The historic Land Title Register Books are generally thick volumes, 28 cm x 43 cm with anything up to 100 pages plus numerous attachments. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) Registry office also acts as a Land Registry and is frequently used as such by ordinary Nevisians transferring or selling land. Until 1886 the transfer of land or property had been recorded in the Common Deed Record Books. The ‘Title by Registration Act’ of 1886 introduced a second method by which ownership of land could be registered, namely by Certificates of Title. These are held in the Land Title Register Books and listed in a series of Indexes. Each Certificate of Title is required to show a survey of the land in question and is supported by a Memorandum of Transfer which holds the documentation. The Certificates of Title also note whether there is a previous mortgage or encumbrance on the land. At present this system is an alternative to registering the transfer of land by Deeds of Conveyance in the Common Deed Record Books. However there are plans to centralise the system on Certificates of Title. These Land Title Register Books are vital for anyone who owns property in Nevis, particularly in times of rapid development. Clearly they are also important to the governments of Nevis and the Federation. They are also vital to anyone interested in the history of an estate or parish. The surveys of property which accompany the certificates are almost the only plans of estates which exist for the island. Nevis is very short of pre-1834 sugar estate plans, although they must have existed. Pre-1834 plans of only two or three out of around 100 estates are known to exist. The most comprehensive post-emancipation mapping of individual estates took place in the 1870s and 1880s under the Court of the Commissioners for the Sale of Encumbered Estates in the West Indies (Nevis). The UK National Archives has only two of these estate plans. However, the Land Title Register Books hold many of the plans produced for this court, or copies of them used as surveys for the Certificates of Title from 1886. Since the late 1990s, it has been shown that archaeologists and historians can successfully use these to investigate the histories of pre-emancipation sugar estates. In the case of Pinney’s Estate they have been used to locate the ‘slave village’ and to help in negotiations about the preservation of other historic sites on the estate.
It is likely that they were held in Registrar’s office (now the ECSC Registry office) from 1887. At present the volumes are in constant use and are still held in the ECSC Registry office. 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 3 individual volumes.
This series contains the following files.
- EAP794/1/8/1: Land Title Register 1887-1904;
- EAP794/1/8/2: Land Title Register 1905-1912;
- EAP794/1/8/3: Land Title Register 1912-1922;