LOYALIST REFUGEES AND THE BRITISH EVACUATION OF EAST FLORIDA,
1783-1785 by Carole Watterson Troxler
FROM THE beginning of the American Revolution, the security afforded by the St. Augustine garrison attracted loyalists from nearby Georgia and the Carolinas to the British colony of East Florida. The stream of refugees fluctuated with the course of the war. It swelled in 1778, reflecting the confiscation and banishment acts, but reversed itself the following year in the wake of the British invasion of the southern colonies. The autumn of 1782 brought a flood of men who had gained the enmity of their neighbors by service in loyalist militia or provincial corps. They ac companied the British withdrawal, first from Savannah and then from Charleston, many bringing families with them. The removal of slaves, the most salvageable form of wealth, further increased the number of displaced persons arriving from the Carolinas and Georgia. Estimates for the population in early 1783 range between 6,000 and 8,000 for whites and between 9,000 and 11,000 for blacks. Most of them had not lived in East Florida before the war and would leave by the end of 1785.1
Carole Watterson Troxler is associate professor of history, Elon College, North Carolina. The author wishes to express appreciation for a grant from Elon College with which part of the article was prepared.
1. "Considerations submitted to Lord Shelburne on the means of rendering Loyal Americans useful to Government," December 11, 1782, Shelburne Papers, LXVII, 447, transcripts in Public Archives of Canada; East Florida Returns, British Headquarters Papers, Nos. 6159, 6475, 7468, Public Archives of Canada (hereinafter cited as BHP); "Observations on East Flor ida," enclosed in Bernardo del Campo to Conde de Floridablanca, June 8, 1783, Archivo Hist_rico Nacional: Estado, legajo 4246, Ap I, 117-27, in Joseph Byrne Lockey, East Florida 1783-1785: A File of Documents Assembled, and Many of Them Translated, ed. by John Walton Caughey (Berkeley, 1949), 120-21; Colonial Office Papers 5:560, 482-84, 493-98, 805-20, Public Record Office (hereinafter cited as CO); Wilbur Henry Siebert, Loyalists in East Florida, 1783-1785, 2 vols. (Deland, Florida, 1929), I, 115; Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report On American Manuscripts in the Royal Institution of Great Britain, 4 vols. (Hereford, England, 1909), IV, 97; Carole Watterson Troxler, "The Migration of Carolina and Georgia Loyalists to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick"
If the loyalists were insignificant in the history of East Florida, the reverse certainly was not true. They tried to build a new life there, like their old ones, hoping against the fear of a cession to Spain and trying to ignore its likelihood. When the fear became reality in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, the loyalist refugees' response resulted in anything but the orderly and prompt evacuation which the peacemakers envisioned. An examination of that response and the ensuing British evacuation of East Florida discloses the anguish, desperation, and pettiness of men and women whose roles in an imperial struggle had ended but whose personal lives faced a wrenching and uncertain transition.
During the first half of 1782, even before the cession, East Florida was in danger of being abandoned by the British forces. The danger passed, and the episode gave false comfort to many residents who told themselves that Britain would keep East Florida even without the rest of the Atlantic seaboard. In May, Sir Guy Carleton, the British commander-in-chief, ordered General Alexander Leslie to evacuate Savannah and St. Augustine prior to evacuating his post at Charleston. Leslie informed East Florida Governor Patrick Tonyn that, within the course of 1782, the St. Augustine garrison and all loyalists who desired to leave would be evacuated from East Florida. Tonyn and the General Assembly appealed to Carleton to protect them from expected Spanish encroachments, emphasizing the colony's value as a haven for loy alists. Carleton decided to delay the evacuation of St. Augustine, but not in response to the pleas of the East Floridians. Captain Keith Elphinstone, later Admiral Viscount Keith, who was familiar with southern waters, suggested that all available shipping was needed to evacuate Savannah and Charleston and that later vessels could be used to handle the situation at St. Augustine. Elphinstone assumed that when the refugees reached East Florida they would organize themselves for an orderly and efficient second evacuation. In July 1782 Tonyn learned from Leslie that St. Augustine was not to be evacuated for the present and that for
(Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1974), 48-61; The loyalism of the non-refugee East Floridians is surveyed in J. Leitch Wright, "British East Florida: Loyalist Bastion," in Samuel Proctor, ed., Eighteenth-Century Florida: The Impact of the American Revolution (Gainesville, 1978), 1-13.
Carleton, East Florida's value lay in its function as a loyalist refuge.2
The preliminary articles of peace between Britain and Spain were signed in Paris on January 20, 1783. The third article provided for the cession of East Florida to Spain. It allowed the British inhabitants eighteen months from the time of ratification of the definitive treaty in which to sell their goods, collect their debts, and move their persons and effects from the province. The Spanish were to take possession within three months of ratification of the definitive treaty.3
Governor Tonyn received a copy of the preliminary articles from Secretary Thomas Townshend in April. Fearing "tumultuous meetings," he called the General Assembly and had it vent some of its anguish by preparing a joint address to the king. The address had a tone of passionate loyalty tinged with the bitterness which characterizes loyalist memorials. It hinted at transportation and compensation in stressing the loyalists' reliance on the king's mercy. Tonyn apologized for the tone of the address and for its omission of expressions of gratitude for provisions and lands which the loyalists had received in East Florida. Sending the address to Townshend, Tonyn asked him to understand the selfcenteredness of "spirited men labouring under difficulties and misfortunes . . . who, unacquainted with the great Engines by which Government is upheld, have in the first instance been led to think themselves agrieved because unfortunate."4 A year passed before Tonyn received evacuation orders. During that year of uncertainty all but the most obdurate accepted the reality of the cession but accommodated themselves to it in various ways.
Concern for compensation was strong. While they were in East Florida, more than 100 loyalists began seeking compensation for their Carolina and Georgia losses. Inventories of their property were witnessed by neighbors and notarized by Chief Justice James Hume. In addition, concern grew for compensation of East Florida property that would be lost by the cession.
2. Charles Loch Mowat, East Florida as a British Province, 1763-1784 (Berkeley, 1943), 136; Sir Guy Carleton to General Alexander Leslie, May 23,1782, BHP No. 4636.
3. "Preliminary Articles of Peace between Spain and England," Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 54-57.
4. Governor Patrick Tonyn to Thomas Townshend, May 15, 1783, and enclosures, CO 5:560, 583-616, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 96- 108.
The case for compensation for East Florida losses was explained at length in a pamphlet printed by the former Charleston printer John Wells in 1784, and written by "a few gentlemen residing in St. Augustine." The central question was, "Can the Subject be divested of his property, under the British Constitution, by the King, or by the Legislature, or by any man or set of men without receiving a recompense or equivalent for it?"5 The writers began by showing that the inhabitants of East Florida had been faithful subjects during the American Revolution. The burden of the pamphlet was to prove that, in return for this allegiance, the subjects were entitled to protection of their real property. The argument was based on the feudal relationship binding king, subject, and land: "Protection and allegiance are reciprocal duties. . . . A fundamental principle in the Feudal Law was, that . . . the Lord should give full protection to the Vassal, in his territorial property; and the Vassal was to defend and support his lord, to the utmost of his power, against all enemies. All lands held by British Subjects, are derived, mediately or immediately, from the Crown; and the oath of allegiance . . . ran nearly in the same words as the Vassal's oath of fealty. They are called our liege Lord and Sovereign"6
Reinforcing the feudal relationship were "rights and privileges, acquired by being born within the King's allegiance" which are not forfeited by "distance of time or place." The writers cited, as one of these rights, Clause 39 of Magna Carta and included Coke's addition that "lands, tenements, goods and chattels shall not be seized into the King's hand nor may any man be . . . dispossessed of his goods and chattels, contrary to this Great Charter, or the law of the land."7 The authors acknowledged the right of the king in Parliament to deprive persons of their property for the good of the entire British community. They cited examples of such deprivation-and corresponding compensation. In the present case, they declared that His Majesty gave up his province of East Florida for the good of the British nation; but since in so doing he deprived individuals of property, the nation must pay for that property.8
5. The Case of the Inhabitants of East-Florida (St. Augustine, 1784), 5.
6. Ibid., 7.
7. Ibid., 8.
8. Ibid., 9.
With the crux of their case stated, what remained was to show that the inhabitants of East Florida were deprived of property by the 1783 treaty. Deprivation occurred in one of two ways, depending on whether the subject emigrated or remained. If he sold his property to a Spaniard for a trifling sum or was unable to sell it and left it behind, he would be unprotected in his property. If he remained in East Florida by changing his religion-the possibility was mentioned only for the sake of the argument-the subject would nevertheless have done nothing for which he could be deprived of his "birth-right immunities and privileges." An AngloSpanish war would present a dilemma, for without the consent of his sovereign the subject could not divest himself of his allegiance. The pamphlet maintained that British Floridians did not have the consent of their sovereign to remain under the Spanish, for the treaty stipulated that they be allowed to leave, "which plainly evinces, that if any of His Majesty's Subjects remain, they do it at their own risk, and still owe allegiance to Great Britain, And if that had not been the intention, the article ought to have gone on and declared that such of His Majesty's Subjects as Chose to stay were absolved from the duties of natural allegiance to the Crown of Great Britain"9
The writers bolstered their convoluted reasoning with the case of Angus (or Eneas) M'Donald, who had been convicted of treason for his participation in the `45 Rising in spite of the fact that in all respects except his Scottish birth he was a Frenchman. He had grown up and been educated in France and held a commission from the French king. His conviction was on the grounds that "no change of place, time, or circumstances, could enable him to get rid of the allegiance due to the Government, under which he was born."10 According to this precedent, a British Floridian caught in an Anglo-Spanish war would be either an enemy to Spain or a traitor to Britain. In either case, he would suffer in his person and property. Compensation, the loyalists argued, was the only way for the rights of the subject to be honored.11
9. Ibid., 10-11.
10. Ibid., 11.
11. In 1785 and 1787 Parliament provided for compensation to persons who had lost East Florida property because of the cession. The 372 claims are in Audit Office Papers 12:3, British Public Record Office (hereinafter cited as AO, and are published in Siebert, Loyalists, II).
Disorder increased following announcement of the cession. In particular, mounted thieves took advantage of the uncertain status of the colony and defenselessness of its inhabitants. They broke into houses and plundered slaves, provisions, and livestock from farms throughout the colony. Thievery was worse north of the St. Johns River, where most of the slaves were concentrated and where Tonyn's control was weak. Many of the criminals were vagrants who during the war had preyed upon the Whigs in Georgia and the Tories in East Florida. After the war they had found protection in the frontier swamps. The most notorious band was led by Daniel McGirtt. As a slave thief the former Georgian surpassed even the proficiency he had attained with the East Florida Rangers. Adding ferocity were John Linder and his son, John, from coastal South Carolina, who rode with McGirtt. Tonyn raised two troops of horse to oppose the gangs, or "banditti," as he called them. Largely loyalist in composition, Tonyn's force was led by William Young from South Carolina's Ninety Six District. The group had several skirmishes with the banditti and were active until the final evacuation.12
The provincial corps at St. Augustine increased the sense of disorder. Ever since the approximately 900 men of the Royal North Carolina Regiment, the South Carolina Royalists, and the King's Carolina Rangers had left Charleston, there had been rumors about where and when they would be discharged.13 Such
12. Young had led a troop of loyal militia dragoons. Tonyn to Evan Nepean, October 1, 1783, CO 5:560, 717-19, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 17831785, 167-68; William Young claim, AO 52; Allen D. Candler, ed., The Revolutionary Records of the State of Georgia (Atlanta, 1908), I, 380; Confiscated Estates Papers, Plats, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia; 1784 census, East Florida Papers, b323A, Library of Congress, microfilm copy in P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.
13. April 1783 muster rolls for the Royal North Carolina Regiment and the King's Carolina Rangers list as present in East Florida 265 and 302 men, respectively. By early 1784, 116 members of the South Carolinia Royalists had settled in Nova Scotia; this and the St. Augustine garrison commander's September 1783 estimate that nearly two-thirds of the South Carolina Royalists would be discharged in East Florida suggest that there had been at least 340 South Carolina Royalists in East Florida. Muster rolls of King's Carolina Rangers in British Military Records, "C" series, Vol. 1892, Public Archives of Canada; muster rolls of Royal North Carolina Regiment in Lawrence Collection, Ward Chipman Papers, Vol. 26, Public Archives of Canada; muster rolls of South Carolina Royalists, ibid.; warrant to survey for South Carolina Regiment, February 18, 1784, Public Archives of Nova Scotia; Report on American Manuscripts, IV, 350-51.
rumors brought them to the point of mutiny on May Day 1783. A resident of St. Augustine described the confusion in the colony to a former resident, then in London. He blamed the lawlessness on outrage over the cession and related, "our Troops are likewise very mutinous, a few nights ago several have been killed, their plan was to burn the barracks, plunder the Town, & take Possession of the Fort, to arm all the Negroes, & to put every white Man to Death that opposed them keeping the Country to themselves as they will rather die than be Carried to Hallifax to be discharged, how all this will end I know not but an afraid Mischief will be done as their spirits are not broke yet."14
General Archibald McArthur, the garrison commander, explained to Carleton that the near-mutiny had developed as a result of talk that the provincials would be moved without their consent to the West Indies or even the East Indies. According to McArthur, "they were on the point of taking arms . . . and demanding their discharge."15 McArthur dampened the threat by punishing the ringleaders and by having the commander of each corps submit a statement of his group's position regarding a place of discharge. This action conformed with Carleton's request, sent in early April, that McArthur inform him of "the intentions of the Provincial troops and loyalists . . . [to enable Carleton] to assist them."16
The three statements reflect difficulties over the separation of families and a reluctance to leave East Florida without more information about lands and officers' pensions. (Land and provision records made in Nova Scotia about a year later suggest that only a few provincials, all of them commissioned officers, had their families with them when they were in East Florida.) Lieutenant Colonel John Hamilton's statement for the Royal North Carolina Regiment was the most submissive. He said his men would go "however soon they may be ordered, either to Britain, Halifax, or the West Indies."17 He indicated, however, that "a few" of the non-commissioned officers and privates wanted to be discharged in East Florida for fear of separation from their families. Major
14. "Extract of a letter to Captain Bissett in London," enclosed in Thomas Nixon to Evan Nepean, October 22, 1783, CO 5:560, 843-50, cited in
15. Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 173. Report on American Manuscripts, IV, 90.
16. Ibid., 17.
17. Ibid., 75.
Thomas Fraser of the South Carolina Royalists indicated that one-fourth of his privates wished to return to the United States. Other soldiers were willing to go to a British area but asked to be discharged prior to departure. Before consenting to leave East Florida, the officers wanted to know what pensions they would get.18 Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Brown reported that the officers and men of the King's Carolina Rangers would not choose a destination until they knew more about the places available.19 At this time what Tonyn had referred to as "the great Engines by which Government is upheld" had provided for land to be distributed to provincial corpsmen in Nova Scotia; as yet there was no assurance of military grants elsewhere. Even the details which had been worked out for Nova Scotia had not reached St. Augustine, and when McArthur sent the three statements to Carleton he added, "they are all extremely anxious to know what lands or gratuities will be allowed such as will go to Nova Scotia, though they much dread that climate."20
Information about Nova Scotia lands was available in St. Augustine by September. Carleton sent vessels from New York to move provincials to Nova Scotia for disbanding, but he instructed McArthur, "but should any of them chuse to be dismissed at St. Augustine or go to Providence or any other of the Bahama Islands, I shall have no objection."21 Earlier he had told McArthur to permit any of the provincials to remain with the Span ish or move to the United States. Responsibility for transporting men to the Bahamas fell to McArthur, who was headed there himself. Just prior to the provincials' departure, the commander told Carleton that Brown and "a high proportion of the men and officers" of the King's Carolina Rangers would go to the Bahamas but that few in the other corps would be willing to do so. He said nearly two-thirds of the South Carolina Royalists would be discharged in East Florida. About one-half of the Royal North Carolina Regiment planned to emigrate to Nova Scotia, and about forty of that corps wished to go to Britain.22 Nova Scotia land records indicate that at least 368 provincials, with 132
18. Ibid., 54; John Hamilton claim, AO 13:95; Robert Hope claim, AO 12:3, 164-69.
19. Report on American Manuscripts, IV, 88.
20. Ibid., 93.
21. Ibid., 293.
22. Ibid., 350-51, 164-65.
relatives and slaves, arrived there. They sailed in October 1783. At the same time, Brown, and at least sixteen other King's Carolina Rangers, accompanied McArthur to the Bahamas.23
The provincials who took their discharges in St. Augustine rather than move to Nova Scotia or the Bahamas aroused suspicions among some of the civilian residents. In September Tonyn declared that his greatest fear was of "the licentious disbanded Soldiers who have discovered intentions of rapine and plunder."24 Eighty-two "Principal Inhabitants" declared their apprehension that the discharged provincials would swell the ranks of the bands of robbers who plagued the northern part of the province.25 Before any of the provincials left, they figured in plans for a revolt. When news of the cession reached St. Johns Town, the loyalist settlement that had mushroomed on Hester's Bluff, there was talk of a rising to greet the Spanish on their arrival. The conspirators assumed that the British would recognize their fait accompli and rescue them if the Spanish tried to conquer East Florida. Three years later witnesses said that 2,000 refugees and other East Floridians had been "ready to act" in 1783, and that the three provincial corps would have joined them. The plans were blocked by John Hamilton of the Royal North Carolina Regiment. Refusing to command the enterprise, Hamilton threatened to oppose it, since in the first instance it would be directed against British authority.26
The talk of opposing the cession by force lived on, even after all the provincials were discharged or removed in October 1783. In the spring of 1784 the arrival of evacuation orders finally ended the uncertainty. The reality of the cession could be ignored no longer. Plans to prevent the Spanish from taking possession revived and became a threat to the peaceful transfer of power. The plans surfaced under the leadership of John Cruden.
23. Robert Cunningham claim, AO 12:3, 4-6; John Martin claim, AO 13:121; Benjamin Douglass Advertisement, November 29, 1783, in Halifax (Nova Scotia) Gazette, December 9, 1783; Report on American Manuscripts, IV, 293; Troxler, "Migration," 122-24; Crown Grants and Conveyances, Bahamas Register General, Nassau, microfilm copies in P.K. Yonge Library.
24. Tonyn to Carleton, September 11, 1783, enclosed in Tonyn to North, September 11, 1783, CO 5:111, 49-64, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783- 1785, 154.
25. "Memorial and Petition of the Inhabitants of East Florida, September 11, 1783, enclosed in Tonyn to North, September 11, 1783, CO 5:111, 57-64, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 156-59.
26. John Hamilton claim, AO 13:95.
Before the war Cruden, his uncle, and his brother were merchants in North Carolina, with stores at Wilmington, Cross Creek, and Guilford County. 27 During the British occupation of coastal South Carolina he rose to some prominence as "commissioner of sequestered estates" under the authority of General Charles Lord Cornwallis. His duties were to supervise the distribution of lands and slaves confiscated from the rebels in South and North Carolina. He was unable to control the distribution, but he took his importance seriously. In East Florida he annoyed some of his compatriots by trying to keep a record of the slaves owned by revolutionaries and brought into the colony by the loyalists. Claiming still to be under Cornwallis's authority, he sought to return these slaves to their owners in the United States. He thought the laws banishing loyalists and confiscating their property would be rescinded as a result. Indeed, the peace treaty had committed Congress to recommend that the states restore loyalists' rights and property, and at the time of Cruden's activities it was not yet clear what the responses of the various states would be. Cruden's zeal was fruitless, in spite of an attempt by the state of South Carolina to negotiate the issues. Tonyn insisted that the confiscation and banishment acts must be repealed before he would sanction any efforts to return slaves to the United States.28
Whatever Cruden's plans for an insurrection were, they were surpassed by those of his associates.29 Apparently Cruden intended organizing a force to overpower the Spanish officials when they reached East Florida. Some of the loyalist refugees were to go to North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to recruit men for service under Cruden, and he seems to have had correspondents in the United States. Cruden's original plan was
27. James Cruden claim, AO 12:37.
28. There were accusations that Tonyn's motivation was self-enrichment. East Florida Gazette, May 3, 1783; Siebert, Loyalists, 123-24; Report on American Manuscripts, IV, 49, 57, 96, 101, 114-15, 125, 159.
29. The following account is based on Tonyn to General Archibald McArthur [May 21], 1784, and Tonyn to Viscount Sydney, June 14, 1784, en closed in Conde de Floridablanca to Jos_ de G_lvez, October 21, 1784, Archivo General de Indias, Audiencia de Santo Domingo, legajo 2660, Seville (hereinafter cited as AGI: SD) cited in Lockey, East Florida, 17831785, 288-92; Tonyn to John Cruden, May 26, 1784, East Florida Papers, b195, m16, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 195-96; "Address of the Inhabitants of the Province Living on St. John's and St. Mary's River," June 19, 1784, The Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, September 1, 1784, 2.
considered inoffensive by Lieutenant Governor John Moultrie. He refused a request that he be commander-in-chief of the undertaking, but he kept the secret. Another member of the council agreed to participate. On a false pretext, Cruden called mass meetings at St. Johns Town and on the St. Marys River in order to ascertain the number of men available. At this point the enterprise fell apart. Some of the conspirators wanted to join forces with the robber gangs-perhaps they were the same people- and take over the government of East Florida before the Spanish arrived, This was to be accomplished by about 200 refugees in St. Augustine and more in the St. Johns and St. Marys regions. Plans were made to overtake the garrison, ships, and fort at St. Augustine and capture Tonyn, McArthur, and other officials. Then a general assembly would be called, and a determined people would prevent the servants of His Catholic Majesty from taking possession.
A step was taken toward overthrowing the provincial government. The banditti attacked two detachments of regulars from the garrison.30 They dispersed one detachment, killed the captain and one of the men, and captured the sixteen soldiers who manned a post on the St. Johns River. These attacks on His Majesty's troops were too much for Cruden; he offered his services to Tonyn to help put down the conspirators. The governor put Cruden in charge of subjugating the banditti in the St. Johns-St. Marys area, empowering him to call out the militia and demand the assistance of the magistrates. Working with Young's forces, Cruden dispersed some of the banditti and executed one of them. When or how Tonyn learned of the conspiracy is not clear. Perhaps Cruden told him when he abandoned the project, but Tonyn claimed some previous knowledge. Cruden's commission is dated May 26, 1784. Tonyn prepared an undated document with which he planned to acquaint McArthur of the crisis whenever meeting it head-on could be averted no longer; later he said he had written it on May 21. In it he requested McArthur to capture and confine the leaders, whom Tonyn would name when he sent the notice.31 He did not find it necessary to inform
30. From November 1783 until the evacuation, the garrison was manned by three companies of the 37th Regiment and a detachment of the artillery. Mowat, East Florida, 1763-1784, 143.
31. Tonyn to McArthur [May 21], 1784, enclosed in Floridablanca to Jos_ de
McArthur. Apparently he told no one in the colony of the conspiracy. The leaders at least suspected that Tonyn knew their plans. With the conspirators divided, and with Cruden pitted against the banditti, the governor waited out the situation. In June, after the crisis had passed, he outlined the danger to Townshend (now Lord Sydney) but named no one. By the time the Spanish governor arrived in July, rumors of a loyalist uprising were widespread. Tonyn assured the new governor that the banditti, not Cruden's followers, were the danger. Tonyn considered Cruden a harmless eccentric. He told the Spaniard that Cruden's continuing hopes of East Florida's remaining British were "merely chimerical, and such as deserves no kind of serious consideration."32
Cruden and others persisted in their hopes. In October 1784, as the "President" of "The British American Loyalists who took Refuge in East Florida," Cruden petitioned Carlos III for autonomy under Spanish sovereignty for the area between the St. Johns and the St. Marys rivers. He implored, "We may it please your Majesty are Reduced to the dreadful alternative of returning to our Homes, to receive insult worse then Death to Men of Spirit, or to run the hazzard of being Murderd in Cold blood, to Go to the inhospitable Regions of Nova Scotia or take refuge on the Barren Rocks of the Bahamas where poverty and wretchedness stares us in the face Or do what our Spirit can not brook (pardon Sire the freedom) renounce our Country. Drug the Religion of our Fathers and become your Subjects."33
Cruden's analysis expressed the loyalists' dilemma. Neither of the four choices was attractive. Moreover, after the Spanish
G_lvez, October 21, 1784, AGI: SD, legajo 2660, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 288-89.
32. Tonyn to Vicente Manuel de Z_spedes, July 10, 1784, East Florida Papers, b40, 11-12, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 221.
33. "The Petition of the British American Loyalists who took refuge in East Florida," October 28, 1784, East Florida Papers, b195, m15, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 302. Cruden gave a copy to the secretary of the Spanish governor and planned to give another to the Spanish ambassador in London. He left East Florida in December 1784. He intended going to Nova Scotia but went to the Bahamas. Cruden to Carlos Howard, November 14, 1784, East Florida Papers, b195, m15, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 311-12; Cruden to Howard, November 22, 1784, East Florida Papers, b195, m15, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 312-14; Z_spedes to Bernardo de G_lvez, March 23, 1785, East Florida Papers, b40, No. 55, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 484.
governor arrived, time for making the painful decision was fast running out.
Vicente Manuel de Z_spedes y Velasco, governor and captain general of St. Augustine and the Provinces of Florida, took possession of East Florida in the name of the Spanish crown in July 1784. The eighteen months allowed for evacuation ended the following March, but Z_spedes extended it until July 19, 1785. The last British ship, however, was not ready to sail until early September 1785. There were several reasons for the slow evacuation, but mainly it was because so many people were reluctant to leave.34 Letters and newspapers suggested that Britain might not relinquish control of the colony after all. The Cruden conspiracy and the rumors it nourished temporarily halted emigration in May and June 1784, almost as soon as it started.35 British merchants in St. Augustine had allowed Z_spedes credit with which to supply his garrison, and they were loath to emigrate until funds arrived from Cuba to pay these obligations. There were other debts also that the merchants hoped to collect. Farmers did not want to leave their crops unharvested, although many were eventually forced to do so. Persons named in the confiscation and banishment acts also lingered, hoping to learn of changes in their status. Some went back to their old homes in what was now the United States but were forced to return to East Florida. There were persistent reports of loyalists being murdered, and even if these stories were not true, these people were often the targets for harassment, insult, and injury. Returning to the United States was a dangerous undertaking, even with legal precautions. For example, John Tunno carried Tonyn's flag of truce with him when he went to Georgia to settle his aflairs, but he was arrested nevertheless.36
The sluggishness of the real estate market was still another cause for delay. The loyalists hoped Spaniards would swarm into East Florida and buy their houses and lands, especially lots in St. Augustine. But only the men of the garrison and the civil
34. Tonyn mentioned several in his "Reasons for the Long Evacuation Period," which follows Tonyn to Nepean, May 2, 1786, CO 5:561, 849-52.
35. Tonyn to Sydney, June 14, 1784, enclosed in Floridablanca to Jos_ de G_lvez, October 21, 1781, AGI: SD, legajo 2660, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 289-92.
36. Chatham County Court Minutes, April 26, 1783, Georgia Department of Archives and History, Atlanta; Report on American Manuscripts, IV, 264.
employees under Z_spedes came in the early years, and there was little demand for property. Those who found buyers generally had to sell at little more than one-third the value of the property; many sold for less. Thomas Courtney of South Carolina bought a house and lot in St. Augustine for _400 in January 1783 and spent _25 for improvements. At auction no bid was higher than _40, and he later sold it to a Spaniard for _53.37 With a view to compensation, Tonyn had a board of appraisers determine the value of individual emigrants' property and subtract the price of any sale from it.38
Many people could not sell their property and had to leave it in the hands of agents. Francis Philip Fatio, a native of Switzerland and perhaps the most prominent East Floridian to remain under the Spanish, was such an agent. John Champneys of South Carolina described the "sale" of his house and store buildings in St. Augustine to Fatio as follows: "it was up at vendue on the 18th of July 1785 the last day for the sale of British property and called to Francis Fatio for 299 dollars but this was only a friendly sale and intended to secure the property to Mr. Champneys and tho' the title deeds were to be sent and a regular conveyance made to Mr. Fatio, he was to execute an instrument certifying that he had paid no price whatever for the property. That he accordingly sent the title deeds in September 1785: that he understood that Fatio was to sell for him if any opportunity offered. . . . That a great number of estates were sold in this manner, if they had not been so disposed of they would have been seized by the Spaniards."39 David Marran, a tavern keeper from Georgia, left his wife in possession of his house and lot in St. Augustine with instructions to dispose of it whenever she could.40
Household goods and livestock sold cheaply. Chairs purchased in Charleston in 1782 for twenty shillings sold for six shillings each in St. Augustine after the cession; eight-shilling pictures brought two shillings each.41 Livestock was sold at a loss or traded for transportable provisions. A few men left their
37. Thomas Courtney claim, AO 12:3, 18-21.
38. East Florida claims, AO 12:3, passim; "Lord Hawke's Requisitions Respecting East Florida," n.d., CO 5:560, copy in Lockey Collection, P.K. Yonge Library.
39. John Champney claim, AO 12:3, 8-9.
40. David Marran claims, AO 12:3, 50-52.
41. Thomas Courtney claim, AO 12:3, 18-21.
livestock unsold, especially in the hinterland. Benjamin Springer probably left the most-fifty horses, forty head of cattle, and forty hogs.42
The decision to sell slaves or take them out of the province was more complex, since they could be moved fairly easily. The best prices were available in the United States. If one owned many slaves it was worth the trouble to transport them northward. In December 1784 John Graham from Georgia sent more than 200 slaves to Beaufort, South Carolina, for sale because the price there was higher than in Jamaica.43 Elias Ball sold 140 of his slaves to his cousin, who was allowed to return to South Carolina.44 Such sales were speculative, and the sellers sometimes mis judged the market. Judith Shivers, discouraged by the low prices in East Florida, took her slaves to Dominica but was forced to sell them for less than half their East Florida price.45
Technical problems delayed evacuation. At first it was difficult to secure the small vessels needed to take the emigrants and their property to the transports. Since the St. Augustine bar was considered too dangerous for the transports to lade there, most of the lading was at the nearest good harbor, the mouth of the St. Marys River. This meant that many loyalists and their property went in coastal vessels from St. Augustine to the St. Marys River before boarding the transports. Tonyn spent _12,885.3.3 hiring coastal vessels for this purpose.46
The seventeen months between Z_spedes's arrival in St. Augustine and Tonyn's departure were filled with problems growing out of the ambiguous authority of both governors. Both were in St. Augustine for a year. Tonyn moved to the St. Marys River in June 1785, after sending the church bell and pews and the fire engine to the Bahamas.47 In spite of their efforts of cordiality and understanding, the relationship between the two men turned into a personal vendetta as the British evacuation dragged past Z_spedes's
42. Benjamin Springer claim, AO 12:3,182-87.
43. John Graham claim, AO 12:3, 56-60.
44. Elias Ball claim, AO 12:3, 9-13.
45. Judith Shivers claim, AO 12:3, 159-64.
46. Siebert, Loyalists, II, 379-80.
47. Z_spedes to Jos_ de G_lvez, June 6, 1785, AGI:SD, legajo 2660, No. 82, in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 552-53; Tonyn to Lieutenant Governor James Edward Powell, April 21, 1785, enclosed in Tonyn to Sydney, August 29, 1785, CO 5:561, 717-20, in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 694-95. Z_spedes declined Tonyn's offer to sell the church furnishings and fire engine.
extension. 48 Most of their conflicts arose out of problems involving the activities of loyalists.
The worst problem facing both governors was the banditti in the northern area, particularly McGirtt's gang. At the time of the transfer of power, both Daniel McGirtt and John Linder recently had escaped imprisonment in St. Augustine. In July 1784 Z_spedes announced a twenty-day period during which persons who had broken British laws might obtain Spanish permission to leave East Florida unmolested. James McGirtt, whom neither Z_spedes nor Tonyn regarded as a criminal, complied with the offer and was allowed to remain in St. Augustine. Five of Daniel McGirtt's confederates-William Cunningham, William Mangum, John Linder, Sr., William Collins, and Bailey Cheney-obtained permission to go to Louisiana.49 All had been responsible for the bloody deeds done in the name of Britain, and they had been expelled from the Carolinas or Georgia. In the meantime, Daniel McGirtt and John Linder, Jr., returned to McGirtt's home on the St. Marys River. They continued raiding with undiminished zest. When informed of the proclamation, Linder replied: "God damn their Proclamations that he disregarded them, and they might wipe their backsides with them, that he was going out of the Province, and never expected to receive benefit from it."50 The Spanish lacked the force to control the northern part of East Florida. Tonyn permitted Young's cavalry to remain active in order to protect the British in the area. Young's group attacked McGirtt's party at the latter's home during Z_spedes's clemency period. After that, the Spanish governor felt that Tonyn was not respecting his authority, while Tonyn accused him of neglecting the protection of British subjects. At first Z_spedes lacked the troops to resist the banditti, but in 1785 he captured Daniel McGirtt, Steven Mayfield, and William Cunningham (who had rejoined McGirtt). They were sent first to Havana and later to the Bahamas.51
48. Helen Hornbeck Tanner, Z_spedes in East Florida, 1784-1790 (Coral Gables, 1963), 38-66.
49. "Statement of William Cunningham and Other Americans," July 15, 1784, enclosed in Z_spedes to Bernardo de G_lvez, July 16, 1784, AGI:SD, leg. 2660, No. 3, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 235-36.
50. Daniel Melyard affidavit, August 3, 1784, enclosed in Tonyn to Sydney, December 6, 1784, C.O. 5:561, 145, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 17831785, 357-58.
51. Daniel McGirtt returned to East Florida in 1788, was sent as a prisoner
Z_spedes also sent Henry O'Neill, a loyalist from Ninety-Six District, as a peacekeeper into the troubled St. Johns to St. Marys area.52 O'Neill was authorized to arrest suspected smugglers, runaway slaves, and marauders and deliver them to Pedro V_squez, commander of the Spanish brigantine stationed in St. Marys harbor. V_squez, the ranking Spanish official in the area, was then supposed to send the culprits to St. Augustine to stand trial. More than half of the banditti named in O'Neill's correspondence were loyalists.53 To prevent escapes across the St. Marys River, O'Neill cooperated with Georgians insofar as Z_spedes would allow him.54 O'Neill's mission was only an interim measure for Z_spedes, and in spite of his diligence there were no wholesale arrests.
O'Neill's presence in the "British" area further deteriorated Anglo-Spanish relations. Both O'Neill and V_squez were supposed to report on Tonyn's activities to Z_spedes. V_squez was somewhat aloof, but the barely literate O'Neill tried to lecture Tonyn.55 The Spanish were chagrined by the fact that the British were cutting timber even after the original evacuation date had
to Havana again, and probably died in South Carolina. The Linders and Cheney went to the Mobile area where they raised cattle. Joseph Byrne Lockey, "The Florida Banditti, 1783," Florida Historical Quarterly, XXIV (October 1945), 87-107. William Cunningham went to London in May 1786 and died in Charleston in 1787. William Cunningham claim, AO 12:3, 3-6; Charles Town Morning Post and Daily Advertiser, January 30, 1787.
52. A native of Virginia, Henry O'Neill had owned 330 acres on Beaver Dam Creek. He was named in the 1782 Confiscation and Banishment Act. Law Enacted by the General Assembly, of the State of South Carolina . . . January 8, 1782 . . . February 26, 1782, 23; 1784 census, Confiscated Estates Papers, Plats, South Carolina Department of Archives and History Columbia, SC.
53. William Conway, Jacob Chappel, and Jesse Gray were from South Carolina William Hinson and Joseph Johnston were Georgians. Other loyal ists accused the Georgia loyalists George Phillips and Arthur Carney of robbery. Francis Philip Fatio and John Leslie to Z_spedes, October 5, 1784, East Florida Papers, b195, m15, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 17831785, 284-85; Petition of William Mangum, November 6, 1784, enclosed in Tonyn to Sidney, December 6, 1784, CO 5:561, 265-67, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 399-400; O'Neill to Carlos Howard, April 17, 1785, East Florida Papers, b118, a10, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 537-39.
54. O'Neill to Howard, May 10, 1785, East Florida Papers, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 542; Howard to O'Neill, May 23, 1785, ibid., in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 548; Alexander Semple to Samuel Elbert, May 18, 1785, Georgia Department of Archives and History, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 543-44.
55. O'Neill to Tonyn, n.d., in O'Neill to Howard, July 3, 1785, East Florida Papers, b118, a10, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 566-67.
passed. O'Neill was not alone in reporting these activities to St. Augustine; there was also William Maxwell, an English-born Catholic, who chose to remain in East Florida. He had been captain in a provincial unit during the war, and during 1784 and 1785 he was employed by the engineer's department in the service of Spain. He informed Z_spedes that he had seen between 300 and 400 people cutting timber at the St. Marys River area which was then being shipped to Charleston and the West Indies. He also claimed that he had observed more than 100 people cutting timber near the Nassau River. He said, "[T]hey Cutt it under the pretence that it was Cutt before the 17 Day of March and have a Right to take it Away. "56 The British also cut timber on Cumberland Island, inside the Georgia border. When the Georgia gov ernor complained to Z_spedes about this, he was told that nothing would be done against the British during the evacuation period.57
As the evacuation proceeded, O'Neill accused Tonyn of showing malice against those who had indicated their desire to remain in East Florida. O'Neill championed George Arons, who he claimed had been arrested by Tonyn only because he did not want to leave: "Tonyn seems so disgusted with the people who wish to remain in this country that some think he will adopt further measures of the sort."58 Arons, native of Alsace who had been named in the Georgia 1782 confiscation and banishment act, lived with his wife and son on his farm on the Amalia Straits. He told the Spanish census keeper in 1784 that he had not decided whether to emigrate or not.59
After Z_spedes arrived in St. Augustine, the British there became subject to Spanish jurisdiction. Most of the British were involved in selling property and in collecting debts. Z_spedes appointed Fatio and John Leslie to act as arbitrators in minor cases involving British subjects. Leslie, like Fatio, had been a
56. Maxwell to Z_spedes, n.d., enclosed in Z_spedes to Bernardo de G_lvez, April 1, 1785, East Florida Papers, b40, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 491-92; Petition of William Maxwell, March 11, 1785, ibid., cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 477-78; Howard to O'Neill, May 2, 1785, East Florida Papers, b118, a10, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 539-40.
57. Z_spedes to John Houston, December 21, 1784, original not located, copy in Lockey Collection.
58. O'Neill to Howard, July 3, 1785, East Florida Papers, b118, a10, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 565-66.
59. Revolutionary Records of Georgia, I, 380; 1784 census.
prosperous East Florida merchant and trader before the war and would stay on in the colony under Spanish rule. Britons with grievances against other Britons petitioned the Spanish governor who then referred the complaints to Leslie and Fatio. Most of the work of the two men involved collecting debts and recovering stolen or runaway slaves. Fatio and Leslie's work went well, and Z_spedes acccepted their decisions as final. In one case, however, he refused to permit the arbitrators to handle the case. Of the many accusations against Daniel McGirtt that were presented to Z_spedes, one was from Samuel Farley, a Georgia loyalist, who charged the bandit with the theft of eight slaves. Earlier, Z_spedes had asked Farley to serve as an arbitrator, and Farley had refused. Now, in retaliation, Z_spedes forbade the arbitrators to consider Farley's grievance. After Farley left for the Bahamas, the slaves were delivered to his attorney.60
There were other legal irritants. Some refugees wanted to marry before emigrating. There was no Anglican clergyman in St. Augustine, so Tonyn asked Z_spedes to authorize Leslie to perform marriages. The governor refused, on grounds of religious inconsistency.61
Generally, the Spanish considered the British undesirable residents and wanted them to depart. Unable to separate the trouble makers from more peaceful inhabitants, and believing the agitators were in the majority, the Spanish hoped to get rid of all of the British. The Minorcan settlers, who were Roman Catholic, and a few others, like Fatio and Leslie, were exceptions. In November 1784, the commander of a detachment of the Spanish Hibernia Regiment on the St. Marys River reported to Z_spedes on that area. He expressed what became the official attitude toward the British inhabitants: " I estimate the number of people
60. Memorial of John Mowbray, n.d., enclosed in Tonyn to Sydney, August 10, 1785, CO 5:561, 689-96, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 675-77; "Case of Louisa Waldron and Affidavit of John Thomas," May 3, 1785, enclosed in Tonyn to Sydney, August 10, 1785, CO 5:561, 649-64, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 660-65: Petition of Farley, August 16, 1784, Z_spedes's Decree against Farley, September 4, 1784, Memorial of Farley, September 9, 1784, Memorial of Farley, September 24, 1784, all enclosed in Tonyn to Sydney, December 6, 1784, CO 5:561, 159-74, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 363-67; Tanner, Z_spedes in East Florida, 43-45.
61. Z_spedes to Tonyn, January 2, 1785, enclosed in Tonyn to Sydney, April 4, 1785, CO 5:561, 376-77, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 502-03.
living on the mainland between the town of St. Johns and the St. Marys to be sixty families. Among them are probably some of good reputation who may prove to be of great utility to our nation. But for the rest, I believe that it would be better to throw them out of the province as soon as possible. They are men without god or king, men who would only serve to destroy the public tranquility; men, in short, capable of the greatest atrocities."62
Several alternatives faced the loyalists in East Florida. The most obvious choice was to remain where they were. If the Spanish did not encourage them to remain, neither did they press civilians without criminal records to leave. Tonyn did urge the British to evacuate. In April 1785 he predicted to Viscount Sydney that there would not be more than three or four Britishers remaining under Spanish rule, but as it turned out he was mistaken. Except for those who lived at St. Johns Town and those who had moved from St. Augustine to the St. Marys River to await evacuation, most of the other prospective evacuees were scattered in the backcountry. If they did not want to leave East Florida, they did not have to. Those who thought they could safely return to their homes in the neighboring states did so, drifting back to the United States almost as soon as the peace was published. Tonyn estimated that 5,000 backcountry people had returned overland to the United States before the evacuation.63 Many who left East Florida with the British delayed as long as possible, hoping that the confiscation and banishment laws would be changed or rescinded. Tonyn tried to persuade the Minorcans to migrate to Gibraltar, Dominica, and the Bahamas, but Z_spedes foiled this effort to deprive East Florida of its most valuable inhabitants. He detained the priest who was to lead the proposed exodus and brought in two Irish priests who counselled the Minorcans to remain under His Catholic Majesty.64
British transports moved loyalists from East Florida to England, the Bahama Islands, Jamaica, Antigua, Dominica, the
62. Letter and Report of Nicolas Grenier, November 10, 1784, enclosed in Z_spedes to Bernardo de G_lvez, AGI:SD, legajo 2530, No. 31, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 306-08.
63. Tonyn to Nepean, May 2, 1786, CO 5:561, 820, copy
64. Tonyn to Sydney, April 4, 1785, CO 5:561, 359-61, in Lockey Collection. cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 496-501.
Mosquito Coast, and Nova Scotia. William Brown, Tonyn's assistant for the evacuation, made the following report:65
Return of Persons Who Emigrated From East Florida to Different Parts of the British Dominions & etc.
Whites Blacks To Europe 246 35 To Nova Scotia 725 155 To Jamaica and Spanish Main 196 714 To Dominica 225 444 To Bahamas 1,033 2,214 To States of America 462 2,561 To other foreign parts 61 217 Remain with Spaniards 450 200 3,398 6,540
Though incomplete, Brown's return shows that as a general pattern, slave-owners went mainly to the West Indies and the Bahama Islands, and people with few or no slaves moved to Europe and Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia was not particularly alluring to most of the loyalists. They thought it was a frozen wasteland to which their "Southern Constitutions" could not adapt. One East Floridian, who later went to the Bahamas, said of Nova Scotia, "[I] fear that it is to cold for us to bear it now we have bin so long in this hot climett."66 One man claimed that before he went to Nova Scotia he sold a slave "at a great loss" because of "her aversion go to Hallifax being a very cold Climate."67 The Reverend James Seymour asked the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel for an appointment to the Bahamas because he feared the severe winters of Nova Scotia.68 In spite of its unattractive image, in
65. Brown had been in the military service of the United Provinces and the East India Company and had been customs officer in Georgia. He was Speaker of the East Florida Commons House of Assembly. William Brown claim,AO 13:38; "Return of Persons who Emigrated from East Florida," May 2, 1786, enclosed in Tonyn to Nepean, May 2, 1786, CO 5:561, 817-20, copy in Lockey Collection.
66. Barbara Gorley Teller, "The Case of Some Inhabitants of East Florida, 1767-1785," Florida Historical Quarterly, XXXIII (October 1954), 106.
67. Robert Robinson claim AO 12:3, 13-18.
68. Seymour died on the way to the Bahamas. Edgar Legare Pennington, "The Reverend James Seymour, S.P.G. Missionary in Florida," Florida Historical Quarterly, V (April 1927), 198-99.
William Brown's report Nova Scotia is second only to the Bahamas in the number of whites who emigrated there.69
The loyalist haven nearest East Florida was the Bahama Islands. With a climate which promised to facilitate a plantation economy, the Bahamas seemed to be a place where slave-owning refugees could rebuild their lives. Even so, the Bahamas were not regarded with anything like enthusiasm. Men who knew its soil considered it unsuited to serious agriculture. Lewis Johnston, who had been a planter and a member of the executive council in Georgia, went to the Bahamas in 1783 to assess its suitability for loyalist settlement. Disappointed by the quality of the thin soil, he concluded that the best land would yield good crops for only two or three years: "My expectations by no means sanguine being so cruelly disappointed I intend to embark for St. Augustine in 7 or 8 days as much at a loss as ever where to direct my steps. . . . The West Indies would on many accounts be the country I would prefer, but the great expence of living there and the uncertainty of being about to employ my few Negroes to any advantage deters me from it, so that after all if better prospects do not open to me on my return to St. Augustine it is probable I will be oblidged to return to this poor Country on the evacuation of Florida."70
The governor of the Bahamas tried to select the wealthier loyalists as settlers. He told Tonyn that the Bahamas were not suited to backcountry folk and that they should go to Nova Scotia or the Mosquito Coast. Fearful of having to provide for them, he wrote, "I understand a large number of back Country Loyalists may be expected by the next Transports that arrive here, these Islands are by no means calculated for these people, who mostly subsisted on the Continent by Hunting, and like Arabs removing their habitations, and Stock from one place or province to another, and therefore could Your Excellency order them to Nova Scotia or some other Province on the Continent, or should Your
69. Siebert surmised that Brown counted the provincials in his Nova Scotia figures: Siebert, Loyalists, I, 209. The provincials had left in October 1783. Since Tonyn had no responsibility for their departure, there was no reason for Brown to include them. Their absence from Brown's return can be deduced further from 1784-1785 shipping records. They show a quantity of shipping for Nova Scotia which is consistent with Brown's number of emigrants going there. See appendices 1 and 2.
70. "Extract of a letter from Mr. Johnston to a friend in London," July 14, 1783, in Thomas Nixon to Nepean, n.d., CO 5:560, copy in Lockey Collection.
Excellency be inclined to send them this way, you may think it more of His Majes[ty's] Service to empower me to forward them in the same bottoms to the Moskito shore."71 It was not their fancied mode of life but their poverty which made them unwelcome. Tonyn disregarded the request.72
The evacuation of East Florida began in earnest in April 1784, and was completed with Tonyn's departure in November 1785. Of the twenty-five transports used in the evacuation, fourteen carried only government cargoes: timber, tar, pitch, turpentine, deerskin, and the ordnance, artillery, and personnel of the garrison. Fifteen vessels made a total of thirty-four trips laden with refugees and their property, most of them sailing during the late spring and summer of 1784 and 1785. Five shipments of naval stores left in July and August 1784, and two more sailed in May and August 1785. In August 1784 the remainder of the garrison was evacuated to Nassau.73
The agent for the evacuation, Lieutenant Robert Leaver, arrived with the transports early in 1784. He made the immediate decisions with little interference from Tonyn. Leaver was concerned for efficiency and was not sympathetic with delay. Never theless, delay was endemic. The pace of lading the transports slowed as evacuation proceeded. During the spring and summer of 1784 the average lading time was about a month, in 1785 the average was about fifty days, with a marked increase as the summer wore on.74
The transports were intended to move loyalists and their "property"-their slaves and baggage. The evacuees were dismayed to learn that they could not take all their movable property. Most of them wanted to take building materials. This was especially true of those going to the Bahamas or the West Indies,
71. James Edward Powell to Tonyn, June 9, 1785, enclosed in Tonyn to Sydney, August 29, 1785, CO 5:561, 721-23, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 695-96; Tonyn to Powell, August 25, 1785, enclosed in Tonyn to Sydney, August 29, 1785, CO 5:561, 726-28, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 696-98.
72. The presence of some backcountry loyalists in the Bahamas is indicated in Crown Grants and Conveyances, Bahamas Register General.
73. "A General Return of Transports under the Direction of Lieutenant Robert Leaver Agent Employ'd on the Evacuation of East Florida," Admiralty Papers 49:9, 100-01, Public Record Office; "An Account showing the Names of the Transports that were employed in Carrying Loyalists and Refugees," February 22, 1786, ibid., 11-17.
74. Ibid., 100-01.
where lumber had to be imported. It seemed foolish to them to sail without lumber and shingles from an area where cypress shingles and choice hardwood could be obtained easily and cheaply. Leaver allowed some lumber and shingles to sail as "baggage," but he drew the line for entire buildings. Peter Edwards had dismantled his house in St. Augustine and moved it to the St. Marys harbor, and was chagrined when Leaver refused space for it. Robert Murphy planned to take along enough lumber to build a house, but when Leaver refused it, Murphy built a house at the harbor and sold it for _8. Many took along the planks and shingles from their houses. They were allowed to transport fowl and hogs as provisions, but cattle and horses could not be moved, and many were abandoned in the woods.75
People lost slaves during the evacuation. Some were stolen, while others ran away. Most charges of theft were directed against the Spanish. V_squez, commander of the Spanish brigantine, was accused of selling slaves he had lured from the British transports.76 Attempts to find stolen slaves was another cause for delay. Likely fewer slaves were stolen than escaped from the ships that were waiting to sail.77
Escape from a loyalist owner did not guarantee freedom. Blacks were safe from Spanish enslavement only if they avoided the Spanish or convinced them that they were freemen who had been unable to register their freedom in St. Augustine before the British evacuated. Roving bands captured some blacks and sold them in East Florida and Georgia. The experience of one family illustrates the fortunes of many of the loyalist-held slaves. Prince and his wife, Judy, had been taken from South Carolina rebels during the war. In East Florida they belonged to William Young, but during the turmoil of the evacuation they and their son and daughter, aged about six and four years, managed to escape. In some way they fell into the hands of a Georgian, but they escaped
75. Ibid., 11-17, 100-01; East Florida claims, AO 12:3, passim; Peter Edwards claim, ibid., 142-45; Robert Murphy claim, ibid., 138-41.
76. Memorial of John Fox, July 25, 1785, enclosed in Tonyn to Sydney, August 10, 1785, CO 5:561, 673-76, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783- 1785, 668-70; John Fox claim, AO 12:3, 146-49.
77. Perhaps individuals exaggerated their claims for escapee in order to get compensation. Even so, the claimants produced witnesses, and it was simpler to overvalue a lost slave than to invent a loss. Eventually the government compensated loyalists for stolen slaves but not for escapees. East Florida claims, AO 12:3, passim.
again and proceeded to the St. Johns area in 1786.78 What happened to them there is not known.
Z_spedes was distressed by the British delays, and he blamed Tonyn for them. At the end of July 1785 he dispatched Lieutenant James Curtis of the Hibernia Regiment to the St. Marys harbor with orders to report on the British activities. Along with Curtis, V_spedes dispatched a sharp reminder that the extension had expired on July 19, and he told Tonyn to leave immediately. Apparently Curtis's presence was to discourage further timber cutting and prevent the British from taking disputes with Spaniards into their own hands.79 Throughout August, the main rea son given for delay was to collect debts. By the end of August the creditors had either settled or had given up hope of collecting their indebtedness, and had moved to the St. Marys harbor.80
During the final weeks, Tonyn and Z_spedes argued over V_squez's alleged slave thefts. Their last communications dealt with this subject. In his final dispatch to Z_spedes Tonyn recapitulated his view of all the Anglo-Spanish disputes in which the two governors had become embroiled. He prepared the dispatch, complete with supporting documents in July, but did not send the papers until September 11, the day he sailed.81
The last British ship to leave East Florida was to have been the Cyrus, the frigate which had been Tonyn's residence since June. As the Cyrus left the St. Marys harbor, the wind cast her about, and her flailing anchor caused serious leakage. Examination of the damage disclosed rotton wood which made a simple repair impossible. The predicament was embarrassing. Having fired his parting salvo at Z_spedes, Tonyn hoped to remain aloof
78. Alexander Semple to James McTernan, December 16, 1786, East Florida Papers, b108, d9, copy in Lockey Collection; Tonyn Certificate, December 18, 1784, ibid., b323A.
79. Z_spedes to Tonyn, July 27, 1785, enclosed in Tonyn to Sydney, August 10, 1785, CO 5:561, 681-83, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 671-72; Tonyn to Z_spedes, August 6, 1785, enclosed in Tonyn to Sydney, August 10, 1785, CO 5:561, 685-88, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783- 1785, 673-74.
80. Memorial of John Mowbray, enclosed in Tonyn to Sydney, August 10, 1785, CO 5:561, 689-96, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 675-77.
81. Z_spedes to Jos_ de G_lvez, October 4, 1785, AGI:SD, legajo 2660, No. 92, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 731-32; Tonyn to Z_spedes, July 29, 1785, enclosed in Tonyn to Sydney, August 10, 1785, CO 5:561, 549-68, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 604-15.
from St. Augustine, but to go to Georgia was unthinkable.82 After considerable difficulty, Tonyn contacted two transports still at Nassau. They returned for him, and the governor of British East Florida departed on November 19, 1785, some eight months after the date stipulated in the treaty.83
82. Tonyn to Sydney, September 15, 1785, CO 5:561, 777-78, cited in Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785, 721-24.
83. Leaver's evacuation return clears up some uncertainty concerning the date of Tonyn's departure, Admiralty Papers, 49:9, 101. See also Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785,739. Fn. 1.
* * * * * APPENDIX 1
THE EVACUATION OF EAST FLORIDA: SAILING SCHEDULE
May 1784 June 1784 July 1784
April 1785 May 1785 June 1785 July 1785
September 1785 November 1785
Friendship Elizabeth Charlotte
Nova Scotia Jamaica, Mosquito Coast Jamaica, Mosquito Coast Jamaica Bahamas
Argo Betsy AmityEs Production William and Mary Ann Nancy Ann Spring Countess of Darlington
Deptford Bahamas Bahamas Bahamas
Elizabeth William and Mary Polly 2nd
Spring Betsy Ann Countess of Darlington
Polly 2nd Robert and Dorothy
Elizabeth Amity's Production
Robert and Dorothy Countess of Darlington Charlotte Spring
Two Sisters Ann Two Sisters
Glasgow Bahamas Bahamas
Bahamas Bahamas Bahamas
Bahamas Jamaica, Mosquito Coast Bahamas Bahamas
Nova Scotia Bahamas Dominica Jamaica, Mosquito Coast Bahamas Bahamas Dominica Dominica Nova Scotia Bahamas
("An Account shewing the Names of the Transports that were employed in carrying Loyalists and Refugees," February 22, 1786, Admiralty Papers, 49:9, Public Record Office, 11-17; "A General Return of Transports under the Direction of Lieutenant Robt Leaver Agent Employ'd on the Evacuation of East Florida," ibid., 100-01.)
THE EVACUATION OF EAST FLORIDA: QUANTITY OF SHIPPING Shipping Quantity in tons Refugees and property to Bahamas 4982 Refugees and property to Dominica 1057 Refugees and property to Nova Scotia 962 Refugees and property to Jamaica and Mosquito Coast 947 Refugees and property to Jamaica 632 Lewis Johnston, Jr., and property to Glasgow 248 Refugees and property to Deptford (includes Tonyn) 646 Naval stores, timber, deerskins to Deptford 2092 Garrison, ordnance, artillery to Bahamas 1333
("A General Return of Transports under the Direction of Lieutenant Robt Leaver Agent Employ'd on the Evacuation of East Florida," Admiralty Papers, 49:9, ibid., 100-01.)
* * * * *