Papers : 1756 - 1790.

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LFR .H4W5P3
Category: Family
Creator: Hewitt, William, 1719-1781.
Description: 6 microfilm textual records () ; 35 mm
            William Hewitt was the son of William Hewitt of Coventry, England. His brother James Hewitt (1712-1789) became Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1768 and later Viscount Lifford in the Irish peerage. William Hewitt served as a commissioner of the British government empowered to sell and dispose of lands in the Ceded Islands of the West Indies. (As per the Peace of Paris Treaty in 1763, Britain gained the islands of Grenada, the Grenadines, Saint Vincent, Dominica , and Tobago, which were known as the Ceded Islands. The profits from the sales were hoped to pay for the cost of defending the islands.) He held this commission from 1765 until 1771, and his colleagues were Sir William Young, who headed the commission, Robert Stewart, Robert Wynne and John Hunt. On the termination of the commission, he was recalled to England. 

In 1776 Hewitt accepted the post of commissioner for adjusting the differences that have arisen or may arise in respect of sales of lands in the islands. This appointment was necessary due to the sudden economic distress in the West Indies and consequent non-payment of instalments on land bought or leased from the crown. He returned, joined by his nephew, James Hewitt (Lord Lifford's son), who acted as his clerk, first to Grenada and then to Dominica, where he was living when the island fell to the French in 1778. He was badly treated by the French before being allowed to leave Dominica for Saint Vincent. While there he opposed the governor's granting of free land to himself and associates. Spring of 1779 he was ordered by the Treasury to go to Tobago to report on the memorial of the planters concerning threatened prosecution of people for default of land payments.  Bad luck struck again, and two days after arriving back at St. Vincent on 14 June, he was again mistreated by the French when they invaded that island. In Barbados when the devastating hurricane of 1781 struck the island. he was severely injured and died on St. Eustatius on 16 May 1781. He had hoped to become wealthy by combining public service with private investment, unfortunately he suffered considerable personal loss as a result of the Revolutionary War, not the least due to not receiving his salary or expenses paid by the Treasury.            
            While the inclusive dates of the Papers extend from 1756 to 1790, most of the material falls within two periods, 1766 to 1772, and 1777 to 1781, and relate mostly to Hewitt's time in the West Indies, including his role as commissioner for the disposal of land in the Ceded Islands, and as land and property owner, including property in enslaved people; also provides insight into his personal experience ands challenges during a period of international conflict and hurricanes in the area, and insight into the world of personal finance during this trying period. The geographic focus includes the islands of Grenada, the Grenadiers, Saint Vincent, Dominica, Tobago, and to a lesser extent, Barbados - predominantly Dominica. The categories of material include: various financial records and papers, diary of voyage to the West Indies; correspondence, in and outgoing; various types of documents pertaining to property; official papers; legal documents; and papers relating to Hewitt's death and estate. Many communications contributed by family members, West Indian planters and surveyors, and English merchants. 

Arrangement (with manuscript numbers): The William Hewitt papers were organized by archivists at the University of London Library into two main groups; First Deposit and Second Deposit. Within each group, the material was placed in broad subject categories with items arranged chronologically in each category.

First Deposit 

Reel 1 (manuscript numbers 1-14):  

Accounts, main sequence, excluding those grouped for example, with related documents concerning a particular person or a particular lawsuit. (1756 – 1781; n.d), 1 – 14 

Reel 2 (manuscript numbers 15-16): 

Accounts continued from reel 1, 15 – 16 

Reel 3 (manuscript numbers 17-230):  

Dealings with Edward Hewitt, merchant, of London. (1778 – 1781; n.d), 17 – 41 

Other documents of a financial character. (1772 – 1783, n.d),  42 – 47 

Diary of a voyage to the West Indies. (1776), 48 

Letters received, chronologically arranged. (1772 – 1781, n.d), 49 – 128 

Letters received, undated. In alphabetical order of writer. (n.d), 129 – 141 

Drafts and copies of letters sent by William Hewitt, chronologically arranged. (1767 – 1781), 142 – 151 

Copies of Letters sent, undated. In alphabetical order of recipient. (n.d), 152 – 159 

Copies of letters sent, undated and unaddressed. (n.d), 160 – 163 

Documents concerning personal property (land). (1767 – 1777), 164 – 183.  These are bonds concerning payment for Crown lands in Dominica bought by William Hewitt personally; also includes plan of Hewitt's estate in Dominica, and plan of lots surrounding his estate (not all abutting). 

Documents concerning personal property ("slaves"). (1768 – 1781; n.d), 184 – 211. Divided into two sections: purchase and hiring, 184 - 196; lists and valuations of "slaves," 197 - 211. First section includes indentures of lease for persons enslaved and rented out to various individuals for yearly rent for certain time period; with names of those leased often included. Also includes indentures of sale and bills of sale, and account of rental payments from Francis Powars/Powers between 1772 and 1773. Most pertains to Dominica. Second group of documents contains lists of named "slaves" such as the following: "one hundred & eight Slaves convey'd from Francis Powers to James Balmer" (has note at bottom stating only 42 living as of August 19, 1777); and Abstract of the 42 Slaves leased to Powar [Powars/Powers] & Mortgaged to Comm. Hewitt." Valuations of those enslaved provide names, values, and appraisers names. Additionally there is an account of Hewitt's with Daniel Robert, 1778-79, detailing medical problems, treatments and costs for care of enslaved, such as for gargle, teeth, and dressings, and indicating annual care given. Interestingly, there is a letter to Hewitt at Barbados, 1779 December 21 signed "Dutyful Slave until Death, Charlote" from Roseau in Dominica.

Letters of attorney and related papers (1770 – 1779; n.d), 212 – 230. Among other documents, includes section - Papers of James Hewitt as attorney to William Hewitt (1776-1781).

Reel 4 (manuscript numbers 231-342): 

Personal legal papers. (1768 – 1781; n.d), 231 – 320. Divided into the following sections: Case against Isaac Cossart: 231 – 253; Case against Robert Smith the younger: 239-253; Case against Lewis Chauvet and Peter Turquand: 254 – 291; Transactions with Benjamin Grahame, to whom William Hewitt assigned the execution against Chauvet and Turquand: 292 – 301; Case against James Ballmer: 302 – 309 

Miscellaneous agreements: 310 – 312. Three agreements: house rental, room rental, and household repairs 

Legal expenses: 313 - 320 

Official appointments. (1771), 321 – 322 

Official papers concerning land. (1765 – 1780; n.d), 323 – 331. Examples include Tobago land sales register (1765-71) and report (1776); St. Vincent land sales register (1765-73) with names of previous French owners; St. Vincent land sales instalment book (1772-78), with payments due (1766-78); Dominica, list of complainants about land surveys (1777-81); Dominica, Reports to the Treasury on petitions received (1777); Dominica, Disposal of crown lands, etc. (1777-78) including notes of grants of poor settlers' lots; Dominica, Surveys, maps and correspondence from surveyors (1777-78).  

Miscellaneous papers. (1756 – 1778; n.d), 332 – 342. Includes, among other things, Papers concerning John Stokes of Coventry, bankrupt (Hewitt was one of his assignees); Papers concerning Thomas and John Hetherington; Inventory of furniture in Carys house; and newspaper cutting of advertisement of Hewitt's departure from Roseau, 1778.

Second Deposit 

Reel 5 (manuscript numbers 343-464): 

Drafts and copies of letters by William Hewitt. (1775 – 1780), 343 – 363 

Undated drafts and copies by William Hewitt. (1779; n.d), 364 – 369 

Letters to William Hewitt and Hewitt's brother Lord Lifford to 1781. (1776 – 1779), 370 – 393 

Undated letters. (1779 – 1781), 394 – 400 

Letters from Thomas and Rowland Hunt. (1777 – 1783), 401 

Official papers of William Hewitt. (1764 – 1779; n.d), 402 – 421 

Financial papers of William Hewitt. (1773 – 1781), 422 – 463 

Legal papers. (1775 – 1777) 464. 

Reel 6 (manuscript numbers 465-507): 

Legal papers continued. (1779), 465 

Papers relating to the death and funeral of William Hewitt on St. Eustatius in May 1781. (1781), 466 

Papers relating to the estate of William Hewitt: Drafts, copies and letters of Lord Lifford on the death of William Hewitt. (1781 – 1786), 467 – 471 

Correspondence after the death of William Hewitt concerning his affairs. (1782 – 1786), 472 – 486 

Estate of William Hewitt: accounts. (1777 – 1783; n.d), 487 – 493 

Estate of William Hewitt: legal documents. (1782 – 1790; n.d), 494 - 498 

Other Material: Printed Material. (1778 – 1781), 499 – 503;  Maps. (n.d) 504 – 505; Miscellaneous Documents. (n.d), 506 - 507             
Originals: The original records are held by the University of London Library.
Archival Ref. No.: University of London Library. MS 522.
Finding Aids:

1. Calendar or content list scanned from the microfilm, which provides brief information about each document (example - document 1, entry book 1759-63, England;
2. Document Summaries providing details for documents numbered 49-163. This detail is not available in the Content List mentioned above; see Electronic Finding Aid section for both.

Finding Aid on microfilm reel: The microfilm of the William Hewitt Papers is accompanied by an extensive introduction prepared by Paul Kelly of the University of London Library.  The introduction is microfilmed at the beginning of the first reel and consists of sections on provenance, biography, general description of the Papers, Table of Contents and microfilm reel numbers, and an item specific calendar for the First Deposit and another for the Second Deposit.  This is followed by a brief microfilm shelf list, bibliography and index of persons.            
Electronic Finding Aid Record: Content List.pdf
Document Summaries - Manuscript Numbers 49-163.pdf

The William Hewitt Papers, 1756-1790, is one of several titles in the series, British Records Relating to America in Microform, which are published under the auspices of the British Association for American Studies by Microform Limited.

The excellent background material provided by the author of the Introduction has been the source of much useful information in the preparation of this Inventory description.

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