Documentary evidence for the Spring Estate

 

Excerpt of 1828 McMahon Map showing the location of The Spring Estate and slave village.

The plantation recorded on McMahon's map of 1828 as 'The Spring', was first recorded as such in 1770. It is mentioned in the will of Daniel Cunningham, then of Ludlow in Shropshire but late of the island of St Christopher. Cunningham demised to his wife Elizabeth and her trustees his plantation in the parish of St Mary Cayon called The Spring which he purchased from Clement Crooke, Doctor of Physic (National Archives PROB11/1036).

The earliest detailed maps of St Kitts possibly show the Spring Plantation. Norwood's map of 1700 and Buor's map of 1716 both show a plantation, held by Ensign Crook and Clement Crook respectively, which is possibly the Lodge; on both maps the Spring may be an un-named or un-numbered plantation shown to the south.

One Clement Crooke certainly held a plantation in the parish of St Mary Cayon by c1706, when he made claim for losses suffered in the recent French attack on the island as follows:

"Clement Crook of St Mary Cayon planter:

Framed house of 2 rooms 34 feet long and 15 broad of Leeward timber except the rafters, ends and sides boarded... worth £150 A framed room 17 by 21 feet with a porch, some part boarded, £80 A boiling house 34 by 21 feet with Leeward posts and sides... Molasses cistern of boards." National Archives, CO 243/2, Fo 86

This is possibly our earliest description of the Spring. Clement Crooke esq is also recorded as purchasing property at or close to the plantation later known as the Spring in 1717, when he;

"...purchased from Henry Bostick mariner and Elizabeth his wife, and John Morris mason and Sarah his wife, their interest in a plantation in the parish of Christchurch Nichola Town, bounded at the head with a fig tree and lands of Mr Henry Duport, E with Soldiers Gutt, on the W with other lands of Mr Stephen Duport, running upon a line from the said fig tree to the sea and bounded at the foot with the sea, and in the whole c. 30 acres." St Kitts Common Records 1727-1729, Records numbers19-25.

By 1729 Clement Crooke was "late deceased" and two other plantations in the northern former French part of the island, "the quarter of Capisterre", had passed to his son Henry (St Kitts Common Records 1727-1729, Records numbers 56 and 66). This cannot have been the same Clement Crooke who later sold the Spring to Daniel Cunningham. Daniel Cunningham esq evidently owned the Spring by 1750 when he mortgaged it to Robert Colhoun esq for £14,880 plus interest. By then it was described as;

"all that plantation in the parish of St Mary Cayon, c168 acres 3 roods 11 perches, and all that mountain land and wood land belonging to the same bounded to the N with lands late of Samuel Crooke, to the E with lands of William Ottley esq and Timothy Earle esq, to the S with the tops of the mountains, to the W partly with the ridge and partly with the gut which divides the same from the lands of John Burryau', together with 130 negro and other slaves." St Kitts Common Records Book H, number 4, 1833, fol 326.

At this stage Clement Crooke may have retained some interest in the estate. First, in the period 1755 to 1758 the index to deeds records transactions from Clement Crooke to Daniel Cunningham as deeds 5703-4 and 5932 (St Kitts Common Records, Index Book X, number 1; unfortunately the volumes for these years were too fragile even to be microfilmed so are not accessible for this research). Secondly, Clement Crooke was shown as the owner of this estate on Baker's map of 1753.

Later title deeds show that by 1832 the two plantations known as the Spring and the Lodge formed a single estate, which had formerly belonged to one William Crooke who was now deceased. By a series of complex legal proceedings linked to the redemption of existing mortgages the two plantations then passed to David Elliott esq formerly of Clifton, the wealthy suburb of Bristol, who in that year sold the estate to Charles Adamson, a planter of St Kitts, recorded as the owner on McMahon's map of 1828 (St Kitts Common Records Book H, number 4, 1833, fols 308-345). The deed of sale includes a schedule with the names, ages and gender of the slaves sold with the estate; this can be compared with the earlier list of 1750 and the triennial register of 1828 (St Christopher Triennial Return of Slaves Book D).