Beresford Plantation

William Beresford, the Earl of Tyrone, was awarded the 20,000 acres that became Beresford Plantation. The estate was located south of the Crowle property, extending south from midpoint on Lake Beresford to Blue Springs Landing, labeled Mineral Spring on "Exact Plan of the River St. Johns" done circa 1774. It is possible that Hontoon Island was included in this southernmost St. Johns River plantation during the British years. Charles Bernard supervised development of the estate and resided there for many years.

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Beresford Plantation was established by Charles Bernard in the late 1760s for William Beresford, the Earl of Tyrone. The plantation dwellings and most of the agricultural fields were located on the east shore of the body of water that is still called Lake Beresford. In 1782, a wealthy Loyalist refugee named William Moss purchased 1,200 acres of Beresford Plantation, probably the part developed by Bernard and the Beresford slaves. Moss also acquired Hontoon Island, shown in the image below. Hontoon Island adjoined the southwest corner of Lake Beresford. At that time the main St. Johns River channel twisted around Hontoon Island on the west side.

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Plat Map For Beresford Plantation

William Bartram, a friend of Bernard, traveled in 1774 to the eastern shore of Lake Beresford to gather plants and flowers in the vicinity of the plantation established for the Earl of Tyrone. As he approached the estate via Lake Beresford, Bartram was caught in a hurricane that almost sank his small boat. After the storm passed, Bartram noted it had destroyed oak groves on the shore near where he sought shelter. It took him several days after the hurricane abated to dry and preserve his notes and specimens. Beresford Plantation “suffered almost irreparable damages from the violence of the storm,” Bartram wrote, leaving only the dwelling house of the agent, Charles Bernard, still standing. The barns, houses for the sixty enslaved black men and women owned by Beresford, and all storage buildings were blown “almost flat to the ground, or the logs and roof rent asunder and twisted about.” Fields of indigo and sugar cane were destroyed and live oak trees were “torn to pieces, their limbs lying scattered over the ground.”

Beresford Plantation, Bartram wrote, was “a vast body of land...fit for the culture of Corn, Indigo, Cotton, Batatas, &c. And of low swamps and marshes, which when properly drained and tilled, would be suitable for Rice, these rich low grounds when drained and ridged are as productive as the natural high land, and vastly more durable....”

No record has been found of how long Bernard stayed at Beresford Plantation, nor is there an indication of how long the estate was operated. It is possible that it was still in cultivation in 1782 when William Moss, a wealthy Loyalist refugee, purchased 1200 acres of the larger Beresford property, along with nearby Hontoon Island. Moss invested heavily in his Florida estate, but abandoned it all two years later during the mass evacuation of British settlers following the cession of East Florida to Spain. Moss resettled his laborers in the Bahama Islands. From the Bahamas, Moss filed this record of his brief ownership of Beresford Plantation.

Schedule of Immovable Property

A Tract containing Twelve Hundred acres of land laying in the River St. Johns, being part of a Tract granted to the Honorable John Beresford, Esq.

Lot no.
1.
70 acres of said Tract is planted and under good fence
£175
2.
280 acres of said Tract is good Hammock & well timbered
£140
3.
850 acres of good pine land.
£42.10
4.

On said tract is a Dwelling House Framed, Barn, Corn House, Stable, Poultry Houses & ? Other Houses & negro Houses.

£35
5.
A Corn Mill, Mill House & Horse Machine
£20
6.
A Blacksmith's Shop & Tools
£15

Two Tracts containing 950 acres; an Island in River St . Johns opposite the plantation:

£519.10
7.
13 Acres of said Island is cleared & planted
£32.10
8.
300 of said Tract Rich Fresh Marsh
£150.
9.
437 Acres of said Tract well Timber'd Hammock & Swamp
£218.10
10.
300 Acres well Timbered pine land
£10
£928.10
Movable Property on the Plantation called Berresford
11.
Thirteen Working Slaves at £55 [average]
£715
12.
Fifty Head of Hogs at 10/
£25
13.
Nine Horses at 5.10
£49.10
14.

Plantation Tools consisting of Coopers Tools, Ploughs, Axes, hoes, spades, hosehold furniture, 114 [?]

£40
£1758

Schedule & valuation of a Plantation containing 3,500 acres 6 miles South of St. Augustine.

1.
160 Acres of planted land cleared & under Fence.
£320
2.
560 Acres of well wooded Hammock Land .
£560
3.
2815 Acres of well Timber'd pine land @ 2/6
£351.17.6
4.

Good Dwelling House, Overseers House, Kitchen, Barn, Stable, Negro Houses, Mill Houses & Out Buildings

£300
£1531.17.6
   
5.

2 large Flats to hold near 26 cords wood & 1 large canoe, 2 small canoes

£200
6.
50 Slaves @ £ 50 [average]
£2500
7.
10 Head of Horses & Mares
£50
8.
15 Working Oxen
£150
9.
Plantation tools, carpenters & coopers, corn mills, etc .
£50
£4481.17.6

Schedule & valuation of a Lot of Land in the Town of St. Augustine with Improvements, also moveable property.

1.
Lot as per plan annexed. Improved by a New Two Story House 51 feet long 21 feet wide, upper part compleatly finished for a Dwelling House, the Lower part a Store & Counting House. A Kitchen & Back Store new, 60 feet by 16. Lot and Improvements well worth
£1500
2.
Household Furniture
£100
3.
Five Negro Servants
£300
4.
One Blooded Mare & one Horse
£30
£1935
£8174.17.6 Total Amount.
 
An account of the Cost, and Expences on settling Berresford Pltn.
     

Feb.1782

To Robert Payne for the plantation – at vendue
£230
Ditto...for Negro Charles – ditto
£
Ditto...for sundry articles: Tools, Hoggs, etc.
£146.11.3&3/4
[subtotal]
£499.11.3&3/4
     
Feb. 6

To Nine Negroes viz.: Babu–£70–Betty 40–Qack 40–Will 33-Frank 35–Harry 35–Bobb 33–Liverpool 33–Ned 4

£359.
To Five Horses: £ 25 – Six Head Cattle 15
£40.
To 2 duffil blankets 24, 9 blue jackets 94/6, 9 pr. breeches 42/9
£8.1.3
12 yds oznaburghs 12/, 112 lb shott 56/, 6 pr trousers 39/
£4.18
1 Linsey Jacket 7/4, 12 lb Onions 12/, fish hooks 3/3
£1.2.7
Castnet twine 7/ Needles 1/6, Thread 5/6, Scissars 1/
£15.
8 Razors 16/ Padlock 2/6 pins 1/ 11 knives 16/6
£1.16
4 yds Stripe 11/ 9 Check Shirts 85/6 50 lb Sugar 75/
£8.11.6
6 Iron Potts 22/6, 2 Lines 6/3, 16 buttons 1/4, 3 Hats 21/
£2.11.1
Pd. for maintenance of S. Eubank-the overseer in Town
£1.3.9
2 saddles 5.4, 25 lb lead balls 12/6, 4 gall. Rum 2/
£7.16.6
Apr. 11
To 1 padlick 3/9, 3 lb gun powder 6/, 3 Sugar boxes 25 /,
£1.14.9
April 18
1 loaf Sugar 15/, 1 lb Tea 21/, Mustard 1/3
£1.17.3
6 cups&saucers 3/, Tea pot 1/16, bowls 2/6, mug 1/3, plates 4/6
£12.9
3 dox wine £5.14, 143 yards Oznabg. 9 ? £5.7.3
£11.1.3
35 yds Drogheda 118 yds 2.18.4, 54 yards ? Plains 2/5.8/
£8.6.4
1100 Nails 6/, 24 lb Shott 12/
£18.
1 Mattrass & Pillows 90/, 9 yd Rope 7/2 ½ , brass locks 4/6
£ 5.1.8 ½
6 gallons Rum 48/ fish lines, hooks & Needles 25/
£3.13
Thread 17/ 6 Knives & forks 7/6, 12 spoons 7/9, ½ lb pepper 3/
£1.15.3
26 lb Sugar 39/, 1 yd Linner 5/, 8 yds Sheeting 38;
£4.2
44 ½ yards Check 2/6, £5.11.3. 2 pr. Table Hinges 3/
£5.14.3
21 yds Musquetto nettg 42/ Tape, Lin Thread & making 10/3
£2.12.3
April 24.
To Speice damaged Drogheda Linnen
£14
April 29.
To Coffee 6/8, 2 blankets 2/4, 1 Adze 6/ 2yd chalk 7/
£2.3.8
1 Hat 5/, 1 Saddle & Bridle 38/, 2 doz Revetts 4/
£2.7
May 14.
To 1 lock
?
May 30.
To pay B. Springer for hire of his Schooner.
£9.??
154 Sugar 7.14/ 25 lb Coffee 37/6
£9.11.6
June 15.
To Negroes: Litchfield 40, Rose & Phillis 55
£99.
To 1 Hatt
£7.6
July 6.
To 2 dox. Sail needles 2/, flints 4
£3.
Aug. 14.
To 20 Bushels Salt 3/9
£3.15
Sept 1.
To a parcel of garden seeds.
£1.3.6
Sept 15.
To James Wright for a horse.
£15.4
Sept 17.
To a seane of Twine
£9.
Sept 22.
To 8 Empty puncheons
£3.6
Dec. 4.
To cash paid Negro hire
£3.6
Dec. 30.
To 2 Buckles 2/, ½ gal. Rum 5/6, 5 lb Sugar 5/ for Baba
£12.6
Jan. 1, 1783
To cash paid for Casks
£5.4.6
Needles 2 Scissars 2, Hatt 9/16
£.13.6
1 Stript gown 21/6, 1 shirt 10/6, thread 2/ 1.14
£7.12
To half a pound of thread
£.8.
Feb. 7.
cash paid Stephen Eubank one years wages as overseer.
£60.
Overcharged him on Gunpowder & Coffee
£14.9
Feb. 24.
To A. Cunningham shaking & packing 8 Hogsheads
£16.
March 29.
To cash paid for 20 Bushels Salt. 6/3
£6.5

To 2lb salts 9/6, 1 sulphur 3/, 10 lb nails 10/, Gunpowder & flints 10/2

£1.12.8
April 26.
To cash paid for Gunpowder
£6.9
May 31.
To 1 check shirt 9/6, 2 pr Trowsers 12/3.
£1.1.9
June 10.
To 80 yards oznaburghs 80/ thread 6/
£4.6
June 17.
To cash pd for a Newspaper
£1.
June 19.
Cash paid for corn for Horses
£4.
Nov. 21.
To Hire of a Negro to Six mile Creek
£10.
Paid Negro Smarts Expences
£9.6
Total
£1215.5.8&3/4
   

Creditors

Oct. 21
By 2 Bushel Salt pd J. Holmes
6 sh.
May 3.
By 1 Ditto Elias Ball
8 sh
May 29.
By 15 Bus. Potatoes David Gains
£1.17.6
May 2.
By 74 Barrels Turpentine at 25/ per
£92.10.
May 4.
By Fresh Pork gave Walker in lieu of Salt pork
£4.16.9
 
£100.0.3.
 
£1115.5.5&3/4.
     
May 4.
To Cash paid S. Eubank for one Years wages.
£60.
Ditto For making Negro cloathing
£2.7.0
Ditto For a frying pan
£0.10.9
   
£62.17.9
Total
£1178.3.2 ½.

This is to certify that the foregoing account against Beresford Plantation, the balance amounting to one thousand one hundred & fifteen pounds five shillings and five pence 3/4 Sterling is a true copy from the Books of Thomas William & James Moss for their account against that Plantation and also that the additional sum of Sixty two pounds seventeen shillings & nine pence was actually paid to Stephen Eubanks for services etc. on said plantation which sum was not included in the Beresford Plantation acct. transmitted. Henry Wood Liverpool - 2nd July 1787

Bibliographic Information

A Note On Sources

T77/2/28-John Beresford, Earl of Tyrone, Bishop of Ossory, Baron of Decies. William Bartram, Travels , 89-92. T77/1/5-William Moss.