Type: Extant
Parish: St.Philip
Founding date: 1700
See on Google Maps!

Mill at Gaynor’s as it presently stands

Current Status

The mill still stands totally ensconced in bush and the chimney denotes that this estate later converted to steam.   The house was on the highest ground overlooking most of the estate and Nonsuch Bay to the east.  The road coming in from the Newfield side, wound round and up the base of the hill to the front steps.  Gaynor’s was built on one level with the gallery on the east side level with the lawn.  As with most estate houses, the central area consisted of the dining and living room with bedroom wings on either side.  As was also customary, there was an area designated as a ‘fernery’ which in this case was off the front gallery built with stone steps covered by a slatted roof which was always damp, cool and mossy.  The front lawn was shaded by a large tree, the rain gauge was at the foot of the garden on the open lawn and a small copse was to the right.

         There is nothing left of the house at all, not even rubble stone and a rather ugly concrete block two story structure was in the process of being built near to the site which was never completed and essentially abandoned.

Estate Related History/ Timeline

         The closest estates were Colin’s and Lyons, and at that time Gaynor’s was comprised of Goble’s, Elms, Retreat and The Grange.

         Gaynor’s sits at the end of Nonsuch Bay.   The ship “Nonsuch”, Capt. Middleton, Master, arrived at Antigua in 1647, which gave the name to Nonsuch harbour, where he anchored.

In 1957 Syndicate Estates purchased Gaynor’s which contained 67 acres, Gobles of 227 acres, Elms Creek of 161 acres and The Grange of 36 acres, for the sum of $43,200.

All of the above estates were owned by F.J. Goodwin, brother to RSD Goodwin of Colins Estate.

         “Patrick Gaynor, better known among his neighbours by the name Peter Big Brogues, from the enormous shoes he was mounted in on the day he set out on his travels.   Peter acquired an immense fortune and lived to see his only (surviving) child (Mary) married to Sir Geo. Colebrook, Chairman of the East India Co. and a banker in London to whom Peter gave with his daughter, 200,000 pounds.”                  History of the Island of Antigua by Vere Oliver Vol.II.

1737: Peter Gaynor buried in St. John’s died Oct. 4th 1738.   “Peter Gaynor Will 1737 owned Creek Plantation , Gaynor’s Windward Plantation but now or lately the Mangrove Plantation, and Colebrook’s or the Windward Estate.”  Vere Oliver Vol.II P.C2   He was from Ireland.

         Sir James Edward Colebrooke sold his estates on Antigua to John Adams Wood, the ‘owner of Mary Prince c.1832.  He sold the Gaynor estates which had come to his family through the marriage of his father Sir George Colebrook and Mary Gaynor in 1754.  Peter Gaynor reportedly gave £200,000 to Sir George Colebrook and Mary Gaynor on their marriage. He received compensation for slave ownership on estates Colebrook’s Antigua 263 £2,230.14s and Brecknock’s Antigua 93 £989 19s 1d.     Legacies of British Slave-ownership.

         Burnthorn Musgrave, was first a sugar planter in Antigua, and then a clergyman of the Reformed Episcopal Church of America, was born in Antigua, March 11, 1823.  In 1825 he is shown as the owner of Herbert’s and Drew’s Hill and in 1856 he was appointed to be a Member of Council of the Island of Antigua.

1761: Rowland Hamilton Esq. of Gaynors and Hamiltons buried 4 April 1761.   Vere Oliver Vol.II p.52.  (not necessarily owner, but living there)

1851: The Antigua Almanac shows Gaynor’s of 67 acres belonging to Burnthorne Musgrave.

“1852 Burnthorn Musgrave owned Gaynor’s of 67 acres, Wickhams of 216 acres, both in St. Philip’s Parish and Drew’s Hill of 253 acres in St. John’s Parish.”  History of the Island of Antigua by Vere Oliver Vol.II.

In 1852 this Estate contained 117 acres – 71 slaves.

In 1861 the Collins book shows Gaynor’s with 67 acres.

To The Planter of a Caribbean Childhood
by M.E.Doreen Grason (nee Goodwin, daughter)

They climbed the hill – with cutlass, sticks and knive
an ugly, noisome throng
who, from the labourers of each, unlinked estate,
gathered man-power
with mounting anger still – (wave upon wave the road along)
which from incipient slavedom, latent, strives
to lay a phantom, stemming from a wrong
our History’s shameful hour…
The Planter walked to meet them:
walked alone –
“What is this all about, my men?”
saith he –
(naming some, as known)
“Why, we as picaninnies were used to fish
in other days –
explore the mangrove – swamps together…
bathe, naked, in the streams –
I would not wish the good, old-time ways
Forgotten or abused!”
Then did he quote the much-loved, well-known tales
told round the Negro’s Cooking-pot at night;
nor found himself refused
until they dropped the weapons of the field
the better to join in familiar scenes.
the better, too, to laugh –
as Negroes yield,
with all their bodies shaking with delight
in an Old Tale retold!
So – turned they in their path,
controlled – unspoken friendship sealed;
retraced the way they came
under the warm starlight.

         1930’s: Mr. Edwards of Freetown (2015 age 92) said that his mother used to work farming at Gaynor’s.   The Ranger for the estate at that time was “Uncle Dolly” who was also the Sexton at St. Philips.  He also remembers Miss Doreen, the daughter of Frank and Edie Goodwin, who was a fine looking lady.   She loved to ride her father’s horses. particularly one named ‘Easter Prince,’ all over that side of the island and a Mr. Thomas would clear out the bush when she organized a picnic by horseback to Half Moon Bay.

         1941: Antigua Sugar Factory Ltd Cane Returns for 1941 Crop.   Gaynor’s.  Estimated 2188 tons, 95-acre estate, 20 acres peasants on the estate, tons of cane delivered 2234 at 21.86 tons per acre.

You could always hear when Mr. Frank (her father) was around by the way he cleared his throat. He would ride around the estate with a big cigar in his mouth.

Memories – Agnes Meeker.

1950: I spent several summers at Gaynor’s with the Goodwin grandchildren Primrose & Vanda Grason, also Patricia Burke & Anne Turner, including the two 1950 hurricanes.    There was no electricity, just hurricane lanterns which were pumped up every evening at dusk and when lit attracted all the moths in the neighbourhood. With all of the hurricane shutters pulled tight, the inside of the house was pitch black whilst the storm raged outside with horrendous noise.  We were each given two dining room chairs to `walk’ around on because of the tarantula spiders and land crabs that came in the house – we were terrified.  One land crab got into the commode and clattered around in there for ages – no one used it that day or night.   Those were also the days when the latrine was outside and commodes or chamber pots (poe’s) were near or under the bed.

Laney, who was from Newfield, took such good care of us and was basically in charge as Aunt Edie was rather frail and suffered from migraine headaches.  We were always given an ‘elevenses’ break which usually consisted of juice and biscuits, or marmite sandwiches, and tea was always served at 4pm.  After lunch we were all made to get comfortable in our underwear and from 2pm to 4pm was ‘quiet time’.  You laid down on the bed with a book or whispered the afternoon away– absolutely no noise.  After afternoon tea we went for walks down to Nonsuch Bay or around the estate, played croquet or visitors would come calling.  At the far corner of the lawn was a rain gauge which was checked daily after rainfall and diligently recorded.  All of the estates kept an accurate recording of rainfall which was almost daily discussed with other estate owners.  After supper we were allowed to play parlour games or get dressed up from old clothes in the large wooden trunk (there was even an old wool bathing suit for men and a wedding dress) and perform various plays we had worked on during the day.  Little Lord Fontleroy was one of our favourites, and the photograph shows the cast with Uncle Frank and Aunt Edie on the Gaynor’s steps. 

One night the estate bell rang out at dinner time and in running to the front steps we saw the cane fields below on fire.  It was a grand site with the wind whipping the flames and sparks flying and the popping of the juice burning.  People were running all over trying to cut a cane brake to stop the fire from spreading.  Such was the excitement everyone forgot our usual bedtime at 8pm and we were up for ages that night.  Every Sunday we attended service at St. Philip’s Church where most of the Goodwin’s are interred in the cemetery across the road.  If the sermon was getting too lengthy, Uncle Frank would start clearing his throat which got louder and louder as time went on.  Very often after service we were invited to the Manse at the back of the Church for tea for the adults and lemonade for us children.  Sundays was always a day of visiting or being visited once 4pm came around and were usually homeward bound by 6pm when the sun started setting.

         In a letter dated 27th July 1957, Frank Goodwin writes to his daughter Doreen to apprise her of the sale of Gaynor’s.  “The impossibility of my farming the reaping of another crop, (at my age of 76) and the more difficult bookkeeping now required which I have to do personally with failing eyesight, especially to do the figures, also my reliance on Isaiah’s help who is 70 years and also aging, I would not be able to carry on for much longer.

The estate was sold for £9,000 and we will have possession of the house and facilities for our lives.  Your mother and myself will receive $600 per year for 10 years paid quarterly in advance at $150.   If we both die within the 10 years this payment will continue to our Heirs.  The area which I have to open up is to the East, on the dry part of the Estate, and only suitable for Cotton.  This is the area I offered to the Government and which they did not buy.”

When Frank Goodwin died in 1967 all of the furniture in the Gaynor’s house was auctioned on 17th January 1972.   The list of contents and antiques ran to ten pages long listing every single item, the cost and name of the purchaser.   The final tally was $4,155.97 less expenses for the 14 days it took to prepare for the sale of $630, for a final total of $3,525.67

1957: purchased by the Antigua Syndicate Estates Ltd.

1960-61:   Purchase of Gaynor’s estate for development of small holdings – Antigua

Held by The National Archives (UK) – Colonial Office.   Ref.#CO 1031/3009

1961 :The Antigua Sugar Factory took over the payments of the Gaynor’s account when merged with the Antigua Syndicate Estates.

1969: The Lands of Antigua & Barbuda Sugar Factory Limited and The Antigua & Barbuda Syndicate Estates Limited (Vesting) Act.   30th December 1969.

11. THE property known as Gaynor’s Estates is subject to a mortgage to secure the repayment of E.C. $19,440 with interest and the Government HEREBY AGREES with Estates that it will take such property subject to the said mortgage and that it will discharge all the obligations that may become due under the said mortgage.  If the mortgagee shall not agree to a transfer to the Government of such property subject to the said mortgage, the Government shall discharge the said mortgage at its own cost and expense.

A long and drawn out court case recently ended in favour of the Government which had been filed by Fergie & Winston Derrick who felt that the Frank Goodwin (d.1966) estate had never been paid in full for the purchase of the estate, and therefore did not have complete ownership of all of the land.    Details can be viewed online.

Ownership Chronology

  • 1750 Miss Mary Gaynor. d.1818 md. Sir George E. Colebrook 1754
  • 1780 Sir George Edward Colebrook (1729-1809) 67 acres.
  • 1790 Sir James Edward Colebrook (1761-1838) 1777/78 Luffman map
  • 1829 Heirs of Nickolas Symes (dec.)117 acres, 71 slaves
  • 1843 Heirs of Wood 1851 Antigua Almanac
  • 1861 Burnthorn Musgrave (1823-1894) 67 acres.
  • 1871 Francis Shand
  • 1872 not listed in the 1872 Antigua Horsford Almanac.
  • 1873 William Goodwin (1830-1899)
  • 1921 Frank J. Goodwin (1881-1966) 1933 Camacho map
  • 1957 Sold to Antigua Syndicate Estates Ltd.
  • 1958 Antigua Government – Crown Land