Familiar science

The following article was published by The Royal Society and features Priscilla and two other women who contributed to what is described as ‘familiar science’.

Eleanor Anne Peters, (2017) “Observation, experiment or autonomy in the domestic sphere? Women’s familiar science writing in Britain, 1790-1830” in Notes and Records 17, 71-90. DOI: 10.1098/rsnr.2016.0018

A link to the article is here: http://rsnr.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/71/1/71



Published in: on June 9, 2018 at 5:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Darton & Harvey archive

A recent Internet search has revealed a source related to Priscilla’s publications. It is the Darton & Harvey archive held at the University of Reading. The link to information about this archive is here http://www.reading.ac.uk/adlib/Details/archiveSpecial/110014355 and Priscilla is noted at the bottom of the entry.

Published in: on November 1, 2014 at 4:52 am  Comments (1)  

More about maps


The inclusion of folded maps was a feature of Priscilla’s travel books. The above image provides a sense of the scale of these maps in comparison to the text. It must have been a source of delight to children to carefully unfold them and follow the adventures of Arthur, Henry Franklin and Sancho in North America.

This image is on the website of an online auction for Excursions in North America with the following description.

third edition, 1 large folding engraved map of North America, some very light browning, contemporary ink inscription to front free endpaper, contemporary blind-stamped calf, gilt, spine gilt in compartments, rubbed, 1819 § Birkbeck (Morris) Notes on a Journey in America , third edition, 1 large folding engraved map ‘from the Coast of Virginia to the Territory of Illinois’, hand-coloured in outline, some slight soiling, modern morocco, spine gilt, edges uncut, 1818; and 4 others, similar America, 8vo, (6). http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/25783941_wakefield-priscilla-excursions-in-north-america#.

Published in: on October 27, 2014 at 4:01 am  Leave a Comment  


There has been interest from later descendants and academics in researching Priscilla Wakefield. One of the descendants was Mrs Mary Priscilla Mitchell who accumulated a lot of Wakefield material. Following is a link to the transcript of a recording that was made in 1986 and held in the Borrow Collection at Flinders University http://hdl.handle.net/2328/23546 Click on the ‘view/open’ link to read the transcript.

Of particular interest is the confirmation that Priscilla’s Journals could not be located at that time and appear to be lost.

Published in: on May 25, 2013 at 5:20 am  Comments (1)  

London, Sugar and Slavery

Since 2007 the Museum of London Docklands have had a permanent exhibition that examines London’s involvement with the slave trade. The website is here http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/Docklands/Whats-on/Galleries/LSS/ and along with may other people Priscilla’s work to highlight this isssue is acknowledged here http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/Docklands/Whats-on/Galleries/LSS/Map/Resistance/People/102.htm

Published in: on December 28, 2012 at 8:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Uncovering Priscilla

Internet searching can sometimes reveal information about Priscilla’s writing that has long been concealed.  

Information on the website of the bookshop George Bayntun in Bath suggests that Priscilla wrote the text to the book designed by Alfred Mills.

Pictures of English History, in Miniature


Published in: on June 4, 2012 at 5:13 am  Comments (1)  


An amanuensis is ‘a literary assistant, especially one who writes from dictation’. The Ladies Museum Monthly (see below) states that Priscilla’s final three books were written by an amanuensis.

The last three of Priscilla’s books were An Introduction to the Natural History and Classification of Insect, 1816, A Brief Memoir of the life of William Penn, 1816 and Traveller in Asia, 1817. However this may not reflect the actual time they were written.

But, reading Priscilla’s books chronologically it is clear that a change is taking place in the writing style.  The Traveller in Africa, 1814 possibly being a critical point in that transition. By the end of the book gone is the sparkle and freshness of The Juvenile Travellers and Excursions in North America.  One  telling aspect is the apparent careless abandonment of the character of Sancho who was separated from his friend Arthur in Africa and not referred to again. The critical question is who may have been the literary assistant and where was the line drawn between dictation and writing?  Was it daughter Bell or granddaughter Catherine or another family member?

Published in: on February 26, 2012 at 6:36 am  Comments (1)  

Editions, editions, editions

The following publication gives an interesting indication of the number of editions of Priscilla’s books that were published to the year 1867. See pages 848-851 for the listing. Also note the publications of Priscilla’s sons and grandson.

See : Descriptive Catalogue of Friends’ Books

Full title is: ‘A Descriptive Catalogue of Friends’ Books. or Books Written by Members of the Society of Friends, Commonly called Quakers, From their First Rise to the Present Time, Intersperced with Remarks, and Occasional Biographical Notices, and Including all Writings by Authors before Joining, and by those After Having Left the Society, Whether Adverse or Not, as Far as Known.’ By Joseph Smith, Vol II, London: Joseph Smith, 1867.

Published in: on December 22, 2011 at 8:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Orlando: women’s writing

Following is a link to the information about Priscilla on the Orlando website


Click on the tabs along the top to view. Note some of the early biographical information does not seem to be entirely accurate.

Published in: on November 9, 2011 at 9:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Remembering Isabella

Isabella Head (b. 1841) was Priscilla’s granddaughter. The daughter of Alfred Head (b. 1797) and Elen Cooper.  Alfred was the second eldest child of Priscilla’s daughter Bell. I have come across this book for sale on the Internet. It is not listed in the British Library or the Library of Congress. The Library of the Society of Friends do not hold a copy.

I am wondering if Isabella continued the philanthropic works of her mother or grandmother? This book may be able to describe those activities and if so I would be interested in finding out more about Isabella.

Note: this post has been updated following new information. I had confused Priscilla’s daughter and granddaughter.

Published in: on September 18, 2011 at 9:07 am  Leave a Comment