Matthew Gregory Lewis

9th Jul 1775 - 14th May 1818

Slave-owner and antecedent of claimant or beneficiary


Matthew Gregory Lewis, novelist and diarist, also known as Monk Lewis, son of Matthew Lewis (1750-1812) and Frances Maria Sewell, inherited estates and over 400 enslaved in Jamaica. His sister Fanny Maria Lushington (q.v.) and his uncle William Luther Sewell (q.v.) were awarded compensation for Hordley Estate, Jamaica, as per the terms of his will. His 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 (1896) 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, others that he was disliked by all. On one of his visitis 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.


T71/867 St Thomas-in-the-East claim no. 96.

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

  2. [accessed 06/08/2012].

Further Information

Westminster School [1783-1790 ]
Christchurch, Oxford (Also Paris 1792; Weimar 1793) [1790-1794 ]
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)

The Life and Correspondence of M. G. Lewis, with many Pieces in Prose and... 1839 
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)

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

Relationships (3)

Nephew → Uncle

Addresses (2)

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