Founding date: 1600
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This estate sat surrounded by four other large plantations — Hart’s & Royal’s (#3), Weatherill’s (#5), Dunbar’s (#8) and Marble Hill (#9). It was an early convert to steam power for the grinding rollers and related machinery within its sugar mill, along with Mount Pleasant (#7) and Dunbar’s. The date 1754 is inscribed on the keystone of Langford’s mill, dating the year in which it was built. The structure was later turned into a cistern for storing water.
Estate Related History/Timeline
The original estate house was built of stone, and is presently used by the Antigua government as a police training center. In 2011, a new building was erected on the north side of the estate house and is a police station for the area. A number of the estate’s original outbuildings and walls still exist, and are whitewashed annually with lime by the latest group of police recruits.
Jonas Langford “arrived (in Antigua) on the 14th of the 5th month (ED: presumably 1660). “In 1664, he was imprisoned for holding a religious meeting in his house. In 1684, he was compelled to pay £9,585 sterling for church rates, and in 1690 £4,085 sterling was taken from him by the Church Warden, (and) again in 1695 a further sum of £13,044 sterling” was taken from him. Vere Oliver, Vol II.
Mr. Oliver also states that in a will dated “14 Feb. 1709 Jonas Langford the Elder of Popeshead plantation, Popeshead Division, Antigua, merchant possessed a schedule of negros, etc., on Popeshead and Soldiers Gutt plantations: 158 slaves, 44 cattle, 18 horses, 74 sheep, 13 goats. On Cassada Garden (#13a): 79 negroes, 8 horses, 65 cattle, 56 sheep, 12 hogs. 18 Nov. 1712.”
Before he died in 1712, Jonas Langford the Elder executed a second will, stating “I granted to Edward Byam and Francis Rogers my Popeshead plantation where I now dwell, my plantation called Soldiers Gutt ….. in trust for the use of myself and my wife Anne for our lives ….. I granted to my trustees my plantation called Cassava or Cassada Garden of 570 acres in St. John’s Parish for 99 years after my death, then 1/2 to Abraham Redwood and Mehittable his wife.
It is interesting to see how Jonas Langford the Elder accumulated so much land in a span of only 47 years, 1638 – 1685. It also demonstrates how small land holdings can be combined into a large plantation. Jonas became a very powerful resident of Antigua, buying small plots from ten or more different landowners. Here’s the chronology:
1638 – Langford buys 17 acres in Popeshead from John Hawkes for 8,000 pounds of tobacco. 1669 – Langford buys 15 acres at Popeshead from Thomas Ellington.1669 – Langford buys 100 acres called Soldiers Gutt (near Blue waters Hotel) in Popeshead from Richard Belcher. 1669 – Langford and Richard Belcher buy 87 acres from Hannah Jefferies. 1669 – Langford buys 45 acres in Popeshead from Hannah Jeffries.1670 – Langford buys land and stock from Justinian Holliman for £60,000.1670 – Langford buys 10 acres at Popeshead from Richard Belcher. 1670 – Langford buys 10 acres at Popeshead from Richard Belcher.1678 – Langford buys 10 acres at Popeshead from James Benton.1678 – Langford buys 10 acres at Popeshead from William Cullender. 1678 – Langford buys 10 acres at Popeshead from William Jones. 1679 – Langford buys 1,000 acres called Cassava (Cassada) Gardens from John Sampson for £10,000. 1679 – Langford buys 10 acres from William Morgan. 1680 – Langford has another 126 acres in Popeshead Division. 1685 – Langford buys 10 acres from Owen McCarthy.
Antonio Joseph Camacho arrived in Antigua in 1878, a Portuguese native of Madeira. He arrived considerably later than most of the Portuguese immigrants, however he quickly began to acquire land. He owned two plantations in 1878 — Bellevue (#36) and Briggin’s (#7), totaling 967 acres — and by 1891 he also owned Langfords, Mount Pleasant (#7), Dunbar’s (#8), Otto’s (#16) and Woods (#12), totaling 2,000 acres. Most of those plantation were clustered close to St. John’s. He had three sons: John, Emanuel and Martin. John was the one most involved with his father’s estates. In 1898 he is listed as representing fourteen estates, and by 1902 he had bought another seven, making him one of the largest landowners in Antigua at that time. Later on, his son of the same name became so fed up with having a ruined estate on his hands after two years of fruitless negotiations with the island’s government and the Antigua Trades & Labor Union in the late 1940s (ED: see Crosbie’s #2), he sold everything to the government for £10,000. At the time, the Langford’s estate had over 700 acres, and all of its mules, horses, cattle and sugarcane in the fields were thrown in “brota” (ED: slang for something for free).
A decade before that, in the 1930s, Camacho’s plantation manager, Arthur Hewlett, often treated youngsters from St. John’s who walked to the estate to their favorite asham, a mix of twice crushed parched corn and brown sugar, a process that originated in slave days. The Hewlett’s had three children around the same age, so the youngsters enjoyed a visit and a treat. In her Memories of Jean (Willock) Thomas, Mrs. Thomas says “before the days of motor vehicles we walked everywhere including down to Fort James for a sea bath.”
In another volume of memories by Helen Abbott she states: “When we lived at Langford’s I remember Daddy (ED: Fred Abbott) who was the manager, having a field of hay which he had cut and bailed working late into the night that was used as fodder for the animals. He also had a field of tomatoes along what is now Old Popeshead Road. There was a high stone bath downstairs in the house that was wonderful for playing in when filled. The stables and cattle pen were at the back and at the side of the house was a large cistern. On the north side of the house were mounting blocks where the manager’s horse would be brought for him in the morning to mount prior to making his rounds of the estate. The overseer lived in a house near the cistern. The mill had been converted to store water and the animals drank from a rim around the base of the mill that contained water.. Helen Abbott, Memories.……..
“At Langford’s an old family burial ground enclosed by a wall containing a vault formerly used by the Hodge family (Hodges Bay, #4). Both Langford Lovell, who died in 1793, and Langford Lovell Hodge, who died in 1817, are buried at Langford’s.” Vere Oliver, Vol. II.
Nearly all of the estates had their own burial ground or cemetery, some combining with nearby estates. Very Oliver, in his three volumes, catalogues many of these burial sites, very few of which exist today having been demolished by a backhoe and the sands time.
Near the main road adjacent to the estate, there also is a tomb which was surrounded by an iron railing, recently repaired and fenced by the Antigua & Barbuda Police Training Academy. The inscription on the slab reads:
Langford’s Plantation. Sacred to the Memory / of Langford Lovell who died / 29th Dec. 1793 Aged 63 / Elizabeth Lovell who died / 27th Dec. 1808 / Ebenezer Lovell who died / 29th Nov. 1798 / William Lovell who died / 19th Dec. 1815.
The British Parliament gave Langford’s estate a legacy payment (Antigua 28) of £3,701. 14s. 4p. in 1933 for granting freedom to 305 enslaved. The sole claimant was Peter Langford Brooke.
Records of Langford Lovell are held at the National Archives in Kew, U.K.
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 there were at most 288 slaves. Also, the British Parliament gave Langford’s estate a legacy payment (Antigua 28) of £3,701. 14s. 4p. in 1933 for granting freedom to 305 enslaved. We will continue our quest for more information about these vital individuals.
- 1600: Jonas Langford, the first Quaker to settle in Antigua
- 1750: Jonas Langford b. 1701
- 1790: Jonas Langford Brooke (1777/78 map by cartographer John Luffman.)
- 1829: Thomas L. Brooke. 494 acres, 288 slaves
- 1851: Thomas Langford Brooke. He owned 404 Langford acres and 280 Langford Woods (#12) acres, both in St. John’s Parish; 325 Jonas’ (#85) acres in St. Peter’s Parish; and 231 Laroche (#135) acres in St. Paul’s Parish. Total: 1,240 acres
- 1872: Thomas W. Langford Brooke. The Horseford Almanac shows Langford’s and Mount Pleasant (#7) with combined acreage of 621 and designated as a steam works.
- 1891: Aubrey J. Comacho
- 1921: Aubrey J. Camacho 791 acres in total
- 1923: Aubrey J. Comacho He is one of four plantation owners who participated in two years of fruitless negotiations in the early 1940s with the Antigua Trades & Labor Union. The other three were Lee Westcott of Crosbie’s (#2), Martin Schaffler of Weatherill’s (#5) and Anthony Shoul of Thibour’s/Jarvis & Judges (#34).
- 1940’s: Late. The Antiguan Government for the Antigua & Barbuda Police Training Academy