Ships Bonds

The books of Ships' Bonds cover a twenty year period for Nevis from 1847 to 1867. There are two gaps, one in 1852 and another from 1861 to 1863. They comprise pre-printed forms which were then filled in with the name of the vessel, the Master and the agents or owners and the relevant date. The parties either signed or made their mark in the presence of the island Secretary who countersigned. The Master and the agents or owners bound themselves in a sum, for instance £1,500, neither to carry away any person in debt nor to leave behind anyone who was likely to become a charge on any parish or to the public purse on the island. The bonds were in response to planters, merchants and others avoiding their creditors by escaping off the island, particularly at a time when the island's economy was under strain. The bonds also prevented ships from dumping crew or people from other islands who would then become a burden on the public purse. Given the prevalence of Masters making their mark, it would seem that much of the shipping was local and the volumes will be useful to those interested in such inter-island traffic. The National Archive in St Kitts has similar shipping bond books from 1789 to 1853. Their earliest bonds provide against slaves being carried away from the island without the owner's consent. This suggests that similar pre-emancipation books for Nevis are missing. It is presumed that the bond books were always kept in the Registrar's office at the Courthouse. Ships' Bond books are mentioned together with other records by E C Baker in 1965. Legal custody of the Bond books 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.

  • EAP794/1/6/1: Ships’ Bonds 1847-1849;
  • EAP794/1/6/2: Ships’ Bonds 1849-1851;
  • EAP794/1/6/3: Ships’ Bonds 1853-1855;
  • EAP794/1/6/4: Ships’ Bonds 1855-1856;
  • EAP794/1/6/5: Ships’ Bonds 1856-1858;
  • EAP794/1/6/6: Ships’ Bonds 1858-1860;
  • EAP794/1/6/7: Ships’ Bonds 1864-1867;