John Rawdon (Earl of Moira)

Contiguous to the Lillington property on the south, Bernard located a 10,000-acre tract for John Rawdon, son of a Yorkshire baronet who became Baron Rawdon of Moira in 1750 and the Earl of Moira in 1762. It was apparently Lord Moira who arranged with Bernard and his fellow grantees to charter a ship to sail from Ireland with "an accompaniment of thirty-six people to settle and cultivate the land." Also aboard the vessel was a "proper assortment of implements of Husbandry, carpenters Tools & other ironmongery." Bernard was given permission to purchase several enslaved blacks to cultivate Moira's plantation, and "several hundred head of breeding cattle." At least ten slaves were purchased and two hundred cattle ordered.

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The 10,000-acre tract granted to the Earl of Moira was situated here on the east of Lake George. After what appeared to be a promising beginning in 1766, the Moira tract was abandoned due to mismanagement and fraud.

Plat Map for John Rawdon (Earl of Moira)

Rawdon Hall, according to Bernard, was a spacious mansion house built on Mount Pleasant at Lake George. Clearing and planting was well underway, cattle were on the way from Georgia, and a prosperous future in East Florida was assured, or so the agent told the absentee Lord Moira before he returned to Britain with surveys of the property and a large bill for his services. Moira wrote to Governor Grant October 20th, 1767, to inform him that Bernard would be returning after locating the property, and that a man named Stanhope Shannope would arrive at St. Augustine from New York with orders to act as Moira's agent in East Florida.

The arrival of Mr. Shannon prompted Grant to write a long letter to Moira on June 20, 1768.

"My Lord,

I had the honor to receive Your Lordship's letter by Mr. Stanhope Shannon, who arrived here in a vessel from New York, freighted from that place at Your Lordship's expence in order to bring six or eight settlers, who never will be of use to Your Lordship in forming plantations, on the contrary so soon as they have got everything which they have to expect from Your Lordship's agent, they will undoubtedly leave him.

From Mr. Shannons account to me of his transactions since he left Ireland, I think Your Lordship has been put to a very unneccessary Expence of three or four hundred pounds sterling, which would have been increased by the purchase of a vessel if I had not interfered. Mr Bernard & Mr. Shannon jointly agreed and had jointly given bills upon Your Lordship for a vessel to be the property of Your Lordship, Mr. Lillington, and your two agents. I was astonished when Mr. Bernard came with the Collector and presented the Register to me to be signed. I observed to him that Your Lordship had no Settlement formed, of course no produce to be sent to market, & only a few people to feed & that I therefore could not conceive what view or motive he could have in putting you to so large an Expence as the first purchase and keeping up a vessel must amount to. That I disapprove of the measure exceedingly, & if he did not get off the bargain & drop the plan directly I should certainly represent it to Your Lordship in the light I saw it in, which was that of certain & considerable expence without the appearance or possibility of advantage.

"Mr. Bernard was recommended to me by the Earl of Hillsborough as your Lordship's agent, in consequence of which, two tracts were pointed out to him upon his arrival, those lands have since been surveyed and located, & may be made valuable Estates to your Lordship with good management & proper cultivation.

"In this warm climate My Lord, white indented servants can hardly be prevailed upon to labor enough to gain subsistence for themselves, still less to work for their masters interest or advantage, & the Expence which gentlemen are put to, in bringing them out & in feeding & clothing them afterwards, runs so high that no produce which can by raised is sufficient to answer the chargesattending white servants, even supposing them to be industrious.

"Therefore My Lord, settlements must be formed in this New World by Negroe slaves, they will cost Your Lordship from forty to fifty pounds apiece, after the first year they will feed themselves, their clothing is a trifle, indeed the whole charge for food, clothes & working tools for a slave is computed to be about thirty shillings a year at most, & in this healthy country the increase exceeds the decrease of them, & in general Negroes are a growing estate which sells for more than first cost, if the owner at any time chuses to dispose of them. But to turn their labor to account they must be under proper direction. If Your Lordship intends to form a settlement & go to Expence for improvement of Your Florida Estates, with a view to present and future emoluments, I really apprehend tho' Mr. Shannon may be a very honest man that he is by no means equal to the task.

"As things now stand My Lord you may incur Expence but there never will be any thing to show for it, but if Your Lordship thinks proper to send out a gentleman as your Super Intendant with powers to purchase Negroes and to employ overseers under him, if he is intelligent and industrious, he will soon understand the cultivation of indigo, cotton, rice, silk, & in short every thing which this country produces. Under his inspection business probably will go on well, & in the course of a few years Your Lordship may I think depend upon receiving good returns for the money you advance.

"After plantations are formed & provisions are raised upon your Estate, in order to increase the value of it, it will be adviseable My Lord to induce some [indentable] white inhabitants to settle upon a part of Your Lordships lands, not as servants but as farmers upon their own account. Your Lordship at first to support & assist them they afterward to indemnify you by paying a Rent, after a certain term of years.

"Tho' I have not the honor to be known by Your Lordship, I flatter myself You'l excuse the liberty I have taken in entering so minutely into your American affairs, & in giving my opinion so freely upon the subject as it is done with an intention to serve you."

Seven months later the governor commented again on Charles Bernard, this time in a letter to the Earl of Cassillis berating Dr. William Stork, another agent who had come to East Florida to locate estates for numerous wealthy British grantees: "We have just had such another genius here, one Bernard, inferior in fact to Stork though he has done his business better, he has completed the grants of all his constitutuents and has carried them home as his credentials and will no doubt at first be well received until they hear he has cheated half the province by drawing bills for his surveys and other expences upon people who he had no right to draw upon, so that he secured all the money which has been drawn upon by the English grantees to himself."

Moira came to agree with the governor regarding Shannon and Bernard. In 1769, when Bernard "acted absurdly blaming everybody in the colony" when Moira confronted him about the purchase of a vessel, Moira "immediately paid him off" and ended all business with him. Moira was never able to find a capable overseer in Ireland to send to Florida and relied on recommendations from Governor Grant.

The final word on Charles Bernard and the plantation fortunes of the Earl of Moira came from the Lord's attorneys in a memorial to the East Florida Claims Commission asking for compensation caused by the cession of the province to Spain. The Earl, they argued, had "literally complied with the terms of his Grant" by sending white indentures and slaves to cultivate Rawdon Hall. It was only later that the Earl was "informed of the mismanagement of the Agent and the dissention that arose among the people." As a result, the settlement "gradually decayed and this evil the Earl of Moira was prevented from repairing" by the rebellion in North America. It became impossible “under circumstances of War to proceed to further cultivation of lands exposed to hostile occupation.”

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