The City of London is known for many things. For centuries it has been the epicentre of trade, commerce and finance. To consider that events such as the Great Fire of London happened here are remembered largely due to the efforts of one of its most famous sons: Samuel Pepys.
Pepys, a seventeenth century naval administrator, kept his diary for seven years until poor eyesight and old age prevented him from maintaining further journals. Written in code and chronicling every day events such as watching plays, official business and the occasional tryst, much to the dismay of his wife; it is his account which keeps the embers of that rest conflagration alive to schoolchildren and adults up and down the line.
Pepys wasn’t the only one to keep a diary. Let’s move geographically and relocate to the City of Westminster, to the year of 1846. In Richmond Buildings, in the heart of Soho, a nineteen year old huddles over a brand new ledger. Illuminated by Candlelight, he dips his quill into his ink pot and writes about the execution he sees outside Newgate Prison.
I’m pleased to say, the Diary of Nathaniel Bryceson has returned to the Internet! Originally posted on the City of Westminster website a few years ago, his tales disappeared into the ether after a website redesign, seemingly lost forever. But no! Nathaniel has returned with his stories of twenty mile walks, a peculiar love affair with a woman in her fifties and his charming fascination with death.
We have briefly touched on his life before. Originally, there was more than one diary but the others have been lost over the years. I hope at least another year exists out there; yarns such as his fascination with the great-granddaughter of John Bunyan; stalking her after a number of Sunday services from St Leonard’s Shoreditch, clothes purchases and realtime coverage of incursions in places such as India make fascinating reading.
Let’s raise a quart of beer to his discovery of WordPress. If you’re following the rules of Dry January however, raise a fruit juice instead to the marvellous adventures of one of Westminster’s favourite sons.