Founding date: 1687
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The magnificent sugar mill on this plantation stood water-side on the northwestern tip of Antigua, where the Caribbean and the Atlantic shake hands. A rock formation known as “Boone’s Chair” had been carved out of the rock by early settlers, enabling local Carib Indians to sit and look at the intersection of the two seas.
A prominent rumor among the settlers was “that before you could sit in the chair, you had to make the sign of the cross and pay some money or you would suddenly be forced out of that chair and into the ocean by a spirit, so whenever I follow Affie Goodwin (Duer’s estate) to sit in the chairs, we would make the sign of the cross and pay a penny or two.” The “Chair” disappeared centuries later with the construction of the Blue Waters Hotel in 2003. Smith, Keithlyn B. & Fernando, C.; “To Shoot Hard Labour“.
The mill’s location was spectacular, enabling residents of the estate (now guests at the hotel) to view ships coming and going; a suggestion that those early residents most likely enjoyed a rich bounty from the sea.
The location also would have enabled the mill to benefit from the trade winds which turned its enormous sails to rotate the large sugar cane crushing rollers below. As of 1817, under the continued ownership of John Delap-Halliday, the estate still consisted of 85 acres, with labor provided by 101 slaves.
The mill remains in reasonably good shape today despite its age, still shows some of the exterior rendering over the limestone blocks, a finish plaster of sorts applied during construction to protect the soft limestone.
The area around the mill now features a number of private residences as well as an extension of the Blue Waters Hotel, so the mill no longer dominates the landscape.
“On the 12th (of September), Capt. Francis Burton issued a Warrant to the aforesaid Chapman to apprehend the Body of the said William Boone, and carry him to the Fort till he should be discharged by the Governor; the Fort being about five Miles from W. Boone’s house.”So the said Boon submitted, took his Leave of his Wife and Children, and was sent to Prison, where he remained five Weeks and five Days, and underwent great Hardship, for he was grievously bitten by Vermin, and through much Wet and cold was so denumbed, that he was almost like dead Man. The Governor being applied to, protested that he would not release him til he had paid Charles Goss.
“On the 14th, the Governor with the Council and Assembly came to the Fort, where Boone’s Wife and Children were then with him. But, though many spake on his Behalf, and the Governor’s Brother, in Compassion to Boone’s Family, would have had him released, nothing could be done; for Mallet had so incensed the Governor with false Accusations against Boone, that he would not release him saying, He could do Nothing of himself . . . Nevertheless, after forty Days the said Field-Marshall Goss came to Boone’s House, and took away a Cow big with Calf, which he would not willingly have sold for 3000lb of Tobacco, and having led away the Cow Boone was set at liberty.” Vere Oliver, History of Antigua & Antiguans, Vol. I
Estate Related History/Timeline
In 1774, John Halliday owned seven plantations, including two of the most important, Boone’s and Weatherill’s (#5), in St. John’s Parish. The Halliday family is of old covenanting stock and has figured in the history of Scotland, County Galloway, since the sixteenth century. John was born earlier in the 18th century, the nephew of William Dunbar, son-in-law of Francis Delap. He was Antigua’s Customer Collector of 4 1/2% export duty from 1759 to 1777. He served in the island’s Assembly from 1755 to 1757 and again in 1761, and apparently had large mansions on at least five of his plantations.
A meal, served at one of Halliday’s homes was “extremely pleasant, and so cool one might forget that they were under the Tropick. We had a family dinner which in England might figure away in a newspaper had it been given by a Lord Mayor, or the first Duke in the Kingdom. “I have seen Turtle almost every day, and tho’ I never could eat it at home, am vastly fond of it here, where it is indeed a very different thing. You get nothing but old ones there, the chickens being unable to stand the voyage; even these are starved, or at best fed on coarse and improper food. Here they are young, tender, fresh from the water, where they feed as delicately, and as great Epicures as those who feed on them. “They laugh at us for the racket we make to have it divided into different dishes. They make but two, the soup and the shell. The first is commonly made of old Turtle, which is cut up and sold at Market, as we do butcher meat. It was remarkably well dressed to day. The shell indeed is a noble dish as it contains all the fine parts of the Turtle baked within its own body; here is the green fat, not the slobbery thing my stomach used to stand at, but firm and more delicate than it is possible to describe. Could an Alderman of true taste conceive the difference between it here and in the city, he would make the Voyage on purpose, and I fancy he would make a voyage into the other world before he left the table. “The method of placing the meat is in three rows the length of the table; six dishes in a row, I observe is the common number. On the head of the centre row stands the turtle soup, and at the bottom of the same line the shell. The rest of the middle row is generally made of fishes of various kinds, all exquisite. “At Mr. Halliday’s we had thirty two different fruits . . . yet in the midst of this variety the Pineapple and the Orange still keep their ground and are preferred.” Janet Shaw, “Journal by A Lady of Quality”.
Aubrey J. Camacho, a Portuguese from Madeira, landed in Antigua about 1878, and immediately began buying established estates. He initially owned two (Bellevue #36 and Briggins #22) totaling 967 acres, but within three years he also owned Langford’s (#6), Mt. Pleasant (#7), Dunbar’s (#8), Otto’s (#16), Wood’s (#12) and Jonas’s (#85), adding an additional 2,000 acres to his holdings, all within the confines of St. John’s Parish His son, John J. Camacho, assumed ownership of the Boone’s Estate about 1900. He was a Catholic and suffered the embarrassment of being married in the Anglican cathedral because there was no Catholic Church on Antigua. Mr. Camacho was described as “the most powerful and wealthiest Antiguan in his time. He had ten sons (his own cricket team!) and one daughter, who married Lee Westcott Sr. (Camacho) was responsible for starting the Ovals Cricket, Football and Tennis Clubs because the English Whites refused to allow the Portuguese to join either the Antigua Cricket Club (Recreation Grounds) or their tennis club located on the premises now occupied by The Lion’s Club.” Selvyn Walter, “Not A Drum was Heard”.
Boone’s Great house had been constructed of beautiful white cut stones by slaves. As its owner in the early 1900s, Camacho had the building painstakingly dismantled, the white stones cleaned, and carefully moved them to Church Street to a location he had donated to the Catholic Church. The edifice became St. Joseph’s Cathedral, which was badly damaged during the earthquake of 1974, and a new Cathedral was commissioned by the Church around 1998.
The architect for the new building was Richard McCullogh, the site chosen for the modern Cathedral was east of Michael’s Mount below Mt. St. John Medical Center. The old church was allowed to deteriorate, but may be part beneficiary in the renovation of the entire block, which also encompasses Government House (2015).
Mr. Camacho and his wife, Mary Gomez, also owned the Millar’s estate (#59), which was seconded to the United States during World War II. The Camacho’s had no children, donating most of their £52,624 estate to the Catholic Church.
The British abolished slavery in 1833, and the British Parliament gave a legacy award (Antigua 1) to Boone’s of £1,437. 4s. 1p. for granting freedom to 108 enslaved. The awardee was John Tollemache; the beneficiaries deceased were Daniel Hill and Vice Admiral John Richard Delap Tollemache. Unsuccessful were Daniel Hill, George Wickham Washington Ledeatt and William Lee.
Enslaved People’s History
Based on contemporary research, we have little information to share about the enslaved peoples from this plantation at this time. When the the British abolished slavery in 1833, Boone received £1,437. 4s. 1p. as an award for granting freedom to 108 enslaved. They probably had at maximum 108 people working at that plantation. Another fact of interest is that the Boone’s Great house had been constructed of beautiful white cut stones by slaves. We will continue our quest for more information about these vital individuals.
- Ownership prior to 1678, Walter Burke
- 1670: William Boone, planter. On Antigua 1665, still living in 1710
- 1672: William Boone, still living in 1685; leased 10 acres from Ralph Haskins, also a planter
- 1676: William Boone, a Quaker, was imprisoned by Major Thomas Mallet
- 1678: On May 20, Walter Burke, a planter, sold 20 acres to William
- Boone, a planter and Quaker. In the census of Antigua taken in
- 1678, William Boone had four white men, two white women, and
- three white children “in family, with one negro.”
- 1700: William Boone married Mary Ronan
- 1715: Samuel Boone Will dated 1716.
- 1717: The Tortola census, taken in November, shows William Boone as
- born in Antigua, with “one woman and fifteen negroes.”
- 1733: Joseph Boone married Rachell Soanes He died 1750.
- 1740: Colonel William Dunbar d. 1749.
- 1760: John Delap-Halliday Owned 85 acres. (1749-1779/80c)
- 1788: Admiral John Halliday Tollemache (1777/78 map by cartographer John Luffman.)
- 1790: John Delap-Halliday (1749-1780) 85 acres.
- 1852: John Tollemache (1805-1890)
- 1872: Charles Crosbie
- 1878: G. John Crosbie
- 1891: The heirs of Colonel Crosbie
- 1900c: John J. Camacho (d. 1929)
- 1940c: Lee H. Westcott Sr
- 1960: Blue Waters Hotel, built by O. (Keltic) Kelsick, the only Antiguan squadron leader in the Royal Air Force during World War II
- 2000: The heirs of Lee Westcott d. 2012.
- 2003: The mill site is sold to Blue Waters Hotel