Categories: Everyday Life, New London

Joshua Hempstead Born – Today in History: September 1

John Warner Barber, South view of the Hempstead house, New London, 1836
John Warner Barber, South view of the Hempstead house, New London, 1836 – Connecticut Historical Society

On September 1, 1678, Joshua Hempstead was born in New London, Connecticut. Farmer, surveyor, carpenter, gravestone cutter, and famous New England diarist, Hempstead began keeping a diary on September 8, 1711, and continued it for almost 50 years until November 3, 1758, a month and a half before his death. Born and raised at 11 Hempstead Street in a house built by his grandfather, Joshua lived there with his parents and seven sisters. As a husband and father, he shared the house with his wife and their nine children. Later in his life, Hempstead shared the house with an enslaved man Adam Jackson, some of Jackson’s children, and two grandsons whom he raised. In 1728, Joshua added to the east section of the house to accommodate his son, Nathaniel, and his family. The Hempstead family occupied the house until 1937.

Hempstead’s diary, while missing parts, contains over 700 pages and provides a picture of Hempstead’s life, events in New London and eastern Connecticut, and day-to-day activities. The diary is difficult to read but has been extensively studied and is an indispensable resource for those interested in early Connecticut life.

LEARN MORE

Places

“Hempsted Houses.” Connecticut Landmarks, 2016. Link.
“New London County Historical Society,” 2016. Link.

Books

Schaefer, Patricia M. A Useful Friend: A Companion to the Joshua Hempstead Diary, 1711-1758. New London, CT: New London County Historical Society, 2008.
Hempstead, Joshua. Diary of Joshua Hempstead of New London, Connecticut, Covering a Period of Forty-Seven Years, from September 1711, to November, 1758. New London,  CT: The New London County Historical Society, 1901. Link.
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