Correspondence between John Conyers, esquire, of Copped Hall, Epping, and James Gordon of Antigua and others in the West Indies with other papers and correspondence
Level: Category
Estate and Family records
Level: Fonds
Level: Sub-Fonds
Level: Series
Conyers Family
Scope and Content:
Letters to John Conyers and papers concerning his West Indies estates:

1) Letter from Charles Caines junior, 24 February 1782, received on St Kitts [St Christopher] 29 April, referring to Conyers's loss of crops due to the French encampment on his estate following the French invasion near Brimstone Hill. Referring to his own estate, 'A great loss attended the estate by the absconding of the major part of the negroes from the day the French came & landed, to a week after the capitulation ... and many have not yet appeared.'

2) Letter from Stedman Rawlins, St Kitts 20 May 1782, concerning losses incurred during the siege.

3) Letter from Stedman Rawlins, St Kitts, 28 August 1782: 'Many betts were laid in the Month of June, that wee sho[u]ld shortly have been British Subjects Again, As the troops were at Antigua, but to our great Disappointment, they were Disembarked for St. Lucia, and nothing Attempted here for our Relief ...'; 'Altho the times are so bad, tis Absolutely Necessary to Strengthen yr Estate with Negr'es, the Gang is small at best'.

4) Letter from Stedman Rawlins, St Kitts, 15 November 1782, informing Conyers that due to the losses from the damage done to the estate during the siege there is only a small crop of sugar and the estate is in debt.

5) Copy letter to John Conyers from Charles Caines junior of St Kitts, 26 November 1782, advising him that 'your estate very deficient in Negroes'.

6) Copy letter from Stedman Rawlins, St Kitts, 30 November 1782, detailing how bad the situation is on the island and complaining that compensation has been set by those not directly affected so that no recompense will be paid for damage to young canes for the following year's crop and there will be obligation to pay a tax of 40 shillings per head on the slaves.

7) Letter from James Gordon, Antigua, 28 February 1783, giving detailed description of Drews Hill, '... a ruinous dwelling house, 51 negroes, one half of no value ...', and informing Conyers that the appraisement of slaves is waiting to be signed and that he advises selling them.

8) Letter from Henry Rawlins, St Kitts 11 March 1783, advising Conyers of shipment of 10 hogsheads of sugar from his estate and advising him to plant the upper parts of his estate due to the prevailing dry weather.

9) Letter from James Gordon, Antigua, 29 April 1783, stating his reluctance to visit the islands '... While the French have possession of them ... as I go to arrange money matters, & the French Governors are apt to protect those who are unwilling to pay their debts'. Has leased slaves on Drews Hill Plantation for a year and advises renting out the land separately.

10) Letter from Thomas Brograve of Springfield Place, 26 May 1783, stating that he will not follow his own judgement in the matter [of the removal of slaves to Antigua] but wishes a case for counsel to be prepared [see also D/DB B11].

11) Letter from James Gordon, Antigua, 8 June 1783, still on the island as the evacuation has not taken place, advising Conyers about the tax on absentee landlords: '... our Assembly here has passed an Act that will fall heavy upon the proprietors ... who are absent ... It is to impose a tax of £60 upon every 30 negroes unless you keep a white overseer for every 30 negroes ... it is found that the tax ... will be sufficient for the current expenses of the Island. I am in hopes the Council will reject the Act, but first, it will be incumbent upon the proprietors ... who live in England, to have it rejected by the king ...'

12) Letter from James Gordon, Antigua, 26 June 1783, valuing Conyers's slaves at £1600 and advising that they be rented out for 7 years: '... there will be a demand in the Southern Islands for Negroes & I think if they are carryed off this Island, the Title will not be much inquired into a public sale may answer ...'

13) Letter from Stedman Rawlins, St Kitts, 4 July 1783, acknowledging Conyers's wish to sell the estate; has little hope of success but warns him of high expenses if it is not sold

14) Letter from Henry Rawlins, St Kitts 21 July 1783, advising Conyers of the imminent despatch of his crop on the Brig Josephus and the state of affairs on the island: '... the French have destroyed all their fortifications on Brimstone Hill, but I have been told this day that Monsieur de Frenze our Governor at present, says he means to fortify the Hill again, if he does not hear in a week or two of the definitive treaty being signd, if he puts his t[h]reats in execution it must ruin the Island'.

15) Letter from James Gordon, Antigua, 5 August 1783, advising Conyers of an offer by a gentleman from St Vincent who wishes to purchase Conyers's slaves.

16) Letter from Lachlan Grant, acting as substitute for James Gordon, Antigua, 10 August 1783, stating that the slaves on the estate are currently rented out for £200 a year to Mr Ireland and agreeing that they would be better removed to Conyers's plantation on St Kitts and the Antigua estate rented out to Mr Batt, a tradesman.

17) Letter from Stedman Rawlins, St Kitts, 30 September 1783, recording the arrival of 51 slaves from Antigua on 25 September; only 31 were of any use as fourteen were superannuated and six were children. Rawlins states that the St Kitts estate was only producing 50-60 hogsheads of sugar a year, and extra slaves had to be hired by the day to achieve this. With the slaves from Antigua he estimates that the estate will produce 80-90 hogsheads a year, and eventually 100 hogsheads. Refers to letter from Conyers concerning planters treating slaves inhumanely: 'Give me leave to assure you I know not of any such planter, & I wish to avoid such Inhuman treatment being laid to my Charge, as any man whatever'.

18) Letter from Henry Rawlins, St Kitts 23 November 1783, advising that he hopes to send 80 hogsheads of sugar and that all the slaves are well 'except Jacob who has a very bad sore on his leg, John & Lucy two children who are very sickly' and 'as for the working Negroes better never went into a field, & a very orderly set ... they shall want for no indulgence in my power to make their lives as happy & as comfortable as their situation will allow them to be'.

19) Letter from John Conyers, dated Mount Street 2 May 1784, to Joseph Eyre of Christ's Hospital asking him to speak to Mr Brograve on his behalf about the West Indian estates. He does not wish to keep them and 'I am sure that they have been lately a great curse to my happiness and I am this year £700 the Worse for them ...' The estate is worth £20,000 but he would accept £18,000 to be rid of it.

20) Extracts from letters from St Christopher, 29 April 1782 - 30 September 1783 [all survive here except for the letter of 29 April 1782 from Charles Caines junior]

21) Extracts from letters [all surviving here] from James Gordon, 28 February - 10 August 1783, including details of the destruction caused by the hurricane to the Drews Hill Plantation 1772 [see also D/DW T18-19], with case concerning removal of Conyers's slaves from Antigua to St Kitts, with question and answer letter on the same subject.

22) Lease of land (6 acres) in St Thomas, Middle Island, St Christopher between Hon. James Verchild and his wife Penelope, of St Christopher, to William Mathew of London, 1758

23) Memorandum on ownership of Drews Hill Plantation on Antigua, pre 1733-1753

24) 'Inventory of negroes, stock, plantation utensils & stores on the estate of William Mathew Esq. decd', 27 March 1773, including 'a pair of old marking irons' and 'a silver brand mark, XXX'. Lists slaves by name and category detailing different qualifications and employment; against several is written 'notorious runaway', with brief description of age, value etc.

25) Report on estate at Drews Hill in Antigua between February and June 1783.

26) Instructions for letter of attorney from the Trustees of the Conyers's marriage settlement to demise the Drews Hill Plantation on Antigua, n.d.

27) 'List of Negroes & Stock belonging to the Estate of J[oh]n Conyers'. Lists by name 38 men, 35 women, 10 boys at work, and male and female children, with deaths since 80 to 82', 31 July 1782.

28) Summary accounts for Antigua estate, 1783-1785.

29) 'Inventory of Sundry's on the [St Kitts] Estate of John Conyers Esq. taken the 15th of February 1779'. Includes lists of named slaves fit for service, those doing light work, children, infirm and invalids.

30) Account of losses on the Conyers estate during the siege of Brimstone Hill, St Kitts.

31) Opinion of J. Stanley of Lincolns Inn that John Conyers is a creditor of the estate of Daniel Mathew, 16 November 1784.

32) Draft memorandum concerning deed, 1776.

33) Examination, 6 March 1807, of marriage settlement of John Conyers and Juliana Mathew with plan for removing £5000 by Mrs Conyers from the Conyers estate to the produce of the West Indies estate

34) Letter from Benjamin Lethieullier concerning purchase of estate at East Sheen, Surrey, 14 April 1752

35) Memorandum of Trustees of John Conyers's marriage settlement to sell stock to pay for Gill's Farm, 3 June 1784

36) Note from Thomas Brograve to Joseph Eyre, 27 June 1784, returning signed copy conveyance of Gills Farm.

Dates of Creation:
39 items (original bundle)
Admin History:
The West Indian estates came to John Conyers by his marriage to Juliana Catherine Mathew in 1773.
Existence of Copies:
Digital images are available of item 24), although not online.

Key terms

TypeKey termsDescription
Subjects Plantations Correspondence and papers concerning sugar plantations on Antigua and St Kitts, c.1760-1807
Subjects Slavery Inventories of named slaves and correspondence re plantations in Antigua and St Kitts, 1758-1784
Subjects Sugar Details of sugar plantations on Antigua and St Kitts, 1782-1784
Subjects War French invasion of St Kitts during American War of Independence, 1782
Subjects Weather Damage caused to sugar plantation on Antigua by hurricane, 1772
Personal Names Benjamin
Letter to John Conyers re purchase of estate at East Sheen, Surrey
Personal Names Charles
St Kitts, 1782
Personal Names Henry
St Kitts, 1783
Personal Names Henry
St Kitts, 1783
Personal Names James
Antigua, 1758-1784
Personal Names John
Epping, 1752-1784
Personal Names John
Epping, 1752-1784
Personal Names Stedman
St Kitts and Antigua, 1782-1784
Personal Names Thomas
Springfield, 1783
Personal Names William
London, 1758
Personal Names Hon.
St Christopher, West Indies, 1758
Place Names America, West Indies Correspondence with John Conyers re estates in St Kitts and Antigua, 1782-1784, inventories of slaves and other papers, c.1760-1807