British West Florida

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West Florida
Colony of Great Britain


Location of West Florida
British West Florida in 1767.
Capital Pensacola (1763)
 •  1763 George Johnstone
 •  Treaty of Paris (1763) 10 February 1763
 •  Peace of Paris (1783) 1783

West Florida was a colony of the Kingdom of Great Britain from 1763 until 1783 when it was ceded to Spain as part of the Peace of Paris.

Effective British control had ended in 1781 when Spain had captured Pensacola. The territory subsequently became a colony of Spain, although parts of the territory were gradually annexed by the United States. It comprised the former region of West Florida, now part of the modern US states of Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.


In 1762 during the Seven Years' War a British expedition attacked and occupied Havana, the capital of Cuba. To secure the return of this valuable city, Spain agreed to cede its territory of La Florida in the terms of the Treaty of Paris. France also ceded a large segment of New France to Great Britain, including everything on the east bank of the Mississippi River except for the city of New Orleans. The British divided these new territories into two separate colonies East Florida, with its capital in St Augustine and West Florida which had the former Spanish settlement of Pensacola as its capital. By the same treaty Spain was given the Western side of the Mississippi which formed Spanish Louisiana with its capital at New Orleans at the mouth of the river. Many of the existing Spanish inhabitants were evacuated to Cuba, and new British and American settlers arrived to take over the land.

British era

In 1763 British troops arrived and took over control of Pensacola. George Johnstone was appointed as the first British Governor, and in 1764 a colonial assembly was established.[1][2] The structure of the colony was modelled after the existing British colonies in America as opposed to Quebec which followed a different structure. In contrast to East Florida where there was little development and population growth, West Florida began to boom in the years following the British takeover and thousands of new arrivals came to advantage of the favourable conditions there.

West Florida was invited to send delegates to the First Continental Congress which was convened to present colonial grievances against the British Parliament to George III, but along with several other colonies including East Florida they declined the invitation. Once the American War of Independence had broken out, the colonists remained overwhelmingly loyal to the Crown. In 1778 the Willing Expedition saw a small force proceed down the Mississippi ransacking estates and plantations, until they were eventually defeated by a local force of militia. In the wake of this the area received a small number of British reinforcements.

Spanish conquest

Spanish troops storm Pensacola in 1781.

Following an agreement signed at Aranjuez, Spain entered the war on the side of France and the Americans in 1779. Spanish troops under Bernardo de Galvez advanced and seized Baton Rouge and Mobile. In 1781 Spain captured Pensacola and its garrison. As part of the 1783 Peace of Paris, Great Britain ceded the territories of West Florida and East Florida back to Spain.

See also


  1. John Richard Alden (1957). The South in the Revolution, 1763–1789. Louisiana State University Press. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-8071-0013-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Coker, William S; Shofner, Jerrell H.; Morris, Joan Perry,; Malone, Myrtle Davidson (1991). Florida from the Beginning to 1992 : a Columbus Jubilee Commemorative. Houston: Pioneer Publications. p. 4. Retrieved 28 June 2014.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Calloway, Colin Gordon. The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America. Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Chavez, Thomas E. Spain and the Independence of the United States: An Intrinsic Gift. University of New Mexico Press, 2003.