Morgan Lewis Sugar Mill
Morgan Lewis, St. Peter Barbados 13°16’00’N 59°34’22W
One of the Caribbean's largest windmill
One of the largest and only complete sugar windmill surviving in the Caribbean. The wind-driven machinery that ground the sugarcane in the 18th and 19th centuries is still intact. The mill includes an exhibit of the equipment used to produce sugar at the time when the industry was run by wind-power generated from mills such as this one. The rubble walls are comprised of boulders held together with a mixture of egg-white and coral dust (there was no cement when this plantation house was built!)
A Comprehensive History of the Mill
• Morgan Lewis – 1674
• John Hannis – 1721
• John Gibbons – 1736
• Scawen Kendrich, following his marriage to Hanna Gibbons the daughter of John Gibbons, and the death of her father (John Gibbons) inherited all of his father – in – Laws plantations in 1740.
• William Gibbons, son of Joh Gibbons buys most of his late father’s plantations from Scawen Kendrick including Morgan Lewis – 1743
• John Gibbons – 1760
• Scawen Kendrick Gibbons – 1777
• Sir John Gay Alleyne -1778
• Jones Pile -1846 -1849
• Nathaniel Pile – 1850 -1854
• J. T. Skinner – 1858 -1871
• Thomas Gill – 1879 -92
• Allder brothers – 1898 -1903
• R. P. Pile – 1905 -1914
• C.S. Skinner – 1921
• R.E. Gill – 1929 -1937
• E. L. Bannister – 1951
• The Barbados National Trust – 1963 to Present
The Enslaved at Morgan Lewis - A Brief Census 1787-1832
The paucity of the overall history of the Morgan Lewis Plantation is highlighted by the lack of information that researchers have been able to uncover, to date, about the history of its enslaved population. The primary reason for this absence of information is due to the fact that the history of Morgan Lewis Plantation has not been extensively interrogated by social historians, anthropologists and archaeologists. What is known about the enslaved at Morgan Lewis Plantation focuses primarily on the numbers of persons who were enslaved there between 1787 – 1832.
The following is list of dates and corresponding number of enslaved persons
at Morgan Lewis Plantation:
• 1787 – 378 acres – 168 Enslaved People
• 1804, in the levy book of an ‘unidentified parish’ (likely to be St. Andrew) Scawen Kenrich Gibbons is listed the owner of a plantation that possessed 152 enslaved people. The account also lists one Windmill as part of the property.
• 1817 – The number of enslaved at Morgan Lewis owned by Scawen Gibbons was 144, 76 females and 68 males.
• 1823 – The number of enslaved at Morgan Lewis was 131 persons.
• 1826 – The Number of enslaved at Morgan Lewis plantation increases to the 141 enslaved persons.
• 1829 – The number of enslaved at Morgan Lewis grew to 151.
• 1832 – The number of enslaved at Morgan Lewis reached 153. This was just 2 years before abolition and 6 before to Emancipation.
Possible Location of the Slave Village at Morgan Lewis Plantation
In an interview with the late Mr. Richard Goddard in November 2020 it was revealed that the oral history points to the location of the ‘Negro Yard’ (Enslaved Village) to the west of the old managers house at Morgan Lewis. This oral history evidence requires further investigation.
Contemporary observes like Richard Ligon did not write about the presence of Windmills in Barbados during his stay there in the mid to late 1640s. However, this changes dramatically towards the last quarter of the seventeenth century and into the first half of the eighteenth century when the presence of Windmills in Barbados becomes increasingly represented on maps of that period. Dunn, presents an analysis of the Richard Forde Map of 1674. Forde, a surveyor, and a Quaker was commissioned by Barbados’ Governor Sir Jonathan Atkins to produce an accurate map of the island. With regards to the presence of Windmills in Barbados the Forde map shows a large number of cattle mills and Windmills. Other maps and estimates present the following information as it relates to the increase in the number and use of Windmills in Barbados from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries:
• Noel Deer, History of Sugar notes as many as 485 operational sugar
works of which 409 were Windmills while 76 were powered by animal
• Herman Moll Map, published, 1736 – depicts only the presence of
Windmills on sugar plantations, with some large estates possessing 2 to 3
Windmills for the milling of Sugar cane.
• The Berrilier Map of 1826 lists of Windmills.
• Robert Schomburgk in his 1848 History of Barbados noted that
Barbados 506 Windmills and one steam engine in 1846.
• By 1911, Sydney Dash. notes that Barbados possessed 329 grinding
plants, 220 were Windmills while, 109 were steam driven.
The Boiling House
The importance of the boiling house to the overall processing of the extracted sugar juices in the mill, cannot be understated as many were present on plantations across Barbados from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. Dunn notes that throughout seventeenth to nineteenth centuries that boiling houses was located adjacent to the mill (as is the boiling house at Morgan Lewis). The sugar cane juice would be channeled into the boiling house by a lead pipe or a wooden gutter. The boiling house was equipped with four to five copper kettles or tayches that were suspended over furnaces. Each tayche or copper was carefully ‘scaled’ and held varying amounts of sugar cane juice. The juice would be ladled out of the cisterns into the first coppers -the boiling process would force impurities to the surface by the ‘boiler’ the most valued and skilled slave on any plantation. The remining liquid would then be ladled into the second. The juices would be ladled from one copper to another, each copper would become smaller and hotter. Evaporation which was caused by the heat would cause less liquid to be left behind and in the last tayche or copper the boiler would add white lime which would have the desired effect of causing the sugar to crystalize. When the believed the sugar was ready, he would dampen the fire beneath the tayche and have the contents ladled into a cooling cistern. Once the sugar had cooled for about 12 hours it was then packed into earthen ware pots and placed in the curing house. The pots were shaped like cones with the narrow section at the bottom where there was a small hole. The hole was plugged for about two days – there were then unplugged and the molasses -the unevaporated liquid that was left behind – would drain out and collected. The molasses was sent to the distillery to make rum. Finally, after about a month, the hardened sugar was taken out of the pots or sugar molds. The sugar molds, as they were called, were then crushed up, spread in the sun for further drying and then they were packed into large barrels known as hoggs heads and shipped to England.
Operation & Inner Workings
Because of the constant rotation of the inner gears, grease must be applied continually during operation. In the above photo you can see remnants of grease that slung onto the walls from the Crown Wheel.
On the outside, the blades are fastened when not in use. There is no brake so if this mill starts there is no stopping it! Should the mill start to “run away” it takes a team of people at the tail tree to pull it out of the wind while jamming the rollers.