Group Title: Florida : from the beginning to 1992 : a Columbus jubilee commemorative
Title: Florida
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 Material Information
Title: Florida from the beginning to 1992 : a Columbus jubilee commemorative
Physical Description: xii, 204 p. : ill. (some col.), maps ; 29 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Coker, William S
Shofner, Jerrell H., 1929-
Morris, Joan Perry, 1935-
Malone, Myrtle Davidson
Publisher: Pioneer Publications
Place of Publication: Houston Tex. (12345 Jones Rd. Suite 103 Houston 77070-4843)
Publication Date: c1991
Subject: Industries -- Florida   ( lcsh )
History -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 201-203) and index.
Statement of Responsibility: by William S. Coker and Jerrell H. Shofner ; Joan Perry Morris, photo editor ; edited by Myrtle D. Malone.
Funding: Funded by a grant from the Florida Humanities Council
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00025122
Volume ID: VID00007
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: Board of Trustees of the University of Florida on behalf of authors and contributors. All rights reserved.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 001747568
oclc - 25790765
notis - AJG0402
lccn - 91066897

Full Text

Chapter 7
British West Florida, 1763-1781

The British came to West Florida with plans to bring large numbers of
colonists to the area and to make it a financial success. Most of West Florida
consisted of vacant land. Advertising in London newspapers spoke of new
opportunities to make fortunes, and a number of colonists arrived hoping to
do just that. But the American Revolution intervened.

French and Spanish Losses in 1763

The French and Indian War changed the entire map of North America.
The Spaniards traded Florida to the British for the return of Havana and
Manila, both lost to Great Britain in 1762. France lost all of its North
American colonies. Louisiana and New Orleans went to Spain. Everything
else, including its possessions in Canada, went to Great Britain. The British
now controlled everything east of the Mississippi River.

The British decided to divide Florida into two colonies, East and West. By
the Proclamation of 1763 it fixed the boundaries of these colonies. West
Florida (in land area) was the largest of the 15 British colonies in what is now
the United States.

The British made Pensacola the capital of the new colony of West Florida.
Artwork by A.L.L. Martin, P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History, University of Florida.

Coker, William S., et al. Florida :from the beginning to 1992. Houston, TX : Pioneer
Publications, C 1991.
All rights reserved. Reprinted here with the permission of the authors. Intended for
educational use only.

West Florida's Population and Urban Centers

In 1763, the estimated population of West Florida was 2,000 people (this
meant settlers, and did not include Indian population). Most residents were
French colonists or people of mixed-blood ancestry who lived along the Gulf
Coast, by the rivers and in Mobile. Pensacola and Mobile were generally
considered to be the only towns worthy of mention at the time. Pensacola,
although it was the capital, was practically deserted. The Spanish inhabitants
and their Indian allies left for Cuba or Mexico. Thus Pensacola's population
grew only as newcomers arrived. By the 1770s, West Florida's population had
reached about 6,000. This included veterans of the recent wars and others
who came to farm the rich lands on the east bank of the Mississippi River. By
the mid-1770s, British Loyalists, who wanted to escape the American
Revolution also moved to West Florida.

James Noble

One of the first British citizens to arrive at Pensacola was James Noble.
Noble, who claimed to represent important British investors, reached
Pensacola in early summer 1763. He quickly purchased houses and lots from
the departing Spaniards. Noble also traded his ship, The Jupiter, to the
Spaniards for 13,000 pesos worth of goods. He then negotiated with the
departing Yamasee-Apalachino Indians for the purchase of some of their
lands. Although no map has been discovered of these lands, they extended
roughly from east Pensacola Bay and the Escambia River to the
Choctawhatchee River, and from the Gulf of Mexico to a line north of the 31st
parallel. Noble contracted to purchase the lands for 100,000 pesos and gave
the Indians goods valued at 4,000 pesos as down payment. But the West
Florida Council disapproved Noble's claim to the land because he did not
have sufficient proof of title. Several years later, the Indians, then living in
Mexico, appealed to the Spanish government to force Noble to pay them the
outstanding balance of 96,000 pesos. Noble did not get the land and the
Indians did not get their money. However, Noble did receive title to the
houses and lots that he had purchased in Pensacola.

British Occupation of West Florida

Official British occupation of West Florida began on August 6, 1763, with
the arrival of Lt. Col. Augustin Prevost and the 3rd Battalion of the Royal
American Regiment. Maj. William Forbes arrived on November 30 with the
35th Regiment. Both Prevost and Forbes wrote unfavorable reports about the

Coker, William S., et al. Florida :from the beginning to 1992. Houston, TX : Pioneer
Publications, C 1991.
All rights reserved. Reprinted here with the permission of the authors. Intended for
educational use only.

area. Prevost, however, did believe that the backcountry was capable of
improvement, if the colony could attract a large number of settlers. Since no
Spaniards or Indians remained in the Pensacola area after September 1763,
the first contact between the British and the French and Indian inhabitants
was made in Mobile.

Major Robert Farmar

The task of governing Mobile fell to Maj. Robert Farmar, who reached the
city on October 20. The cession of Louisiana to Spain had caused a number
of Frenchmen to remain in Mobile. Farmer quickly issued a manifesto. Among
other things, it declared that English law would replace French law. The sale
of land was forbidden until titles had been duly recorded. Those who wished
to remain had to swear an oath of allegiance to King George III within three
months. Farmar promised safe transportation to those wishing to depart, but
many of the Frenchmen elected to stay.

Farmar also held an Indian congress. Although opposed to the French
policy of giving presents, food, and drink to the Indians, Farmar realized he
had little choice if he wished to win their friendship. He told the Indians about
the transfer of the area from French to British rule. He asked them to pay their
debts but said they would be protected against dishonest traders. He also
established a policy of "an eye for an eye." If any Indian harmed a settler, or
a settler harmed an Indian, the guilty person would be punished.

Farmar got into trouble with Governor Johnstone and others over a variety
of problems and faced a general court-martial in 1768. He was found innocent
but lost his position. He returned to Mobile and lived on his plantation, Farm
Hall, located on the Tensa River, until his death in 1778.

The Governor and Council

The West Florida government consisted of a governor, appointed by the
crown, and a twelve-member council. The council, including the chief justice
and the surveyor-general, assisted and advised the governor. The governor
selected the council members but they had to receive royal approval. A total
of 26 people served as members of the council, which was the upper house
of West Florida's bicameral legislature.

Coker, William S., et al. Florida :from the beginning to 1992. Houston, TX : Pioneer
Publications, C 1991.
All rights reserved. Reprinted here with the permission of the authors. Intended for
educational use only.

Commons House of Assembly

A Commons House of Assembly, with members elected from established
districts, served as the lower house of the legislature. During its existence, 56
people were elected to the assembly. The districts included Pensacola,
Mobile, Campbell Town, Natchez and Manchac, but the dates for the
establishment and representation of the districts varied. For example,
Campbell Town was represented only in the first four assemblies. The
legislature could enact laws, as long as they had the approval of the
governor. Of course, all such laws were subject to review by the Board of
Trade and the Privy Council in London. The governors of West Florida also
convoked seven General Assemblies between 1766 and 1778.

The Governors of West Florida

Five people served as governor or interim governor of British West
Florida: George Johnstone (1763-67), Montfort Browne (Interim, 1767-69,
1769), John Eliot (1769), Elias Durnford (Interim, 1769-1770), and Peter
Chester (1770-1781).

Johnstone, who received his appointment in 1763, did not arrive until
October 1764. He was the most controversial of all of West Florida's
governors. After Johnstone's arrival in Pensacola, he became involved in
confrontations with the military both in Pensacola and Mobile. In addition, he
had a great deal of trouble with the Creeks, who claimed that British traders
were overcharging them for trade goods.

Johnstone is credited with several important accomplishments. He
inaugurated civil government and established the assembly. He is responsible
for expanding the boundary of West Florida north to the mouth of the Yazoo
River in order to include the fertile lands in that area. In 1765, he and Indian
Superintendent John Stuart secured two large cessions of farmland from the
Indians: 2,641,920 acres in the Natchez District and 853,760 acres in the
Mobile area. The acquisition of these lands helped attract British settlers to
West Florida.

After Johnstone's departure in January 1767, Lt. Gov. Browne held the
office until the arrival of Gov. John Eliot on April 2, 1769. Eliot kept the office
for only one month and on May 2, hanged himself. Although there was
considerable local opposition, Browne once more became interim governor.

Coker, William S., et al. Florida :from the beginning to 1992. Houston, TX : Pioneer
Publications, C 1991.
All rights reserved. Reprinted here with the permission of the authors. Intended for
educational use only.

Elias Durnford served as both surveyor general and governor for
British West Florida.
From the files of the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History,
__T IUniversity of Florida.

Elias Durnford, the surveyor general, returned to England that summer.
Browne thought Durnford intended to assist him in becoming governor, but
was deeply humiliated when Durnford returned as the new interim governor
later in 1769. Durnford remained in office until August 10, 1770, when the last
of the governors, Peter Chester, arrived.

West Florida's Courts

The courts were modeled on those of the other colonies and England. In
1764, all council members and 19 other people were appointed justices of the
peace. They could require people to put up a bond or could put them in jail to
keep the peace. Two justices acting together could try people for violating the
laws of England or the colony. Cases involving a person's life were referred to
the supreme court. There was also a general court of pleas that had both
criminal and civil jurisdiction. This court met in Pensacola four times a year. In
1765, Governor Johnstone created a vice-admiralty court. Other courts in
West Florida included: a court of requests and a court of oyer and terminer.
Appeals from sentences imposed by the courts were allowed with the
procedure modeled upon that of English courts.

Government Financial Support

West Florida had little or no income and no money to operate the
government. Parliament supported West Florida with an annual grant. In
1768-69, the two highest paid officials were the governor, 1,200, and the
chief justice, 500. The two lowest paid officials were the schoolmasters at

Coker, William S., et al. Florida :from the beginning to 1992. Houston, TX : Pioneer
Publications, C 1991.
All rights reserved. Reprinted here with the permission of the authors. Intended for
educational use only.

Pensacola and Mobile, who received only 25 per year. The ministers at
Pensacola and Mobile were paid 100 a year. Financial support for West
Florida from Great Britain varied from 3,900 to 7,200 annually. There was a
contingent fund for unexpected expenses and an Indian fund for
entertainment, presents, and the good will of the Indians. In 1768-69, these
two funds each amounted to 1,000.

The Church

The governors received instructions to insure "the maintenance of public
morality and the establishing of the Church of England." In 1765, the Board of
Trade directed that the Earl of Halifax, one of the secretaries of state, appoint
ministers to the Floridas as recommended by the Bishop of London. Rev.
William Dawson was assigned to Pensacola, and Rev. Samuel Hart to
Mobile. Both remained briefly and soon departed for South Carolina because
of the meager pay that they received. Next, Rev. William Gordon came to
Pensacola and Rev. Nathaniel Cotten went to Mobile. In 1780, Rev. James
Brown became the minister at Pensacola, but his service was cut short by the
Spanish victory there in May 1781.

No foreign ecclesiastical jurisdiction was to be recognized in the Floridas,
but Catholics were to be allowed freedom of religion "as far as the laws of
England permitted." Although the Spanish Catholics had left West Florida, a
large number of French Catholics remained. The Mobile Catholics continued
to worship in their own church, which in 1768 was the only church building in
the colony. Efforts in 1772 to have the salary of the Catholic priest there paid
by the British government were disapproved in London. The relationship
between the Protestants and Catholics in West Florida was good and no
problems muddied the religious waters.

Durnford Surveys Pensacola

One of Elias Durnford's accomplishments as surveyor general was to
survey Pensacola. It had been little more than a military outpost during the
Spanish era, and lacked any kind of town plan. Durnford divided the town into
two sections. The section near the waterfront was laid out into town lots 80
feet by 160 feet. Each town lot had a corresponding garden lot, 160 feet by
320 feet, which was located north of the dividing line, present-day Garden
Street. In the town lot section, a large central area was reserved for military
purposes. Durnford also laid out a new town several miles north of
Pensacola's city limits.

Coker, William S., et al. Florida :from the beginning to 1992. Houston, TX : Pioneer
Publications, C 1991.
All rights reserved. Reprinted here with the permission of the authors. Intended for
educational use only.

Campbell Town

In 1765, a group of French Huguenots in England petitioned for land on
which to grow grapes and silkworms. They requested passage, clothing, tools
and temporary subsistence. Lt. Gov. Browne, before he left England, became
involved in the French plans. Some 48 immigrants sailed on the galley Red
Head and arrived at Pensacola in mid-January 1766. Rev. Peter Levrier
accompanied them as pastor and schoolmaster. Gov. Johnstone provided
them with 20,000 acres of land on the Escambia River, and Durnford laid out
the new town for them. Campbell Town was made an electoral district and
elected two people to the first four assemblies, although virtually every
election there was contested.

Unfortunately, the land at Campbell Town was not very fertile. Also, the
residents suffered much sickness, which might have been malaria or yellow
fever. By 1770, only a few persons remained there. The others had either
died or moved elsewhere.

German Emigrants in Pensacola?

In 1776, a group of German emigrants, 14 families and six single men, 45
people altogether, supposedly reached Pensacola. They had a contract with
Jeremiah Terry and Company, a Pensacola merchant, by which they were to
serve as indentured servants for four years. Those under 21 years of age
were to serve until of age. Terry and Company agreed to provide them with
food and clothing. Nothing more is known about these people. Terry owned
2,600 acres of land near Pensacola and perhaps they settled there. There is
also a brief reference to German settlers on the Pascagoula River, but there
is no known tie between them and Terry and Company.

West Florida's Economy

In 1763, West Florida was considered to have substantial economic
potential: as a fishery, for naval stores, and as a source of lumber and
provisions for the Caribbean sugar islands. The people who came to West
Florida hoped to make money either through trading with the Spaniards in
Louisiana and elsewhere, or with the Indians. The slave trade also became
very important economically. Business with the Indians concentrated largely
upon the fur trade. A brisk trade developed with the British islands such as
Jamaica and with the French islands.

Coker, William S., et al. Florida :from the beginning to 1992. Houston, TX : Pioneer
Publications, C 1991.
All rights reserved. Reprinted here with the permission of the authors. Intended for
educational use only.

Although illegal, a considerable trade was carried on with Spanish
Louisiana and Mexico. Because the British enjoyed free navigation of the
Mississippi River, trade with Spanish Louisiana was both easy and lucrative.
In fact, some British merchants lived and operated out of New Orleans.
Occasionally, Spanish governors confiscated British ships and wares, but that
only slowed and did not stop such trade.

The major crops on the plantations were indigo and tobacco, with rice a
distant third. Other plantation products included lumber, yellow pine, cypress
and oak, naval stores, (especially tar and pitch) and some cotton. There were
few large plantations and all depended on slave labor.

Maritime activity was the key to economic success or failure in West
Florida. Boats, not ocean products, were the lifeblood of the colony. A packet
system was introduced in January 1764, which, until 1781, functioned
reasonably well bringing mail, passengers and cargo to West Florida.

The American Revolution

Since Britain supported the Floridas through parliamentary grants, people
in East and West Florida did not have the same economic grievances with the
mother country as did the other 13 colonies. Both Floridas remained loyal to
Great Britain during the revolution.

Although Spain hesitated to assist the American colonies because of the
precedent it would set for its own colonies, the Spaniards welcomed any
opportunity of getting even with the British. After all, Spain had lost Gibraltar
in 1713 and Florida in 1763 to Great Britain. Initially, King Charles III of Spain
helped American rebels by sending arms and ammunition. When France
joined the war, however, Spain also moved against the British.

Colonel Bernardo de Galvez

On January 1, 1777, Col. Bernardo de Galvez became governor of
Spanish Louisiana. He soon received royal permission to work with the
Americans through Oliver Pollock, the agent of the Continental Congress in
New Orleans. Galvez also provided sanctuary for American Capt. James
Willing. In 1778, Willing raided the Natchez district of British West Florida and
carried his plunder, mostly slaves, to New Orleans. Galvez also seized eleven
British ships engaged in contraband trade on the Mississippi, and ordered the
expulsion of all British subjects from Louisiana. When negotiations for the

Coker, William S., et al. Florida :from the beginning to 1992. Houston, TX : Pioneer
Publications, C 1991.
All rights reserved. Reprinted here with the permission of the authors. Intended for
educational use only.

return of Gibraltar failed in 1779, Spain declared war upon Great Britain.
Galvez already had a plan of attack.

Galvez Captures British Posts on the Mississippi

On August 27, 1779, Galvez led a Spanish force up the Mississippi River.
He captured Fort Bute at Manchac on September 7, and two weeks later took
Baton Rouge. Col. Alexander Dickson, British commander on the Mississippi,
gave up Natchez when he surrendered Baton Rouge.

Siege of Mobile (1780)

The next target for Galvez was Mobile, which he reached in mid-February
1780. Capt. Elias Durnford, commanding the British forces at Fort Charlotte,
labored to prepare for the Spanish attack. Galvez established his advanced
camp on the Spanish River and ordered a battery constructed west of Fort
Charlotte. The Spaniards began their cannon fire about 10 a.m. on March 12,
and bombarded the fort throughout the day. By sunset, the British were out of
ammunition and raised the white flag. Terms were reached on March 14, and
Durnford surrendered. Reinforcements from Pensacola under Gen. John
Campbell did not reach Mobile in time to help.

The British Strike Back

In January 1781, Col. J. L. W. Von Hanxleden led British troops from
Pensacola and attempted to capture a Spanish outpost called The Village on
the east bank of Mobile Bay. Hanxleden and several of his officers were killed
and the attempt failed.

Siege of Pensacola (1781)

In 1781 Galvez prepared an invasion fleet in Havana and sailed for
Pensacola in February. After successfully entering Pensacola Bay, the
Spaniards moved to Sutton's Lagoon (Bayou Chico) and established their
advanced camp there. The British controlled Fort George, and two redoubts,
the Queen's Redoubt and the Prince of Wales, and felt they could keep the
Spaniards out of Pensacola. However, during the bombardment of the
Queen's Redoubt, a shell rolled into the powder magazine and exploded,
killing many British soldiers. The Spaniards quickly occupied the redoubt and
from there began firing an intense artillery barrage at the other redoubt and

Coker, William S., et al. Florida :from the beginning to 1992. Houston, TX : Pioneer
Publications, C 1991.
All rights reserved. Reprinted here with the permission of the authors. Intended for
educational use only.

Fort George. General Campbell soon elected to discuss terms with Galvez.
The formal surrender took place at 3 p.m. on May 10. With Galvez's victory at
Pensacola, all of British West Florida was under Spanish control.

Bernardo de Galvez, governor of Spanish Louisiana, who
mounted the siege that captured Pensacola from the
British in 1781.
Recopilaci6n sumaria de todos de los autos acordados,

Spain's role in the American Revolution is often overlooked. The British
faced two major defeats in 1781. The first was to the Spanish at Pensacola,
and the second was to French and American forces at Yorktown. Spain's
greatest hour, however, did not come until the Paris peace conference in
1783. Under the terms of the treaty, Great Britain ceded East and West
Florida back to Spain.


Coker, William S., et al. Florida :from the beginning to 1992. Houston, TX : Pioneer
Publications, C 1991.
All rights reserved. Reprinted here with the permission of the authors. Intended for
educational use only.

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