Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Eli Hampton Journal, 1843-1852

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, April 1993

Summary Information
Title: Eli Hampton journal
Creator: Hampton, Eli, b.1787
Inclusive dates: 1843-1852
Extent: 119 pages
The Hampton collection consists of a journal written by Eli Hampton, an Orthodox Quaker minister from Chester County, Pennsylvania. The journal records religious subjects and the spiritual concerns of the minister.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1993. M-2931.1 .

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Eli Hampton Journal, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


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..."

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Hampton journals are an excellent record of the spiritual concerns of a Quaker minister in the near aftermath of the great period of Quaker schisms. The entries are fairly regular, though not daily, and vary in length from brief notes ("attended meeting") to very long passages, nearly all on religious subjects. The attribution of the journal is based on the appearance on the front cover of the name Eli Hampton written in the hand of the author, and the presence within of a copy of a letter signed by Eli Hampton.

The periodic rise and fall in Hampton's mood and the insecurities he had in his ability to receive the Light are among the most interesting aspects of the journal. He often writes that he feels weighed down by the burden of spiritual duties and concerns, and by doubts about his own worth. Typical of many entries is the one for February 16th, 1848: "I felt destitute and forsaken by all both spiritually and temporally and at times ready to give out all hopes of overcoming these frailties of human nature."

Even when his spirits were raised, as after speaking at meeting, Hampton felt the weight of great emotions. "[A]t meting to day in a goodly frame of mind wherein I think I was blest with the presence of the devine master with this language in my mind; can it bee possible that the lord has chosen mee as an instrument to awaken others to a sence of their one duty in obidience to the law and testimony of devine light on their one understanding; for I know that I have nothing to bost of but my one infermaties which are great and many..." (1848 June 1). The burden of not speaking when having received the Light was also crushing to Hampton. Following a funeral, during which he felt compelled to speak, but held back, Hampton wrote: "I had to suffer like unto a little child that had just been corrected by its earthly parent and that through such severity that its hart was almost ready to burst with grief..." (1849 March 13).

The political and moral issues of the day occasionally figure in Hampton's diary. While not evincing any uncommonly strong zeal, Hampton was apparently an opponent of slavery and the use of "spiritous liquors." His reservations are clear, though: "the query arose in my mind what good has [the Antislavery] committee done I can see none in reallety" (1848 July 27). A particularly interesting incident occurred on August 13th, 1848, when Hampton and other members of the meeting attempted to attend the "colored meeting," but were barred from doing so by the congregation. He writes "not all their congrigation being preasant at that time [they] ware not willing to admit us in their meeting hous." Hampton and Friends slept under a nearby shed and "delivered our testimony amongst them I trust to good satisfaction."

Since Hampton's religious concerns permeate nearly every entry, the spiritual content of this diary has been only selectively indexed, with the longer or more thoroughly expressed entries noted.

Subject Terms

    • African Americans--Pennsylvania.
    • Antislavery movements.
    • Inner light.
    • Revelation.
    • Salvation.
    • Slavery.
    • Society of Friends.
    • Spiritual formation.
    • Spiritual life.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Eli Hampton journal,  1843 October 13-1852 May 31 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Partial Subject Index
    • 1848 Aug. 8, Oct. 28
    • 1847 Sept. 22
    Carriages and carts--Accidents
    • 1846 July 19
    • 1843 Oct. 15
    • 1848 July 23
    Church membership
    • 1845 Aug. 3
    • 1847 May 23
    • 1843 Oct. 20
    • 1847 Apr. 25
    • 1849 March 13
    Gifts, Spiritual
    • 1849 March 13
    Good and evil
    • 1845 Aug. 31
    Inner light
    • 1843 Oct. 23, Nov. 16
    • 1849 Apr. 11, May 3, July 18
    Peirce, Joseph R., 1760-1847--Death
    • 1847 Sept. 29, Oct. 4
    • 1846 March 23
    • 1845 Oct. 12
    • 1847 Apr. 25
    • 1849 July 18
    • 1843 Oct. 14, 15
    • 1846 March 22, June 10
    • 1848 June 1; July 12
    • 1849 Apr. 11, July 18
    • 1843 Nov. 19, 24, 25
    • 1849 July 18
    • 1850 Aug. 1
    • 1843 Nov. 1
    • 1846 Jan. 22, March 23, May 5
    • 1847 Oct. 17
    Slavery--Anti-slavery movements
    • 1847 July 14, 22
    • 1848 July 27, Aug. 8
    Society of Friends
    • 1850 June 19, 27
    Society of Friends--Clergy
    • 1848 Aug. 13
    • 1849 May 10
    Society of Friends--Discipline
    • 1846 March 23
    • 1848 June 6, Aug. 8
    Society of Friends--Ohio
    • 1850 June 16
    • 1851 May 18
    Society of Friends. Baltimore Yearly Meeting
    • 1847 Oct. 20, 24
    Society of Friends. East Caln (Pa.) Meeting
    • 1845 Nov. 27
    • 1846 May 5
    Society of Friends. East Caln (Pa.) Meeting. Elders
    • 1845 Aug. 3, 5
    • 1848 Nov. 7
    Spiritual formation
    • Passim, but see especially:
    • 1843 Oct. 23, Nov. 1
    • 1845 Aug. 24, 31
    • 1846 Mar. 22, Oct. 11
    • 1847 Apr. 25
    • 1848 June 1, July 12
    • 1849 Apr. 11, May 3, July 1, 18, Sept. 12, Nov. 11
    • 1850 Jan. 6, Apr. 15
    • 1852 May 31
    Spiritual life
    • Passim; but see especially:
    • 1846 March 23
    • 1847 Sept. 2
    • 1849 March 13
    • 1850 Apr. 28
    • 1846 Mar. 22
    • 1846 Sept. 20
    • 1847 Apr. 25
    • 1847 Oct. 17
    • 1848 June 1