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Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley

Museum of Florida History

 

Anna Madgigine Jai Kingsley (1793-1870) was taken from West Africa and sold into slavery in Havana, Cuba to a man named Zephaniah Kingsley at the age of 13. Kingsley was a slave trader, plantation owner, and resident of Spanish controlled Florida. By the time Anna arrived at Kingsley’s Laurel Grove plantation, in Florida, the two were married and Anna was pregnant with her first of four children she would have with Kingsley. In 1811, Kingsley granted Anna legal emancipation. She managed Laurel Grove, and the hundred enslaved people who worked there, while Kingsley was away on business. In 1814, Kingsley purchased a plantation on Fort George Island and moved his family there. During her life in Florida, Anna maintained West African customs and practices. She lived separately from her husband, as was a common West African custom, particularly in polygamous marriages, and Kingsley had three other wives as part of his multi-racial family. The cabins for the enslaved workers were arranged in a semi-circle pattern that is an anomaly in the South, but similar in layout to how many African villages would have been arranged.

After Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1821, laws restricting free blacks increased and impacted the mixed Kingsley family directly. The new territory did not recognize interracial or polygamous marriages as legal, and mixed race children could not inherit property. In the 1830s the Kingsleys, as well as 60 enslaved and freed persons, moved to Haiti.

See this ‘life-cast’ of Anna and learn more about her life during Florida’s Second Spanish period at the Museum of Florida History.