King Court/King Tackey

October 20, 1736 – Prince Klaas/King Court/King Tackey’s body was broken on the wheel after public acknowledgement of all the allegations against him.  He was tied spread eagle onto a round wheel and left outside to die a slow and agonizing death that would deter others. His body was burnt at Ottos pasture and his severed head displayed on a pole at the front of the jail.

His ‘sentence’ was as a result of his leadership role in a planned island-wide insurrection involving slaves from all the sugar plantations.  The planning began in 1728. The objective, to overthrow ‘massa’ by blowing up the ‘great house’. Many records indicate that much of the planning was done in the cemetery located in the area known today as Booby/Boos Alley.

The plot entailed the bombing of a ceremonial event for the British Crown, which was to be held on October 11, 1735. Gunpowder was to be place at vantage points and groups of enslaved people would encircle the event to subdue and if necessary kill the survivors. Others on the estates would wrest control from any whites who remain on the plantations. With the postponement of the event to October 30 and the associated delay in execution of the plot, the plan was foiled when Johnny a fellow enslaved male, snitched.  The named co-conspirators included Tomboy, Sekundi, Jacko, Hercules, Fortune, Joey, Jack, Scipio, Ghlode, Sacky and Ned.



Records of the event indicate that Tackey’s followers crowned him “King of the Coromantees’ on the afternoon of Sunday October 3rd, 1736 as part of the build up to the revolt.  The coronation took place opposite the St. John’s Boys School on the northern side of Old Parham road (present day Gambles).

In the five months that followed Court’s death, eighty seven (87) of the one-hundred and thirty-two (132) individuals found guilty were executed for their roles in the planning. Six (6) were gibbeted for public viewing; seventy-seven (77) burnt alive. Thirty six (36) were banished.

King Court and his band are considered Antigua and Barbuda’s first freedom fighters.

“King Court is described in one account as a tall man with ‘full, burning eyes’ who dressed well, usually in a tailored coat. He often wore a green silk hat adorned with a bunch of black feathers. He was a trusted valet or ‘waiting man’ for his master, a wealthy, white merchant named Thomas Kerby who lived in St. John’s.  King Court enjoyed more privileges than was customary for a slave and he carried himself with a regal air.  He could have become a Creole – a slave fully acculturated to life on a West Indian sugar plantation.  But he refused to deny his African heritage and insisted that he be regarded as an African.”