Matthew Gregory Lewis

9th Jul 1775 - 14th May 1818

Slave-owner and antecedent of claimant or beneficiary


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 maternal uncle of 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.


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) [, accessed 06/08/2012]. See Historical legacies for more details on his publications.

  2. [accessed 06/08/2012].

Further Information


Will of Matthew Gregory Lewis of Albany Piccadilly Middlesex proved 30/09/1818, PROB 11/1608/391. For a transcription of his will, see

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

Associated Estates (4)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1820 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Previous owner
1812 [SY] - 14/05/1818 [ED] → Owner
1812 [EA] - 1818 [LA] → Tenant-in-tail or Remainderman
1820 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Other

Legacies Summary

Cultural (1)

Print depicting Matthew Gregory Lewis, author of The Monk, published by T. Bellamy, London, 1st November 1796. Harry Beard Collection. ... 
notes →
Full details are at: V & A Collection: Theatre and Performance Thanks to Allyson Take...

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 / West India interest 
election →
Hindon Wiltshire
1796 - 1802

Relationships (5)

Brother → Sister
Son → Father
Grandson → Grandfather
Nephew → Uncle

Addresses (2)

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