Testamentary Proceedings in Spanish East Florida, 1783-1821
Studies in Canon Law and Common Law in Honor of R. H. Helmholz 281-301 (Troy L. Harris, ed., Berkeley: The Robbins Collection, 2015)
23 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2015 Last revised: 11 Aug 2015
Date Written: 2015
The East Florida Papers in the Library of Congress reveal a great deal about law, legal institutions, legal practice, and legality in colonial Florida during the second Spanish period from 1783 to 1821. This contribution provides an initial study of the 372 testamentary proceedings related to 168 decedents recorded in these papers. It describes these cases and discusses the dossier of one case to illustrate the administrative and legal work done by Spanish officials to distribute a decedent's property.
Proceedings include individual claims for debts against estates; sets of documents related to the administration of estates such as wills, inventories, birth records, and marriage records; and a variety of petitions dealing with administration and the distribution of property. The materials provide a window into will making, family life and structure, commerce, women, and accidental and suspicious deaths. Numerous petitions sought the disposition, transfer, and manumission of slaves. The contribution concludes with a description and analysis of the documents related to the estate of Pedro Dimarache, a Corsican carpenter who died testate in St. Augustine in 1792.
Keywords: East Florida, wills, estates, slaves, women, Jesse Fish, Jorge Biassou, Enrique White, Maria Evans, Pedro Dimarache
JEL Classification: K1, K11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation