John P. Crichton - 7th Mayor Of Tampa

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Born: September 7, 1821

Died: November 8, 1893

Term: February 1, 1860 - February 2, 1861

Born in St. Mary's, Georgia, the Crichton family near Gainesville, then Brooksville and finally Tampa. was educated in local schools until moving to New York to attend the New York State Medical College where he received a degree in medicine. After graduation, John Crichton moved to Tampa where he became one of the town's most notable physicians and civic leaders. Crichton married Margaret Townsend, in Tampa, and the couple had three children: Mary, Thomas and John William. In 1858, Crichton's wife, Margaret succumbed to yellow fever which had swept throughout the town and outlying areas. Later, Crichton married Christy Kennedy, the widow of Thomas P. Kennedy; an early pioneer and co-owner of the mercantile store Kennedy and Darling. 

Crichton was also instrumental in resolving the price war that had been with Tampa's physicians by working with his colleagues to establish a price schedule for medical services.  He also became involved in local politics and, on February 1, 1860, was elected Mayor of Tampa.

John Crichton and other white southerners were increasingly concerned about the escalating pro- and anti-slavery violence in Kansas and John Brown's attempt to arm the slaves in Harper's Ferry, Virginia. Many southerners believed that abolitionists would attempt to foment widespread insurrection. In response, many southern towns and cities forced northerners and others suspected of anti-slavery sympathies to leave. As mayor, John Crichton responded to this growing concern by persuading the town council to support the costs for a City Watch to patrol the streets of town at night. Organized and supervised by the City Marshal, all of the men in Tampa in excellent physical condition were required to participate. Each group had a captain and worked in shifts. The City Watch was also responsible for alerting residents in the event of fires and could arrest residents for drunk and disorderly conduct. Later, a report of the previous night's activities was sent directly to the mayor.

John Crichton passed away in Tampa on November 8, 1893. 


Sources for this Biographical Sketch:

Covington, Dr. James W. and Wavering, Debbie Lee, "The Mayors of Tampa: A Brief Administrative History," Tampa, FL: University of Tampa, 1987.

Grismer, Karl H., Tampa: A History of the City and the Tampa Bay Region of Florida, St. Petersburg Printing Company, FL, 1950.

Robinson, Ernest L., History of Hillsborough County, Florida: Narrative and Biographical, The Record Company, St. Augustine, FL, 1928.

Tampa Council Minutes, City of Tampa Archives, Tampa, FL

January 1, 1857 - October 2, 1891 Microfilm Roll # 1