Founding date: 1692
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This is one of the few estates to have the house situated west on a hill with a gorgeous view but quite far from the mill and works yet overlooking all. All the stonework was of greenstone indigenous to the Liberta area, as was the mill, one of about four in St. Paul’s Parish.
The mill is surrounded by houses in the village and is accessed on the left from the main road on “Mill Rd.” On the top of the hill where the Buff house was situated, still visible is the foundation of green stone and growing wild is part of the plumbago hedge that was used to circle the driveway in the front of the house.
Estate Related History/Timeline
1639: Richard Tankard sold 20 men’s land and later 33 more.
1692: Capt. John Tankard purchased a plantation of Marcus Kirwan.
1697: Capt. John Tankard, planter, grant of the land formerly in the possession of George Gray and his wife and Mary Weale, George Gray’s mother, and late in that of Lieut. Wlm. Burden, dec., a former husband of Mary Weale; also 235 acres formerly Roger Jones’, a former husband of Mary Weale; also 165 acres bought of Marcus Kerwan & Mary Wealle by patent granted 6 August 1697 from Christopher Codrington.” Vere Oliver Vol.III p.121
1762: Barry Tankard of “Tankards” (now Tyrrell’s) died in 1726 in St. Paul’s Parish. Vere Oliver Vol.III p.118
“Gov. Parke stated Barry Tankard insulted him and challenged him to a duel. The Tankards armed the negroes and guarded the paths leading to their Plantation.
Originally known as Tankard’s after Capt. John Tankard. Members of the Assembly July 11th, 1692.
1720: Robert Fulton: Will 1770. Died 1771. ….”all residue of my estate of “Orleans” in the Island of Antigua, left to me by the will of the late Rear Adm. Richard Tyrrell …..” Vere Oliver Vol.III p.120
1726: “At Tyrrell’s on a ledger over a broken vault:- Here lies Interr’d/the Body of the /Honorable Barry/Tankard, Esq. who/departed this life/the 10 Day of July/Anno Domini/1726 Aged 58 Years.” V.Oliver Vol.III p.121
1802: Indenture between Richard Tyrrell Barnes “….. in consideration of 5s. Richard Tyrrell Barnes sells to David Sands & Richard England all that plantation called Tyrrell’s or Orleans in Antigua, and all slaves, cattle and stock …. for one whole year.”
1758: Captain Richard Tyrell became the Commander in Chief of the Leeward Islands Station in 1758. He had commanded the “Buckingham,” a 70 gun battleship and had protected Antigua. His “courage and activity were equal to his conduct and circumspection.” He owned an estate just north of Liberta which would have been founded after emancipation in 1834. It is now known as Tyrrell’s. English Harbour first 260 years by Desmond Nicholson.
1802: Richard Tyrrell Barnes, Esq., of Crown Court, Princess St., Soho Sq., in 1802 inherited “Tyrrell’s or “Orleans” from his Uncle Richard Tyrrell. Vere Oliver Vol.III p.118
1829: In 1829, this Estate contained 625 acres – 112 slaves. In 1921 607 acres.
Antigua 396 Tyrrell’s was awarded £165 17 s 6 d for 114 enslaved. James Foster Groom was the only awardee.
1851: The Antigua Almanac shows Tyrrell’s of 625 acres belonging to Heirs of A. Tyrrell.
1922: In the 1920’s it is said that the stone and building materials were taken from the top house at Tyrrell’s and used to build a police station at Gray’s Farm as well as some other houses in the area. This is hard to believe because the estate was owned by the Dobridge family of St. Kitts and was lived in until the 1950’s. Also it was mentioned in Vere Oliver II, that a Mrs. Sparkes inherited the Tyrell Estate in Antigua, but no date given and this could have been a much earlier date.
Tyrrell’s Estate was a 1000 acre plantation owned by the Dobridge family of St. Kitts and managed from 1922 by William C. Ledeatt for his wife’s family.
“I remember moving day; Teddy and I traveled from Betty’s Hope with some of the furniture on the “extension – a kind of trailer that hooked on to the back of the buggy. Tyrell’s was a wonderful place to grow up; we had cows and sheep and were very lucky to have horses. Riding was part of our life. In fact, in the early days, Teddy and I traveled to school (St. John’s) either on horseback of in the buggy accompanied by Burton, our groom. When the estate was sold by my mother in the mid-1950’s, one of her conditions was that the house be demolished.”
Memories of Ella Weise nee Ledeatt.
A most unusual request indeed.
The Birth of the Village of Liberta by Hewlester A. Samuel, Sr.
“Why did the name change to Tyrrell? The Tankards were a large family, and they dominated the agricultural, economical, political and social scenes for a long time. When Richard Tyrrell was Commander of His Majesty’s fleet in the British Caribbean and stationed at Shirley Heights and Dow Hill, he fell in love with Russel Tankard, one of the Tankard girls. When the males of the Tankard family died, she became heir to the estate. Since it was a man’s world, as it is today, Richard Tyrrell assumed the responsibility of the administration of the estate and later renamed the estate Tyrrell.
Richard Tyrrell did not live long after the union with Russel Tankard. On his way to England, on his ship the HMS Princess Louisa, he died and was buried at sea at his request. In his will of February 26, 1765, he left the estate, his slaves and his personal belonging to his nephew, Richard Tyrrell Barnes. Richard Barnes mismanaged the estate until it was in bankruptcy, at which point he leased the estate to David Sands and Richard England. In essence, it was not just a lease; it was a “lease-purchase.” It was designed in such a way that once the debts were defrayed, the estate would revert to the Tyrrells. Until 1852, just under 99 years from the date of the will, the estate was still in the hands of the Tyrrells; 112 slaves were still on the plantation as late as 1829. In 1871, 35 years after emancipation, Thomas D. Foote was the owner. When the property was sold, the new owners decided it was in their best interest to keep the name Tyrrell.
When it was no longer economically feasible to maintain the sugar mills after a modern sugar factory was built at Gunthrope’s, rail lines were laid from Gunthrope’s to Tyrrell, where sugar cane sidings were built and the cane from the fields was drawn by cattle carts, mule carts and donkeys until the mid-twentieth century.
The sugar cane sidings built on Tyrrell’s estate were not only for that plantation, but also for farmers who grew sugar cane on plots of rented land as far away as Doigs, Barters, Patterson, Barrel Beef, Howard, Buckshorn, Richmond, Table Hill Gordon, and Piccadilly. Willis Freeman, an adjoining estate, also had sidings where canes were brought from Bodkins and Morris Looby.
Mr. Theophilus Roberts was one of the major peasant farmers of Tyrrell’s estate and a quasi-manager for the peasant farmers. He supervised the packing of the canes at Tyrrell’s sidings, made sure that the peasants’ canes were packed and carried off to the Antigua Sugar Factory, and that accurate records were kept of the trucks packed at the sidings, so that the cane packers would be paid fairly for their labor. He and his family were devout members of St. Paul Anglican Church. There is a plaque on the wall of St. Barnabas dedicated to him and his wife.
Those who labored in the sugar industry were poorly paid. In the 1960’s, sugar cane cutters in Antigua were only getting thirty-six cents per line, and a line is ten rods. A man’s day pay was $5.00. That amounts to $30.00 per week. A woman’s day pay was $3.–. I looked at the pay scale for cane cutters in 1918 and discovered that the price for cutting canes per line was one and a half cent per line. In 1918, five cents per day was paid to children who worked in the small gang, six cents per day for adolescents, sixteen cents per day for women, and twenty-four cents per day for men. As a boy in the 1930’s and 40’s, I remember going to the cow pasture to pick up dung with my mother. She was paid approximately six cents per bag, and shortly before my mother died in 1992 at age 91, she told me that for the first half of her adult life all she made laboring in the fields was about a shilling a day.
Eventually, the European land barons sold Tyrrell to one of Antigua’s native sons, Mr. John I. Martin, a real estate mogul in the early twentieth century who started leasing it out to peasant farmers in small acreage. He gave small farmers the opportunity to grow sugar cane on a less grand scale.
Two windmill bases are still standing on the estate, and the great house on the west side of the Liberta Main Road near the evergreen tree was a major landmark in Liberta until the late 1960’s, when it was destroyed. It was this evergreen tree on which the freed slaves erected a huge sign proclaiming, “This is the village of Libertha!”side of the Liberta Main Road near the evergreen tree was a major landmark in Liberta until the late 1960’s, when it was destroyed. It was this evergreen tree on which the freed slaves erected a huge sign proclaiming, “This is the village of Libertha!”
1941: Antigua Sugar Factory Ltd Cane Returns for 1941 Crop. Tyrrell’s. Estimated 1931 tons, 83 acres estate, – acres peasants on the estate, tons of cane delivered 1198.
“Freed slaves from the estate settled Hamlet, which is on the south side of Tyrrel prior to emancipation. Hamlet became an integral part of the official village of Liberta after it was born. However, many of the freed slaves stayed on the plantation until it was
economically feasible to depart. Eventually, the European land barons sold Tyrrell’s to Antigua’s native sons, Mr. John I Martin, a real estate mogul in the early twentieth century who started leasing it out to peasant farmers in small acreage. He gave small farmers the opportunity to grow sugar cane on a less grand scale. “ Hewlester J. Samuel, Jr.
1950’s: According to the Syndicate Estates minutes, they leased a few of the estates cane lands for the owners such as Collins (#98) which was leased for $1,500 per annum except for the 15 acres surrounding the Collins house formerly retained by Mrs. R.S.D. Goodwin and to include Elliott’s house.
Enslaved People’s History
Legacies of British Slave-ownership: 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 estate contained 625 acres and 112 enslaved people in 1829, and we also have this story remaining from Hewlester J Samuel, Jr.: “Freed slaves from the estate settled Hamlet, which is on the south side of Tyrrell prior to emancipation. Hamlet became an integral part of the official village of Liberta after it was born. However, many of the freed slaves stayed on the plantation until it was economically feasible to depart. Eventually, the European land barons sold Tyrrell’s to Antigua’s native sons, Mr. John I. Martin, a real estate mogul in the early twentieth century who started leasing it out to peasant farmers in small acreage. He gave small farmers the opportunity to grow sugar cane on a less grand scale.” We will continue our quest for more information about these vital individuals.
Ownership prior Marcus Kirwan
- 1692: Capt. John Tankard (d.1699)
- 1699: John Tankard (d.1756)
- 1756: Barry Tankard
- 1750: Rear Adm. Richard Tyrrell
- 1790: Heirs of Adm. R. Tyrrell – 1777/78 Luffman map
- 1802: Richard Tyrrell Barnes
- 1829: Heirs of Tyrrell
- 1843: Heirs of Tyrrell (leased to W. Ledeatt)
- 1878: Thomas D. Foote
- 1891: Thomas Foote
- 1921: Dobridge Family. St. Kitts
- 1922: William Coulls Ledeatt
- 1940: John I. Martin
- 1950’s: Antigua Syndicate Estates, Ltd.
- 1967: Antigua Government – Crown land