Accounts of St. Kitts plantation under Robert Thomson, Manager

Scope and Content

(i) 1778. As witness the following items there is no lack of interest : 8/3 paid for "watching sugars on the bay 10 nights before the sailing of the fleet"; expenses paid "in sending and keeping him [?] at the station who became delirious by long confinement in jail here"; paid a negro watchman named Frank "for his good behaviour and an encouragement to contine to behave well".

(ii) 1780

(iii) 1781

(iv) 1788. Here again the negro and stock accounts are the most piquant. Why should a negro child born on April 6, 1788 be called after the old manager, Jack Queely ?

(v) A review by Thomson of his management (1777-1788) - expenses, negroes, crops of sugar - showing the disastrous results of the French occupation, the impace of hurricanes and dry seasons. A careful and convincing document, only made possible by a man who kept duplicates of all his letters, reposrt and accounts. This paper undoubtedly is the "short State of my Transactions every since I first took the charge of the concern here upon me", which he sent to Walter Nisbet on 23 April 1789 (see also letter to Mrs Stapleton two days previously), in order to rebut certain aspersion upon Thomson's management mad eby the new part-proprietor Dean Shipley of St. Asaph

(vi) Letters, mostly from Robert Thomson, manager, 1777-1789. The lase letters in this collection are devoted to a defence of his management against certain insinuations of Dean Shipley's who in 1788-1789 became part-proprietor through the death of Ellis Yonge's widow. There are many piquant situations described in the letters, such as the great storm of October 1780, which swept away, as it lay on the quay, the new shaft meant to be put up at the new windmiall, with the result that divers were kept busy trying to recover is (3 November 1780); Thomson's resolution to sella mule which was showing symptoms of glanders; the refractory negro who was shipped to Jamaice to be sol there to either French or Spaniards (21 April 1789).

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Thomson lasted much longer than the average of Mrs Stapleton's managers. He went on for years after 1789. Undoubtedly, he was a very efficient official - keen, alert, ready in emergency, patient under many viccissitudes. His management fell within the more aggravating years of the American War - with the convoy system, horses lost to the Spaniards, negroes placed upon the fortifications of the island, sugar shipped on neutral vessels and sold at Ostend, Admiral Rodney's visits to the station and the poor support given by his captains etc. Worse than all, during 1782-1783, the French were in occupation of the island, which involved high taxes and extraordinary burdens.