Founding date: 1600s
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The Thibou Jarvis sugar mill remains in excellent condition, but except for the remnants of some stone walls and stone “footprints” in the bush, there is little left of this estate. The mill works inside the mill are one of three remaining on the island. It was refurbished to working condition and donated to the Betty’s Hope Trust (#77a/b) by the Shoul family. The original house was built on fairly flat land but the elevation was sufficient to provide both the house and the works with a view of the surrounding landscape all the way to the sea.
Estate Related History/Timeline
The surname Thibou was originally derived from the Old French personal name of Theobold, meaning “bold” or “Brave”. Louis (Lewis) Thibou was born in the Province of Orleans, in France, and was the first member of the family to arrive in Antigua.
Thomas Jarvis inherited his father-in-law’s Antigua estate in the Popeshead Division, in 1716, and the mansion previously known as the Jarvis estate house was renamed Mount Joshua. It was one of the most commodious on the island.
The plantation grew and prospered, remaining in the Thibou/Jarvis family for 200 years. It eventually included 1,000 acres in both St. John’s and St. George’s parishes as well as Long Island and Bird Island. When the elder Thomas died in 1749, the estate was inherited by his son, Thomas Jarvis II, who served in the Government of Antigua, eventually becoming Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. He and his wife, Rachael, had numerous children, including Thomas Jarvis III, George Ralph Payne Jarvis, Bertie Entwhistle Jarvis, and James Nibbs Jarvis (1794 – 1842). James and his wife, Lorne (Campbell) Jarvis, had a son, Thomas Jarvis (1835 – 1877), who served in the General Legislative Council of Antigua. Jarvis family papers, William Clements Library.
The Jarvis family owned Doddington Hall in Lincolnshire, England.
(Jarvis family papers, William Clements Library. Further Papers & Correspondence on the Thibou family can be found under Antigua No. 207 held by the National Archives (UK) Colonial Office, Ref. #CO441/22/3.)
In 1750, Thomas Jarvis II inherited Long Island and Mount Joshua. He also inherited Blizards (#54) with his first wife, Jane Whitehead, who died in 1797. He left a will dated 1779 in which he gave “to my wife, Rachael, my dwelling-house built on land called Mount Joshua of 18 acres for life, also furniture, plate, provisions, cattle, coach, post chaise, whiskey and carriage horses.
Vere Oliver, Volumes II and III.
Thomas Jarvis II had considerable influence with Antigua’s governors because of his position as Chief Justice of the Court of Common Please. His family built the famous Massa Grave, which “the planters at Thibou Jarvis estate use to say was better than those at Big Church.”
Sammy Smith in “To Shoo Hard Labour“.
Patsy Harley (deceased), Maybert Dew’s niece who lived in New Zealand, found an architectural drawing of the cemetery among her aunt’s papers. The drawing shows a stairway beneath a central stone, leading to a crypt below. Mrs. Dew often spoke of a skeleton of a one-legged man in the crypt, whose identity had long been lost. When her mother, Mrs. Jarvis, died, the Government would not permit burials except in the public cemetery or church yards, so neither were interned in the Thibou/Jarvis family plot.
(The website www.tomstonesbb shows grave stones recorded in Antigua for Jameson/Mary, Jarvis/Thomas, Taylor/Annie, Jarvis/John Campbell, Jarvis/Thomas, Jarvis/Mabel Cecilia, Jarvis/Bertie Hill and Jarvis/Alice.)
In 1768, “a demurer recites that Catherine Thibou, being possessed of a plantation in St. John’s parish — by indenture of demise dated 1768 made between her of the 1st part and Walter Thibou, Esq of the other — assigned her estate to him for 99 years at the yearly rent of 700 UKL for the first year and 800 UKL a year after.” This presumably refers to another plantation not named.
Thomas Jarvis III noted in a 1790 letter that “in the last two crops I made only 45 hogsheads of bad sugar” and also noted his “hogsheads sold for 54/-; my neighbour Mr. Byam sold his for 69/- in London.”
The William Clements Library, in Michigan, has two old hand-drawn maps of the Hart’s & Royal’s Plantation (#3), Thibou’s and Blizzard’s (#54). The undated material in the Jarvis family papers, placed at the end of Box #2, includes two small manuscript maps of land in Antigua. The first, dated c.1800 and entitled ‘Plan of Harts’ and Royals’ Estate Buildings’ shows the buildings of a sugar mill, including the ‘Chaff machine room, Rum cellar under Stillhouse, Curing house and the house and kitchen of the overseer. The other manuscript map of the “Thibou’s and Blizard’s Estates in Antigua’ reveals public roads, shops and burial grounds.
In 1829, Thibou’s was combined with Blizard’s and contained 830 acres including both Long and Bird Islands. There were 319 registered slaves.
When the British Parliament abolished slavery in 1833, Thibou’s Estate was given a Legacy award (Antigua 30) of £4,194. 12s. 7p. for freeing 276 enslaved. Successful claimants were Hardman Earle, Christiana Richardson Jarvis, Thomas Ridding, Thomas Ward, Rev. Alexander Scott and Hayward Turner. Unsuccessful were John Hopkins Forbes, Bertie Entwhistle Jarvis, Grace Jarvis, Mary Wilelmina Lindsey (nee Jarvis), William Chacon Lindsey and Joseph Maberly. Previous owners were listed as Mary Elizabeth Shepherd Freeman Jarvis (nee Blackwell) and Thomas Jarvis, Sr.
James Howell managed the estate by 1837 when James A. Thome wrote the following report: “The negro village on this estate contains one hundred houses each of which is occupied by a separate family. Mr. H. next conducted us to a neighboring field where the ‘great gang’ were at work. There were about fifty persons in the gang — the majority females — under two inspectors or superintendents, men who take the place of the quondam drivers, though their province is totally different. They merely direct the laborers at their work, employing with the loiterers the stimulus of persuasion, or at the furthest, no more than the violence of the tongue. (The people on most estates are divided into three gangs: first, the great gang composed of the principal effective men and women; second, the weeding gang consisting of younger and weekly persons; and third, the grass gang, which embraces all children able to work.
“There had been much less pretended sickness among the negroes since freedom. They had now a strong aversion to going to the sick house, so much so that on many estates it had been put to some other use.”
James A. Thome, “Emancipation in the West Indies – 1837”.
One of the last members of the Jarvis family to reside in Antigua was Catherine Anne (Jarvis) Maybert (b. Dec. 22, 1911; d. June 9, 1999). She and her husband Dalma Dew, of Dew’s & Son, rebuilt the oldest house on the island — the Hodges Estate house (#4) on Hodges Bay — after they were married in the 1930s.
In 1933, Thiboiu’s was owned by Joseph Turner Dew who had an engineering business in Antigua, Dew’s &b Son. He was born in 1865 and had four children His third daughter was Lillian Betty Dew, who married Ronald Cadman, the Managing Director of Dew’s & Co. Joseph’s fourth child was Dalmar; she, she married Maybert Jarvis, and together they were instrumental in renovating the oldest house in Antigua. It is located at Hodges Bay (#4).
Dew’s & Co.was the agent for Morris cars and imported various other makes when privately ordered. The author’s grandmother told her that Major Dew was the first person to bring a car onto Antigua. When she got married in 1915, there were only two vehicles on the island, both of which were hired for her wedding.
Dew’s & Co. also opened a supermarket and hardware and lumber business. Major Joseph Turner Dew, OBE, VD, was one of the best known engineers in Antigua, and almost his entire professional career he was engaged in the erection of sugar factories and the marketing of sugar processing machinery. He had been connected with the sugar industry in Antigua since 1887, when he first arrived on the island after completing a five-year apprenticeship in the Leeds Works of Messrs. John Fowler & Sons. Subsequently, Major Dew broadened the scope of his business to include shipbuilding repairs. He also was a consultant to a large number of sugar factories and to the Government pumping plant at St. John’s waterworks. He also held the position of Agent for a number of British engineering firms.
He was keenly interested in the welfare of Antigua and was a member of its Executive Council. He was also Chairman of the Board of Directors on the Antigua Light Company, Ltd., and of the Antigua Cotton Factory, Ltd. He died in Antigua on 7th October 1941 at age 75. Grace’s list.
In the 1940s, when Anthony Shoul owned the estate, his wife Themene recalls when “hog cholera broke out at Thibou’s and 480 pigs had to be burnt with one gallon of kerosene, including Lady Fine who weighed 450 lbs. and had 18 piglets. Also, in 1939, the estate had the largest crop of cotton ever, and during the war years produced one million lbs of yams.”
Themene Shoul, memories of . . .
In 1941, the Antigua Sugar Factory, Ltd, had sugar cane returns of 1,794 tons from the Thibou estate, drawn from 1,375 tons of cane on 111 acres, equalling 12.39 tons per acre.
This author states: “My grandmother, Margaret (McSevney) Conacher, rented Thibou/Jarvis estate for a short time in the 1920s after her father had been ‘let go’ as manager of of Parham New Works due to the accident that left him wheelchair bound. Both Annie Duncan (her sister) and my grandmother had returned home to Antigua with their children after losing their husbands at an early age, and a large property was needed to house them all. It was while they were at Thibou/Jarvis that my grandmother found and purchased Court Lodge in St. John’s next to the Antigua Girls High School, where City View Hotel is today.
“Thibou/Jarvis was supposed to have its share of ghosts, and many a night the silver could be heard rattling in the drawers — rats?” Agnes Meeker.
Enslaved People’s History
Based on contemporary research, we have little information to share about the enslaved peoples from this plantation at this time. They probably had at maximum 319 people working at that plantation. When the British Parliament abolished slavery in 1833, Thibou’s Estate was given a Legacy award (Antigua 30) of £4,194. 12s. 7p. for freeing 276 enslaved. James Howell managed the estate by 1837 when James A. Thome wrote the following report: “The negro village on this estate contains one hundred houses each of which is occupied by a separate family. Mr. H. next conducted us to a neighboring field where the ‘great gang’ were at work. There were about fifty persons in the gang — the majority females — under two inspectors or superintendents, men who take the place of the quondam drivers, though their province is totally different. They merely direct the laborers at their work, employing with the loiterers the stimulus of persuasion, or at the furthest, no more than the violence of the tongue. (The people on most estates are divided into three gangs: first, the great gang composed of the principal effective men and women; second, the weeding gang consisting of younger and weekly persons; and third, the grass gang, which embraces all children able to work. “There had been much less pretended sickness among the negroes since freedom. They had now a strong aversion to going to the sick house, so much so that on many estates it had been put to some other use.” James A. Thome, “Emancipation in the West Indies – 1837”. We will continue our quest for more information about these vital individuals.
- 1600’s: Louis (Lewis) Thibou d. 1716 Father of ten girls, Rachael was the oldest
- 1716: Thomas Jarvis d. 1747
- 1749: Thomas Jarvis II (1722-1785) Married 1. Jane Whithead; 2. Rachael Thibou
- 1790: Thomas Jarvis III (1784-1807) (1777/78 map by cartographer John Luffman.)
- 1829: Bertie Entwhistle Jarvis (1793-1859/62c)
- 1843: Bertie Entwhistle Jarvis – 830 acres.
- 1872: Thomas Jarvis (1835-1877) 568 acres.
- 1891: John C. Jarvis
- 1921: C. D. Ledeatt
- 1933: Joseph Turner Dew (1867-1941) (1933 Camacho map.)
- 1940c: Anthony & Ferdinand Shoul
- 2003: Heirs of the Shoul’s.