George Inman Diaries, (1786-1789)

Administrative Information

Biographical Sketch


Scope and Content Note

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Series Description and Folder Listing

1 box
Processor: Margaret Crilly
.42 linear feet
Date: November 18, 2008

Acquisition: The diaries and receipt book were purchased in 1915 by Maria Gozzaldi, on behalf of CHS, from Mrs. Charles R. Hildeburn, the widow of a descendant of George Inman.

Access: There are no restrictions to items in this collection.

Permission to Publish: Requests for permission to publish from the collection should be made to the Executive Director.

Copyright: The Cambridge Historical Society holds the copyright to all items in the collection.

Biographical Sketch:

George Inman was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1755 to Ralph Inman and Susannah (Speakman) Inman. One year later his father purchased two plots of land in what is now Cambridgeport and built a house on the current site of the Cambridge City Hall. The couple had several children who died in infancy and early childhood, but two children other than George survived into adulthood, Susannah and Sarah. His mother, Susannah (Speakman) Inman, died in 1761. In 1771, Ralph Inman remarried Elizabeth (Murray) Smith, sister of James Murray, loyalist, and the widow of James Smith, the wealthy owner of a sugar refinery in Boston.

The family was well connected to the Loyalist families of Cambridge attending Christ Church of which Ralph was the first treasurer. George received the education of wealthy sons of his day, learning French and dance from a Mr. Curtis in 1770, and attending Harvard College, although it is unclear whether he ever graduated. In 1772 he began work at the offices of Herman and Andrew Brimmer in Boston during which time he resided with his uncle John Rowe (of Rowe’s Wharf fame). Little more is known of his early life.

In 1775, during hostilities between Great Britain and British colonies in America, George Inman, against the wishes of his friends and his father, enlisted as a volunteer with the British forces. He was attached to the “Light Company of the 4th or King’s Own Regiment” under the command of his friend Captain Evelyn. He served at the Battle of Bunker Hill under the command of General William Howe.

In January, 1776, he and Captain Evelyn embarked on board the British ship Falcon which was under the command of his brother in law Captain John Linzee (married to his sister Susannah or “Sukey”) and made his way to New York. Inman was involved in several small engagements with the American troops, until the British gathered under General William Howe at Staten Island to prepare for the effort to capture New York City. In August, 1776, shortly before the Battle of Long Island, Inman and a few others captured five American officers. After the capture of New York, which pushed Washington’s troops back to Harlem Heights, General Howe made Inman an ensign. Inman participated in the capture of Fort Washington in November of the same year and was encamped with the troops at Trenton when Washington stealthily crossed the Potomac River on December 24th (26th?) of the same year and engaged the Hessian troops in what in now known as the Battle of Trenton.

On January 3,1777, Inman fought in the Battle of Princeton and retreated with British forces to New Brunswick. He passed his winter with British troops in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. In April, Inman left New Jersey to sail for Virginia with troops under General Howe’s command to take part in what is now known as the Philadelphia Campaign. They landed at the Elk River in Chesapeake Bay on August 25 and engaged with American troops at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11. The troops proceeded to march north, engaging at the Battle of Germantown in early October, and wintering in Philadelphia. While in Philadelphia, Inman “formed an attachment” to Mary Badger, the daughter of Bernard Badger and Susannah (Riché) Badger. He married her on April 23, 1778.

Following his marriage, Inman fought in the Battle of Monmouth. His wife, who had accompanied him, was also present at the battle. In July, Inman was appointed a Lieutenant in the 26th Regiment by General Henry Clinton, but became ill (along with his wife and servants) shortly after his appointment. He remained very ill until well after Christmas of 1778.

On January 26, 1779, Inman’s son Ralph was born. By March, Inman was sufficiently recovered from his illness to rejoin his regiment at Staten Island. He was subsequently removed to Major Andre’s company at Dukers Ferry. On September 20, Inman’s son died, and a few months later, on December 21, Inman and his wife embarked on a ship bound for Great Britain.

After a stormy passage, Inman and his wife arrived in Portsmouth in the middle of February 1779. They journeyed to Bristol where Inman had been ordered to act as a recruiter. During the remainder of 1780, Inman and his wife spent a great deal of time meeting with friends, relatives, and acquaintances, many of whom were displaced Americans.

In January 1781, the Inmans moved to Clifton and on April 4, Inman’s son John Freeman Inman was born. In May, the Inmans journeyed to Burrington to stay with George Inman’s uncle, the Reverend George Inman. They stayed in Burrington until September, then departed for Plymouth. While in Plymouth, they heard the news of Cornwallis’ defeat at Yorktown. They remained in Plymouth until December then returned to Bristol. By 1782, the Inmans had settled comfortably into their life in Bristol. Their daughter Mary Ann Riché was born on May 29, 1782.

In January, 1783, the Inmans moved to a new house on Princess Street and then three weeks later, moved to a home in Rowbarrow. In late August, they journeyed to London and stayed there until February of 1784, when they went to Chester to await passage to Dublin, Ireland. While in Chester, the Inmans made the acquaintance of a Captain and Mrs. Barron, with whom they became good friends .In April, they sailed to Ireland where Inman reported to a regiment in Arklow and then was assigned to a post in Dublin. Inman’s second daughter, Susannah Linzee Inman was born on October 31, 1784. After staying in Ireland for a year and a month, the family returned to England, settling into the same lodgings they had previously occupied in Chester and renewing their friendship with the Barrons. Inman’s third daughter, Hannah Rowe Inman was born on June 23, 1786. In June 1787, they journeyed to London and took up lodging at a house in Putney. During this period in Putney, Inman made several journeys to Whitehall apparently seeking a position or attempting to buy a captaincy. His efforts were fruitless, and, tired of his idle life, he expressed a desire to return to America. While in Putney, the Inmans also discovered that Dr. Coombe of Philadelphia, the husband of Mary Inman’s deceased sister, was living in Brompton with a second wife and two children. The families renewed their acquaintance, and the Inman’s fourth daughter, Sarah Coombe Inman, born on February 3, 1788, was named after the Coombe family

Inman and his family sailed for Grenada (in the West Indies) on April 28,1788 where Inman was to serve in a garrison. During the voyage, the entire family, with the exception of the youngest daughter, Sarah, became very ill. They arrived in George Town, Grenada in June. In August and September, both Inman and his wife remained very ill. Inman was plagued by recurring illness until his death in early 1789. His eldest son, John Freeman Inman died during the same period. Following his death, Inman’s widow, Mary Badger Inman, and his four daughters journeyed back to Cambridge.

Gozzaldi, Maria. “Lieutenant George Inman” in Cambridge Historical Society Proceedings, vol. 19, pages 46-79.

Scope and Content Note:

This collection consists of five diaries and one book of receipts. The book of receipts consists of accounts paid by George Inman and his wife for household items, lodging, transportation, and food between 1780 and 1788, after the couple’s arrival in Great Britain in 1780. Most diaries focus on Inman’s daily activities. Inman records the weather, family events, his and his family’s health, church attendance, visits to coffee houses to hear the news, dining at various friends’ and acquaintances’ homes, frequent walks, shooting outings, and attendance at public breakfasts.

Volume I begins with multiple lists of British officers and British Naval officers wounded or killed in battle during the American revolution, those lost in accidents or at sea, volunteers killed or wounded (among them George Inman who was wounded at Long Island), and lists of British ships lost, destroyed, or taken by the enemy, and of American, Dutch, French, or Spanish ships taken by the British. Each list includes the location of the individual’s or ship’s demise. This series of lists is followed by a reminiscent account (written in February of 1782 while staying with his uncle in Burrington Somersetshire, England) of George Inman’s entrance into the American Revolution in December of 1775 and his experiences as a British soldier until his and his new wife’s arrival in England. Following the retrospective account are two pages describing the geography, climate, and political systems of France and Germany, offering commentaries on several regions of France and commentaries on the German political system, highlighting particular rulers or political practices by region. The last four pages of the diary are taken up with recipes. The end sheets of Volume I contain scribbled accounts and sums.

Volume II contains entries dated February 1, 1782 to November 30, 1783. Written while Inman and his family were living in England, Inman focuses on his daily activities, noting frequent walks to the town of Clifton and buying furniture for his new house. Inman records the birth of his daughter, Mary Ann Riché on May 29, 1782. He makes special note of frequent meetings with his friend John Borland of Cambridge, who had been his classmate at Harvard and later became a lieutenant colonel in the British Army. He also writes of frequent visits with the Putnam, Freeman, and Hooper families. Inman records his attendance at a number of public events and performances. On December 12th 1782, he attended a performance of Grecian Daughter (starring Sarah Siddons) in Drury Lane and on July 6, 1783, he attended A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed at Haymarket Theatre. On December 19, 1782, he writes that he went to the court martial of General James Murray (no immediate relation to Inman’s stepmother). Inman also references apparent financial difficulties. On March 3, 1783, he writes that he was unable to pay a debt and on April 29, 1783, he records an incident in which a bailiff called on him to resolve an apparent misunderstanding about a debt. On October 6, 1783, Inman records that peace has been declared “with great ceremony” with France, Spain, and the United States of America.

Volume III contains entries dated December 1, 1783 to June 30, 1786. The end sheets contain recipes, various accounts and sums, and a list of lottery tickets bought and prizes won. The first page in the volume contains a timeline of battles and events beginning with Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775 and ending with Valley Forge in September, 1777.The last two pages in the volume contain accounts and sums as well as a list of names and addresses in Britain, Ireland, and the United States. Inman records several events relating to his family’s health, including bleedings, and the smallpox inoculations of Freeman and Mary (which took place in April, 1784). In the period between December 1783 and March 1784, he records frequent visits with the Putnam family, Captain and Mrs. Robertson, the Reid family and his friend “Murray,” as well as many others. He also records meeting with his “old friend Armstrong” on January 31, 1784. In the beginning of April 1784, he records his family’s voyage to Ireland and their adjustment to life there. After arriving in Ireland, his entries document his daily military activities as well as his social undertakings. Inman records frequent attendance at court-martial trials as well as social activities with Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, Captain and Mrs. Gordon, and members of the Myers family. On October 31, 1784, he records the birth of his second daughter, Susannah Linzee Inman. On December 13, 1784, he records going to see a dwarf who had been put on exhibition. Upon his family’s return to Chester in May 1785, Inman records frequent socializing with Captain and Mrs. Barron, the Courtland family, and the Skinner family. He also records the birth of his daughter, Hannah Rowe Inman on June 23, 1786. Inman’s entry of June 17, 1785 is a reminiscence of the Battle of Bunker Hill on its tenth anniversary. His entry of June 20th is a similar reminiscence of the Battle of Monmouth. On April 19, 1786, he notes the eleventh anniversary of the shots fired at Lexington and writes a reminiscence.

Volume IV contains entries dated July 1, 1786 to December 31, 1787. The end sheets contain various accounts and sums as well as a record of correspondence written from July to August. The last ten pages of the journal contain notes of debts owed, recipes for cough medicine, a transcription of a verse Inman found scratched on a shutter in Whitehall, and a packing list for seven trunks and two boxes. The last page of the journal is a table of regiments by year that notes destinations of particular regiments, the regiments they were to relieve, and which regiments returned home. Until August 1786, Inman records social engagements with the Courtlands and the Skinners (both families left for Nova Scotia in August). He also writes of frequent social activities with a Mr. Namera, the Wrenches, and the Colliers. On May 9, 1787, he writes that the bailiff has been looking for him – seemingly because of his debt – and during July, 1787, he records trips to Whitehall to call on various individuals in an apparent attempt to find a position.

Volume V contains entries dated January 1, 1788 to January 31, 1789. The back end sheet contains scribbled sums and accounts and a recipe for cough medicine. Inman records spending most of his time in his house, although he does note some visits to Whitehall. On April 28, 1788, he records leaving for Granada in the West Indies with his family. During the voyage, he documents the weather as it pertains to sailing conditions, winds, and his family’s illnesss. Once in Granada, Inman notes frequent rides up Richmond and Hospital Hills, feeding the military mules, and social interactions with a “Duval,” Captain Mackeral, and the Miller family. During the months of August and September, he records the serious illness of his wife and himself. On October 2nd, he writes that Captain Mackeral has told him of his father’s death and on October 21, he records that he has entered into official mourning. Inman’s diary ends a short time before his death, and its last entries note that he is ill, although he records improvement.

Library of Congress Subject Headings:

  • American loyalists.
  • Cambridge (Mass.)–Citizens
  • Great Britain–History–1760-1789.
  • Great Britain–History, Military.
  • Howe, William Howe, Viscount, 1729-1814
  • Inman family
  • Inman, George, 1755-1789
  • United States–History, Military.
  • United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783.
  • United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–British forces.
  • United States—History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Campaigns and battles
  • United States–History–Revolution, 1775-1783–Personal narratives.

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing:

George Inman Diaries: (1786-1789)

[table colwidth=”10%|90%”]
Box|Series I. Diaries and Receipt Book
1|Volume I (1782)
|Volume II (1782-1783)
|Volume III (1783-1786)
|Volume IV (1786-1787)
|Volume V (1788-1789)
|Receipt Book (1780-1788)