Edinburgh Diary 17931798 by Witts Agnes Sutton Alan
In the summer of 1793 the Witts family arrived in Edinburgh for a stay of five years. A previously well-to-do Oxfordshire/Gloucestershire family they were brought to near penury brought the failure of Edward Witts' woollen cloth trading business. Apart from the stigma of bankruptcy their easy style of living was brought crashing down to a mere few hundred annually-the income from their marriage settlement which Edward's creditors could not get their hands on. Within a few months Edward and Agnes had built a wide circle of friends and acquaintance in the upper echelons of Edinburgh society where Agnes's magnetic personality worked its usual magic. Agnes Witts was a remarkable woman with great zest for life. She required constant amusement and bored easily. Her favourite pastimes were cards and stimulating conversation her social circle was wide and well-connected her attachment to her faith consistent and strong. In a remarkable series of sixty-two diaries covering the years 1788-1824 Agnes Witts recorded her life in a structured and unvarying manner. She noted the weather the doings of the day and letters received and written. A day without a letter was a dark day in her life.She loved to maintain a wide correspondence among a large circle of family friends and acquaintance. Commencing on 20 April 1788 the diaries hardly miss a day and the final entry is for Christmas Day 1824 just two weeks before her death at the age of seventy-six. Gaps in the diary are very few and usually occur only during times of serious illness. The diaries reproduced here record the period 1793 to 1798 providing a snapshot of Edinburgh society at a time of remarkable change when the City was rising to prominence as the 'Athens of the North'. Enlightenment Edinburgh was a dynamic place-a growing city that was looking forward to a prosperous future. Agnes's diaries provide a fascinating glimpse into the mid-to-upper social fabric at that time.