Founding date: 1651
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The original windmill is in excellent shape and still stands in front of the old estate house. The house itself is in disrepair, and is currently referred to as “The Stables”; is used as both a bar and a house of ill repute. The land surrounding the house and mill was extremely flat, ideal for the cultivation of sugarcane. Today, the only reference to Cassada Gardens is the nearby horse racing track and housing development.
The name Cassada appears to be a derivative from a cassava, a plant which produces large green leaves and a tuber that has long been a source of food from Aztec and Amerindian times. In the 1960s, a cassava factory in the south of Antigua (adjacent to the Claremont estate, #177) produced cassava flour and a coarser variety used to make farine, bambula, a local sweet bread with coconut, and cassava bread or cakes.
Estate Related History/Timeline
In Journal of A Lady of Quality, the author describes cassava cakes and the process to make them: “Cassava (commonly called Cassada) is a species of bread made from the root of a plant of the same name, by expression. The water, or juice, is poisonous, but the remaining part after being dried, pounded and baked on thick iron plates, is both wholesome and palatable, it is eaten dry or toasted, and it also makes excellent puddings which they send up buttered. I eat it, not only without fear, but with pleasure” (despite its poisonous reputation).
1651: “King Charles II appointed Major-General Poyntz, a former deserter from the Parliamentary power, to act as Governor of Antigua, which situation he filled until 1663, when Lord Francis Willoughby, of Parham, obtained a grant of the entire island from Charles II as a reward for his eminent services in the cause of that monarch; and Major-General Poyntz retired to Virginia. During the period this latter gentlemen resided at Antigua as Governor, he owned and planned an estate called by him Cassada Garden, a title which it still bears.” Antigua & The Antiguans.
There also exists a 1702 affidavit of John Wilson, a 60-year-old planter, confirming that on July 25, 1701, he began working as overseer on the plantation of Nathaniel Sampson, a merchant, called Cassada Garden. He worked at the plantation “two years and four months and planted five pieces (fields) of cane between the death of N. Sampson and that of his infant daughter Codrington Sampson.” “History of the Island of Antigua” by Vere Oliver, Vol.II.
In 1747, Abraham Redwood inherited one-half of Cassada Garden from his father, William Redwood, who had inherited the same property from his grandfather, Jonas Langford, in 1709. Abraham’s property apparently was in St. George’s parish. The other half of the original Cassada Garden estate was divided into quarters inherited by other members of the Redwood family . Abraham was from Rhode Island in the American colonies, and is famous for founding Newport, Rhode Island’s, historic Redwood Library in 1747 with 46 other Colonials, all of whom signed the Charter granted by Edward II. Mr. Redwood was President of the library from 1747 to 1788. The Redwood is the oldest continually operating lending library in the United States, and is still in its original building, completely renovated and modernized.
The architecture of the Newport, Rhode Island, library building was admired by U.S. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson when he visited Newport in 1790 in the company of President George Washington. Jefferson had been championing classical architecture as the model for government buildings in the new American Republic. Interestingly, the Court House in St. John’s, Antigua — now the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda — was designed by the very same architect, Peter Harrison, in 1750.
Nearly 135 years earlier, in 1613, Robert Redwood, “a good old Puritan, gave his house on the city wall (in Bristol) for a library. Alterations were finished in 1614 and Richard Williams, the Vicar, was appointed as the first librarian; the books were free to all citizens. This was, we believe, the first free library ever established in England.” Vere Oliver, Volume III.
The British Parliament finally abolished slavery in 1833, and awarded a legacy payment to Cassada Gardens (Antigua 103) of £2,856. 18s. 11p. for granting freedom to 197 enslaved people who had worked the plantation. The awardees were Langford Redwood, John Henry Roper, and James Trecothick the younger. Unsuccessful claimants were Abraham Redwood (the previous owner), William Cokes, and Francis Thwaites However, subsequently, Parliament awarded £636. 16s. 10p. (Antigua 104) to Abraham Redwood, of Newport, RI, and Langford Redwood for freeing another 33 slaves.
A typical example of an old plantation owner is the Shand family, which first owned Cassada Gardens in 1872, when Francis Shand took title to the property. The Shands were the quintessential example of the successful planter family. Francis Shand was a prominent estate owner in the 1830’s: as a member of the Antiguan Assembly he was vocal in his argument against apprenticeship and, like other large landowners at the time, was also a merchant, shipowner, and owner of an estate on Montserrat. His prominence enabled him to testify before the Select Committee in 1848 as to the healthy state of sugar production in Antigua. The Shand “empire” had grown substantially. In the early 1860’s, Francis and Walker Shand owned ten estates, totaling 2,400 acres, scattered across Antigua. They had called upon the Encumbered Estates Court to acquire three additional estates — Cassada Gardens, Donovan’s (#65) and Gunthorpe’s (#64) — and then bought two more, Tomlinson’s (#17) and Paynter’s (#61), directly from an individual owner. They also leased the Diamond (#87). Then, they hit hard times.
By 1868, he was living in England; it is assumed another member of the Shand family remained in Antigua to look after the family’s interests. After Francis died, his son, Charles Arthur Shand, assumed management responsibilities. In the tradition of wealthy planter families, Charles was educated at Harrow, in England, worked for a large Liverpool merchant company, and then came (or had been sent) to Antigua to look after the family’s plantations. By 1878, the Shand’s owned only two of their original ten estates — Fitche’s Creek (#67) and Cedar Valley (#42). They retained ownership of the other five they had purchased through the Encumbered Estate Court and an individual owner, giving them ownership of more than 3,700 acres of agricultural land, enabling the Shand’s to remain the second largest land owners on Antigua. As the island’s economy continued to decline, Charles Shand petitioned the court in 1888 to sell all seven remaining estates, which was completed in 1892. The seven estates were bundled as a package and sold for only £10,000, a trifle of their value mindful that Cassada Gardens, Donovan’s and Gunthorpe’s alone had sold for £6,500 during their first pass through the court a few years earlier. The package of seven Shand estates was purchased by G. A. Macandrew, a merchant based in Liverpool, apparently the Shand’s agent. He also had long ties to Antigua; had replaced the Shands as lessor of the Diamond estate by 1878 and owned it by 1891. However, the Shands apparently did not relinquish total control because the estates were still listed as Shand properties in 1897, when they went into receivership.
Charles Arthur, meanwhile, became a member of the local Legislative Council and was appointed one of Antigua’s representatives to the Leeward Island Legislative Council. He also was on its Executive Council as of March 1895, and listed himself as manager of Fitche’s Creek in 1897 and as proprietor in petitions signed in 1898 and 1899. However, by 1902
In 1940, ownership of Shand properties shifted to a new line of estate owners. According to recorded minutes, a new company called Antigua Sugar Estates reissued 18,000 shares at £1 apiece to three members of the DuBuissons family: James Memoth DuBuisson, Mrs. Edith Manus DuBuisson, and William Herman DuBuisson, as swell as Alexander Moody-Stuart and Judith Gwendolyn Moody-Stuart. George Moody-Stuart was offered shares, but declined.
The estates to be controlled by the new company were Gunthorpe’s, Cassada Gardens, Paynter’s (#61), Tomlinson’s (#17), Fitche’s Creek (#67), Donovan’s (#65), Gunthrope’s (#64) North Sound (#66), Cedar Valley (#42), Galley Bay (#30) and Five Islands (#31).
“In 1941/42 the U.S. Base hired many Antiguans and they would pass Cassada Gardens on their way to work early in the morning. On their way they would each pick up an armful of cane off the pile awaiting loco transfer to the factory. Mr. Colin Spencer who was slight in stature and the manager, recently arrived from Barbados, told them to stop stealing the cane and they in turn threatened him. Mr. Spencer went to the police and ther next day, under Rupert James, the police hid in the cane fields and jumped the men when they attempted to pick up the cane. They were able to catch four of them which they took to jail. In those days the pay in the fields was $65 dollars a month and one pound was the equivalent of $4.80 and there was big money to be had at the Navy Base.” Elsie Spencer Memories ……
August 1, 1943, Gunthorpe’s Estates Ltd. was restructured into a new company renamed Antigua Syndicate Estates Ltd. The original company had purchased for £30,700 Cassada Gardens, Cedar Valley, Fitches Creek and North Sound. Delap’s was bought for £7,734.
By 1945, Cassada Gardens “had an excellent breed of horses, and the stables were one of the best on the estates. Races were held at the Cassada Gardens race track at least four times a year: Easter Monday, Whit Monday, August Monday and Boxing Day. The Gomes boys from Betty’s Hope were the leading jockeys. Two to three times a week it was my job as a boy to ride a donkey to Parham for fresh fish and I would mount it off the gallery which was raised without a railing. One day I leapt off only to find the donkey had moved and I landed flat on my ‘arse.’ This did not stop the donkey; it took off straight to Parham without me that day. “
Lawrence Royer Memories ..…
Three-to-four races continue to be held annually by the Antigua & Barbuda Turf Club (2016).
Other interesting facts:
Labor riots in 1918 prompted bands of men to stop cane cutters from working on Cassada Gardens as well as Morris Looby’s (#141), Donovan’s (#65) and Millar’s (#59).
In 1941, the Antigua Sugar Factory’s returns were estimated at 6,362 tons from 317.5 acres, with 98 acres of peasant land on the Cassada Gardens estate. Total: 5,363 tons, estimated at 16.30 tons/acre.
In 1969, Lapp & Others are listed as the owners of Cassada Gardens. Lapp & Company consisted of V. C. Bird, Antigua’s first Prime Minister, Eustace Cockran, Bradley Carrott and Austin Lapps. Selvyn Walter.
“Fore-go” by Mary Geo Quinn
“In the days when sugar was king, the post of Fore-go. Was a prized and coveted one on each estate. Not given out of favour or for vain show, But to the one who could cut cane at the fastest rate. To the Fore-go fell the vital task of setting. The pace at which work was to be done. The Fore-go had to have the knack of getting Workers to work steadily in hot sun. ”
Mary’s poem goes on to state how Millie was sent with a crew to clean out an estate house and among the rubble found a gun which she kept in her pocket. The Antigua Trades & Labour Union were agitating for everyone to strike against a new way of paying cutters (by weight instead of by row), and when the AT&LU arrived at Cassada Gardens brandishing placards and tools, Millie stood up to the picketers. They forced their way into the fields, but Millie brandished her gun and the frightened men fled. The gun, however, was a mere toy discarded by a child.
Papers, correspondence and plans, Redwood Cassada Gardens, Antigua No. 29. Held by the National Archives (UK) Colonial Office. Ref #C)441/6/9.
Enslaved People’s History
Based on contemporary research, we have little information to share about the enslaved peoples from this plantation at this time. What is known is that when the British Parliament finally abolished slavery in 1833, and awarded a legacy payment to Cassada Gardens (Antigua 103) of £2,856. 18s. 11p. for granting freedom to 197 enslaved people who had worked the plantation. Subsequently, Parliament awarded £636. 16s. 10p. (Antigua 104) to Abraham Redwood, of Newport, RI, and Langford Redwood for freeing another 33 slaves. We will continue our quest for more information about these vital individuals.
- Early ownership by John Sampson
- 1651: Major General Poyntz
- 1671: Samuel Jones, 500 acres in North Sound Division to Jonas Langford. In that same year, Francis Sampson of Antigua, “in consideration of 70,000 lbs. of Muscovado sugar, hath sold to
- Jonas Langford a moiety of a plantation about 1,000 acres in St. John’s division called Cassava Gardens, bounded E(ast) by land of Timothy Snapes, N(orth) by Capt. Giles Blizard, W(est) by Sir Sidenham Poynts, S (outh)by Col. Bastian Bayer.”
- 1679: John Sampson of London sold to Captain Samuel Jones, “a plantation granted by William Lord Willoughby to my father of 500 acres in New North Sound.”
- 1679: Jonas Langford. He purchased the land, 1,000 acres, from John Sampson of London for £10,000.
- 1701: Nathaniel Sampson d. 1701
- 1709: William Redwood, inherited one-half of Cassada Gardens plantation from his grandfather, Jonas Langford. d. October 31, 1709
- 1750: Honorable Abraham Redwood.
- 1788: Abraham Redwood (1777/78 map by cartographer John Luffman.)
- 1829: J. L. L. Redwood
- 1851: Heirs of J. L. L. Redwood. 598 acres
- 1850c: Mr. Ledeatt inherited from his Godfather Redwood
- 1872: Francis Shand. 699 acres
- 1891: Heirs of Francis Shand
- 1921: Dubuisson & Moody-Stuart
- 1933: Dubuisson & Moody-Stuart
- 1969: Lapp and others