Provost Marshal’s Sales

The series is comprised of nine volumes which run from 1847-1935. There is considerable overlap in the dates of volumes but there is a gap for the years 1862-1865. The Provost Marshal on Nevis had his own office at the opposite end of the courthouse to the Secretary or Registrar. His duties seem to have been carried out on Nevis by a Deputy Provost Marshal, supported by bailiffs, and could include summoning juries, supervising the gaol and access to the courthouse when the courts were in session. Largely, however, the duties consisted of carrying out the writs of execution of the various courts. Mostly these involved civil cases where money was owed, a levy required or fines imposed. The role of the DPM was to seize land, goods, furniture and personal possessions and conduct a sale or auction to resolve the matter. A sale could be a household full of possessions or a single item, like one mare. Prior to Emancipation the DPM could, and did, seize and auction whole estates with their slaves. There were complaints that the sales sometimes involved collusion between the sellers or the bidders and the DPM and were therefore fixed in advance. These Provost Marshal's Sales Books kept a record of such auctions in the second half of the nineteenth century and show detailed inventories of possessions, the rules under which the auction was conducted, the names of the successful bidders and those attending. An auction could be postponed a number of times because there were not enough bidders to make it legal. Through the inventories we have a glimpse of the standard of living of different groups of people at a time when the economy of Nevis was struggling and sugar planters and ordinary Nevisians alike were falling into debt. It is assumed that the Provost Marshal's Sales Books were held in the Marshal's office at one end of the courthouse. They may have been transferred at some point to the Registrar's Office at the other end. Later, at some point, there were removed to the courthouse vault where they remain. It is not known why there are no volumes from earlier, including from the eighteenth century since the DPM was active during this period. Legal custody of the Provost Marshal Sales 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 9 individual volumes.

This series contains the following files.

  • EAP794/1/7/1: Provost Marshal’s Sales 1847-1861;
  • EAP794/1/7/2: Provost Marshal’s Sales 1854-1861;
  • EAP794/1/7/3: Provost Marshal’s Sales 1866-1872;
  • EAP794/1/7/4: Provost Marshal’s Sales 1872-1879;
  • EAP794/1/7/5: Provost Marshal’s Sales 1874-1891;
  • EAP794/1/7/6: Provost Marshal’s Sales 1879-1881;
  • EAP794/1/7/7: Provost Marshal’s Sales 1879-1881;
  • EAP794/1/7/8: Provost Marshal’s Sales 1880-1894;
  • EAP794/1/7/9: Provost Marshal’s Sales 1894-1935;