Much of the information in this blog (and in all previous Hamilton bios) has been updated, expanded, or even corrected in Michael E. Newton's new book Discovering Hamilton. Please check that book before using or repeating any information you read here on this blog (or that you read in previous Hamilton biographies).
By now, every reader of this blog knows about Anne Lytton Venton Mitchell. Anne Lytton was the daughter of James Lytton and Anne Faucett, making her a first cousin to Alexander Hamilton. She married a John Kirwan Venton on St. Croix and in 1772 and 1773 paid for Alexander Hamilton’s education. After the death of John Kirwan Venton, she married a George Mitchell.
About thirty letters and receipts of Anne Mitchell from the period of 1799 to 1807 have been found in the records of St. Croix. Their contents primarily concern collecting her inheritance from the estate of her father James Lytton, who had passed away in 1769. These newly discovered records reveal a number of key facts regarding the life of Anne Lytton Venton Mitchell:
- Anne Mitchell signed her name in most of the early records. This indicates she was literate. However, in many of the later records, Anne Mitchell did not sign but instead left her mark, suggesting that age and infirmity prevented her from signing.
- Anne Mitchell signed her name as “Anne Mitchell.” Until now, most people, including myself, had written her name as “Ann,” but it clearly should be “Anne.”
- Anne Mitchell’s daughter, Anne Lytton [Venton] Widberg also signed her name “Anne,” and in one record acted as her mother’s “curator.”
- Since Anne Lytton Venton Mitchell had been named after her mother Anne Faucett Lytton, it is probable that Anne Faucett Lytton’s name was also spelled “Anne” rather than “Ann.” (No original signature for Anne Faucett Lytton has been found, but her name is spelled Ann, Anna, and Anne in the original records.)
- Anne Mitchell purchased a house on St. Croix for 45,000 pieces of eight but had trouble paying her mortgage and sought a loan in September 1799 to help her out.
- Anne Lytton [Venton] Widberg’s husband passed away in or just before October 1800. Anne Mitchell was “called upon to pay attention to his funeral” but it was “not in [her] power to do it unless” she was given “money for that purpose” due to her “distressing situation.”
- In April 1801, Anne Mitchell again complained of her “extreme need” and “want” of money and begged that the “six months interest” due to her and her daughter, presumably from the Lytton estate, be paid. She accordingly received 120 pieces of eight.
- Six, twelve, and eighteen months later, Anne Mitchell again requested the “six months’ interest” owed to her and her daughter. In her requests of April and October 1802, Anne Mitchell again writes of her “extreme want” of the money owed to them. Clearly, Anne Mitchell and Anne Lytton Widberg struggled to make ends meet and therefore wanted and needed what was owed to them as soon as possible. (It is likely that Anne Mitchell and her daughter continued these requests but the letters documenting them have been lost.)
- In October 1802, Ann Mitchell lived “now next [to] the Dutch Church” in Christiansted, St. Croix.
- Edward Stevens, Alexander Hamilton’s close friend, acted as the “curator” for Anne Mitchell and Anne Widberg on St. Croix in 1805.
 For some details about the continuing operations of James Lytton’s estate and disputes concerning it, see Ann Mitchell to Alexander Hamilton, 1796, in The Papers of Alexander Hamilton 20:456–460.
© Posted on December 26, 2018, by Michael E. Newton. Please cite this blog post when writing about these new discoveries.