Deed Books 1770-1839

The digitized material comprises documents held in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court building, Kingstown, St Vincent. It comprises Deed Books for the island dating between 1770 through to the mid 19th century. The Deed books, compiled in the offices of the island’s Colonial Secretary and the Registrar, proved a comprehensive record of all land and property transactions carried out during the 175 years when slave plantations were the main type of investment and employment on the island. The Deed books are large bound volumes that are available for every year in the period from 1763 to 1839. Such a continuous series of these records is only replicated sporadically for other islands that were once British possessions in the Caribbean. The land and property details recorded in these records provide the names of investors, along with their occupation and residence, and precise financial details, either in sterling or in the island’s currency. The information on investors includes whites and free blacks, men and women, and absentee residents (in other West Indian Islands or in Britain) as well as those living in Saint Vincent. The financial information is wide-ranging. Credit transactions are included. Mortgages, annuities, loans and bonds are all specified, with the names of the parties involved. The Deed books also contain much material on slave sales between individuals connected with Saint Vincent; they also have information on slave manumissions. Where sugar plantations are identified in these records, the numbers, and sometimes the valuations, of slaves are given.

The Deed Books were compiled systematically by the Colonial Secretary or Registrar of Saint Vincent from 1763 onwards. They have been deposited ever since their creation in the Eastern Caribbean Court House, Kingstown, Saint Vincent. Custody of these manuscript records lies with the Legal Registrar at the court house. The Deed Books are in chronological order, some covering only part of a single year, others spanning several years. Each volume is prefaced by an alphabetical index of names of people referrred to therein with folio numbers. These records have only recently been placed in chronological order.