The author of these journals, probably Eli Hampton, was born in 1787 and resided in or near East Caln Twp., Chester County, Pennsylvania. A deeply religious man and a "minister," Hampton was consumed with thoughts of salvation, of his spiritual preparedness and the spiritual well-being of Friends. Despite his apparent high status within the Society, he was beset with deep insecurities over his worth as a minister. "I was sertanly one of the most poorest and unworthyest beings that ever belonged to any society whatever," he wrote, "especially the society of friends who profess to bee led and governed by that unering spirit of truth; and not only that but to think of attempting to preach the gospel to others when I am so poor and unworthy" (1849 May 10). Apparently an Orthodox Quaker, he was nevertheless conciliatory toward others sects. Upon visiting an Orthodox meeting in Ohio, he wrote "I hope that distinction may bee thrown away and not mee but all others."
Hampton was involved with the preparatory meeting at East Caln, and had an interest in the committees on discipline, anti-slavery, and temperance. He was also a regular attendee at quarterly and yearly meetings in Baltimore and Philadelphia, and, as a minister, he frequently visited other meetings in southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, at one point traveling for 11 consecutive days, covering 120 miles. From June 1850 to May 1851, he traveled to southeastern Ohio, where he visited relatives and ministered to a number of small meetings. Further, outside of the denomination, he and other Friends paid visits to an African-American congregation in Chester County and spent one evening with a group of Presbyterians.
The anxiety that Hampton suffered over his own spiritual state was profound, and he was convinced that religious laxness, sectarianism, discord and strife ruled the day among Quakers. These insecurities could only have been exacerbated by frail health and precarious finances. On the death of Joseph Pierce, Hampton noted that he had been living with the Pierce family for four years, and later (June 1, 1848) he noted: "I was greatly troubled in mind with a belief that the oversears had a complaint against mee for debt of which I have been labouring under for many years, of which has been a great sorce of uneasyness to my mind in which I could get know relief..."