William Henry Lyttelton papers  1730-1806  1755-1761
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The William Henry Lyttelton papers (1217 items) document Lyttelton's service as governor of South Carolina and governor of Jamaica. The collection consists of 864 letters (including 26 letters from Lyttelton), 316 documents, 37 financial records, four letter books, and one personal account book. These items primarily relate to colonial administration of South Carolina and Jamaica, and military engagements with Native Americans on the frontier and against the French in the West Indies. Document types include intelligence reports, orders, treaties, drafts of acts, pardons, and speeches; financial documents consist of disbursements, payment and supply receipts, and government and military expenses.

The bulk of the collection documents Lyttelton's governorship in South Carolina. Lyttelton received communications and reports from officials in London, southern governors, the Superintendent for Indian Affairs in the Southern Colonies John Stuart, Indian Agent Edmond Atkin, military commanders, and members of the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly, the Council, and courts. Some of the most important items are 37 letters, reports, and enclosures from Agent Edmond Atkin on Indian relations, and 21 letters from Jeffery Amherst that describe his activities against the French at Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) and Crown Point.

Topics of note include:

  • Construction of new forts and reports on the condition of forts and other defense efforts
  • Taxes, trade, tariffs, and embargoes concerning South Carolina
  • Relations and conflicts with various tribes, including the Catawba, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Coweta, Creek, Shawnee, and Savannah tribes
  • The escalating Anglo-Cherokee war (Cherokee Rebellion) and French efforts to ally with the Cherokee during the French and Indian War
  • The postage system connecting the southern provinces
  • Smallpox and diseases among settlers, troops, and Native American populations
  • Intelligence on French military activities, including many intercepted French letters

In addition to communications between colonial officials regarding trade policies, peace treaties, boundary agreements, and military conflicts, the collection also contains letters and speeches from various Native American leaders including: Attakullakulla (Little Carpenter), Black Dog, King Hagler, Long Dog, Ohatchie [Wohatchee], Oconostota [Ouconnostotah], Old Hop, Standing Turkey, Tistoe of Keowee, Usteneka (Judge's friend), Willinawa, The Wolf, and Young Warrior of Estatoe. (See Additional Descriptive Data for a list of items written by Native Americans.)

Highlights of the South Carolina material include:

  • September 7, 1730: Copy of "Articles of Friendship & Commerce proposed by the Lords Commissioners for trade and plantations to the Deputies of the Cherokee Nation in South Carolina"
  • July 18, 1755-April 23, 1756: Jerome Courtonne's journal of his time with the Chickasaw Nation in Georgia
  • August 3-September 1755: Lyttelton's account of his capture by the French on his way to South Carolina, his imprisonment in France, and his return to England
  • July 5, 1756: Instructions to end communications with the French in South Carolina and to stop supplying them with provisions or arms
  • September 15, 1756: Conflicts between the Upper Creek and the colonial settlements at Ogeechee
  • November 8 and 12, 1756: Directions from William De Brahm to Raymond Demere concerning the operations of Fort Septentrional on the Tennessee River
  • [1756]: Daniel Pepper to Lyttelton with remarks on the Creek Nation
  • [1756]: "Short observations upon several points relative to the present constitution of the province of South Carolina"
  • March 4, 1757: Proposal to improve fortifications at Charleston and Fort Johnson
  • April 24, 1757: Minutes of a meeting of governors from Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia concerning southern defenses
  • May 1757: Proposed Asylum Act for the settlement of Georgia
  • September 12, 1757: Letter from Thomas Wigg to Lyttelton concerning the construction of Fort Lyttelton
  • [1757]: Catawba leader King Hagler to Cherokee leader Old Hop concerning the Catawba joining the British against the French and their Indian allies
  • June 24, 1758: Intelligence from three French deserters from forts in French Louisiana
  • July 27, 1758: Copy of article of capitulation between Generals Amherst, Admiral Boscowen, and Drucour at Louisbourg
  • September 8, 1758: Joseph Wright’s journal of negotiations with the Lower Creeks (July 20-August 7, 1758)
  • December 23, 1758: Letter from John Murray to Lyttelton which includes a list of acts to be reviewed by the South Carolina Assembly
  • May 5, 1759: Intelligence from Samuel Wyly on a Cherokee attack on colonial settlers
  • May 17, 1759: Advertisement warning against illegal trading with Native Americans
  • July 27, 1759: Letter from Jeffrey Amherst to Lyttelton describing the taking Ticonderoga and Crown Point from the French
  • August 1, 1759: Intelligence from Cherokee Indian Buffalo Skin to Paul Demere
  • August 18, 1759: Copy of a treaty between Great Britain and the Choctaw Nation with a list of Choctaw towns and prices for trade goods
  • September 4, 1759: Letter from James Wright to Lyttelton enclosing copies of two letters from Benjamin Franklin concerning the postal system
  • October 12, 1759: South Carolina Assembly to Lyttelton regarding resolutions on the Cherokee Expedition
  • October 19, 1759: List of Cherokee living in Charleston
  • [October 1759]: A letter from King Hagler and other Catawba leaders voicing their friendship with the colonists and describing an outbreak of smallpox in their community (with signatures from chiefs)
  • November 30, 1759: Edmond Atkin letter with enclosures regarding negotiations with Creek, Choctaw, and Cherokee tribes, as well as intelligence
  • [1759]: Lyttelton's declaration of war against the Cherokee
  • January 29, February 12, 1760: Extracts of letters concerning murders and outrages committed by Cherokees
  • February 7, 1760: Journal kept at Fort Prince George during an attack by the Cherokee signed by R. Coytmer, Alexander Miln, and John Bell (January 13-February 7, 1760)

The collection contains 162 items that document Lyttelton's service in Jamaica (1761-1766). These consist primarily of letters from various naval officers, army officers, and British agents serving in the West Indies. Lyttelton also received letters from the Jamaica Committee of Correspondence, and local planters. Of note is material on the Coromantee slave rebellion (Tacky's Rebellion), a violent slave insurrection at St. Mary Parish in Jamaica in 1765.

Other topics include:

  • Relations with other European properties in the West Indies and conflicts with Spain and France
  • The British capture of the Morro Fortress in Havana
  • The losses suffered by the Boston merchant ship John Gally after the French capture of Turks Islands
  • Slave labor in Jamaica and the practice of raising regiments of slaves and black men to fight for Britain
  • Sickness among the British troops and African slaves
  • Danger of wide scale slave disturbances and escapes in November-December 1765
  • Disagreements between Sir James Douglas and Lyttelton after Douglas was not saluted when he arrived on the island
  • News that Charles Wyndham, 2nd Earl of Egremont, the secretary of state of the Southern Department, had died
  • British Acts of Navigation and laws passed in Jamaica
  • Differences of opinion on taxes between continental proprietors and island proprietors and on the implementation and repeal of the Stamp Act
  • Issues surrounding smuggling brandy and levying duties on spirits
  • Inspections of the fortifications in Jamaica in preparation for war
  • The Jamaica assembly's efforts to remove Lyttelton from office for alleged misconduct

Also of note is a letter from Mary Fearon regarding Lyttelton's purchase of a slave for his children in England (March 21, 1766). The collection contains one letter from Lyttelton's retirement in England, a June 8, 1796, item addressed to Mortimer Street concerning poetry.

Volume 1 (446 pages) and Volume 2 (76 pages) are a copy books containing letters from Lyttelton to British government and military officials, covering August 1757 to March 1760, while Lyttelton was governor of South Carolina. These provide answers to many of the incoming letters from the Correspondence and Documents series. Both volumes have alphabetical indices of letter recipients.

Volume 3 (125 pages) is a copybook containing two sets of letters. In the first group (pages 1-99) are secret and private dispatches between Lyttelton and British military leadership related to coordinating attacks on French forts in Alabama, Mobile, and Florida (1758-1759). The second group (pages 1a-26a) consists of miscellaneous letters labeled "Omitted in the Former Books," (1756-1759).

Volume 4 (30 pages) is Lyttelton's personal copybook covering his outgoing letters from April 15, 1762 to September 11, 1765, while stationed in Jamaica. Recipients include Governor General Philippe-François of Saint-Domingue, Marquis de Lambertye, Governor de St. Louis, Comte de Choiseul, Colonel John Irwin, Captain Kafflin, Monieur de Chambette de St. Louis a Paris, Captain Geofry, Comte do Ricla, and Comte d'Elva. Several of the letters concern prisoners of war. All letters are in French.

Volume 5 (167 pages) is Lyttelton's accounts book covering 1755 to 1806. The accounts detail Lyttelton's income, expenditures, and investments throughout his career, including his posts in South Carolina, Jamaica, Portugal, and England. Entries occasionally include brief mentions of his and his family's whereabouts.

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