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Microforms Research Collections: William Blathwayt Papers

William Blathwayt Papers at Colonial Williamsburg

Location: The 10 reels in this collection are housed in Microfilm Cabinet 26-I.

Scope: The following description of this collection is from the publisher. “To American and West Indian colonial officials, William Blathwayt personified the imperial British power structure in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. And to four monarchs in succession starting with Charles II, he was the energetic and loyal administrator who could make an empire pay for itself.

Long years of effective service as secretary of the Lords of Trade and Plantations and in other prominent administrative posts made Blathwayt well known in his own time. His habit of carefully preserving his wide correspondence has made his papers an important archive of British-colonial relations.

In this collection of more than 2,500 items, about half are from North American colonies and half from the Caribbean. With its unusual scope—from New Hampshire to Barbados—the collection lends itself especially well to comparative studies of colonial problems.

New York in the period of Leisler’s rebellion is the subject of reports from incumbent officials and from visiting observers. Maryland and especially Virginia are also well represented in documents dating from 1680 onward. Lord Baltimore’s troubles with Protestants and conflicting border claims with Virginia and Pennsylvania; fluctuating tobacco markets and chronic problems of raising revenue from unwilling farmers; founding The College of William and Mary; containing the Indians, maintaining an army, and pursuing pirates—all are prominent themes.

The collection also contains unusually full and authoritative reports from all the British West Indies possessions over three decades starting in the mid-1670s, and from Bermuda between 1685 and 1702. Parallels with the issues that continental colonial administrators were meeting are frequent. But there is also a distinctive Caribbean flavor to these histories, with discussions of piracy, maritime warfare, hurricanes, and the slave trade.”

How to search the collection:
The collection reproduces the entire collection of Blathwayt Papers at Colonial Williamsburg. Each of the 41 volumes focuses on one area or colony over a long span of time. The folders within each volume are in chronological order.

Accompanying the microfilm collection is a printed, annotated reel guide, edited by John E. Ingram, curator of special collections, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library. The guide which is located on the Multimedia Index Table contains a reference bibliography, an index of names, and a chronological list of items. The guide offers precise citations to volume and folder numbers so researchers can easily locate items on specific persons, places, or subjects on the microfilm.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian

Jeanne Pavy's picture
Jeanne Pavy
Room 205

Earl K. Long Library

University of New Orleans

New Orleans, LA 70148