Antigua August 2nd 1805
In consequence of a letter from Mr. Athill wishing to see me at Antigua I came over the day before yesterday, when I received both your letter of the 5th of June and the Power of Attorney authorizing me to act for Barbuda, which is a situation I must confess I did not expect to attain to in so short a time, consequently I have much to thank you for; and at the same time do assure you that I shall do everything I my power to merit a continuance of your favor, and I do not hesitate to say that I think the produce of Barbuda may be improved in most respects. The Power did not arrive until the morning of Wednesday last, my friend Mrs. Basset in a letter by the first April Packet informed me that it was ready and would probably come by the next Packet, and that having been taken I fully expected it was lost with her, I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Athill in consequence of his being severely attacked by the Gout, he has therefore requested I would remain here a few days, when he hopes the violence of his disorder may abate. With respect to your observations on the produce of Barbuda the mules certainly are valuable, and I believe almost absolutely necessary for your Antigua Estates, but I question if a mule bred from a Spanish ass is so much superior to a mule from a common one as to answer the extraordinary expence and trouble in procuring the former from what I can learn there has never been but two on the Island, from the first they never had a colt and those from the last are yet too young to form any opinion of; the Barbuda mules which have certainty an exceeding good character have all been bred from common Asses, we have three now on the Island sent by Mr. Athill since arrival from which I shall continue to bred until I have your further orders. The methods which you propose respecting the sheep I think highly advisable to try, something is absolutely necessary as they have been degenerating some time, and do not now sell for near what they did three or four years since; the climate I think too hot ever to expect wool, therefore if you should determine on sending out a ram or two, you will probably send those from which the best sheep may be procured for the market, I will make a selection of some of the best ewes that they may become a little used to the enclosures before the rams arrive; sheep certainly has been the kind of stock which appears to me to have received the least attention for some time past, old ewes have scarcely ever been sold but left to breed as long as they would and then die; I will not attempt to say how far sheep dogs may be useful, but at present a couple of Bull dogs would be much more acceptable to us, at this time we are in the realist want of them having but one on the Island, there has been two litters since my arrival, but with all possible care we have not been able to rear one of them, cattle without doubt is the greatest object on the place and attended with as little trouble as anything, there is a constant demand for fat ones to a greater amount than Barbuda can supply, but without heavy days it is impossible to take those which are in the woods, at this time there is not a fat one on the Island and I fear unless we have an alteration of the weather soon, we shall not have any for some time, the last season was remarkably good, and the showers we have had from time to time have kept the grass up pretty well, but we are now failing very fast, and if we are without rain ten days more shall be under the necessity of feeding with bush. The pastures are in great want of improvement, but of this I shall be able to enter more fully on by the next Packet, as on my return to Barbuda I shall make it my study to get all the information on that h??? I can, and will also then send you a particular statement of the Negroes. We are now preparing for corn which does by the present method take up a very great proportion of our time, and at present there is a vast deal of work to be done, which I shall be able to state much better in a future letter than at this time the Packet which is now here will sail tomorrow. I have the honour to be
Your most obedient and humble servant,
John James (signed)
August 3rd I have just seen Mr. Hodge who has informed me of Mr. Athill’s resignation and that in future the care of your estates will be vested in him, and has offered to render me any assistance I may want with regard to the disposal of the stock etc from Barbuda.
Reference: JJ253 Robson Lowe collection on microfilm 24995, University of Texas at Austin, Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection.