William Panton

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See also: Panton-Innerarity family
William Panton
Born circa 1745
Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Died February 26, 1801
At sea
Parents John and Barbara Wemyss Panton

William Panton was a trader best known for his Pensacola-area trading house Panton, Leslie and Company.

Born in Scotland around 1745, Panton emigrated to America in 1765. By 1774, he was a partner in the trading house Moore & Panton in Savannah, Georgia. In 1775, British governor of East Florida Patrick Tonyn appointed Panton official trader for the Creek Indians. Around this time he also formed his own trading house in Savannah with Thomas Forbes. This company, originally Panton, Forbes, and Company, had to move its base of operations south to St. Augustine in East Florida the next year upon the outbreak of the American Revolution. As a loyalist Scotsman, Panton was not welcome in the revolting colony of Georgia, but could prosper in East Florida, a solidly British territory.

After the end of the war, Panton and his trading house began to expand, and in 1783, William Alexander and John Leslie joined his firm, which was renamed Panton, Leslie and Company. After Britain ceded the whole of Florida to Spain in 1781, Panton was initially asked by the Spanish to leave the province, but after realising there were no experienced Spanish traders to take Panton's place, an uneasy truce was reached and the Spanish allowed Panton to continue to operate.