Type: Extant
Parish: St.George
Founding date: 1680
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Current Status:

A mill still exists on this site along with the cattle pen, several walls and there are several large ponds now filled with pink water lilies. When Gunthorpe’s converted to steam it was combined with Donovan’s. To the North West is Weir’s estate, to the North East is Blackman’s and Cedar Hill (Lower), and to the South is North Sound. Today directly South of the estate is the Sir Viv Richards Cricket Stadium. Thomas Vaughan 600 forever paying an ear of Indian corn. Governor Col. James

Estate Related History/ Timeline

(1679 -1680): Col. James Vaughan to Mr. Duncombe & Hannah his wife, sale of 500 acres at St. John’s.” Vere Oliver Vol.III p.171

1680: “Walter Symonds of Nevis, Esq., sells to Col. James Vaughn 600 acres in Antigua.”

1681: Will of James Vaughn (d.1683). “Inventory of debts due as appears by my books, 450 acres in the Body, 20 negroes and 3 pickaninnies as per list.”

1715: Capt. John Otto Baijer owned the plantation now called Donovan’s, formerly Vaughan’s, in St. George’s parish. The letters BOB are carved over a door evidently to record the year the house was built by Baijer Otto Baijer, Esq. There is a very substantial windmill still on the estate and a walled family graveyard probably built by the Donovans, but there are no traces of any gravestones.” Vere Oliver Vol.I p.22

1730: “Frances Vaughn in 1730 recovered her grandfather’s plantations in Antigua” (Oliver 171). Indenture with Frances Vaughn. “All the lands that was Roger Williams plantation containing 470 acres or 500 acres in St. John’s and New Division in Antigua bounded N. with the lands sold by James Vaughn to Thomas Duncombe, S. with the lands formerly belonging to Luke Child & John Cohen, now or late in the possession of Wlm. Horne, W. with the lands formerly of one Fletcher, now in possession of Samuel Martin, Esq., E. with the lands formerly of John Lucas and John Traverse but now in the possession of Edward Byam Jun., Esq.”

1785: Rowland Otto-Baijer sold `Vaughan’s’ to James Donovan in 1785. Carved on the mill are the initials “B.O.B.” Bastion Otto Baijer (father). V. Oliver’s Vol.I p.19

1829: This Estate contained 247 acres and 154 slaves. £2,474 16 s 10 d with 162 enslaved. Records show ‘no name’ awardee and that Richard Donovan was the previous owner.

1837: “Francis Shand of Woolton Wood near Liverpool, West India Merchant, owned large estates in Antigua. In 1837 he married Lydia Byam of Cedar Hill at St. Georges.” Vere Oliver Vol.III p.78. The Encumbrance Estate Act took place in London. Donovan’s Estate in the Parish of St. George on the island of Antigua, containing 247 acres for £1500. The purchaser was Mr. Francis Shand of Liverpool. Donovan’s Estate was managed by Mr. Watkins (colored). “We found the sugar works in active operation; the broad wings of the windmill were wheeling their steady revolution, and the smoke was issuing dense volumes from the chimney of the boiling house. Some of the negroes were employed in carrying the cane to the mill, others carrying away the trash or megasse as the cane is called after the juice is expressed from it. Others, chiefly the old men and women, were tearing the megasse apart and strewing it on the ground to dry. It is the only fuel used for boiling the sugar. On entering the house we found three planters whom Mr. W. had invited to breakfast with us. The meeting of a number of intelligent practical planters afforded a good opportunity for comparing their views. On all the main points touching the working of freedom, there was a strong coincidence. When breakfast was ready, Mrs. W. entered the room and after our introduction to her, took her place at the head of the table. Her conversation was intelligent, her manners highly polished, and she presided at the table with admirable grace and dignity.” Emancipation in the West Indies by James A. Thome.

1777-1892: Papers, Correspondence and Plans. Scott: Donovan’s: Antigua: No.27. Held at The National Archives (UK) – Colonial Office – Ref.#CO 441/6/6 and CO 441/6/7 The Two Donovan’s, father and son, wrote to the Home Government slandering the Courts of Judicature at Antigua, and to this accusation, Chief Justice Burton refuted: “That Mr. Jas. Donovan, when he knew him, was a clerk in the Marshal’s Office, then set up a huckster’s shop for the sale of rum, sugar, and provisions (often stolen by slaves from their masters and sold to him), and so acquired money to purchase the estate he now possesses. Mr. Geo. Donovan, his son is of the Bar at Antigua and was committed to prison for trying to get witnesses to perjure themselves, and for libel.” The Assembly also called the elder Donovan, “an obscure, illiterate individual without competent means, and risen from poverty to wealth.”

1851: Antigua Almanac shows Donovan’s 247 acres belonging to Heirs of J. Donovan The Encumbered Estates Act 1854 and 1858. Below is a case that was put before the courts in England regarding Donovan’s which also gives a little history regarding the line of descent of the Donovan family. Because the cases were heard in London, West Indians felt that it was not in their favour and many cases were heard without proper representation. In this case, a conditional order for the sale of an estate called “Donovan’s”, on the island of Antigua had been made. This estate formerly belonged to James Donovan, who died in 1811, having by his will devised it to his son, Richard Donovan, for life, with remainder (as events happened) to James Hancock Donovan for life, with an ultimate remainder (after certain limitations which failed) to Richard Donovan in fee. Richard Donovan, by his will, devised the estate to his daughter, Caroline Scott, for life, with remainder to her first and other sons entail. Richard Donovan died in 1816, and James Hancock Donovan died about 1834; Caroline Scott died, leaving the eldest son, Honeywood Scott, who was the present owner. On the death of Richard Donovan in 1816, a suit was instituted in the Island Court of Chancery on behalf of James Hancock Donovan (then an infant), and a receiver was appointed. Another suit was instituted in 1833 for the purpose of ascertaining the priorities of certain incumbrances affecting the estate, and much litigation took place, resulting in an appeal to the Privy Council. By an order of the Privy Council, made in 1839, it was declared that Messrs. Shand had a first charge on the estate for a sum exceeding £10,000, in priority to certain legatees under the will of James Donovan, who claimed legacies amounting to about £3,700. The estate had been in the hands of a receiver from 1816 to the present time, and the proceeds had been applied in keeping down the interest of the above charges, and in reducing to a certain extent the debt of Messrs. Shand, but the balance due in respect of that debt amounted to more than £6,000, and the legacies were unpaid. Nothing had been received by any person claiming as the owner for a great many years, the estate having been administered by the receiver for the benefit of the encumbrancers alone. In January 1865, Messrs. Shand, the first encumbrancer, being desirous of obtaining payment of the principal of their debt, petitioned for a sale, and a conditional order was accordingly made. APPENDIX. 7 Mr. Heagan, who claimed under one of the above-named legatees, thereupon filed a notice of opposition to the conditional order, on the ground that a sale would be unjust and inexpedient, and he also presented a petition under the 12th General Rule for the transfer of the proceedings to the Court of the Local Commission, and both the above matters now came on for hearing. It was contended on behalf of Mr. Heagan, on the petition for transfer, that the legatees whom he represented resided in the island, and were unable to incur the expense of retaining agents or solicitors in England, and that, as Messrs. Shand were obliged to keep agents in the island, it could be no disadvantage to them to conduct the proceedings in the Local Court. On the second question, the opposition to the conditional order, Mr. Heagan contended that there was no case for a sale, as the estate was, in favorable times, capable of “paying its way,” i.e., of keeping down the interest of the incumbrances, and that it had only failed to do so during the last three years, in consequence of the exceptional drought. On behalf of Messrs. Shand, it was urged on the first point that, as petitioners, they had a right to choose their own Court, on the second point, they had a right to call for payment of their principal as well as their interest. If the present system were continued, the risk would be theirs while the benefit (if any) would accrue to others. It appeared by the evidence that the expense of passing the receiver’s accounts of this estate in the Island Court of Chancery amounted annually to £150, but that owing to some reform which had been introduced, it was hoped that in future it might be done for £90. Waddy appeared for Mr. Heagan. Archibald Smith appeared for Mr. Shand; the petitioner. The following sales under the West India Encumbered Estates Court took place in London on Tuesday: Donovan’s Estate in the parish of St George, on the island of Antigua, containing 247 acres, for £1500. The purchaser was Mr Francis Shand of Liverpool. Ref: Liverpool Mercury Thursday, 23 November, 1865. The Shands were bankrupt by the mid-1890s and sold Cassandra Gardens and Donovan’s as a package for £10,000. It was purchased by G.A. Macandrew, a merchant based in Liverpool who had been the Shand’s agent. Macandrew had ties in Antigua that went quite far back and he had replaced the Shands as the lessor of the Diamond Estate in 1878 and owned it by 1891.

The Lancastrian, a barque of 443 ft. was built in 1861 and beached in 1881 and was partially owned by Robert and George Gray MacAndrew (also Liverpool) during its tenure. This period ties into approximately the same era that GA/GG Macandrew was in Antigua and the following clip on the history of the boat states. “The Lancastria set sail again for Antigua in June of 1878, arriving back in Liverpool in early October.” It was however, while she lay at anchor in Antigua harbor in February 1879 that an incident occurred that was reported to the Royal Humane Society in London. This was on the occasion of a medal being presented to Charles William Scott, for the heroic rescue from the drowning of a fellow shipmate. The report read as follows: “On the 18th of last February Thomas H. Botham, of the barque Lancastria, which was then lying in Antigua Harbour, was conveying some hogsheads of sugar in a boat from the ship to the shore, accompanied by Scott, when the former by some means got capsized into the water. He was unable to swim, and must inevitably have been drowned had not Scott, who had much difficulty in extricating himself from a dangerous position between the hogsheads and the side of the boat, after receiving severe injuries, gone to his assistance. With the aid of one of the oars he succeeded in obtaining a hold of the drowning man, and then, supporting him, swam to the shore where both were picked up much exhausted.”

1918: During the riots of 1918 bands of men stopped cane cutters at Morris Looby’s, Donovan’s, Millar’s, and Cassandra Garden.

1940: The Antigua Sugar Estates had reissued 18,000 shares at £1 each to three DuBuissons (James Memoth DuBuisson, Mrs. Edith Manus DuBuisson, and William Herman DuBuisson), Alexander Moody-Stuart, and Judith Gwendolyn Moody-Stuart. This signaled the final shift to the next generation, as George Moody-Stuart was offered shares but declined (Antigua Syndicate Estates minutes, 4 January 1940; 1 May 1940). The estates to be controlled by the new company were the “Gunthorpe’s” estates: Cassada Garden, Paynter’s, Tomlinson’s, Fitche’s Creek, Donovan’s, Gunthorpe’s, North Sound, Cedar Valley, Galley Bay, and Five Islands.

Rupert ‘Myson’ James of Parham was born at Donovans in 1929, and as was common in those days was raised by foster parents and not by his birth mother or father. His mother worked as a domestic and worked two weeks before getting a Sunday off. His father was a mule cart driver. In those days oxen, which were castrated bulls, and mules were used to pull the carts packed with cane, and wages were paid in pounds, shillings, and pence, the currency of the times. If it was a good week and they made 15s, they would say “They hit the bull.” During crop time, everyone helped everyone to cut and pack the cane but they didn’t go home at night. They stayed in the negga hut which before 1831 were the old slave huts. In order to make ends meet, that was not the only work they did, but would keep cows to sell the milk and work a ‘negga groun”. There they would plant cane, yams, pumpkins, potatoes etc… some of which they kept to eat, sell some if they could, or swop some with a neighbor for a piece of meat if that neighbor had killed a pig or a goat. In those days everybody fished so there was always fish for the pot. Fish pots in those days were made from bamboo and the men would sit in the moonlight and plait the bamboo. Others later used the wire. The pots were marked with a buoy made from light wood attached to a collar made from wood from the mangrove and this was attached to the pot. No one stole in those days; maybe take a fish or two if they were going to cook up lunch on one of the islands, but your pot was safe. When you dropped it you took your bearings on the land, lining up two landmarks in two directions so once you lined these up you could find your pot even if the buoy was gone. The fishermen usually had someone to sell their fish for them, like ‘the Reefer” or Uncle Ben, who had a fisherwoman from Freeman’s village to sell for him, Miss Humphreys. The name given to this job was a ‘whaler.’ She would get her fish for dinner plus 1 d. off on every pound of fish she sold. The next week when she came to pick up her fish she would pay what she had collected from the previous week and this money was put away as box money. There were no banks for poor people, so we had someone hold the box and everything was recorded in a book – when you needed money you could draw from the box. Village Memories by Precision Center.

Enslaved People’s History

Based on contemporary research, we have little information to share about the enslaved peoples from this plantation at this time. We do know that the will of James Vaughn (d.1683), written in 1681, includes: “Inventory of debts due as appears by my books, 450 acres in the Body, 20 negroes and 3 pickaninnies as per list.” We also know that the estate contained 247 acres and 154 enslaved people in 1829, and it also was awarded £2,474 16 s 10 d for the liberations of 162 enslaved peoples later that year. We will continue our quest for more information about these vital individuals.

Ownership Chronology

  • 1750 Rowland Otto Baijer
  • 1777 John Donovan – 1777/78 Luffman map known as ‘Ottos’
  • 1785 James Donovan d.1811
  • 1811 Richard Donovan d.1816
  • 1829 James H. Donovan b.1810 on the estate
  • 1851 Heirs of James H. Donovan
  • 1865 Francis Shand (1800-1868) Encumbered Estates Act
  • 1872 Horsford Almanac (went into receivership 1897)
  • 1873 Francis Shand
  • 1921 Dubuison & GM & AM Moody-Stuart
  • 1933 Heirs of Dubuisson & Moody-Stuart (1933
  • 1939 The Antigua Syndicate Estates, Ltd.
  • 1977 Janet Bailey buff house
  • 1870’s (c)George A. Macandrew b.1869

References: Legacies of British Slave-ownership www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/search/ Antigua 346