Plans and Maps

The loose digitised estate plans are comprised of a few large sheets, and a far greater number of smaller-sized plans. The large plans date between 1888 and 1929. They consist of individual plans of large estates on Nevis of several hundred up to one thousand acres or more. The largest plans can measure 650 x 530 mm, the smaller ones 370 x 330 mm. It is unclear how they came to be in the ECSC Registry vault but they are probably copies of plans included in the Land Title Register Books, or sheets that have become detached from recorded land titles. Judging by the dates, they are likely to be the outcomes of surveys carried out during the process of land registration introduced by the Title to Land by Registration Act of the Leeward Islands colony of 1886. Most, but not all, include the signature of the surveyor and a date. The plans vary a lot in detail but are drawn to scale, show boundaries, often, but not always, indicate the owner of the land, will include detached pieces of the estate, usually identify the acreage and occasionally give the names and acreages of individual plots of land within the estate and crops grown. Significant features like current works and old works are identified; where there are villages they are shown – though not the previous villages of enslaved workers. Sometimes the surveyor’s bearings and distances are included and significant boundary markers like gum trees or stones. Usefully, on some plans, the ownership of small plots of land either within, or outwith, the boundaries of the estate are shown. Some of the larger estates may include previously separate, historic plantations. The plans are essential in building up title to large estates but also to smaller plots of land. They underpin the system of land ownership and as such are vital to the island economy. They can also reveal important historical clues to the location of past villages, both pre and post-emancipation, public roads, transport infrastructure and water management features. They need to be used in conjunction with the Land Title Register Books and Common Deed Record Books, the latter of which occasionally provide estate plans and, more commonly, details of land ownership. Another group of multiple numbers of plans of small plots of land of a few acres owned by smallholders are held in the same location in the vault. Some of the dates run to after the Second World War. These show acreages, boundaries and usually ownership.

Many of the larger plans are franked and stamped ‘Registrar’s Office Nevis’, sometimes with a legible date. Originally in the 1880s and 1890s they are likely to have been kept in the office itself, probably with the Land Title Register Books. At some point they were moved to the Registry vault. Legal custody of the plans lies with the ECSC Registrar for St Kitts and Nevis, based in Basseterre, St Kitts under the practical supervision of the Assistant Registrar in Nevis. There is no formal system of arrangement. The larger plans are kept individually between wooden boards (to keep them flat) in a corner of the Registry vault. Many of the smaller plans are also kept loose individually, though others have been grouped on larger pieces of brown paper, held by adhesive tape: where this occurs the plans appear to belong to similar dates, as opposed to being of the same estates or parts of the island. Extent and format of original material: 1 Series comprising 205 items - a combination of individual and montage-mounted maps/plans.

This series contains the following files.

  • EAP794/1/10/1: Plans and Maps;