Thornely Papers

Scope and Content

Journals of Caroline Thornely (1822-1880), daughter of Samuel Thornely, woollen draper and tailor, in 6 volumes. The journals describe her interests, her religious life including attendance at local Unitarian chapels, visits to London, attendance at concerts and public meetings, and events generally in Manchester and Liverpool:

  • Eng MS 1173: February 1841 - September 1843;
  • Eng MS 1174: September 1843 - April 1846;
  • Eng MS 1175: April 1846 - May 1848;
  • Eng MS 1176: June 1848 - October 1851;
  • Eng MS 1177: November 1851 - October 1855;
  • Eng MS 1178: November 1855 - November 1858.
According to a genealogy pasted into the front of Eng MS 1173 by Herbert McLachlan, Caroline Thornely was the second daughter of Samuel Thornely (1793-1861) and his wife Ann Bancroft Cresswell (d. 1863). She died unmarried on 11 October 1880. At the time of the 1861 Census, the family were living at 31 Edge Lane, West Derby, Liverpool. Samuel was then described as a woollen draper and tailor, born in Stockport, Cheshire.

Access Information

The collection is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Donated to the John Rylands Library by the Reverend Dr Herbert McLachlan, MA, DD, in April 1954.


Description compiled by Jo Humpleby, project archivist.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1952-1970 (English MSS 1173-1178).

Custodial History

Former owner: J[ohn] Bancroft Willans esq., JP, one-time president of the Unitarian Historical Society, high sheriff of Montgomeryshire, whose grandmother was the elder sister of the diarist.

Related Material

The Thornely family were related by marriage to the Nicholson family of Liverpool and Manchester, whose papers are also held at the JRUL (ref.: GB 133 English MSS 1041-1053).


Extract from the journals, with commentary, are printed in H. McLachlan, 'A Liverpool Lady's Journal a Century Ago', Transactions of the Unitarian Historical Society, vol. 11, no.1 (October 1955), pp. 1-19.