On September 5, 2017, hurricane Irma ravaged the island of Barbuda as a Category 5 hurricane with winds of up to 185 miles an hour. Efforts underway to restore, you can donate here.
Barbuda's history has been intimately tied to that of Antigua for centuries. The first early attempts to settle Barbuda (by both the British and French) were failures, and it wasn't until 1666 that the British established a colony strong enough to survive the ravages of both nature and the Amerindians originally from South America, attempting to keep the Europeans off their islands.
In 1685, Christopher and John Codrington were granted a lease of Barbuda for 50 years in exchange for "One fat sheep on demand". With subsequent leases that granted them additional rights to the substantial wreckage along Barbuda's reefs, they became the island's preeminent family. For much of the eighteenth century the Codrington land on Barbuda was used to produce food and to supply additional slave labour for the Codrington sugar plantations on Antigua, and so the fortunes of Barbuda rose and fell with those of its larger neighbour. Testament to the influence of the Codringtons remains today, both in the island's place names and in its architectural remains. On Barbuda's highest point (125 feet) are the ruins of the Codrington estate, Highland House, and on the island's south coast still sits the 56-foot high Martello tower and fort, a fortress that was used both for defense and as a vantage from which to spot valuable shipwrecks on the outlying reefs.
A WORD ABOUT NAMES - The Amerindian name for Barbuda was "Wa'omoni", as seen in Father Raymond Breton's Island Carib Dictoionary.This is thought to mean the "Island of Herons". Since the word could mean any large bird, it could possibly cover the Frigate or Weather Bird, so common in Barbuda.
In 1529, Diego Ribero named Barbuda in his early map of the Caribbees as "La Barbuda" and Antigua "Elagua". Another geographer, Cabot, called it "Baruada". Then Descelius' map of the Indies (1546) shows Barbuda as "Barnada". Zaltieri's map of 1566 calls the island "Las Barbuda".
Historians in both Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados have no real solution to the origin of the names of these islands. Legend has it that both Barbuda and Barbados mean "bearded". This may refer to the occurrence either of bearded Indians that were found there or to the Wild Fig (Ficus sp.), which has a bearded appearance with its aerial roots dropping from lower branches. The latter is more likely explanation. In Sebastian Cabot's map of 1544, both islands, and these only in the Eastern Caribbean have curious dots around them, and believed by some to represent reefs. So it may be that foaming breakers may have reminded early explorers of islands with beards. Take your pick on the origin of the name!
In 1628, settlers from St. Kitts knew Barbuda as "Dulcina" for its "excellence and pleasantnesse thereof", but it soon reverted back to the name Barbuda. Barbuda has its share of names attributed to natural features and to its flora and fauna. Examples are Two-foot Bay, Pigeon Cliff, Pelican Bay, Palmetto Point, Oyster Pond, Cedar-tree Point, Goat Island, Kid Island, Hog Point and Tobacco Gut. There are several local names of a picturesque nature, as Tumbly Wood, Found Out, Spiney Hill Perk, Picus Well, Kakie Hill, Boney Mangrove, Box Cape and Benter Will.
CODRINGTON VILLAGE HISTORY
The only settlement of Barbuda is named after the Codrington family that leased Barbuda 185 years from 1685 until 1870. In 1904, the village boundaries were set to the west by the lagoon, to the north by Sedge Garden, to the east by Indigo Piece and to the south by the Park. The population at that time was 700 and by the 1991 census this had increased to 1,252.
Old maps show Codrington dominated by the Castle used as a strong and secure place against Amerindian and French raids. It was rectangular with watchtowers at the northeast and southwest corners with stonewalls and embrasures. In the courtyard were the overseer's house and a well. A slave uprising occurred in 1745 when Mr. McNish, a one time manager, was killed because he had been mutilating imprisoned slaves in the Castle for stealing sheep and cattle. Slaves soon occupied the castle and took possession of arms and ammunition. Soldiers then arrived from Antigua to put down the rebellion, after which two of the slaves (forgotten Afro heroes?) were burned alive at the main gate of the Castle. No traces of the walls remain today, the castle was badly damaged in the great earthquake of 1843.
We would like to thank Desmond V. Nicholson of the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda for the huge help he has given us in producing these pages, To read more about the history of Antigua and Barbuda please visit the Museum Website at www.antiguamuseums.net