A study of ceramic sherds collected from the surface of the property by Desmond Nicholson in 1985 reveal an estimated period of occupancy from 1775-1825, with a median occupancy date of 1800. Historical documents such as the 1795 Will of John Hughes Snr., as well as architectural analsysis support Desmond's dating of the site.
The Hughes Estate Archaeological Research Project continues research at this site through archaeological excavations to date and identify the function of site structures as well as learn about the lives of enslaved people of African descent who lived and worked at Hughes Estate.
Current Project Goals:
- Locate the housing of the enslaved laborers through archaeological methodologies
- Determine the function and date of occupation of extant structures
- Learn more about and center the narratives of enslaved and maroon (self-liberated) communities
Did a village exist at Hughes Estate?
Wooden structures would no longer be visible on the surface but can be located through excavation. It is also possible that the enslaved lived in the extant masonry built structures that we located on the site. During the 2021 field season we surveyed the site to identify and locate the housing area of the people who were held in slavery at Hughes Estate.
Research Questions Regarding Maritime Networks and Self-liberation:
Historical records of the Anguillan Council meetings reveal that slaveholders in the Road Division were trying to prevent enslaved laborers from escaping to St. Martin by boat, which they said occured frequently:
Anguilla, Thursday the third of July 1828.
His Honour laid before the Board certain resolutions entered into by the inhabitants of the Road and part of the Spring Division of the island arising from the present alarming situation under which they are placed from the frequent immigrations of slaves from this island to the island of Saint Martin, and praying that His Honour would write to our representative at Saint Kitts to introduce a short Bill into the House o Assembly obliging all boats and vessels to be brought to a place to be appointed by the Council of this island for security and further to prohibit foreign boats from having any communication with this island except at the Road or Crocus Bay.
Excerpt from the Council Minutes of Anguilla transcribed by Heather Nielsen and Martha Burrows. Archival documents curated by the AAHS.
The Hughes Estate was located in the Roads administrative division of Anguilla and we know from archival records that two men enslaved at Hughes Estate worked in "wharfs and shipping".
- Can analysis of the material culture of the enslaved at Hughes Estate reveal trade networks with enslaved and free communities in St. Martin? Did these trade networks also serve as networks of liberation?
- Can we find evidence of maritime activities at Hughes Estate?