Duval Early Families

Henry O'Neill  1742-1788

Henry O’Neill was born in Delaware in 1742.  He married Margaret Chambers about 1765 in South Carolina where they resided until 1784 when they moved to Spanish East Florida.  Henry did not seek a Spanish Land Grant because he was very particular about his home site and had purchased 300 acres on Lanceford Creek, near Fernandina from Mr. Sowersby, a British Loyalist who was evacuating after the Spanish reoccupied Florida in 1783. Sometime in early 1786 he heard a rumor that a Mr. Savy had laid claim to all the land from the St. Marys River 18 miles west and south.  He wrote this letter to Carlos Howard to ward off the threat by Mr. Savy to claim his land but the threat proved harmless. He was also the Magistrate for the St. Marys and Nassau Rivers area. In 1788 he had a confrontation with a Nathaniel Ashley and was killed by a gun shot on Cumberland Island.


The Spanish were so impressed with his bravery in defending Spanish soil that the King of Spain, Carlos IV, awarded his widow in 1791 a land grant for an additional 300 acres and a soldier’s pension.


Letter from


Henry O’Neill to Charles Howard

[EFP Reel 45, Section 32]

(translation EFP Reel 45, Bndl 118A10, Document 1786-79)

3 June 1786  (2 pages)


(Transcribed by Clay Adams,  17 October 2006)

                        Newhope                     June 3d   1786

Dr Sir


I have Juste Receved the allarming news that a Mr Savy – late of the State of Gorgia clames all the Lands on St Marys from Amelia Island west 18 miles and from North to south 18 Do which will Include all the Valuable land on the Seacost between St Marys and St Johns – also all the Islands from the Inlet of St Johns to St Marys


Under these surcumstance I with all the rest of the settlers on these lands are Discoriged from coming on our Improvements as we wont to do – if his clame is considered just we wold be glad to know – that we may look out for other settlements – for my own part I must say it will be a very fatial affair for me – I purchased my possession from Mr Sowersby and by hard Labour have just got my place in repare so that I can again support my family – and if I am obliged to look oute for a nother settlement it will reduce it to a certainty that my close of Life will be spent in poverty and fatigue


But as I consider my self under the protection of Government I content my self resting ashured that I with the rest of my Nabours – that hath met with In corigment to settle in this country will be simply

[page 2]

protected ___ but if large old clames are considered of force suficent to disposess the settler there will Remain but little hopes of Injoying the frute of our labour as it will [unreadable] when sum clamant will Disposses us


            In my Litter of the 1st Instant I negleted to menton that the Horses that [unreadable] and Hage Rode first into this provence (and was found concealed by John Hartely) is suposed to be stolen from the State of Gorgia and is Detained in posesion of Mr Boley till I have your Instructions in respect to them – I have thought most proper method wold be to Advertise them and if no clamant appeared to sell at [?Vondue?] and appropriate the money to the use of those that was at the truble of Detecting the Villiony and driv[e] the Villions out of the province – but submit this to your better Judgment


            I will be Impatient to hear from you ___

                                                                                    While I remain yours most


                                                                                                Henry ONeill

Capt Charles Howard


The descendants of Henry O’Neill and Margaret Chambers were:

 James O’Neill born 1765 in Virginia Died 1799 Spanish East Florida

 Rachel O’Neill born 1767

William Chambers O’Neill born in 1772.  Married Jane King  Died 1825, Florida

 Susannah O’Neill born in 1775  Died 1788, Florida

 Asa (Thomas) O’Neill born in 1778  Died 1850, Florida

 John O’Neill born in 1783

 Eber O’Neill born in 1780.  Married Mary Andrews

 Henry O’Neill born 1785 in Fernandina, Florida

 Hugh O’Neill born 1785 in Fernandina, Florida  Died 1830, Nassau County, FL.

Margaret O’Neill born 29 October 1787 Fernandina, Florida.  She Married James King in 1808 and died 1864 in Camden County, Georgia..

Compiled by Terrell Thompson

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