Juan Esteban de Pena was royal Treasurer in
St. Augustine in 1763 when the treaty ending the
Seven Years' Warlwas concluded at Paris. Before
the treaty could go into effect, he made an arrange-
ment with John Gordon of St. Augustine, an English
subject, to dispose of several houses and lots in
St. Augustine. These were presented as the person-
al properties of de Pena and were turned over to
Gordon as a bonafide title transfer. Among the
above properties was lot 1, block 10, The Spanish
The Spanish Treasury, house and lot, was held
by Gordon as his personal property until the news
of his death reached St. Augustine in 1778.3
Immediately following this news, the property was
received by William Clark. Clark was a creditor of
Gordon who presented a claim against Gordon's estate
to the British authorities. The British allowed his
claim to be settled through the transfer of the
Spanish Treasury property, lot 1, block 10, in lieu
of payment from the estate.4
The Spanish Treasury was then sold twice in
rapid succession. The first sale was by Clark to
Henry Yonge. The second sale was by Henry Yonge to
William Panton and Thomas Forbes,5 Thus, in the
year 1778, following the death of Clark, lot 1, block
10, changed hands three times.
William Panton and Thomas Forbes,6 the last
buyers, held the property from 1778 to 1785.7 In
the meantime, the American Revolution took place
between 1775 and 1783. Near the end of the conflict,
in 1782, Spain, having joined France and the United
States against Britain, was able to seize both Florida
in the Americas and Minorca in the Mediterranean
without British opposition. These had been the
two major losses Spain had sustained in the Seven
Years' War of twenty years before. The Americans and
British acquiesced in the Spanish seizure and formally
accepted, by treaty, Spanish control in both areas.
One of the immediate results for Florida was the
reevaluation of all propeay titles by the new Spanish
officials. The owners of the Spanish Treasury, then,
Panton and Forbes, had to have their title sustained
if they were to retain their property. They were suc-
cessful in eluding Spanish claims until 1785. However,
between 1785 and 1788, Panton and Forbes lost title to
lot 1, block 10 and the property reverted to the Spanish
crown.8 And in 1791, Governor Quesada sold the property
in the public sale of that year to Carlos Howard.9
Again the property changed hands three times in
quick succession, as had been the case at the death
of Gordon in 1778, thirteen years before. Here in
1791, Carlos Howard sold the property to Don Domingo
Rodriquez de Leon who in turn sold to Francisco Xavier
Sanchez owned the house and lot until 1807, when,
at his death the property went to his wife, Maria del
Carmen Sanchez.11 Maria, in turn, passed the property
on to her son, Jose Simeon Sanchez and to her daughter
and son-in-law, Maria and Felipe Dewees at her death
These three, Jose Simeon Sanchez and the Deweeses',sold,
in March 1821, to Jose Mariano Hernandez.13 This sale
was made two months after the ratification of the Treaty
of 1819 in February of 1821. By this treaty, the Florida
provinces were bought from Spain by the United States.
And when property titles were registered with the United
States authorities, Hernandez's title was invalidated.
He did not submit it within the specified time limit set
by the United States officials.14
No specific record can be found of who owned the
house or of what happens to it in the next years.
We were not able to show whether the Hernandez claim
was accepted later by the United States or if the house
and lot were sold. In 1828, "...a lot of General Joseph
M. Hernandez ..." was used as the west boundary in a
transfer of property from John M. Sanchez to John T.
Hedrick.15 Other than this brief mention of the lot,
there were a number of debts entered into by Hernandez
in relation to a sugar plantation at the mouth of Matanzas
River. Some action in connection with these debts
could possibly explain the transfer of ownership of
lot 1, block 10, but a thorough searching of newspapers,
deed books and court cases has not uncovered the actual
In 1833, however, James Heilbron of South Carolina
took a mortgage on lot 1, block 10, from Daniel S
i-T#r /1// i so 0o t ?/ S 'AoD B 0 Le l0/ oc Lo
Griswold of East Florida. The mortgage was to run until is
1838.17 Heilbron must, therefore, have owned the property.
In May, 1837, Griswold sold "...a certain lot of land
with dilapidated building theron ..." which is lot 1,
block 10, to Dr. Seth S. Peck for $350.00 and the
unpaid portion of the Heilbron mortgage held in
South Carolina.18 The next month, June, Dr. Peck
became full owner of the property upon his payment
of $918.00 to James Heilbron to complete the
The house and lot remained in the Peck family
throughout the rest of its tenure as a private residence.
Dr. Peck owned the house until his death in 1841.
Sarah Lay Peck, his wife, inherited the house from
Dr. Peck20 and owned it until her death in 1879.
Following Sarah Lay's death, the property passed
to her two daughters, Mary L. and Rebecca Peck.21
-These women held the property jointly until 1910
when Rebecca died and Mary inherited Rebecca's half
In 1912, Mary L. Peck died and Anna G. Burt,
niece of Mary L. and Rebecca Peck, and granddaughter
of Sarah Lay Peck, inherited the whole interest in
the house from her aunt, Mary L. Peck.23
In 1931, the city of St. Augustine received the
house and lot, lot 1, block 10, at the death of Anna
G. Burt. The city now holds the property with the
stipulation that it be maintained as an antebellum
home and, if not, that it be turned over to the
executors of Ann G. Burt's estate, the Florida National
Bank of Jacksonville. 1
In order to understand this document, it is necessary to be acquainted
with the circumstances, and the reason for its issuance.
The British left many properties unsold when they departed in 1783-4
because they could not find purchasers.
Don Manuel Zespedes, the first of the second Spanish period governors,
wrote to Don Jose de Galvez, in Cuba, on April 29, 1785:
The prolonged time of four months having expired on the 19th inst.
which the King, in his goodness, added to the eighteen [months]
established by the Treaty of Peace for the emigration of the British
subjects, I consider it my indispensable duty to inform Your
Excellency of the extreme decline of this province a general
desolation reigning . to the very gates of this city, and even
within the same, not presenting to the sight, either within or
without [anything] but unroofed edifices, threatening ruin or already
fallen to the ground. Even the houses which the subjects of His
Majesty have purchased from the English, impaired at the time of
purchase, are not repaired for want of funds. The greatest part
of the purchasers being dependent upon the King's pay, and those not
having received any part of their salaries in money, relying on the
rations of flour and salt meats, which, until now, have been supplied
us, on credit, by foreigners, and fresh beef, which I have supplied,
also on credit, from an old Floridian, Don Francisco Sanchez.
. The wretchedness, most excellent sir, has arrived to such a
degree, that there are days in which the market, being well supplied
with vegetables, all the gardeners together cannot dispose of their
product to the value of one real.
And on May, 8, 1785:
All the houses of this city, in general, are in a state of
ruin; almost the half uninhabitable, and a great number of the
whole tumbling to the ground, so that all the inhabitants who
have arrived, or may shortly arrive, will be under necessity of rep-
airing or rebuilding.
As no person has purchased lands, they have, devolved to the
Crown, for which motive, besides the instructions relative
to the division of lots and houses, as approved by Your Excellency
I respectfully conceive that it is important for the settlement
of this country THAT POWER SHOULD BE GIVEN ME as soon as possible
to grant lands with preference to the old inhabitants of
the c'douitry,"'aft'erwards o the if -i oo y an so'or' o"a yn theiri Spaniard
who may come to settle, and lastly to foreigners, in case His
Majesty may think it proper to it the 'same -as 'subj'e' t'
I have thought it my indispensable duty to inform Your Excellency
of the foregoing statement, for the purpose of laying before the
King these circumstances, so important to the prosperity of this
newborn province, that he may be pleased . to issue those
orders he may judge most convenient . .
Galvez replied on July 4 that he would inform the Minister of the
Indies, so that . such measures might be taken as are agreeable
to him, or may merit the approbation of the King.
Evidently nothing more happened until the next governor, Quesada,
arrived in 1790. He immediately took a trip around town and finding
conditions deplorable, ordered every property listed, and those that
had reverted to the Crown appraised and put up for public sale. This
was done and the sale was held April 8, 1791. The purchasers were
to pay 5% down, agree to repair the houses purchased within a year,
and pay 5% a year.
TEN YEARS LATER, June 17, 1801, Quesada was gone and Enrique
White was governor. The Kjng issued a Cedula, which states in part:
. in your letter of 20 October, 1798, you [Gov. White]
stated, with proof, that some refused the payment of the 5%,
founding their objections on the grants of lands made to
foreigners establishing themselves in that colony, and that
the houses and lots in that city were not included in those
grants,and seeing the continued increase of tavers and shops,
without any improvement whatever in agriculture and other
staples of commerce, you gave an account for my royal resolution,
not only for this incident, but likewise of the'other, pending
from the time of your predecessor.
Having observed, in my Council of the Indies, the opinion
of my Fiscal . and consulting on the same the 17th of April
last, I HAVE RESOLVED TO REMIT, IN FAVOR OF THOSE INDEBTED TO
THE FINANCE, THE PAYMENT OF THE CAPITAL AND INTERESTS ON THE
HOUSES AND LOTS THEY ACQUIRED, AND APPROVE THE SALE, AND OTHER
STEPS, TAKEN BY YOUR SAID PREDECESSOR [ Quesada] GIVING TO EACH
A TITLE OF POSSESSION AND PROPERTY, that they may be secured
hereafter in the possession of said estate, it being thus
my will . .
Dated at Aranjuez, the 17th of Juse, 1801,
I, the King.
Charles Howard had purchased the property at the public
sale and then transferred it to Domingo Rodriguez de Leon, who in
turn sold it to Francisco Xavier Sancheazon November 2, 1791.
This document is Sanchez' confirmation of title from Governor White,
and is dated May 23, 1804.
For your further information, the section of map that you have
framed with the document is part of the 1788 De la Rocque map. The
key to this map identified No. 141 [corner of St. George & Treasury]
as a "House of masonry and flat roofs, its walls in fair condition,
its roofs in bad [condition] in the custody of Don Antonio
Fernandez, as well as its lot."
1 ANo. 143,[on the corner of the Plaza and Charlotte Street,]is identified
as": "Two story masonry house, in good condition, owned by the Crown,
serves as Accountancy and Treasury, with its lot."