British Loyalist in the American Colonies
Image: Shot Heard ‘Round The World
Anne Hulton was a sister of Boston’s commissioner of customs and, like some 15 to 35 percent of the white colonial population, a British Loyalist. Loyalists were American colonists who remained loyal to Great Britain during and after the Revolutionary War. They were often referred to as Tories, Royalists, or King’s Men by the Patriots, those who supported the American cause.
Most of what is known about Anne Hulton comes from the letters she wrote to her friend Elizabeth Lightbody between 1763 and 1776. Of Hulton’s published letters the most frequently studied have been those written during 1767-1776, collected in Letters of a Loyalist Lady (1927). Scholars first noticed Hulton through her brother, Henry Hulton, who was a commissioner of customs (a tax officer) in Boston during the nine years preceding Revolutionary War.
The letters offer a firsthand view of political relations in the prewar period, as well as Loyalist views of the American Revolution. They also chronicle the everyday life of an upper-class eighteenth-century woman in colonial America, and they portray a friendship between two women who worry about one another’s health, share news of friends and relations, and maintain their correspondence even in wartime.
Hulton’s work offers the modern reader insight into various facets of life in the colonies: social relations, gossip and fashions; agricultural practices, observations on native plants and animals and domestic economy; diseases and cures; and the family ties and responsibilities of single women in the eighteenth century.
Anne Hulton’s birth date is unknown. E. Alfred Jones has noted that her father was John Hulton of Chester and that she never married. She did, however, become an important member of her brother’s growing family, which consisted of Henry, his wife, Elizabeth, and the four sons whose births were noted in Hulton’s letters.
In September 1767, Anne announced two exciting events: Henry Hulton’s appointment to a post in the colonies and the birth of his first child. Henry and his wife wanted Anne to accompany them to their new home, and he had promised to take good care of her there. She also laid out her intentions to do something productive in the colonies. She planned to establish herself as either a merchant or planter.
Henry Hulton left England ahead of his family, arriving in Boston in November 1767. Anne Hulton left for the colonies early in 1768, traveling with Elizabeth and baby Thomas. On her arrival in Massachusetts five weeks later, Hulton got a clearer view of political life there, which presumably deflated her ideas of becoming a tradeswoman.