Ten Million Acres

John Gordon and the Florida Land Claims

The miniature shown in this picture is of John Gordon of South Carolina. Jean Verbeek’s grandfather inherited it in the Williams of NZ bequest in 1942. It is now in her sister’s possession (Eleanora Mary Courtnage).

Spain held Florida from around 1512 (first settlement 1565) and from 1763 it was held by the English before again passing back to Spain in 1783 (only 20 years later). The Spanish then held Florida until it was ceded to the USA in 1821.

When Spain ceded Florida to England in 1763, John Gordon (pictured) returned to Florida and acquired with Jesse Fish about four million acres (some records say ten million acres) of Florida from the departing Spanish. Unfortunately, George III declined to accept the purchases as valid and gave John Gordon 25,000 pounds for the transfer of title.

“By the Treaty of Paris which in 1763 ended the Seven Years War, Spain ceded to Great Britain the province of Florida. In the war with Spain during the American Revolution, Great Britain lost West Florida to Spain and in 1783 ceded to her both Florida’s. In these twenty years of British occupation the government made rapid progress in colonization, granting thousands of acres of land. The treaty of 1763 and instructions to British governors promised to Spanish subjects recognition of all authentic titles to immovable property. To those who wished to remain in Florida the British government offered liberty in their Catholic religion. Those who preferred to emigrate were given eighteen months in which to dispose of their property, provided they sold to British subjects. There was no difficulty over the private property in St. Augustine but when Jesse Fish and John Gordon acquired ten million acres of land to dispose of for Spanish citizens, in addition to the property in St. Augustine, the British government disallowed the sale. The Spanish civilian population had been too small, the British government felt, to have acquired authentic titles to that quantity of land. These lands were later granted to British subjects.”

The Gordon Blackmore Family Connection

The Blackmores and Gairdners and Gordons go back to the 1500’s and then some of the Gordons back to John 1st Lord Drummond in the 1400’s and much more definitely to John 1st Lord Drummond , whose grand daughter Lady Margaret Stuart was the daughter of James IV Scotland and Lady Margaret Drummond. Lady Margaret Stuart (also called Jane) married John Lord Gordon. (Seven or eight generations prior to another John Gordon, of South Carolina, marrying Catherine Smith)

John Gordon (1710-1778), from this branch of the Gordons married Catherine Smith and they settled in South Carolina. Two Gordon daughters, Mary and Jane, married two Gairdner men, James and Edwin, and had a large ‘Merchant and Purveyors’ business in South Carolina. Jane Gairdner, a daughter of Edwin and Jane Gairdner, married Dr Edward Blackmore of Bath. It seems Jane may have died in England and Dr Blackmore and his children then emigrated to Nelson, New Zealand in 1854. He died in 1865 and is buried in Nelson. His sons James and Edwin emigrated to Adelaide, whilst the eldest son, Edward, ended up in Sydney. His daughter Mary Anne married Fred Williams and stayed farming near Blenheim South Island NZ until her death. Upon her death in 1942 none of the family were left in NZ and that line of the family had died out. (Thanks to Jennifer Verbeek (1934-2018) of South Africa and her daughter Jean Leach (1961-2019) from Auckland NZ, for their research – sadly both these ladies are now deceased)

Edwin Gordon Blackmore, the Clerk of the first Australian Parliament in 1901, married Eleanora Elizabeth Farr and their son is John Coleridge Blackmore who married Edith Alexa Kinleside and their son is Lewis Kinleside Blackmore who married Louie Bathurst Suttor and their sons are Gregory John Blackmore and Robert “Bret” Suttor Blackmore.

The miniature shown in the picture above is of John Gordon of South Carolina. Jennifer Verbeek’s grandfather, George Blackmore (second eldest child of Edwin and Eleanora) inherited it in the Williams bequest from NZ in 1942. It is now in the possession of Jennifer’s sister, Eleanora Mary Courtnage. (George Blackmore and two of his brothers, James and Edwin, had emigrated from Australia to South Africa)

Mary Gordon, daughter of John Gordon and wife of James Gairdner
The reverse of Mary Gordon’s portrait
James Penman Gairdner (Mary and James son and John Godon’s grandson)
Copy of map drawn by John Gordon, showing lands claimed by him and Jesse Fish

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