The Gardner family papers document the management of Joseph Gardner's Jamaica plantation after his death in 1780. The letters primarily concern Joseph's brother Theophilus Gardner, a Philadelphia merchant, who inherited the estate and attempted to manage and sell the property over the course of the following decade.
Language: The material is in English Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190 Phone: 734-764-2347 Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu
Access and Use
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.
Gardner Family Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
This collection is arranged chronologically.
Joseph Gardner owned a sugar plantation called Estate Mount Tirzah in Savanalamar, Jamaica. Gardner’s business affairs concerning the plantation were unsettled at the time of his death in 1780. His brother, Theophilus Gardner, a merchant living in Philadelphia, spent the next several years trying to manage or sell the property from afar, and in 1789 went to Jamaica to deal with the estate.
Information about either Joseph or Theophilus Gardner is scarce. Theophilus was a member of the Westmoreland parish church and probably married Mary Dyer in 1758 in Philadelphia.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The Gardner family papers consists of 7 letters, 2 drafts of letters, and 1 financial document. The financial document is a note for £1103 with interest, addressed to John Gardner. The next six items are letters sent to Joseph's eldest brother Theophilus Gardner, who was the "heir at law" to the estate.
Items include the following letters: James White of Savanalamar, Jamaica, who informed Theophilus of his brother's death (1780); Andrew A. Robinson of Kingston, Jamaica, who warned that the estate was being mismanaged (1784); John Wedderburn, temporary manager of the estates, who described the production of and debts accrued by the estate and looked into having the property sold (1785 and 1786); and John Cunningham of Montego Bay, Jamaica, who took over the estate management (1789). The final three items are letters from Theophilus Gardner while he is in Jamaica with his daughter Betsy, including a letter and draft to his wife Peggy in New York, in which he described in detail his efforts to settle the estate (1789). The final item is a draft of a letter, written by Theophilus Gardner, that further details dealings with the estate (1789). These documents provide insight into plantation management and the difficulties of estate transfers in 18th-century Jamaica.
Plantation owners--Jamaica--Economic conditions.
Robinson, Andrew A.
Container / Location
Box 2, Small Collections
Gardner family papers [series]
Edward Jackson and Robert D. Jackson to Joseph Gardner, June 1, 1776
James White to Theophilus Gardner, May 21, 1780
Andrew A. Robinson to Theophilus Gardner, April 25, 1784
John Wedderburn to Theophilus Gardner, March 1785
John Wedderburn to Theophilus Gardner, January 5, 1786
John Wedderburn to Theophilus Gardner, April 25, 1786
John Cunningham to Theophilus Gardner, April 21, 1789
Theophilus Gardner to Peggy, September 3, 1789
Theophilus Gardner, December 31, 1789
Additional Descriptive Data
The Clements library has several collections pertaining to colonial Jamaica including: