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Joseph Raynes papers

 Collection 0182-MDHC

The Joseph Raynes papers consist of correspondence from British immigrant Joseph Raynes to his family in Bonsall, Derbyshire, England, describing an Atlantic sea voyage; the Chesapeake Bay; Baltimore life in the nineteenth century, including buildings, prices, and Lexington Market; slavery; the failure of the Bank of Maryland; and the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Cincinnati. Also included is news of friends, family and deaths.


  • 1831-1849
  • Majority of material found within 1831-1843

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


10 Items

Scope and Content of Collection

The Joseph Raynes papers consist of nine letters sent between 1831 and 1843 by Joseph Raynes to his family in Bonsall, in Derbyshire, England, and one letter written by his cousin, Jane Cliff, to his sister, Harriett Raynes in 1849. Subjects covered in the correspondence include news of friends, family and deaths; an Atlantic sea voyage; the Chesapeake Bay; Baltimore; the failure of the Bank of Maryland; and the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Cincinnati.


Members of the Raynes (also spelled "Rains") family lived in Bonsall, in Derbyshire, England, in the nineteenth century. Francis Raynes (b. ca. 1768) and his wife Susan Bunting had at least five children who lived to adulthood: Joseph, Benjamin (d. 1833), Jacob (d. 1833), Ann (1795-1865), and Harriett (1813-1890).

Most of what is known about Joseph Raynes comes from his letters home. In May 1831, Raynes left Bonsall for Liverpool, where he reserved a space on the brig The Russian. He arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, on June 26. Raynes found employment almost immediately with a saddler and soon after went into business on his own.

Raynes moved his saddling business to Lexington Market in 1832, where it prospered. Sometime in 1833, his father became ill, most likely of typhus, although the exact nature of the illness is unknown. Of more pressing concern were the deaths in October, 1833 of his brothers, Jacob and Benjamin, in a rail accident. The brothers were returning from Manchester and Liverpool, where they had traveled on behalf of their tortoiseshell comb business, when the railway coach in which they were riding derailed. Benjamin died almost instantly; Jacob was horribly injured and died the next day. Benjamin left three children, at least two of them sons. Raynes promised to send for either Jacob (b. 1830) or Isaac (b. 1831) as soon as they were old enough. It does not appear that either of the brothers ever made the journey; Isaac died in Bonsall in 1877 and Jacob married and lived in Bonsall through at least 1861.

By 1836, Raynes had married. The poor economic situation in Baltimore, as well as riots related to the Bank of Maryland scandal of 1834, provided impetus for a move to St. Louis, Missouri. By 1840, Raynes and his wife had settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, and had adopted a six-year-old orphan girl.

Raynes is believed to have died sometime in 1849.


The collection is organized as one series.

Series 1

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries purchased this collection from Harry Kessler in January 2002.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital copies of letters in this collection are available within the records for each folder heading listed under Collection Organization.

Processing Information

The letters were placed in acid-free folders and stored in an acid-free box.

Guide to the Joseph Raynes Papers
Processed by Jennie Levine
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742