Letters from and to Walter Nisbet from a variety of correspondents

Scope and Content

(i) Letter from Richard Coker, Nevis, 15 July 1765

(ii) Letter from Ellis Yonge to Nisbet, 5 August 1766. Refers to accusations against father and son, to the son's vindication (which is not preserved) and to the proprietors' resolutions to trust him as manager. Directions about the Nevis estate

(iii) Letter from Nisbet regarding "appraisement" of Lady Stapleton's estate at Nevis - buildings, negroes, stock; also concerning the supply of mules, 1766-1767

(iv) Copy letter from Nisbet, James Street, London to Lady Stapleton, 5 October 1772. Serious reflections upon John Nelson's attention to duty, more especially to his neglect of Nevis.

(v) Letters (27) from Nisbet (Walter and James) to Mrs Stapleton and Ellis Yonge, 1783-1791. Nisbet writes of the dishonest management of the estates by Robinson and Hutton and praises Daniell before being severaly critical of him and his expenditure. Occasionally, there are illuminating references to the state of trade - the import of smuggled French sugar, the French occupation of Nevis and St. Kitts which came to an end on 6 January 1784. Between 1785 and 1791, Nisbet wants to rise higher than a mere planter and becomes a collector with the West Indian customs. Also, expresses an interest to become a Lieutenant-Governor. On 23 May 1788 he describes at some length the devastation done by the borer - its causes, its propogation and incidence; its boding complete disaster to the sugar plantations. Then come his own experiments in growing cotton and his further plant o keeping his best lands in rattoon canes and grow cotton in the poorer. He waxes indignant over the misrepresentations of slavery and declares the lower classes of Nevis are as happily situated as the lower class of poeple in England and infinitely superior to the same class in Scotland, Ireland or Wales. He confesses to a desire to see the African trade properly regulated but shudders at the idea of total abolition. In May 1788 he is bent on leaving Nevis in order to give a change of climate to his surviving child, he having already lost two on the island.

Administrative / Biographical History

Walter Nisbet was the son of Walter Nisbet who managed the Nevis estate from 1745 to 1752. The elder Nisbet died before 15 July 1765, for on that date a letter was indited at Nevis by a Richard Coker, tenant of a neighbouring estate, who made very serious accusations against the Nisbet management. Coker's opinion of the younger Nisbet is equally unflattering : unsteady, umpetuous, insolent to men older than himself, of doubtful morals - had he not spirited away a young slave from Coker's estate ? We are told also that the young man was hardly of age and had lately returned to Nevis from a country school in Scotland. It must be added that Coker was himself an applicant for the managership in succession to the older Nisbet - so these indictments must be taken with a good grain of salt.