Moultrie, John

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Moultrie, John

MOULTRIE, JOHN. (1729–1798). Loyalist lieutenant governor of East Florida. South Carolina-Florida. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, on 18 January 1729, Moultrie in 1749 became the first American to graduate from Edinburgh with a medical degree. His thesis was the first study of yellow fever in North America and became the standard work on the subject for a century. Returning to Charleston in 1749, he established a practice that he abandoned in 1753 upon marrying the wealthy Dorothy Morton, who died four years later. Entering the assembly in 1761, Moultrie held a number of offices, including posts in the militia. In 1760 he became a major in the Provincial Regiment, joining the following year in the Cherokee expedition of Grant, in which Moultrie was responsible for the garrison of Ninety Six. After he took the side of Lieutenant Colonel James Grant in his dispute with Colonel Thomas Middleton, Moultrie became a favorite of Grant.

When Grant established the government of East Florida in 1763, he named Moultrie to the council, where he served as president from 1765 to 1771. Moultrie took up fourteen thousand acres in land grants, built a mansion called Bella Vista near St. Augustine, and when he succeeded Grant as acting lieutenant governor in 1771 (Grant was invalided home and arranged for Moultrie's appointment to become permanent), he sold his South Carolina properties and moved his two hundred slaves to Florida. He immediately entered into a sharp political dispute with Chief Justice William Drayton, who promoted the creation of a legislature in Florida. Moultrie preferred executive rule, especially as he was the chief executive until the arrival of the new governor, Colonel Patrick Tonyn, on 1 March 1774. Moultrie sided with the British during the Revolution and helped organize the militia, of which he was colonel. In July 1784, when England handed Florida over to Spain, he sailed to England and three years later was awarded about forty-five hundred pounds for his war losses, slightly more than half of his claim. He settled in Shropshire, where he died on 19 March 1798. Three brothers, Alexander, Thomas, and William, were Patriot soldiers.

SEE ALSO Cherokee Expedition of James Grant.


Mowat, Charles L. East Florida as a British Province, 1763–1784. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1964.

                             revised by Michael Bellesiles

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