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Henry F. Beaumont Journal of a Voyage to North America, 1817-1818

Identifier: 01675

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Scope and Contents

Beaumont's journal details his transatlantic voyage from England to the United States, with stops in New York and finally Richmond, Virginia. Accompanied by his brother William, Beaumont gives a detailed account of his journey. He describes extreme seasickness (pg. 2-3); surviving through an Atlantic Ocean hurricane (pg. 3); the abundant marine life, including whales, sharks, cod, and other large fish; information sharing with other passing ships; confusion about their ship's exact location (pg. 5-6); as well as a detailed narrative of his journey up the James River (pg. 13-21).

In this latter section, Beaumont describes arriving at the Cape Henry Light House and witnessing a ship wreck (pg. 13); taking a small boat to explore the James with 4 fellow passengers, including his brother William (pg. 14-17); exploring the abandoned Jamestown Island site and encountering horses and birds (pg. 14-15); and rowing across the James to visit a farmer's home (pg. 16). This expedition incurred the wrath of the ship's captain, who though Beaumont and his party were lost in the river. Beaumont also describes meeting a group of enslaved persons living along the James River "55 miles" from Richmond (pg. 18-19) before arriving in the city. Upon his landing in Richmond, Beaumont recounts his attempt to secure work in the tobacco industry and connect with his family members. He moved to Lynchburg, Virginia but travelled back to Richmond when his sister Harriet's family was killed in an accident on the James River. His sister Maria also died while in Richmond.

The final 8-pages detail Beaumont's accounting: his ship passage, his room and board, clothing purchased, funds lent, and other miscellaneous costs.


  • Creation: 1817-1818

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 publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from the Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Francisco Beaumont was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, England on December 31, 1800. He traveled to the United States in 1818, where he settled in Lynchburg, Virginia and later Clarksville, Tennessee. He married Sarah Gibson Anderson in 1819, and they had several children together. Beaumont was active in the tobacco industry and in 1829 he built a stemmery warehouse, where tobacco leaves are stripped from their stems; he was allegedly the first person to ship a hogshead of tobacco down the Cumberland River. He was also a founding member of the Methodist congregation in Clarksville, where he also served on the Board of Trustees for the Clarksville Female and Male Academies. Beaumont was also an insurance agent with Clarksville Marine, Insurance & Life Trust Company in addition to other business endeavors. He died in December 1864 and was buried in Clarksville.


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Physical Description

This is a typed copy of an original manuscript.

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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository