The Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ Papers (1815-1827) consist of the remembrances, observations, and expositions of a Jesuit who worked principally as manager of St. Inigoes, a house and plantation in St. Mary’s County, and taught at Georgetown College. Brother Mobberly wrote passionately on a wide variety of topics: agricultural management, focusing particularly on the economic viability of enslaved labor and strategies for maximizing the production of wheat, corn, and other alternatives to tobacco production; the plundering of St. Inigoes by British sailors during the War of 1812 which he witnessed; and spiritual phenomena ascribing power to miracles, ghosts, and curses. Most notably, he explores a Biblical interpretation of racial difference that was used to justify slavery and to explain what he believed to be the transgressive behavior among African Americans.
The papers, frequently cited as “The Mobberly Diaries,” consist of five memoranda books that were written retrospectively for the most part. The earliest of these, a volume probably written in 1823, describes events at Georgetown and St. Inigoes between 1805 and 1820. The other four memoranda books dated between 1824 and 1827 record some events shortly after their occurrence, but these entries are interspersed with short expositions on past events or his views on race, agricultural management, miracles, Protestants, and liberty. In addition to the memoranda books, the collection contains a treatise on the rules of Jesuit and student life; a two-volume defense of slavery based on the Biblical story of Noah's sons, particularly Cham; and his narrative of a demonic possession in Morgantown, W.V., popularly known as “Wizard’s Clip.”
This collection has been digitized and is available to view online in DigitalGeorgetown.
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Brother Joseph P. Mobberly, SJ (1779-1827; entered October 7, 1807; coadjutor temporal vows, January 2, 1821)
Born on January 12, 1779, probably in Montgomery County, Md., Joseph P. Mobberly (sometimes spelled Mobberley) studied at Georgetown College between 1798 and 1806. With the intention of entering the newly-restored Society of Jesus, in 1806, he accepted an assignment as coadjutor to assist with the management of St. Inigoes, a house and plantation in St. Mary's County, Maryland. By 1809, he became its manager, responsible for the purchase of supplies, sale of crops, and management of its enslaved workers. In 1812, he continued his studies at St. Peter’s and New York Literary Institution. He resumed management of St. Inigoes between 1813 and 1814, during the naval raids of Chesapeake ports during the War of 1812. After a brief stint as a coadjutor at White Marsh, a house and plantation in Prince George's County, Maryland, he became a teacher of English at Georgetown College between 1815 and 1816. He returned to St. Inigoes as its manager in 1816 and ended his tenure in the midst of controversy about his performance in 1820. He then returned to Georgetown College as a teacher of Latin, Greek, and English. In 1821, he took coadjutor temporal vows, accepting his role as an assistant to the Jesuit community in economic rather than spiritual matters. Brother Mobberly taught at Georgetown until his death on September 30, 1827.
0.5 Cubic Feet (1 box)
For excerpts, see "Brother Mobberley's Diary," Woodstock Letters 32(1903) 1-23. BFCSC also has a transcript provided by a researcher in its curatorial files.
Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository