Hewitt, William

Scope and Content

Collection of papers concerned chiefly with Hewitt's work in the West Indies 1767-1771 and 1776-1781, financial papers and accounts, 1759-1781; a diary of his voyage to the West Indies, 1766; correspondence, 1772-1781, especially to the Treasury Board concerning his salary; documents concerning personal property, mainly bonds concerning payment for Crown lands in Dominica, 1767-1777, and papers relating to slaves owned by Hewitt, 1768-1781; legal papers, 1768-1781; official papers concerning land in Tobago, St Vincent and Dominica, 1764-1781, including commissioners' instructions, surveys, maps and correspondence; papers created following the death of William Hewitt, mainly relating to the settlement of his estate, 1781-1790.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Hewitt was born in Coventry in 1719. In 1767 Hewitt was appointed a Commissioner 'for the sale and disposal of lands in the Ceded Islands in the West Indies' (Grenada, the Grenadines, St. Vincent, Dominica and Tobago), and also held several minor appointments such as Customs officer and aide-de-camp. The work of the Commission terminated in 1771 and Hewitt returned to England. However, in 1776 he was appointed Commissioner 'for adjusting the differences that have arisen or may arise in respect to sales and leases of lands in the islands of Grenada, the Grenadines, St. Vincent, Dominica and Tobago,' although he did not receive his salary or expenses for the period 1776 to 1781. He lost his estates on Dominica when the island fell to the French in 1778, and having been involved adversely in several bankruptcies, he left considerable debts. He died in St. Eustatius on 16 May 1781.


Arranged according to type of document, and then chronologically within these groups.

Access Information

Access to this collection is unrestricted for the purpose of private study and personal research within the supervised environment and restrictions of the Library's Palaeography Room. Uncatalogued material may not be seen. Please contact the University Archivist for details.

Acquisition Information

Deposited in the library by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in 1960 and 1961, along with the Newton Papers (MS 523). A second deposit of Hewitt material was sent to the Library in 1971 by the Archivist of Barbados, who had been sent the papers by the Records Preservation Section of the British Records Association in 1965.

Other Finding Aids

Christine E. Micklem, 'William Hewitt Papers: A Handlist', (London, 1969); Paul Kelly, 'William Hewitt Papers: A Handlist of the Second Deposit', (London, 1972).

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Sarah Smith as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made, subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Palaeography Room staff, who will need a minimum of 24 hours to process requests.


Paul Kelly, 'An eighteenth century colonial 'Civil Servant': William Hewitt and his papers', Archives , Apr 1972.

Corporate Names