Lord Cassillis

Dr. William Stork selected a 20,000-acre tract for Lord Cassillis on the east shore of Lake George that bordered north on Stork's tract and Lord Moira's Rawdon Hall property. Stork, or "Dr. Puff," as one grantee called him, wrote to Cassillis from London on June 14, 1767 to outline his plans for locating and developing the Lord's grant properties.

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This is the approximate location of the 20,000-acre tract granted to Lord Cassillis. It represents another example of an inept agent who squandered the investment money of absent English and Scottish landowners, prompting them to cease development efforts in East Florida in disgust.

Plat Map for Lord Cassillis

"My Lord,

I have received the honour of your letter and shall with Pleasure execute your Lordship's Commands to the best of my abililtys. I propose to begin your Settlement upon a frugal Plan, and to place at first five white men servants, consisting of three Carpenters, one Cooper, and an Overseer, together with 10 Negroes upon your Estate. I have procured the Servants, and on account of their Industry and Sobriety have prefered Scotch to English. These Servants are covenant Servants to your Lordship for 8 years at the Expiration of which time they receive 20£ each, and fifty acres of Land with some other small encouragements to Settle upon your Lordships Barony. As to the Negroes, I must get them either in Carolina or Georgia, and must choose such as are used to the different cultivations I begin with as Rice, Cotton, Indigo, etc. The Demand of Negroes for East Florida, has raised their price in Carolina, and I expect to pay between 36 & 40£ a head. The Plantation tools and Implements amounts to about 70£, I reckon in all about 200£ will be expended here in London for the Outsett, 100£ will be laid out for the Survey and Locating the Lands, and the remaining £500 for the Purchase of Negroes and Stock of Cattle. Before I leave London, which will be in a few Days I shall transmit to your Lordship the particulars of the Expence here, with the [Receipts]. At my arrival in Florida I shall lay the Rudiments of the Plantation by clearing and fencing a due proportion of ground and completing houses, for the People. I shall hasten to raise garden vegetables and other grain for sustenance, and when your Plantation promises support for its Inhabitants, I shall then go upon such Culture as will promise the best Return.

"Your Lordship will have an opportunity to see Mr. Rich’d Oswald in Scotland very soon, you will give your Lordship a further Insight in the Business of Settling Plantations in East Florida. And I shall miss no opportunity to acquaint your Lordship with the progress we make in our Settlement. I am fully convinced, that with prudent management it must turn out to advantage. I remain with all possible Respect ... Wm Stork"

On May 15, 1768, Stork wrote from East Florida to Lord Beresford, another grantee he was selecting land for. In that letter, Stork described the tract he had located for Cassillis: "I have likewise established another Plantation upon Lake George for Lord Cassilis consisting of 5 white people and 10 Negroes, his Lordships Tract is one of the best in the Province, it contains more than 10,000 acres rich marsh & swamp."

An entirely different assessment was sent to Cassillis by Governor Grant on December 20, 1768, discussing the death of Stork the previous August. Stork had been "dilatory" for failing to send surveys to the grantees and to the government land office. The governor assumed that Stork had dipped heavily into Cassillis's funds, and regretfully reported that he had left nothing to show for it in East Florida.

Concerning Cassillis tract on Lake George, Grant wrote: "I gave directions to break up your plantation where there was an overseer at considerable expense with four Negroes, a certain charge without the possibility of return, I have paid the overseer, [James] Simpson, his wages and have got rid of him and I have prevailed upon a Dutchman who was of no use but by indenture was entitled to clothes, food, and twenty pounds a year, with a certain quantity of cleared land and other conditions when the time of his indenture will have elapsed." The "Dutchman" agreed to work for another planter in the province.

Two other white men on the estate, "one a carpenter the other pretending to be" were hired to a merchant in St. Augustine for four shillings a day. Because they were fond of rum, however, the governor did not expect them to work many days. The four black men on the tract were similarly hired to another planter, Martin Jollie, the agent for Lord Egmont. Grant felt that Jollie, unlike some agents and overseers in the province, would not overwork the slaves and harm their health.

As to the future of the estate, Grant advised Cassillis to be grateful that his employment of Dr. Stork had come to an end. "Poor Stork was the most improper man living for the business which he undertook, he was slow and confused beyond measure. Your Lordship I found out from himself never saw him, that removed the surprize I was under at the choice you had made of an agent...he absolutely had no common sense and was not tolerably informed upon any subject...but had an air of Importance, consummate impudence, a pretension to general knowledge, with a want of language to express intelligibly his ignorance got the better of many of the good people at home who in general attend much to a man who speaks broken English...."

On July 22nd, 1769, Governor Grant wrote again to Cassillis.

"My Lord,

"I have had the honor to receive Your Lordships letter of the 8th of April from London. Your grant for the Land shall be immediately compleated & transmitted to you, Mr. Fairlamb will draw upon Your Lordship at Mr. Oswalds for the Survey and other Fees of Office.

"Captain Fairlamb cannot bear much Fatigue, he has already undertaken the management of Messieurs Oswald and Thorotons Estates, but declines taking charge of your Lordships Business because he is not able to give the attention or attendance which the settlement of a new Plantation requires.

"Frederick Alert is an honest young man who was employed by Mr. Oswald in Germany. He rather wishes to continue in his Service, as he flatters himself that Mr. Oswald who has been kind to him and educates his Brother, [but you] may in the end be induced to set him up with a few Negros upon his own account, he repaying Mr. Oswald out of the Produce to be raised by those Negros. He having such an Idea, and at the same time being but little acquainted with Planting, I think your Lordship had better send an intelligent good Farmer from the country who is well known to you, & who can with certainty depend upon. He will soon become an American Planter and will easily acquire the proper method of managing your Slaves who may be bought in Carolina or Georgia, or procured by the means of Mr. Oswald, but some seasoned Negroes must be put upon the Plantation to teach the new ones & to help your overseer who would not be able to do any work of consequence with a gang of entire new Negros. Except the first cost the expense attending a Settlement of twenty Negros is as high as for one of thirty, and I should rather advise your Lordship to begin with thirty working hands. The work will go on brisker and of course you may expect quicker Returns for your money, The charges attending a new Planation necessarily run high and carry away the profits arising from produce raised by few hands; being already £500 out of pocket, You’l never make yourself whole with less than thirty Negros. I think the farmer or Overseer you send out may be put under the Direction of Mr. Fairlamb, who may advise him at times what steps to take in raising and shipping the Produce, who may likewise be prevailed upon to audit his accounts, & to countersign Bills to the extent of the credit which you shall think expedient to trust your overseer with. Captain Fairlamb has a nephew in England [Joshua Yallowley] who he has some thoughts of employing for Mr. Thoroton, but if that gentleman should not immediately form a Settlement Mr. Fairlamb has mentioned his nephew to Mr. Oswald for your Lordship, in case the young gentleman is not otherwise engaged at home. This matter your Lordship may talk over with Mr. Oswald.

"I have brought your four Negros...to my Plantation near Town, they are but very indifferent but shall be well taken care of till your Lordship determines what is to be done with them, but you must not count upon them as seasoned Negros who can be of use in forming others, they are very awkward and poor looking creatures. They had been starved for when they first came to my Plantation, every one of them eat just as much as four of my Slaves, tho they are now just as moderate as the rest of the Negros upon the Plantation.

"Your two Carpenters have been discharged in order to get rid of their Claim for twenty pounds apiece when their time was elapsed, which only extended till next October. I have the honor to be, My lord, Your Lordships Most obed’n & most humble Servant.

Bibliographic Information

A Note On Sources

The letters noted in the above text can be identified as dated above in the James Grant Papers.