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Anna Kingsley

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Anna Kingsley

Anna Kingsley
Born Anta-Madjiguène Peya Fall NDIAYE
c. 1793
Africa, in the now Senegal
Died April or May 1870
Nationality Wolof and American
Occupation Princess Slave and slaveholder

Anta Madjiguène Peya Fall NDIAYE, is the girl of the Bourba-Djolof MBa Boury Niabou ( 1805-1838 ) and princess Madjiguène NDiaye. His father King MBa Boury was the son of the Damel-Bour Bira-Yamb Madjiguène-Dieyla Gane NDiaye and the Linguère Boury-Niabou NDiatté Sine NDao; as for her mother, Madjiguène NDiaelle was the girl of the King Lat-Kodou Madjiguène-Dieyla Gane NDiaye (younger brother of the Damel-Bour) and of Peya Fall-Ma Korcka (woman stemming from Servants of the guardroom of Warkhokh). She had 2 German brothers, L Lat-Kodou Madjiguène Peya Fall and Bira-Yamb Madjiguène Peya Fall (who became both kings afterward, after a long civil war where their right(law) was in the controversial Throne), as well as a German sister of the name of Khoudia-Thieck Madjiguène NDiaye. Anta-Madjiguène Peya Fall NDIAYE, been born in 1793, was captured as slave in Cayor, in 1806, in the age of 13 years, during the war setting Damel-Teigne Amari-NGoné-NDella Fall to his nephew Birima Fatma-Thioub, allied by the Djolof. Sold to the slave traders to Rufisque, she was forwarded in Cuba,where she was purchased by and married to Jacksonville, where Anna managed a large and successful planting operation. After gaining freedom, she was given a Spanish land grant for 5 acres (20,000 m2) and held 12 slaves. She later was awarded a land grant of 350 acres (1.4 km2) by the Spanish government.

After the United States took control of Florida and American discriminatory laws threatened the multi-racial Kingsley family, most of them moved to Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve.


  • Early years 1
  • Laurel Grove 2
  • Fort George Island 3
  • Haiti and return to Florida 4
  • Notes 5
  • Citations 6
  • Bibliography 7
  • External links 8

Early years

The owner's house at Kingsley Plantation

Daniel L. Schafer, the biographer of Anna Kingsley, has based his account of her early life on conjecture given his research into the history of the area. She was born Anta Majigueen Ndiaye in 1793 in present-day Senegal, in a portion of West Africa that was rent by a fierce war between the majority Wolof people and the minority Fula. Slave raids were frequent occurrences during incessant violence that left many small villages deserted, as people were abducted to be sold into slavery or they fled in fear for their lives.[1] Following an intensifying of the crisis in 1790, Anta was captured in 1806 when she was about 13 years old, probably by Tyeddo raiders from the Futa Toro. Wolof tradition holds that a mythological figure named Njaajaan Ndiaye established the Jolof Kingdom that existed between 1200 and 1550. Through her father, Anta was a Ndiaye descendant and carried that name. Her mother also had ancestors who had held the title of the Buurba Jolof, or king of the Wolofs. Although lineages are disputed, there is a belief that Anta may have been the daughter of a still ruling (as opposed to formerly ruling) branch of the royal family.[2]

Schafer suggests that Anta may have been sent to Gorée Island, a slave debarkation point from the West African coast to the Americas. She sailed to Havana, Cuba; the name of the ship she was aboard is unknown. When Africans arrived in the Western Hemisphere to be sold into slavery, slave traders did not record their given names, but only their age, sex, and sometimes ethnicity, which were most important to buyers.[3] In September or October 1806, Anta was displayed for sale and bought by a slave trader, merchant, and resident of Spanish Florida named Zephaniah Kingsley, who was 30 years older than she.[4]

Laurel Grove

After a brief stop in St. Augustine, Zephaniah Kingsley's ship made its way up the St. Johns River, stopping in an inlet now named Doctors Lake. Attached to the lake was a dock, the main entrance to Kingsley's plantation which he had named Laurel Grove. Kingsley had become a citizen of Spanish Florida in 1803, likely because it allowed him to continue his international slave trading, at a time when Great Britain and the United States were moving to prohibit it (which they did in 1807).[5][6] He had been granted the plantation three years before by the Spanish colonial government in exchange for his having brought 74 slaves to the territory.[5][6] Spain was making generous land grants to attract settlers into Florida.[5] Many years later, Kingsley wrote that he and Anta, now called Anna, had been married in a traditional African ceremony "in a foreign land", which historians have taken to mean Cuba. By the time she arrived at Laurel Grove, she was pregnant.[7]

Laurel Grove was a prosperous plantation that grew oranges, sea island cotton, peas, and potatoes. Over a hundred slaves were gathered there from multiple African ethnic groups; they lived in two groups of houses. Anna, however, lived with Kingsley in his house.[8] At Laurel Grove, as at many other southeastern plantations, Kingsley used the task system to manage work. Slaves were given a quota to fill; when they were finished, they were allowed to pursue other tasks. Some tended personal gardens, while others produced crafts, both of which they were able to sell. Whether due to cultivation techniques or the task system, Laurel Grove was quite successful. One year the plantation made $10,000, which was an extraordinary income at the time, particularly for sparsely populated Florida.[5]

In 1811, Kingsley granted Anna legal

  • "Kingsley Plantation National Historic Site", National Park Service
  • Freedom BoundRosalie Turner, (2006), a historical novel based on the life of Anna Kingsley
  • Papers Concerning the Will of Zephaniah Kingsley, 1844, 1846, State Library & Archives of Florida

External links

  • Schafer, Daniel L. (March 2003). Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley: African Princess, Florida Slave, Plantation Slaveowner. University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-2616-4
  • Fleszar, Mark (2009). The Atlantic Mind: Zephaniah Kingsley, Slavery, and the Politics of Race in the Atlantic World, Georgia State University. Retrieved December 2009.


  1. ^ Schafer, pp. 4–6.
  2. ^ Schafer, pp. 5, 15–18.
  3. ^ Schafer, pp. 20–21.
  4. ^ Schafer, p. 23.
  5. ^ a b c d e f May, Philip S. (January 1945). "Zephaniah Kingsley, Nonconformist", The Florida Historical Quarterly 23 (3), pp. 145–159.
  6. ^ a b Williams, Edwin (October 1949). "Negro Slavery in Florida", The Florida Historical Quarterly 28 (2), pp. 94-110.
  7. ^ Schafer, p. 24.
  8. ^ Schafer, pp. 27–28.
  9. ^ Schafer, pp. 32–33.
  10. ^ Schafer, p. 34.
  11. ^ Schafer, p. 26.
  12. ^ "Anna Kingsley: A Free Woman", Timucuan Ecological and Historical Park, National Park Service, accessed 14 May 2010
  13. ^ Schafer, p. 37, 31.
  14. ^ Schafer, pp. 41–42.
  15. ^ Schafer, p. 43.
  16. ^ Schafer, pp. 46–47.
  17. ^ Schafer, p. 50.
  18. ^ Schafer, p. 53.
  19. ^ Schafer, p. 55.
  20. ^ Schafer, p. 58.
  21. ^ Jackson and Burns, pp. 20–21.
  22. ^ Scahfer, p. 62.
  23. ^ Daniel L. Schafer, "Anna Kingsley"; accessed May 14, 2010.
  24. ^ Schafer, p. 60.
  25. ^ Schafer, p. 72.
  26. ^ Scahfer, p. 75.


  1. ^ Mark Fleszar writes that how much Anna managed Laurel Grove "deserves caution" as Kingsley's letters indicate white overseers were responsible for the day to day issues of the plantation when he was away on business. Kingsley told abolitionist Lydia Child in an interview that Anna was "very capable, and could carry on all the affairs of the plantation in my absence, as well as I could myself", but he either deliberately misrepresented other details in his life or Child's reporting was inaccurate, calling into question other statements Kingsley was reported to have said. (Fleszar, p. 72.)


Anna and her children became Union sympathizers when the American Civil War broke out the following year. She and other free blacks were evacuated by Union forces when they captured Jacksonville in 1862. She returned home the following year to be closer to her daughters, and died in 1870 at the age of 77.

One of the laws passed by the Territorial Council of Florida that so alarmed Kingsley was the provision that mixed race children could not inherit property. The territory did not recognize interracial or polygamous marriages as legal. The year following Kingsley's death, his sister Martha and her children contested his will as "defective and invalid".[24] Kingsley's sister cited Florida law that forbade black people from owning property, and claimed that Anna and Kingsley's other wives moved to Haiti spontaneously, abandoning the property in Florida to become free people. Anna returned to Florida in 1846 to participate in the Kingsley estate defense, despite the increasingly tense racial climate in Duval County.[25] The court upheld the treaty signed between the U.S. and Spain stipulating that all free blacks born before 1822 in Florida enjoyed the same legal privileges as they had when Spain controlled East Florida. Anna furthermore asked for and was granted the transfer of ownership of slaves who had been sent to the San Jose plantation when the family had moved to Haiti. Her request to rent slaves to other plantations to maximize her profits was rejected by the courts.[26]

After Spain ceded control of Florida to the U.S. in 1822, the new state government progressively enacted stricter ordinances separating the races, as was common among other states in the US South. Southern states increased restrictions against free blacks after the Nat Turner Rebellion of 1831. The mixed-race Kingsley family was directly and negatively affected by these "illiberal and inequitable laws", as Kingsley stated in his will.[22] Kingsley transferred all their holdings to the three older children and moved to Haiti in 1835. Their two oldest daughters had already married white planters in Florida and remained there.[23] Anna and their youngest son followed Kingsley to Haiti in 1838. In all, 60 slaves, family members, and freed employees moved with Kingsley to Haiti to start a plantation called Mayorasgo de Koka. Because slavery was prohibited in Haiti, Kingsley converted his slaves to indentured servants, who could earn their freedom with another nine years of labor. Kingsley portrayed life in Haiti as idyllic. In 1843, when Anna was 50 years old, Kingsley died on his way to New York, where he was buried.[5]

Haiti and return to Florida

I remember her very distinctly. She was not black, and had the most beautiful features you ever saw. She was a most imposing and very handsome woman. Her smooth, light brown skin, her dark-eyes and wavy [sic] made her outstanding, and I would not keep my eyes away for admiration. She was quiet and moved with regal dignity—I have never seen anything like her, before or since. Her daughter was there also, and she was very light in color, but not as good-looking as her mother. I was six or seven years old at the time. I was Kingsley’s niece. The next morning my aunt, Mrs. Gibbs, sent two servants for us with a horse and buggy, and we were carried over to Newcastle. My mother was furious that we had spent the night at Ma’m Anna’s, but it could not be helped.[21]

In 1824, Anna bore her fourth son John, who was baptized in a Catholic ceremony with the daughter of another of Kingsley's wives. Anna befriended a white woman named Susan L'Engle who was much impressed with Anna, and called her "the African princess". (L'Engle's great-granddaughter, children's author Madeleine L'Engle, wrote of her stories in a book entitled Summer of the Great Grandmother.) Susan L'Engle had the impression that Anna was quite lonely though her jobs at the plantation kept her constantly busy.[20] Kingsley's young niece remembered much later her first impression of Anna:

Thirty-two slave cabins were constructed not far from Kingsley's house. They were constructed of tabby, made by pounding oyster shells into lime and adding water and sand. The shells came from the massive middens left by the Timucua who previously inhabited the island. Anthropologists suggest that Anna may have had the knowledge to instruct her slaves how to form the tabby because it was widely used in West Africa.[18] The foundation of "Ma'am Anna House" was also constructed of tabby, which proved to be fireproof and more durable than wood. The slave quarters were arranged in a semi-circular pattern that was an anomaly in the South. Some historians have suggested Kingsley arranged them to keep better watch over his slaves. Author Daniel Schafer hypothesized that Anna may have been responsible for the layout of the slave quarters: many African villages were similarly arranged in circular patterns.[19]

[5] Kingsley purchased another plantation on Fort George Island, near the mouth of the St. Johns River in 1814. The owner's house had been looted and vandalized, but every other structure on the property was destroyed. While the slave quarters and various other buildings were being constructed, Anna moved in between

Fort George Island

Kingsley was kidnapped the same year and held until he endorsed the Patriot Rebellion, an insurgency by Americans to annex Florida to the United States. Americans and American-supplied Creek Indians raided towns and plantations in north Florida, sending any blacks they captured into slavery, regardless of their legal status. The Patriots took Laurel Grove and 41 of its slaves, using the facilities as its headquarters while it carried out similar raids in the area. Kingsley fled after being released, his whereabouts unknown. To evade the Americans, Anna approached the Spanish and negotiated her escape, bringing along her children and a dozen slaves. She burned Kingsley's plantation to the ground while the Spanish watched.[14] Anna asked the Spanish to return her to her own homestead, and she burned it, too, preventing its use by the Patriots. For her actions, after the war the Spanish government granted Anna 350 acres (1.4 km2).[15]

[13] Slavery within African societies was a custom with which Anna would probably have been familiar, including the fact that female slaves often married their masters in order to obtain freedom.[12] across the river from Laurel Grove. She purchased goods and livestock to get her farm started, as well as 12 slaves.Mandarin) in 2 In 1813 as a free woman, Anna Kingsley petitioned the Spanish government for land. She was awarded 5 acres (20,000 m[11] Much later, Kingsley described his wife as "a fine, tall figure, black as jet, but very handsome. She was very capable, and could carry on all the affairs of the plantation in my absence as well as I could myself. She was affectionate and faithful, and I could trust her."[note 1][10] As Kingsley was involved in shipping as well as the slave trade, he was frequently away from the plantation. Laurel Grove had a manager, also a slave who had been freed. Kingsley trusted Anna to represent him at the plantation.[9]

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