Our story begins over 350 years ago on the Caribbean island of Barbados. Best known for its aquamarine seas, pristine beaches and vibrant culture, the island is also home to one of the most fascinating historic treasures in the Western Hemisphere, St. Nicholas Abbey.
BERRINGER & YEAMANS
In the mid-seventeenth century, planters Col. Benjamin Berringer and Sir John Yeamans, partners in real estate speculation, owned two adjacent properties; the Berringer Plantation to the north, and Yeaman's plantation, known as Greenland, to the south. Encompassing over 365 acres, the collective property was quite large and led to several disputes between Berringer and Yeamans on where the property lines fell.
Berringer, hailing from an influential aristocratic family and a member of the Barbados Council, came to Barbados in 1624. He found success in Barbados as a planter and built the Jacobean great house in 1658 as a family home for his wife, Margaret, daughter of local Reverend John Foster, and their three children, Mary, Symon and John.
Yeamans, a Colonel in the Royalist Army in England, emigrated to Barbados in 1650. He was also a member of the Barbados Council, and, a widower, supposedly competed with Berringer for Margaret's affections.
In January 1661, Benjamin and Margaret Berringer had a heated argument, compelling Berringer to leave the plantation for Speightstown, a busy seaport located on the West Coast of Barbados. It is said that Yeamans arranged for a third party to poison his business partner and romantic rival during this visit; Berringer subsequently died in his friend Mr. Dickinson’s house. Yeamans and Margaret were married in April that year, while Margaret was pregnant with Benjamin's fourth child, a daughter she would also call Margaret. Upon their marriage the two plantations merged into one property named Yeamans Plantation.
Yeamans, a political opportunist, led a fascinating life. After the Restoration, Yeamans was knighted by King Charles II and rewarded for his loyalty to the Royalist Cause with an appointment as Governor of Carolina. A single colony at the time, Carolina carried a Peerage; just one of four in the history of the British Empire. As part of his position Yeamans was awarded 48,000 acres land, a significantly larger parcel than he had in Barbados. With hopes of establishing a prosperous plantation, Yeamans sent three ships from Speightstown to Carolina in 1663. These first colonists landed at Cape Fear in what is now North Carolina, however they found the land difficult to farm and moved south where they founded Charlestown.
Yeamans himself sailed to America in 1669, accompanied by Margaret and the younger children. He also brought several slaves, thought to be the first slaves introduced to Carolina. Yeamans built a plantation house in Charleston, on the site of what is today known as Yeamans Hall Country Club. Initially, Yeamans was perceived as an esteemed and competent leader, however he quickly fell from grace as his greed and lust for wealth overcame him. Although never proven, his involvement in Berringer's death further tarnished his reputation.
When Yeamans' health weakened in the early 1670s, he and Margaret returned to Barbados with considerable wealth; they lived at Yeamans Plantation until his death in August 1674. Margaret married a third time to William Whaley; on her death the Plantation passed to her eldest son, John Berringer. He lived just one month past his mother; on John's death Yeamans Plantation passed to his daughter, Susannah, and her husband George Nicholas. Susannah detested Yeamans, her grandfather’s assumed murderer, and refused to keep his name on the property. It was then that Susannah and George changed the name to Nicholas Plantation.