The books of wills are held in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) Registry vault. The books record the copies made of the originals. They comprise six volumes which run from 1763 to 1864 continuously when there is a gap during 1865. One further volume runs from 1866 to 1880. Each of the books has an index, some more complete and in better condition than others. They cover both the middle and end of the period of slavery as well as the early part of the post-emancipation era. The books include wills, grants of probate, administrations, appraisements of property and inventories. In the wills of white planters there is a great deal of information about family relationships, often the only way of getting this information in the absence of family trees. This extends to relationships between enslaved women (and their children) and planters with whom they had relationships, who were freed as a result of the will or otherwise recorded in it. This provides important information about the growth of the mixed-race population and will also, increasingly, be of genealogical interest to the people of Nevis. For those planters who remained in Nevis and who did not have property in Britain the only copy of their will may be in Nevis. The same clearly applies to all free people on the island, white or black, including poorer white planters and skilled tradesmen, a group largely unrecorded so far. In the post-emancipation period, the wills record not only the development of a black middle class of property owners but also the struggles and condition of a poorer section of the population.
Before 1763 or 1764, according to V. L Oliver in 1913, wills were not kept separately and some are to be found in the Common Deed Record Books. Since then they have been recorded in separate volumes which have been held in the various court buildings. In 1913 they were held together with the Common Records in the Registrar’s office and at some unknown point the historic volumes were moved to the ECSC 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. Extent and format of original material: 1 Series comprising 7 individual volumes.
This series contains the following files.
- EAP794/1/5/1: Wills 1763-1787;
- EAP794/1/5/2: Wills 1787-1805;
- EAP794/1/5/3: Wills 1805-1818;
- EAP794/1/5/4: Wills 1819-1830;
- EAP794/1/5/5: Wills 1830-1837;
- EAP794/1/5/6: Wills 1837-1864;
- EAP794/1/5/7: Wills 1866-1880;