1 May 1997 alan.hewat@gmail.com

Alexander Hewat 1739 - 1824 London

Alexander Hewat (or Hewatt) was the first historian of South Carolina and Georgia, and the brother of Andrew, a loyalist planter in South Carolina and my gggg grandfather. The following is extracted from G. M. Meroney's Alexander Hewat's Historical Account provided by Victoria Dunlop.

Alexander was a young man of about twenty-four when he arrived in Charleston in 1763 as minister of the Scots (First Presbyterian) Church there. He had received his early education at Kelso Grammar School in Scotland and had attended the University of Edinburgh. He received a salary of [sterling]250 sterling per year, plus the rent of a house worth [sterling]35/14/2, all of which came to about [sterling]2,000 Carolina currency.

Shortly after his arrival in Charleston he was elected to the St. Andrew's Club, an organisation of native-born Scotsmen formed to promote sociable and charitable enterprises. This society included some of the colony's leading men, among them Sir Alexander Cumming, Bart., whose curious treaty with the Cherokees Hewat described in his history. When Hewat was invited to join, the membership included John Stuart, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern District; James Wright, royal governor of Georgia; Chief Occonastota of the Cherokees; Robert Wells, editor of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette; and a number of royal officials and members of the Council.

Hewat's interest in the history of the southern colonies must have been aroused by these friends. A man of learning and culture--the only requisite for an eighteenth-century historian-- Hewat had the chance to secure authentic evidence and firsthand experience for his historical narrative. He had the unique opportunity of knowing the participants in many recent events of South Carolina's and Georgia's history and those who preserved an oral tradition not far removed from the events themselves. His association with royal officials gave him access to official documents which he used in his history. In their company, he had the vicarious experience of being a man of affairs, familiar with the workings of government and commerce.

Hewat found Charleston a most agreeable place, and his description of life in that city, of which he was himself an intimate part, formed a significant portion of his history. He seemed to have had every intention of settling permanently, for in 1772 he purchased one thousand acres of land in Craven County, and in 1777 he bought three hundred acres of unimproved land in Colleton County on the Savannah River near Augusta for his brother Andrew, who was at that time in Nova Scotia raising a company to fight for the king.

When Hewat, along with other Charleston ministers, was ordered on 3 August 1776 to pray no more for the king, he "changed the form to `those in Lawful Authority over us' which gave great Offence," but complied with the letter of the order. Despite the dispersion of his congregation. and the absence of many friends, Hewat remained in Charleston until the summer of 1777. When the revolutionary governments required that he renounce his loyalty to the king and give open support to Congress, he refused to do so. Given sixty days to leave the colony or suffer imprisonment and perhaps death, Hewat left his congregation and his property and took passage to Nantes; from there, he went to London. Hewat secured a temporary Treasury allowance of [sterling]100 per year until he could return to Charleston. He now devoted himself to completing his history, which he published anonymously in 1779.

With the financial support of his brother and "another Gentleman a Merchant of London," he remained in Britain and tried to secure another congregation. In the summer of 1782, he went to Scotland to preach at the chapel of his old school at Kelso, but he soon returned to London. On 9 April 1783, Hewat applied to the Loyalist Commission for compensation for his loss of benefice and property in America and was granted a temporary allowance of [sterling]60 per annum, later increased to [sterling]100. In July 1788, when the allowance was replaced by a life pension of [sterling]120 per annum, Hewat testified that this was his only income.

He remained in London for the rest of his life, living for a time at No. 36 Bury Street in Westminster and later at No. 8 Great Quebec Street1) near Whitechapel. He served in the Gospel Mission in London, and in 1803-5 he published two volumes of sermons. He married a Mrs. Barksdale from Charleston, a widow who had come abroad for the Health of her two children, both of whom had died before Hewat met her in England. After her death, Hewat wrote a warm letter to her relatives in Charleston, sending pictures of her children. No record of his death or burial has been found. But if the record of Hewat's last pension payment, made to his executors, may be assumed to date his death, Alexander Hewat died on 3 March 1824 at the age of 85.

AWH: Less romantically perhaps :-) he left an estate of 7000 sterling, and is buried in St. John's Wood2), London (Death Duty Registers, PRO, IR26/1003). I have transcribed documents provided by Dianne Kelly to Victoria Dunlop, including an extract from the 1914 Centenial celebration of the First Presbyterian Church in Charleston, of which Alexander was the pastor from 1763-1776. References and further reading.

Here is a map of South Carolina districts in 1769.

Census returns with family names exist from 1790.

1) Great Quebec Street, Marylebone A-Z Ref 5D 60 became an extension of Upper Montagu Street.
2) St John's Wood cemetary in 1874 and in 2001.

Alan William Hewat (alan.hewat@gmail.com)