Florida’s Forgotten British Legal Past

On 10 May, 2016, Professor Matthew Mirow of the Florida International University School of Law, presented an important MacCormick Seminar in Edinburgh under the above title. Other than by a few specialists, it is generally forgotten that Florida was ceded by Spain to Great Britain in 1763 (in return for getting back British-occupied Havana), only returning to Spain in 1783. Its inhabitants did not participate in the more northern colonies’ rebellion against the British Crown. It was divided into two; East Florida and West Florida. Each initially had a Scottish Governor. Professor Mirow, drawing on new archival research, discussed the working of the English-style legal system during the British era in East Florida, which was governed from the ancient town of St Augustine. Professor Mirow has shown there is a complex and interesting legal history with important implications for our understanding of the British and post-British period in Florida.