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Bayfords Estate, St. Kitts
Bayfords Estate, St. Kitts

This estate is in the Parish of St. Peters, in the hills above Basseterre. Its first known owner was Thomas Bridgewater. At the time of the sale of the French lands on St. Kitts, Bridgewater was already in occupation of the estates but had to pay the Commissioners for it in 1726. The plantation then consisted of approximately 84 acres. At the time of bidding Bridgewater had 28 acres under new cane, 12 acres of ratoon cane, 15 acres of guts and broken land some planted in provisions, and 6 acres unplanted. Pastures, the dwelling house and the boiling house and its complex occupied another 15 acres. The house measured 36 by 12 feet, was boarded and shingled, the boiling house was about 30 feet long, half shingled and half thatched. He proposed to build a proper still house on it within 18 months of purchase. He offered eight pounds sterling per acre for 72 acres of cane land and 5 pounds per acre for the remainder.

Thomas Bridgewater of St. Peters had been a member of the Nevis Assembly in 1710 and Chief justice in 1715. On his death in 1744, property passed into the hands of Dr. George Irwin who had married, Bridgewater’s daughter, Susannah. By 1753, the estate belonged to Richard Rowland and was known as Rowland Hill. Rowland had married Margaret, another of Bridgewater’s daughters. It is not clear why the estate changed hand but a later document suggests that Irwin had amassed a considerable amount of debt and this could have been the reason for the change in ownership. Rowland’s will dated 10 June 1761 he left the property to his daughter Margaret. She married David Bayford, whose name is still associated with the estate.

A description of the damage caused by the hurricane of 1772, shows what buildings and works were on the estate.

Three westward chambers and shed of the mansion house quite down and two chambers damaged; Mr. Frank Rowland's hall and two chambers demolished, kitchen, pantry and wine room irreparable; the hot house, mule pen, cattle pen, mill house, trash house, overseer's house of two chambers, shead, two shead rooms and hall all in ruins; stable, boiling house, curing house and still house very much damaged; nine mules and one bull killed; four acres of canes of this year’s crop and six of next year quite destroyed; ten hhds of sugar lost in the snow Thistle, Capt. Hunter.

In 1802 Margaret Bayford conveyed the property to Clement Caines but she was still noted as the owner when the McMahon map of 1828 was created. It could be that the arrangement had fallen through.

In 1817 William Wharton Rawlins, Son-in-law to Margaret Bayford, trustee for the estate made a return that included 362 enslaved workers. These were probably at Bayfords and the family’s other property Walk Estate. The majority of the enslaved were born in St. Kitts and worked as plantation labourers or trades men. Very few were household servants. At the time of the return, the oldest person on the estate was ninety year old Betty Burt, a creole of Nevis who had been superannuated. The youngest was a one month old girl called Kitsey Addams.

In 1834, John Bayford (Son of Margaret Bayford) was awarded £307 15s 8d for the enslaved at Bayfords and £5046 11s 3d for the enslaved at The Walk while Harriette Bayfords (daughter of Margaret Bayford) was awarded £307 15s 8d for the enslaved at Bayfords

Between 1849 and 1852 James H Bayford and Augustus A F Bayford assigned the land to James Udall for 500 years.

Solomon Wade acquired Bayfords in 1861. That same year the plantation received five labourers (two adult males, two adult females and a boy) from the group of Indian immigrants. Wade sold the property again in 1871.

Thomas Brownbill

J. A Branch bought/leased the property (date not found) and on the 21 st Sept 1871 at his request Solomon Abraham Wade assigned it and released it to William Brownbill. The Brownbill family continued to own Bayfords till 1948 when it was acquired by government from Thomas Brownbill.

The land was acquired by the Bayfords Acquisition Act of 1943 and included both Rowland Hill (72 acres) and Blois (88 acres) estates.  The government estimates for 1943 show that Government had started running a stock and Dairy Farm. Under Scheme D 186 a grant of £7723 was made available to the Administration for the setting up of a dairy farm with the immediate objective of making the island less dependent on imported condensed milk. It was also intended to develop the farm as an educational centre in dairy management and for breeding of small stock for distribution in St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla. A manager, overseer and 2 stock men were employed.

By 1956 Government had 143 cattle at Bayfords and In 1961 Bayford’s produced 21,764 gallons of milk. Of this amount, 3635 gallons were used by the Cunningham Hospital and the rest sold to private homes. The farm was also producing cattle and pigs for slaughter and for breeding purposes. From time to time the stock was refreshed with the purchase of cattle from abroad. For example, in 1970 Minister W F Glasford and Vet Dr. A Vaughan went to the Dorado Farms in Puerto Rico to acquire cattle to enhance the herd at Bayfords. They purchased 6 heifers and 2 bulls of the Holstein Frisians breed. The animals arrived in St. Kitts by charter flight of Seagreen Air Transport on Friday 6th Nov at 4.00pm

In 1984 an attempt was made to put the enterprise on a better commercial footing. It was to provide milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ice-cream and flavoured milk drinks for local consumption and for the hotel industry. School children were to be provided with fresh milk on a daily basis. Repairs to the buildings and refurbishment of the equipment was undertaken. However the maintenance of the infrastructure and waste continued to be a problem so that in 1990 a task force recommended the privatization of the enterprise.

National Archives
Government Headquarters
Church Street
Basseterre
St. Kitts, West Indies

Tel: 869-467-1422 | 869-467-1208
Website: www.nationalarchives.gov.kn
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