Thomas Buckingham Smith

Died aged c. 61

Thomas Buckingham Smith was born in 1810 on Cumberland Island, Georgia. In 1820, upon his father’s appointment as U.S. Consul to Mexico, he moved to St. Augustine with his mother and younger sister. In 1836 he graduated from Harvard Law School and returned to St. Augustine to practice law. Smith served a term on the city council and, in 1841, a term in the Florida Territorial Legislature. From 1850 until 1868, he held foreign service offices in Mexico and Spain. During these years, he researched Spanish settlement in Florida. He translated numerous documents from Spanish or Portuguese to English including The Narrative of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca (1851) and Narratives of the Career of Hernando de Soto in the Conquest of Florida, as told by a Knight of Elvas (1866), and authored several important publications. Although Smith and his mother were slave owners, he supported the Union in the Civil War. His will provided a life estate to one of his former slaves and cash to others. The remainder of his estate became the Buckingham Smith Benevolent Association, a corporation that benefits African-Americans in St. Augustine. This fund is partially responsible for recent nursing home construction in the city. In 1868 he was appointed tax commissioner in Florida, but in 1870, relocated to New York City and died there the following year.


Thomas Buckingham Smith (1810–1871) was an author, Florida tax commissioner, lawyer, city councilman, territorial legislator, US State Department employee in Mexico and Spain, researcher of Spanish settlement in Florida and translator of documents from Spanish or Portuguese to English. His survey work on the Florida Everglades is considered the first official publication on the area and suggested lowering the water table to develop agriculture in the area. His estate aided African-Americans. He is listed as a Great Floridian. He published as Buckingham Smith. He was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1862.

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Commemorated on 1 plaque

Thomas Buckingham Smith

Thomas Buckingham Smith [full inscription unknown]

Huguenot Cemetery, Castillo Drive, St. Augustine, FL, United States where they was