Cecilton Plantation

Edward Wood, a London merchant, acquired a 10,000-acre tract in 1769 located south of the St. Johns River in what is now the Empire Point neighborhood of Jacksonville, at the merger of Little Pottsburg Creek, and extending south to another boundary on the St. Johns in today's San Jose. The estate bounded Jericho Plantation to the north and ran parallel to today's University Boulevard from Little Pottsburg Creek to San Jose. After acquiring the tract, Wood immediately conveyed it to the Second Earl of Egmont, who let the tract lay dormant for many years.

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The 10,000-acre tract granted to Edward Wood that became Cecilton Plantation began at today's Empire Point, shown here on the lower right, on Little Pottsburgh Creek (probably Hazzard's Creek in the 1770s), and extended across the Southside peninsula to the St. Johns River at San Jose.

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Cecilton Plantation extended upriver to approximately Miller's Creek, where Phillip Lee's farm was located. Beyond Lee's place travelers came to the Cowford Ferry that connected the southern branch of the King's Road that led south to St. Augustine and the plantations as far away as the Mosquito Inlet region, with the northern branch that led to Georgia. This photograph looks over Empire Point to the Hart Bridge, Alltell Stadium and the Jacksonville business district.

In 1776, following the destruction of Lord Egmont's Amelia Island Plantation by rebel troops fromGeorgia, his agent, Stephen Egan, led his family and 100 enslaved men and women through thewoods to the protection of British troops in St. Augustine. Egan lodged the laborers at the undeveloped estate near the Cowford originally granted to Edward Wood and named it Cecilton Plantation. This was the fourth East Florida estate developed by Egmont's enslaved laborers, beginning with Mount Royal in the previous decade.

Cecilton became a major producer of naval stores between 1776 and 1785. On January 1, 1785, Governor Patrick Tonyn conducted an inventory at Cecilton Plantation, shortly before the slaves were shipped to the Island of Dominica. He listed seventy-eight slaves as property of the heirs of Lord Egmont, and an additional twenty-two slaves owned by Stephen Egan. Egan was a native of Ireland whose sister Mary was a tenant at Egmont's Kanturk estate. On March 17th, Governor Tonyn sent a record to Lady Egmont, the Earl's widow, certifying that Egan had netted £708 Sterling from sales of lumber and naval stores at Cecilton in the first three months of 1785. The governor also sent an inventory of the human property owned by the Egmont heirs that were residing "on the plantation Cecilton, St. Johns River " on January first. The seventy-eight men, women and children were listed by family unit:
  1. Cesar, a sawyer, squarer, keeps saws in order, does all lumber and naval stores. Flora, a field slave and works at her needle. Children: Mary, age 9; Cesar, 3; John, 1.
  2. Ned, a sawyer, makes turpentine, pitch, and tar. Diana, a cook, washer and ironer, can spin cotton exceeding well. Children: Rachel, a woman girl, 15; Assea, a woman girl, 12; Lucy, 7; Monday, 1.
  3. Quamina, a sawyer, squarer, does naval stores. Lucy, a midwife and field slave. Children: Peg, mulatto woman girl, a field slave; Quamina, seven.
  4. Belir, a sawyer and field slave. Sarah, old and unable to work. Children: Sue, a mulatto girl, 16, seamstress and field slave; Abram, a man boy, 14.
  5. Billy, a carpenter and cooper. Sona, a field slave. Children: Ned, 7; Venus, 10.
  6. Castilio, a carpenter and cooper. Emma, a field slave. Children: Hannah, a woman girl, 12; Silvia, 9; Nancy, 6; Daphne, 3.
  7. Nango, a sawyer and field slave. Menta, a washer, ironer, does needle work, a field slave. Children: Daniel, a man boy, 13; Jacob, a man boy, 12.
  8. Dick, a driver and sawyer, understands every branch of naval stores well. Phebe, a good house wench, needle work, field slave. Children: Sam, a man boy, 14.
  9. Anthony, a sawyer and field slave. Nancy, a field slave. Children: Frank, a man boy, 14; Anthony, 3.
  10. Charles, a sawyer, squarer, hunter, field slave, understands management of horses and cattle. Cato, a field slave, prevented from working by a large (not legible) on the neck. Children: Will, 12; Nelly, 8; Charles, "a cripple," 6; John, 4; Phebe, 1.
  11. Harry, a rough cooper, sawyer, field slave. Peg, field slave. Children: Tom, a field slave, 16; Jane, 13; Dick, 2.
  12. Jupiter, a sawyer and field slave. Nanny, a field slave.
  13. Rome, a sawyer and field slave. Juno, a field slave.
  14. Tanquer, very old. Nanny, very old.

The governor also listed eighteen single men: fourteen field slaves and sawyers, one squarer, sawyer, and tar maker, two field slaves, and James, listed as very old.

A child born after the slaves were aboard the ship that carried them to Dominica brought the total number of Egmont human properties shipped to that island to seventy-seven.

Several deaths had occurred in recent weeks: Robin of drowning, Nero of dropsy, and Peter of old age. Others had escaped bondage; Juba, Joe, Nestor, Hannibal, and Pan, had absconded and were believed to be living in Georgia with Creek Indians.

The labor force arrived at Dominica sickly and suffering with "flux, belly ache, mostly caused by poor water." Minto died during the passage, Egan reported to the Egmont estate executors, after having been "long-time sick in Florida." The slaves were rented to labor for other planters, primarily clearing land and planting coffee trees. Contrary to Egan's advice, Egmont's heirs ordered all of the slaves sold on September 26, 1786. After commissions and expenses were subtracted, net sales totaled £3648 Sterling.

Bibliographic Information

A Note On Sources

T77/5/5-J.J. Perceval; 47054 Additional Manuscripts, Egmont Papers, British Library London. Egmont to Grant, June 1, 1768, and Grant to Egmont, Dec. 23, 1767, in James Grant Papers. Tonyn's inventory is in 47054 Add. Ms.