Letter from A. W. Macfarlane to Henry Shelton Sanford (January 20, 1885)


Dublin Core


Letter from A. W. Macfarlane to Henry Shelton Sanford (January 20, 1885)

Alternative Title

Letter from Macfarlane to Sanford (January 20, 1885)


Sanford, Henry Shelton, 1823-1891
Investments, British--United States
Sanford (Fla.)


Letter from A. W. Macfarlane to Henry Shelton Sanford dated January 20, 1885. Macfarlane was the secretary for the Florida Land and Colonization Company (FLCC) from 1884 until its dissolution in 1892. Presumably, he worked in the company's main office, located at 13 Austin Friars in the business district of London, United Kingdom. In this letter, Macfarlane discussed several recent decisions taken by the board of directors of the FLCC. He explained how the local FLCC agent based in Sanford, Florida, E. R. Trafford, was in the process of purchasing tracts of land on behalf of the company, adding that $15,000 had been raised to facilitate Trafford's purchase. The money raised for the land purchase was loaned from the London-based bank Barclay & Company. Macfarlane noted that, in order to obtain the money, the company needed to offer the bank securities in the form of land notes valued at twice the amount of the loan requested. Macfarlane deemed it necessary to note that, following the most recent loan, the company was indebted to the bank in the amount of £5,144.13, of which £2,000 would be due by April 1885. Macfarlane stated that, with the bank loan and company debentures combined, the FLCC had nearly £30,000 due by the end of the fiscal year in early July. Reflecting the often tenuous nature of the company's finances, Macfarlane added that "[t]he [Florida] agent in his report last June estimated remittances at £14,000 of which as yet only £2,200 has been received." The secretary concluded the matter by stating that "[t]he urgency of making prompt financial arrangements has in no way been relieved and I am directed again to state that the Directors consider they are incurring grave responsibility by having this question open." The stringent financial guaranties needed by the company's bank for further loans are significant. The bank's steep terms possibly reflect both the uncertainty of profitability associated with Florida land sales as well as the uncertain viability of the FLCC.

The Florida Land and Colonization Company (FLCC) was a joint-stock venture that invested in Florida land development and sales in the 1880s and early 1890s. The company was formed by Henry Shelton Sanford (1823-1891) with help from a group of British investors. The original impetus for the company's formation was Sanford's inability to continue his land acquisition and development efforts in Florida independently. In 1879, faced with financial difficulties, Sanford turned to a trusted associate in the United Kingdom, a Scottish industrialist named Sir William Mackinnon (1823-1893), to help him attract investors. The formation of the company was in large part due to the efforts of MacKinnon, whose reputation and influence helped bring investors on board.

Located at 13 Austin Friars, the company was officially registered in London on June 10, 1880. With the formation of the FLCC, all of Henry Sanford's Florida properties were transferred to the company in exchange for a £10,000 cash payment and another £50,000 in company stock. The one-time cash payment was a needed reprieve for Sanford, who faced financial difficulties by the end of the 1870s. The board of directors included Mackinnon, as well as W. C. Gray and Edwyn Sandys Dawes, partners in Gray-Dawes and Company, a London-based banking and investment house. Other directors included Alexander Fraser, Anthony Norris, George A. Thomson, and Eli Lee. Sanford was named President and Chairman of the Board. In 1880, the company owned 26,000 acres scattered across Florida, including in the cities of Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Sanford, as well as in Alachua County and Marion County.

Almost from the outset, there was serious friction between the British board members and Henry Sanford. Disagreements erupted over business strategy, as Sanford frequently proposed initiatives deemed too bold for the cautious British investors. From 1882 to 1892, the company saw steady, if meager, profits. Most of its income came from the sale of lots in the city of Sanford. From 1885 until 1890, the company, while remaining solvent, continued to see declining profits. From 1886 to 1890, the profits were so modest that the company declined to pay dividends on its yearly profits. Needed improvements and developments in the city of Sanford during the late 1880s sapped much of the company's income. Following Henry Sanford's death in 1891, many of the investors lost the motivation to continue. On September 15, 1892, the various directors acted to dissolve the company. Its assets, including roughly 65,000 acres of Florida land, were divided among shareholders.


Macfarlane, A. W.


Original letter from A. W. Macfarlane to Henry Shelton Sanford, January 20, 1885: box 54, folder 1, subfolder 54.1.7, Henry Shelton Sanford Papers, General Henry S. Sanford Memorial Library, Sanford Museum, Sanford, Florida.

Date Created


Is Format Of

Digital reproduction of original letter from A. W. Macfarlane to Henry Shelton Sanford, January 20, 1885.

Is Part Of

Box 54, folder 1, subfolder 1.7, Henry Shelton Sanford Papers, Henry Shelton Sanford Papers, General Henry S. Sanford Memorial Library, Sanford Museum, Sanford, Florida.
Florida Land Colonization Company Collection, Henry Shelton Sanford Papers Collection, RICHES of Central Florida.

Is Referenced By

"Letter from A. W. Macfarlane to F. R. Shelton (January 21, 1885)." RICHES of Central Florida. RICHES of Central Florida. https://richesmi.cah.ucf.edu/omeka2/items/show/3400.




414 KB


3-page handwritten letter






Florida Land and Colonization Company, London, England, United Kingdom
Berlin, Germany
Sanford, Florida

Accrual Method



History Teacher
Economics Teacher


Originally created by A. W. Macfarlane.
Donated to the Connecticut Historical Society after 1901.
Loaned to the Tennessee State Library and Archives for processing until June 1, 1960.
Acquired by the General Henry S. Sanford Memorial Library, Sanford Museum in 1960.

Rights Holder

The displayed collection item is housed at the General Henry S. Sanford Memorial Library, Sanford Museum in Sanford, Florida. Rights to this item belong to the said institution, and therefore inquiries about the item should be directed there. RICHES of Central Florida has obtained permission from the Sanford Museum to display this item for educational purposes only.


Fedorka, Drew M.

Digital Collection

Source Repository

External Reference

Fry, Joseph A. Diplomacy and Business in Nineteenth-Century America. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press, 1982.
Tischendorf, Alfred P. "Florida and the British Investor: 1880-1914." Florida Historical Quarterly 33, no. 2 (Oct. 1954): 120-129.
Amundson, Richard J. "The Florida Land and Colonization Company." Florida Historical Quarterly 44, no. 3 (Jan. 1966): 153-168.

Document Item Type Metadata

Original Format

3-page handwritten letter


Macfarlane, A. W. , “Letter from A. W. Macfarlane to Henry Shelton Sanford (January 20, 1885),” RICHES, accessed May 26, 2024, https://richesmi.cah.ucf.edu/omeka/items/show/3399.