San Marco: John Holmes, Martin Jollie, William Wilson

Adjoining the Box plantation upriver was a 500-acre tract granted in March 1769 to the province's deputy collector of customs, John Holmes, a migrant from South Carolina, whose father, Isaac Holmes, migrated from England to South Carolina in 1721. John Holmes was the eldest of two sons born to Isaac and Susan Holmes. John served on the East Florida Royal Council from its inception until the colony was evacuated. He also served as clerk of the pleas and as comptroller. Holmes sold this 500 acres to Martin Jollie, who came to East Florida as agent for the plantations of Lord Egmont. Holmes thereafter concentrated his planting interests south of St. Augustine on the Matanzas River and north of St. Augustine on Pablo River. Holmes migrated to Nassau, New Providence Island, after the British evacuation of East Florida . He bequeathed East Florida land and forty-two slaves to his children: John, James, and Margaret Holmes. His will also carried the following proviso: "For the faithful services of my Male Slave Harry it is my Will and I do manumit and for ever discharge the said Negro Harry from all Slavery and Servitude whatsoever. One month after my decease, I want my son John to pay Harry $100 milled dollars as a further retreat."

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Two view of the San Marco shoreline that was in 1769 granted to John Holmes, a member of the East Florida Royal Council. Subsequent owners were Martin Jollie, also appointed by King George III to the East Florida Royal Council, and William Wilson. This 500-acre farm was cultivated continuously from 1769 until the British evacuated the province in 1784.

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In 1778, William Wilson purchased the estate from Jollie. Wilson came to East Florida in 1767 as an overseer for Peter Taylor and James Penman at their Mosquitoes plantation south of St. Augustine. He later became a planter on his own with estates on the St. Johns River, Woodcutter's Creek, and Little Fort George Island ( Pilot Town today). Wilson also purchased the twenty-five enslaved laborers who were responsible for the first clearing and planting and for building the first structures. Those laborers (nine men, nine women, seven children), were purchased for £950 Sterling. Fifty acres had been planted by the time Wilson acquired title. Improvements included a dwelling house for the proprietor or overseer, dwellings for white workers, a barn, kitchen, poultry house, and slave quarters. This 500-acre tract near the Cowford was in continuous production from 1769 until British settlers departed the province in 1784.

Holmes, Wilson, and Jollie each acquired numerous additional tracts of land in diverse locations in the province. Holmes and Wilson had farms and slaves south of St. Augustine on the Matanzas River, and Wilson had properties on both sides of the mouth of the St. Johns River. Jollie had land near St. Augustine, other tracts on the east of the St. Johns near the Oklawaha River, and on the St. Marys River. After leaving the employ of Egmont, Jollie focused on his own St. Marys River tracts raising rice and cutting timber for export until rebels from Georgia left his buildings in ashes and took him to Savannah as a prisoner. Released in 1778, Jollie returned to East Florida .

By 1778, the economic focus of East Florida planters had changed from the export of indigo to cutting lumber and preparing tar, pitch, and turpentine for sale to Britain 's West Indies colonies. When Jollie departed East Florida with the other British evacuees in 1784, he left behind at his Cowford estate sixteen cows, four horses, twenty-five hogs, fifty acres planted in corn & peas, 130 barrels of turpentine, and twelve thousand feet of lumber.

Bibliographic Information

A Note On Sources

T77/18/20-William Wilson; T77/9/7-Martin Jollie.