Florida Real Estate, Colonial Style



The British Union Jack. The flag of England and all the UK.




The British Union Jack.






Map of
British Florida 1763--1783





















For a large map showing British Florida 1763--1783 click here.



























Link to the
Teacher Resource Page for Florida Real Estate, Colonial Style

Florida Real Estate, Colonial Style
Florida Became a British Colony

The French and Indian War being fought in Canada. Florida did figure into the redrawing of the maps when the war ended in 1763. England won.In 1763, France, Britain, and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris at the end of the French and Indian War. As part of the treaty, France gave up almost all of its land in North America and Spain gave up Florida. During the French and Indian War, Britain had captured Havana, Spain's busiest port. Florida would become a bargaining chip.

In exchange for Havana, the Spanish traded Florida to Britain. The British then divided Florida into two territories: East Florida and West Florida. This time was known in Florida as the British Period. The Union Jack flew over Florida.

The British divided Florida into two distinct colonies with the Apalachicola River as the boundary. Look at the map above to see how much smaller West Florida is than East. St. Augustine remained the capital of East Florida, while Pensacola became the capital of West Florida. With poor road transportation and an enormous voyage around the Florida Keys, the new arrangement allowed more effective administration than the Spanish system.

Just like the thirteen colonies to the North, the two Floridas were governed by appointed governor with a lieutenant governor and a chief justice as primary staff members. The Crown also appointed a council to serve as the colony's upper house while it was promised that an elected lower house would be chosen once the colonies developed a population.

The English had one major advantage over the Spanish: the ability to recruit settlers, particularly families to the New World. The British Parliament cooperated by setting a goal of channeling migration away from the Indian lands west of the Appalachians to newly acquired Florida. The Proclamation of 1763 outlawed settlement west of the Appalachians while promoting Florida.

London Helps Out
The London Board of Trade advertised 20,000 acre lots to any group willing to enter Florida. The land, however, had to be settled within ten years with one resident per 100 acres. While the Privy Council in London granted land titles, pioneer families could gain land grants at the two colonial capitals. Former British soldiers were eligible for special grants. Each pioneer settler was given 100 acres of land and 50 acres per family member. To recruit Southerners, slavery was allowed. 

Each Florida was given a single regiment of professional soldiers, good protection for the town folk, but these men were also hired to guard the frontier from Indian attacks and the coast from pirate invasions. The Governor had to summon the entire male population into a state militia to assure security. Florida, like Virginia, made the Church of England (Anglican) the official state religion. Keep in mind this is all happening from 1763 on. This is right after the

East Florida
East Florida was then bordered by the Apalachicola River, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean. The capital of East Florida was St. Augustine. East Florida had good, fertile soil and was excellent for farming. In an attempt to bring settlers to East Florida, the British offered land grants to settlers who would come to farm and also defend the new British territory.

The first governor of East Florida was James Grant. Grant did more to increase the population of East Florida than anyone else. He remained friends with the Seminole Indians and traded goods with them. Grant also encouraged settlers from North and South Carolina, Georgia, and other British colonies to come and start plantations, or large farms.

Many British brought enslaved Africans with them to work on the plantations. The slaves cleared land, built homes, took care of farm animals, and planted and harvested crops. Many plantations were successful with various crops such as citrus fruit, sugar cane, rice, and cotton. Some plantations raised Indigo plants for making dark blue dye.

Life in a British Town
Florida's few towns filled up under British rule, but there was little change in the two decades when England operated the two Floridas. St. Augustine remained a village of narrow streets lined with squat coquina houses and walled courtyards. The English residents, at first ignorant of Spanish architecture, remodeled the houses until they discovered the Spanish design kept out the winter wind and the summer mosquitoes. They quickly adopted Spanish customs.

British town life may have lacked some of the earthy charm and excitement of a Spanish military garrison, but it had families and thirty or so ships per year putting in at port. Tropical goods and lumber were sent to South Carolina; indigo dye and naval products to the North. The work force was still quite limited, but there was general optimism that British East Florida would soon develop. The British also brought in an African-American slave populace for the large plantations. Yes, Florida was a state that approved of slavery.

Pensacola and West Florida, with its sandy, coastal soils and heavy forests, lagged behind in development. The region produced no staple, money crops except lumber and furs. The pioneer homesteaders who entered the area survived on crops of corn, beans, cotton, tobacco, and rice. There were only a few plantations since the Tallahassee Hills were considered less secure for the frontier farmer.

The American Revolution
The British did not rule Florida for long. The colonies north of Florida were tired of Britain's rule and decided to fight for their independence. They began a war known as the American Revolution. During this time, colonists who fought for independence were known as Patriots. Those who sided with Britain were called Loyalists.

Most of the war took place far north of Florida, but Florida suffered occasional raids. In 1779, Spain took advantage of Britain's preoccupation with the colonies and invaded West Florida. By 1781, Britain had lost West Florida to Spain. At the end of the American Revolution, Spain regained the rest of Florida.

After the American Revolution Britain lost control of the thirteen colonies and had little interest in keeping Florida. Florida was still isolated from the original colonies and did not produce big profits for Britain. On September 3, 1783, another Treaty of Paris was signed ending the American Revolution. It was at this time that Britain recognized the independence of the United States. England left Florida.

Spain regained Florida, but its rule was short lived. The United States now wanted control of Florida. Spain's attempt to bring settlers to Florida failed, and by 1800 Spain's control of Florida had weakened. Gaining control of Florida for the United States would mean gaining control of the Mississippi River. That was an important route for trade. At the same time, Britain also wanted to regain control of Florida.

Finally in 1821, the United States was successful in purchasing Florida from Spain. Florida became a territory of the United States.

Florida's Kingsley Plantation
The Kingsley Plantation, located near Jacksonville, is an excellent example of what plantations were like when Florida was transferred to the United States. The main house was constructed in 1898 by John McQueen. It is connected to a smaller saltbox house and kitchen. The grounds also include a barn and several dozen slave cabins constructed of tabby, a mixture of equal parts lime, water, sand, and oyster shells. The plantation was located on an island to protect it from invaders and to prevent slaves from escaping. Cotton, citrus, sugar cane, and corn were grown here.

In 1814, Zephaniah Kingsley moved to Fort George Island and the plantation. He brought a wife and three children. His wife, Anna Madgigine Jai, was from Senegal, West Africa, and had been purchased by Kinglsey as a slave when she was 13 years old. She actively participated in plantation management for 37 years, acquiring her own land and slaves when freed by Kingsley in 1811.

In 1821, the United States purchased Florida from Spain. The Americans replaced liberal racial policies with oppression. To escape what Kingsley called a "spirit of intolerant prejudice," Anna and their five sons moved to Haiti.

Today the Kingsley Plantation is the oldest plantation house in Florida. It is managed by the National Park Service as an historic site and is open to visits by the public.