Great Fort George Isle

This tract of approximately 1000 acres of oak, hickory, and high hammock land surrounded by salt marshes and located at the northern shore of the St. Johns River at its juncture with the Atlantic Ocean, was granted to Richard Hazard on June 20, 1765. Fort George Island became a successful indigo plantation prior to the death of the owner. The estate passed to Hazard's widow, Phoebe Hazard, and to her son Richard Hazard, Jr. Governor Patrick Tonyn purchased the property at auction shortly before the province was ceded to Spain at the conclusion of the American Revolution. In his Memorial to the East Florida Claims Commission seeking compensation for losses suffered when the province was ceded to Spain in the Peace of Paris, 1783, Governor Tonyn valued the estate at £750 Sterling .

John Bartram visited the island in 1766 and said Hazard was "a good kind of a man, and one of the best planters in Florida; he is settled on a large rich island, great part of which is surrounded with marsh, which on one side is very extensive." Bartram inspected the site of the former Spanish mission, San Juan del Puerto, and the huge shell middens deposited there by generations of Native Americans. He saw "several middling tumulus's or sepulchers of the Florida Indians...'Tis very demonstrable that the Spaniards had a fine settlement here, as there still remain their cedar posts on each side their fine straight avenues, pieces of hewn live-oaks, and great trees girdled round to kill them, which are now very sound, though above 60 years since they were cut. This rich island, though it appears sandy on the surface, yet hath a clay bottom, above which in some places there is a dark-coloured strata of indurated sand-rock."

Looking northwest across the entrance to the St. Johns River and the jetties that reach into the Atlantic Ocean. Fort George Island is to the north of the river, on the right. The Mayport Carrier Basin and Naval Air Station is south of the river. Talbot Island is north of Fort George, and Little Talbot Island is east and north.

Richard Hazzard was granted Fort George Island in 1765. Benjamin Lord, the last Surveyor General of British East Florida, drew this map in 1787 following the British evacuation of the province. He based the map on original surveys done in 1765. The St. Johns River, not shown on this survey, is to the left of the marsh south of the island.

Fort George Island is in the center of the photograph, which is pointed generally in a northerly direction. Batten Island, shown here in the foreground, and Fort George Island are connected by a causeway. Two roads lead to the north on this heavily wooded island, the one shown on the left cuts through the woods and terminates at Kingsley Plantation, a National Park Service site. The second road can be seen on the east side of the island, shown here on the right.

The surviving records of the British East Florida years do not indicate where on Fort George Island the Richard Hazzard plantation structures were located. One possibility is here, at the head of the inlet at the northeast corner of the island.

Another possible location for the Hazzard residential and plantation structures is the northwest corner of Fort George Island, where Kingsley Plantation is situated today.

San Juan del Puerto, the Franciscan mission for the Timucua Indians that resided on Ft. George Island when the Spanish colony was established in the sixteenth century, was located on the left. Although the mission was destroyed by British invaders from South Carolina in 1702, John Bartram was still able to find the remains of its structures and avenues more than sixty years later.

Bibliographic Information

A Note On Sources

T77/17/10-Patrick Tonyn. John Bartram's comments are in "Diary of a Journey through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida from July 1, 1765 to April 10, 1766," ed. Francis Harper, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 33, No. 1.