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‘Letters of Thomas Hatton from Williamsburg, Virginia, 1758-1759’ published in The New American Antiquarian

The Bodleian Plate (c. 1781/2) depicting buildings, flora and fauna in 18th-century Williamsburg

My article ‘Letters of Thomas Hatton from Williamsburg, Virginia, 1758-1759’ has just been published in the inaugural number of The New American Antiquarian, a new journal dedicated to publishing primary sources relating to North America in the period up to 1825. In 1758 a recently ordained Church of England deacon, Thomas Hatton, arrived in colonial Williamsburg to take up a position as under-master at the grammar school attached to William and Mary College. He sent a number of letters and meteorological observations back to England which were preserved by his friend George Ashby, later a prominent antiquary. I first encountered Hatton’s letters among Ashby’s papers in the Suffolk Record Office over a decade ago, and I was struck by the unusual nature of this correspondence. Hatton did not spend long in Virginia and soon returned to England, but his letters give a glimpse of the colony at a critical moment, during the French and Indian War and bitter disputes between Anglican clergy and the burgesses of the colony that foreshadowed the conflicts of the American Revolution. Hatton’s correspondence also contains meteorological data on the colony that is, in all likelihood, unique.

I am delighted that The New American Antiquarian was able to bring to light this interesting collection of letters, which will hopefully be of interest to researchers of colonial Williamsburg and English North America.

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