Papine Estate: History and Overview
The Papine Estate was one of several sugar estates established in the upper reaches of the Liguanea Plain, where it stretches long, narrow fingers of land between the adjacent mountains north-east of the city of Kingston. There is a story that under the Spanish, the entire Plain was one huge hacienda belonging to a Spanish lady who lived at Cavalier’s Penn. According to the story, the English “ungallantly dispossessed her”, then “divided up the land, irrigated it and began to put it into cane” (Cousins n.d.) Hope, Mona and Papine were three of these new sugar estates established west of the Hope River. Hope Estate, immediately north of Papine, dates back to early land grants made to English soldiers, in this case, to Major Richard Hope. The relationship with the Hope Estate would become important with the construction of the aqueduct, which drew water from the river and which eventually ran across the three estates, from Hope to Papine, and then to Mona on Papine’s southern boundary, turning the wheels of the mills to grind all of their sugar cane.
It is said that the name “Papine” was brought to Jamaica by Alexander Grant, a Scot who acquired the estate in 1756. He is said to have been at the Mill of Papine in Scotland when he heard that he had inherited land in Jamaica, and that he carried the name with him to commemorate the moment.2 In an article for the Jamaica Historical Society, Geoffrey Yates (1955) also notes that Col. Alexander Grant of Arndilly and Achoyname in Scotland paid £2,000 for half of a property called Burnett’s Pen, which became the nucleus of the Papine Plantation. A document relating to the 1757 development of the shared water supply names Alexander Grant and Walter Grant as owners of Papine Plantation; while a 1767 document seeking to allow citizens of the city to benefit from surplus water is signed by Nathaniel Grant, among others.
A November 1774 survey of the Papine Estate by John Henderson, notes the transfer of 944 acres, 2 roods, 34 perches in St Andrew, from Alexander Grant to William Jackson. Later records show the estate in the possession of James Beckford Wildman. Certainly this is noted on a survey map of neighbouring Mona Estate, dated February 1785, then owned by William and Thomas Bond. The Wildmans retained the estate after the abolition of slavery. Letters in 1843 and 1867 regarding the Hope Estate mention sales of surplus water from the share belonging to the Papine Estate – to the military establishment, the Anglican Bishop and later, the government. Eventually, in 1871, the estate was sold by James Lushington Wildman, grandson of J.B. Wildman, to Louis Verley, owner of the neighbouring Mona Estate. By 1880, it had been removed from the list of St. Andrew’s sugar estates.
The changes in ownership of the estate are tracked through survey maps and other documents remaining in the National Library of Jamaica and the Jamaica Government Archives. Some of these actually relate primarily to the development of the Hope water supply, which would turn the wheels of industry and later supply the city of Kingston.
The aqueduct – first described as a “gutter” – was originally designed to carry water from the Hope River. Indeed, an Act of the local Assembly was passed to that effect in 1752. Five years later, a further Act sought to clarify the rights on interested parties farther downstream, principally the proprietors of Papine and Mona estates. This Act confirmed to Hope Estate one-third of the water conveyed from the river, with another third to the owners of Papine and Mona in equal shares, and the balance to the lands between the river and Hope Estate. The section of the cut-stone aqueduct that runs through Hope Gardens is dated 1758. Now a botanical garden, Hope Gardens was once part of Richard Hope’s sugar estate. 1758 is one year after the passage of the second Act, though the November 1774 survey of Papine Estate still refers to The Gutter. The owners of Papine and Mona are also named in relation to a 1767 agreement between Roger Hope Elletson and the owners of the Papine and Mona estates, aimed at giving inhabitants of Kingston the benefit of surplus water from the Hope River; the agreement rescinded by Hope Elletson’s family after his death.
The most detailed view of the aqueduct is an undated drawing by Edward McGeachy and appears to be a further elaboration of an 1826 Hope Estate map by Mcgeachy. Higman estimates this drawing dates from around 1830 (Higman 2001:124). In the collection of the National Library of Jamaica, the Mcgeachy map shows the division of water between the various plantations, with major storage in a Papine Reservoir which was filled in and over which the University
Hospital was built in the mid-twentieth century. The section of the aqueduct which runs from Hope Lane – now Hope Road – through the Papine Works to the Mona Works, is shown as 4,550 feet long, with the distance from Hope Lane to the Papine Village being 1,928 feet of that. A structure shown on the side of the aqueduct just south of the Negro Houses and Gardens is presumably a cistern which is still visible today. The drawing indicates the cultivation of Papine cane to the northern end of the line and a guinea grass piece to the south. An 1834 survey map details the estate’s cane fields as well as areas of common pasture for livestock, guinea grass, and woodland.
The same undated plan shows the Papine Works as having three main structures: the wheelhouse/mill house into which the aqueduct connected and after which it goes into an underground system to rise again and feed the Mona Works. A second building presumably housed the boiling/curing house, and a third, “L-shaped” building is assumed to have been a distillery and rum store. An estate road served the Works, while the Road to Halls Delight, also called Shed Lane, served as a boundary between Papine and Mona, to the south.
The ruins of the wheelhouse and mill house are still plainly visible on the corner of Aqueduct Road and Ring Road; however the construction of the Ring Road, early in the life of the University of the West Indies, drove through the centre of the Papine Works. Only a small area of brick and limestone ruins remains in the grounds of the Norman Manley Law School and indicates the location of the boiling/curing house and distillery/rum store. The 1774 Henderson map also shows the Works, though just two works buildings are distinguishable, as well as showing the Overseers House, west of “The Gutter”, and the Great House some distance to the east. Both houses, Works buildings and the Village, are also shown on the survey map drawn by Robert Baugh Jr., sixty years later in 1834, the year the Act to Abolish Slavery was enacted. He notes that the Works was in an area of more than 8 acres; the Great House and gardens on more than 10 acres.
Indeed there is a graphic description of the Papine Great House and Gardens in Lady Maria Nugent’s 1801-5 diary. She saw “a fine bamboo walk…reaching from one end of the garden to the other. Every ten or twelve feet there is a cocoa-nut tree, as a pillar to support the feathering bamboo. Nothing could well be more beautiful. The bread-fruit tree is here in great perfection. The jackfruit tree is like an enormous pumpkin, growing on the trunk, as it is too heavy for the boughs. There is also an infinite variety of beautiful flowers; in short, the garden is the best and most curious I have yet seen” (Nugent 1907:38-39).
She was less enthusiastic about the house which she deemed to be badly situated: “it lies low, and it is shut out from the sea breeze by what is called the Long Mountain, and from the land breeze, by a range of mountains, under which the house it placed” (Nugent 1907:39). The house lay to the east of the property, roughly equidistant between the Works and the river, at the end of an estate road which came north from the road to Hall’s Delight, then east, past the southern end of the Papine Works.
Papine Estate Village
The undated plan showing the division of water from the Hope Estate and the 1834 map both show the Papine Village – home to the estate’s enslaved population. In both cases, houses are shown on both sides of the Aqueduct, north and east of the Works. The number of enslaved people on the estate varied with time, but seems to have remained under 200. A 1783 “List of Negroes on St Andrew Estates” gives a tally of 187 persons for the Papine Estate. Slave returns, taken every three years between 1817 and 1832, also provide information on the numbers and something of the lifecycle of the estate population. The 1817 list for Papine shows a total of 189 persons. There were 83 men and boys and 106 women and girls. Most of them were creole or local-born, but the list included 45 persons born in Africa, the youngest being an 11-year old girl. In 1820 there are two returns – one of 182 persons for estate owner James Wildman; the other of nine persons for Mrs Joanna Wildman: a total of 191 enslaved persons. In 1823, the numbers rose to 227, mainly due to the purchase of 45 persons under a Writ of Vendition; however by 1829, many of these persons and others in the estate community had been moved to other estates belonging to Wildman, in the south-central parishes of Clarendon or Vere (Francis-Brown 2005).
The estate workers were provided with some basic supplies, which they supplemented from provision grounds that were allocated on marginal estate land. The undated drawing of the water supply shows the Papine “Negroe Grounds” along the higher reaches of the aqueduct. Ground provisions such as coco, yam, sweet potato and arrowroot, vine-borne produce such as pumpkin, and melon, as well as plantain, banana, corn and other crops, would have been grown in the provision grounds. Home gardens may also have produced vegetables and fruit, while groves of fruitful trees such as ackee, mango, citrus and breadfruit would have been encouraged near the village.4 Indeed, groves of these trees are considered botanical markers for such villages, and ackee trees are common across the area close to the old Papine Village.
Some part of the estate village continued in use after slavery finally came to an end in 1838, and a 1915 map of the Kingston area identifies a “Nigger House Corner” to the south-west of the original village.
The same map also indicates a “Coolie Village” in the vicinity. Many East Indians, former indentured workers, settled in the Papine area by the early years of the twentieth century, making it one of the longest-standing East Indian communities in the city at the time. Over 100 “free” East Indians worked on the Mona Estate in the early 1900s and many more lived in the Mona Commons area, part of the old Papine Estate. One tomb has endured which helps to mark that population, that of Jaghai or Jaghi, a tenant dairy farmer on the old Papine Estate lands, who died in 1929. Other East Indian residents had market gardens and farmed tobacco and other crops in the area between the Aqueduct and the village of Papine, which also carries the estate’s name.
Archaeological Research at Papine
Archaeological field research was first undertaken at the Papine village in 1981 and again between 1987 and 1989 by Dr. Karl Watson, then lecturer in History and Archaeology at UWI, Mona, now currently retired Senior Lecturer at the University of West Indies, Cave Hill. Only a handful of incomplete field records, two undated maps, and a few student journals survive from the 1988 and 1989 field seasons. As a result, understanding the exact extent of the work conducted is nearly impossible. Vitalyn Latty’s Master’s thesis went far in unravelling the threads of evidence (Latty 2006). However, it is still unclear exactly how many units were excavated. It appears that at least four areas of excavation units were opened during the 1988 season, with possibly another 9 units of undetermined size opened during the 1989 season. Nearly 6,000 artifacts were recovered from these units and while they are housed at the University of West Indies Mona, they were used as teaching collections in the late 1980s and early 1990s. As a result, the finds were grouped stratigraphically, not by individual excavation unit. Therefore Latty’s reassessment of the artifacts resulted in a detailed finds list by sediment layer, not by individual unit.
Beginning in January 2008, UWI, Mona and The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery began a systematic shovel-test-pit (STP) survey of the Papine Village. Led by Dr. Sabrina Rampersad and Dr. Jillian Galle, UWI Mona students and DAACS staff worked together to excavate 50 centimeter diameter shovel-test pits every 6 meters across the entire village area, including the fields east and west of the aqueduct, north of Aqueduct Flats and west of Aqueduct Road, prior to the construction of the new UWI Basic Medical Sciences Complex. Field work was conducted for approximately 15 days every January in 2008, 2009, and 2010. During this time 1207 STPs and 5 1-x-1 meter units were excavated.
A frequency seriation using ceramic data from these STPS indicates that there were three distinct occupational phases at the Papine Village. Phase 1 (P01) has a Mean Ceramic Date of 1791, Phase 2 (P02) of 1801, and Phase 3 (P03) of 1822. Phase 1 and 2 contain STPs primarily located to the west of the aqueduct while Phase 3 is comprised of pits to the east of the aqueduct. This suggests an expansion and later movement of the village’s enslaved laborers.
Artifact and context data from these excavations are available through this website and more detailed background information about the excavations, as well as chronology, stratigraphy, and images can be found on the Papine Village Archaeological Sites pages.
Suzanne Francis-Brown, with contributions on the archaeology by Jillian Galle
The University of the West Indies, Mona and The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery