Founding date: 1690
See on Google Maps!
The two mills depicted in the water colour prints were on a rise above the valley yet below the hill where the estate house was situated. Today a dwelling house has been built on the site not far from an old concave topped cistern. Nothing remains of the estate house on top the hill except for the road curving up around to it, now covered in bush.
Mr. Raymond Morris (1921-2016), lived in a house on the estate below the bluff hill, next to an old cistern and about where the two windmills were once located. He grew up on the estate and recounted that the last manager for the estate was a Barbadian by the name of Bones who lived in the estate house until 1933/34. His mother worked in the fields and he lived with his mother and brother in one of two long buildings divided into five rooms, of which they occupied one room, until it was destroyed in the 1928 hurricane which was a particularly bad one and one of which he retains strong memories. Below the house are the remains of a stone structure near the pond that could be the boiling house, a cast iron boiler now water the cattle, and the spoke from a bullock cart protruding from the ground is used for tethering animals. Mr. Morris showed the location of the blacksmith shop where all the metal work for the estate was carried out from the shoeing of horses to tools and the manufacturing of cart wheels. The remains of a pump can also be seen in the pond when the water is low.
Estate Related History/Timeline
1676: “George Martin escaped the wrath of Cromwell’s army by fleeing from Belfast to the English colony of Surinam in South America, while his son Samuel, who may have been born in Surinam, migrated to Antigua sometime after the Treaty of Breda in 1667.”
Samuel Martin was married three times, Katherine Revenscroft (?) d.1690, then Frances widow of Christopher Kaynell in 1690 (d.1691) (he wasted no time) and finally Lydia in 1691, will proved 1747, daughter of William Thomas. It was Lydia whose son Sir Henry Martin, inherited Green Castle and is mentioned in the next paragraph.
“In 1701 Col. Samuel Martin, Speaker of the House of Assembly, for some reason had refused his slaves their usual Christmas Holiday and compelled them to work. In one accord they rose up in the dead of night, broke in and literally hacked him to death. Fearing the same terrible death, Mrs. Martin took sanctuary in a nearby cane field until she could throw herself and her children upon the protection of friends. The perpetrators were brought to justice. Mrs. Martin later married Gov. Byam.” Antigua & the Antiguans Vol.II p.79.
“1701 Dec.30. The Assembly met and discussed `the late horrid murder of the Hon.Sam.l Martin, Esq., by his own slaves.’ and it was ordered that 1000 cartridges should be served out to each captain of a company and 10,000 lodged in the magazine”. History of the Island of Antigua by V.Oliver Vol.II p.247.
On an extremely interesting note is the following paragraph. “Handed down through the generations of my family who are related to Miss Beck who worked for Mr. Martin, has been the very interesting quote as he lay dying, “ Miss Beck Miss Beck, I am killed, black man’s face, Chinaman’s smell.” Dawn Simon
With Chinese working in the area this indeed is cause for speculation!
Josiah Martin (b.1772) was Col. Samuel Martin’s second son by his second marriage, was born in Dublin, Ireland, on April 22, 1737, instead of in Antigua where his birth has been erroneously placed by several writers. The colonel wanted his son to combine a mercantile business with the oversight of his plantation after his death but this was not to be. At age 17 he joined the local militia in 1754 in Antigua and at the outbreak of war between Britain and France in 1756 he became an ensign in the Fourth Foot regiment. Antigua did not seem to suit Josiah health-wise and for many years he went back and forth between Long Island, New York, and Antigua. He and his wife had eight children and in 1770 he was named governor of North Carolina until he had to take refuge on the warship at Wilmington in July of 1775.
The West Indian Antecedents of Josiah Martin by Richard R. Sherman
Col. Samuel Martin (1693-1777) was born in Antigua, the eldest son and heir of Maj. Samuel Martin and his second wife, Lydia (Tomlinson) Martin. After his father’s untimely death at the hands of his slaves, Samuel was sent to live with relatives in Ireland. At the age of sixteen he was admitted a fellow commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge. Upon returning to Antigua, he married in 1713 Frances, daughter of John Yeamans, lieutenant governor of that island. Samuel Martin, Jr. (1714-1788), member of Parliament and joint secretary of the Treasury, was born of that union. Richard B. Sheridan
“1767 Col. Samuel Martin was rated on 605 acres and 291 slaves.”
“1780 Col. Martin, dec., rated on 605 acres and 306 slaves.” Vere Oliver Vol.II p.244
1774-76: “…the most delightful character I have ever yet met with, that of Coll. Martin, the loved and revered father of Antigua, to whom it owes a thousand advantages, and whose age is yet daily employed to render it more improved and happy. This is one of the oldest families on the Island, living on their estates, which are cultivated to the height by a large troop of healthy Negroes, who cheerfully perform the labour imposed on them by a kind and benevolent Master. Well fed, well supported, they appear the subjects of a good prince, not the slaves of a planter. He told me he had not bought in a slave for upwards of twenty years, and that he had the morning of our arrival got the return of the state of his plantations, on which there then were no less than fifty-two wenches who were pregnant. These slaves, born on the spot and used to the climate, are by far the most valuable, and seldom take these disorders, by which such numbers are lost that many hundreds are forced yearly to be brought into the Island.” “We now had fruit, sangria and beverage brought us, not by slaves; it is a maxim of his that no slave can render that acceptable service he wishes from those immediately about himself, and for that reason has made them free, and the alacrity with which they serve him, and the love they bear him, shew he is not wrong.”
“He wishes to have his dear little Antigua independent; he regrets the many Articles she is forced to trust to foreign aid, and the patriot is even now setting an example, and by turning many of the plantations into grass, he allows them to rest and recover the strength they have lost, by too many crops of sugar, and by this means is able to rear cattle which he has done with great success. I never saw finer cows than I saw feeding in his lawns, and his wagons are already drawn by oxen of his own rearing”. Journal by a Lady of Quality. Ms. Shaw.
Col. Martin published “An Essay upon Plantership” published in Antigua about 1755, in England in 1763 and 1765. A work of 62 pages, the only work of its kind, a copy of which can be found in the Archives belonging to the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda. He sought to introduce new methods and instruments of husbandry on his plantation. He practiced crop rotation, fallowing, and marling rebuilt and improved the efficiency of his sugar works and rum distillery; proportioned the labor of his slaves according to their age, sex, strength, ability and temperament. On grounds of interest and humanity, he believed that slaves should be supplied with food, clothing, shelter, and medical care without stint. In 1768 Greencastle domiciled 304 blacks. Martin’s plantation of 605 acres, together with the slaves, sugar works, livestock, and other equipage, was valued at 30,000 pounds sterling and was large by the standards of the time. Antigua, an island of 108 square miles, was said to have had in 1764 more than 300 plantations which employed approximately 25,000 of the 37,000 slaves on the island. While the slave population continue to increase, population of European origin declined to approximately 2,500 by 1775. The West Indian Antecedents of Josiah Martin by Richard B. Sheridan.
In 1829 Greencastle contained 895 acres – 315 slaves.
“Green Castle lies about three miles south-east from St. John’s and contains 940 acres. The mansion stands on a rocky cliff overlooking the estate, and commanding a wide view of the island. In one direction spreads a valley, interspersed with fields of sugarcane and provisions. In another stretches a range of hills, with their sides clad in culture, and their tops covered in clouds. At the base of the rock are the sugar houses. On a neighbouring upland lies the negro village in the rear of which are the provision grounds. Samuel Barnard Esq., the manager, received us kindly. He is now the manager of two estates, and the attorney for six, and has lately purchased an estate himself. He has survived the wreck of slavery, and now stripped of a tyrant’s power, he still lives among the people, who were lately his slaves and manages an estate which was once his empire. The testimony of such a man is invaluable.
1.Mr. B said that the negroes throughout this island were very peaceable when they received their freedom.
2. He said he found no difficulty in getting his people to work after they had received their freedom. Some estates had suffered for a short time; there was a pretty general fluctuation for a month or two, the people leaving one estate and going to another. But this was chargeable to the folly of the planters, who over-bid each other in order to secure the best hands and enough of them. The negroes had a strong attachment to their homes, and would rarely abandon them unless harshly treated.
3. He thought that the Assembly acted very wisely in rejecting apprenticeship. He considered it absurd. It took the chains partly from the slave, and fastened them on the master and enslaved them both. It withdrew from the latter the power of compelling labour, and it supplied to the former no incentive to industry. Emancipation in the West Indies—a six months’ tour in Antigua, Barbados and Jamaica in the year 1837 by James A. Thome.
1852: Mount Pleasant in St. John’s parish was the property of Mr. G.S. Martin. High Point 212 acres and Nibbs 131 acres in St. George’s Parish were owned by heirs of Samuel Martin, Green Castle 605 acres and Rigby’s 263 acres, in St Mary’s Parish were owned by Sir. W. Martin. History of the Island of Antigua by Vere Oliver Vol.II P.248.
A ship named the Clara, arrived in Antigua on 1 February 1882 with 100 Chinese men. The ship had left Hong Kong with 128, but 28 had died on board according to the captain. Their arrival was not met with much enthusiasm, as the Antigua Times published on that day. This batch of 100 male Chinese immigrants did not settle in very well in Antigua and over a dispute regarding payment of wages were described as “vowing vengeance against the Chinese doctor and interpreter who came with them; believing that they .. have been in collusion with the enlisting agent to mislead them.”
Almost a year passed without further incident, but on Wednesday 17 January 1883 the Antigua times reported: “Chinese from several estates congregated at the Tomlinsons on Sunday, and consulted with each other …. and they decided that some 9 planters against whom they hold some ill feeling, should be subject to death.” Mr. Look Lai shows that in the same newspaper report there was reference to “burning of properties.” In an excerpt from the Colonial Correspondence, Look Lai shows that the Governor, Sir J.H. Glover reported that two Chinese labourers Lee Sung and Ah Kung, were executed on 29 January 1883 within the walls of the gaol for the murder of Mr. Augustus Lee, the manager of Green Castle Estate. Chinese in the West Indies 1806-1995 by Mr. Walton Look Lai.
For further information of Fryer’s Concrete Co. see Bendal’s (#37). It is noted in the 1885 Horsford Almanac the the Fryer’s Concretor method of processing sugar was introduced some fifteen years ago, and though sufficiently practical in idea, successful in working, and carried out with much skill, it has not been so generally adopted as might have been anticipate.
1887: “15th – John went early to the Office this morning as he expected the mails would be landed between 9 and 10, but there was such a swell on they were not landed until 12:30pm. In the afternoon Mrs. R. sent to ask me to go with K. and herself to Bendals to call on Mrs. Cowie. We came back through Green Castle. We left the carriage at the foot of the hill and walked up to see what remains of the fine old house. It is a complete ruin now.” Excerpt from the diary of Mary Emma Read, 1887.
Gambling used to occur among the plantocracy and he knows for certain that fields No.16,17,18,19, 20 and 21 belonged to Bath Lodge, became part of Green Castle. Mr. Morris (d.2016) still tends his cattle in the hills of Green Castle today often hitching them to remnants of estate days such as the strut of a wagon wheel. The pond at the bottom of the hill is supposed to be very deep and on the northern lip next to the road is a very interesting old brick ruin which might have been part of the water system. Mr. Morris said that he had had several visits from English relatives of the Martin family who had returned to view the property over the years. Raymond Morris – 23rd August, 2006.
In 1929/30 when Green Castle declared bankruptcy, Government had the land demarcated and divided into two areas. An agronomist tested the soil and it was re-surveyed into private and leasehold with the most arable lands becoming private while the lesser was leased. The original buyer for the private land was Maloney, who sold to Michael then John Isaac Martin who finally sold it back to Government.
Greencastle hill to the south has been declared a National Historic site for the remarkable megaliths that exist from prehistoric days. Similar, but smaller, to the stones at Stonehenge, this is Antigua’s own ‘tropical Stonehenge’. In the early 1900’s William Forrest sent photographs to the chairman of the Glasgow Archaeological Society, who said it was “a prehistoric astronomical outlay for the purpose of recording time.” Charlesworth Ross in the 1930’s felt that it was a site of pagan worship. Fred Olson (Mill Reef) in the 1950’s uncovered remarkable Arawak artifacts at the site, believed that the megaliths were natural formations. The Green castle Hill megaliths are certainly unique and continues to provoke considerable controversy and debate. They are in danger however, of the ever encroaching quarry run by Antigua Masonry Products on the NE face and now a smaller quarry on the west.
On the highest point of Greencastle Hill above the quarry lies the grave of the Second Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, Vice Admiral & Governor of the Leeward Islands from 1948-1950. He loved Antigua and its people and when he died asked that he be laid to rest on top of Greencastle Hill. His tombstone reads as follows, and someone must still visit the site for when climbing up in 2008 a bible held open with a stone, lay on the tomb.
“Here lies the ashes of/OLIVER RIDSDALE/Second Earl Baldwin of Bewdley/Born 1st March 1899/Died August 11th 1958/Governor and Commander in Chief/In and over The Leeward Islands/and Vice Admiral of the same. 1948-1950/R.I.P.”
1941: Antigua Sugar Factory Ltd Cane Returns for 1941 Crop. Greencastle (Govt). Estimated 2910 tons, – acres estate, 197 acres of peasants on the estate, tons of cane delivered 2051. Antigua Masonry Products Ltd. was founded in 1974 and is a former subsidiary of Devcon International Corp. It produces and supplies aggregates, ready-mix concrete, mortar mix, boulders, sand, bag cement and concrete block.
Legacies of British Slave-ownership: Green Castle was awarded £4,454 2s 6d for 319 enslaved. Sir Henry William Martin 2nd Bart was the sole awardee.
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 first group of enslaved people at Green Castle murdered the plantation owner due to unfair labor demands on their Christmas holiday, and we know that the perpetrators were all “made an example of” and killed. Furthermore, we know that the estate had, at its maximum, 316 enslaved peoples working there. We will continue our quest for more information about these vital individuals.
- Prior Josiah Martin
- 1690: Col. Samuel Martin (d.1693 murdered by his slaves.)
- 1750: Samuel Martin (bapt. 1694-1777)
- 1777: Sir Henry W. Martin 1st Bart, (1733-1794) 605 acres
- 1777/78: Luffman map
- 1794: Sir Henry William Martin. Bart. (1768-1842) 895 acres, 315 slaves.
- 1846: Horsford Almanac
- 1872: Horsford Almanac
- 1878: Fryer’s Sugar Concrete Co.
- 1887: Noted that the estate was a complete ruin.
- 1891: L.I.P. Co. Ltd.
- 1933: Government Land Settlement
- 1933: Camacho map.
- 1967: Antigua Government – Crown Land
- 1974: Antigua Masonry Products Ltd. – Green Castle hill