Reference to index of the journals and correspondence of William L Wells

Wells, William Levitt 2010 , Reference to index of the journals and correspondence of William L Wells , University of Tasmania Library Special and Rare Materials Collection, Australia.

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William Levitt Wells (1853-1918), and his wife Elizabeth (Bessie) Lucy
Lidbetter (1852-1925), both Friends (Quakers), sailed for Tasmania in 1884 on the
SS. Bonnington with their children, Edith (1879-1917), Frank (1880-1957), Arnold
(1882-1938) and baby Mary (born 17 Sept. 1883). Two more children were born in
Tasmania, Martin (1885-1965) and Hugh (1888-1922). W.L. Wells was the son of
William Wells, draper and tailor of Kettering and his wife Mary (formerly Levitt) both
members of the Society of Friends (Quakers). Bessie Lidbetter was the daughter of
Martin Lidbetter headmaster of the Friends School, Wigton, Cumberland, where she
also had been a teacher. The Wells family were accompanied by two Friends (ie
Quakers), Margaret Elizabeth (Maggie) Greer (1854-1901) and Mary Ellen (Minnie)
Greer (1859-1939), daughters of Thomas Jackson and Eliza Greer of Belfast. Maggie
Greer married William Lewis May in 1887 and Minnie married Richard P. Furmage in
On arrival in Hobart the family were welcomed by the Mather family, also
Friends and relatives by marriage (Francis Mather had married Margaret Ann
Lidbetter in 1874). William Wells worked in Mather's store for a time. In February
1886 Wells was appointed manager of the Don branch store of the Don Trading
Company by John Henry, the owner, and about 1888 he took over the store, which
became William Wells & Co. Wells moved to Latrobe in 1893.
William Wells wrote a journal in little duplicate books to send a copy back to their families in England (possibly both copies were originally sent -one to the Lidbetter family and one to the Wells family), together with letters from Bessie and himself, so his writing is more descriptive and readable than many diaries. Bessie wrote in her first letter to her family on the voyage that she intended to keep a "log" to be sent round the family, after Father and Mother to Robert and then Tom and Aunts Anne and Fanny, but she found that the "log will fall to William's care" as she had little time but would keep a letter in hand. The "log" or journal for 1884, illustrated by sketches, describe the voyage giving an amusing account of life at sea with little children, their arrival in Hobart, the Mather family and visits to other Friends, including the Shoobridges at Bushy Park and the Cottons at Kelvedon, Swansea. After a gap the journal resumes from March 1886 to December 1888 describing, with sketches the family's life on the Don, including excursions "up the tram", observations of natural history etc.
Letters fill in some of the gaps in the journal and continue the story to 1893. These are mainly Bessie's letters addressed to her parents (but intended for circulation amongst the family), but there are also some letters to a brother and sister in law and to William's father. Owing to the Quaker habit of treating relatives by marriage as close kin and addressing in-laws as "father", "brother", "sister" etc. it is not always clear which family was addressed.

The journals have been published as Immense Enjoyment, the illustrated journals and letters of William L Wells 1884•1888, the life of an early Quaker family in Tasmania edited by Faye Gardam and published by the Devon Historical Society (1987). This includes a complete transcript of the journals,
including illustrations, and relevant parts of the letters to supplement or fill gaps in the
diaries, together with notes about the family and some family photographs taken by
Wells. A copy is held in the Quaker Collection in the University Library (call
number: Cent.Quaker DU 194.3, .W45, A3 1987).

Item Type: Other
Authors/Creators:Wells, William Levitt
Keywords: Tasmania, van diemens land, social history, history, colony, colonial, Australia, indexes, University of Tasmania, Library, private deposits, archives, Collections, catalogue, Special, index,
Publisher: University of Tasmania Library Special and Rare Materials Collection
Collections: Other Special Collections
Additional Information:

University of Tasmania Library, Special and Rare Materials Collection - Private Deposit DX. 27

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