Similar to his brother-in-law and business partner, Oliver DeLancey, John Watts was an influential loyalist merchant in New York City with close political and economic ties to Britain. Watts and DeLancey were both members of the Anglican church, which may have affected their political leanings. Unlike DeLancey, who was a Brigadier General of a loyalist militia, Watts was not entirely opposed to American independence, but he disapproved of the revolutionaries’ violent methods.
Watts left America for Britain when British troops evacuated New York City in 1783. In a letter written to his son in 1785, his opinion on exile is mixed: Once I thought to have spent my last breath [in America], but since providence has otherwise ordained it, I am content, and must finish my days amongst strangers. (The New York Merchant on the Eve of the Revolution)