Gene Surfing

Adventures in Family History

Betty’s Hope

Farmer BullshotBetty’s Hope was the main residence of Christopher Codrington II, who came to Antigua in 1668 and produced sugar on the island, using techniques developed by his father on Barbados.

Betty Who?

The plantation was supposedly named after Elizabeth, the daughter of Christopher however the property had been established for some time and had been previously owned by the Keynell family.

Joan Hall, the Widow of Governor Christopher Keynell had abandoned the estate – and 60 slaves – for the island of Nevis, during the French invasion of Antigua in 1666.

During this time the property, of 1,689 acres, was used as a garrison by her neighbours and when the British regained Antigua from the French, Betty’s Hope was granted to Col. Christopher Codrington by the governor Lord Willoughby – the property having been seen as forfeit because it had been abandoned by Joan Hall.

Joan later petitioned parliament for the return of the property by this never happened and the Codrington family retained the property for another 300 years until 1944 when they sold it to Antigua Sugar Estates Ltd.

“In 1677 was presented the Petition of Joan Hall, Widow and Relict & Executrix of Col. Christopher Keynell, late of Antigua deceased, reciting: that she possessed a plantation called Bettye’s Hope, for 14 years, about the year 1667, & the French invaded Antigoa, she went for safety to Nevis, leaving 60 negros behind her, all of whom were taken or killed & her estate ruined.

Later the neighbours made a garrison of her house and burnt down her sugar works, so that her security became her ruin. She returned to Antegoa in 1668 and & repaired her buildings, but it so happened that William Lord Willoughby of Parham, then Capt. Gen, brought with him one Col. Codrington, to whom he gave her plantation, alleging that it was too great a quantity of land for her.

Not yielding Col. Codrington the anticipated profits it’s now offered for sale. She begs His Majesty that the plantation may be restored to her & that the rights of herself and her children may be confirmed.

On 9 January 1677-8 their Lordships send a letter to Col. William Stapleton ordering an enquiry. It does not appear how the affair was settled, probably by a compromise, for Betty’s Hope is still the property of the Codrington family.” [5]

There are some inconsistencies here: the common story is that Betty’s Hope was named for Christopher Codrington’s daughter, Elizabeth, but it appears to have been already called that when he took possession and, more importantly, he did not have had a daughter named Elizabeth.

So the property was more likely named after the daughter of the original owner Christopher Keynell  and later attributed to Codrington by some.

Leeward Islands Governor Christopher Keynell established Betty’s Hope Estate, named after one its founder’s daughters, around 1652. He died in 1663 and left the estate to his widow, Joan.

Also he is supposed to have brought the sugar industry to Antigua but the extract from the History of Antigua [5] says that Betty’s Hope was already a sugar plantation, and had been for some time before he took possession in 1668.

Probably it was the advanced sugar-production techniques he brought from Barbados that were new to the island – they were certainly better than anything previously and made Betty’s Hope the most efficient sugar plantation on the island.

It also made the Codrington family a lot of money and most other plantations on the island copied their production model, and became equally rich.

The Drax family had learned these techniques in Brazil and introduced them to Barbados where Christopher Codrington I owned property having married into the Drax family.

Restored windmill at Betty's Hope Jan, 2015.However named, Betty’s Hope was the main residence of the Codrington family on the island and became “Government House” during the period when Christopher II was Governor.

From 1689 to 1704, two successive Christopher Codringtons served as Governors General of the Leeward Islands, and later heirs continued to be among the most influential and prosperous planters.

Wikipedia says: “The Codringtons had 150 sugar mills in Antigua of which Betty’s Hope was the first one where they had introduced technology innovations and ideas to carry out large scale cultivation, extraction and manufacture of sugar.”

But this is an incorrect quote and should say that “Antigua had 150 sugar mills of which Betty’s Hope was the first one …”

The Codrington family eventually owned about 6 plantations in the North-Eastern area of the island including Betty’s Hope, Rooms, Cotton, Garden, Cables and Folly – there is also a small island named after the family, now part of a nature conservation project.

IMG_0052-1 (WIDTH-1000)The family eventually returned to Dodington Park in Gloucestershire – that Christopher Codrington III had bought from his cousin Samuel shortly before his death –  and  the plantations were managed on behalf of the family by agents.

Betty’s Hope was sold in 1944 and there is no sugar produced in Antigua today.


Some extracts from the early chronological history of Betty’s Hope

1651   Betty’s Hope estate founded by Col Chris Keynell. (Governor 1653-60).
1653   Betty’s Hope owned by Joan Hall, widow of Governor Keynall.
[1666 French take Antigua]
1667   Betty’s Hope sugar works burnt down and made garrison by neighbours
1667   Joan Hall left 60 slaves at Betty’s Hope on fleeing to Nevis
[1668 English take Antigua back from the French]
1668   Joan Hall deprived of Betty’s Hope (1,689 acres) by Lord Willoughby
1668   Lord Willoughby granted Betty’s Hope to Christopher Codrington.
1669   Betty’s Hope became “Government House” when Codrington became Governor
1674   Planters, animated by Codrington’s Betty’s Hope example, invested in sugar
1677   Joan Hall petitioned for return of Betty’s Hope.
1710   Betty’s Hope left to William Codrington, cousin of Christopher Codrington.
1738   Betty’s Hope left to William Codrington II (eldest son).
1738   Codringtons owned Betty’s Hope, Cotton, Cotton New Work and the Garden

Some references say that Christopher took possession of Betty’s Hope in 1674 but this does not fit with the time-line above, which is compiled from various sources and based on correspondence and official documents, so I am more inclined towards 1668.


IMG_0123-106 (WIDTH-1000)Today the plantation is an open museum with one of the two main windmills having been restored.

Outside the Museum of Antigua in St. Johns is also a small restored locomotive, originally used at Betty’s Hope to transport sugar to the coast, although none of the railway remains.


barbudasChristopher Codrington II and his brother John leased the nearby island of Barbuda from the crown for the fee of “one fat lamb yearly, if demanded” and they used this land to provide provisions to the plantations on Antigua.

The slaves who worked here were mainly skilled craftsmen and had a better life than those working on the plantations, although the Codringtons also “bred” slaves in order to make the island more profitable and less reliant on imported slaves.

Today Barbuda has a population of about 1800 – about the same as during the sugar boom – and the only town is named Codrington Village.

More information here:

speech50The original 50 year rent of Barbuda was for a horse, but after the French invaded and destroyed Codrington Castle, the rent was renegotiated in 1705 for 99 years as above.


The Codrington papers are available in the National Archives in St. John’s on Antigua.

The main family archive, catalogued as D1610, was withdrawn from the Gloucestershire Record Office by the family in 1980. The West Indies portion was sold by auction to an anonymous purchaser on December 1980 and is now (1994) in the National Archives of Antigua, Long Street, St Johns, Antigua.

Other records are identified in the National Archives and the Gloucestershire Archives.


William Codrington, who inherited the estates on Antigua from his cousin Christopher III, married into the Bethel family who also had plantations on Antigua.

IMG_0052-1 (WIDTH-1000)

A map from the 18th century shows the estates owned by William next to one owned by Slingsby Bethel, who was the nephew of the more famous republican Member of Parliament of the same name.

Bethell as a young man went out to the West Indies, and c. 1720 was ‘chief agent and manager’ of all the Antigua plantations of his brother-in-law, Sir William Codrington.

Bethell died 1 Nov. 1758, leaving most of his fortune, including his real estate in Antigua, to his Codrington nephews.

Some members of the Codrington family changed their name to Bethell-Codrington.


250px-Captain_Kidd_in_New_York_Harbor_cph_3f06373Many Caribbean pirates started as mercenaries working for various governments before going “freelance” and then became a problem for the same people that gave them their break.

The privateer Captain William Kidd, was appointed by Christopher Codrington II, as governor of Nevis, initially to defend the island from the French – at one point even providing him with a ship, the Antigua after his crew got bored with noble causes and stole the Blessed William for a life of piracy.

Kidd became a local hero in the Caribbean and the colonies and married a rich widow in New York before himself, becoming a pirate hunter and protector of the English settlers.

He was eventually captured, tried and executed for Piracy by the British in 1701 after attacking the wrong ship

Possibly he was the inspiration for Captain Hook in Peter Pan, being both charismatic and occasionally ruthless.


abolition of slaveryFollowing the abolition of slavery in 1834 the government compensated slave owners in the Caribbean for the loss of their cheap workforce, including the Codringtons.

At this time Sir Christopher Bethell Codrington was the main owner of the Codrington family sugar plantations on Antigua and Tobago. Sir Edward Codrington owned a single plantation, Rooms, with 190 slaves.

The total number of slaves owned was 2106 over 6 estates on Antigua, 2 on Tobago and the island of Barbuda, which had the largest number of slaves and was used to grow food and provide services for the other plantations.

The price for each slave was set by the compensation board and varied between locations – the highest price was paid for those on Tobago.

The total compensation paid to the Codringtons was about £32,449 [about £2.6 million]

Location Plantation Slaves Compensation
Antigua Clare Hall 296 £4,442 2s od
Antigua New Work 169 £2,468 10s 2d
Antigua Cotton 137 £2,078 1s 7d
Antigua Betty’s Hope 299 £4,920 9s 10d
Antigua Garden 146 £2,227 13s 8d
Antigua Rooms 190 £2,586 6s 5d
Barbuda 492 £6,286 18s 11d
Tobago Bon Accord 185 £3,581 14s 6d
Tobago Courland 192 £2,586 6s 5d

Another member of the Codrington family – William Collins Codrington – owned 86 slaves on two plantations on Jamaica.

William Collins was the great-grandson of Christopher Codrington III and Maudlin Marianus, a slave, and was awarded £1867 7s 3d.

William, the son of Christopher and Maudlin had originally been destined for the sea, as specified in the will of both his father and grandfather, but instead became a plantation owner himself.

Figures from the UCL project Legacies of British Slave-ownership

[5] The history of the island of Antigua

Vere Langford Oliver

The history of Antigua is documented in three volumes.

Volumes 2 and  3 hold mostly personal information about the families – including the Codringtons – who lived on the island, while the first volume is the history of the island itself based largely on documentation and correspondence.

These can be found as e-books on the internet – only 150 copies were published.

Chris Sidney 2015


3 responses to “Betty’s Hope

  1. Chris Codrington December 4, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Some of the Codrington info on this page is mistaken. Christopher II and brother Col John initiated their move into the Leewards by buying up quit claims on Barbuda and by grants from Willoughby.
    They also purchased Guano island and one or two other plats (one in St. Mary later called Sage Hill)
    Lt. Col. John Codrington died (on Barbuda) circa 1686. Christopher II died on Antigua 1698. Christopher III (of All Souls) succeeded his father (arrived 1700) and was Gov Leeward Islands till 1705-6 when he was ill and took leave (was replaced) CCIII spent 1706-7 to 1710(death) at one of the Codrington (Doddington) plantations St. John’s, Barbados. That plantation was later part of the College known as “College” estate. Most of the published material on the net and in print contains errors often confusing one Christopher with another. It is also not accurate to use the inclusive term “the Codrington Family” as it has been used because in fact there were several branches at work between 1638 and 1740 and though their interest did interact, they were not one “corporation” nor dide they work together in business. The primary copartnership to exist was that between Cold John Codrington and Christopher II who might be called the “dynasty” builders in this regard.
    There were in fact lawsuits and arguments between various branches which in one degree or another lasted until 1750’s! The reality on these things is far better than the common myths.


    • Farmer Bullshot December 4, 2016 at 7:44 pm

      Hi Chris, this is a fairly basic overview of the Codrington family in the Leeward islands following my visit to Antigua. And by “Codrington family” I mean the descendants of Christopher Codrington I. A lot of the hard information is quoted from elsewhere, so I will have a look at correcting any of the errors. I know that this is your “area of expertise” and I am still awaiting your definitive book on the subject! Chris S.


      • Chris Codrington December 5, 2016 at 1:54 am

        Hi S; Thanks for your reply. Listen no sweat I’m just making general appeals to all sites nowadays to avoid repeating the old errors (there really are a lot you know) I mean there are government sites that give people titles when they had none..etc. William Collins C. received compensation for slaves on Jamaica pertaining to a variety of properties connected to the Jamaican “family” there was no financial connection with CCIII and no clear connection to CCIII only a oral tradition (ours). Maudlin is a theory at best and there is no proof she was a slave or an indentured servant although I favor the latter in my studies for a number of reasons. William Collins Cod was genetically (and culturally) European as was his father George and his grandfather William. The difficulty of weeding this out has not eased one bit in 16 years of study. Nice effort on the website no harm intended.


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