John Hamilton Gillespie

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Colonel John Hamilton Gillespie (14 October 1852 – 7 September 1923) was a Scottish-American soldier, land developer, businessman and politician, who settled in Sarasota, Florida, becoming Sarasota's first mayor.[1][2]


53 Northumberland Street, Edinburgh

Gillespie was born in Edinburgh, Scotland.[3] As a boy he lived with his family at 53 Northumberland Street, Edinburgh and was educated at the nearby Edinburgh Academy and subsequently at the University of St Andrews.[4] Like his father, he was a member of the Royal Company of Archers.[4] (a ceremonial unit that serves as the Sovereign's Bodyguard in Scotland). He was admitted to The Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet in 1875 and also served as a captain in the Midlothian Coast Artillery Volunteers.[3] Upon his return from colonial service in Australia, his father, Sir John Gillespie, sent him to Sarasota, Florida in 1886 to work for the Florida Mortgage and Investment Company.[3]

Gillespie found his father’s company in poor condition and began improving the community in Sarasota and soon business was booming. In May 1886 he laid out two golf holes on his property. This was the first golf course in Florida and the second in the United States. An avid golfer, Gillespie learned the game at St. Andrews. In 1905 he built a nine-hole course on property now which is now the site of the Sarasota County Courthouse, Florida. He went on to lay out courses for Henry Plant, Tampa, Winter Park and Havana, Cuba. Sarasota was incorporated as a town on 14 October 1902, coincidentally Gillespie's 50th birthday, and he went on to served as the Town's first Mayor. He was subsequently elected to five additional one-year terms.[5]

Gillespie was instrumental in founding the Episcopal Church in Sarasota. He was ordained as a Deacon in the Episcopal Church and is acknowledged as the founder of The Church of the Redeemer Sarasota.[6]

He is buried, alongside Blanche McDaniel Gillespie (his second wife), in the historic Rosemary Cemetery, Sarasota.

Grave of John Hamilton Gillespie in the Rosemary Cemetery, Sarasota, Fl


  1. ^ Profile,; accessed 26 April 2014.
  2. ^ Profile,; accessed 26 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Makers of America: An Historical and Biographical Work by an Able Corps of Writers, Florida historical society (Jacksonville, Fla.). A. B. Caldwell. 1909.
  4. ^ a b Edinburgh Academy Register: A Record of All Those Who Have Entered the School Since Its Foundation in 1824. Edinburgh, Printed by T. & A. Constable for the Edinburgh Academical Club. 1914.
  5. ^ "The City of Sarasota Florida Website". The City of Sarasota. Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  6. ^ Profile,; accessed 26 April 2014.