October 8, 1968
Chronology Lot 1, Block 10 1763 1791
1763 Juan Esteban de immediately ff, the treaty of 1763
1763 John Gordon
1778 William Clark
1778 William Clark to rienry Yonge
1778 Henry Yonge to Panton and Forbes
1785 1788 Panton and Forbes to King of Spain
1788 King of Spain
1791 Carlos Howard
Mrs. Arana has interperted her research efforts and has established
the above chronology and the following narrative as to the ownership
of block 10, lot 1, St. Augustine, 1763 1791.
Juan Esteban de Pena was the royal treasurer in St..Augustine
in 1763 when the treaty ending the Seven Years' War was concluded
at Paris. Before the treaty could go into effect he made an arrange-
ment with John Gordon of St. Augustine, and English subject, to
dispose of several houses and lots in St. Augustine. These were
presented as his personal properties but it may be that they were
crown properties disguised as parts of his personal estate to escape
incorporation into the English crown properties.* In any case,
John Gordon received several houses and lots as buyer from de Pena,
and among these lot 1, block 10, the Spanish Treasury. It is later
disclosed under the various petitions and dispositions submitted
by Antonio Fernandez that the Spanish Treasury building and lot
were one of several properties consigned specificly to Gordon in a
trust agreement for de Pena and others.
Thus Gordon holds lot 1, block 10 as his personal property when
the British take over. That his title was accepted by them as
having come through a bonafide purchase is established when the
British allow the sale of lot 1, block 10, by Gordon's executors to
William Clark following Gordon's death in.1778. Clark was a creditor
of Gordon and it was to satisfy Clark's claim that the house and lot
were sold to him.
In the same year, 1778, Clark sold lot 1, block 10 to Henry
Yonge who, also in 1778, sells to William Panton and Thomas Forbes,
the principals in a New York trading firm active in East Florida.*
Thomas Forbes, in fact, was the nephew of Gordon and was appointed
executor of Gordon's estate by Gordon's will. He arrived in St.
Augustine with a duty to settle his uncle's affairs,
* We have no proof of this.
* In 1788 there is the sworn statement by Carlos Howard that he saw
a document bearing the governor's seal which was the transfer of
.ot 1, block 10 from Clark to Yongel further he also saw a docu-
ment in validation of sale of lot l, block 10 from Yonge to Panton
& Forbes, These documents were drawn in 1788.
Here matters stood with lot 1, block 10 owned by William Panton
and Thomas Forbes from 1778 until 1785, the last date in ownership
we are certain of until 1788. In 1788, however, the Roque map shows
lot 1, block 10 to be Royal property "t..in the custody of Don Antonio
Fernandez, as well as its lot," Fernandez holds the house in lieu
of a settlement of a claim against Gordon's estate. This claim has
been held in abeyance until 1788 (i.e. the Roque map's statement that
lot 1, block 10 is royal property) and is finally settled against the
claimants. Such a settlement is indicated since the property is sold
as crown property by Governor Quesada in the sale of 1791 to Howard.
The confusion as to title between 1778, following Forbes's
purchase (Panton and Forbes Co.) to 1788 is largely dispelled by the
following information. What happened in the ten years between 1778
and 1788 is that lot 1,'block 10 passes from Gordon to his creditor,,
Clark then to Yonge, then to Forbes and finally to the Spanish crown.
Forbes holds the property when the British hand the Floridas back to
Spain. And it is with the arrival of the Spanish authorities that
the trust agreement between John Gordon and de Pena is brought to
Antonio Fernandez appears before the Governor at St. Augustine
and presents claims by the heirs of de Pena against the estate of
John Gordon, to wits that they (the heirs) should be reinstated in
their full ownership of the house and lot, lot I, block 10. The
claim is based on a written agreement signed by de Pana and by Gordon
establishing lot 1, block 10 as to be held in trust for de Pena by
The plea is heard by Governor Zespedes in 1785. Zespedes,
however, refuses to act against the owner, Thomas Forbes, until
hearing from the king, Ze3pedes maintains that as Forbes's
ownership was recognized by the British as legitimate, the matter
was now subject to the action of the king in regard to the status
of former British subjects. A cedula had been issued stating that
all landowners not remaining in the province would forfeit the
property to the crown. Panton and Forbes were then petitioning to
remain and do business in the Floridas. Thus the outcome of their
petition would determine their property rights in St. Augustine.
Therefore, Zespedes refused to rule definitively on the case.
If Panton and Forbes were not allowed to continue in East
Florida, the question would then be whether or not Forbes's property,
lot 1, block 10, should revert to the crown or be turned over to
Fernandez's clients to satisfy their claim.
The next year, 1786, Fernandez wrote that "..,he is of the
opinion that since the heirs were not able to prove their claim..,,*
they might cause a tribunal to be called to allow them the value of
the property at the time of its sale from Gordon's estate to Clark
Two years later, 1788, the Roque map show the property as being
croWn gpropeftynt"& ,i the custody of Don Antonio Fernandez. h
HInerore t Forbc pbes mus not rave been susaane i tneir
petition, and thus have lost their property, Further, in 1788,
Fernandez is still pressing his claim and has only been able to gain
custody of crown property. And by 1791, when the Quesada sale is
held, he has evidently lost his plea completely as the house and lot,
lot 1, block 10 (Quesada #89,Block 10) is sold as a *".,rubble-work
masonry house with lot of the king."
So between 1785 and 1788,Panton and Forbes lost title to lot 1a
block 10 and the property reverted to the crown. It then was
sold as crown property in 1791 and passed to Carlos Howard,
Hence, the property transfer has been traced definitively
through the period from 1763 to 1785. The one area of
doubt is as to the year in which Forbes lost the property
to the crown, a year. wh4ch must lie between 1785 and 1788.