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Home > Antigua & Barbuda > Barbuda > History

Barbuda - History

From 1685 to 1870 Barbuda was leased by the British Crown to the Codrington family, for one fat sheep a year. The Codrington family from Cheltenham in England owned other plantations in the Caribbean and used Barbuda to provide livestock, wood, charcoal, lime and provisions to the plantations they owned in Antigua. It is rumoured that they wanted to breed slaves for sale to other islands although the extent of their plans remain unknown. The slaves that were in Barbuda were able to use the island to provide for themselves and worked the land together.

After emancipation in 1834 the slaves on Barbuda became Crown tenants as their traditional rights over many years of using the land freely were recognised. Barbudans have fiercely protected this right to their land and this has led to much disagreement between themselves and the government of Antigua. To this day only Barbudans can own land in Barbuda and their land is given to them free of charge.

This unique history has resulted in little development of the island and prevented many of the undesirable influences of tourism from affecting the way of life here. Life continues in much the same way as in the past and so as an eco-tourism destination it is second to none.

Historical Sites

Many of the old buildings from the days of slavery remain untouched and easily accessible. The ruins of the house built by the Codringtons on the highest point of the island can be explored, and one can see almost the whole coastline from this point.

At various other points on the coastline look-out towers were built and the River Fort is a superb example of this kind of building.

There are many AmerIndian sites where evidence of even earlier settlements remain. Local people have a wide knowledge of the areas and the history and will show visitors where to look and what to look for. Many of the local names of places have a fascinating history, for example, Two Foot Bay, a beautiful beach on the north of the island. Here an escaping slave put his shoes on backwards to fool his followers and the name remains today.

Throughout the village there are wells that date back many years and still provide water today. The old village walls built from stone are in evidence and the houses in the village reflect the variety of building styles over the years.

For more on Barbuda : History | Things to Do & See | Day Tours

We thank Claire Frank of ArtCafé for providing information and images for these pages.

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