Patrick Tonyn

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

Patrick Tonyn
Patrick Tonyn.jpg
General Patrick Tonyn
5th Governor of British East Florida
In office
1 March 1774 – 12 July 1784
Preceded byJohn Moultrie
Succeeded byVicente Manuel de Céspedes (Spanish East Florida)
Personal details
Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, England
Died30 December 1804
ProfessionGeneral and governor

Patrick Tonyn (1725–1804) was a British General who served as the last British governor of East Florida, from 1774 to 1783. His governorship lasted the span of the American Revolution. East Florida was a Loyalist colony during the war.

Early life[edit]

Patrick Tonyn was born in Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland in 1725, into a military family. His father, Charles Tonyn, was a Colonel in the 6th Inniskillen Dragoons. Patrick Tonyn became a captain in the 6th Dragoons in 1751, with which regiment he served in Germany in 1758 during the Seven Years' War where, in 1759, the regiment fought at Minden and Wetter with great distinction. Tonyn was made lieutenant-colonel of the 104th Regiment of Foot in 1761.

Life in Florida and Revolution[edit]

Tonyn is generally described as a capable commander. During his tenure as governor of East Florida the colony enjoyed peace with the neighboring Indians, primarily due to his positive relationship with Ahaya the Cowkeeper, chief of the Alachua band of the Seminole tribe.

Like most favored British officers, Tonyn received a large grant in the new colony—a 20,000-acre (81 km2) tract in 1767.[1] This area of land was just south of Black Creek. Nautralist William Bartram, during his 1774 travels, noted that Tonyn's land grew indigo well. Bartram counted twenty enslaved workers when passing by the plantation. After a 1776 raid from Georgia, Tonyn was forced to give up this land for a plot east of the St. Johns River.[2]

Fort Tonyn, which was located in present-day Nassau County, Florida, near the hamlet of Mills's Ferry was named after Tonyn.

On 1 March, 1774, Tonyn arrived in St. Augustine, Florida as royal governor of East Florida. Throughout Tonyn's governorship, Loyalists from southern colonies sought refuge in St. Augustine. Another group was added to the population of the city when Andrew Turnbull's colony of New Smyrna to the south collapsed. Tonyn released the group (composed largely of Minorcans) from their indentures, and they too settled in St. Augustine in 1777.[3]

From 1778 - 1785, Governor Tonyn lived in the coquina dwelling at 143 St. George Street in St. Augustine, in what is known today as the Peña-Peck House, run by the Woman's Exchange of St. Augustine.[4]

Tonyn was instrumental in bringing his brother-in-law[5] planter Francis Levett, an Englishman, to East Florida, having Levett given a seat on the Royal Council. Formerly a merchant in Leghorn, Italy, working for the Levant Company in Constantinople and scion of a well-connected English merchant family, Levett took up a large grant in Florida, which he later abandoned in favor of Georgia, where he was one of the first growers of Sea Island cotton.[6] Levett's son-in-law Dr. David Yeats served as Secretary of the province of Florida under Governor Tonyn.

London and death[edit]

Tonyn was the victim in a fraud and deception trial at the Old Bailey in May 1796. Henry Weston was indicted for forging Tonyn's signature to transfer of £5,000. The Old Bailey records show that Weston, a young man with gambling debts, was sentenced to death.

Patrick Tonyn died in London on 30 December 1804.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Colonel Patrick Tonyn, second governor of East Florida, Florida History Online
  2. ^ "English Plantations on the St. Johns River". Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Patrick Tonyn: Britain's Most Effective Revolutionary-Era Royal Governor". Journal of the American Revolution. 22 March 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  4. ^ LANE, MARCIA. "Oldest city was loyal to the crown". The St. Augustine Record. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  5. ^ Patrick Tonyn was married to the sister of planter Francis Levett. The Levetts were children of English Turkey merchant John Levett, who died April 1731 at Constantinople[1], and his wife Charlotte de Peleran, daughter of French diplomat Pierre Armand de Peleran.
  6. ^ Francis Levett, Julianton Plantation, British East Florida, Florida History Online

External links[edit]

Preceded by Governor of British East Florida
Succeeded by
Preceded by Colonel of the 48th Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by