Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 10 – Lot 1
Title: [Research notes on Juan Esteban de Pena]
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: Research notes on Juan Esteban de Pena
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Block 10 – Lot 1
Physical Description: Research notes
Language: English
Copyright Date: Public Domain
Physical Location:
Box: 4
Divider: B10 L1 - Dr. Peck History
Folder: Block 10 Charlotte St.
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
143 Saint George Street (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Dr. Peck House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Peña-Peck House (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine -- 143 Saint George Street
Coordinates: 29.893507 x -81.312774
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00094115
Volume ID: VID00075
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: B10-L1

Full Text

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
/ j
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

in 1813.12

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

interest. 22

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





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."

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs