ANTHONY P. HUTCHINS
BIOGRAPHY and GENEALOGY
(b. ca. 1725 d. 1804)
Anthony P. Hutchins was a British Army Officer during the French and Indian War and was one of the first settlers in the newly created Mississippi Territory. Hutchins was born ca. 1725 in New Jersey moved to the Carolinas and held a political office before 1768. He was the brother of Captain Thomas Hutchins.
Anthony married Ann White in South Carolina and was a planter in Carolina. He traveled to West Florida, probably attracted by his brother’s services in that region and in less than a year afterward, he settled permanently at the site of the Indian village of White Apple, twelve miles from Natchez after he received a 250,000 land grant from the British for his war service.
Hutchins selected a home site at White Apple Village with the help of a Native American. He returned home for his family and servants and in 1773 made the official move to White Apple Village with his whole family. According to the narrative in Spark’s Memoirs of Fifty years, “Anthony Hutchins with family, neighbors and their negroes, moved over the mountains, when the war was inevitable, from the Santee Hills to the Holston river, where they built a fleet of flatboats from the forest, to convey themselves, their negroes, livestock and provisions down the rivers. At Mussel Shoals on the Tennessee, they were attacked by the Chickamauga pirates and one of the boats, loaded with hogs, was abandoned. In the attack, Anthony Hutchins was wounded. They floated on northward to the Ohio, then down to the place afterward known as New Madrid, where after a brief stop they were alarmed by information that the mongrel inhabitants were preparing to kill them for their property. Slipping away in the night, they did not stop till they reached the mouth of Cole’s creek, whence they moved to the St. Catherine’s.” From growing subsistence food crops in the beginning, Anthony later engaged in growing tobacco, indigo, and finally cotton as cash crops.
Mr. Hutchins represented the District of Natchez in the assembly of West Florida at Pensacola in 1778. During the subsequent troubles, he was at times the virtual governor of the district. In an address to the inhabitants in 1798, when he was asserting the office of agent of the district, in association with the Committee of Safety, he wrote: “I have lived in this country more than twenty-five years, and a part of that time it was my lot to preside in all things civil and military, and it hath been well ascertained that I never spared either pains or expense in organizing the country, regulating the course of judicature, attending to the administration of justice, and in composing the minds of the people.”
A citizen of New Orleans and a strong Patriot, Oliver Pollock, was in possession of large wealth and much political influence when the American Revolution began. In 1777 the secret committee of the United States appointed him “commercial agent of the United States at New Orleans,” which post he held until the close of the war with great credit to himself and greater good to the United States. In this position, he was very concerned about the group of loyalists living along the Mississippi River around Natchez.
New Orleans, Mobile and the Mississippi River were controlled by the Spanish but Pollock was friends with the governor and though Spain was not involved officially in the American Revolution, they never hesitated to assist the Patriots when possible. Pollock urged Congress, his friends and anyone who would listen to make a raid on Natchez and the group of Tories living there. Finally, a friend, Captain James Willing listened and with the help of the secret committee of the United States, in 1778, Willing gathered some 26 men and set out on the venture, recruiting others along the way. By the time he reached the mouth of the mouth of the Arkansas river, he had 100 men.
When the men set out for Natchez to “seize the persons and property of Anthony Hutchins and William McIntosh, whom he regarded as the leading Tories in Natchez. They took Hutchins with most of his slaves to New Orleans where they sold Hutchins property under the protection of Governor Bernalde de Galvez.
In 1778, Mr. Hutchins was visited by members of the Willing expedition and because of loyalty to Great Britain was carried to New Orleans as a hostage for the neutrality of the district. He managed to free himself and immediately returned to Natchez to warn the citizens thereof Willing’s plans to plunder other planters. Due to their Hutchins efforts, the people of Natchez warded off American forces and kept Natchez under British control.
Returning home, he was active in organizing the district to repel Willing by force of arms and participated in a skirmish with a party of Willing’s troops that caused the death of several of them. As told by old Tony, the famous body servant of Col. Hutchins (W. H. Sparks, MEMORIES OF FIFTY YEARS, P. 307-8), one of the wounded was the lieutenant who had interfered to save the colonel’s home from plunder at the time of the arrest. When he was taken to the house, the colonel’s wife knew him, “and she cried mightily about his being shot. Well, he talk plenty about his wife and modder, and Miss Alice’s modder (daughter of the colonel) nurse him; but he died, and his gravesites yonder wid ole massa and missus.”
On account of the part taken by Anthony Hutchins against Willing, Peter Chester, governor of West Florida, and his council, appointed him ‘Major in the provincial regiment with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.” and the House of Assembly of the Province unanimously resolved. “That the thanks of the House should be presented to Lieutenant-Colonel Hutchins for the extraordinary ‘Zeal and indefatigable activity he showed at the critical time when the Rebels attempted to take full possession of the Natchez district for his having been the principal means of recalling the Inhabitants to their Duty of Allegiance to His Majesty and thereby preventing that valuable country from falling under the Subjection of the Congress.” (Pub. Miss. Hist. Soc. III, 280).
In 1781, he took a leading part in the uprising against Spanish dominion, during the siege of Pensacola, and when the Spanish enforced their conquest he was marked for punishment, but after staying in hiding for a while he managed to escape with some companions, most of whom were killed or wounded in an ambush. (See Claiborne, pp. 131-32) Finally reaching Savannah, he sailed to London, and remained several years, it is said, until by the influence of friends at New Orleans and the great English merchant, William Panton he was permitted to return to his family and home in Natchez district. But he was not absent many years. The Natchez records show his presence in 1785-86.
The claims by his representatives before the land agent in 1805 (he then being deceased) show that he was granted 1,000 acres on Second creek Sept. 21, 1772, and 434 more in 1773. A claim was also made to 1,000 acres on Second creek, based on a Spanish grant in 1788. After this, he was granted land on the Mississippi river, 800 acres in 1789 and 586 in 1790, and in the latter year also, 2, 146 on Cole’s creek.
Anthony Hutchins managed to recover from the destruction and by 1787 the census shows him with 400 head of cattle, 30 horses, 200 hogs, & producing 30,000 lbs of tobacco & 4,000 bushels of corn.
Col. Hutchins next, when past 80 years of age, became conspicuous during the stay of Commissioner Ellicott at Natchez in 1797-98. He was suspected by Ellicott of being so devoted to the British interest, as to be favorably disposed toward foreign control of the Natchez district. He interposed when the Spanish governor was besieged by the inhabitants and was the leading member of the committee that made the convention of peace and neutrality.
Apparently, of his own will, he was not a member of the Permanent committee, but he presently attempted to dissolve it, and caused the election of the Committee of Safety. Throughout the remainder of Ellicott’s stay, he bitterly opposed the influence of that gentleman in the affairs of the district. Ellicott did not appreciateHutchins’ feeling of primacy in the district, and the Colonel bitterly resented the leadership assumed by the commissioner, whom he regarded as an interloper. He accused Ellicott of everything he could think of in the line of public character, but the writer has found no mention of the other accusations against Ellicott, over the signature of Anthony Hutchins.”
He strenuously urged against Ellicott in 1797-98 that the latter favored the English grants, but Colonel Hutchins appeared to be closely associated with some royalist friends, including Elihu Hall Bay, in asserting the validity of these grants.
On file in the Mississippi archives is a letter from Colonel Hutchins to John Miller, Esq., Carolina Coffee House, Birchin Lane, London, dated Natchez, 25th January, 1799, enclosing his affidavits before Isaac Johnson, that he had not been during the year 1798, “following any other place or employment of profit, Civil or Military under His Majesty besides his military allowance as a Provincial Officer.” He requested Miller, with whom he was associated commercially, to buy two tickets in the London State lottery, one for his wife, Ann Hutchins, and the other for his eight children.
“It is so long since a letter from you hath come to hand that I am and shall be at a loss to know how to write to you on the business of our concern, until I shall happen to receive one, for even such letters as may go safe to the U. States may lay in the Post Office unattended to, which probably may have been the case with some of yours to me. Things are very disagreeable here. Courts are not yet organized, nor do we know anything respecting lands, whether British grants for unoccupied lands will operate fully here or not or whether Spanish grants on the same land will not bear the greatest weight. These are matters I suppose that will ere long be determined. One of the evasions respecting English grants is that Florida was in possession of Spain when the Treaty between Britain and America was made and established.”
After the arrival of Governor Sargent, Colonel Hutchins was in opposition to the latter, for the reason, it is stated, that Sargent sought the advice of Ellicott. In this conflict, he was more successful, and the movement, in which he was the main power, resulted in the territory having a house of representatives several years before it otherwise could have been expected. He was then a candidate for election to the house, and made the following statement, July 10, 1800, at Natchez, before Judge Bruin: “Whereas many years past I bore a commission under His Britannic Majesty and afterward retired upon half-pay, and became a subject to His Catholic Majesty, to whom I took an oath of allegiance; yet annually received my pension or allowance from the British pay office, although not a British subject; and this part of the country since having fallen within the jurisdiction of the United States by treaty of friendship, limits and navigation, I did, pursuant to the proclamation of Governor Sargent, take the oath of allegiance to the United States and obtained a certificate thereof. And now be it known that on publication of the ordinance of Congress for the institution of an assembly in this Territory, having been solicited by many of the most respectable inhabitants to offer myself a candidate at such election of representatives to sit and vote in the assembly for said Territory, and it being doubtful with some if such pension would not be against my eligibility, I did therefore, to satisfy the public (and of being useful to the community) agree to relinquish all right to such pension, and I do in virtue hereof exonerate, acquit and release the said British government from any further title or interest I have respecting such allowance or pension or any other such claim whatsoever.”
He received a majority of votes, but his election was contested by Governor Sargent
Sept. 29, 1800, the speaker received this communication: “Anthony Hutchins being duly elected a member of the assembly for this county and being kept from his seat through malice and wantonness or other undue cause requests the consideration of the House whether he shall not take immediate possession of a seat in the assembly previous to the conclusion of a scrutiny now before the House.” He died about four years later.
Anthony and Ann had the following children;
1.Samuel Hutchins b. 1768 twin of Mary
2.Mary Hutchins (b. 1768) she married Abner Green, son of Col .Thomas Marston Green in 1784. Abner was register of probates under the Bourbon County, Georgia, act, and treasurer-general for the Mississippi territory in 1801. The Green family was one of the most pomineent Mississippi families.
3.Thomas Hutchins b. ca. 1769,
4.Elizabeth M. Celeste Hutchins b. November 1771,
5.John Hutchins b. 1774,
6. Ann Nancy Hutchins b. 1776,
7.Magdalene CelesteHutchins (b. 1777) married Gen. Ferdinand Leigh Claiborne Leigh Claiborne
8.Isabella Charlotte Hutchins (b. 1779)
9.Donna Celeste Isabella Hutchins (b. 1781)
One of the daughters above married Willima Vousdan and one of their sons married a daughter of Thomas M. Green, a kinsman of Cato West
Hutchins can be described as a speculator, a frontiersman, a planter, and a public servant but most of all he considered himself a British subject.
Hutchins was appointed to represent Adams County in the Mississippi Territory. He was mentioned as late as 1803 as having been visited by Thomas Rodney, a Delaware judge, and former Congressman, who was tapped by President Thomas Jefferson to serve as one of the three judges on the Mississippi Territory Supreme Court. His home is believed to be part of Oakland Plantation and the oldest home in Mississippi. Rachel Donelson, wife of Andrew Jackson was related by marriage to the Hutchins family and often visited them to get away from her jealous first husband. Anthony Hutchins died in 1804.
1.Encyclopedia of Mississippi history: comprising sketches of counties, towns, events, institutions and persons, Volume 1 1907 -BY DUNBAR ROWLAND