On September 1, 1678, Joshua Hempsted was born in New London, Connecticut. Farmer, surveyor, carpenter, gravestone cutter, and famous New England diarist, Hempsted 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 Hempsted 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, Hempsted 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 Hempsted family occupied the house until 1937.
Hempsted’s diary, while missing parts, contains over 700 pages and provides a picture of Hempsted’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.