William Mathew Burt

???? - 27th Jan 1781


MP, colonial official, and slave-owner on St Kitts and Nevis. His estate has not been traced with confidence but was probably Burts, not found in the compensation records but still a place-name near St Ann, Sandy Point St Kitts.

  1. First son of William Pym Burt, chief justice of St. Kitts, and Louisa, daughter of Sir William Mathew. Married 29 August 1754, Sarah, daughter of John Foster of Jamaica, sister of Thomas Foster. They had 1 son and 2 daughters. Member of the council of St. Kitts 1748-55; governor of the Leeward Islands 1776 until his death in 1781. "The Burts were an old West Indian family: William Mathew Burt’s great-grandfather was in Nevis in 1670, and the family remained there until c.1725 when they moved to St. Kitts. William Mathew Burt seems to have spent his early years on the island, and to have gone to England between 1751 and 1755. He inherited estates both in St. Kitts and Nevis." 1758: consulted by the Cabinet when planning the expedition to Martinique; 1759: went as Crown Agent with the expedition which took Guadeloupe. In 1761 became MP for Great Marlow after a contested election. Spoke only about 6 times; except for one, his speeches were on trade or the West Indies. According to James Harris 18 April 1764: ‘I left Burt haranguing on the African trade’; and Harris wrote again, 12 March 1765, that ‘Burt and Beckford rambled like Creolians from Africa to America, thence to East Indies, etc.’ In 1768 he stood for Great Marlow again, but was defeated heavily. (He received only 63 votes.)

  2. Will of His Excellency William Mathew Burt Captain General and Governor of His Majesty's Caribbee and Leeward Islands of Maiden Earley, Berkshire [made in 1776] proved 27/03/1781. In the will he said that his marriage settlement of 1754 with Sarah Foster had not been registered at St Kitts so that he confirmed its terms by his will, charging his [unnamed] estate in St Kitts and elsewhere with the £800 p.a. annuity to his wife [he referred to her mother as 'Mrs Barham']. He left her the use of Maiden Earley for a year, and made unusually detailed provision that the 'works' - landscaping - there be continued 'under the direction of Mr Q. Richmond of Paddington' [Capability Brown had visited and his man Griffin had made a preliminary survey, but was presumably displaced by Mr Richmond]. He left £400 each to his two daughters Elizabeth and Louisa, and his estates in trust for his son Charles Pym Burt. No further trace of this Charles Pym Burt has yet been found.

  3. William Mathew Burt has an entry in the ODNB as 'colonial governor'.


The Beinecke collection at Hamilton College contains a deed breaking the entail on William Mathew Burt's St Kitts' estate, http://beinecke.hamilton.edu/islandora/object/hamBeiMss%3A21213#page/1/mode/1up [accessed 22/02/2019].

  1. John Brooke in History of Parliament online.

  2. PROB 11/1075/29.

  3. Birch, Chris. 2008 "Burt, William Mathew (c. 1725–1781), colonial governor." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 2 Jul. 2019. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-95643.

Further Information

Sarah Foster of Jamaica
Charles Pym; Elizabeth; Louisa
A will but no further details
Oxford DNB Entry

Legacies Summary

Physical (1)

Maiden Erlegh, Berkshire 
description →
In Burt's will, he mandated the completion of landscaping at Maiden Erlegh under the direction of 'Mr Q. Richmond of Paddington.' Earlier, Capability Brown had visited and a preliminary survey had...
notes →
Stephen Daniels, Humphry Repton, Landscape Gardening and the Geography of Georgian England (London: Yale University Press 1999) p. 256; Burke's Landed Gentry (1879) Vol. I p....

Political (1)

West India interest 
election →
Great Marlow Buckinghamshire
1761 - 1768

Relationships (2)

Notes →
William Mathew Burt married Sarah, sister of Thomas Foster...

Addresses (1)

Maiden Erlegh, Reading, Berkshire, Central England, England