George Laidler

Approximately five miles upriver from the Cowford, adjoining Lutterloh's tract on the north, between Cedar River and Big Fishweir Creek, George Laidler, Esquire, was given 5,000 acres by the Crown in 1765. Laidler was a rare absentee landlord for the time, one who personally visited East Florida. After traveling from London to Charleston in the autumn of 1765, Laidler departed for St. Augustine on November 1st aboard the provincial schooner, the " East Florida ." He must have traveled widely in East Florida, since he did not return to Charleston until August of the following year, when Henry Laurens wrote: "Mr. Laidler came from on board the Schooner and went to rest himself on one of my Beds & there he has been resting ever since sometimes promising to make an eternal rest of it nor is he quite out of danger yet." Laurens, always a severe critic of East Florida, implied it was common for travelers coming from St. Augustine to bring illness with them.

Laidler held the property for less than three years, selling in 1768 to William Fraser and John Richardson, also London merchants. The property was resold in May 1772 to William Wilson, and only one month later title passed to Alexander Gray. In July 1774, Gray sold the 5,000 acres to John Read and George Rigby. For reasons unexplained in the documents but probably related to anticipated rebel incursions from Georgia, Gray advised Read and Rigby to "defer cultivating the said land until a more favorable opportunity offered." Rigby and Read divided the 5,000 acres into two separate tracts which they believed would have become highly profitable plantations had Britain not ceded the province to Spain. This land was not developed prior to the British evacuation in 1784.

 

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The 5,000-acre tract granted to George Laidler in 1765 was located on the west of the St. Johns River and north of Ortega River, between Cedar River and Fishweir Creek. The property, which can be seen in the distance, sat idle for the entire two decades that East Florida was as British colony.

Bibliographic Information

A Note On Sources

T77/25/fragments for Laidler and Rigby; T77/15/3 for John Read. Public Record Office, Kew, England, Treasury 77, Box 25 for Rigby. Laurens to Grant, Nov. 1, 1765 , in George C. Rogers, Jr., editor, The Papers of Henry Laurens. Volume Five (Columbia, S.C. : University of South Carolina Press, 19). Laurens to Grant, August 18, 1766, JGP.