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Thomas Turner papers

Call Number: MS 509

Scope and Contents

The Thomas Turner Papers are divided into three Series: "Diary," "Worcester Material," and "Special Files." The diary consists of 111 volumes, arranged chronologically from 21 February 1754 to 31 July 1765. The diary portrays the day to day life in a small English rural community in the eighteenth century. In addition to his daily financial accounts, Turner reported what he ate and read; what sermons he heard at church; where he travelled; his attendance at the races at Lewes and, occasionally, how the news of battles with the French in the Seven Years' War gave these villagers cause for alarm or rejoicing. Turner also describes his own repeated failures to refrain from getting drunk. Of special interest is Turner's description of the visits of Thomas Pelham-Holles, Duke of Newcastle (1693-1768) to his country house at Halland.

The "Worcester Material" contains work pertaining to the proposed publication of the diary by D. K. Worcester and H. P. Melcher in the late 1940's.* The Series is arranged alphabetically by category and contains a typed introduction and postscript to the diary, which gives a good picture of the sociological and economic conditions in eighteenth century Sussex, as well as a more thorough description of the contents of the diary. There are two typed, annotated drafts of a manuscript of the diary, and one incomplete version. The dating and numbering indicate that five volumes of the diary are missing. In the first three cases, Worcester quotes some excerpts from those, printed by the Sussex Archaeological Collections, Vol. XI., and in the final two instances, he simply notes the volumes are missing. In addition, there are file cards on persons, places and subjects mentioned in the diary; genealogies of families mentioned in the diary; an index of books and periodicals mentioned in the diary; copies of maps of East Hoathly 1783, 1822 and 1947; notes on the baptism (?) and death of Turner; notes listing the landholdings in East Hoathly, Chiddingly and Waldron; notes on persons mentioned in the diary; and photographs of places mentioned in the diary, taken in 1948-1949.

*Correspondence concerning this proposal is in the administrative files (accession folder) of Manuscripts and Archives.

The "Special Files" contain material relating to Turner and the diary, arranged alphabetically by title. They consist of a bequest of the diary by Henry M. Turner to Thomas Holman in 1858; a census listing the population of East Hoathly in 1811 and 1821, including the household of Turner's son, Phillip; letters of Turner to his children, 1786-1790; medical prescriptions collected by Turner, mostly undated; parish accounts of East Hoathly, 1629-1722; a copy of a poem, "Virtue and Fame," by Lord Littleton, and a copy of the will of Thomas Turner, 1793.


  • 1707-1949
  • Majority of material found within 1754 - 1765


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

The diaries are available on microfilm. Patrons must use FILM HM 101 instead of the originals.

Existence and Location of Copies

The diaries are available on microfilm (4,811 frames on 4 reels, 35mm.) from Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, at cost. Order no. HM101.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.


Arranged in three series: I. Diary. II. Worchester material. III. Special Files.


4 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers consist of the 111 volume diary, dating 1754-1765, of Thomas Turner, shopkeeper, school-master, and church warden in the village of East Hoathly in Sussex, England. There is also additional historical material relating to both Turner and his diary including some papers related to its proposed publication in the later 1940s.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Turner, 1729-1793, was a shop-keeper, and for a time the school-master, in the village of East Hoathly in Sussex, England. He also became church-warden in 1757. From 1754 to 1765 Turner wrote the diary which forms the major part of the papers.

Further biographical information may be found in The Diary of Thomas Turner of East Hoathly (1754-1765), an abridged edition edited by Florence Maris Turner (Mrs. Charles Lamb), great-great-granddaughter of the diarist, with an introduction by J. B. Priestly, published in 1925 by John Lane, the Bodly Head Ltd., London.
Guide to the Thomas Turner Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Joy Pitman
November 1970
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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