University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Joseph Dimsdale Collection 1725-1849

© 2007 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Dimsdale, Joseph. Collection




2.5 linear feet (2 boxes)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


The Joseph Dimsdale Collection includes correspondence, notes, poetry, legal documents, newspaper clippings, and pictures and engravings. According to a London dealer description from 1929, Joseph Dimsdale compiled the collection. Though the collection only contains three letters to Dimsdale at least fifteen other documents have been stamped with his crest and initials. Among the correspondents are William Wilberforce, Mary Somerville and Louis Philippe, the final King of France.

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When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Dimsdale, Joseph. Collection, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library Historical Note

Biographical Note

Joseph Dimsdale, son of John Dimsdale (1740-?) and Priscilla Pitts (1749-?), was born on September 5, 1781. Joseph was the fifth of five children. He was employed as a merchant in Upton, Essex. On December 5, 1811 Joseph married Sarah Cockfield (1776-?). They had three children: Joseph Cockfield, Priscilla Pitts, and Elizabeth. Additionally, Dimsdale was a member of the Anti-Slavery Society.

Scope Note

The Joseph Dimsdale Collection consists of 2.5 linear feet of material including correspondence, notes, poetry, legal documents, newspaper clippings, and pictures and engravings. According to a London dealer description from 1929, Joseph Dimsdale compiled the collection. Though the collection only contains three letters to Dimsdale at least fifteen other documents have been stamped with his crest and initials.

Many of the letters are by scholars, librarians, publishers, politicians, engravers, painters, and musicians. Some of the letters seem to be sources of information for John Nichols, "Literary anecdotes of the eighteenth century: comprizing biographical memoirs of William Bowyer, printer, F.S.A. and many of his learned friends; an incidental view of the progress and advancement of literature in this kingdom during the last century; and biographical anecdotes of a considerable number of eminent writers and ingenious artists; with a very copious index," particularly, Box 1, Folder 9- letter from Richard Widmore to Dr. Ducarell, November 23, 1762, Widmore was the historian and librarian of Westminster Abby. In this letter he tells Ducarell that his manuscript, probably A History of Westminster Abbey is ready to be retrieved and that Ducarell may show it to,

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Box 1   Folder 1

John Barrow, August 30, 1851

Box 1   Folder 2

G.V. Belzoni, March 8, 1822

Box 1   Folder 3

Sir George Bowyer, October 10, 1870

Box 1   Folder 4

Henry Fynes Clinton, July 24, 1825, autograph

  • Clinton (1781-1852) was a chronologist and Member of Parliament, 1806-1826. His writings helped to set an understanding of classical Greek chronology, particularly the Fasti Hellencini
Box 1   Folder 5

Joseph Cockfield

  • G. Forster to Cockfield, October 20, 1778, regarding troubles with poor relations, the murder of the monk of Eikdale(?), publications, and visiting the tomb of John Locke, Forster was an antiquarian and interested in science
  • J. C. [John Coakley] Lettsom to Cockfield, February 9, 1793, regarding national affairs and the price of butter; chart of, "Moral and Physical Thermometer" on verso
  • John D. Horne to Cockfield, July 7, 1763, general news, mentions the importance of bathing
  • Envelope addressed to Cockfield, n.d.
  • John Payne to Cockfield, May 17, ?, greetings
  • John Payne to Cockfield, November 21, 1772, greetings, Payne was the was author of the Evangelical Discourses, a translator and accountant general of the Bank of England
  • James Edward Smith to Cockfield, March 13, 1815, regarding visiting and his publications on botany
Box 1   Folder 6

John Sell Cotman to Dawson Turner, July 18, 1820,

  • Cotman (1782-1842) was a painter in the Norwich School known for his oil landscapes. Turner, (1775-1858) a banker, botanist, and antiquarian was the son of James Turner and Elizabeth Cotman
Box 1   Folder 7

Joseph Dimsdale

  • Samuel Henley to Dimsdale (including obituary of Henley), Henley was Professor of Moral Philosophy and an Orientalist, taught in North America and at a school established by the East India Company in Hertferd
  • A. Hamilton to Dimsdale, 1811, "Oriental Professor" at Hayleybury, regarding the inspection of "Indian curiosities"
  • Rev. Edward Lewton to Dimsdale, September 20, 1814, Professor Lewton taught at Haileybury College, the training institute for the East India Company
Box 1   Folder 8

G. North to Dr. Ducarel, October 11, 1750, regarding the former temple at Godmundon, and the church there in 1750, also regarding Saxon monuments

Box 1   Folder 9

Richard Widmore to Dr. Ducarell, November 23, 1762, Widmore was historian and librarian of Westminster Abby

Box 1   Folder 10

George Edwards to Joseph Cockfield, Marc 26, 1770, Edwards was librarian to the Royal College of Physicians and a celebrated naturalist. Regarding a future visit

Box 1   Folder 11

Lord Eldon to Lord Castlereagh, n.d., details regarding seals and lands

Box 1   Folder 12

Francis Grose to Samuel Ireland, September 1, --87 (1787?), regarding an introduction to a "brother draughtsman," Mr. Moore

Box 1   Folder 13

T. Hartley to Samuel Scott and wife, n.d., greetings and regarding a possible visit

Box 1   Folder 14

Sir Richard Colt Hoare, December 28, ?, Hoare was an antiquarian and historian

Box 1   Folder 15

Theodore E. Hook, 1809

Box 1   Folder 16

John Hughes (2 letters), Hughes (1677-1720) was poet, dramatist critic and contributor to the Spectator

  • Letter from Hughes to Countess Cowper regarding her request to read his play.
  • Letter from Hughes to M. Bickerstaff (written for the father), regarding "blood fever" and "poetical agitations" found in literature but not in physician’s texts
Box 1   Folder 17

Samuel Lee to Dr. Fry, May 20, 1822, regarding publications

  • Lee (1783-1852) was a Professor at Queen’s College at Cambridge. He specialized in Orientalist studies creating lexicons in Arabic, Hebrew, and eventually helping to create the first dictionary in the Māori language, Te Reo Māori
Box 1   Folder 18

Wilson Lowry (engraver and scientist)

  • Thomas E. Bowdich to Lowry, November 21, 1819
  • James McDonnell, geologist, to Lowry, October 26, 1816, greetings, regarding the opinion of Baron von Buch, (Leopold, Baron Von Buch, the Prussian geologist who was the first to understand volcanic activity) on the formation of mountains through "sublimation," and regarding engraving plates of mountains
  • Adelphi, the African Traveler, to Lowry, n.d., regarding the readiness of a proof for an engraving that Mr. Brown is preparing for Lowry
  • Lowry to G. Harding, December 26, 1811
  • Lowry to Mr. Harding, February 10, 1811, regarding Thomas Pennant, an antiquarian and publications
Box 1   Folder 19

Mrs. Wilson Lowry

  • Professor Jamison, to Mrs. Lowry, accepting an invitation to breakfast, 1820
  • Charlotte Newman to Mrs. Lowry, October 23, ?, regarding Mrs. Lowry’s tutoring of Newman’s daughters
  • Mary Somerville, the mathematician and natural scientist and philosopher, (1780-1872 d.) to Mrs. Lowry, n.d., Somerville cannot visit with Mrs. Lowry
Box 1   Folder 20

Rev. G. Mitford to Mr. [Dulansee?] bookseller, [wife of Lowry?], n.d., regarding an order for a book

Box 1   Folder 21

Samuel Pegge, the antiquarian and writer, (1704-1796) to Mr. [Barllot?], May 1, 1756, regarding his examination of Dr. Richardson’s ancient coin

Box 1   Folder 22

Louis Philippe and his wife, the former king and queen of France, April 24, 1849, condolences, in English and French

Box 1   Folder 23

Friedrich Rehberg, n.d., German musician, regarding finances for a friend

Box 1   Folder 24

John Rennie, civil engineer, August 25, 1815

Box 1   Folder 25

W. Reynolds, engraver, n.d.

Box 1   Folder 26

Sir Samuel Romilly, legal reformer, (1757-1818) April 11, 1812, regarding a petition

Box 1   Folder 27

Sir John Soane, (John Soan) (1757-1818) architect to the Bank of England, to J.B. [?], January 1, 1820

Box 1   Folder 28

Sir John Wentworth, former colonial governor in New Hampshire and Nova Scotia, to Duke of Kent of Strathorn, n.d., regarding the education of Henry Ingram

Box 1   Folder 29

J. West, Secretary of the Admiralty, lived near Covent Garden and was famous for his library, September 17, 1764, regarding future visits, the placements of friends in various offices, furnishings, and rare books, such as one that belonged to Louis XIV, references to Rev. Cotton, Henry Savill, and Roger Gale

Box 1   Folder 30

Whittsom to J. Phillips, July 18, 1806

Box 1   Folder 31

William Wilberforce, MP, evangelical abolitionist

  • Wilberforce to Mr. Lancaster, April 16, ?
  • Wilberforce, to ?, October 18, ?
Box 1   Folder 32

Acceptance of a bill by Lord Castlereagh, Robert Stewart (1769- (later the Marquis of Londonderry), Downing Street, 1820, proponent of Catholic emancipation in Ireland

Box 1   Folder 33

Commission of attorney, 1770-1773?, regarding, Mary, Princess Dowager and the South Sea Company, signed by Simeon Hoël, F.F. Hoffman, Marie- Princes Helse nee Comptesse de ..., Boetzelaer, and J. Liijthoff (?)

Box 1   Folder 34

Engraving and silhouette of William Wilberforce, Esq. M.P., London, 1814

Box 1   Folder 35

Newspaper clippings, 1821-1822, Obituaries for engineer, John Renne, and Egyptologist, G. Belzoni

Box 1   Folder 36

Notes on Gournay, France, n.d.

Box 1   Folder 37

Notes by Charles MacFarlane, n.d. on William George Brown

Box 1   Folder 38

"Joseph Rule’s answer to Miss Edwin, who asked him what was the Foundation of his Faith." n.d.

Box 1   Folder 39

Poem by Fanny Greenstead on the death of Mrs. W., July 1799

Box 1   Folder 40

A prayer by Mrs. Chapone, n.d.

Box 1   Folder 41

Receipts, 1790 and 1812, payments made by John T. Tuffin for writings

Box 2   Folder 1

W. Gould to Susan Gould, March 13, 1814 OVERSIZE

Box 2   Folder 2

Drawing of coronation of Queen Victoria, n.d. OVERSIZE

Box 2   Folder 3

John Leslie to Mr. Lowry, December 9, 1803 OVERSIZE