Other Courts

This series includes the records of those courts which could not sensibly be included in other series. It includes one volume of a Court of Complaints. This was essentially a court for the recovery of small debts and was established as a result of discussions in the local Nevis legislature in, or around, 1830 as an attempt to process more easily claims for relatively small amounts of money which had been clogging up the Court of King's Bench and Common Pleas. It is particularly interesting for the way slave owners attempted to pursue formerly enslaved people for small sums of money after the end of the apprenticeship system. There are five volumes of records of the Court of Summary Jurisdiction dating from 1869 onwards. It would seem that there was no such court on Nevis in the 1820s and it was only established later than that. The court made it possible for a judge to deal with more minor criminal cases, often for assault or wounding, without the aid of a jury. The records give an indication of the state of justice on Nevis in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As well as a volume for the Court of General Sessions, there is one single volume for the controversial Court of Commissioners for the Sale of Encumbered Estates. This is a very important volume for understanding the later stages of the failing system of sugar production on plantations in the late nineteenth century. The court was established throughout the British West Indies to help sort out speedily the affairs of failing estates burdened by debt. Many plantations on Nevis were sold under its auspices in the 1870s and early 1880s. The volume records the claims on various estates, and their owners, and the process of resolving the situation. After some protest by local planters and owners, who claimed that all the money from sales was going to banks and commercial firms in the UK, the powers of the Court were transferred to the Supreme Court sitting locally. The process required outline mapping of the various estates. Many of these maps are to be found among the estate plans in the courthouse vault, listed elsewhere. Often they are the only record of the names, boundaries and, occasionally, essential features of those estates in that period. Missing from this Miscellaneous series are the records of Court of Vice-Admiralty in Nevis; this court may have sat infrequently. In the 1820s it was noted that there had been a registry of its proceedings, but for many years the papers had been filed in separate bundles.

It is assumed that these court records were held in the Secretary's office in the courthouse. It is not known when they were transferred to the courthouse vault. Legal custody of these records 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. Extent and format of original material: 1 series comprising 8 bound volumes.

This series contains the following files.

  • EAP794/1/4/1: Court of General Sessions 1815-1850;
  • EAP794/1/4/2: Court of Complaints 1830-1846;
  • EAP794/1/4/3: Court of Summary Jurisdiction 1880-1887;
  • EAP794/1/4/4: Court of Summary Jurisdiction 1895-1914;
  • EAP794/1/4/5: Court of Summary Jurisdiction 1888-1896;
  • EAP794/1/4/6: Court of Summary Jurisdiction 1914-1943;
  • EAP794/1/4/7: Court of the Commissioners for the Sale of Encumbered Estates 1872-1885;
  • EAP794/1/4/8: Miscellaneous Court Records 1841-1885;