Florida Living History, Inc volunteers will present Last Outpost of the Empire: The Plight of the Menorcans, a new heritage event recreating colonial life in British East Florida and discussing the role of St. Augustine’s Menorcans in 18th-century Florida.
From 1763 to 1783, British East Florida was the United Kingdom’s “14th Colony” in America and part of the British Empire. British East Florida consisted of peninsular Florida, with its western boundary at the Apalachicola River and its capital at the old Spanish city of St. Augustine, founded in 1565. One of the largest plantations in British East Florida was New Smyrna, a 101,400 acre grant settled in 1768 and owned by the Scottish physician, Dr. Andrew Turnbull. It was farmed by over 1,400 indentured laborers Turnbull had brought from Spain, Italy, and Greece, with the majority coming from the Spanish island of Menorca.
When the plantation collapsed in 1777 due to tropical diseases, Native American raids, and mismanagement, the surviving Menorcan workers (approximately 600) sent a delegation on foot over 60 miles north along the King’s Road to St. Augustine to ask for help and asylum. The new English Governor, Gen. Patrick Tonyn, granted all the Menorcan refugees sanctuary in St. Augustine, where their descendants live to this day.
Loyalist and British soldiers/sailors, garrisoning Fort Matanzas, will demonstrate the military skills needed to fight for King George on America’s Southern frontier. Newcomers to St. Augustine, Menorcans will talk about life in colonial Florida under British rule. Demonstrations of British artillery drill and cannon firings will occur at regular intervals throughout the day.
This event is free of charge to the public.