John Lewthwaite

???? - 1781


Merchant of Lancaster, owner of Check Hall in Dominica, dying on his plantation in June 1781.

  1. John Lewthwaite and William Cooper purchased ground for £2510 at auction in 1770 (from the Commissioners of the Crown) and later further land by private contract for £600, which were collectively known as the Check Hall Estate or Plantation (Parish of St Paul, Dominica). They also purchased five enslaved people for £510. The estate was originally a coffee plantation but converted to sugar not long after 1775. William Cooper predeceased John Lewthwaite (his will is dated 14 Sept 1770, and soon after he left for Philadelphia where he died).

  2. In 1775 the estate was valued at £16,451 14s of which £5431 was the value of enslaved people, £8,110 the value of the land, £2,160 for buildings and £750 14s cattle and other stock. Soon after, it was mortgaged to Messrs. Rawlinson & Co. of Lancaster for £4,236.

  3. Previous to his death in June 1781, John Lewthwaite had contracted considerable debts on the island and had various judgements against him. In his will, dated 02/12/1778, Lewthwaite bequeathed Check Hall to his wife Elizabeth, and thereafter to his son-in-law James Grice. His enslaved people are named in the will as Penny and her three children (Billy, Fanny and Ned), Cyrus, Sue and her daughter Dinah, Jack (a carpenter), Fortune and his wife Fanny with their daughter Amy and sons Romeo, Portland, Damon and Spencer.

  4. Thomas Brayshay, merchant of Lancaster, counselled Elizabeth to sell the estate after John's death, as in his opinion, its total value fell well short of the value of the mortgage. She refused to do so, and sank her own money into the property. Brayshay gave his own personal undertaking to settle with each of the creditors.

  5. Secondary sources give John Lewthwaite as marrying a Mrs Grice of Antigua, so the James Grice named in Lewthwaite's will as his son-in-law may in fact be a stepson. The same source gives John Lewthwaite as the eldest son of William Lewthwaite of Broadgate and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of John Towers Esquire of Hocklet Hall, Lancashire. Apparently, Lewthwaite was succeeded by his brother William Lewthwaite, the father-in-law of Milham Hartley (q.v.). In the will of William Lewthwaite of Broadgate Whitehaven proved 22/11/1809 he in turn left his [unnamed] property on Dominica to all his children as tenants-in-common.

  6. Mrs Lewthwaite, widow of John Lewthwaite, merchant of Dominica, died in Lancaster in 1804 in her 70th year. "Her charity and benevolence will long render her death a subject of deep regret, not only to the poor, but to all who had the happiness of her friendship and acquaintance."


  1. Whitehaven Archive & Local Studies Centre, YDLEW 13/2/3/5/3 (statement made by Thomas Brayshay of Lancaster, England, Merchant, sometime after 1787. This details the history of the estate. Brayshay had lived on Dominica from 1769 to 1787 and knew John Lewthwaite well).

  2. Ibid.

  3. Ibid.; Whitehaven Archive & Local Studies Centre, YDLEW 13/2/3/5/1 (will of John Lewthwaite).

  4. YDLEW 13/2/3/5/3.

  5. Samuel Jefferson, The History and Antiquities of Cumberland: Allerdale Ward above Derwent (1842) pp. 441-442 available at; PROB 11/1505/338.

  6. Lancaster Gazette 10/03/1804.

We are grateful to Stuart Nicholson for supplying information from the Lewthwaite family of Broadgate, Thwaites, Millom collection held at the Whitehaven Archive & Local Studies Centre.

Further Information

Elizabeth Grice

Associated Estates (1)

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
- 1781 [LA] → Owner

Relationships (1)