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A Guide to the Charles Seton Papers

Finding aid created by Morgan Caulfield

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
December 2009

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Seton, Charles, 1776-1836
Title: Charles Seton Papers
Dates: 1806-1873
Abstract: Personal, business, and legal papers of Charles Seton of Fernandina, Florida.
Extent: 0.2 Linear feet. 1 box.
Identification: MS 263
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

Charles Seton (1776-1836) was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Andrew and Margaret Seton. The Seton's were a prominent family of Scottish descent that fled from Long Island to Brooklyn at the onset of the American Revolution. Charles traveled through Europe and to the coast of Africa at an early age before settling into the lumbering business in Florida, where most of his family resided following the conclusion of the American Revolution.

Charles moved to Florida around 1811 while the area was still under Spanish rule. In 1812 he married Matilda Sibbald and the couple had two children, George and Margaret Seton. The Setons lived at Fernandina, a town at the Georgia-Florida border, in an area wrought with tension between the Americans and the Spanish until the transfer of Florida from Spain in 1821.

Seton established a plantation (George Plantation) and a saw mill near Fernandina. In 1813, he fought in a skirmish against raiders from Georgia, part of hostilities that broke out in the War of 1812, and was wounded in the chest. He would carry the ball in his chest until his death in 1836, dying from complications from the gunshot wound. In 1820 he became the first American mayor of Fernandina. His son George Seton would later fight in the Confederate Army and settle in Maryland, while his daughter Margaret would remain in Florida and marry Lewis Fleming, member of another prominent Florida family.

Source: An Old Family or the Setons of Scotland and America, by Monseignor Robert Seton, Bretano's, New York, 1899; biographical excerpt, Dena Snodgrass, Seton Family Papers, Box 1.

Scope and Content

The Seton Papers are narrow in focus although they cover a long time span (1812-1873). The majority of the documents are of a legal nature, related to land ownership, power of attorney, and debt. Most deal with the operation of Seton's plantation and mill. Beyond this, items of interest in the papers include: Seton's will, documents dealing specifically with the city of Fernandina, and limited correspondence with Amelia Island planter Zephaniah Kingsley, free black Henry McQueen, and Florida territorial representative Joseph M. White.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Related or Separated Material

See also the Francis P. Fleming Papers, MS 243. Fleming, who was the grandson of Charles Seton, later became governor of the State of Florida.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Charles Seton Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated by descendents of Charles Seton and was appraised in 1989 by Dena Snodgrass. The family retained many of the original documents so that numerous items in the collection are transcriptions.

Contents List

Box Folder
1 1 Biographical Information: Letter from Elizabeth H. Ingle to Elizabeth Alexander; Family history by Dena E. Snodgrass.
1 2 Personal, Various. Originals. 1812-1854
1 2 Marriage agreement: Charles Seton and Matilda Sibbold. Dec. 1812
1 2 US citizenship, Charles Seton. Nov. 1817
1 2 Charles Seton will (draft and official). Jan 1830
1 2 Appointment as executrix, Matilda Seton for Charles Seton. Aug. 1836
1 2 Seton Bible (notarized excerpt). Apr. 1854
1 2 Business, Various. Originals. 1812-1821
1 2 Overdue note. June 1812
1 2 McQueen, Henry (free black) mortgage. July 1821
1 2 Power of Attorney, Andrew Tucker to Charles Seton. Jan 1819
1 2 Business, Various. Copies of Originals, Originals not on file. 1815-1836
1 2 Power of Attorney, George Long to Charles Seton. Sept. 1815
1 2 Order to Capt. Seton to ready Fernandina militia. June 1817
1 2 Fernandina Board of Alderman, Incorporation of Fernandina, Seton is Mayor (Transcription). April 1823
1 2 Seton to Zephaniah Kingsley, Petition to Assembly from Fernandina inhabitants. May 1823
1 2 Honorable House of Legislature in St. Augustine, regarding Fernandina. April 1823
1 2 Joseph M. White to Charles Seton, Washington DC (Transcription). Jan 1828
1 2 Fernandina Board of Aldermen, Certificate to Seton for lot (Transcription). Aug. 1828
1 2 Joseph M. White to Charles Seton, Washington DC (Transcription). Feb. 1836
1 3 Business, Various. Originals. 1818-1833
1 3 Promissory note, Charleston banks to Seton $1545.11, (2 copies- sawmill, land, and slaves). Jan. 1818
1 3 Mill grant, statement of ownership. May 1820
1 3 Evaluation of saw mill on Nassau River. Dec. 1820
1 3 Promissory note, Charleston banks to Seton, partial satisfaction $7,114.00, George Plantation. Jan 1821
1 3 Deed, Charles F. Sibbald to Charles Seton for two-thirds of saw mill and land. Sept. 1821
1 3 Promissory note, Sibbald to Seton, $1,060.00. Dec. 1823
1 3 Promissory note, satisfaction, McDowall to Charles Seton. June 1833
1 3 Estate of William O'Neil, Administrator Charles Seton. July 1825
1 3 Letter, Charles Henry to Charles Seton, re: notes collectible. Oct. 1826
1 3 Indenture to Charles Seton, land north of St. Augustine. June 1828
1 3 Promissory note, satisfaction. Nov. 1833
1 3 Estate of William Hobkirk, Administrator Charles Seton. Nov. 1829
1 3 George Long (minor-guardian Seton): 1) Letter, re-property, May 1815; 2) Articles of Agreement, Nov. 1816; 3) Estate, reference to sold negro man, Jan. 1818; 4) Estate of mother, Jan. 1820. 1815-1820
1 3 Articles of agreement, overseer for George Plantation (Transcription). Jan 1830
1 4 Business, Various. Originals. 1806-1873
1 4 Lots re-purchased by Seton family (5 documents). 1865, 1870, 1873
1 4 List of creditors of Charles Seton. 1806
1 4 Purchase agreement, Charles Seton Mayor of Fernandina. July 1825
1 4 False claim for sawmill grant (Transcription). Nov. 1829
1 4 Letter, M.V. Richards to George Seton, Esquire, New Orleans. July 1845
1 4 Account book. 1807-1809; 1814

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Eminent domain -- Florida
Fernandina (Fla.) -- History -- 19th century
Landowners -- Florida -- Correspondence
Marriage -- Florida
Mayors -- Florida -- Fernandina Beach -- Correspondence
Mortgages -- Florida
Seton, Charles 1776-1836 -- Correspondence
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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