John Leeson

John Leeson was born in London on 10 July 1803 and died in London on 27 May 1865. We hold his diaries for the years between 1846 and 1865. During the time covered by these diaries, he owned and rented out property, and lived at 41 Davies St., Berkeley Square. The diary was kept on bound volumes of blank paper, and although the entries were not made every day, a number of significant events were recorded. Leeson often noted important political events, including events in Parliament, Chartist demonstrations, the revolutions of 1848, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. As with many diarists, he also frequently noted the deaths of well-known people. Many of these events were noted without significant comment, and were interspersed with details of his business dealings and his domestic situation. During the period covered by these diaries, he married his housekeeper and his two children were born – all of which are described in the diaries.


22 April 1848

I am having the house repaired papered &c – Uncle John Day & his sisters divide Uncle Abraham Day’s property among them, at the valuation made for the probate.

Large meeting of the Chartists – Kennington Common, to petition Parliament for sundry reforms – 10 of them with Mr. Fergus [sic] O’Connor M.P. take their petition signed by 1½ millions people to House of Commons – the middle class of people in London sworn in as special constables – 250,000 – to preserve the peace.

Queen Victoria confined with another daughter at Buckingham Palace – Had Dr. Locock.

Mary Cobbin went home to Camberwell, after staying with us three months – she is much better.

In all the states in Europe, the people meet in mobs, in some states overthrown the government altogether, in others have new constitutions & laws.

2 May 1850

Mrs. Rudd [the diarist’s housekeeper] told me all her troubles – losing her husband 6 years since, then her father & mother, & sister – without a home – and 4 months since her disappointment in not being married. I made her an offer to marry her, she is to think of it.