Mariana Bonifay memorial, Pensacola, Florida


The Bonifay family of Pensacola goes back to the late 1700s when Marianna Pingron Bonifay appears on the 1784 census with her son Carlos, age 7. “Mariana Pengro” is 26 and living in the household of Joseph Domingo, 42.1

That same year she purchased her own house and lot from him – lot 176 on the north side of Intendencia St., between Baylen and Palafox Streets, in what is now the old downtown area of Pensacola. And the deed was in her name.2

In her will Marianna states that she was born in Nantes, France, and was the daughter of Sr Pingrow and Josefa Le Compte.3 Nantes is a city in the west of France and, at that time, a part of Brittany. (It is not the town of Nancy, which some websites suggest.) She also states that she was married to Joseph Bonifay on the island of Santo Domingo.4

Later census records give a birth for her second child, Marie Louise, before 1784, so why she was not in the 1784 census is a mystery.5 In her manuscript, Mariana Bonifay, Leora Sutton writes that “The Bonifay family eventually arrived on the Gulf Coast at New Orleans where they purchased a small piece of property and lived for several years. Carlos Bonifay was baptized at the Parish church, the Cathedral of St. Louis, King of France, in the City of New Orleans on the fourth day of April of the year seventeen hundred and seventy eight… the legitimate son of the Josef Bonifay and of Mariana Pengnon.”6

Although there seems to be no record of Joseph Bonifay living in Pensacola with Mariana, they must have gotten together at several points as they had five more children, the last one being Joseph, born 14 March, 1788. His baptism ten days later noted that he was the legitimate son of Josef Bonifacio and Mariana Pengro. It is not known if Joseph was a part of the Spanish military forces, but Mariana notes in her will that they were separated by “the events of the war.” She learned in 1801 that he had died the year before.7

During the time that they were separated, Mariana became an independent and ambitious woman, savvy in real estate and other matters. She formed a partnership with a younger man, Carlos Lavalle, buying property, constructing homes and selling them. She and Carlos started a brickyard which was very successful. Carlos also fathered several children with her: Josefa Maria, Julian, Andres Antonio and Josefa Candalaria, all born between about 1798 and 1806, and all mentioned in her will. Her children with Joseph Bonifay were named in this order in her will: Carlos, Maria [Marie Louise, from whom I descend], Manuel, Josefa [Josefa Eugenia], Margarita, and Jose [Joseph].

Mariana was unusual for a woman of her time. She owned several tracts of land, many around the area of Gull Point, also known as Pt. Diablo, on Escambia Bay. Near the end of her life she wrote her will, dated 16 September 1825. She died 12 September 1829, most likely at her country home on Escambia Bay.8 We might assume that she was buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery, but there is no record. There is, however, a marker, erected in 1967, in the median on East Garden Street, just before Alcaniz Street that borders the west side of St. Michael’s Cemetery.



Related Links:
5-generation descent chart for Joseph Bonifay and Mariana Pingron, with index and sources
Obituary: Mariana Bonifay, 1929
Will of Mariana Bonifay, 1925
The Gonzalez family of Pensacola
The Graupera family of Pensacola and Louisiana
The Brent Family of Pensacola
The Jardelat Family of Pensacola, Louisiana and Arkansas



  1. Coker, William S. and G. Douglas Inglis. Spanish Censuses of Pensacola, 1784-1820: a Genealogical Guide to Spanish Pensacola. Pensacola: Perdido Bay Press, 1980, p.37.

  2. Sutton, Leora M. Mariana Bonifay. Pensacola, Florida, privately printed manuscript, 1961, p.6.

  3. Will of Mariana Bonifay: Florida Probate Records, 1784-1990, FamilySearch.org database, Will Book 1, 1832-1898, pp. 15-17, FHL MF 941009, images 40-41.

  4. Will of Mariana Bonifay: Florida Probate Records, 1784-1990, FamilySearch.org database, Will Book 1, 1832-1898, pp. 15-17, FHL MF 941009, images 40-41. I have looked at marriage records for Santo Domingo for 1774, 1775, but could find no records for 1776 and no record for their marriage.

  5. Coker, William S. and G. Douglas Inglis. Spanish Censuses of Pensacola, 1784-1820: a Genealogical Guide to Spanish Pensacola. Pensacola: Perdido Bay Press, 1980. Marie Louise Gonzalez was 40 in the 1820 Spanish census of Pensacola, p.124. On the Find A Grave website, her birth year is 1781.

  6. Sutton, Leora M. Mariana Bonifay. Pensacola, Florida, privately printed manuscript, 1961, p.5.

  7. Will of Mariana Bonifay: Florida Probate Records, 1784-1990, FamilySearch.org database, Will Book 1, 1832-1898, pp. 15-17, FHL MF 941009, images 40-41.

  8. Sutton, Leora M. Mariana Bonifay. Pensacola, Florida, privately printed manuscript, 1961, p.19.

    Obituary of Marianna Pingron Bonifay: Pensacola Gazette, Pensacola, Florida, Tuesday 15 September 1829, p.3. The obituary notes that she died on Saturday, putting her day of death on the 12th of September.


Photograph of the Mariana Bonifay marker taken by the author in 2007.



Anne Healy's Genealogy, Created October 2002
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8 July 2017
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