Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Charles Hicks Letter Books, 1738-1750, 1800-1828

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, March 2011

Summary Information
Title: Charles Hicks letter books
Creator: Hicks, Charles
Inclusive dates: 1738-1750, 1800-1828
Extent: 2 volumes
The Charles Hicks letter books contain the letters and accounts of an American merchant operating out of St. Augustine, Florida, in the 1730s and 1740s, as well as notes concerning the estate of the Hicks family of Flushing, New York, between 1800 and 1828.
Language: The material is in English and Spanish
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1982. M-2030.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Charles Hicks Letter Books, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Charles Hicks was a New York merchant related to the prominent Hicks family of Flushing, New York. In the 1730s and 1740s he operated out of St. Augustine, Florida, and became wealthy transporting goods and slaves from Cuba, Florida, and Charleston, South Carolina, to New York and New Jersey. At this time, trade between Spanish and British colonies flourished, even though protectionist laws made the commerce illegal. Hicks married a woman named Hannah Hyman and they had six children: Charles, Scott, Elizabeth (Eliza), Anne, Caroline, and Philip. By the end of the 18th century, Hicks had returned to New York, and was living in Mount Misery, Long Island. He died sometime before 1798.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Charles Hicks letter books (two volumes, 234 pages and 175 pages) contain the letters and accounts of an American merchant operating out of St. Augustine, Florida, in the 1730s and 1740s. The volumes are comprised of financial accounts, logs, letter drafts, and miscellaneous records, with 112 pages of letters in English (approximately 60 items), and 98 pages written in Spanish. The volumes were created concurrently, and entries are often undated and lack clear chronological organization. In addition to the mercantile records are notes concerning the estate of the Hicks family between 1800 and 1828, found at the beginning and end of each book.

Charles Hicks' business dealings were primarily with Spanish merchants in Florida and Cuba, and with British colonial merchants in New York and Charleston, South Carolina. Hicks discussed the trade conditions in Florida and Havana, and occasionally referenced the strained political relations between Spain and England. Entries contain references to trading enslaved Africans, whom Hicks sold on various Caribbean islands. He also described the activities of the slaves he owned, one of whom was named Caesar (volume 1: pages 39, 82, 196-109, and 133). Also of interest are a copied article and a recipe on how to cure "hydrophobia," to be used when bitten by a rabid dog (volume 1, page 29). Letter contributors and recipients include captains Samuel Bradstreet and Othniel Beale; Florida merchants Juan de Acosta, Joaquin Blanco, and Dr. Pedro A. Estrada; and New York merchants Samuel Franklin, Nicholas Gouverneur, Isaac Gouverneur, Jacob Walton, William Walton, Anthony White, and Nicholas Wycoff.

In addition to the Charles Hicks material are accounts, inventories, and notes regarding the Hicks family of Flushing, New York, recorded at the beginning and end of each volume (1800-1828). Family members mentioned include Hick's children Charles, Eliza, Ann, Scott, Caroline, Philip (a resident of the island of Antigua), and son-in-law Willet Bowne (volume 1: pages 19 and 29). Also present is an inventory for the personal estate of Charles Hicks of Flushing (grandson of the merchant Charles Hicks), who died in 1824 (volume 1: pages 76-79).

Subject Terms

    • Cuba--Commerce--United States.
    • Florida--Economic conditions--18th century.
    • Flushing (New York, N.Y.)
    • Havana (Cuba)
    • Rabies.
    • Saint Augustine (Fla.)--Description and travel.
    • Shipping--Finance.
    • Slave trade--America--History.
    • Slave trade--West Indies.
    • Slaves--Florida.
    • Spain--Commerce--United States.
    • Spain--Foreign relations--United States.
    • Saint Augustine (Fla.)--History.
    • United States--Commerce--Cuba.
    • United States--Commerce--West Indies.
    • United States--Foreign relations--Spain.
    Genre Terms:
    • Account books.
    • Letter books.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Charles Hicks letter books [series]
    Volume   1  
    Volume   2