Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Philip Levy, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brian Connolly, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Frances L. Ramos, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robin F. Fabel, Ph.D.


Atlantic World, British Crown, East Florida, borderlands, marriage, West Florida


This dissertation will examine the relationship between families, the British Crown, and colonization patterns in mid-eighteenth-century Florida. Agents of royal authority, such as colonial governors, and White, European, Protestant families, would serve as the bulwark upon which the Crown would design and implement its ideal colonization scheme. Carefully created by royal officials, adherence to the plan would result in the successful establishment and growth of loyal and productive colonies. Noncompliance ultimately foreshadowed failure. The state used the social unit of families in East and West Florida as a "tool of empire” to ensure the political, economic, and military success of the British Empire. Families responded to their usage as a “tool of empire” in several ways. Colonists resisted the Crown by adapting the institution of marriage to create families for the purpose of establishing and expanding kinship networks for their own benefit. These kinship networks put families at odds with the Crown as they worked to gain political, economic, and/or social prestige. Subsequent conflicts between agents of royal authority and families intensified during the ensuing competition for power as loyalty and obedience among most of the original families disappeared. British Florida became a "successful failure.”. Settlements that most closely implemented and maintained the Crown's colonization scheme grew and began to prosper during the late 1760s and early 1770s. Settlements that substantially deviated from the approved plan never showed signs of stable growth and ultimately failed. At the end of the American Revolution, the British returned East & West Florida to Spain. A distinct floridano social identity emerged during the Second Spanish Period that led to the coalescence of an American identity by 1821.