Type: Extant
Parish: St.John
Founding date: 1660
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Current Status

The original sugar mill at Weatherill’s remains intact, along with several of the outbuildings.  The estate house is not the original; the existing structure is the second home to be built that we know of during the Lane family era (1882 – 1945).  It is one of the few estate houses left standing in Antigua and has always been privately owned.

It is built entirely of wood and contains some unusual features, such as louvered inner walls to permit the inflow of fresh breezes.  The outbuildings in the back courtyard are built of stone, and they and the mill itself date from the period 1706.  Several coppers, iron tanks, and other remnants of that era are strewn around the yard.

Estate Related History/Timeline

In Volumes I and II of his History of Antigua and the Antiguans, Vere Oliver notes that on July 25, 1787, 80 acres of the nearby Dickenson Bay Plantation (#10) were bounded on the east and north by the property of James Weatherill.  As early as 1760, the same 80 acres belonged “to the heirs of (the younger Colonel) James Weatherill,” and on the south, the Plantation was “bounded by the heirs of Henry Knight, deceased, now in the possession of Samuel Nibbs (and indentured) “to Richard and Richard Oliver.” Its western property line was bounded by land which “heretofore (was) the plantation of Nathaniel Knight.”

At some point, the entire Dickenson Bay Plantation apparently was assimilated into Weatherill’s, the Mackinnon’s Plantation (#10), or both.  The heirs of Nathaniel Knight are listed as owners who operated a cattle mill.  Samuel Nibbs also may have owned the Ffryes Plantation (#118); his property and the Mackinnon estate are both shown to the south of Henry and Nathaniel Knight’s estate, opposite Mackinnon’s pond.

Other nearby estates to the Weatherill Plantation were Langfords Plantation (#6) to the south and Crosbies Plantation (#2) to the east.  The entire area has historically been known as part of the Popeshead Division and is still occasionally referred to as “Popeshead.”

The elder Colonel James Weatherill served as Captain of the privateer Ye Charles of Jamaica, and in 1697/98, he captured a valuable Spanish ship. He was spared incarceration because the Court refused to put him on trial for piracy.  He served as a member of the Assembly for Popeshead Division in 1700/01; his son served as Aide de Camp to Governor Hart in  1723.  He also owned the 575-acre Duncombe’s Folly estate in St. John’s Parish.

In 1746, during the Weatherill’s Plantation ownership by Margaret Weatherill, widow of the elder Colonel, “Michael Lambert Weatherill granted to Richard Oliver all (land of the) Popeshead Plantation charged with the dower of Margaret Weatherill and the debts and legacies of James Weatherill.”  (As noted above, Richard Oliver was indentured to the property in 1760.)

John Halliday, who owned the plantation in 1776, was born in Antigua, a nephew of William Dunbar and son-in-law of Francis Delap, both prominent residents of the island.  Halliday was of Scottish heritage, his ancestors having figured in the history of Scotland (Kircudbright, County Galloway) since the sixteenth century.

Halliday owned no fewer than seven plantations across Antigua, the two most important being Boone’s (#1) and Weatherill’s, both in St. John’s Parish.  He entered the Antigua Assembly in 1755, resigned from the position two years later, and returned to the Assembly in 1761.  He also was the island’s Customs Collector from 1759 to 1777, receiving the four-and-one-half percent export duty.  It was an office of considerable importance since the port of St. John’s was far superior to its only rival on the island, Parham.

John Delap Halliday was married in 1771 to Jane, the youngest daughter of Sir Lionel Tollemach, a family name identified as owners of Weatherill from 1829 (Rear Admiral John Halliday Tollemach) to 1869 (John Tollemach). He owned Gambles (#14) with 100 acres, Glanville’s (#97) with 296 acres, Lavicount, Weatherill’s, Delaps (#137) with 240 acres, Boone’s (#1) with 85 acres, Blizzard’s, Rockhill with 320 acres, and another un-named estate in St. Mary’s Parish with 303 acres.  Halliday donated £500 toward the construction of the new Anglican Church.                                                     

Janet Shaw, Journal of A Lady of Quality.

By 1829, the estate’s 304 acres included four beaches: Store Bay called Store Bay because, at the end of the seventeenth century, a large storage house was built there to store sugar from the plantation before it was loaded onto flat-bottom barges for delivery to the big sailing ships anchored offshore.  

In 1833, the Weatherill’s estate received a Legacy Award (Antigua 39) from the British Parliament of £1,823. 6s. 3d. for 119 slaves about to be freed.  The deceased beneficiary was Daniel Hill, so the awardee became John Tollemach, but since he was also deceased, the award was presented to Vice Admiral John Richard Delaps Tollemach (nee Halliday).  The unsuccessful claimants were William Lee, George Wickham, Washington Ledeatt, and Daniel Hill, who was deceased.

Many planters believed that with the abolition of slavery, there would be some relaxation of labour, but Dr. Daniels, manager of Weatherill’s, found all hands in the fields early the following Monday.  However,  at his own estate (probably Belmont #19), his people were standing with their hands on their hoes, doing nothing.  When he asked them why they were not working, they replied:  “it’s not because we don’t want to work, Massa, but we want to see you first to see what the bargain would be!“  After that discussion, they happily returned to work.

Thomas  Lane came to Antigua in 1790 as Colonial Secretary. He purchased Scott’s Hill, then Marble Hill, and in 1882 Weatherill’s, for which he paid £1,000. When Thomas Edgar Lane assumed ownership of the estate in 1882, he rebuilt the main house at a cost of £1,000 using the original foundation of lignum vitae, and furnished the home with beautiful mahogany furniture shipped from England.  The dining table sat thirty guests comfortably.

    “Mr. Lane has rebuilt the dwelling-house and affected other improvements. There is an old family burial ground here, and several brick vaults, but the top slabs with the MI (memorial encription) were lost or destroyed before Mr. Lane’s time.  This burial ground and the one at Mount Jarvis are the only two of all the plantation family burial places that are still kept clean and cared for.  Nearly all the others have been desecrated and are used for mule-pens or dust-heaps.  Langford’s (#6) was full of old iron and other rubbish.”                                   

Vere Oliver, Vol. III

The walled Weatherill’s estate burial ground dates back to Viscount Combermere (1870) and is located northeast of the main house.  The gravestones have been moved to the Anglican Churchyard in Cedar Grove.  The stables were east of the house, the cattle pen on the south side down the hill, and the native houses on the southwest side, also down the hill.  The plantation overseer was a Carib and had a house near the mill on the south side of the property.

January 26, 1866, is the date of a letter sent to Viscount Combermere at Combermere Abbey by Mr. Hartman, who had been sent to assess the value of an estate recently purchased by the Viscount.  They included Gambles (#14), Weatherill’s, Delaps (#137), Lucas (#136) and Glanville’s (#97).  An undated note in the Viscount’s papers also stated that Weatherill’s had been sold for £3,000 exclusive of expenses with £2,000 to be paid in return for the £2,000 paid to me by Mr. Birch.”

Mr. Hartman’s report stated: “This estate (Weatherill’s) is situated in what is called the Popeshead District.  It appears to have had less rain than Gambles, and the crop upon it is late and unpromising.  The Manager thinks it will make 150 hhds of sugar, but I think he has overestimated.  Here again, there is a great want of cattle, and about the same sum will be required to be laid out in purchasing Stock as at Gamble’s (10 oxen at 13p. per head £130, and 4 mules at £30 – £120). 

    The buildings, too, are in bad order, requiring to a greater extent than the former Estate.  A new set of mill rollers, etc., have just arrived, the cost of which was £368.  I think it was injudiciously ordered, for with a small additional cost, a Steam Engine might have been put up.  It is fortunate that you acted on my advice and did not send the other that was ordered for Delaps until I was able to report to you what was required.  I shall not at present put up this mill at Weatherills, first because it is too late in the reaping season to take down the mill that is now working.  And secondly, because I think I may be able to make a better arrangement hereafter.

    The lands of the estate are good, but owing to the small number of cattle kept on it and consequently the deficiency of manure, they are poor and require bringing up.  The Estate is about four miles from the Town and shipping place and three miles from Gambles.

    Salaries – Mr. Tollemache’s arrangement, Lord Combermere’s Attorney Edward Becket 79 to 60, Manager, W. H. Harper 120  120, Overseer 55 £245  55  to £235.

    Loss & Revenue report:

    1860  Weatherill’s was the only instance where a loss occurred.

    1861  The estate left a very small surplus.

    1863  Weatherill’s was the only instance where a revenue was produced.

    1864  Of the heavy losses that occurred in this exceptional year, Gamble’s and Weatherill’s bore the best share.

    Average annual expenses for 5 years, including Salaries, laborers’ wages, and all other items £1,148.  Average crop for 5 years 100-118 Hhds. 

    On taking an average of the Revenue or Loss of the Estates collectively for the last 5 years to correspond with the previous Tables, the result could be that they have not met their expenses owing to the disastrous loss on crop in 1864 – but on expunging this exceptional year and substituting 1859, the average annual revenue for 5 years would be L980.

Letter to Viscount Combermere from John Tollemach, dated Saturday, March 4th:

My dear Combermere,

Many thanks for sending me Mr. Harmon’s report of the status of the Antigua Estates.  That report has surprised me greatly, altho’ he was liking not to represent matters in too favorable a light.  Mr. Becket when in London said that the sum owing in the island was trifling.

If the stock are not in good condition, the blame really falls with Mr. Becket.  He was constantly urged to plant guinea corn, instead of buying oats, etc., but he was also urged to keep the animals in good condition. 

When I bought the Steam Plough I naturally reduced the number of working animals, but this was not done without due consideration.  I think you have the statement that showed the reduction.

If the buildings are in base state of repair, it was unknown to me.  I cannot think that Hartman’s statement on the point is hardly a fair one. If the Estates are likely to produce 760 hhds. they cannot be in a bad state of cultivation, altho’ no doubt, like any Estates in England, there can by an expenditure of money, be made still more productive.

A Steam Mill might answer for Delap’s and Lucas’, but I hope you will not send one out for Weatherill’s without due consideration.  Unless an Estate will produce an average of 250 Hhds. of sugar, I do not believe a Steam Mill will pay.

Yrs. Sincerely, J. Tollemach

I enclose a copy of the advertisement which has been inserted every year in the Antigua Papers.  Return to me.”       

Lancashire Archives, Preston Scotland.

Admiral Tollemach brought his nephew, William Bertie Wolseley (d. 1881), to run his estates of Weatherill’s, Gamble’s, Delap’s, etc., but the Admiral continued to live at Weatherill’s.  The managers of these Estates objected to being placed under a 20-year-old boy, but eventually, his fairness and integrity won them over.  William moved to Bellair/Belmont  (#19) in 1828 and may have owned it and received compensation for eleven slaves of £159. 3s. 3p. in 1835.

The Weatherill’s plantation sugar mill was worked until 1912 and was nicknamed “Peggy Halliday, the Greyhound of Popeshead.”  It earned that name because with a strong wind spinning her blades, the windmill turned much faster than that of the Langford’s Plantation (#6) across the way, which was being driven by steam. 

Weatherill’s bronze bell, which regulated all who worked on the estate, was cast in the Whitechapel Foundry, east of London, in the late 1700s.  “The bell was rung every morning at six o’clock and twice during the day, first for the end of the morning shift, then again at two o’clock for the start of the afternoon shift.  The family coach was drawn… by trained mules because they were stronger (than horses) and very sure-footed.

    “Father told me the mules were so well groomed you could rub a white handkerchief on the withers…without staining it.  A slight exaggeration, maybe, though I have no doubt he said it must have been a sight to see.

We had a mule cart for general purposes, fetching and carrying.  The problem was that when the midday bell rang, the mule would do no more work for the day.  It just proves that mules are not as stupid as people think they are.”                                  

Edgar Kasper Lane, Memoirs.

    The plantation’s bell was stolen in 2005 from its hanging place on a beam in an opening of the mill.  It has never been recovered.

    “In 1939, we had riots in Antigua.  It was part of my job to ride to the loading station beyond Marble Hill, almost into town.  This I did as though things were normal.  On my way here, on the public road, I saw a crowd armed with sticks and other weapons coming towards me.  I had either to turn and gallop away or to face them.  I decided on the latter.  When I reached them, somebody said, ‘That is Master Kasper’s pony,’ and as I went by, we exchanged greetings.  About half a mile along the same road, the same crowd came across the Manager of Langford’s estate, who was a black man. They knocked him off his horse, and he was badly beaten.”  

                                Edgar Kasper Lane, Memoirs.

Martin and Lee Schaffler arrived in Antigua in the early 1940s, having escaped to England from Germany during the persecution of Jews at the start of World War II.  They were interred in Montserrat with other Jewish immigrants for the duration of the war.  The family purchased Weatherill’s in 1946 and operated it as a sugar and cotton plantation until the 1970s, when estate farming ceased in Antigua.

When the Schafflers first arrived at Weatherill’s in 1946, Mrs. Schaffler often rode into town in a horse and cart, selling milk to customers

along the way.  Margaret White recalled that her mother was one of Mrs. Schaffler’s customers, and she remembers Mrs. Schaffler driving the cart into her yard.  “It was unusual to see a woman using this mode of transportation, which was usually left to the man,” she said.

Ms. Ella Pinkas, the sister of Mrs. Lee Schaffler, joined the family in the 1950s to assist in running the estate.  She held a law degree from a university in Germany and was a judge but was told that because she was a Jew, she would be prohibited from working.  She had left Germany before the war and settled in England to pursue her career.  She passed away in 2009; Mrs. Schaffler had died in 1997.

The Schafflers had two children, Janice (b. 1943) and Kiki (b. 1945), both of whom attended the Antigua Girl’s High School.  The two women left Antigua but visited often, and they put the Weatherill’s estate house on the market in 2010 for U.S. $5,500,000.  It was purchased in 2013 by Victor Michael.

Weatherill’s is the site of three popular ghost stories.

1.    While babysitting for the Schaffler’s children, Pat Dean retired for the night and heard deep breathing in the bed next to her.  She leaped up, raced across the room, and flipped on the light but saw no one.  She checked on the children and then returned to bed.  Again, deep breathing began, so she spent the remainder of the night in the bedroom with the children.

    Years later, when ghost stories were being told, someone mentioned that a man had been smothered in his sleep at Weatherill’s by his wife’s boyfriend, and the man can sometimes be seen and heard.  Pat realized that’s most likely who she had heard!

2.    Many people, including Pat Dean, have heard running water every morning at seven o’clock.  When the area was checked, there was no sign of running water.  The sound came from the vicinity of the bathroom, and it is assumed somebody in years past probably took a shower every day at 7:00 AM.

3.    On several occasions in the evening, all of the outer shutters suddenly close of their own accord and must be re-opened to admit the evening breezes.

In 1941, the Antigua Sugar Factory Ltd. had cane returns from Weatherill’s estimated at 319 tons; 34 peasants on the Estate.

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 we do know is that there were, at most, 129 slaves. In 1833, the Weatherill’s estate received a Legacy Award (Antigua 39) from the British Parliament of by £1,823. 6s. 3d. for 119 slaves about to be freed. We will continue our quest for more information about these vital individuals.

Ownership Chronology

  • 1660: This estate, originally more than 350 acres, was granted to Colonel James Weatherill by the Crown. d. c.1702
  • 1706: The property was converted to a sugar and sea island cotton plantation
  • 1730: Colonel James Weatherill, most likely the elder Colonel’s son. d. 1745
  • 1740: Sometime prior to this year, ownership transferred to Mrs. Margaret Weatherill. It may be assumed her husband was ill for several years before he died in 1745, and Margaret took over the estate
  • 1766: Michael Lambert Weatherill
  • 1770’s: Charles P. Weatherill, Provost Marshall
  • 1776: John Delap Halliday (1749-1794)
  • 1788: Francis D. Halliday (1777/78 map by cartographer John Luffman.)
  • 1829: Rear Admiral John Richard Delap Halliday Tollemach d. 1837. 304 acres; 129 slaves
  • 1852: John Tollemach, owned the estate until 1869
  • 1871: Viscount Combermere, owned the estate until 1882
  • 1882: Edgar Henry Lane
  • 1945: Edgar Casper Lane b. 1919
  • 1945: Mrs. Maginley, who apparently owned the estate for one year
  • 1946: Martin and Lee Schafler. (See Crosbie’s, #2.) Martin was one of the four estate owners who participated in failed negotiations with the Antigua Trades & Labour Union in the 1940s. He ran the estate until the 1970s, when estate farming in Antigua ceased.) 35 surrounding acres. The remaining 300 acres were sold for development.
  • 2011: The estate house and acreage were for sale
  • 2013: The estate house was purchased by Victor Michael