Amyot, Thomas

Amyot, Thomas (1775-1850), a lawyer and antiquary, was born in Norwich, England where his father, Peter Amyot (c. 1736-1790), was a watchmaker. His great-grandfather was the eldest son of a physician to Louis XIII, and originally settled the family in Norwich. Despite being brought up on minimal education, he eventually worked at a law firm before opening up his own practice. Amyot became an agent for the whig politician, William Windham, who was defending his Norwich seat in 1802. He was also named the private secretary for Windham four years later, now the secretary at war. Amyot married Jane Colman (bap. 1784, d. 1884) in 1806, with whom he had three sons and four daughters. Amyot moved to London for his work with Windham and continued to work in the colonial office after his employer died 1810. In 1819 he was appointed registrar to the task of keeping records of the slave population of the British colonies of the West Indies. From 1833 to 1840 Amyot was one of the commissioners for slave compensation to owners after the emancipation of their slaves. His government posts gave him freedom to follow his historical and archeological interests. His only substantial publication was a compilation of Windham’s speeches with a memoir. He was elected FRS and FSA, serving as treasurer and contributing fifteen papers to the society’s Transactions between 1818 and 1833. Amyot helped found the Camden Society and, in 1839, became its director for life. He also assisted other societies, including the Percy and the Shakespeare. In 1847 he chaired the successful London Committee for the Purchase of Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Amyot showed signs of declining health in 1845, and died in 1850, two years after his wife. After being buried in Westminster, he was memorialized by Henry Crabb Robinson and John Bruce in the Gentlemen’s Magazine.