Common Time 2019

Winchester College

The Williams Letters

 Williams Letter

The archives at Winchester College include a collection of letters relating to the family of Philip Williams, a fellow of Winchester College from 1769 to 1819. These letters have at last been recognised as an important source for historians and form the subject of a new book, The Speaker's Chaplain & The Master's Daughter by Barry Shurlock (Scholarly Sources, 2014).

Philip Williams married Sarah Collins, the daughter of the Second Master William Collins, and the book tells the story of Philip and Sarah's marriage via their weekly letters. Philip mainly lived in London, attending to his work as Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, leaving Sarah in in Winchester, running the family home and bringing up their four children. The letters are a rich source for social history, marital politics and for local and national events. They also tell us much about life in Winchester and at Winchester College in the late 18th century.

You can read more about the letters here.

Transcripts of the 133 letters on which the book is based are available to read and download here.

The book, The Speaker's Chaplain & The Master's Daughter, price £25 ($40), is available direct from the publishers: Scholarly Sources, 21 Marston Gate, Winchester, SO23 7DS, barryshurlock@gmail.com (or on 1962 861913), or via the College Archivist, Suzanne Foster (sf@wincoll.ac.uk).