Today in Postal History



Antigua to England
August 10, 1850

This stampless folded letter received a nice strike of an Antigua double circle handstamp.
Antigua is one of the wonderful Caribbean Leeward Islands.
It is east of Saint Christopher-Nevis and north of Guadeloupe.
The Trans-Atlantic routing requested was Per Packet 10th Augt 1850.

Stanley Gibbons notes regarding Antigua, "Mail services before 1850 were somewhat haphazard,
until St. John's was made a branch office of the British G.P.O. in 1850."
This letter seems sufficiently orderly to have been after the G.P.O. took charge.

The destination was Wells in Somersetshire west of London and about 30 km south of Bristol.
It appears that the 'Wells' was added after the cover had been addressed.
Whether this was added by the sender or by someone along the way is a question.

The letter was received in London with a red Crown WU CDS on September 2.
There it was rated at 2/ and forwarded to Wells.
The CDS indicates its receipt at Wells on September 2.
The CDS includes the Somersetshire county designator.

The addressee was Robt. Charles Tudway.*
The Tudways were absentee owners of the Parham sugar plantation
near Parham (the first capital of Antigua) on the northeast side of the island.
The papers of the plantation business have been microfilmed.
The papers are available in East Ardsley, England.
The microfilms are described as follows in the
Special Collections Division of the University of Missouri - Columbia Libraries (2 citations on third page):

THE TUDWAY OF WELLS ANTIGUAN ESTATE PAPERS, 1689-1907. East Ardsley: Microform Academic Publishers, 1999. 30 reels. (British records relating to America in microform).

    Note: Guide: A Brief Introduction to the Microfilm Edition of the Tudway of Wells Estate Papers, by Kenneth Morgan. SPEC-R HD8244.4 .M67 1999.

    The records included in this collection cover over three centuries of the operation of an Antiguan sugar plantation, providing the most complete surviving private records pertaining to these plantations. The plantation, called Parham and located on the eastern part of the island of Antigua in what was the British Caribbean, was owned by the Tudway family of Wells Somerset and was in operation by 1689, contributing to the sugar boom experienced by the island in the 1680s. The Tudway family, a prosperous middle-classą family, acted as absentee owners who rarely visited the plantation; thus, they did not witness the slave-labor source of their wealth.

Records in these papers cover the years 1689 to 1920 and consist of a virtually complete set of annual accounts during those years, correspondence dating from 1717 to 1898 written from both Britain and Antigua, paylists, slave registers, and records of sugar cane experiments from 1905 to 1907. The records provide full details on all operating aspects of a sugar plantation as well as attitudes on absentee landlords and legislation affecting the sugar business and are valuable for reconstructing the social and economic history of the British Caribbean.

1.  Although identified here as "middle-class", some records indicate that the Tudways were members of the peerage. . . Editor

This cover was docketted as the Returns for July 1850 for various parts of the sugar plantation in Antigua.
The parts were:  Old Work E[state], New Work E[state], and Lodge (short for Parham Lodge)**


*Thanks to Richard Frajola for correcting the name of the addressee.

He added that the Codrington and the Tudway correspondences
are the two major sources of Antigua postal history.
This hint led to the notes on the Parham Plantation.


**Thanks to Mary Gleadall of Calgary who suggested 'Lodge.'
Ms. Gleadall is writing a history of Guiana Island.
From her notes, The Parham Lodge property (aka Parham Hill Plantation)
was acquired by Tudway and Turney in 1697.

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