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Commentary: Tidbits: Arnos Vale Estate
Published on April 20, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

langford_lodge.jpg
Landford Lodge, ancestral home of the Greatheeds

Tidbits: “choice morsels” mostly from Legacies of British Slave-ownership database

By Anatol Leopold Scott

The founder of the West Indian Greatheed families was John Greatheed (d. 1739). He and his wife, Francis Greatheed, emigrated to St Kitts, purchased land from the Crown, bought slaves to work on their sugar plantation and, as a result, amassed a considerable fortune, which enabled them to buy several properties (Guy's Cliffe and other lands in Warwick and Old Milverton) when they returned to England.

anatol_scott.jpg
Anatol Leopold Scott is a graduate of the St Vincent Boys’ Grammar School. In 1969, he was appointed executive secretary of the St Vincent Tourist Board under James Mitchell, the then minister of agriculture, tourism, and trade. He emigrated to Canada where he worked at different jobs in government and private enterprises. He pursued higher education at the University Of Alberta, graduating BA (1993) with distinction, and MA (1994) in History.
His St Kitts plantation was then left to be managed by his fourth son, Christopher Greatheed (1714-1780) and, thereafter, by his grandson, Richard (Bertie) Greatheed, son of Samuel Greatheed, another of John Greatheed's 12 sons.

Samuel Greatheed, the Elder (d. 1829), of Landford Lodge, Wiltshire and St Vincent, was the son of Christopher Greatheed and Mary Greatheed (née Crooke, of Croydon, Surrey) who had managed the St Kitts estate for his father. Samuel purchased the land that became Arnos Vale Estate (449 acres) on St Vincent early in the 1764 land auctions. The purchase was made jointly under the title of 'Crooke and Greatheed,' with William Crooke (his mother’s relative) holding half ownership.

Possibly because of marital difficulties between William Crooke and his wife, Mary Wilson, William’s moiety (half share) in Arnos Vale Estate had been passed, for safekeeping, to Mary Greatheed, Christopher's wife. After the death of William Crooke, in her 1792 Will, Mary Greatheed passed William’s moiety to her son Samuel Greatheed so that, when the Elder died in 1826 and passed his moiety to Samuel, Arnos Vale was left, in entail, to Samuel Greatheed Junior (d. 1847).

According to production records uncovered for the period 1801-1818, there is no doubt that the plantation Samuel inherited was a very successful operation: with an average annual use of 331 slaves, it produced the following totals: sugar - 12,118,443 lbs., rum - 423,008 gals., and molasses - 68,334 gals.

Samuel Jnr. also inherited the family estate, Landford Lodge, Wiltshire, and all land in England extending to ‘the heirs of his body lawfully issuing, in default to next son and so on… split equally between any daughters.’ According to the Elder's will, Samuel had the choice of keeping or selling the Arnos Vale estate.

The Elder's will also specified that provision had been made earlier, at the time of her marriage, for his daughter, Mary Trollope (née Greatheed), who had married Barnard Trollope. But interestingly, in an 1826 codicil to his 1823 will, possibly because of concerns over Barnard Trollope's debts, the Elder left strict instructions to his trustees giving Mary Trollope additional legacies of £1,500 – to be invested in Bank of England stock – to be independent of her husband’s debts and liabilities and £1,000 to be held by trustees at the disposal of Mary Trollope in addition to what has been given, entirely free from her husband.

Samuel Junior’s second wife, Sophia Greatheed (née White), was the mother of his second son, John Greatheed. At the time of his father's death, John Greatheed inherited the second Greatheed Estate on St Vincent, Belleisle Estate, 486 acres, which had belonged to Michael White, his mother's relative (owner of Petit Bordelle and Sharpe’s Estate).

John's mother, Sophia Greatheed, was appointed executor of all of Samuel's estates during the time 'she shall continue unmarried and sole guardian of my children by her.’ He also left her his 'Carriage with four wheels and any musical instruments I may have.' He had estimated that Arnos Vale Estate was worth £24,000.

Had Samuel Junior sold Arnos Vale estate to satisfy the Elder's wishes, his legacies to his children with Sophia, John Greatheed and Sophia Burgess (née Greatheed), would have been met from proceeds of the sale and it would have been 'equally divided between wife and children with money split between younger children and, If they die before 21, money should go to their children or else be equally divided between surviving siblings.'

Interestingly, if the Arnos Vale Estate were sold, he also would have left: to the lawful children of Sir George Cooper, Knight late, one of the judges of Supreme Court of Madras, £4,000 to be equally divided interest at rate of 4% p/a.; to Samuel Cooper, late surgeon in British army and brother of George Cooper Knight, £4,000; to Leonard Cooper, captain in EIC Army adjutant of the Black Town, Madras, brother of Sir George Cooper, Knight, £4,000; to his cousin Richard Wilson Greatheed £500 ‘as a mark of my esteem and affection for him.' He also left 'to Edward [Cammy?] my manager and attorney in the island of St Vincent £500 as a mark of my sense of his very valuable services.’

The will of Samuel Greatheed, the Elder, was proved in 1829 but Arnos Vale Estate had not been sold by his son, Samuel. It is not known whether the legacies to non-family members were ever honoured but it is known that those to Sophia and her children were not. In 1833, therefore, John Greatheed took Samuel Greatheed to court and won a judgement of £10,000.

In 1834, a claim for compensation based on a total of 284 slaves 128(F) 156(M) on the estate was submitted (the number of slaves had undergone a drastic decline from the 1818 level).

In 1836, Samuel Greatheed, as owner, and John Greatheed, as trustee, were awarded £7,648 17s 3d – EC$95,827; how or whether this amount was split between the brothers has not been determined but, in 1846, the estate was charged with £24,000 for two children, John and Sophia, and mortgaged to Boddington & Davis.

Samuel Greatheed died in 1847 (will proved in 1847) but, in his will he indicated that his estate (including Arnos Vale and his freehold at Landford) should be sold and the proceeds put in trust for his wife and four children. In 1847, the family was obliged, as a result of debt, to dispose of Landford Lodge and its lands but Arnos Vale was still not sold.

Samuel Greatheed's son, William Samuel Greatheed, sold his commission and tried to turn around the estate between 1850 and 1853 but he was unsuccessful. The estate was unproductive throughout 1854 and, in 1855, as executor of her husband’s estates, Mrs Sophia Greatheed 'distrained' on crops and stock, mules etc.' Soon after, the estate was sold for £10,500 – EC$131,544 to a Rev. F. Brathwaite.

It is interesting to note that, compared to Arnos Vale Estate in 1834, John Greatheed, the disgruntled son of Samuel Greatheed the Elder, submitted a compensation claim for the 114 slaves on his Belleisle Estate and was awarded an uncontested amount of £3,210 5s 7d – EC$40, 215. As usual, however, the ‘freed’ slaves and their progeny were left with none of the financial or social benefits that had flowed from the two estates.
 
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Comments:

peter nolan:

arnos vale cemetary in bristol england is that part of this family if so how did it come about ?

KaribbeanKat:

The name Arnos Vale was most likely imported from Bristol. How and why I do not know. Bristol was Englands main slave trading port.

Arno's Vale (also written Arnos Vale) is an area near the centre of the city. It includes the historic Arno's Vale Cemetery, which occupies 45 acres (180,000 m2) in the neighbouring Knowle ward. The cemetery was closed in 1998, but it has been kept open by volunteers since. Arno's Vale Cemetery is part of the old Arno's Court Estate. It is one of only four estates in Bristol that still have the original estate house standing (now known as Arno's Manor Hotel). The remaining estate land includes the cemetery, the hotel and Arno's Court Park. The park, which has views across Bristol, connects two geographically separate areas in Bristol (Knowle & Brislington), separated by a very steep hill within the park.

What remains of Arno's Estate, which includes the Parkside Hotel, Brislington, Arno's Court Triumphal Arch and Black Castle Public House is situated beside the A4 road two miles (3 km) south east of Bristol city centre. The main roads to Bath and Wells run through the area.
see
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brislington_West_(ward)

Mr Scott you once said your research in the matter of Saint Vincents estates took you 3 years to research. What you have presented here I could present with just 5 minutes research.

An indication of the degree of property abandonment in Saint Vincent is presented in the Blue Book of St. Vincent for the years 1854 through 1857. There were 82 estates listed by name for these years (excluding 5 in the Grenadines) , but only 75 were being worked in 1854; 69 were worked in 1855; 62 were worked in 1856; and 63 were cultivated in 1857. In 1854, Kingstown District (Including St. George Parish, part of St. Andrew Parish and the Grenadine dependencies) was acknowledged to have 8 estates "formerly cultivated in Sugar, now abandoned," constituting about 1,500 acres. In 1859 the number of working estates was almost half of what it was in 1819, when 104 estates were in production.

In order to restore abandoned estates and those heavily encumbered with debt to sugar cultivation, in compliance with the provisions of the Encumbered Estates Act, local commissioners were chosen to adjudicate differences over title, ownership, and the priority of liens. All court actions were given final uniform decisions by a central court in London. To initiate legal action for the sale of an encumbered estate, the owner or any creditor could petition the Encumbered Estates Court in St. Vincent or London. If no objections were raised within a 6-month waiting period to hinder the sale, an order for sale was issued. All creditors with liens on the property had to file their cases with the court's secretary and were put on a priority list for the distribution of the proceeds of sale in the order of the filing of their claims.

A disputed legal point in the system of sale of insolvent estates was the "consignee's lien." The cyclical nature of prosperity in sugar production often forced the proprietors to seek advance loans with interest from their merchant agents in England. The merchants stipulated that for the duration of the loan all plantation produce had to be consigned to them with a commission fee and transported in their ships. Legal precedence gave the consignee's lien first priority on the assets of an estate. As it happened under the Encumbered Estates Act, merchant agents would file for the sale of an insolvent estate, assured that their claims would be the first met. The depression in St. Vincent's sugar industry, in addition to the deteriorated conditions of abandoned or mismanaged plantations, reduced the sale value of estates to a fraction of their unencumbered working value. Very often, with the support of the consignee's lien, merchant agents or their attorneys petitioned the courts for the sale of estates and succeeded in buying them for nominal sums. A finalized sale guaranteed the purchaser undisputed parliamentary title to his property. Disputed titles were thus cleared up, but the concentration of ownership in a few hands was intensified, a problem left unsolved by the Encumbered Estates Act of 1856 in St. Vincent. For example, the firm of D. K. Porter and Company in England (and its local representative in the colony, James Graham) eventually controlled 20 estates in St. Vincent, most of them purchased through the court.

Once the Encumbered Estates Act was passed in St. Vincent and the first sale of an estate under its provisions was completed in 1858, it remained in force until 1888 when the last estate was sold in the court. Beachey states that there were 30 sales in St. Vincent over the 30-year life of the court (with only 3 sales through the local court In Kingstown) , while the St. Vincent Registrar-General s office records only 21 separate sales.

Some involved more than a single estate by the same owner, while sales involved "moieties" or half shares of an estate. In all, 23 estates were brought to sale in whole or in part.

The first estate sold, Arnos Vale, was one of the most profitable estates before debt forced its owner to abandon cultivation in 1854 and place it in chancery. At the peak of its prosperity in 1828, the 454-acre estate produced 341 tons of muscovado sugar and employed 307 slaves. It provided an annual income in excess of £10,000 at that time. When it was brought to the Encumbered Estates Court in 1858, however, it had an accumulated debt of £30,000. The sale on November 1, 1858, was for the sum of £10,050, the highest price paid for an estate sold under the provisions of the court in St. Vincent or in the rest of the British West Indies. The sale price was double that of other
Vlncentian estates sold over the next 30 years. Most of the estates handled by the court were sold during the 1860s when there was a desire to restore abandoned or unproductive estates to cultivation with a more dependable labor supply in the form of East Indian indentured immigrants. The final petitions for sale of encumbered estates were filed in 1888, and by the following year, the St. Vincent legislature had passed orders abolishing the West Indian Encumbered Estates Act upon recommendation of a Royal Commission sent to investigate conditions



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