Historical Society Program: George J.F. Clarke and the Creation of Fernandina


James G. Cusick, the curator for the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History in the George A. Smathers Library, University of Florida, will present a talk about George J.F. Clarke Monday, Apr. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Memorial United Methodist Church, Maxwell Hall, 50 N. Sixth St., Fernandina Beach.

George J.F. Clarke was born into a British Loyalist family in St. Augustine, grew up under late colonial Spanish rule in Florida, and became the surveyor for the colony. In addition, he was an early promoter of citrus culture and a defender of the rights of free people of color, staunchly advocating for the rights of his wife, a free woman of color, and his own children of mixed white and Black ancestry.

In 1811, when Governor Henry White gave him the task of bringing order to the layout of Fernandina, he became the principal person in charge of creating the town plan for what is now Old Town.

This talk, hosted by the Duncan Lamont Clinch Historical Society, looks at Clarke as a remarkable person of his age, often willing to take on prejudice and hostility that threatened his family, and as a writer who preserves for us his recollections of Florida and Fernandina under Spanish and American governance.