The Bousfield Diaries

September 2007
23 black and white illustrations
282 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Publications Bedfordshire Hist Rec Soc
Beds Historical Record Society

The Bousfield Diaries

A Middle-Class Family in Late Victorian Bedford

Edited by Richard Smart

Paperback out of stock


Hardback out of stock

Diaries of a Victorian wife and mother, active in local society, paint a fascinating picture of provincial life at the time.
The diaries of Charlotte Bousfield, extending from 1878 to 1896, paint a vivid picture of the activities of a multi-talented Bedford family, led by a strong-minded matriarch. They were prominent in local life: Charlotte's husband Edward was an influential figure in developing agricultural machinery at the Britannia Iron Works, Bedford's successful exemplar of a modern iron foundry, and important as a factor in the town's growth, while Will, the ablest of the children, became a QC and Conservative MP, whose election campaigns are described in lively detail. Charlotte, meanwhile, was also active, both in the town and further afield: her concern for the underprivileged in the town, a practical expression of her fervent Methodist beliefs, emerges clearly in her lifelong work for the temperance cause, locally and nationally. She founded a home for 'inebriate women', which was ground-breaking for the time, and whose work she describes in fascinating detail. She was also a Poor Law Guardian, and a leading figure in the Bedford Workhouse scandal of the 1890s.

Throughout, the diaries bring out some aspects of Victorian social life which are not always obvious: the dependence of the family on their servants; the ease of travelling using railways and horse-drawn transport; the frequency with which family members would spend time staying with friends and relatives. Edited here with notes and introduction, they bring the past vividly to life.

Table of Contents

The Diary Volume 1: March 1878 to January 1883
The Diary Volume 2: February 1883 to August 1887
The Diary Volume 3: August 1887 to June 1896
Postscript by John Hamilton


A useful addition to local history and many other fields of nineteenth-century studies. THE LOCAL HISTORIAN
This book will be a boon to local historians and is fascinating reading for anyone. BEDFORDSHIRE ON SUNDAY

Also in Series