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Scope and Content
Title: William Blathwayt Papers
Bulk dates: 1660-1709
Collection Number: mssBL 1-423
Blathwayt, William, 1649?-1717
461 items in 9 boxes and 1 oversize folder
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
The Huntington Library
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San Marino, California 91108
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Abstract: This collection contains 461 pieces of correspondence and documents primarily accumulated by English civil servant William
Blathwayt (1649-1717) in his capacity
as a British government official in such roles as surveyor and auditor general of plantation revenues and secretary and
member of the Lords of Trade. The bulk of the papers date from 1660 to 1709 and chiefly
relate to the British colonies in North America and the West Indies.
Language of Material: The records are in English and French.
Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information,
please go to following
In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission
from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical
property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances,
the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate
curator for further information.
[Identification of item], William Blathwayt Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Purchased from Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach in July 1924.
With the exception of twenty-seven letters addressed to Richard Nicolls, first English governor of the colony of New York,
and a few odd pieces written after 1717,
the collection appears to have been a natural accumulation of Blathwayt's office records. Presumably these were transferred
from London to Dyrham Park in 1712.
After Blathwayt's death they were carried to King's Weston by his son-in-law, Edward Southwell. Here they remained until
purchased by Sir Thomas Phillipps of Cheltenham,
and were known as Phillipps MSS. no. 8550. A portion of the Phillipps Library was offered for sale in 1908, including these
papers, and they changed hands at least once more,
through the agency of Sotheby's.
Related materials in the Huntington Library
English politician and administrator William Blathwayt (1649-1717) was one of the most distinguished civil servants of his
time. Blathwayt was born in London, England, in 1649. Beginning in 1665, he attended
the Middle Temple and in 1668 entered public life as clerk in the embassy of Sir William Temple
at The Hague (1668-1672). In 1672, Blathwayt toured Germany and Italy, before returning to England.
Through the influence of his uncles, Thomas and Richard Povey, both of whom were
prominent in colonial affairs, Blathwayt secured a position in the Plantation Office in 1675 as a minor clerk. Advancement
came rapidly, and among the offices administered from that time on, were: Clerk Extraordinary
of the Privy Council (1678); Secretary of the Lords of Trade (1679-1696); Surveyor and Auditor General of Plantation Revenues
(1680-until his death); Under-Secretary of State to Lord Conway in the Northern department (1681-1683);
Secretary at War (1683-1704); Clerk in Ordinary of the Privy Council (1686-1689); acting Secretary of State with William
III, during his campaigns in the Low Countries in Flanders (1692-1701); member of Parliament
for Bath (1693-1710); and a member of the Board of Trade (1696-1707).
During the reign of Queen Anne, he gradually lost his posts: in 1704 he was dismissed as Secretary at War, in 1707 lost his
Board of Trade position, and three years later, his seat in Parliament. In 1712, Blathwayt,
driven from active public life by ill health, withdrew to his seat at Dyrham Park, where the last five years of his life
were spent in retirement.
Blathwayt married Mary Wynter (1650-1691) of Dyrham Park in December 1686 and the couple had two surviving sons and a daughter.
William Blathwayt died at Dyrham Park on August 16, 1717.
Scope and Content
This collection contains 461 pieces of correspondence and documents primarily accumulated by English civil servant William
Blathwayt (1649-1717) in his capacity as a British government official
in such roles as Surveyor and Auditor General of Plantation Revenues and
Secretary and member of the Lords of Trade. The bulk of the papers date from 1660 to 1709 and chiefly relate to the British
colonies in North America and the West Indies.
Papers having to do with the British West Indies primarily concern relations with the Crown (including administration, taxation,
and defenses) and local conditions (including orders of governor, council, and assembly; management
of blacks; piracy; and trade and shipping). Geographically, the documents concern: Antigua (7 pieces), Bahamas (4), Barbados
(48), Bermudas (5), Jamaica (35), Montserrat (1), Nevis (4), St. Christopher's (2), and Tobago (1).
Papers having to do with North America pertain to relations with the Crown (including the administration of governments,
charter and proprietary; taxation; and defense) and local conditions (including orders of governor, council,
and assembly; political corruption; trade, shipping, etc.; Indian affairs; French encroachments; and piracy). Geographically,
the documents concern: Canada (14), Newfoundland (4), Rhode Island (3), Massachusetts (43), New Hampshire
(19), Connecticut (1), New York (77), Pennsylvania (4), Maryland (26), Virginia (51), Carolinas (2), Florida (3).
Within the collection there are also 27 unofficial letters, dating from 1664 to 1668, addressed to Richard Nicolls, the first
English governor of the colony of New York, from Sir William Berkeley, Charles Calvert
and Philip Calvert, Thomas Ludwell, Nathaniel Utie, and Jerome White. The correspondence deals with trade and shipping,
runaway slaves, and tobacco.
Correspondents represented by five or more pieces in the collection are: Sir William Beeston (5), Sir William Berkeley (14),
William Blathwayt (32), Philip Calvert (7), George Clarke (8), Edward D'Oyley (6), Edward Hyde, Lord
Cornbury (7), William Lowndes (9), John Nanfan (16), Samuel Penhallow (6), John Povey (8), and Edward Randolph (10).
Within the collection, originals predominate slightly. Copies are all contemporary, and most of them are attested and bear
The collection is arranged chronologically.
Nicolls, Richard, 1624-1672.
Blathwayt, William, 1649?-1717 -- Archives.
Great Britain -- Colonies -- America -- History -- 17th century -- Sources.
Great Britain -- Colonies -- America -- History -- 18th century -- Sources.
United States -- History -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775 -- Sources.
West Indies -- History -- 17th century -- Sources.
West Indies -- History -- 18th century -- Sources.
Letters (correspondence) -- Great Britain -- 17th century.
Government records -- Great Britain -- 17th century.
Personal papers -- Great Britain -- 17th century.