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Charles Seton Papers

Identifier: MS 263

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.


  • Creation: 1806-1873



The collection is open for research.

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.


0.2 Linear feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Personal, business, and legal papers of Charles Seton of Fernandina, Florida.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated by descendants 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.

Alternate Form of Material

Items in this collection have been digitized and are available via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC) as part of the Pioneer Days in Florida project, which is generously supported by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Related 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.

A Guide to the Charles Seton Papers
Finding aid created by Morgan Caulfield
December 2009
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.
Digitization funded with the generous support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America