[Antigua & London. 1749-1761]. Twenty-one manuscript documents, ranging from one to three pages each. Most documents very good or better, occasional light tanning or minor splitting at folds. Blizard a.l.s. (see below) somewhat more tanned with considerable wear to edges and corners, causing loss of a few words. Very good overall. Laid into a contemporary paper folder with manuscript title. Item #WRCAM57875
A collection of manuscript documents related to John Tomlinson, Esq., a member of the prominent Tomlinson family of sugar planters in Antigua. The bulk of the materials date between 1756 and 1760, when John Tomlinson took over as head of the family. His grandfather, Major John Tomlinson, was granted an estate of over 300 acres on Antigua in 1709, which was left to his son, John Tomlinson Jr., in 1739. Tomlinson Jr. became one of the leading planters on the island and served on the Royal Council from 1745 to 1753, acting as its president for 1752-53. Although John Jr.'s son, John Esq., was largely in charge during the later 1750s, when John Tomlinson Jr. died in 1760 he was wealthy enough to will two enslaved Blacks and £1000 to each of his five daughters, and his now 600-acre plantation and nearly 150 additional slaves to his son (Vere Oliver, p.139). When Parliament passed the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833, the Tomlinson estate was paid over £2200 for the freedom of the 145 laborers still working the plantation. The documents in this collection include business and personal letters, bills related to personal purchases as well as the sugar cane business, and a true copy of John Tomlinson Esquire's own will. The contents are as follows:
1) Autograph letter, signed, from Stephen Blizard to John Tomlinson, one and a half pages in length on a folded folio sheet, and dated March 16, 1754. Blizard provides a highly detailed analysis of a potential sugar plantation and various agricultural strategies. Blizard reports that the plantation Tomlinson asked him to describe consists of 300 acres and enough enslaved laborers to have 120 working on a given day. He goes on to provide in-depth strategies for how one might maximize the profitability of the plantation, including how he would rotate fields, how much to plant each season, how to go about producing, storing, and applying fertilizer, and even exactly how he would dig and space the plough lines. In the end, he determines that under this plan, "The Sugar [from one season] will then make One thousand five hundred pounds sterling, or at sixty five cent exchange Two Thousand Four Hundred Seventy five pounds currency, and the Rum one thousand pounds currency, which last sum will just defray the Plantation expences if the negroes shall be constantly fed and clothed once a year without making good the loss of slaves, which is generally thought to be five percent per annum; but if the negroes shall not be fed and clothed as is the custom in some plantations near the Town, it may be equal to the whole plantation expence and the first sum will be the net produce of the Plantation." The name William McKinnon, a colleague and relation by marriage to Tomlinson and Blizard both, is written at the bottom of the first page without context. This letter is a remarkably detailed and thorough look at 18th-century sugar planting practices in the West Indies.
2) Autograph letter, signed, from Stapleton Dunbar to John Tomlinson, Esq., dated January 26, 1757. Stapleton describes a deal for thirty-one hogsheads (about 2450 gallons) of sugar, insured by "an additional security of Negroes from Williamson." Dunbar was a profitable planter based on Nevis, though he had returned to Britain by 1760.
3) A group of nine ledgers and bills, ranging from November 1749 to December 1761, for the account between Tomlinson and his main transatlantic shipping partner, Frederick Nicholas. These documents mostly include sales of food and supplies imported from Britain (such as beer, linens, or expensive china), freight fees, and postage. Some bills also appear to be paying for education and board for variety of characters from "Stookes" to "the Hessian."
4) Bills to other accounts, six in total. These include a bill from an apothecary, a bill to a "Captain Tomlinson" (a possible cousin living in England), and others for large sales of sugar. Several of the bills are signed by Tomlinson's agent in London, Richard Oliver.
5) Manuscript "Account of sundry parcells of sugar belonging to Jn. Tomlinson Esq:, their respective Prices, & Nett Proceeds, & for which he has received accot. of sales." The list contains twenty-eight separate orders totaling 310 hogsheads of sugar, for a total price of £4449 6s 11p.
6) Autograph letter, signed, from Thomas Warner dated July 7, 1759, relating to a Chancery question regarding Tomlinson's deceased father. "As you do not know that, your father expected the Bonds that is last, it will be incumbent on Mr. Byam to establish that fact." Mr. Byam would be the husband of Elizabeth Blizard Byam, sister of the same Stephen Blizard who shared his agricultural wisdom with Tomlinson five years prior.
7) Manuscript copy of an unaddressed letter dated July 21st, 1758, likely from Tomlinson to his agent, Richard Oliver, in London. The letter discusses an upcoming shipment and other business arrangements, and also includes a scrap of paper in Tomlinson's hand requesting various goods from Frederick Nicholas.
8) COPY OF THE WILL OF THE LATE JOHN TOMLINSON ESQ Dated December 17, 1760 [manuscript cover title]. A true manuscript copy of Tomlinson Esquire's will and testament, tied with original vellum string. Tomlinson returned to England (Bath, more specifically) in the last months of his life, and the present will was accomplished in Britain. Unlike his father, all of the bequeathals in his will are made in cash (including one to friend and business partner Frederick Nicholas), and he leaves the residue, presumably including his extensive plantation and concomitant slaves, to his five sisters. Stephen Blizard and William McKinnon are named his executors in Antigua.
A detailed and intriguing archive of an 18th- century planter in Antigua, illuminating the business details of the Trans-Atlantic sugar trade as well as the strategies behind actually running a large, profitable sugar plantation. Vere Langford Oliver, THE HISTORY OF THE ISLAND OF ANTIGUA… (London: Mitchell and Hughes, 1896), Vol. 3.