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Proclamation by the Governour of West Florida


Intercepted Letter transmitted to Congress by General Washington, with his Letter dated December 18, 1775.


By His Excellency PETER CHESTER, Esq˙, Captain-General, Governour, and Commander-in-Chief, in and over His Majesty' s said Province of WEST-FLORIDA, and the Territories depending thereon in AMERICA, Chancellor, Vice-Admiral, and Ordinary of the same, &c.


Whereas His Majesty, by his royal instructions, dated at St˙ James' s, the 3d day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four, and in the fourteenth year of his reign, did think fit, with the advice of his Privy Council, to revoke and annul all the powers and authorities which, before that time, had been given by His Majesty to the Governours of this Province, for the laying out and passing grants of land within the same, and to direct and appoint certain rules and regulations, to be thenceforth strictly and punctually observed, for the future disposal, by publick sale, of such lands, tenements, and hereditaments as then were, or thereafter should be in His Majesty' s power to dispose of, within this Province, in the manner by the said instructions particularly mentioned and directed:

And whereas, His Majesty has lately been most graciously pleased to signify his royal wishes that the Governour of this Province should afford every possible protection to such of his subjects in the Colonies in rebellion, as shall be too weak to resist the violences of the times, and too loyal to concur in the measures of those who have avowed and supported that rebellion, and are desirous of seeking an asylum in West-Florida; and to that end His Majesty has been pleased to direct that the execution of the instructions of the third day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-four, hereinbefore mentioned, should be suspended for the present within this Colony:

And whereas His Majesty has also been pleased to signify his further pleasure to the Governour of this Province, to give every possible encouragement to the exportation of lumber from this Colony to his Islands in the West-Indies: It is therefore hereby notified to all His Majesty' s good and faithful subjects who may be induced, under the circumstances above stated, to seek a retreat in this Province, that the Governour of the said Province will afford them every possible protection and countenance in his power; and that they, upon their arrival in this Province, and applying to the Governour thereof in Council, for grants of land, shall obtain the same, exempt from quitrents for ten years, under the following regulations, to wit: That one hundred acres of land will be granted to every such person, being master or mistress of a family, for himself and herself; and fifty acres for every white or black man, woman, or child, of which such person' s family shall consist at the actual time of making the grant. And in case any such person, well-affected to the Constitution, applying to the said Governour in Council for grants of land, shall be desirous of taking up a larger quantity than the actual number of persons in his or her family would entitle such person to take up, that the said Governbur in Council will grant to every such person or persons such further quantity of land as they may desire, not exceeding one thousand acres, over and above what they are entitled to by the number of persons in their respective families: Provided, It shall appear to the said Governour that they are in a condition and intention to cultivate the same: And provided also, That they, at the time of such application, do give good evidence to the Governour of the said Province of their real attachment to the Constitution, and of their non-concurrence in the rebellious proceedings in the other Colonies.

And it is hereby further notified, that the Governour of this Province will afford every possible encouragement to all His Majesty' s good subjects who may think proper to be concerned in the exportation of lumber, and all other produce, from this Province to the West-Indies, and that he will grant his license to any such person or persons to cut wood and convert it into lumber, upon any part of His Majesty' s lands within this Province: Provided always, that proper security be given, upon the exportation of any lumber, that the same shall be landed in some of the West-India Islands belonging to the King.


Given under my hand, and the Great Seal of His Majesty' s said Province, in the Council Chamber at Pensacola, the eleventh day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, and in the sixteenth year of His Majesty' s reign.


By His Excellency' s command:


GOD save the King.