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Henry Toler Diary

Identifier: Mss. MsV D2

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Scope and Contents

This small diary was kept by Henry Toler from December 21, 1782 through October 20, 1783 and from April 21 through November 6, 1786. The diary begins with Toler leaving Philadelphia, where he had received his training as a minister, and traveling back home to Virginia, where he took up the life of an itinerant Baptist preacher.  Funding for his education and his first horse had been provided by Baptist-convert Robert Carter of Nomini Hall, whom Toler frequently visited.  Toler rode circuit through Tidewater and Piedmont Virginia, from the Lower Peninsula to Northern Neck and as far west as Goochland and Louisa counties. The 1786 section of the diary includes the establishment of a church in Westmoreland County, where Toler became a more settled minister.

Accompanying the diary are issues 31 (1992) and 32 (1993) of "The Virginia Baptist Register", containing a two-part transcription of Henry Toler’s diary, edited by William S. Simpson, Jr.


  • Creation: 1782-1786, 1992-1993

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open to all researchers.  Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use:

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Administrative History:

Henry Toler was born on 3 January 1761 in King William County, Virginia.  At an early age he became a Baptist and began encouraging others to join him.  He was brought to the attention of Robert Carter of Nomini Hall, also a Baptist convert.  Carter was impressed with Toler's talents and provided funds for him to study for three years under Baptist educators in Philadelphia.  In December 1782 Toler returned to Virginia and took up the life of an itinerant preacher.  He rode circuit in eastern Virginia from James City County to Northern Neck and as far west as Goochland and Louisa.  In April 1786 he helped establish Nomini Church in Westmoreland County.  He settled there, became the church's minister, and started raising a family.  Toler was an able preacher who succeeded at making converts and attracting new members.  Under his leadership Nomini Church became the largest Baptist congregation in Virginia.  By about 1816, however, Toler joined a migration of Baptist ministers to Kentucky.  This likely was related to a general inattention to the financial support of ministers by Virginia Baptist churches.  Toler served as pastor of a church in Kentucky until his death in 1824.

Sources: (1) Simpson, WIlliam S., ed.  "The Journal of Henry Toler: Part I, 1782-1783."  The Virginia Baptist Register, no. 31 (1992), pp. 1566-1595.   (2) --------.  "The Journal of Henry Toler: Part II, 1783-1786."  The Virginia Baptist Register, no. 32 (1993), pp. 1628-1658.   (3) Morton, Louis.  Robert Carter of Nomini Hall.  Charlottesville: Dominion Books, 1964.   (4) Taylor, James B.  Lives of Virginia Baptist Ministers.  2nd ed.  Richmond: Yale & Wyatt, 1838.   (5) Ray, Thomas.  "Henry Toler: The Danger of Bitterness."  Baptist Bible Tribune ( )


1.00 Linear Feet

Physical Description

158 p. ; 15 cm.

Processing Information:

Finding aid updated by Del Moore, SCRC volunteer, in May 2015.

Guide to the Henry Toler Diary
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Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository