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Notebook No.124, 12 October 1845 - 3 November 1845

 Item — Box: Lyell-temp-box 5
Identifier: Coll-203/A1/124

Scope and Contents

This notebook contains a record of Charles Lyell’s visit to the United States of America (started in notebook, Number 121) continuing his travels throughout parts of New England, including Massachusetts with notable site visits in and around Boston and New Hampshire. It is dated from October 12 to November 3, 1845. For the last two thirds of this notebook (and the entirety of the next one, notebook 125) Lyell is centred in Boston for the presentation of his Lowell Lectures, embarking on numerous (possibly daily) excursions to various sites around Boston including Plymouth and Plymouth Beach, and, Mount Auburn Cemetery. The field observations and sketches are supplemented by notes on politics, religion and social life in New England (and the United States more broadly), including discussion of Sea Serpents and Koch's 'Missourium' exhibit. Notes are in ink and pencil. The index is located in the back of the notebook on pages 113-121, plus one unnumbered page opposite page 1.

Content warning:

Lyell uses his Scientific Notebooks to gather evidence, based on both his own observation, by reviewing other people's works, by correspondence, asking questions and analyses. The language used in this index is historical, can be discriminatory and may cause offence.

Transcription note:

The following table of contents is Lyell's own words, copied from Lyell's own "Index", found at the end of the notebook, transcribed from digital surrogates using the platform Transkribus. When known, Lyell's abbreviations and contractions have been expanded using brackets [ ]. Abbreviations in standard use, such as two letter abbreviations for United States place names, have not been expanded. Terms have been designated by their common, anglicized spelling where applicable (e.g., moutonnées). When writing is unclear, and transcription is not possible, this is denoted using [...]. Quotation marks are Lyell's own notation for ditto, as is the abbreviation "do". The inclusion of [sic] indicates the misspelling of a word is deliberate and taken from the notebook. There are numerous margin notations in this index. X is used to mark a pencil cross made at certain entries. It is not clear if this notation is written contemporaneously or later. At times Lyell has included dates (inner left margin) and these have been inserted at the beginning of the appropriate section.

Lyell's own index:

Oct. 12. 1845
12. Oct.
p. 1 X Preacher at Plymouth N[orth]. Hants [sic Hampshire]
p. 1 X Ministers only stay 2 years
p. 1 Free-will Baptists.
p. 3 X Methodist sermon. Returning from World of Spirits [‘Spirits’ interlined]
p. 3 X Indians.
p. 3 Service like English – at Plymouth
p. 5 X Plants, micaschist – emerge from mount[ains].
p. 7 X Wagon load of red pumpkins & oxen
p. 7 X Plymouth, bare rock meadow-flats -
p. 9 X Poison ivy - red-oak, roches moutonnes [sic moutonnées] p. 10 X Ice on river at Plymouth - Indians
p. 11 X Methodists – Millerites
p. 11 Dickens on cutting up the Merrikins
p. 12 Holderness - children bare foot
p. 12 X Railroad from Boston to White Mount[ains].
p. 12 X Distances W[hite]. Mount[ains]. to Boston
p. 12 Cost of stocking a farm in N[ew]. Hampsh[ire].
p. 14 Stumps last how long – uprooting of
p. 15 X Millerites Blacksmith & farmer
p. 15 X Last rent of millerite lessee
p. 15 X Antideluvian patriarchs a myth
p. 15 X Changing of Ministers allows progress
p. 15 X - [Changing of Ministers] in 2. or 6. years. – seraphim ‘‘Giants”
[p. 16] Bakers river – fossil wood - [smudge or tick or begun-erased ‘X’ in margin?]
p. 16 Polk & Dallas, Pork & Dollars
p. 16 X Harrison’s election Pork & roast beef
p. 16 Factory towns, in new Engl[and]. rising
p. 16 X Himes the Millerite.
p. 16 Concord as [‘as’ interlined] Kennebeck [sic Kennebec] river so Merrimac [sic Merrimack] for terraces [‘terraces’ interlined]
Oct 13[th]
p. 17 X Millerite tabernacle at Boston
p. 17 X Interference of authorities
p. 17 X - [Interference of authorities] Excitement did good -
p. 17 X - [Interference of authorities] Himes – “tonguey Jade”
p. 17 X Temperance movement does good
p. 18 Hay stored up - small farms best [‘best’ interlined]
p. 18 Consumption Elijah [? Isiah; sic Isaiah] -
p. 18 Children little men
p. 18 No bells to ring in Inns
p. 18 X Concord letters missent
[p. 19] X Railway car
p. 19 - [Railway car] journey by on Merrimac [sic Merrimack] Manchester
p. 20 - [Railway car] going for numbers
p. 20, 26 X Massachus[etts]. granite blown sand yet rich! [‘rich!’ interlined] [‘(26)’ above line]
p. 20 Plucking chicken on tour
p. 22 X Term ‘spry”- “think the best of us” -
p. 22 New Streets built in S[outh]. Cove Boston
p. 22 X Gained land, lanes called Streets -
p. 22 X “God made the country”
p. 24 X Fine view of harbour & islands -
p. 24 X Cedar growing by salt marshes
p. 24 X Quincey [sic Quincy] town - candleberry & sweet fern
p. 26 X Shoes in winter, fish in summer
p. 26 X Barren country twixt Bost[on] & Plym[outh]
[p. 26] No game offences [‘offences’ interlined] wild animals no game laws
p. 28 Pumpkins for cattle
p. 28 X Millerites – hardships of Pilgrim fathers
Oct 15[th].
p. 30 X Blue birds – Pitch pine.
p. 30 X Branch railway survey
[p. 30] & 46 Plymouth hard frost [p. 30] X Millerites
p. 32 X Antiquities. K[ing]. Philip
p. 32 X Mayflower. chest. pewter dish
p. 35 X Pilgrim hall – embroidery, coffin. [Note: p. 35 is blank, the commentary is on p. 34.]
[p. 36] X Doubts of genuineness. [page number covered with ink splotch]
p. 36 Mixture of Pompeii & Pilgrim antiquit[ies].
p. 36 Great age of Pilgrims on tomb stones [sic tombstones]
[p. 36] X Pilgrim stone
p. 37 X Infidels flogged. Pilgrim’s relics.
p. 38 X Millerites Names on tombs Old Plym[outh]
p. 38 X “I want to know”.
p. 38, 40 & 44 & 46 X Long tongue of land
p. 39 Buffalo hides
p. 41 & 43 X Shells on Plymouth beach
[p. 42] X Long beach, fine view
p. 44 X Churches at Plymouth - Sea beach
p. 44 X Winslow family
p. 46, 48 X Pilgrim relics. pitch pines, wild grape [‘(48)’ interlined at wild grape]
p. 46 X Weakest link in chain of evidence, Helena
p. 48 Pines. Post offices. Martin houses -
p. 48 X Wages – Irish labourers Corporations.
p. 50 X Prices of old & New England compared
p. 50 & 54 X Scenery uniform in N[ew]. Engl[and]. -
p. 50 Irish rising & tho’ illiterate
p. 52 X Riches influence of in N[ew]. Engl[and].
p. 52 X Decoy ponds Martin houses Skunk
p. 54 X Cobblers sitting with their guns loaded
p. 54 X Scenery – granite – barn travelling
Oct. 17th
p. 56 Railway (Old Colony) Experim[ental]. Train [‘6’ written over ‘7’]
p. 56 X Charles Adams train
p. 56 X Names at Plymouth, Puritan,
p. 56 & 61 Cushing Caleb v. Engl[and].
p. 57 Irish sails from N[ew]f[oun]dl[and]. fishery
p. 57 New Engl[and]. hoss for horse [‘7’ written over ‘8’]
p. 58 X Glacial beds, shells Gould on, fish
p. 59 X Mrs Bowditch & Channings work in Engl[and]. [England interlined]
p. 60 With Dr. Gould to sea beach n[ea]r Bost[on].
p. 60 X List of shells, marks on beach
p. 61 X Caleb Cushing.
p. 61 X Newness of N[ew]. Engl[and] - Peregrine White.
p. 62 Marks on sea beach saw shrimp
p. 62 & 64 Shells on - [sea beach] – bird-track - [sea beach] replacing “do (ditto)”
p. 64 X Baptist’s progress of in New Engl[and]
p. 65 Copper mine strata L[ake]. Super[ior]. Potsdam?
p. 65 Old books 15000 sold at Boston
[p. 65] Polk [approved or opposed?] by all the higher set
p. 66 Living trilobite
p. 66 Adams John Pres[ident]. U.S. on N[ew].Y[ork]. State
p. 67 Children in U.S. not obed[ient]. Putnam
[p. 67] X Title of Madam [‘Madam’ underlined]
p. 68 Hoax on resuscitation of human subject [‘subject’ interlined]
p. 68 X Sea serpent Bigelow’s snake
p. 69 Judge Hammond on What Lombardy w[ould]. be if but a slave-state
[Note: This commentary is on page 68 of the notebook.]
p. 69 X Ease in public speaking
p. 69 Member of each sect American Almanack
p. 69 X Many of no sect – so in Engl[and].
p. 70 X Harvard Coll[ege]. Prof[essors]. Not sectarian
Oct. 18[th].
p. 70 X Orthodox & now [‘now’ underlined] Baptists conservative
p. 71 Repudiat[ion] why less bitterly thought of in the U.S.
p. 71 Suit of clothes given to Pastor
p. 71 Mastodon osteology. J.B.S. Jackson
p. 72 D. Webster’s advice to Everett
p. 72 Influence of literature, - [Everett replacing ditto]
p. 72 Have you no hot bread? Boston
p. 72 Missourium reduc[ed]. from 30 to 16 ft.
p. 72 Mastodon 20 dorsal vert[ebrae]. & ribs
[p. 73] X Fossil fish, Saco R[iver].
p. 73 Antislavery – Gould – Oaks –
p. 74 Dyspepsia bread –
p. 74 Negro music the only native in U.S.
p. 74 Nicene for Athanasian creed!
p. 74 X Unitarian service.
p. 75 X Episcopal & congregational sermons
p. 75 X Unitarians, their ascendancy & talent
p. 75 X Why they have not increased
p. 76 X Not proselytizing – too philosoph[ical]?
p. 76 W[illiam]. Prescott – M.S. of Charles Vth.
[p. 76] - [W[illiam]. Prescott] Signature of Ferdin[and]. & Isabelle [‘–’ in margin]
p. 77 W.P. [sic William Prescott] thoughts lose in transfer to ink
Oct 26[th].
p. 77 Dr. Warren – skulls facial angle
p. 77 New Eng[and]. aristocracy. Irish helots
p. 77 Slavery - visit to South softens all
p. 78 Lake Superior scenery Mr Gray,
p. 78 Steam boat “opportunity of going below”
p. 78 Polk turning out Tylerites.
p. 78 Pensylvania [sic Pennsylvania] wealthy German ignorance
[p. 78] Mormons quitting the West.
p. 79 Channing - corrects sermon on Mond[a]y.
p. 79 Slavery, Advertiz[ers]. for negros.
p. 80 Ronge’s new sect. lay-church
p. 80 X Unitarian - [new sect. replacement for ditto] - Channing
p. 80 X American sensitiveness will decrease
p. 80 X Servants in Boston, high wages
p. 81 X - [Servants in Boston replacement for ditto] no show or style – no idlers
p. 81 Cherochee [sic Cherokee] & choctaws Mason
p. 82 Longevity in N[ew]. Hants [abbreviation of Hampshire]
p. 82 X Temperance how enforced by law
p. 82 X Burials speedy in Mass[achusetts]
p. 82 X Chairs set vis a vis.
p. 82 X Pilgrim fathers – religious sentim[ent].
p. 83 X Work done by New Englanders
p. 83 X Temperance L[ord]. Eldon's bottle
p. 83 X Sea-serpent – Kraken -
p. 84 X Abbot Lawrences' [sic Abbot Lawrence's] partner Frostburg
p. 84 Railway impeded by snow
p. 84 A whip to to whip little negros.
p. 84 Railway projected to Oregon.
p. 85 X “An eastern connexion”
p. 85 Steamers on Mississippi dangers of
p. 85 X Texas & Oregon much talk of
p. 86 Mr Oakes advantage of not having travelled in Eng[land]. & disadvant[age].
p. 86 Mr Tom [sic Thom] (of Liverpool) on Slavery [‘Thom’ added in pencil]
p. 86 Newspapers on Tariff Abolitionism Church & State
p. 87 X ₤50,000 for schools, a y[ea]r! Boston!
p. 87 Maps of plants & animals Pickering
p. 87 Spirula peronii floated to Sable Isl[and].
p. 87 Lymnea gracilis [sic Lymnaea gracilis] Cayuga Lake
p. 88 Blacksmith fellow traveller Buffey
p. 88 X Glover - [fellow traveler replacement for ditto] who was in Plymouth coach
p. 88 Repeal meeting – pocket picker
p. 89 X Unitarian ministers from 50 to 500 [3rd ‘0’ deleted-crossed out]
p. 89 Channing on humanity of Christ
p. 90 Henry Ware deemed him “a man”
p. 90 & 108 X Unitarians in the great cities.
p. 90 Channing first a Calvanist [sic Calvinist] -
p. 90 Blanco White.
p. 90 X Unitarians at first Liberal Xt[ians]. [sic Christians]
p. 91 X Sea serpent when seen Ticknor.
p. 92 - [Sea serpent] believed in by Sir J. Bankes - [sic Banks]
p. 92 X Roman Catholics taxing the Irish.
Oct. 29th.
p. 92 Appleton on high pay requir[ed]. wages [‘wages’ interlined]
p. 92 X Irish dislike of.
p. 92 Education making progress in V[irginia].
p. 93 X Mount Auburn Cemetery
p. 93 X - [Mount Auburn Cemetery] new chapel
p. 94, 95 X Fires in Boston owing to White Pine [‘95’ interlined]
p. 94 Population of Boston 127000 -
p. 94 X Coot caught by Mactra solidissima
p. 95 Geology – oppos[ed]. on scriptural grounds in Phil[adelphia].
p. 95 X Fires Boston –
p. 96 Free trade P[ennsylvania] – McIlvain [sic McIlvaine] - Adam Smith on Home Trade
p. 96 X Philadelphia, Puseyism evil of
p. 96 Norton on scripture & the Old Testament.
p. 97 Free trade, moderate tariff best.
p. 98 X Caleb Cushing on China.
p. 98 X Millerism movement before Miller
p. 99 N[ew]. York Herald
p. 99 X Abolitionists impracticable, w[ould]
X not vote with Whigs.
p. 99 Democratic change of U.S. constitution in election of P[resident]. U.S.
p. 99 Doctrine of “Instructions” to members
p. 99 X “By Jesus in an for the opposit[ion]”
[Note: These last 2 discussions are on p. 100 of the notebook.]
p. 100 Repudiation of P[ennsylvania] income bad faith
p. 100 Nativism - why bad, tho’ right.
p. 100 Law ag[ainst]. a State borrowing
[Note: The above 3 discussions are on p. 101]
p. 102 Texas annexat[ion]. will it reduce slavery
p. 102 Quakers, platonists Bancrofts
p. 102 Puseyism N. Y. triennial meeting
p. 103 X Sabbath ending Sunday Ev[ening]
p. 103 X Ronge - a W. before his name -
p. 103 Presbyterians liberal in science.
p. 103 Puseyites calling others dissenters!
p. 104 X Methodists & Baptists much raised
[p. 104] X J. Sparkes [sic Sparks] on Episcopacy.
p. 104 X Clay & Polk what relig[ious]. sect?
p. 105 X Clergy paid by men of other sects -
p. 105 D. Webster for free trade in 1820
p. 105 Caleb Cushing – represent[ed] Engl[and] as stationary in Colonies
p. 105 X Electioneering Polk & Dollars
p. 105 X Putnams sermon on Christ’s preaching
p. 106 X Popes universal prayer in school
p. 106 X Unitarian service – with McIlvaine
p. 107 D. Webster got $10000 for Kents opinion.
p. 107 Free trade. Whig bribery, rejoice in extravagance of Democrats
p. 108 State debts Iowa -
p. 108 Trinitarianism spurious passage in St. John. B[isho]p. Doane [‘Doane’ interlined]
p. 108 The Continent down to the Isthmus
[p. 108, 109] Unitarians why growing slowly
p. 109 Houghton geolog[ist]. drowned
p. 109 X Sea-serpent account of McIlvaines friend
p. 109 X [Sea-serpent] Horse Mackerel
[This account is noted on p. 110, also continues sea-serpent story.]
p. 111 Sea sickness like tunes haunting us
p. 111 California separate state -
p. 111 Boston dark at night
p. 111 X Early marriages in N[ew]. Engl[and].
p. 111 X Unitarian bible retains “3 witnesses” Porson
p. 112 American women not gracious.
[p. 112] X Puritans - why intolerant
p. 112 X Day of Doom inquisit[ion]
p. 112 Guizot. introd[uction]. to Life of Washington


  • Creation: 12 October 1845 - 3 November 1845


Language of Materials



121 folios

60 Leaves

1 volume

Processing Information

Transcribed by Beverly Gordon Volunteer, and catalogued by Pamela McIntyre, Strategic Projects Archivist June 2023.



  • CM Brown. A Natural History of the Gloucester Sea Serpent. American Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Sep., 1990).

Repository Details

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