Matthew Gregory Lewis

9th Jul 1775 - 14th May 1818

Slave-owner and antecedent of claimant or beneficiary

Biography

Matthew Gregory Lewis, novelist and diarist and MP for Hindon 1796-1802, also known as 'Monk' Lewis, son of Matthew Lewis (1750-1812) and Frances Maria Sewell, inherited estates and over 400 enslaved in Jamaica as tenant-in-tail. He in turn under his will left the Hordley and Cornwall estates to his sisters Fanny Maria Lushington (q.v.) and Sophia Elizabeth Shedden (who died c. 1819). The compensation for Hordley was paid into a Chancery suit of Fanny Maria Lushington v William Luther Sewell (q.v.) (the maternal uncle and executor of Matthew Lewis and Fanny Maria Lushington), and the compensation for Cornwall was paid to trustees of Matthew Gregory Lewis and to John Shedden, Sophia Elizabeth's surviving husband. Matthew Gregory Lewis' father was Chief Clerk and Deputy Secretary at War, of 9 Devonshire Place, Upper Wimpole Street, Middlesex; his mother was the daughter of Sir Thomas Sewell Ottershaw, Surrey, Master of the Rolls.

  1. Born 09/07/1775 to Matthew Lewis and Frances Maria Sewell, educated at Marylebone Seminary, Westminster School and Christchurch College, Oxford, Matthew Gregory Lewis gained notoriety as author of the gothic novel The Monk (1796) and was well-connected in literary circles. His journals of his travels in Jamaica were published posthumously as The Journal of a West India Planter (1836). He travelled frequently in Western Europe and to the Caribbean. 'He was an advocate of improving the condition of slaves and enforced changes on his estates.' Lewis died of scarlet fever onboard a ship returning from Jamaica, 14 May 1818.

  2. Byron thought him a 'damned bore' though also a good man. On one of his visits to his Jamaican estates, Lewis wrote (16 October 1817) to William Wilberforce asking whether he should free the enslaved on his estates, having previously assigned them to Wilberforce’s care after his death.

Sources

T71/867 St Thomas-in-the-East claim no. 96; Will of Matthew Gregory Lewis of Albany Piccadilly Middlesex proved 30/09/1818, PROB 11/1608/391. In a codicil he left Cornwall to Fanny Maria Lushington and Hordley to Sophia Elizabeth Shedden.

  1. Nigel Leask, ‘Lewis, Matthew Gregory (1775–1818)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/16597, accessed 06/08/2012]. See Historical legacies for more details on his publications.

  2. http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1790-1820/member/lewis-matthew-gregory-1775-1818 [accessed 06/08/2012].


Further Information

Absentee?
British/Irish
Will

Will of Matthew Gregory Lewis of Albany Piccadilly Middlesex proved 30/09/1818, PROB 11/1608/391. For a transcription of his will, see http://www.willtranscriptions.co.uk/surnames/j-k-l/lewis_matthew_gregory_l169.htm

School
Westminster School [1783-1790 ]
University
Christchurch, Oxford (Also Paris 1792; Weimar 1793) [1790-1794 ]
Occupation
Novelist, diarist and playwright
Oxford DNB Entry

Associated Claims (2)

£4,436 14S 6D
Other association
£4,291 17S 6D
Other association

Legacies Summary

Historical (2)

BooksAuthor?
The Life and Correspondence of M. G. Lewis, with many Pieces in Prose and... 1839 
BooksAuthor?
Journal of a West India proprietor: kept during a residence in the Island of... 1999 
notes →
Lewis a prolific author of tales, poetry,...

Political (2)

Government
 
office →
Attaché to The Hague embassy
May 1794 - December 1794
MP
Pittite Tory 
election →
Hindon Wiltshire
1796 - 1802

Relationships (3)

s
Nephew → Uncle
s

Addresses (2)

Albany, Piccadilly, London, Middlesex, London, England
Hermitage Cottage, Barnes, Surrey, London, England