Walter and Antoinetta’s son and heir Oliver called the properties ‘Nugents’ and built a mansion house which he named ‘Clare Hall’ to mark the family’s links with County Clare, Ireland, where Nugents retained property interests. Land records show that Clare Hall was owned by Walter Nugent and then by his son, Oliver, from 1757. Another map of this time shows the estate of ‘Garrat Nugent’ north of St John’s, the colonial capital from around 1700. This may have been a joint enterprise between two families.
According to a circular of the West India Committee 22 October 1936 (subsequently quoted in the Antigua Star) the ‘Nugent’ estates were in 1765 sold by Oliver Nugent (son of Walter, grandfather of Sir Oliver) to Robert Skerrett, who had married his sister, Antoinetta (daughter of Walter and Antoinetta) creating the ‘Skerrett’ estates.
Oliver Nugent’s first born son, Robert (by Elizabeth Dunbar) inherited lands from his mother at Marchermore, Kircudbrightshire, south west Scotland, agreeing to change his name to Nugent-Dunbar. Oliver’s second son, Nicholas (by Bridget Lynch) became a doctor and lived most of his life in Antigua, becoming Speaker of the Assembly. In 1829 he bought or inherited back the ‘Nugent/Skerrett’ estates from his cousin, John Lynch, Antoinetta Skerrett’s nephew.
At the time of emancipation in 1834, Nicholas managed ‘Lyon’s’ estate in the east of the island (north of Willoughby Bay, west of Nonsuch Bay) and lived there whilst evidently owning ‘Skerretts’. Later he lived at Merrywing Hall, whose location is unknown.
In 1891 Sir Oliver and Lady Nugent acquired ‘Skerret’s and Folly’, previously owned by his father, who had died in 1843 – probably part of the land originally acquired by Walter Nugent around 1720. At some stage Sir Oliver, or perhaps Lady Nugent, gave or sold plots from ‘Skerret’s and Folly’ for good causes, including a home for truant boys and a cemetery for the poor. The land on which stand Antigua Grammar School, the old and new Parliament buildings and Holberton Hospital are all thought to have been owned by the Nugents at this time. Clare Hall, though, was no longer in Nugent hands having passed to Charles Warner Dunbar in 1790 and later to Sir C Bethel Codrington. It is now the site of a school of that name and a model housing complex.
A tranche of land identified as “Skerretts, otherwise Clare Hall” consisting of 612 acres was sold at Grays Inn coffee house, London, on 13 September 1847 “…pursuant to an order of the High Court.” The land sold was bordered by Frenches (north), Cassada gardens and lands of William White deceased (east), of Bayer Otto Bayer (south) and by the government and of J D Halliday and T L Brooke, both deceased (west). On his death in 1894, Sir Oliver bequeathed what remained of “the Skerrett estates” to his eldest son, Nicholas, whilst land in Redcliffe Street, St John’s went to his elder daughter, Emily.
Land records show two distinct Skerrett properties by this time: ‘Skerret’s Pasture’ was the site of the boys’ home and paupers’ cemetery and the street known as Lady Nugent Avenue, so would not have been available for Sir Oliver to bequeath. (See Comacho 1933 map.) Then there was ‘Skerret’s and Folly’, originally known as Nugent’s according to the land registry, though its pre-1769 ownership is unclear. This had passed from Robert Skerrett to John Lynch (a nephew of Antoinetta’s) in 1790, then to Nicholas Nugent in 1829 and Sir Oliver Nugent in 1891. It was sold to
Oliver’s only son, George, spent his early married life between the family home in Berkshire, England, and his work as a colonial officer in Nigeria. On George’s retirement in 1924, he took his family back to Antigua and set up home on the south western outskirts of St John’s at Scotts Hill which – the Antigua Star of October 1936 reported – “formed part of the original property… now once more in the possession of the Nugent family and is the home of Mr George Nugent.” Scotts Hill may have been occupied by Sir Oliver and Lady Nugent, George’s grandparents, between 1891 and their deaths in 1894. Their son, Oliver, and his wife Mary also lived there for some time. In the 1930s, George bought a small adjoining plot of land from the island’s government.
George Nugent’s widow, Gladys, sold Scotts Hill to Egbert Harney about 1940. George’s mother, Mary Nugent, lived on at Erdiston till her death in 1956. Oliver and Mary Nugent are buried at St John’s cemetery. George Nugent is buried in St. George’s churchyard alongside his grandparents, Sir Oliver and Lady Nugent, overlooking Fitches Creek and Walter Nugent, the first Nugent in Antigua, is buried in St John’s churchyard.
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(Illustrative maps: Baker ‘Four Walter Nugents’ 1746-8; Bowen ‘Garrat-Nugent’ detail 1747; Johnson 1826 detail showing ‘Skerrets/Folly/Millars’; Camacho-Moody Stuart 1933 showing ‘Lady Nugents cemetery’, ‘reformatory’, ‘lunatic asylum’, ‘Scotts Hill’, with credit for Baker and Camacho to the Antigua and Barbuda Museum, Bowen and Johnson in Nugent family possession.)
(Other sources: Nugent family tree; various maps as sourced; 1865 sale: circular of the West India Committee of 22 October 1936; V L Oliver’s History of Antigua; Dunning Hill- Oliver’s; the Books ‘Emancipation’ and ‘Antigua Then’; Antigua Star of October 1936; personal research by Jan Augustin who provided the new picture of Erdiston; land records provided by Agnes Meeker.)