Motto of Francis Seton


Charles Seton, Mayor of Fernandina, Florida

Charles Seton's headstone, Bosque Bello Cemetery, Fernandina, Florida.

Charles Seton, Esq. (b. 1776, d.14.08.1836), Mayor of Fernandina, Florida and known also as "Don Carlos Seton" in Spanish-Florida, of the family of the Seton's of Barnes, was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Andrew and Margaret Seton. 

The Seton's of Fernandina were a prominent family of Scottish descent, that fled from Long Island to Brooklyn, New York at the onset of the American Revolution.  His mother was of the Seton's of Parbroath family and noted in their history by Archbishop Robert Seton, and his father was responsible for encouraging William Seton to emigrate to the colonies, after his business in London failed and he rebuilt a fortune in New York.

Charles had traveled throughout Europe, including Spain, and to the coast of Africa at an early age, and having returned to the States, entered into various business interests in New York with his father such as the the partnership, Hoffman & Seton, afterwards H.S. & Co; financed with assistance from his uncle William Seton of New York of the Parbroath family of the firm of Seton, Maitland & Co.. 

He settled into Spanish Florida in 1811 while the area was still under Spanish rule,  along with his father, and where most of his family resided following the conclusion of the American Revolution,  He was later tried for treason against Spain for his allegiance to the new United States of America, and in battle for the Florida-territory, had the rights to his lands and property sold by the Spanish crown.

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 and became engaged in the lumber business, was in 1820 he became the first American mayor of Fernandina, and was an active Mason and keeper of Masonic Honours.

In 1813, he fought in a skirmish against raiders from Georgia, part of hostilities that broke out in the War of 1812-1814, and was wounded in the chest. He would carry the ball in his chest for many years after until his death in 1836, dying from complications from the gunshot wound.

His son Captain George Sibbald 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.


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.

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.

The collection was donated by descendents 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.

His headstone is at Bosque Bello Cemetery, Fernandina, Florida.  His papers are preserved as: Charles Seton Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.




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