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William Blathwayt Papers(1631 [1680–1700] 1722)

  • MS 1946.2
  • Microfilm: M-1524.1–10
  • Transcript: TR/55
  • 2,564 items

Official papers of William Blathwayt (1649–1717), secretary of the Lords of Trade and Plantations, 1679–1710, surveyor and auditor general of royal revenues in the colonies, 1680–1717, and secretary at war, 1683–1688 and 1692–1701. The papers pertain to American colonial affairs, primarily 1680–1700, and the British West Indies, with more than half relating to the latter. They consist chiefly of original letters written to Blathwayt by colonial governors and other officials, but there are some drafts of letters by Blathwayt. The letters cover a wide range of subjects, including the French and Indian troubles and lack of adequate military defense; illegal colonial trade and attempts to enforce the Navigation Acts; attacks upon the charter of Massachusetts; piracy in the Caribbean; the tobacco trade in Virginia; wars with the French and Spanish in Jamaica; the slave question in the Leeward Islands; and the struggle between successive governors and the Assembly in Bermuda. There are also many accounts for the internal expenses of the Plantations Office.

Included is a copy of “The Declaration of the People, against Sir Wm. Berkeley, and Present Governors of Virginia,” 1676, by Nathaniel Bacon, Jr.; an original draft of the Charter of Pennsylvania, 1681; “An Acc[oun]tt of Severall Observations made in the month of September 1698, on Severall Govern[men]ts, from New England to Philadelphia,” by John Usher; “Abstract of Ships trading to Newfoundland this Fishing Season, 1698;” and “A True & Perfect Rent Roll of Warwick County, [Virginia], for the year 1713.”

The numerous correspondents include Sir Edmund Andros, Nathaniel Bacon, Sr., Lord Baltimore, Sir William Beeston, Lord Bellomont, William Brattle, William Byrd I, William Byrd II, Sir Henry Chicheley, Christopher Codrington, Sr., Christopher Codrington, Jr., Richard Cony, Lionel Copley, Edward Cranfield, John Cranston, Abraham De Peyster, Thomas Dongan, Joseph Dudley, Benjamin Fletcher, Thomas Hinckley, Lord Howard of Effingham, Philip Ludwell, Sir Thomas Lynch, Increase Mather, Hender Molesworth, Sir Henry Morgan, Francis Nicholson, William Penn, Sir William Phips, George Plater, Edward Randolph, Isaac Ritchier, Sir Robert Robinson, Nicholas Spencer, Alexander Spotswood, Sir William Stapleton, William Stoughton, Stephen Van Cortlandt, and Richard Wharton.

An index to correspondents has been prepared. A guide to the collection has been published. See John E. Ingram, ed., The William Blathwayt Papers at Colonial Williamsburg 1631–1722 (Bethesda, Md., 1989).

For provenance information and a brief survey of the contents, see Lester J. Cappon, “The Blathwayt Papers of Colonial Williamsburg, Inc.,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., IV (1947), pp. 317–331.

Portions of the Blathwayt Papers are published in R.N. Toppan and A.T.S. Goodrick, eds., Edward Randolph; including his Letters and Official Papers, Boston, 1898–1909, VI-VII; and Margaret Kinard, ed., “John Usher’s Report on the Northern Colonies, 1698,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., VII (1950), pp. 95–106; Warren M. Billings, ed., Papers of Francis Howard, Baron Howard of Effingham, 1643–1695, Richmond, VA, 1989; Marion Tinling, ed., Correspondence of the three William Byrds of Westover, Virginia, 1684–1776, Charlottesville, VA, 1977.