had two children William H. Gravell and Arthur F. Gravell. Sister Elizabeth married George Berry and had two sons. William Gravell died in Philadelphia in 1929. 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.
Physical Description:
1 volume (234 p.)
Geographic Subject:
United Kingdom -- London
Physical Location:
Ms. Coll. 723