Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    Emancipation in Antigua and Barbuda

    [Slavery]. Codrington Family Antigua/Barbuda Archive consisting of thirty-six letters, one printed circular, and one payment invoice spanning the years 1771 through 1854. The bulk of the letters are written during the years 1829 and 1835, a period of transition in British history when Parliament abolished slavery throughout most of the empire with the passage of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 (which took effect on August 1, 1834). Natural events such as hurricanes, severe drought, and outbreaks of yellow fever are well documented as is business related reports on slave activity, crop output, and sugar production.

    The islands of Antigua and Barbuda, part of the Leeward Islands of the upper Antilles, had been inhabited by native Ciboney, Arawak, and Carib Indians for several thousand years before the arrival of Europeans in the late 17th century. European colonization of the islands began in earnest in 1634 with the arrival of English colonists from St. Kitts. But it was the arrival of Sir Christopher Codrington in 1674 that would change the course of history on the islands.

    The Codrington family, who have held a British Baronetcy since 1721, were one of the most influential and prosperous planters in the Lesser Antilles during British colonial rule and counted amongst their members a colonial governor, military officers, and members of Parliament. They owned extensive amounts of property, including slaves, throughout the West Indies and were already well established on Barbados when they were granted the plantation of Betty's Hope in the 1680s. Originally built in the 1650s, it had focused on tobacco, ginger, and indigo production, but was changed to produce sugar under the Codringtons. In the early eighteenth century, the family returned to their ancestral home of Dodington Park, Gloucestershire, England and left their island estates in control of attorneys such as Samuel Redhead and Robert Jarritt. The influence of the family is still felt today in such places as the town of Codrington on the island of Barbuda and Codrington College on Barbados.

    Of note are two letters that illustrate the existence of relationships between white men, the estate attorneys or plantation managers and, at times, indentured servants, and enslaved, black women which oftentimes resulted in biracial children. Such is the case with Sir William Codrington's attorney for his properties on the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Samuel Redhead. Redhead served Codrington between 1751 and 1779 (Antigua) and 1761 and 1779 (Barbuda). He had a black, common-law wife, Sarah (Sally) Bullock, a slave on one of the plantations, with whom he had children. When Redhead returned to England, he took Sarah with him:

    Samuel Redhead Autograph Letter Signed. Two pages, 8" x 12.75", Antigua, June 10, 1771, to "Messrs. Codrington & Miller" inquiring about accounts and bills of lading, including a misplaced deed that was to have been executed "for a mute child." He continues with the status of the crop, which he is disappointed with. At the lower left is a list of "Sugar Shipped." Unevenly toned; light chipping along the edges. Slight separation of the folds at the edges.

    James Millett Autograph Letter Signed. Two integral pages, 9" x 14", Antigua, June 12, 1779, to Sir William Codrington, 1st Bt. Millet, an indentured servant upon one of Codrington's plantations, makes claim that during his years of service, "Saml. Redhead...was rather Cruel...for the thirteen years I never had more than Four white shirts...my Dieting was Equally as bad for I never got fresh Meat but once a Year...I am well assured that you have always allowed your Servants better in Every respect and...it is not Agreable [sic] to what is Specifyed [sic] in my Indentures...Not that I can Expect any redress from you now."

    After complaining about a lack of reward following the completion of his "apprenticeship" (including an unfulfilled promise of receiving an education), he gets to the heart of the matter: "I still have one particular Matter to mention which is, I have been connected with a Wench of yours from some time back, with whom I have had the Misfortune to breed. I have had Four Children by her Three of w:ch [sic] I purchased of Mr. Saml Redhead, and I should now be infinitely Oblige to you to Sell me the Fourth Child and the Mother. Your Compliance With this request I shall acknowledge with the warmest Sense of Gratitude." The last few lines of the letter are obscured by damage along the lower edge, but the final line of text, found at the upper edge of the verso, reads: "The Wench and Child who is Ten Months old."

    Unevenly toned with damage along the lower edge, resulting in some loss of text; edges are chipped extensively. Near total detachment along the main vertical fold. Remnant of wax seal on first page.

    Also included are several letters providing a firsthand account of the transition from slavery to freedom, as seen through the eyes of estate attorney Robert Jarritt. Unlike other places throughout the empire, where a mandatory apprenticeship system was in place for "freed" slaves, in order to keep them indentured to their owners for a period of eight years, Antigua, along with Bermuda, had immediate emancipation which caused a number of problems for the recently freed people as well as for their former owners.

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 8" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," May 11, 1833, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington Bt. regarding the happenings on the island, including the idleness of the local slave population due to the persistent drought. He writes, in part:

    "Crawford's negroes have all left...some make fish pots and attend to fishing, others cut wood whereon they can steal it and carry to town to sell, the old and infirm are supported by the Collector who has received orders from home to provide for them, these are quartered in town, the others are scattered about all over the Country, living among the negroes where they have connections. As long as there are slaves on estates, there can always be a great number or idlers concealed. they employ them for a mere trifle, perhaps only their food...and doing all their domestic work. while they are in the field, and if you have to free 100 negroes from Barbuda they would all get employment in this way. they will sleep half the day, and ramble about half the night stealing. There are scarce any estates in the island who have not some of these idlers in the negro yards. I have often routed them, but they return at night. It will only be when there are no slaves to support these vagabonds that they will be compelled to work; the life of a hog is what they like to lead, and with no more thought, but to fill their bellies with corn or potatoes and lay down and sleep, and this is what all the slaves expect to do when they are free."

    About the possible emancipation of the slaves, Jarritt writes: "I never say a word to them on the subject. I go on as usual, and find no great difference in their behaviours. I am persuaded we shall go on...some time longer, for I think it a question that cannot be settled hastily, if it can at all."

    He concludes with a note about the loss of one of the slaves: "I have lately lost a valuable negro, Joe Business, an honest faithful slave, from Fever, this man some years ago bought his wife and two Children, in preference to purchasing himself; I never heard him express a wish to be free. I think he could have been trusted safely with all the Plate and Money in Dodington House."

    Lightly stained along the right margins from the wax seal. There is a hole from being opened at the wax seal with some loss of text.

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 7.75" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," August 5, 1833, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington Bt. regarding the imminent emancipation of the slaves. He writes, in part: "Our prospects for next year as regards Crop are very fair, all will depend upon the weather. we are much more forward now than last year. How we may be able to reap the crop, is another consideration, but I suppose the present system will not be considerably altered for the next twelve months." In addition to the emancipation of the slaves, slave owners were to receive monetary compensation for their losses (a total of £20 million pounds was earmarked for the occasion).

    Jarritt believes that the slaves, after they gain their freedom, will realize how good they had it and want to return. "The result in my mind would be that in a little time you would have most of them, or perhaps all of them wishing to return to live on the same terms as before, & you would then have about £12,000 in pocket." He continues this sentiment by stating: "The first influx of labor from Barbuda to Antigua would lower the price of wages; 150 to 200 effective hands would be sufficient on the former island while the remainder would soon get a surfeit of freedom, and be glad to return to their old quarters, or I am much mistaken...Should Government take coercive measures to oblige the requests to work, as I believe it is their intention, they will soon find Freedom is Slavery, and that Slavery was Freedom."

    Lightly stained along the right margins from the wax seal. There is a hole from being opened at the wax seal with some loss of text. Weakened folds on page three has caused some separation and small holes, obscuring some of the text.

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 8" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," July 1, 1834, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington Bt. With the institution of slavery in the West Indies rapidly coming to a close, Jarritt writes: "The day month [from now] you will not own a slave. I despair of detaining Capt. Haynes until that day arrives. he is tired of the west indies, and really fortunate are those that can live in Europe, for near as the day is, none of us can tell whether we shall be able to cultivate properties or not. Look in the Marshals office and see how many proprietors are in debt...and that in a time of slavery, when they had no labor to pay for. How can they afford to give a Shilling per day (as is proposed by the Agricultural Society now established)."

    He describes the latest shipment of goods sent aboard the Codrington (a cargo ship) and again comments on the slaves: "The negroes are slower than ever, and will hardly be spoke to. You must be anxious also for communications for the next six months. After all I think it would be better to apprentice the Barbuda people. they seem to manage it very well in Barbados working them 5 days and giving them one."

    Lightly stained at the upper left of the first and second pages. There is a hole from being opened at the wax seal with some loss of text.

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 8" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," August 2, 1834, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington Bt. the day after the emancipation of the slaves. Jarritt describes the surprisingly subdued nature of the occasion and what the effects may be with the new system in place:

    "The mail being closed to day, I can only inform you yesterday has passed off quiet, the day previously there was some exceptions to good behaviour, but generally they conducted themselves well. We have held agricultural meetings for the last two months, and it was acknowledged universally that one Shilling per day for able bodied labourers, and 9d for weeders is the utmost that can be given. this has been told to the negroes, and they all object to that wages as too small. this is natural enough, that they should endeavour to get as much as they can. Monday will be a day of trial, to day is looked upon as a holiday. I expect some will turn out to work, some will not, but I think I shall get as many workers as any one else. I contemplate with awe the expenses of this new system. so many shillings and bits daily will amount to a serious sum at the end of the year, particularly where so much manual labour is employed...The first year will be the most expensive, it will be some time before we can fall upon the most economical plan...The negroes now are chiefly depending for food on the Town market. I think it very likely that we may have a Famine in the land some time or other...For a change, they will now prefer rice, bread and flour...to their old allowance of yams, potatoes, corn...The children that are useful as a grossgang, or stock keepers we expect to get for their food and clothing as before."

    Smoothed folds. Remnant of wax seal. Letter has usual creasing. There is a hole from being opened at the wax seal with some loss of text.

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 8" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," August 30, 1834, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington Bt. one month after the slaves were freed. Of the situation, he writes, in part:

    "We have nearly passed the first month of 'Freedom' without any violence which is something. The first fortnight very few labourers were to be got. and those strangers, they all appear to be dissatisfied with their former masters, and have tried others, but as they find they do not fare better, they are returning now to their old quarters begging to be taken back, and we can get a tolerable supply of field people. But they do so little and are to [sic] careless and insolent, that it is throwing away money to employ them. If a little rain falls (and we have lately been blessed with fine showers) they will not come out at all, and say they cannot work in the wet. thus we cannot take advantage as formerly of a shower of rain. To see the work done so slovenly and ineffectually by his Majesty's free subjects, as at present, is enough to make anyone sick of planting. Things cannot last so long, they must be made to do a fair proportion of work, either by starvation or otherwise, for not an estate in the island can bear the intolerable expense of giving 1). per day for 1st Gang and 9d for 2d Gang. This estate would take 80 great gang and 40 second, to work it effectually, which is £7 per diem...and untill [sic] we can substitute machinery for manual labor, less will not do...No estate can stand this long, if the high rate of wages is not reduced, and we can obtain more work for our money...The most useful set of little people on estates was the gross gangs, those from 10 to 14 years of age. none of these have yet returned to work. some are gone to school, and other are waiting on their parents...I have noticed more deaths since the 1t August than in any one month before and the sickly season has not yet commenced. At present Freedom appears to be the worst thing that could happen to them."

    Each ex-slave was to give 40 ½ hours of work per week for free. Any "overtime" would entitle them to payment. Peaceful protests led to the abolishment of the apprentice system in 1838. Antigua and the Bermudas were the only islands to forego the apprentice system and free the slaves outright, which left the former slaves in extreme poverty. They had little choice but to return to the fields and work again for their former masters.

    Smoothed folds, with some separations at the center fold. Remnant of wax seal. There is a hole from being opened at the wax seal with some loss of text.


    More Information:

    Autograph Letter Unsigned. Four integral pages, 9" x 14.5", n. p. [Antigua], July 29 [circa 1779], to an unknown recipient, but it is presumed that the letter is written to Sir William Codrington, 1st Bt., regarding the possibility of a French attack on the island "since the loss of Granada [the island of Grenada]." The island was briefly recaptured by the French during the American Revolution.

     

    Admiral John Byron's (commander-in-chief of the British fleet in the West Indies during the Revolution) fleet is shattered and he retires to St. Kitts. General James Grant is also present with his troops. After a lack of success fighting the Americans during the New York Campaign and in his pursuit of the Marquis de Lafayette, Grant was posted in the West Indies, where he was tasked with establishing small garrisons throughout the islands.

     

    The author goes on to talk about the sugar crop for the present year and prospects for the next and a slave named Sally who owns livestock. Letter is incomplete. Lightly toned, else fine.

     

    Richard Clarke Fair Copy Letter. Eight integral pages, 9.5" x 15", Antigua, February 25, 1781, to Sir William Codrington, 1st Bt. Included in the letter, he is sending plans for new works for the curing of sugar cane and the production of rum and molasses in a still house. He then gives an extensive description of the complex. The rum cellar is tended by a "negro" and white people attend the drawing of the stills. Negroes are required for labor. Weakened folds are separating, some nearly detaching, but with no loss of text.

    B. Entwhistle Fair Copy of a Letter. One page, 6.5" x 8", Antigua, April 27, 1781, to Richard Clarke regarding the matters of their "Arbitration." Smoothed folds, else fine.

    Richard Clarke Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 8" x 13", Antigua, May 4, 1781, to Sir William Codrington, 1st Bt., regarding the nomination and acceptance of Codington as an umpire in an arbitration case. He suggests having a "white Cooper sent out to superintend the negroes, who frequently do bad work." Weakened folds are separating in places with no loss of text. Chipping along the lower edge.

    Dennis Reynolds Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 7.5" x 12", Barbuda, November 6, 1782, regarding the sale of horses. He says, in part:  "I think there will be allways [sic] a demand for them wheather [sicpeace with America or not." He relates a tale of mutton theft: "I have now 5 of the Negro men in [illegible] which I detected on Sunday Night with Mutton. I might find Mutton in allmost every House belonging to the negroes if I searched them in the Day, but being night when I wint [sicthere, the alarm spread, and all the [illegible] made away with what they had into the wood, except those that I searched their Houses first." Makes a comparison of slave life in Barbuda to Antigua. Upper edge is slightly soiled with some light chipping.

    Charles Forsyth Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 7.25" x 9", "Green hill Cottage," October 4, 1817 to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt. regarding his recent acquisition of land and titles from his uncle, Sir William Codrington, 2nd Bt. after the death of the latter's son (he disinherited his younger son in favor of the nephew). Scattered staining is found throughout. Small hole on the main vertical fold from opening at the wax seal resulting is some minor loss of text. Remnants of wax seal.

     W. H. Gale Autograph Letter Signed. One page, 8.25" x 9.25", Antigua, July 10, 1826, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt. regarding a fine of £50 levied against him "for having done nothing more than my duty in inflicting twelve lashes upon the woman Rose with confinement in the sick-house for one week." Light toning, else fine.

    Samuel Pearson Autograph Letter Signed. One page, 8" x 12.5", Antigua, December 1, 1828, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt. submitting his "application" for a job as "Manager and Attorney on your Windward Estates." The Codrington family owned several properties throughout the Lesser Antilles, both on the Leeward and the Windward Islands. Water stained at the right edge with no loss of text.

    Owen Pell Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 8" x 9.75", Antigua, December 4, 1828, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington Bt. trying to secure an appointment as attorney of Codrington's Windward estates . Contains Pell's credentials. Pell, an estate attorney in Barbados, claims that "There is no Plantation on the Island in better order in respect either to Land or Negroes than my own." Light water staining at the right edge has cause text to fade slightly, but it is still legible. Upper edge is chipped and there is a small hole on the main vertical fold from opening at the wax seal resulting is some minor loss of text.

    Meade H. Daniel Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 8" x 8.75", Antigua, December 5, 1828, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington Bt. thanking him for his numerous generosities and warning him against "Captain Haynes's excessive insincerity." Light water staining along the right edge, but not affecting the text. Small hole on the main vertical fold from opening at the wax seal resulting is some minor loss of text; ghosting from wax seal.

     

    Davison & Simpson Autograph Letter. Two pages, 7.75" x 9.75", London, January 25, 1829, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington Bt. as the representatives (professional reference) of Owen Pell expounding his virtues to try to garner an appointment for him  as estate attorney on Codrington's Windward estates. Light water staining along the right edge, but not affecting the text. Small hole on the main vertical fold from opening at the wax seal resulting is some minor loss of text; ghosting from wax seal.

     

    William Gleyas Autograph Letter Signed. Two pages, 7.25" x 9", Antigua, February 5, 1829, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington Bt. setting forth his qualifications as would-be estate attorney of Codrington's Windward estates. Gleyas is already an employee of Codrington's and blames his recent dismissal from another plantation on Capt. Haynes. "I have now served you twelve years as Overseer and Manager, and shall always feel most happy in serving you on your properties." Smoothed folds.

     

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 7.75" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]", January 7, 1833, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington Bt. of the condition of the sugar plantation Betty's Hope, including the slaves, local families, and the weather: "Our ponds are nearly empty and it is 18 Months since we had rain sufficient."

     

    There has been apparent anti-slavery activity on the island, centered in and around the largest city of St. John's, Antigua. Jarritt writes: "Tom Barnard and his family are behaving well, and I have had no cause to complain of them. The agitators in St. John's have not yet got hold of them. We have a mob [?] in Town under the Control of Loving and Scotland enough to cause revolt and bloodshed, it is wonderful the negroes behave as well as they do."

     

    Of a former employee of Codrington's (possibly a manager or overseer of one of the plantations), he remarks: "I am surprised at nothing from the Dean's; after your supporting him for the last 15 years, he had not the gratitude to pay common attention to your interest, but suffered your estate to go to ruin.If he had been a Man of Merit, many would have been glad to employ him, but after being so many years in the islands, he could not get a situation from any one and went home with his wife fit for nothing but to be a tool of the Anti Slavery Society." The Anti-Slavery Society was formed in Britain in 1823.

     

    He continues with a report on the latest crop of sugar and its profit. He concludes the letter with a postscript regarding two runaway slaves: "A Coloured Man.belonging to the Garden [Estate], of very bad character, has absconded, (no doubt sent by the party in Town) and it is said gone to England, as he is just such a one as Phillips would require. George Crump a Mason is missing from about the same time, he went away without any provocation. He's an accustomed runaway They are both bad characters, I have written to Mr. Liggins about them. The Scoundrels in town will not let the Negroes remain at rest. They are constantly stirring."

     

    Weakened folds are beginning to separate; small hole on the main vertical fold from opening at the wax seal resulting is some minor loss of text.

     

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 8" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," April 10, 1833, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington Bt. regarding the worsening drought and the activities of Parliament and the Anti-Slavery Society. Of the weather, he writes: "While our fate is hanging as it where [sic] by a thread in Parliament on the one hand, we are disturbed beyond measure on the other, by the long and apparently everlasting drought which continues without intermission, nor at present sign of a change. The want of water is seriously felt, many have sent four miles to by for a pail.Our springs have a little water in them, in the morning, but they are emptied before noon."

     

    In addition to "better weather," he also believes the island needs better times: "But whatever the decision of Parliament may be, it come as well to settle it at once, for the minds of all, white, Coloured[mulatto] & Black are excited, and our agitators have ample scope for their revolutionary doctrines.I have just recd. Mr. Liggins's refutation of the calumnies circulated by the Anti Slavery agency committee, a very able pamphlet; the west india body are much indebted to him."

     

    He describes the ill effect the weather is having on the sugar crop, but he remarks that, "Our Cattle notwithstanding the want of water are healthy, and the Negroes are increasing." He believes a conspiracy may be underway as he proclaims: "I am very certain there has been some foul play for the last two years in the in the number of unaccountable miscarriages that took place, which appears now to have stopped without any known cause. Our enemies have taken deep and hidden ways to ruin us.the Negroes at Barbuda to miscarry are sufficient proofs in my opinion."

     

    Light toning along the right edge with ghosting from the wax seal. Small hole on the main vertical fold from opening at the wax seal resulting is some minor loss of text.

     

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 7.75" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," February 8, 1833, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt. regarding the change of leadership in the islands. Jarritt shows nothing but disdain for outgoing Governor of Antigua , Sir Patrick Ross: "From the imbecility of Sir Patrick Ross, is to be ascribed solely the excesses so frequently committed by the mob in that town." Here Jarritt is referring to the Anti-Slavery Society and their activities in the town of St. John's. "We are all rejoiced to find he will shortly leave us. Sir Evan McGregor is expected out here as Governor of the leeward islands in April, and I hope he will shew [sicmore firmness, for the other appears to be afraid of our two infamous presses." However, he does express reservations on the appointment of McGregor: "If Sir Evan follows the same leveling system he has done in Dominica we shall not benefit much by the change, nor will he be much liked. There he associated with all Colours, and like Sir Patrick, gave them the preference on the vacancy of any post in the Militia."

     

    His talk turns to the slaves: "I am not aware of any of the Negroes being able to purchase their freedom, Wm. Gay excepted, and I do not believe he would accept it for nothing if he were obliged to leave the estate. He certainly would be very wrong to do so, for he is well aware how the free men live in St. John's." Here he begins to tell of another slave who wishes to marry, but the beginning is obscured by a hole which occurred when the wax seal tore the letter upon opening: ".Her to send out his manumission unconditional and I could get his Bond of £50 Sterg [Sterling] in case of his not performing his contract. As he wishes to marry a free woman, and cannot do so while his is a slave."

     

    He concludes the letter with a warning: "Revolution and anarchy are staring us in the face. The mob armed with deceit & flasehood govern the land. This cannot last long." Little does Jarritt know how right he is. Later that same year, Parliament would pass the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833. Light toning along the right edge with ghosting from the wax seal. Small tear on third page not affecting the text. Small hole on the main vertical fold from opening at the wax seal resulting is some minor loss of text.

     

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 7.75" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," July 5, 1833, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt. He begins with what must certainly be the sentiment shared by most men of "property": "We remain tranquil notwithstanding the promulgation of the absurd plan of Ministers, a plan that must fall to the ground from its impracticability. Sir Robt. Peel in his defence against Mr. [William] Cobbett says 'He felt convinced that whatever political differences might exist between public men, that all those who were possessed of property would unite in defending it (cheers)' And all property legally acquired must be thus defended.What is good for Sir Robert is good for the West indian. If the West indies are sacrificed, the national debt will be wiped off, the church ruined, and a republican government follow. We must hope for a better termination." For months Parliament had argued the idea of abolishing slavery in the colonies. Sir Robert Peel, a member of Parliament (and future Prime Minister), was a supporter of abolition with compensation to the planters to the tune of £20 million. Cobbett was against compensation on the grounds that if slaves were indeed property, Parliament had no reason to meddle with it and, if they were not property, no compensation would be necessary.

     

    With regard to the slaves, he writes: "Our negroes have set a good example. there is scarce any difference in their behaviour, others are unruly, insolent, and idle.I presented Edward George with his manumission that you were kind enough to send for him, also a Watch. he is thankful, and will no doubt return you his grateful acknowledgements.I hope he will conduct himself well. A man named Castillo at the new work has written to Mr. Liggins on the same subject, but I can by no means recommend him as worthy of such a favour. they have nothing but freedom in their heads, which they will soon be tired of. Some few of Croffords negroes have offered themselves to work, but I have not heard of any one employing them on account of their character. hunger begins to pinch them, the greater part are fed at the Customhouse, the whole of them are a nuisance to the country, and an expense to the tax ridden people of England."

     

    Staining from wax seal. Small holes at right edge with minor loss of text. Larger hole on the main vertical fold from opening at the wax seal resulting is some minor loss of text.

     

    William. H. Gale Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 8.25" x 12.5", Garden Estate [Antigua], March 30, 1834, to Thomas Warner, the editor of "The Antigua Herald", relating his side of the story in the punishment and mistreatment of one of his slaves. "Mr. Scotland," a magistrate on the island, has printed a version of the events in the paper "[Antigua] Free Press." Of the storyGale makes the following claim: "In that paper, the Editor by a liberal use of such terms as Cells - infant prisoners - Babes fed on Guinea corn and molasses &c &c endeavours to hold me up to public detestation as a monster of iniquity." With a signed note by Robert Jarritt, presumably to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt., conveying to him the letter. Smoothed folds, else fine.

     

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 8" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," May 5, 1834, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt. with regard to the latest crop. He informs the Baronet that rum will be sent to Dodington along with other goods, such as cashews, tamarinds, pepper, etc. He believes that one of the latest shipments of sugar was "robbed and plundered somewhere, but whether on board or after they were landed I cannot say."

     

    Of the slaves who are soon to be freed, he remarks: ".the negroes with the assistance of the [text obscured] estates are kept in tolerable subjection. But the quantity of work they do per day is much under what they ought to do.The assembly having got through the bill for the [text obscured] of Agricultural apprentices after much labor, is thrown out by the Council therefore all that time is lost, and I am afraid that on the arrival of the 1 Augt. which is very near, we shall be without proper laws to meet the change." Large hole near and along the vertical fold of the second page with chipping along the right edge, all from opening the letter at the wax seal. Significant loss of text.

     

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Two integral pages, 8" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," November 7, 1834, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt. regarding the situation on the plantation post-emancipation. He writes, in part:

     

    "We are doing our utmost with the small proportion of labor we get.I shall be glad to see the time when they will seek for employment like the English labourers, but they have less wants, more resources, and less inclination to work. The most ungovernable impudent set, I believe in the island are those at the Garden. the greater part have been turned away as they would not work.I suppose like those in Jamaica they will be leaving the Boiling house at sun down.We have at present not sufficient laws to govern them. some useful ones are now framing, and I hope we may now be seeing our worst."

     

    Light toning. Small hole near the main vertical fold from opening at the wax seal which does not affect the text.

     

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 8" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," August 12, 1835, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt. regarding the apparent laziness among the former slaves: "In my last I informed you that I was fearful of not being able to cut the few remaining canes we had. To accomplish that object.I collected all the negroes I could get from each [estate], and got them cut down. I could then get them to the mill & grind them off, but Saturday was the 1st August [being the one year anniversary of emancipation], they would not work altho the canes were at the mill door. Monday they would not come to work, they said they were then free as I was, and I must give them more wages. Tuesday a few came out, but did very little.there is no getting them to work in a shower of rain."

     

    He continues by criticizing emancipation and contrasting the "laziness" of the newly freed people with the industrial drive of the English: "Our crops this year have been tolerable, but they were not the result of freedom. they were prepared for and established before the ill working of emancipation. next year will be the first to produce the effects of our liberal policy. If England was soon brought from a state of Villainage, it was from the want the people were exposed to, they could not stand cold and hunger and nakedness. The negro knows not what cold is. he has no fuel to seek for to keep him warm. what he can live upon grows almost spontaneous, clothing never troubles him, he requires very little.he possesses not the spirit of industry so common in Englishmen, but follows the whole bent of his inclination, his nature as it appears, to Idleness, to sleep, to remain in a torpid state and when he is obliged to work, to do as little, and that as bad as it can be done. Englishmen take pride in their work, negroes abhor it."

     

    Adhesive ghosting from wax seal. Small hole near the main vertical fold from opening at the wax seal with some loss of text.

     

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 8" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," January 7, 1835, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt. regarding the happenings over the recent Christmas holiday, in part:

     

    "We have just passed a quiet, but very idle Christmas, Our laborers took Wednesday, the day before X'tmas, and did not return to work untill [sicthe Tuesday following. they then took Thursday the 1st Jany to go to Church to receive Testaments, eat Cakes & drink lemonade sing psalms and parade through the streets.The Admiral came in a few days ago, and sailed again at day light on Christmas morning. the troops in the island are not kept in idleness. It appears his Majesty's White Subjects are to work, and his Black ones do nothing.The outer islands are quiet, but they are doing very little. the West Indies are on the decline as fast as possible, and it is in vain to deny it."

     

    Light staining from the wax seal. Slight separation along the upper edge of the vertical fold from weakening. Small hole near the main vertical fold from opening at the wax seal with some loss of text. Remnant of wax seal still present.

     

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Four integral pages, 8" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," August 25, 1835, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt. regarding a devastating hurricane, ".the most destructive hurricane of any on record since 1772," that has struck the island. He describes the damage throughout the island, but especially on the plantations, in detail. He writes, in part: "The Garden [estate] from its low situation has suffered the least. the south end of the Boiling house is carried off, but not more than ten feet, and the water mill vanes are broke. the horse stable and one out building merely unthatched, while some very large trees are thrown down in the yard." The majority of the letter carries on in the same manner, describing the destruction at the plantations of Betty's Hope and New Work.

     

    Despite all that is happening, Jarritt cannot help but comment on the "laborers": "For three days after the storm the negroes did nothing but put up & cover their houses. untill [sicthis was done we could not collect the scattered lumber.At the Garden estate I am happy to say, they are behaving much better than they did before. they come out to work better. But on this estate they are doing as bad as they did at the Garden. These Whims & Caprices are their natural character when uncontrolled, and during which it delights them to see the properties suffer."

     

    Two large holes on the second page from opening at the wax seal causing significant text loss.

     

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 8" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," September 19, 1835, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt. giving an update on the island following the hurricane that struck less than one month earlier: "The people [the recently freed slaves] at the Garden are improving lately. they work better and turn out in larger numbers (I hope I do not praise them too soon) Those on this estate are as bad as they can be; altho I have tried every way to entice them, to encourage them, to humour them, and to indulge them, yet it has had no good effect..The Cotton people are a little better than they were, but far from deserving praise yet. The New Work are more steady. they turn out regular, but work very slow."

     

    He continues describing the rebuilding of the island's infrastructure, but he also reports the instance of a second ".hurricane at Barbados.very destructive to the shipping and also on land.the damage is supposed to be fully equal to what we have experienced here." On the neighboring island of Barbuda, the situation with the people is worsening: "I hear from Mr. Winter that the negroes at Barbuda had struck work again, demanding higher wages."

     

    Large hole near the main vertical fold from opening at the wax seal with some loss of text. Remnant of wax seal still present.

     

    Robert Jarritt Autograph Letter Signed. Three integral pages, 8" x 9.75", "Betty's Hope [Antigua]," November 28, 1835, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt. regarding an outbreak of yellow fever and dysentery on the island three months after a devastating hurricane has hit. "I am very glad up to this date that we have not had any English labourers come out here, altho there is no doubt if they were found sober, industrious, and used to agriculture, they would be valuable. But we should now be deploring their loss, for the yellow fever, prevalent for the last three months, has swept off all new comers; it has been particularly fatal to those of European Constitutions. And the Doctors use so much Calomel [mercury chloride] that if they do recover, the remedy is nearly as bad as the disease. Those that have escaped fever have been attacked with bowel complaint (Dysentery) not quite so dangerous as the former. The disease appears on the decline, and I hope will wear away. But to have fine healthy men come out, and be sent to an untimely grave, would be very distressing."

     

    Jarritt gives his recommendation to those Englishmen that do wish to emigrate to the islands to work: "Those that wish to enter West Indian labour, should be brought up to agriculture, they will plough, drive Cart.work in the boiling house or distill house.and as they may be required occasionally to act as overseers it is necessary that they should read and write. They must be sober if they value their lives, new Rum is poison. they must be civil to, but not familiar with the negroes. a line of distinction must be kept up, or they will degrade themselves.The next temptation to new Rum is the Sable beauties; if a man takes up with one of them, he must steal enough to support the whole family."

     

    He gives an update on the condition of the black residents of the island over one year after emancipation: "A whole Barbuda family I was obliged to turn off the estate. they would not work.the children were shocking objects of the effects of Freedom, devoured with Chigoes [a flea found in the tropics] & filth. I tried to reclaim them, but could not. The jail continues crowded, crime increases.a great many live on plunder, and will not work."

     

    Large 5" tear runs vertical from the upper edge on both pages with some minor loss of text on the second page. Small hole near the main vertical fold and along the right edge from opening at the wax seal with some loss of text.

     

    Autograph Letter. Three integral pages, 8.25" x 13.25", n. p., December 20, 1836, to Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt. discussing legality of merging estates upon the marriage of Codrington's son to the daughter of the 7th Duke of Beaufort. Includes information about the estates on Antigua. With holographic notations in pencil along the left margin of the first and second pages. Light toning along the lower edge. Ghosting from wax seal. Small hole near the main vertical fold from opening at the wax seal with no loss of text. Remnant of wax seal still present.

    Autograph Letter. Two pages, 8" x 10", Antigua, June 12, 1854, to Sir Christopher W. Codrington, Bt. the son of Sir Christopher Bethell-Codrington, Bt. regarding sugar duties and recent shipments of "juice" from the plantations in the West Indies. The letter is incomplete. Very light toning, else fine.

    Autograph Note. One page, 9.75" (width varies) x 3.75", n. p., n. d., regarding a tree the French call Galba and the Spanish call Santa Maria. The author remarks that using this wood, an evergreen called Calophyllum antillanum which is native to the Caribbean, "the French at Martinique make the best fences." Chipped along the edges with light, uneven toning.

    Circular. One partially-printed page, 7.75" x 11.75", in French. Issued by the French 27th Military Division of the Department of War. Staple holes along the left edge, else fine.

    Fair Copy of a Letter to the Minister of War. One page, 9" x 13.5", n. p., n. d., in French. Staple holes along the left edge, else fine.

    Invoice for Payment. One page, 8.25" x 4", n. p., n. d.

    Autograph Letter. Four integral pages, 8" x 13", n. p., n. d. Both the author and the recipient are unknown and the letter is incomplete. Contains information of several Caribbean islands on which the recipient has land, including Antigua, Barbuda, and Great Goat Island and Little Goat Island off the coast of Jamaica. Includes details concerning the wild horses on the island and the breeding of mules for the plantations. The author says he has forwarded information on the number of slaves on the island [Barbuda ?], the amount of fresh water (in the form of ponds and springs), and a sketch of the island.

     

    The author gives his opinion of the release of one Robert James, who has recently left the island, and the theft of sheep by some of the slaves. He states: ".he was a very Idle insolent man Indeed. And if you will please to permit me to give you my opinion.we have no use for any such man the negroes belonging to Barbuda know much better how to handle and manage the wild Horses of the Island than any.white man from Europe.your Interest would suffer very much for the want of a man that new [sicthe dispopotion [disposition] of your Negroes, their Haunts, Habits & Villages. I have done all in my power to put a stop to their milling of sheep but I am sorry that I cannot do it Effectually.I should have most sertainly [sichanged one of them on the spot as an Example to all the rest, but I recollected good Sir they were yr. property and.it might not prove agreeable to you. Why not Hang a Negro for stealing and killing a sheep.in Europe a white man would be Hanged that stole sheep.they do not mind whipping in any way."

     

    Lightly soiled at the left edge. Ink has bled through, but all text is still wholly legible. Folds have weakened and are beginning to separate at the edges.



    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2018
    18th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 619

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $250,000 (minimum $19), plus 20% of any amount between $250,000 and $2,500,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,500,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2020 October 27 Domain Names Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage Auctions and Mr. Chad Reingold were...professional and courteous in all transactions and provided outstanding service in answering my many emails. I recommend them at the highest level.
    Killy M.,
    Melbourne Beach, FL
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 June 10 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas
    2018 June 10 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $614,788